The Best Books for Freelancers: 10 Essential Reads

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How many books do you read each year? Bill Gates reads 50, apparently, and many successful CEOs say they read a similar number. With such a correlation between business success and reading, I thought it a good idea to put together an article listing some of the best books for freelancers.

Be sure to read on to learn how to claim one or more free audiobooks from Audible!

As I write this, we’re approaching the time when lots of people are starting to gear up for summer vacations and relaxation. It’s great to kick back on a lounger with the latest best-selling novel, but if you can swap in a business book or two, you could pick up lots of ideas and inspiration – as well as a suntan!

This best books for freelancers list is intended to be a mix of “classics” and more eclectic choices. These are all books I’ve read personally, and been helped and inspired by. I hope you get to enjoy one or more of them too.

Want to Listen Instead of Read? FREE Books with an Audible Trial

I’m a recent convert to audiobooks. I ignored their existence for a long time, before realising I could learn and digest while walking along a beach or lying in bed! I’ve even “levelled up” my audiobook game now, sometimes swapping between listening to a book on Audible and reading it on Kindle.

Learning on headphones

I’d seriously recommend trying Audible if you haven’t already, especially as you can get a 30-day free trial and one or more free audiobooks of your choice (which you get to keep even if you cancel your membership without paying a penny). Promotions can vary, but at the time of writing, you get TWO free audiobooks if your are in the US and one if you’re in the UK.

I’ve also checked all of the best books for freelancers that I’ve named in this article, and every single one is available on Audible.

As such, if you like the look of any of the recommendations below, you could search for it and enjoy it free of charge if you decide to try Audible out for a month.

Sign Up and Claim your Free Trial Here
Anyway, on with the books!

Best Books for Freelancers: The Classics

Some business books are an essential read, even if you don’t particularly resonate with the author or like their ways of doing things. The freelancing books in this first section are all in that “essential” category.

The 4-Hour Workweek

I vividly remember reading the 4-Hour Workweek in a cheap pizza restaurant in London. I was on my lunch break from a consultancy job I hated, and desperate for inspiration to move onto something new.

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If inspiration is what you need, the 4-Hour Workweek delivers. It completely turns on its head what you should expect from your working life, introducing concepts like taking “mini retirements” throughout your life, and outsourcing simple tasks to free you up for things you most enjoy.

Like many business books, the 4-Hour Work Week isn’t as much of a universal step-by-step plan as it likes to think it is. However, it’s worth reading if only to shift your mind away from conventional working routine. I can genuinely say that I never looked at my working life in the same way again after reading this book.

Find the 4-Hour Workweek Here. 

The $100 Startup

The $100 Startup is another one of those books that changes your perspective and gives you a healthy dose of motivation.

What’s particularly inspiring about this book is that it features such a wide range of small businesses, from web designers to life coaches to food and wine importers. It’s a solid reminder that you really can be whoever you want to be.

As with the 4-Hour Workweek, I personally consumed this book more as a motivational tool than a “road map.” Some of the ideas around offers and launches are perhaps not quite as universal as the author thinks. However, it’s certainly one of those books that leaves you feeling fired up and keen to succeed – and that’s what the best books for freelancers all deliver.

Find the $100 Startup Here. 

ProBlogger

I know not everyone wants to start a blog, but I also know that a lot of my readers do. This is one of those books that definitely altered the path of my life. If you’re even thinking about blogging for a living, it’s an essential read.

To be frank, I’d treat the whole “six figure” thing as hyperbole. Yes, it’s possible to make such sums from blogging, but plenty of people would be just as happy to see it replace their day job. Regardless, the book is compelling, however lofty your goals. It gives a perfect overview of what’s really involved in blogging – beyond the obvious writing part.

Find ProBlogger Here. 

DotCom Secrets

This one is an…interesting choice, because I’m recommending a book that I personally don’t like much! However, it’s an essential read if you plan to get involved in online marketing or any related business.

Russell Brunson is a big name in the online world, and hugely successful at what he does. His methods of marketing and sending people down sales “funnels” undoubtedly work, and you are sure to have seen the techniques in action if you’ve spent any amount of time online.

My problem is that I don’t like these techniques, and find they can range from tacky to borderline-exploitative. As you will know if you’re familiar with this site, I have a rather low-key approach to sales. Putting that aside, however you personally feel about “hard sell” techniques, your competitors will use them even if you decide not to – so it makes a LOT of sense to learn the science behind it all.

Find DotCom Secrets Here.

“Mind, Body and Spirit” for Freelancers

Some business breakthroughs are nothing to do with ideas and inspiration. Instead they happen when you make some personal progress and start to manage your life differently.

I’ve no doubt that some readers dismiss books in the “self care” niche as “pseudo science mumbo jumbo,” or something along those lines. All I can say is that all of the books in this section have inspired shifts in the way I do things, which have directly benefitted my business, my life, or both.

The Power of Habit

We all do things we wish we didn’t do so much. I don’t just mean obvious habits like smoking and drinking, but other things like procrastinating or failing to stick at things. This book helps you to understand why.

I can give an enthusiastic personal testimonial for this book: Within a month of reading it I had lost around a stone in weight and started to exercise regularly – something I’m still doing to this day. All it took was understanding a cycle of craving and reward, and the book explains it really well.

I rave about this book a LOT. I wouldn’t claim to have no bad habits now(!) but committing to regular exercise was something I’d been trying to do for decades. Like several of the books on this list, this one just made something “click.”

Find The Power of Habit here. 

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

This is an interesting one. It discusses how the people of Okinawa, Japan, live some of the longest (and healthiest) lives of anyone in the world. It then goes on to look at how to incorporate some of their secrets into our own everyday lives.

This isn’t a heavy book, in any sense of the word. It’s a quick and light read with short chapters. (I devoured it on a sun-lounger in Valencia 🙂 ) I feel it earns its place on a list of the best books for freelancers because of its focus on staying happy by remaining busy.

As I often say, the freelance lifestyle is not only about money. This book serves as a great reminder of how much life can change if you enjoy everything you do and put your heart into it.

Find Ikigai here.

The Self Care Project

Whether or not you’re one of the one in four people afflicted with mental health issues, taking good care of yourself plays a huge part in how healthy and successful you will be.

I’m perfectly open about my own struggles with depression and anxiety, and find myself chatting to readers about such issues almost every day. This book is one I often recommend, primarily because I credit it with pulling me out of a dark and confused place last year.

The book explores why we humans have a tendency to neglect our own needs. It helps you to realise that self-care is essential and – more importantly – teaches you how to incorporate it into your life without feeling guilty about it. The book has stayed on my bedside book pile since the day I read it – ready for when I need it again!

Find the Self-Care Project here. 

The Best Books for Freelance Writers

Yes, I know that not everyone who reads HomeWorkingClub wants to be a writer! However, there are a couple of books I just had to include here. They’re actually both worth a look regardless of what you do for a living, as they touch on marketing and entrepreneurship in general.

Everybody Writes

I love books with easily-digestible chapters, and Everybody Writes is one of them. Written by a true marketing veteran, this is a book that can help you to “up your game” with everything from articles to social media posts.

There are 74 chapters in this book, each covering a way to improve your writing. Examples of the subjects covered include clichés to avoid, which grammar rules you can ignore, and the nuances of writing for social media.

What I love about this book is that reading each chapter genuinely makes you that little bit better at writing. It’s a really worthwhile purchase.

Find Everybody Writes here. 

Contagious

Contagious, while broadly a book about writing, is more about “why things catch on.” It helps you understand why certain things gain momentum and “go viral” in the modern, online world.

Like a couple of the books mentioned above, this is one of those tomes where you’re guaranteed to have a head full of new ideas when you finish reading. There’s a lot of marketing psychology covered here, and the book will help you understand why some things sell while other (very similar) things get ignored and left on the shelf.

Contagious is definitely worth a read if you’re planning to launch something new – it could help you to subtly tweak your marketing and make much more of a splash.

Find Contagious here. 

A Left Field Choice

The final book on my list of the best books for freelancers is a bit of a “curve ball.” It’s not really a business book, but it’s very much a book for our times. I keep recommending it to people, so thought it appropriate to recommend it here too.

The Righteous Mind

The full title of this book is “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.” Living, as we are, in such deeply divided times, surely that’s an important topic to explore?!

The book goes a long way to explain some of the mysteries of everyday life – such as why nobody ever manages to change anybody’s mind by disagreeing with them on social media!

It’s quite a heavy read in places, but it is rewarding. It can help you understand other people much better, especially if they happen to disagree with you. The chances are that you’ll have to work with people in that category so – who knows – maybe it could improve your freelance life…

Find The Righteous Mind here.

Don’t Forget!

Don’t forget that you can get a free audiobook if you sign up to a free trial of Audible here.

We also have an article on Gifts for Entrepreneurs if you’re seeking further inspiration.

Audible offer details verified on 6th June 2019.

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Founder of HomeWorkingClub.com - Ben is a long-established freelancer with a passion for helping other people take control of their destiny and break away from "working for the man." Prone to outbursts of bluntness and realism.

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