5 Books Every Freelancer MUST Read

Woman reading on couch 5 books for freelancers

Being a freelancer is awesome!  You are in charge of your own business, you set your own schedule, you do the work YOU want to do…you pay more in taxes, you have no employee health insurance, you have no employee benefits. 

WHOA!  That took quite the turn!

It’s true, being a freelancer is great, but it’s not all sunshine and roses, and it sometimes comes with quite the learning curve!

Staying on top of the business side of things is crucial for any freelancer who wants to do more than simply live from one paying client to the next.  So, I have compiled a list of 5 books that every freelancer NEEDS to read when they are just starting out.  These books have helped me soooooo much along the way and hopefully, they will help you too!

The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and The Self-employed by Joseph D’Agnese and Denise Kiernan

This book bills itself as “the only personal finance system for people with not-so-regular jobs” and it definitely lives up to that statement. 

As freelancers, we make our own hours, keep up with our own income, and manage our own finances.  We contend with gigs, contracts, and clients, all while working toward one basic dream.  Doing our own work, on our own time, and our own terms.  We ARE our boss and we often work from the couch, coffee shops, the car, you name it! We also are without a 401(k), benefits package, and no one collects taxes out of our paychecks.

The Money Book outlines the financial difficulties that many freelancers face and helps us to set up a system that will not only help us plan a budget for our inconsistent income but puts a comprehensive system in place that helps us set up funnels for savings, investments, and retirement. 

The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

This is heavily based on Pareto’s Principle (the 80/20 Principle) and is by far one of the best productivity books I have ever read. If you are unfamiliar with the 80/20 Principle, it states that “a minority of causes, inputs, or effort usually lead to a majority of the results, outputs, or rewards.”

Basically, 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.  And this is where The ONE Thing comes in.  The book uses a system of questions and graphs to help you narrow down your focus to the ONE thing that will help you get closer to your goal TODAY.

The reader is asked one focused question:

“What’s the ONE Thing I can do today such that by doing it everything else will be easier or even unnecessary?”

This book was a total game-changer for me.  It really made me look at the systems I use to run my business and get rid of a lot of “busy work” that I thought was necessary.  

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

Blue Ocean Strategy focuses on dividing business strategies into two main categories: Red Oceans and Blue Oceans.  

Red Oceans are all of the industries and business concepts that already exist in the market space.  They strive for a “beat the competition” strategy and rely on existing demand. Red oceans focus more on the value-cost trade-off where “cheaper is better,” and companies try to outperform their rivals.  These industry-set boundaries are defined and commonly accepted as truth.  

Blue oceans, however, mark all of the industries that are not yet in existence.  This unknown market space is not yet tainted by competition, meaning there is ample room for growth.  Blue Ocean Strategy focuses on creating uncontested market space that makes your competition irrelevant.  By getting rid of the value-cost trade-off, you can create and capture new demand and set your prices anywhere you like since you have no competition.

This book blew my mind.  It was a totally new way of thinking that really opened my business up to new ideas and concepts.

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg

This may not seem like a book intended for freelancers, and well….it’s not…but hear me out.

This book seriously changed both my personal life and my business life!

Nonviolent Communication introduces empathetic communication by breaking it down into two main parts: expressing yourself with sincerity and listening with empathy. 

Not only does it help you express yourself clearly without becoming defensive, it even more importantly teaches you to really listen to what the other person is saying and respond in an empathetic manner.  

Thanks to this book I have had many successful meetings with administrators, diffused difficult situations between students and calmed down difficult clients. 

Don’t get me wrong, when I was reading this book I instantly thought “this is stupid, who does that?” But I am 100% glad I read it!

The Music Lesson by Victor Wooten

You’ve probably heard of Grammy award-winning bassist Victor Wooten.  After being asked to write down his teaching methods many times, in true Victor Wooten fashion, he did the unexpected and wrote a novel.

I came across this book years ago when I walked into a local bookstore and instantly did a double-take. “Is that Victor Wooten?”  As someone who lives in the Nashville area, seeing famous musicians is nothing new or unexpected, but seeing them set up to do a reading in a bookstore is definitely a little different.  I decided to hang around and I’m glad I did!  

This book is not your typical “how to teach” book.  Instead, it is an off the beaten path novel that tells the story of a teacher who suddenly appears from the future and uses some of Wooten’s rather unusual teaching methods to help his student.

The Music Lesson is definitely an interesting read!

Final Thoughts

These books have all had a significant impact on the way I approached my career from both a business, communication, and conceptual perspective and I hope they help you too! Keep reading!

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