The Essential Freelancer Go-To Guidebook (60+ resources)

or 60+ resources every Freelancer must read and bookmark

 

Be your own boss! Who of us toiling away at the 9 to 5 hasn’t thought about becoming their own boss? – a freelancer!

Whilst working at a different cafe everyday, waking up as late as your want or becoming a travelling nomad sounds like the life – the freelancer life is not without it’s challenges. Getting work, making sure you’ve got enough money to cover your finances (and your life dreams), and simply managing your own time and your clients are all challenges you’ll need to overcome when freelancing.

Worry not though – we’ve got you covered on the above and much more! We’ll show to how to become a freelancer, how to find work, how to brand yourself, how to take care of your finances, mistakes you need to avoid, productivity tips, apps you should be using and more!

Essential Freelancer Guidebook

Turn your freelancing career into an enterprising success with these essential tips

Freelancing has so many rewards, that if you’re considering getting into, we definitely encourage you to take the plunge!

Rather than just jumping ship from your company and then going it alone learning and making your own mistakes, the Freelancer Go-To Guidebook is an essential resource and reading list such that your learning curve is much shorter.

We want to help you make sure the path to your success is quicker so we’ve compiled a list of resources to get you started and well on your way to success.

The Essential Freelancing Guidebook

Freelancer Guidebook: Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – Getting started with freelancing
Chapter 2 – How much should I charge?
Chapter 3 – Getting more  freelance business
Chapter 4 – Maintaining a healthy work-life balance
Chapter 5 – Keeping your finances in order
Chapter 6 – Tips for being a successful freelancer
Chapter 7 – Pitfalls to avoid when freelancing
Chapter 8 – Essential Apps and Tools for Freelancers

 

Chapter 1:

Ditch the 9 to 5 – Become your own Boss and start playing by your own rules

Or how to get more out of the hours you work

 

Now that you’ve set your mind on your life’s next goal – setting up a freelancing lifestyle, it’s time to do a lot of research. There are some things you’ll need to do to set yourself on the path to success quickly.

These are some of the best tips around to make sure your get your freelancing career started on the right track.

 

My secrets to becoming a successful freelancer (And How You Can Get Out Of Your Desk Job In 30 Days)

Emil Lamprecht from CareerFoundry shares 5 essentials tips which will help you to start making the transition from the 9 to 5 to a freelancing career. Amongst his awesome tips there are suggestions on how to get your first clients, your image, and other critical success factors.

 

How to start your freelance career and be your own boss

Josephine Sabin from DesignCrowd shares these tips to get on top of your freelancing career.

Freelance man in office

Following the Hunch: How to Make Freelancing Into a Durable Business

Nick Disaboto runs Draft, and interaction design company. In this article on 99u he shares a launch process which consistently works for him

 

9 Things You Should Know About Freelancing Full-time

Samar Owais from HongKiat, prepares the budding freelancer for the “not so nice” aspects of freelancing. You need to make sure you’re prepared for these …

 

How to start freelancing with no experience

If you’re just starting out with freelancing, you’ll probably have no idea where to start. Tom Ever recommends that you follow these steps and you’ll be up and running in no time.

 

How I found my freelancing niche and tips to finding yours

Of course, as a freelancer, finding a niche which works for you is an essential and necessary step. April Gerer explains how to find your niche.

Launch process

11 Lucrative Freelance Jobs That Are Still Growing

Still battling and questioning which niches have lots of potential? Here’s 11 things you might want to throw yourself into whilst they are still growing.

 

How to Find Your Dream Job (When You Don’t Know What You Want)

Sometimes when you’re still wondering what you want to do, you just need to do a little introspection and analysis of your past. The answer to your dream job is not as elusive as you might think

 

How to get your first 3 paying clients

Of course once you know what you want to do, you need to get some actual clients. Your hardest clients to get are going to be your first ones, so here’s how to get your first three clients.

 

Freelance Contracts: Do’s And Don’ts

Once you start getting a few freelancing jobs, you want to make sure you have a good freelance web design or other contract in place. There’s some things you need to do, and some things you shouldn’t do.

 

Chapter 2:

Increase income drastically by knowing how much you should be charging

It’s not what you cost, but how much value your service is providing

 

Of course, one of most people’s  primary aims for going freelance is to make more money. To be able to do that, you’ll need to know how to price the service you are offering so you don’t leave any money on the table. This chapter will guide you to coming to the right pricing balance which based on your experience and expertise and maximises your income potential.

How Much Should I Charge for Web Design

Hi I’m Mark, I’m a Chronic Under-pricer

Under pricing can seriously affect your chances of success. There are various reasons why you might be under pricing yourself. Mark addresses and resolves the issue of under pricing for your freelance services.

 

How much should I charge for web design [or anything else for that matter]

Knowing what to price is of course not something which can be answered simply. It requires experience, awareness of your market, foresight of expenses, and something simply refusing difficult clients. Richard Muscat Azzopardi, founder of Switch Digital and BeeWits explains how we should determine what you should charge for web design and other freelancing jobs.

 

Why you’re not reaching your income goals

If you’re not able to make your income goals, you’re going to have a very hard time keeping freelancing as your job. Michelle Nickolaisen from Freelance to Freedom project explains the two freelancing mistakes you should not be coming.

Freelance Rates

Freelancing: a complete guide to setting and negotiating rates

Here’s a relatively old but excellent and relevant article of how to set your freelance rates by Tom Ewer from Leaving Work Behind

 

Freelancers: here’s how to set your rates

Laura Shin, from Forbes has an excellent article on how to determine and set your freelance rates, complete with example workings of how you should go about calculating your rate.

Your Rate vs. Your Expenses

 

Freelance Rates Database

Of course, as shown in many of the above articles, knowing what others charge in your market / industry is very important for you be able to come up with your rate. Contently has a database of freelancer rates for various markets which is an excellent reference point.

 

Chapter 3:

Tips and Tricks to ensure you are overflowing with business

Because you’re better off choosing and refusing the cheap clients

 

One of the hard(er) tasks you’ll need to get sorted when freelancing, is that of making sure you’ve got enough work and clients. Although this may seem overwhelming at first, once you get to know the following tips and tricks, you’ll be in a much better place than most freelancers starting out.

Here’s a couple of lists of sites where you can get more freelancing work

Getting work from Freelancing job sites

Here’s our own roundup of websites with freelancing work available

Freelancer Jobs: Get more work with these sites

and then there is HongKiat’s

50 Freelance Job Sites For Designers & Programmers – Best Of

and the Entrepreneur also has a list of 15 sites

The 15 Best Freelance Websites to Find Jobs

Freelance job sites

How to Find Clients & Market Your Freelance Business – The Ultimate Guide

Brent Galloway from YourFreelanceCareer has an excellent article on things to do to get and keep clients for your freelancing business.

 

Freelance Marketing 101: Creating a “Magnetic” Freelance Business

BidSketch shows us how to market a freelance business. Just like any other business, much of the success depends on good marketing. Magnetic Marketing is not your typical kind of marketing though …

 

A (Proven) Freelancer’s Guide to Growing Your Business

Anything coming from Noah Kagan has got to be really great. In this post, Paul Jarvis from PJRVS explains his proven way to being booked for months in advance.

 

Why freelances should specialize (not generalize)

You’ve probably heard it time and time again. Niches and specializations are the way to go. When you assert yourself as an expert, you’re bound to get more business.

 

The 200-Word Guide to Personal Branding

Of course, your personal brand is crucially important in freelancing.

 

How to Land a High-Paying Freelance Client in the Next 2 Weeks

Gregory Ciotti from the Sparring Mind shows us what it takes to land a great client in two weeks. It includes selling yourself smartly.

 

Stop trying to find new Freelance Clients

Preston Lee on the other hand thinks that finding new clients is a big time-waster. He’s got another suggestion, and we can’t say it’s a bad one.

Stop trying to find new freelance clients

 

How To Get an Extra $58k This Year

On the same lines, Leah Kalamakis believes of Freelance to Freedom project believes that there is a better way than looking for new clients.

 

The Freelancer’s Guide to Outsourcing

Brain Casel, teaches freelancers another essential lesson. Do not go it alone and do it all yourself. You’ll need to rope in help – and outsourcing is the way to go.

Freelance Frenemies

Freelance Frenemies – Why You Should Be Working With The Competition

Keep your friends close – keep your enemies closer. It’s funny, but in this industry your competitors are also your partners in business. You should not regard your peers as competitors – you’re in the same industry. Work together not against each other.

 

Chapter 4:

Work-less hours, earn more money

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance and a good quality of life

When going it alone, working from home, or freelancing it’s easy to get caught up and forget why you got into this in the first place – to rid yourself of the shackles of the 9-to-5. Being your own boss creates different kind of pressures though, so it’s essential that you learn to deal with these in a manner which maintains your work life balance.

 Work Life Balance
How To Achieve a Better Work Life Balance When You Freelance

When freelancing, with your home being the office, it’s very very important to know where to draw the line.

5 Secrets to Achieving and Maintaining Work-Life Balance

Craig Cincotta, part of the leadership of a home improvement network gives us five tips to ensure that we embrace the off button.

 

Freelancers: How to balance your work life

We love this article because it goes back to the basics. Sometimes you really just have to remember that we work to live, rather than the other way round (one would hope).

 

Perfecting the freelance work-life balance à la française

Thibaut Barrère has perfected the freelancing lifestyle. In this article Antoine from DNSimple shows us how we did it.

 

Staying Healthy as a Freelance Writer: 9 Important Self-Care Strategies

When you are actually doing freelance work, many of us are at their desks. Heed these 9 tips: they’re important.

Freelance Self Care Tips

 

Chapter 5: Know your way through the complicated mess of finances for freelancers

Income > expenses = profit

Getting paid – everybody’s favourite time of the month! Now that you’re a freelancer, there are some things you need to cater for which you previously did not have to bother much with – collecting your income, catering for expenses and other general accounting. This is an essential part of your freelance success. Learning from others here is essential.

Freelancers tax deductions

The Freelancer’s Guide to the Complicated Mess of Tax Deductions

Filing your taxes can be confusing – especially as a freelancer. Here’s how to tackle your tax return as a freelancer to make the most of your deductions.

 

What You Should Know About Taxes When You’re a Freelancer

You really need to make sure you don’t make a mess of your taxes – it could come back to bite you. Hard. Here are 10 essential things you need to make sure you’ve thought through and understood

 

Ask a Freelancer: Should I Set Myself Up as an LLC?

Setting yourself as a Limited Liability Company helps protects your personal assets if you are ever involved in a business-related lawsuit.

 

F*ck you, Pay me

Ok, so one of issues of being a freelancer is getting paid. You are not a FREE lunch. So excuse the crude expression but …

 

The secrets to budgeting as a freelancer

Any business (including freelancing) needs to have one essential rule to be profitable. Spend less money than you make. Paul Jarvis from The Creative Class walks us through this simple but essential “secret” and many others to keep your finances in order.

Freelancing budget

Ask a Freelancer: Help! A Client Owes Me $2,000!

Being paid what you are due is a critical part of freelancing. You don’t have the luxury of a normal business. This article by Nicole Dieker shows us how to walk the fine line between keeping a good relationship with a client who has not paid what they owe.

 

Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center (US)

Given that we’re on the topic of finances and taxes, here’s a quick link to the Self-employed or freelancers US Tax Center. There’s also a page which is dedicated specifically to freelancers, with a number of Tax tips for the self-employed.

and here is the equivalent for the UK

Working for yourself (UK)

 

 

Chapter 6:

Increase both your success and your productivity with these essential freelancer tips

One you’re well on your way in your freelancing career, there are some things you can do to optimize your work, improve your results and generally make your life that little bit (or a lot) better. These tips show you how to take freelancing to the next level.

 

32 Productivity Tips From The World’s Top Designers

Here’s a list of productivity tips, which despite being from the World’s Top Designers, apply to all kinds of freelancers.

 

Things You Don’t Want To Do (or Learn) but Have To If You Want to Be a Legit Business

Leah Kalamakis walks us through some not so pleasant things you’ll need to do as  a freelancer. We call them the boring bits, things you don’t want to do to, but have to – if you want to succeed that is.

 

Getting clients to pay: 10 tips for freelancers

Getting paid as a freelancer is one of those real headaches. You’ll feel you’ll always chasing after money. Joel Hughes shows us how to get paid for your freelance work.

 

Work from Home Hacks

Of course with freelancing many times you’ll be working from home. This is not without its drawbacks. These hacks ensure that working from home doesn’t zap your productivity.

Work from home hacks

Don’t make it about you

This article is originally written for copywriting freelancers. It’s however essential reading for those who are looking to up their personal brand, especially in terms of the copy they are using for their online presence.

 

10 steps to Freelance success

Anna Richardson shows us the 10 steps to Freelance success on this article on CreativeBloq

 

8 Timeless tips for Freelancers struggling with Productivity

As a freelancer, you might find that your productivity might take a battering. If you’re struggling to stay productive, these tips will get you back on track.

Freelancer Productivity Tips

How can you increase productivity when working Freelance?

Whilst on the subject of productivity, these tips from CareerFoundry help you to increase your productivity.

 

Freelancers, Stop Getting Burned by Your Clients

Addison Duvall writing on SpeckyBoy shows you how to make sure you don’t get burned by your clients. It’s plenty of good advice.

Chapter 7:

Don’t make the mistakes that everybody has made before you

Pitfalls to avoid when freelancing

WARNING: The following freelancing mistakes will cost you money, business and overall dent your reputation. Know what pitfalls you’ll need to avoid in your freelancing career. You too could get burned – so learn from others’ mistakes and avoid making the following mistakes.

 

53 Freelancing Mistakes That Are Costing You Clients, Cash, and Credibility

This quite a long list of freelancing mistakes that you might be doing. You’ll probably find a few which will ring a bell. Have a look ad see where you might make some improvements.

Freelancing Mistakes

 

The biggest freelance mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Matt Schiffman from this CreativeBloq shows us not just what the biggest freelance mistakes are, but how we can fix them.

 

5 Mistakes Every Freelancer Makes

If you prefer looking at things in pretty pictures, this infographic will give you the bad news, albeit in a pretty infographic.

Freelancing Infographic

10 Mistakes made by new Freelancers

Newbie freelancers are more likely to make mistakes. If you want your freelance career to survive beyond the initial months – you’ll need to be sure to avoid these mistakes!

 

The Mistake You’re Making as a Freelancer

Do you look like every other freelancer out there? How do you stand out from the crowd?

 

10 Most Common Health Hazards of Freelancing

We’ve already seen how freelancing does not come without drawbacks. That does include potential health hazards. You should be looking out for these and make sure they’re not affecting you in the short or long term.

Freelance health hazards

Freelancers: How Not To Get Screwed By Clients

If you are working for free to build your portfolio – you’re doing it wrong. People are taking you for a ride, because you are letting them. Stop getting screwed by “clients” and get paid what you deserve.

 

Chapter 8:

Boost your potential with these essential Apps and tools for freelancers

Now that you’ve settled all the things you need to think of when setting out as a new freelancer, there are a number of apps and tools which can help you along the way. Of course, there’s no shortage of these tools, so you’re going to have to make a bit of a choice yourself – however, we’ve curated a few of the very best ones below.

 

10 Must-Have Mobile Apps for Productivity

You’re bound to be working a little bit on the go. Even if you don’t your SmartPhone is an essential tool in your freelance work, so have a look at these apps to improve your productivity.

 

The 25 Best Articles on Freelancing of All Time

Here’s a great list of articles about the various aspects of freelancing.

 

101 Awesome tools for Web Designers & Developers

If you’re a freelancing web designer or developer, this list (compiled by ourselves) is something which you should definitely look at.

101 Webdesign tools

 

30 Essential Tools and Web Apps for Freelancers

You’re bound to find quite a wealth of tools to use as a freelancers. Here’s another 30 which you might want to consider. Of course, see what works for you and what doesn’t.

 

50 Tools You Need To Get Your Freelance Business Started

Didn’t we just tell you – there’s plenty of ways you can spend your money on tools. Just find the ones which work for you. Remember our financial advice above. Don’t spend more than you are earning – it won’t last.

 

22 free tools and apps to get you started as a freelancer

Some great tools come at a very good price – free. Here’s a bunch of free useful tools which are great for starting out as a freelancer. Just a word of warning. Free does not always mean your never pay a cent – it means there is a free tier. Once you hit the limit – you’re going to have to start shelling out the cash.

 

15 Free Tools to manage your Freelance Design business

Here’s a few other tools you might want to look at.

 

What’s next?

Liked our freelancer essential go-to guidebook? Got any suggestions to make? We’d be happy to add great reads to this list!