What are the best books on freelance writing and business that help prepare new writers for success?
Starting and running a freelance writing business isn’t easy. It can be overwhelming, and sometimes it can scare new freelancers off. New freelance writers often feel like they are drinking water from a fire hose.
Two of the best ways to learn how to run an online freelance writing business are courses or books.
Books are often a favorite because you can read when you have time and take them anywhere you go. You can read while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office or while running on the treadmill at the gym.
Audiobooks make reading even easier. But will reading make you a better writer?
Will Reading Help Me Become a Better Writer?
Reading can make you a better writer. It helps us connect our emotions and experiences to learn how to communicate and improve our writing. Plus, often, the books we read were written by someone better than us.
So, reading can improve your writing because you learn how to express yourself, write better, and fight zombies if you’re into that sort of thing (hello, Walking Dead, anybody?).
Writers that read have a better vocabulary, and being an avid reader helps you tell the difference between quality and poor writing and the subtle nuances of language.
Writing teacher and author Roz Morris explained it well too; “Reading exposes us to other styles, other voices, other forms, and other genres of writing.
Importantly, it exposes us to writing that’s better than our own and helps us improve. Reading – the good and the bad – inspires you.”
So, clearly, reading improves your writing. Now that we have that clear let’s move on to the list of the best books on freelance writing.
I wrote a similar list of the best books on freelancing that includes some of my favorite books for people who work from home. Though many of those apply here, I wanted to create a whole separate list, so check those out too.
1. The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing: How to Write, Work, and Thrive on Your Own Terms by Zachary Petit
This book is perfect for new freelance writers. Much of freelance writing is a mystery for new writers, and navigating the online environment can be tricky. The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing answers common questions such as:
- Should I freelance part-time or full-time?
- How do I pitch to potential clients?
- How do I come up with article ideas?
- Should I write for businesses, magazines, online markets, or newspapers?
This book answers all those questions. Petit also addresses how to conduct a professional interview and write and structure different types of articles.
Learn the secrets that no one tells you and pro tips from an award-winning journalist. Check out this handy guide today.
2. The Content Code: Six Essential Strategies to Ignite Your Content, Your Marketing, and Your Business by Mark Schaefer
I was excited when I found this book because of the angle Mark W. Schaefer focuses on. He explains the real value of content and social media marketing with tips on achieving results you can measure.
Another aspect that makes this book unique is that Schaefer explores the psychology behind content sharing. He provides hundreds of practical ideas that you can use for marketing and analyzes the connection between content transmission and brand.
Schaefer teaches you how to amp up “shareability” with all your content, and he explains the role SEO, promotion, and distribution have in the online world today.
Content is huge for every freelance writer, and Mark gives you proven methods for creating content that gets recognized. We need to make sure our content isn’t just ordinary but extraordinary and exciting. If you want to break the content code, read this book.
3. Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer by Moira Allen
Let’s face it; freelance writers get overwhelmed with all the information out there. This handy freelance writing guide has been out a while and is currently in its third edition.
Allen starts with the very basics, but these tips are great for experienced and new freelance writers. Learn how to setup up your home office, pitch ideas to editors and your clients, and the business side of freelance writing.
The business of writing can be the most difficult because, as freelance writers, we just want to write!
This book on freelance writing also helps writers expand their careers and take advantage of the many opportunities available, like business and technical writing (my favorite). Aspiring writers usually think of creative writing and authoring a novel like Stephen King, and believe me; I do too.
But I make my money right now, writing blog articles for businesses in the security industry. Tons of companies out there need content, which is why my focus is on this. Allen shines a spotlight on these underserved areas.
You’ll also learn why a website is essential for marketing, how to expand your portfolio and get more freelance writing clients by offering social media writing services, and how your blog can help your freelance writing business.
You’ll find plenty of time to write your novel (on zombies) if that’s that’s your ultimate goal when you quit your day job.
4. The Wealthy Freelancer by Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Savage, and Ed Gandia
This book is a favorite of many freelancers, and you only need to look at the authors to understand why. The Wealthy Freelancer is for the solopreneurs who want to live a wealthy lifestyle.
You’ll learn how to get more high-paying clients so you can save money, spend more time with family friends, and live the life you’ve always dreamed of. Steve, Ed, and Pete provide real-life examples of successful freelancers and proven ideas that work.
These guys address some of the hardest parts of freelancing, like getting more clients to say yes to your proposals, how to charge and earn more, and other helpful tips. They also discuss why striving to be the best isn’t the path to success and what you should do instead.
The vision many people have of the starving freelancers doesn’t have to be a reality if you implement their hacks and tips.
5. Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port
Book Yourself Solid is one I wish I had when I started because getting clients is something many new freelance writers struggle with.
It’s the perfect book for any freelance service-based business as it teaches you how to price, market, and sell your services without feeling like a used car salesman. Post discusses how busy isn’t always successful. The key to success is what you’re busy doing. You need to choose goals and then work to meet them.
Self-promotion is part of the process, and that’s hard for many freelancers, whether they are new or experienced. I’ve noticed that if it’s something I really believe in and think is helpful, it’s easy to sell, but sometimes new writers suffer from imposter syndrome and don’t believe in themselves.
Book Yourself Solid will help you lay the foundation you need to promote your skills, reputation, and yourself, so check it out.
Since writing compelling and awesome content is the backbone for any business, improving your writing is key. Thankfully, Everybody Writes is the book you need to craft incredible content that makes you a lot of money.
The trick is learning how to sell to your audience without them realizing that you’re selling to them. Ann explains that writing well today is more critical than ever before because it’s the key to ALL content marketing.
Hadley provides tips and insights into the content creation process in this essential guide to freelance writing.
Ann teaches you:
- How to write better
- Easy grammar rules to remember
- How to tell a compelling story
- The best writing practices
And many more tips.
You can apply everything Ann teaches you to all your online content writing, like your landing pages, home page, social media content, blog articles, email, and more.
7. The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success by Linda Formichelle and Diana Burrell
You may have heard of these ladies before. They’re popular in the freelance writing world. Linda also appears over on the Freelance Writer’s Den with founder Carol Tice. If you’re looking for a good community of writers, Carol’s is amazing.
These two successful writers have written for some of the country’s top magazines, such as Family Circle, Redbook, The Boston Globe, Self, Writer’s Digest, and more.
Linda and Diana teach you how to break all the so-called writing rules so you can beat your competition and be an insanely successful freelance writer.
These ladies pitch to magazines that they’ve never read before, do considerable research before they even get an assignment, and often ignore the official instructions publications have.
This is one of the best books on freelance writing, and it’s helped thousands of writers find better magazine assignments and increase their income.
If you want to learn the freelance writing rules you can break, check out The Renegade Writer.
8. Start and Run a Copywriting Business by Steve Slaunwhite
Steve’s back on this list with another great book for aspiring freelance writers. Just about every writer does some form of copywriting at some point, whether it’s for your business or a client’s. I write mostly blog articles, but some of my clients ask me to do web copy.
So, what is copywriting? AWAI (American Writers & Artists Institute) defines copywriting as “ the process of writing persuasive marketing and promotional materials that motivate people to take some form of action.”
Copywriters write sales pages, marketing emails, website copy, and more. It’s a very lucrative writing position. If you naturally have the gift of copywriting well, you’re golden.
Slaunwhite helps you develop copywriting skills and provides strategies to create a successful freelance copywriting business even if you start with nothing. Plus, many companies and agencies outsource their copywriting projects, which means there’s plenty of work out there.
Start and Run a Copywriting Business is the step-by-step guide to starting the writing business of your dreams, and freelance writers at any level can learn something from this book.
9. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
You can consider The War of Art tough love for yourself. Pressfield has helped people world-wide demolish the barriers and banish the naysayers inside of us that keep us from achieving our dreams.
This classic book focuses on creative productivity to help you stop procrastinating and actually start writing regularly.
Steven wrote this book for writers, but many creatives have embraced it. The War of Art identifies the enemy and explains the battle plan to combat this internal nemesis all of us must face.
10. Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz
This book may be my favorite one on this list because it tells you how to manage your money as a business owner. The bookkeeping system in Profit First is simple and prevents overspending, which is a huge problem for new freelancers.
Mike talks about conventional accounting that uses the formula Sales – Expenses = Profit. And this is flawed. So, he developed a behavioral approach to accounting for businesses. His formula is Sales – Profit = Expenses.
This formula helps you earn money instead of losing it. In this book, you’ll learn the four principles that can make managing a profitable business easier. Michalowicz also explains that businesses that attain early and sustained profitability have a much better chance of long-term success and growth.
So, check out Profit First to get practical tips and a dose of humor to create a roadmap to a profitable business you love.
11. The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Copy by Robert Bly
Bob Bly is one of the copywriting world’s geniuses, ranking up there with David Ogilvy, the Father of Advertising and author of On the Art of Copywriting.
The Copywriter’s Handbook is for anyone who approves or writes copy, such as copywriters, marketing managers, small business owners, freelance writers, and more.
He reveals many copywriting techniques to help you write online and print emails, websites, ads, and other copy that are persuasive and command attention.
This handy book will teach you:
- Eight headline formulas that work
- Ten tips for increasing landing page conversion rates
- Techniques to ensure people open your emails and get you higher click through rates
- How to create lead magnets that people can’t wait to give you their email address for
And much more!
This book has been around for a while, but it’s been updated for today’s fast marketing world, and it’s a book I recommend every freelance writer read.
12. The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman
The Well-Fed Writer is another classic book for freelance writers. Peter Bowerman explains that businesses need writers and will pay them well to write content. He created this roadmap to guide new and experienced writers not getting paid well to the life they’ve always dreamed of.
Pete covers the following writing projects:
- Trade articles
- Marketing brochures
- White papers
- Ad copy
- Case studies
- Sales sheets
- Direct mail campaigns
- Web content
And many more.
You’ll learn how content is the backbone of any business, and outsourcing is more popular than ever as companies downsize the number of employees they have.
Bowerman teaches you where to find these writing projects, how to get them, and how to get hired repeatedly. This book guides you step by step through the entire process of landing writing jobs and getting paid.
The Well-Fed Writer has even won several awards, so check it out today.
13. Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids by Christina Katz
How many of you aspiring writers are moms out there trying to quit their 9-5 and work from home as freelance writers? Then Writer Mama is the book for you. Just because you have children doesn’t mean you can’t have a career.
Christine Katz answers all the questions you have about getting started writing. She presents it in a conversational tone with steps that are easy to follow.
And best of all, Christine has already done a lot of the work for you. She provides practical, actionable advice so you can start making money fast and ditch your day job sooner. Here are some of the things you’ll learn:
- How to write queries and your cover letter
- How to make time for your family and work
- Networking with other writing mamas, agents, and editors
- How to set up your home office
You’ll find these tips and much more in Writer Mama.
Final Thoughts on Books on Freelance Writing
This whole list of the best books on freelance writing should give you a great reading list to start. They all address things you need to know to create a successful freelance writing business.
Need help finding your niche? I have something special coming soon to take care of that. But until then, sign up for my niche challenge to choose the best profitable niche so you can make more money than ever before.
These are some of the best books on freelance writing. Which book do you want to read first? Let me know in the comments below.