5 Books Freelancers Should Read Now

We can agree it’s important to keep up on the current state of one’s industry. It’s key to look beyond the computer screen from time to time. That could mean learning the latest trends in content marketing, outsourcing or graphic design. It could be checking in with the role of working at home in the global economy or the future of contract work as we know it. Everything is changing and it’s essential to know what to expect. Even if you have a favorite freelancing trade journal you faithfully read — in print or electronically — here are a few recent books you may wish to devour.

Book 1: The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work 

Scott Berkun, Jossey-Bass, 2013.

This is for people who’d like to peer inside a successful company’s creative process. Berkun managed a team at WordPress, one of today’s most dynamic companies — a sort of David battling the Goliaths Amazon, Google, et al. His prose owes its style to non-fiction juggernaut Ben Mezrich (Sex on The Moon, The Accidental Billionaires) and he puts the reader in the room where the magic happens. According to the publisher’s news release, the culture at WordPress involved no one using email and “few meetings and fewer rules.”

Book 2: The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid

Jake Poinier, More Cowbell Books, 2013.
You probably know Poinier as Dr. Freelance, and if you’re looking to learn from a man whose results absolutely speak for themselves, he’s the guy. Poinier has written for AT&T, Johnson Controls and a bevy of CEOs. His slim guide, available either in paperback or via Kindle, is organized in part by the eight-steps, six-facts paradigm, and he lays everything out neatly. Poinier puts himself in — as you’d expect — the freelancer’s corner, with his aim being largely to help you protect yourself. He discusses “pay-to-hassle ratio,” how to be persuasive when bidding on jobs and how to create invoices and get paid faster.

Book 3: The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas 

David Burkus, Jossey-Bass, 2013
This release is the sophomore effort from Burkus, an Oral Roberts University management professor. Burkus’s argument is essentially one against what he considers old-fashioned and standard arguments about creativity — that it involves Eureka moments experienced by lone geniuses. He tries to demystify the process and frame it as something at which everyone can excel. This may inspire entrepreneurs and freelancers of all stripes, and serves as a good window into current theory on creativity in the business place.

Book 4: Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story …

Joe Pulizzi, McGraw-Hill, 2013.
If you do freelance work via the Internet, you’re almost certainly part of the content marketing world. As for Joe Pulizzi, he’s one of this world’s giants, one of the early adopters of the term itself. He’s now back with his third book, his first without a co-author. In Epic Content, he advocates what one might call a “less is more” approach to reaching one’s customers. He aims to usher in an age in which carefully-crafted, meaningful content takes precedent over a stream of nearly random tweets and other posts. This is the direction the industry as a whole seems headed, so you probably should become familiar with Pulizzi’s philosophies.

Book 5: Adapt or Wait Tables: A Freelancer’s Guide

Carol Wolper, Rare Bird Books, 2013.This is a candid how-to with an attitude, served up by journalist and fictioneer Carol Wolper. An odd bird at just 64 pages, it is, per publisher’s description, a “mix of information, tricks and advice.” It’s probably best for a new freelancer or one who’s considering taking the plunge.

These are all from last year, and we’re looking for new books to check out. What books about freelancing are you reading lately?

Jeff Maehre is a fiction writer and freelance copywriter. His fiction has appeared in Story, The Northwest Review, Cutbank, and Phoebe; he often blogs and writes other copy about social media.


  1. Jake Poinier on the 25th August

    Jeff, thanks so much for including my book in your list, and your kind words about it. Will need to add the others to my Amazon queue!

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