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The Principles of Successful Freelancing

In the past, I have worked for others. More recently, I have run my own business. A few months ago, I closed that business and moved back to the U.S.A. and am currently doing a little bit of freelance work, writing mostly, just until I begin my grad school program.

My experience with freelancing has been mixed, primarily because I have discovered that I have some gaps in my knowledge.

To see if I could get some help, I picked up this book, The Principles of Successful Freelancing. While the book is focused on working as a website designer, the main principles should apply to most fields. That is good. I have done some website design, but the bulk of my freelance work has been writing for books and magazines, or consulting.

I have enjoyed reading this book. In short, the content is about 20% pep talk, 20% reality check, with the remaining 60% being great advice and useful information.

Obviously, no book will ensure that anyone will be a success at freelancing, but I could have used the information in this book a long time ago, before I started my last business. That business was successful, but I would have benefited greatly from the insights in this book, and in retrospect, I would have done several things differently.

The Principles of Successful Freelancing gives great advice about what is really needed to be successful working for yourself. It starts by having you ask yourself the right questions to determine your attitude, your capabilities, and to make sure your perspective and expectations of the process are realistic. It then moves into practical steps of preparing for the transition from employee to self-employed, managing your finances, preparing your work space, finding and keeping clients, and so on. It even has a great chapter about learning how to find and maintain a healthy work and life balance as well as advice for making the transition in reverse, if you find this isn’t the life for you.

At my current stage of life, I don’t expect freelance work to be much more than a side project. That doesn’t mean I will never go back to working for myself, or starting a business with a partner or two, but for the moment I am content to do a bit of writing here and there to earn some extra income and prepare to do something else as my main source of money. This book has many good tips for freelancing part time as well, and has been well worth the time I spent reading it.


  1. Miles Burke

    Thanks Matthew, for the great review – I’m pleased you got much out of the book.

  2. RainCT

    Uhm… Is it available somewhere as PDF?

    It sounds interesting, but the price of the paper edition + shipping is more than what I’m willing to give out.

  3. I’m pretty sure I saw it being sold as a downloadable PDF on the O’Reilly website, but I didn’t look to confirm it. That would be your best bet, though.

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