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The Freelancer's Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Have the Career of Your Dreams―On Your Terms Paperback – October 23, 2012
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“We live in a gig economy today and there’s no better guide to making your way in that world than The Freelancer’s Bible. It will help you be savvier about building your brand and getting work.”
—Tina Brown, Editor, Newsweek & The Daily Beast
About the Author
in the Huffington Post and The Atlantic online. She is Cornell-, Columbia-, Harvard-, and SUNY-educated, and comes from a long line of labor lawyers. Ms. Horowitz lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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The Freelancer's Bible is loaded with good advice, best practices, and resources. As a one-volume overview, it doesn't go deep on some of the more practical aspects of the freelance life (taxes, for example) but one shouldn't expect it to. Rather, Horowitz does an excellent job of getting you pointed in the right direction and provides good references so you can find out more.
As a freelancer, you have to do it yourself, but as we're fond of saying at MWS Media, "Doing it yourself means never going it alone." The Freelancer's Bible is written in that spirit, and it's a very good volume to have at hand for that reason. Recommended!
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 description -- the few paragraphs of description used to sell the book ... that was very good.
So if you have some experience freelancing, your best investment in this book might be to study the sales description, 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! :-)
Great tips. Great resources. Get it!