Books To Help You Cultivate Your Freelance Business

We say it a lot, but reading even one page a day makes a massive difference over time.

Books give you invaluable access to the ideas and insights of the best of the best. They can open you up to new way of thinking, ideas and concepts that you need to be successful.

In our weekly newsletter – Freelance Friday – which has been hitting inboxes for more than a year now, we always offer a freelance book of the week recommendation.

We share a book that we have found helpful for freelancing and for creating the right mindset for running a long-term freelance business.

Here are some of our top recommendations from the last few months.

To make it easier, we have separated them into categories, so you can jump straight to the area that you feel you need some help with.

And if you want to start receiving our weekly dose of freelance wisdom, where you will also get a weekly book recommendation – make sure to sign up for our newsletter:

Freelance books recommendations

Table of contents:

Mindset & Self-Development Books for freelancers:

1. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

Just like in finance, our habits and the actions we take every day, compound over time.

This book is a great argument for forming and cultivating healthy daily habits – both personal and professional. If you struggle with discipline, motivation or pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, then this is a must-read.

Learn the magic of compounding returns and how you can use it to get where you really want to be. Steady progress and patience is the key!

2. This Year Will Be Different by Domonique Bertolucci

Nothing changes if nothing changes – we all know that, but it can be hard to actually do things differently. 

That’s where this book can help you. While it may not tell you anything new or extraordinary, it will offer you actionable advice and guidance to do things differently this year. It’s also free if you have an Audible membership.

It’s short, concise, and well worth a read – or a listen.

3. The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

This one’s a bit out there, but I think reading widely can be really beneficial as a freelancer.

If you’re interested in mindfulness and mediation, you’re sure to find some food for thought in this book, which deals with the idea of gaining control over the voice in your head.

Give it a chance and you might find some value in this book which dives deeply into questions of consciousness and spirituality.

4. The Disease to Please by Harriet Braiker

A lot of freelancers are people pleasers, and this can really hold us back. This book will help you see if you’re putting others ahead of your own interests and help you to start putting yourself first for once. 

And if you think people-pleasing is actually a positive, then this book will reshape your perspective and help you see the damage that this behaviour can cause.

Great (if a little uncomfortable) reading.

5. Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles

We love Ikigai, because it’s a great compass for finding work that matters and is meaningul.

If you want to explore the Ikigai concept more in-depth and apply it to other aspects of your life, not just professional, this is the book to read.

It will help you discover your reason to ‘jump out of bed each morning’ and find the flow in everything you do.

6. The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday

All freelancers face challenges and obstacles in their careers. So how you cope with them matters. Stoicism is a trendy form of philosophy about dealing with the difficult aspects of life.

If you’re starting from scratch with the Stoic approach – this is a fantastic primer and overview of how these ideas can be applied to 21st Century life.

→ Easy to read, accessible and aimed at business owners and entrepreneurs, this book is a great entry point into the world of the Stoics.

7. Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

Freelancing can give you the freedom to do things differently. If the idea of packing your laptop into a backpack and heading off on an adventure appeals, then this is the book for you.

Published back in 2003, well before so many of us had gone freelance, this book is a legendary guide to making travel a part of your life, rather than an occasional luxury.

Heavily recommended by Tim Ferriss in The Four Hour Workweek, it’s well worth a read.

→ For more book recommendations about mindset, check out our list of Inspirational Books For Freelancers

Productivity Books for freelancers:

1. Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

A brilliant antidote to the typical productivity book – Four Thousand Weeks beautifully illustrates the idea that we don’t have forever – so we should use our time wisely. Rather than trying to do everything and work on every project, we should actively recognise our limitations and then do what matters to us.

A highly enjoyable and profound read that will speak to you if you’re constantly overwhelmed with tasks and unfinished ideas. 

2. The Decision Book: Fifty models for strategic thinking by Mikael Krogerus

This is a nifty little book full of great models that you can use to help you tackle those really tricky decisions.

These ideas will help you to think through your problems logically and reach decisions faster, but without being impulsive.

The only problem is there are so many models in here, you can waste time trying to choose which one to use!

3. Atomic Habits by James Clear

If you’re at all interested in being consistent and the power of habits, and you’ve not read this book, close the email and go get it.

This book has become a mainstream hit, and it will convince you of the incredible power that habits have to shape our futures.

The idea that every action you take is a vote for what you want in your future is a powerful one, which can really change how you approach the world.

4. How to Take Smart Notes by Sonke Ahrens

If you’re reading valuable books, you really should be taking notes. The good news is, it’s easier than ever to take them and actually use them!

If you’re at all interested in improving your note-taking game and making your reading more effective, you have to give this book a read.

It’s inspired some of the smartest people around, and it will help you to see the true potential of taking notes (and more importantly having a system to actually use them).

5. Deep Focus by Cal Newport

We live in an age of total distraction – from social media to our smart phones, staying focussed is a huge challenge for all of us.

This book makes a great case for carving out islands of distraction-free time, so you can focus and do the work you need to do.

→ For more book recommendations about productivity, check out our list of Productivity Books for Freelancers: Work Smarter, Not Harder

Marketing Books to Help You Promote Your Freelance Business:

1. Oversubscribed by Daniel Priestley

It’s easy to think we need an endless stream of clients to be successful. The truth is, having just enough clients, is actually better.

Once you get your head around the fact that you only need a small number of clients who really value you, you can focus on providing a great service that is sustainable and appreciated by those who are lucky enough to work with you. 

The idea of turning away clients might send shudders down your spine, but this great book makes the case for focusing in on a smaller audience so that you too can become ‘Oversubscribed’.

This quote really sums up the idea: 

Your value is much higher than you think to a small number of people. You don’t need everyone on the planet to see you as in demand; you only need enough people who can drive your price up.

Daniel Priestley, Oversubscribed

2. Dot Com Secrets by Russell Brunson

If you want to understand how and why sales funnels work, this is a great book to get stuck into.

The book looks a bit scammy and very salesy on the surface – and there are a few annoying plugs for Brunson’s own software inside, but it does a fantastic job in explaining why and how you can use funnels to grow a business.

3. Anti-Sell: Marketing, Lead Generation & Networking Tips for Freelancers by Steve Morgan

This book is full of tips for freelancers – especially new ones – about the parts of freelancing that make most of us uncomfortable – selling, self-promoting and networking.

Steve doesn’t share just one way of doing things, he provides different options – so you can test and see what will work for you the best.

We have recommended more marketing books in the article Marketing Books Every Freelancer Should Read

Money/Finance Books for freelancers:

1. The Psychology of Money by Morgan House

A lot of freelancers and creatives find money talk a bit icky, but if there’s one book everyone should read, it’s this one.

Full of interesting and profound stories, that teach a valuable lesson about how money – and humans – really work.

You’ll never think about money the same way after reading this entertaining and fascinating book.

2. Eight Lessons on Pricing and Negotiations for Freelancers by Alistair Webster

Most freelancers feel at least a little uncomfortable when it comes to pricing their services – it’s natural to have doubts about whether you are quoting too high or too low.

But getting your pricing right is critical. If you’re competing on price instead of the value you offer then you’re going to underprice yourself and struggle to make it in the long term as a successful freelancer. 

That’s why I’ve gathered together some fundamental, hard-learned lessons on pricing and negotiating.

Grab your free copy here and start your journey towards getting paid what you deserve:

Until next time,

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Photo credit: David Iskander, kris, Visual Stories || Micheile, Debby Hudson

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