3 Book Reviews on How to Become a Full-Time Freelancer

Creative, Inc.
The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business

by Meg Mateo Ilasco & Joy Deangdeelert Cho

Best for: Freelance graphic designers and illustrators
Favorite quote:
“…remember that as a freelancer it’s not necessarily about building wealth, but about the process of how wealth is built.”

This was a quick and easy (and really well-designed) read that highlights all of the main obstacles you will encounter with your freelance business and how to overcome them. I liked that it doesn’t go into too much detail on every aspect of freelancing although I really appreciated the hourly rate calculator and the examples of invoices. There are some good tips on how to work professionally with clients and the benefits of an agent. Although the book focuses on designers, stylists and writers can easily apply this knowledge to their freelance careers.

The Renegade Writer
A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success
by Linda Formichelli & Diana Burrell

Best for: Beginner freelance magazine writers
Favorite quote: “Break this rule: You have to live in New York City to succeed.”

I feel like I’m giving a really good secret away by telling you about this book. The entire premise is based on breaking the well-known rules about freelancing. Each chapter has a theme, but other than that it’s a line list of rules and why you should break them. If you seriously want to make an income based solely on freelance writing, these ladies have figured out the ways to get the most bang for your buck in the least amount of time. This book will definitely give you the confidence you need to get your freelance writing career off the ground.

The Anti 9 to 5 Guide
Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube

by Michelle Goodman

Best for: Anyone who is slightly curious about making a living outside of a cube farm
Favorite quote: “As SHE-E-O of your own enterprise, you call the shots now.”

I have wanted to pick up this book for a long time and, I have to say, it wasn’t what I expected. I was hoping for tips specific to freelance writing, but the book is more like a really long overly-analyzed discussion with your big sister on every single career/lifestyle option that lies before you. Which is great for someone who is just beginning to think about life outside the cube. Maybe you want to start your own business, go part-time so you can spend more time with your kids, travel the world, or become a firefighter. This book will cover all of that. It’s a long read, but the author has a sense of humor and the book gets better with each chapter. There are encouraging “action plans” and comical quizzes along the way. I picked up her second book, My So-Called Freelance Life, which I think is a better fit for me.

What I Learned
If you’re interested in freelancing, it’s important to do a bit of research and get inspired by others. But it’s important to draw the line at some point — instead of reading about freelancing, you need to start freelancing! There’s only so much you can learn from a book. You need to get your hands dirty and dive in headfirst. What I did learn from all three books was this:

  • Keep your full-time job while you get your freelance business off the ground.
  • Save at least 3 months of living expenses so you don’t go broke immediately after you quit your job.
  • Only buy the necessities in the beginning. Don’t blow all your money on expensive equipment and supplies. You need to make a profit (and accept the fact that you’re business could fail in which case all your “investments” would be a waste).
  • A majority of your time MUST be spent marketing yourself and constantly pursuing new jobs and clients.
  • You are now the boss, assistant,  accountant, and HR manager so you’re going to be BUSY multitasking and learning new skills. (There’s a lot of new things you need to learn about taxes. And insurance. And negotiating contracts.)
  • The freelance life is not all glamour (a la Carrie Bradshaw) but once you get it figured out, it’s well worth the time and effort.

Blog to Job: When Digital Dreams Come True

Got a hobby? Got a computer? Got a camera? You’re that much closer to landing your dream job.

It’s true. It’s now easier than ever to throw your talents into the vast interwebs and wait for opportunities to reach back to you. From grammar to travel to home design, blogs of all kinds are suddenly considered respectable forms of communication, inspiration, and information. Fashion bloggers are sitting front row at fashion week, soon-to-be authors are penning the first few chapters of their yet-unpublished books in vertical form, and laptop-lovers are leaving cubical comfort to enter self-employment (aka full-time blogging) in droves.

Here are 10 blog-turned-career success stories. (FYI I didn’t have to search hard — these are just blogs that I read. So if you have an idea, put it out there!) Now on to the success stories:

The Lost Girls
Jennifer, Holly, and Amanda. Three friends who quit their New York City jobs at age 28 and traveled around the world for a year. Upon their return, the girls started a website and eventually wrote a book. Last week, Jerry Bruckheimer decided to turn it into a TV show. Lost Girls for the win!

Woman loves to bake. Woman creates a treat called Cake Pops. Woman blogs about Cake Pops. Woman gets book deal and a cover of Betty Crocker’s fall magazine. Regardless of whether or not you like to bake, this blog is seriously the best blog I’ve ever seen. Hands down. The photos, the writing, the content — it’s all perfect.

Design Sponge
Twenty-something Grace Bonney created a blog to help land her dream job. After a few years, her design blog turned into a full-time gig with a small staff, and now there’s a book on the way. We’ll see where she chooses to go from here, but I see Grace as the next Martha Stewart.

Stuff White People Like
It all started as an inside joke between friends. In January 2008, Christian Lander blogged about “stuff white people like.” By summer he was on a book tour across the country for the paperback version of Stuff White People Like, published by Random House. He’s still booking speaking engagements today. (And a similar story happened to the Stuff Hipsters Hate co-authors.)

Young House Love
A cute young couple bought a cute old house and blogged about their lives as new home owners. It eventually turned into a full-time job for both Sherry and John. The couple (and their home) have been featured in just about every home design publication and website, and they even write a few columns as well.

P.S. – I made this…
Erica Domesek, a New York City stylist and DIY guru, started a craft club with her friends. She showed them how easy it is to hand make jewelry on the cheap. It eventually turned into a blog which eventually turned into columns in fashion magazines and sites. Finally she landed a book deal.

Nomadic Matt
In the travel blog world, Nomadic Matt is kind of a big deal. It started when he quit cubicle life and ventured into the great wide yonder for one year … which turned into 18 months … which turned into another long-term trip three months later. Now he travels and writes full-time. His blog is often the highest-rated travel blog.

The Style Rookie
At age 11, Tavi Gevinson started a fashion blog. Within two years, she’s featured in Teen Vogue & French Vogue, she wrote for Harper’s Bazaar, and she’s become a front-row regular at New York Fashion Week. Now 14, her most recent venture includes acting as the inspiration for Rodarte’s clothing line for Target.

Grammar Girl
Ok so this is a podcast success story. Mignon Fogarty launched a weekly podcast of “quick and dirty” grammar tips for the everyday person. The short podcasts became a “quick and dirty” success which led to a book deal that ended up on the New York Times best-seller list. Fogarty expanded the Quick and Dirty network into a website full of advice and podcasts on subjects from money to manners to mommas.

Fashion Toast
Fashion Toast began when a mildly conceited girl started a little blog featuring nothing but photos of herself. Flash forward to today: Rumi Neely is a real model. Besides recently landing a huge campaign for Forever 21’s Times Square store opening, she’s walked the designer runways and become a jet-setting socialite.