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You may have the wrong notion that working from home is about being able to kick back on your sofa and eat ice cream while watching television. I hate to break it to you; it’s not. While you do get to make your own schedule, being your own boss has its challenges.

All freelancers need to market their services and projects as well as keep their clients happy. They also deal with administrative tasks, and the dreaded taxes. That’s not even including the skills you need to hone as a freelancer. Running your own business sounds like a breeze, but in reality, it’s tough.

Many freelancers don’t even realize they’re running a business when they start working from home. Yep, that was me. In fact, I wasn’t even trying to make it a full-time gig—just something to supplement my disability.

So, one of the best ways to learn new skills about how to run a business is by reading! Plus, books are usually more affordable than courses, but I’m going to throw it out there>>> sometimes you need to invest in yourself and your business.

Yep, sometimes you have to spend money to learn the things you’re not so good at.

Here’s What You’ll Learn in this Post:

Contents hide

  • The best freelancing and business books to read
  • How they’ll help you
  • Where you can find them at a reasonable price

I scoured through endless lists of the best books on freelancing and pulled out ones I read or those I haven’t read (yet) that have profound advice and other helpful resources that come highly recommended. Each one of these books has a unique take on freelancing from home.

I know this article is super long, so here’s a glance at some of my favorite books on freelancing on this list.

At a Glance:

The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris

You’re a Badass, and You’re a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Rework: Change the Way You Work Forever by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell  

1.      The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris

Hands down, this book is one of the best books on freelancing, and I see it recommended over and over again. It focuses on the benefits of running an online business and working from wherever you want to.  The 4-Hour Work Week also tells you how to outsource tasks at a minimal cost.

We live in a time like no other where with a little hard work, you can find incredibly valuable things at low prices on the internet. I haven’t read this gem of a book yet, but I plan to because I want to learn how to outsource and work fewer hours every week while still making five-figures.

Virtual assistants can help you grow and scale your business, and that’s one of the secrets Ferris unlocks in this book. So, take the leap from a traditional job to working for yourself towards your own goals.

Biggest Takeaway:

Learn how to escape the rat race and work for yourself while outsourcing certain tasks and making a fantastic income. It’s literally the blueprint for a digital nomad business.

2.      You’re a Badass and You’re a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero

I seriously love these books. Jen Sincero unlocks the secret to making more money. She lived for years as a starving writer and finally discovered the key to being a badass and making the money she deserved.

Everyone has the innate ability to make money at what we’re good at, and everyone has their zone of genius. Sincero cusses like a sailor, like me, and her personality shows through. Plus, she’s hilarious, so her humor carries you through the book.

She admits that things weren’t always good for her and what she did to change it and turn into a money-making machine.

Biggest Takeaway:

Creatives, freelancers, and entrepreneurs don’t have to work their fingers to the bone. She explains how to change your mindset to be the badass you really are and then also applies that to making money doing the things you’re good at.

books on freelancing

3.      How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People is another popular book for freelancers because it’s all about applying modern psychology to our interactions with people. It’s not to manipulate anyone but work with human psychology to maximize your potential and grow personally and professionally.

It’s an older book but very much relevant to freelancers. All freelancers deal with people frequently, so it’s a great book to teach you how to win friends and influence people. To show you how popular it is, it has over 17, 054 reviews.

Biggest Takeaway:

You can go after what you want to and get it, and you can make any situation work in your favor. This book tells you just how to do that.

4.      The Freelancers Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Have the Career of Your Dreams by Sara Horowitz

This book was obviously made for freelancers, as you can see by the title. The Freelancers Bible teaches you the basics of starting an online business and how to grow and scale once you’ve established a firm foundation.

I would love to have read this book when I created my business because the whole process of starting a freelancing business can be really overwhelming. But even if you have some experience you can learn from this book.

You’ll also learn how to set your fees and write contracts that protect you and your clients. Horowitz even provides advice on branding your services and finding health insurance.

Sara Horowitz founded Freelancers Union, so she knows what’s she’s talking about.

Biggest Takeaway:

This book is a comprehensive guide and covers every detail of the challenges freelancers face and how to be flexible. Flexibility is key because of the lifestyle and business of freelancing. It’s a must-read for new freelancers.

5.      What to Do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn) by Seth Godin

I think just about everyone has heard of Seth Godin, but I chose this book for a different reason. This book is for those who want to do work that matters and share it with everyone. It’s a collection of inspirational stories, quotes, and photos that make us remember that some of the best work comes from love, empathy, curiosity, generosity, and courage.

It’s an exciting book that energizes you, and one reviewer declared that if there was ever a rule book for a time when rules don’t matter, this book is it. Godin explains that it’s easy to choose the safe path, as so many do. But to do really great things, you must push yourself and do what scares you.

Biggest Takeaway:

Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. That’s where truly great things happen, and you can live the life you’ve always dreamed of.

books on freelancing Pinterest

6.      The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

This book is all about the challenges entrepreneurs face, and I think that the title says it all. Unfortunately, the difficulties of running a business are why many new freelancers quit or don’t succeed. This book is a genuine peek behind the scenes of entrepreneurship as well.

So, if you want to know more about the realities that running a business is hard, this book is for you. If you wish to focus on the rainbows, pretty ponies, and sunshine side of being an entrepreneur, this book is not for you, AND there are more challenges than sunshine and roses for freelancers.

This book is perfect for someone just a few months into the launch of their business.

Biggest Takeaway:

In short, running a business is hard as hell! It’s crucial to understand the problems you will likely face as a new freelancer.

7.      Dear Freelancer by Brittany Melton

There are a ton of books on freelancing out there. What I love about this particular book is that Melton, a web designer, shares HER story and the lessons she learned running a business. She also talks about the emotional and mental investment needed to make your business successful. It’s always helpful to see the lessons someone else learned the hard way, so you don’t make the same mistakes.

Brittany helps you break out of the feast or famine cycle and right into your dream life. She also presents the information in little bits, so it’s not overwhelming like drinking from a fire hose. You’ll learn how to dominate freelancing and make the money you need and deserve while creating the life you want.

Biggest Takeaway:

If you want to learn from someone who has actually been in your shoes, this book is for you. You’ll learn the hardest parts of running your own business and how to be successful.

freelancer working at desk

8.      The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber

The E-Myth Revisited is the book I needed much earlier in my career. It’s all about establishing the systems you need to scale your business to the next level.

Miranda Nahmias, the systems queen, has mastered systems and templates to scale her business and she teaches others how to do the same thing. Her program The Systems Society walks you through the process of implementing systems in your business so you can scale RIGHT away. She also has tons of resources on building your team and getting those systems in place to streamline your business.

Her program The Systems Society walks you through how to implement systems into your business so that you can scale the RIGHT way. She also has a lot of resources on building your team.

But, back to the book. Its filled with insights for freelancers who want their business to become much larger than them. The key to success is to build a business that operates and makes you money while you sleep. It’s one of the biggest problems I’ve had with my business because if your business depends on you, then you end up working insane amounts of time and burning out. Raise your hand if you know what that’s like!

Biggest Takeaway:

You need to start creating templates and establish processes early on. Then you can begin to scale as you get those systems in place. Plus, learning how you can run a business while you sleep means you can also do things with your family, take vacations, and all those fun things you want in your dream life.

9.      The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly

As someone who doesn’t do well with change, I still know it’s inevitable and necessary. The Inevitable discusses 12 technological concepts or themes as they are related to the past and present. He also extrapolates into the future and what life will be like 20 years from now when each technology progresses to the point where it’s just about unrecognizable as the concept we know today. I honestly think this is pure genius and quite interesting.

Here are the technological concepts he talks about:

  • Beginning
  • Becoming
  • Questioning
  • Cognifying
  • Tracking
  • Flowing
  • Interacting
  • Screening
  • Interacting
  • Sharing
  • Filtering
  • Accessing
  • Remixing

Technology affects the way we communicate, work, play, and process information today, and we have things today that didn’t exist even 10 or 15 years ago. As technology continues to evolve, it changes every aspect of work, and understanding these concepts helps freelancers leverage these trends and keep ahead of the curve.

Biggest Takeaway:

Understanding these concepts and applying them to how you work in the future keeps you steps ahead of everyone else. New technological advances will change the way we do things as they have now and in the past.

10.  Build to Sell: Creating a Business that Can Thrive Without You by John Warrillow

Build to Sell is another book for freelancers that focuses on building a business that thrives without you so you can step away from it and go to Bali for a week if you want to. The whole part of starting a freelancing business is so you can live the life you want to. Bust must of us end up slaves to our business, myself included.

You should be able to retire when you want to or go on vacation. If you’re tied to your business, and you wear all the hats, it’s impossible to live the life you want to. But this doesn’t mean that you need to sell your business. John Warrillow gives you a framework that you can use to create a company that allows you to step away when you need to and sell it when you want to retire.

Biggest Takeaway:

The framework that Warrillow teaches you in Build to Sell is the key to have the freelancing business of your dreams that actually allows you the freedom to live the life you want to.

11.   Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley

Content really is king, and just about every freelancer creates content, whether it’s a blog post or something for social media. You must become a good writer, and Ann Handley shares tips on attracting and retaining clients and customers through amazing online communication.

In a content-driven world, there really is a writer within all of us; you just need to hone those skills. This practical guide teaches you how to do that. Some may argue in a time-challenged world focused on social media feeds, and videos that writing is no longer essential but effective communication is now more important than ever.

If you want your writing to look professional, I recommend using Grammarly. There’s a free and a paid version, and I recently wrote a Grammarly Premium review. Check it out and at the very least, sign up for a free plan. You won’t regret it. It’s like having your own personal editor.

freelancer using calculator

12.  Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional’s Guide to Growing a Practice 5th Edition by Alan Weiss

Alan Weiss shares his time-tested model for creating the successful consulting business of your dreams in Million Dollar Consulting while also focusing on the dynamic nature of boutique and solo consulting, entrepreneurship, and coaching.

One of the biggest problems freelancers face is genuinely understanding what they’re selling. You’re not selling your writing or marketing; you’re selling the experience. Freelancing success hinges on your ability to sell yourself, and businesses want to know what you can do for them. It’s deeper than the articles, photos, or whatever services you offer.

I think of all the books on freelancing floating around out there; this one gives you actionable advice on creating a marketing plan (yes, you need one). It also shows you how to avoid social media pitfalls, manage your time wisely, succeeding even during turbulent times, and much more.

Biggest Takeaway:

You must be able to sell yourself to succeed, and yes, that means you need to send those cold email pitches and market your services. You grow by facing adversity and knowing your true worth. This book is best for people that have already launched their business.

13.  Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David, PhD

The best list of books on freelancing has to include a self-help book, right? Susan David, Ph.D., offers incredible advice on training yourself to be flexible and adaptable to anything life throws at you. We often make plans on how we think our life should be, but things seldom turn out the way we hoped. And it’s certainly not predictable, so you must be able to adapt to succeed.

As a freelancer, you need far more agility than other career choices. You have to be able to roll through the bad times as well as the good. To do this, we need to temper our base emotional responses consciously and for many, a sense of humor goes a long way.

Biggest Takeaway:

For some, this may be revolutionary; it’s okay to have negative emotions. It’s how you respond that’s critical. Learn from them and use these emotions to help you live a life in tune with your values. Accept all your emotions and know that there is a right amount of stress to have because it’s a negative emotion.

14.  Rework: Change the Way You Work Forever by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried

If you read no other book on this list, let Rework be the one you do. It highlights what most freelancers don’t get, and that is, you need to focus on the parts of your business that make you money. Period. That’s why outsourcing at the right time is vital.

I’ve struggled with that, too, as I can only scale my business to a certain extent if I have to complete every task. It’s impossible to do it all and grow.

It’s also vital to come up with new ideas for your business. You should always be generating fresh new ways to make money, market to new potential clients, and even change your offerings.

Seth Godin reviewed this book and said that it will make you really uncomfortable, and that’s good. Fried and Hansson demonstrate that the way everyone else is doing it isn’t necessarily the right way.

Biggest Takeaway:

Stop worrying about the tasks that don’t make you money. Don’t be afraid to do things differently if they work. Reading this book will make a difference in the way you do business as a freelancer.

15.  Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Another great book by Hansson and Fried that focuses on, you guessed it, everything that comes with working remotely and how to do it right. I didn’t mention it above, but these two guys are the founders of Basecamp and 37 Signals, so they are highly qualified to write books on freelancing. I’ve never used 37 Signals, but Basecamp is a fantastic project management platform that’s geared around remote teams.

These guys educate you on the pros and cons of working remotely. It’s not for everyone. I have friends that worked from home during the height of the Coronavirus, and they couldn’t wait to get back to work. Remote is an excellent resource for freelancers who have already identified their services.

Biggest Takeaway:

This book is a guide on how to work from home and how to embrace remote work. Another continuing theme that keeps coming up is outsourcing! You don’t need to do everything yourself.

niche down to level up your profits challenge

16.  Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World by J. Kelly Hoey

Let’s face it; we live in a hyper-connected world. Build Your Dream Network was written by author and networking expert J. Kelly Hoey. It focuses on cutting through all the noise in networking to build strong and genuine relationships to become a success in the digital world. Hoey provides practical ways to grow your network.

This book is a simple guide to networking authentically. Networking is an art, and this book makes the list of best books on freelancing because it helps you connect with people who can help you advance your business to where you want to be the right way.

Biggest Takeaway:

Don’t be an awkward networker! If you want to make connections with other people who can help your business, take Hoey’s advice and do it the right way. Effective networking is gold for freelancers, and it’s a necessary skill to run a successful business.

17. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell  

Outliers makes my list of amazing books on freelancing because it’s different than the rest. Gladwell directs us through the world of outliers, those entrepreneurs that are the brightest and best and stand out from the rest. He asks what makes the most successful business-people different, and it’s an excellent way of teaching other freelancers how to be successful entrepreneurs.

Reviewers say that it’s entertaining and leaves you pondering these ingenious theories over for days. There are tons of life lessons in Outliers. Gladwell differs from the rest in that he explains that success isn’t based on intelligence, and it doesn’t occur in a vacuum. There are many different factors because it really does take a village to raise our kids to be successful people in the future.

Biggest Takeaway:

Find the things that the most successful people in your niche do well and repeat them for a higher chance of success.

18.  Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday  

I love this book because it uses many examples and stories from history to literature to philosophy to argue that the biggest impediment to success is really our own ego. Some may say that it’s the outside world, but Ryan Holiday begs to differ with this book.

You’ll meet a variety of characters such as Eleanor Roosevelt, George Marshall, Bill Belichick (don’t hate me but I love the Patriots!), Jackie Robinson, and Katharine Graham, who have all conquered their egos to reach the highest levels of success.

Ego impedes our success early on in our career by blinding us to our faults and creating problems in the future. Ego magnifies each step of failure making recovery even more difficult and continues to hold us back if we don’t reign in control.

Biggest Takeaway:

Often the more experienced you are, the more likely you are to think you’re better than the people who surround you. But your ego can stunt your growth, ruin relationships, and destroy your career.

Freelancers must approach their business honestly and understand just how detrimental to success narcissism is. You need to be able to evaluate your ability in an unbiased manner, or you’ll never reach real success.

make shit happen as a freelancer

19.  Non-Obvious: How to Predict Trends and Win the Future by Rohit Bhargava

What sets Non-Obvious apart from the rest of these books on freelancing is that it helps you think outside the box and predict future trends for remote jobs. A common theme in all his books is do business more humanly and why it’s essential to do so.

Non-Obvious isn’t some long-winded academic book; he tries to use a human voice to illustrated real-life stories to provide you with actionable steps on how to make your business better and accelerate your success.

Biggest Takeaway:

You need to break free from the obvious ideas in today’s world and think differently from everyone else. Over a million people have read this book, and Bhargava advises big brands on innovative strategies, communications, and business. In short, he knows what he’s talking about.

20.  I Will Teach You to be Rich, Second Edition: No Guilt. No Excuses. No BS. Just a 6-Week Program That Works by Ramit Sethi 

This may not be strictly for freelancers, but I seriously love this dude. Reviewers like the San Francisco Chronicle have described him as part Silicon Valley geek, college frat boy, and San Francisco hipster. Even Seth Godin chimes in with, “The easiest way to get rich is to inherit. This is the second-best way-knowledge and some discipline.”

I was a bit overwhelmed with learning to navigate the world of online jobs, so I couldn’t quite implement what he was teaching when I first discovered him, but I can tell you, he is blunt and speaks the truth, which I love. This book isn’t sunshine and rainbows; it’s a proven program if you put in the work. It’s geared towards millennials but provides sound advice that anyone can implement.

Biggest Takeaway:

Ramit Sethi gives you some fantastic advice on personal finance in this book. He teaches you how to live a rich life by earning more, investing, and saving more. He may come across as irreverent, but it’s a great guide to money management.

21.  The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer

No matter what age you leap into freelancing, many freelancers talk about an awakening that happens at various stages of their uncomfortable yet exhilarating journey. Singer’s book is a guide on how to rein in your ego and free yourself of limitations to fly beyond your boundaries.

The author co-published this book with the Institute of Noetic Sciences or IONS and walks you through your relationship with your emotions and thoughts. You’ll discover the fluctuations and source of your energy within and learn how to free yourself from habitual energy patterns, feelings, and thoughts. It’s a really unique book.

Biggest Takeaway:

The Untethered Soul will transform your relationship with the surrounding world and yourself. Singer teaches you to develop consciousness through mindfulness and meditation that lets you dwell in the present instead of the past.

22. My Creative (Side) Business: The Insightful Guide to Turning Your Side Projects into a Full-time creative business (Insightful Guides for Freelancers) (Volume 2) by Monika Kanokova

My Creative Business is a guide for all the creative freelancers of the world. It includes inspirational stories from women running businesses in the creative industries who turned their side hustle into a full-time income.

If you’re tired of being a freelancer with irregular income, this book is for you. Whether you’re determined to find regular income streams or trying to figure out the best strategic way to become a creative entrepreneur, this book will help you do it. It’s an excellent resource to return to many times for the tips and tricks it provides on creative freelancing.

Biggest Takeaway:

This book will help you take your side hustle to the next level and develop multiple streams of income. It makes this list of the best books on freelancing because it’s for the intelligent creatives who want to focus on creative projects and monetize them. It helps you be creative and think outside the box when it comes to your freelancing business.

I really hope that you enjoyed this comprehensive list of books on freelancing. When you choose to be a freelancer, you’re choosing to create a successful business that allows you to live life on your terms. But it’s not always an easy journey, so use this list as a resource and choose some books that cater to whatever level of freelancing you are.

Have you read a book on freelancing that isn’t on this list, and you think it should be? Let me know in the comments below.

22 Amazing Books on Freelancing You Need to Read
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