4 Books About Self-Employment for the Growing Freelancer

Written by Elizabeth Wellington on February 27, 2017

When I want to read about self-employment, I usually open up my computer to a trusted blog. But as much as I love a good article or blog post, I sometimes want a deeper perspective. As a freelancer, I spend most of my time solo, and reading books about self-employment ensures I don’t get lost in the weeds of my day-to-day life. At least once a week, I pour myself a cup of tea and jump into a book about freelancing.

These four books are my favorite by far. I’ve turned to them countless times — they are well-loved, with frayed edges and scribbles in the margins. Each one hits a different note, providing a unique perspective on my own work and business:

1. “This Year Will Be Different”

In this book of interviews, perennial solopreneur Monika Kanokova talks to a broad swath of women freelancers and business owners. The breadth of industries represented, as well as the candidness of the interviews, make This Year Will Be Different stand out.

Kanokova’s capacity to shine a light on the commonalities connecting successful freelancers is particularly inspiring. My favorite piece of advice? Spend half your time building your business rather than directing all your resources to client projects. It pays off in the long run.

2. “The 4-Hour Workweek”

Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week helped me reimagine the way I made money. His no-nonsense approach to working for yourself eschews the status quo nine-to-five myth. Even if you don’t want to take a mini-retirement or move abroad, Ferriss’ questioning of traditional norms empowers freelancers. It helps you think about making twice the amount of money in half the time (or less), offering real insights from remote workers who’ve done just that.

3. “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less”

Essentialism’s Greg McKeown also encourages people to focus on high-impact work, cutting the clutter from their professional lives. Because freelancers need to balance so many responsibilities, his philosophy is pertinent. In short, “Essentialism” encourages freelancers to dedicate their efforts to their highest contributions as a professional, rather than becoming mired in reactive work, like email. Unlike Ferriss though, you can directly apply McKeown’s productivity advice to more traditional settings, too.

4. “Big Magic”

Big Magic is not about productivity or running a business, but it’s my go-to book as a freelancer. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat Pray Love” and other literary successes, dialogues about creativity. When I feel blocked or find myself procrastinating, I open to a random page of this book for a tune-up. Gilbert’s most insightful contribution is encouraging readers to follow their curiosity — both professionally and artistically. Fear, she says, is boring! You can also listen to the accompanying podcast, Magic Lessons. It’s one of the best out there.

These four books about self-employment inspired me to think creatively about my work, ensuring I draw on my strengths and prioritize my day-to-day life. Does one book, in particular, jump out to you? If so, start reading today; you won’t regret it!

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