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Top 15 Books for Improving Your Freelance Business

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Read Time: 8 mins

As a freelancer, I often forget that there are valuable books out there in addition to all of the online reading I do. Recently, though, I've taken back up the art of reading a book, rather than just blog posts. And I've found a world of knowledge I had been sorely missing.

The following list of 15 freelance business books are ones that I would recommend for any freelancer to own. A few are industry specific, but most are ones that freelancers in any field can benefit from, whether you're a graphic designer, freelance writer, or specialize in another niche.

The range in the topics below include general business advice, freelance lifestyle advice, marketing advice, and more. I have to admit that I haven't read all of these, but the ones that I have not personally read come with the highest recommendations.

It's time to fill your Kindle (or favorite E-reader) with top-notch freelance books.


This New York Times bestseller by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson is one of the best out there for anyone looking to streamline success in freelance business, especially if you are not familiar with the authors' blog 37signals. 

Rework is not a new publication, but it is one that has to be included in this list simply because of its powerful message: stop worrying about fluff tasks that don't bring in the income. Instead focus on the important, money-making tasks. It's a book that throws out business rules and replaces them with highly productive tips and advice.

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)

When we begin our freelancing careers, we all imagine ourselves on a beach, drink in our right hand, and our laptop sitting idly in our beach house. After all, in this wonderful fantasy, we only have to work a few hours a day, right?

According to the author of 4-Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferriss, you can create a business model that allows you to work only a few hours a week. Learn how to outsource work, eliminate email, get rid of up to 50% of your work, and basically live like a retired successful freelancer.

Creative Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business

The authors of Creative Inc., Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho, are both successful freelancers themselves, so the advice they give in this book on how to freelance is quite practical. If you are just starting out with freelancing in any creative field, this book gives a good overview of different aspects of your business you need to consider, such as pricing jobs and balancing work and personal life.

Experienced freelancers may find this book to be a bit too basic, but for those who want to learn how to find freelance work and build their business, this freelance book is an excellent place to start.

Business and Legal Forms for Graphic Designers (3rd Edition)

While this one has been out for a couple of years now, it is still one that both beginning and experienced graphic design freelancers should keep in the office. Eva Doman Bruck and Tad Crawford provide more than enough forms that graphic designers may need in a business, including lease agreements, estimates, copyright application, letter of interest, and much more. Plus, it comes with a CD-ROM for both Mac and PC users that is filled with legal form templates.

Craft, Inc. Revised Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Turning Your Creative Hobby into a Successful Business

For those freelancers looking to sell their crafts, Craft, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco, an entrepreneur herself, provides the help needed for turning a hobby into a business. Meg covers topics such as writing a business plan, tax considerations, starting an online shop, social media marketing, and much more. Those freelancers who have been running a crafting business may find this book too basic, but this is perfect for those just getting started.

The Freelance Business Funnel from Rockable Press

This is one book every freelancer should buy today. If you find yourself making awesome hourly wages, but you are still struggling to pay the bills or find enough time for a personal life, then this book is a must! The Freelance Business Funnel by Skellie, a former editor of FreelanceSwitch, is packed full with actionable advice on how to market your freelancing business through blogging so that clients contact you, not the other way around.

She also gives tips on how to earn passive income with partnerships, advertisements, and products you create from your services. Learning the sales funnel will definitely help you improve your freelancing career, and this is one must-have book to better understand this term.

Freelance Writing Jobs: 101+ Online Writing Jobs!

As a freelance writer myself, I know that you can simply go online and find your own freelance writing gigs. However, I also know how much of my precious time this took when I was first starting out in my freelance writing business. Lee Mellott does an excellent job of compiling 101+ places to find writing jobs online. She also includes short snippets of advice for beginning freelance writers, but really the big takeaway from this book is the list of writing sites.

Published in October of 2012, you do not have to worry about any of the resources being obsolete yet, and at such a cheap price, I'd definitely advise both newbies and those who are looking for new income resources to purchase this book.

Best Business Practices for Photographers, Second Edition

Whether you want to learn how to be a freelancer photographer or are simply wanting to grow an already established business, this book by John Harrington gives lots of advice in every area of photography, from client interactions to licensing and more. He even gives advice on how to break away from staff photography to become a freelancer photographer.

13 Ways to Get the Writing Done Faster: 2 Pro Writers Share Their Secrets

As successful writers themselves, Carol Tice and Linda Formichelli provide practical advice on ways that freelance writers can speed up their writing process. If you are one of many writers that produce quality content but struggle with time-management in writing, then this freelance book is one you'll definitely want to purchase. It's a fast read and the tips are easy to understand and implement right away.

The Shut Up and Shoot Freelance Video Guide: A Down & Dirty DV Production

This is an excellent book for freelance videographers, as it covers both production advice and other freelance tasks such as dealing with clients. Anthony Q. Artis writes in a witty voice, so this book is a fairly easy read. Freelancers who create video for hire will want to carry this book with them as the cameras are up-to-date and the advice for planning a production is priceless. It's like going to film school without having to pay the high cost.

Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills

For freelancers in the creative design field wishing to refine their skills, this book from David Sherwin gives 80 exercises designed to improve creativity and time on task. The exercises are for a variety of media and designed to be completed within certain time frames.

Graphic designers, web designers, and other creatives in the commercial field of design will especially benefit from these challenges, as they will help increase productivity within a certain time period and improve problem-solving skills vital to any freelance designer's career. There is also a section with some valuable graphic design inspiration sure to boost your creativity!

99 Ways to Flood Your Website with Traffic

While freelancers advanced in online marketing may find this book too basic, those who struggle with where to begin in marketing their website will definitely benefit from this book by Jack Mitchell. Plus, along with this book, you also receive two pocket guides - one on do's and don'ts for buying traffic and another on how to monetize your traffic.

15 Marketing Trends In 2013: And How Your Business Can Use Them

With Rohit Bhargava as the author, this book is one that any business owner or freelancer can use for planning their marketing ploys for the new year. Rohit is an expert who led marketing strategy for Olgilvy and Leo Burnett, and his expertise shows in this book.

Free of fluff, this book is packed with valuable information, such as the top 15 marketing trends to focus on in 2013 and how to implement them. Bonus content such as trend reports, Rohit's first best seller Likeonomics, and much more are also included.

Internet Marketing, 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know: The Most Concise and Practical Guide to Internet Marketing Available

This is another excellent marketing book that freelancers can read in a relatively short amount of time, but it is one you will want to keep on your shelf. Short but concise, this book by Jon Leland is stuffed with advice that you can start implementing right away. However, Jon doesn't try to give false hopes of seeing dramatic results right away. He is refreshingly honest, yet inspires those who are new or struggling with marketing that they can successfully use Jon's advice in their freelance business immediately.

The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue

This newest edition of this book includes a forward by Chris Brogan, New York Times bestselling author, along with updated content on Google+, SEO, and more. From the president of the Zen Marketing Group, Shama Kabani, this book is once again one of the best for any freelance business wanting to learn how to leverage social media to boost their marketing. For freelancers, it is an excellent tool for learning how to use social media smarter, not harder, saving valuable time to use on more important money-making tasks.

Are there any excellent books you as a freelancer would like to rave about? Tell the rest of us about it in the comments below!

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by IS2.

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