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

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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.

496 pages, Paperback

First published October 23, 2012

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Sara Horowitz

6 books10 followers

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5 stars
146 (29%)
4 stars
189 (38%)
3 stars
121 (24%)
2 stars
25 (5%)
1 star
10 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 58 reviews
Profile Image for Ian Griffin.
42 reviews20 followers
June 24, 2013
The primary value of this well-designed 462-page book is as a one-stop reference for new freelancers — or anyone considering alternatives to full-time W-2 work. Every practical detail is covered: from client contracts to daily calendars; insurance to incorporation; marketing to mentoring; taxes to technology. These practical details, checklists and planning tools are enlivened with stories from freelancers Sara has met in her 15 years as the founder of the Freelancer’s Union.
A wake-up call for America

The real value of the book is where is goes beyond the basic reference it does so well. A series of “Advocacy Alerts” encourage freelancer’s to “stand up together to be counted” when it comes to demanding a more freelancer-friendly set of laws. Sara recognizes that we live in society that is still structured for the work-world of the 1950′s: a lifetime of “secure” employment where healthcare and unemployment compensation is geared to support an economy of full-time workers. This just won’t cut it when, Sara claims, a third of all work is being done by freelancers. Unless they band together, freelancers are at a disadvantage in terms of the tax code, misclassification by corporations and unpaid wages:

“In the new economy, our best chance of securing what freelancers need is to provide as much of it as we can ourselves through the groups freelancers are connected to–organizations like Freelancers Union, professional associations, faith-based communities and other nonprofits…and then approaching lawmakers as a collective unit and let them know it’s really getting to be ridiculous that freelancers continue to grow in number, continue to pay all these taxes … yet continue to get no consideration in the safety net discussions where change has to happen at the policy level.”

In very practical ways the Freelancer’s Union provides members a way to share stories on how to avoid being held hostage by deadbeat clients, provides alternatives to employer healthcare (in a few states only) and encourages members to provide each others with discounts.

Nevertheless, in the world of elance and fiverr there’s a real danger of freelancer’s being caught in a race to the bottom with price-sensitive clients. Chapter three is filled with solid advice on building a freelance portfolio where low-price work is only a small element of “a client mix that delivers maximum value for your time and effort.”
Setting a fair fee

A trap many new to freelancing fall into is not knowing the market rate for your services. The Sherman Antitrust Act prevents associations from openly discussing fees. However, there’s nothing to stop freelancers from informally sharing information about pricing with others, which helps all freelancers get paid what they deserve. If for no other reason than this, freelancers should join a mastermind group and buy a couple of more experienced people in your field a coffee in exchange for an honest discussion about their fees.
All together now

Time and again, the book points to the value of freelancers building community: for robust networking in person and online; mentoring others; avoiding isolation and keeping a sense of perspective.

As with all advice books, there’s plenty here that you can adapt to your own needs. To take one example, Sara lists the advantages of having a blog as a great way to market yourself online. I couldn’t agree more. But she says to keep blog postings to no more than 500 words. Works for some, just not for me.
Profile Image for Brittany McCann.
1,647 reviews405 followers
August 27, 2020
This was an excellent introduction to freelancing. The organization is well done and intuitive into the order of starting up a new business.

If you plan to pursue freelancing either part or full-time and do not have any previous experience, I highly recommend looking through this guide. Sara Horowitz has put a ton of research and personal experience into making this a fairly fool-proof bible of freelancing.

5 Stars
Profile Image for Katja H. Labonté.
Author 16 books180 followers
August 21, 2021
5+ stars & 8/10 hearts. This book is so incredibly helpful. It is jam-packed with information and tips and inspiration and encouragement on how to create your freelance business/career. There were a few words, but overall it was super clean, especially for a secular book. I can’t even begin to share how much help this book gives—all about taxes, office set up, supplies, how to deal with clients, marketing, branding… And it’s so encouraging—makes me feel like I CAN do this! I highly recommend it to any and all freelancers.

A Favourite Quote: (quoted from an unnamed freelancer) “But my little space was flooded with sunlight and it was all mine. In that funky little space, I wrote reams of copy, matched wits with learned people, hatched ideas, and had brainstorms. I learned that good work can happen anywhere. Because good work is up to me.”
Profile Image for Jess Estrada.
17 reviews12 followers
February 23, 2016
One of my best friends gave this to me when I started freelancing four years ago. Such a great resource!
Profile Image for Hillary.
101 reviews6 followers
February 1, 2013
I am a university student, and my specified field of study has absolutely nothing to do with freelance, but I have always had an interest in the area. I received this book through one of the Goodreads giveaways. This book provided me with an abundant amount of information that was easy for me to understand, and even utilize within my own area of focus. I am definitely a "newbie" in the world of freelance, but after reading this book I feel like I could just go out and succeed today. While many of the topics presented might seem like "no-brainers," the author really took the time to include key tips and tricks to help any aspiring freelancers to succeed. It was easy to read and follow along, and I liked how the language used was precise yet descriptive. I would recommend this book to anyone who has a remote interest in freelance, and for those who are already much more advanced, this book provides little tidbits of information I never would have even considered had it not been brought to my attention through this book. The only reason I did not give this book five stars is because of my own personal prejudice, which is that this expertise does not entirely relate to the field in which I will become a professional. Overall, the author hit the nail on the head with the title; it really does seem like a Bible for freelancing, and refrains from using too much "jargon" or "slang" words, which I really appreciated.
Profile Image for Rachel Brune.
Author 22 books92 followers
October 5, 2019
This one is going on my permanent work bookshelf. Lots of great information for those who, like me, have been trying to crack the code on freelancing for the past year, but also resources and encouragement for those just starting out and those who have been in the game longer. I am doing some professional reading and this is getting me started thinking about how I need to revamp my business plan to find ways to be more effective and be a better citizen of the freelancing community. Definite recommend.
Profile Image for Dan Graser.
Author 4 books102 followers
September 24, 2017
I encountered this book through a faculty committee initiative to work towards incorporating the preparation of future freelancers into our performance curriculum. As many have noted this really is the premiere resource for independent workers and professional freelancers of any profession. While my main interest is in applying this to artists/musicians, there is material here for everyone.

One trend that we are seeing in today's economy is the reliance on part-time work at the collegiate level and as such, those who were previously on track to be tenured professors are only being offered hourly, adjunct work. Because of this change in academia, several highly qualified young professionals have turned to freelancing as their lifestyle and primary source of income. It is in this area that Sara Horowitz does her best work in that she effectively does away with the previously pejorative connotations of the word, "freelance," and displays throughout this massive tome how such a lifestyle can not only be sustainable and profitable but also genuinely desirable and preferable to more structured, 9-5 sort of work.

Throughout the 500 page book she is also clearly selling her Freelancers Union initiative and this is to be commended as their website is a treasure-trove of information for budding young freelancers and goes into great detail regarding everything from managing your finances and taxes to networking, healthcare, and many other areas. Very frequently this book seems like a mission statement for the Freelancers Union (yikes, I was just about to make an acronym of that organization) and displays the importance for everyone in this type of work to collaborate in helping to create a rising tide that, "lifts all boats."

While I personally would have loved a good deal more profession-specific information since she frequently jumps between copy-editors, writers, visual and musical artists; this remains THE desk reference for anyone wishing to enter the freelance lifestyle in their area of expertise and at around 10 bucks a pop is a huge steal given the wealth of information contained within. Highly recommended!
37 reviews
January 26, 2018
This seems like a good compendium of the types of issues and questions freelancers (and potential freelancers) need to consider to be successful. I'm only interested in working part-time so some of the information in this book wasn't that relevant but it seems like a good guide to keep on hand. I was particularly interested in the sections about managing client relationships, which is something I think many people struggle with.
Profile Image for Tommy P.
31 reviews
August 25, 2020
Although the author really knows what she's talking about and has accomplished admirable success for herself and service to others, the book contains a lot of common knowledge that only serves to make the book larger and thereby fulfill the publisher's claim to be a 'bible' for freelancers. i appreciate the the very useful resources contained in it but do not anticipate reading it as devotional literature.
But hats off to Sara H.!
Profile Image for Helen Lemus.
36 reviews
April 12, 2021
I really enjoyed her style. She writes in an informal but direct way that kept me interested and able to follow what she was saying. As someone who is starting out as a freelance writer, I needed a manual like this to help me out.

Sara Horowitz writes like a champion! This book is not just for freelance writers. It's for anyone who wants to work for themselves. She inspired my work and aspirations with her lively words.
Profile Image for Roger Alix-Gaudreau.
38 reviews2 followers
December 29, 2022
This book is loaded with useful information and advice on how to establish and operate a freelance business. The author's enthusiasm for freelance life is obvious throughout, but the book has a lot of realistic advice about the many challenges. In the end, if you want to leave corporate America and join the tens of millions of people who took more control of their lives by going freelance, this book is an incredible resource to help you do so successfully.
214 reviews1 follower
January 13, 2018
Solid, with a lot of useful information and encouragement. Mainly focused on "artistic" freelancing (graphic design, writing, and the like) than other fields, so some of the ideas are hard to apply generally. Didn't have much of what I was hoping for in terms of how to actually set up a business - sole proprietor, LLC, etc.
Profile Image for Lindsey.
687 reviews18 followers
September 13, 2018
This is a great resource with a lot of helpful information. But it didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know. I was hoping it would de-mystify some aspects of freelancing, but the aspects that I found confusing and scary are still confusing and scary. I guess that is all part and parcel of freelancing life.
Profile Image for Stacey Nguyen.
126 reviews
May 1, 2018
I found this little (ok, almost 500 pages long) gem in the clearance section at Half Price Books in Berkeley. It's a great resource for figuring out things like taxes, insurance, retirement funds, networking, finding clients, and figuring out contracts for freelancing.
Profile Image for Scott Kinkade.
Author 17 books50 followers
August 12, 2018

A must-have for freelancers. It contains a vast amount of information necessary for living the freelance life. I strongly recommend this book for anyone looking to quit their 9 to 5 job.
Profile Image for John Riselvato.
Author 15 books2 followers
August 27, 2020
I rented this one from the library, I thought I was interested in Freelancing but I don't think it's my style. I was hoping to learn more about marketing in this book, but it was mostly gig economy advice.
Profile Image for Pamela Fernandes.
Author 31 books86 followers
September 26, 2020
This is a good book for someone beginning a freelance career. I loved the section on situations and solutions. For someone mid career looking for newer markets, it's not as helpful. It does have nuggets of tips for tax and accounts.
Profile Image for Haydn Martin.
76 reviews1 follower
November 12, 2020
Skimmed through. Found some useful info and the book triggered some useful thoughts.

But mostly dull and basic. Not helped by the author's incessant mentioning of her own venture, a huge turn-off, and the awkward aesthetics of the book itself.
Profile Image for Kevin Amorim.
2 reviews
January 23, 2021
I've learned some nice things from this book. Although I think it could go a bit deeper on the theme. There was a bit too much of promotion to the Freelancer Union which becomes a bit annoying after some time. Despite this, I would totally recommend this book to new freelancers!
Profile Image for K.
267 reviews7 followers
February 15, 2018
Very detailed information - would be a good reference to go back to, as needed.
Profile Image for Sam Potasznik.
41 reviews
January 15, 2019
If you're starting off on your own freelancing, and don't know where to start, just read this book.
Profile Image for Nate Jordon.
Author 13 books23 followers
November 13, 2019
A vital reference tool - a work I'll keep within arm's reach at all times.
618 reviews
August 8, 2020
Good read and manual for going out on your own. Many good things to think about and tips and tricks as you go completely out on your own or just looking to do some consulting on the side.
Profile Image for Jen Pedrozo.
105 reviews19 followers
March 26, 2021
A bit out of date in terms of laws and such, but overall a great book about starting a freelance career.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 58 reviews

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