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The Freelancer’s Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Have the Career of Your Dreams – On Your Terms

Amazingly, one-third of the American workforce is freelance—that’s 42 million people who have to wrestle with not just doing the work, but finding the work, then getting paid for the work, plus health care, taxes, setting up an office, marketing, and so on. Now help is here, and consultants, independent contractors, the self-employed, “solopreneurs,” and everyone else living a freelancer’s life will never be alone again but instead can be part of a strong and vibrant community.

Written by the authority on freelance working, Sara Horowitz, MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and founder of the national Freelancers Union and, most recently, the Freelancers Insurance Company, The Freelancer’s Bible will help those new to freelancing learn the ropes, and will help those who’ve been freelancing for a while grow and expand. It’s the one-stop, all-encompassing guide to every practical detail and challenge of being a nimble, flexible, and successful freelancer: the three essentials of getting clients and the three most important ways to keep them happy. Five fee-setting strategies. Thirteen tactics for making it through a prolonged dry spell. Setting up a home office vs. renting space. The one-hour contract. A dozen negotiating dos and don’ts. Building and maintaining your reputation. Dealing with deadbeats. Health Insurance 101. Record-keeping and taxes. Productivity, including a quiz: “What Is Your Ideal Day?” Building a community. Subcontracting and other strategies for taking your freelancing career to the next level. Retirement plans, plans for saving for education, and how to achieve financial freedom.

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2 comments to The Freelancer’s Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Have the Career of Your Dreams – On Your Terms

  • Matthew R. Heusser

    A decent introduction to freelancing This is a fine book for someone new to freelancing, looking to break into the business, or a recent college graduate struggling to find regular employment, but seasoned freelancers won’t find much here.Here’s why: By trying to go broad and timeless, Horowitz doesn’t really have the opportunity to go very deep. As a result, you get the same standard advice about LLC vs C Corp vs S Corp vs DBA, on paying estimated quarterly taxes, on how to set up an IRA. On all of these legal matters, though, Horowitz is careful to end with “consult your attorney” or “check with your accountant” – the advice isn’t quite actionable. (Or, it is actionable, it’s the kind of thing you can find in a few minutes with a google search.)The benefit, then, of the book is for the new person is the collecting of all of it in one handy reference … but then you run into the second problem, that it is not very deep. For example, when it comes to sales, Horowitz’s advice is the classic networking stuff: Go to coffee shops, go to user’s group meeting, go to anywhere people will be (conferences etc) and “get out there.”In today’s age, though, there are a whole number of different techniques you can use to “get out there”, from Linkedin to Twitter and Facebook — for example, building a warm prospecting client list or even an optional “keep in touch” email group, then finding appropriate, valuable, relevant information to send to that group. (Blogging is another way to provide real value … and get people to come back to your website.)The coverage of these is spotty at best, arguably because they change so much. Yet the retirement advice is specific, and that will go out of date, as, say, the government changes retirement ages and contribution limits. I don’t get it.The book also lacks actual, detailed, case-study examples. Person X wants to offer service Y, begins marketing by A, B, C, sets price by D, budgets by E, etc … instead she will have a brief quote from someone who learned some insightful lesson that is pretty obvious. (From page 218 – “For years, I paid dues to a professional women’s group and never attended the events! Finally, I decided I’d either save the money or go and get to know people. I’ve enjoyed it much more than I expected.”)A good deal of the advice seems to be about scarcity — how freelancers never make enough money, or clients pay late, or clients insist on too many revisions and the job costs exceed the initial quote, or clients don’t want to approve extra hours, etc. Successful freelance operators are often beyond scarcity, and into abundance; “what contracts should I not renew so that I can take on this other cool thing over here?”The book doesn’t include any coverage of portfolio management – from the sales pipeline (what do I have lined up? When will it sell? Can I sell it all?) to the operations pipeline (how many hours a week can I actually work vs do sales and marketing? Do I need help from someone else? How do I manage them?). Instead, we get the same tired advice to not take on more work than you can do and to subcontract. (Hint: Managing subcontracts can be more work than doing it yourself!)So if you, or who you are buying this for, doesn’t know anything about contracts, taxes or invoices or what N/30 stands for, then yes, you might consider this book. If you are a serious operator and some part of the pitch intrigued you, study what intrigued you about the pitch.For example, I was struck by the promise to help me with my retirement as a freelancer, and assumed there would be some general guidelines and spreadsheets with years to retirement, your budget, the interest rate you’ll get, much like my rule of thumb to save 30% of everything for quarterly estimated taxes. Instead, there was the kind of differentiation about IRA vs ROTH vs 401K that is available to anyone with google.But the sales copy … that was very good.So if you have some experience freelancing, your best investment in this book might be to study the sales copy, which is available on Amazon for free, right now. Horowitz may not be able to deliver the steak for seasoned freelancers — but I have to admit, she seems to know quite a bit about sizzle.Or, if you want the basics, pick the book up, it’s fine. But study the sizzle, kid. That’s the stuff you can’t get everywhere else! :-)

  • MicheleFM

    Everything you need to know With some trepidation, I took a job as a contractor this year after an entire career as an employee. The Freelancers’ Bible is just what I need to know which takes the fear out of making the leap. It helps me weigh the pros and cons about important decisions such as insurance, taxes, and retirement. The descriptions are easy to understand and allowed me to recognize myself putting me at ease about my decisions. This is the wave of the future so all working people have to know about it AND it’s good to know I’m not alone.

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