Book review: The Freelancer’s Bible

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The Freelancer’s Bible came out late last year, so I’m a bit late to the party with this book review. That said, the advice given by author Sara Horowitz, founder of Freelancers Union, is timeless enough that the time lapse doesn’t affect my opinion: It’s a very solid book, and its nearly 500 pages offer plenty of well-researched information to consider incorporating into your freelance business. Without further ado, some thoughts on its applicability to various stages of the freelance life cycle.

Beginning freelancer. When I started out freelancing, I pretty much imitated the strategies I’d gleaned from successful freelancers I knew as an editor. Here’s where I think The Freelancer’s Bible could have been useful for me. From the first seven logical start-up steps through the more detailed aspects of managing your business, Horowitz does a nice job of mapping out the freelance landscape and how to navigate it. Honestly, it reminded me of a freelancer’s version of What to Expect When Your Expecting, the no-holds-barred book about pregnancy: You may not experience everything in the book, but it’s a great way to get your attentional filter tuned in on the possibilities.

Mid-career freelancer. At this point, you have some steady clients and a portfolio, but you’re probably looking to build your business with more profitable freelance jobs or gaining access into new industries. The book’s Part 2: Getting Clients and Part 3: Growing Your Business could be a good place to start–lots of good strategic tips on prospecting as well as upping your customer service. I also appreciate the fact that Horowitz writes at some length about the importance of planning for your own financial security, which a person at this career stage can’t ignore.

Experienced freelancer. If you’ve been freelancing for a while, most of the topics will seem familiar. That said, it’s easy to fall into bad habits or old habits–and when business is good, it pretty much doesn’t matter. If you find yourself in a rough patch, you need to reexamine your assumptions and probably try something new–even if it’s uncomfortable–and a review of this book’s strategies could help you accomplish that.

My criticisms of the book are relatively minor: There were a couple of items, such as discussions of ergonomics and “green” office practices, that seemed a little out of place, and some of the work-life balance advice seemed rudimentary to me. It’s a long book, and can be a bit of a challenge to navigate; you’re not likely to read it front to back. In places, it’s a bit heavy on the pitch for Freelancers Union, which is the author’s/organization’s right, but I found it intrusive rather than persuasive. Finally, you need to recognize that it’s been written for any type of freelancer, not just a creative freelancer. Depending on your experience level and business type, the focus on breadth rather than depth may leave you seeking out additional resources on certain topics, such as pricing and estimating, while paging past other sections entirely.

As with any book of this genre, what you get out of it will depend on what you put into it–and whether you achieve the cover-promised “career of your dreams” is up to you. The cover price is a modest $17.95, but you can currently buy it cheaper than that (around $14, at the moment) through the Barnes & Noble or Amazon links at the website, FreelancersBible.comDisclosure: I received a free review copy of The Freelancer’s Bible from Freelancers Union.

In the comments: Have you read The Freelancer’s Bible? What’s your take on its usefulness for the creative freelancer?

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  1. Laura Dangerfield says

    It was a big step for me to become a freelancer. Last year, I actually went to an event sponsored by the Freelancers Union to hear Sara Horowitz speak and introduce this book.
    I will admit that I haven’t read it all the way through, but I’ve learned from what I have read (Parts 1 and 2). I rather liked the community feel of the book. It helped me feel less alone in my new venture, especially since I now work from home in my 1-person office.
    So, that’s my take. It will be interesting to hear what others have to say.

  2. says

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Laura. Glad to hear the book has been helpful–and how cool that you were there to hear Sara do the launch. I agree, freelancing is a lot more enjoyable when you feel like you’re part of a network, and not just a lone wolf!

  3. says

    I’m late with my review, too. I found the same thing — solid advice throughout. I agree on what you didn’t like, as well. There was a bit too much rah-rah going on, and green offices….uh, yea. Not exactly necessary career advice.

  4. says

    Haha, Lori. It seemed curious to have included such tangential (and let’s face it, pretty inconsequential) items in an already long and detailed book. But, to each his/her own.