From The Bookshelf: Books about Freelancing


When I was about 12 years old, I started saving up for a macintosh laptop. I was in love with the colorful clamshell ibooks that came out some time around 1999 and thought that If I could just save up enough money, my parents would not be able stop me from buying one. I was so wrong. When I had $300 saved up, my parents told me that I wasn’t allowed to have my own laptop, and to spend the money on something else. I was disappointed but it wasn’t entirely unexpected. I wasn’t exactly the most responsible 12 year old on the internet.

So over that summer, I discovered my love for books. I’ve always been partial to a good fantasy novel, but where I really got excited was the “how to draw” books. I felt inspired and so empowered. From then on my book obsession and hunger for knowledge has grown ten fold. My friends always come to me for a book suggestion to help them answer their design questions or inspiration needs.

After I graduated I had a lot of questions about becoming a freelancer and had no one to turn to. I looked to books to guide me on calculating rates and being a professional. Here are some of the books I have in my library about freelancing.

They cover everything from marketing yourself to contracts and rates. There’s no need to buy all of them, They all pretty much say the same thing, with varying differences.

Designers Guide to Marketing and Pricing

The Designers Guide to Marketing and Pricing is great because it’s super extensive. It answers every question you could possibly have about establishing your market, finding clients, choosing marketing tools, following up, and calculating your rate. This is the book that you buy, not necessarily to read cover to cover but you keep it on your shelf to refer back to when you have a new marketing question. It is very dense, and I do not advise trying to read it all in one sitting.

The Designers Guide to Business and Careers

The Designers Guide to Business and Careers is the “sister” book to the Guide to Marketing and Pricing. It covers a much more broad topic of being a “business professional”. I’d say it is less as informative as the Marketing and Pricing (maybe because I knew a lot of the information already), but still worth a read to people who have zero knowledge on how to be a business professional. It covers topics like knowing your career options, searching for design jobs, practicing critical skills, working with others, doing personal work and growing your business.

Freelance Design In Practice

Freelance Design In Practice is a hybrid between information and inspiration. It has real advice on being a freelance designer and is beautifully laid out with great typography and inspirational projects from successful freelancers. It covers the same topics of getting started, managing finances, knowing copyright laws, getting referrals, but also addresses the reality of being a freelancer and gives tips on how to avoid becoming a workaholic, and how to evaluate your success.

Creative, Inc.

Creative, Inc. is more informal and reader friendly  than all the other books. The writer, Meg Mateo Ilasco, writes how she would tell the information to a friend, thus making it easier to comprehend. The book is also broken by Q&A interviews with successfully established creatives. I think this book is the least in-depth, but great for beginners. Sometimes you don’t need to know EVERYTHING to start, but just need a general overview to get them started.


I hope that my suggestions help you learn more about being a freelancer. Definitely feel free to ask me any questions about the books or about being a freelancer in the comment section.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.