7 Business Books To Help Freelancers Be More Successful

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7 Best Business Books for Freelancers

Do you want to scale your business this year but aren't quite sure where to start? There are a lot of valuable tools and resources available on the web, but one of my favorite ways to learn business skills is by reading books from experts. I highly recommend you do the same; that's why I've compiled six of the best books for freelancers and entrepreneurs!

Ready to dive in? Scroll below to find out what my top book recommendations are for entrepreneurs and online business owners are!

Why Freelancers Should Read Personal Development & Business Books

Okay, I know…as a freelancer your schedule is already pretty full between working on client projects and managing your business. However, making time to read nonfiction books like the ones below is good for you and your business.

In fact, professional and personal development is an essential piece of owning a business—regardless of whether that business is online or a brick and mortar store.


Simply put, things change over time. The market changes; people change; technology changes. So, you and your business constantly have to be evolving with those changes.

The alternative? You may find yourself getting left behind and losing business, which is obviously not good.

Make it a point to keep learning, broadening your skillset, and staying on top of industry changes and trends. Reading nonfiction books geared toward personal and professional development will help you do that.

What's more, reading these kinds of books can be a real asset if you're just getting started as a freelancer and need to learn business basics. In addition to expanding your knowledge, books can teach you how to:

These are all necessary parts of becoming a successful freelancer.

Reading nonfiction books doesn't have to be a burden, either. The author of another favorite personal development book of mine, The Slight Edge, recommends reading just 10 pages a day. That seems more than doable, right?

With minimal effort, you can manage to read at least one personal development book each month. So, why not give it a shot? Worst case scenario, you choose a book that doesn't resonate with you. If that happens, quit reading and try another.

6 of the Best Nonfiction Books for Freelancers

Okay, let's get to the real reason you're here: the best books for freelancers.

01. Get Scrappy by Nick Westergaard

First up is a book that was on my list for a long time, Get Scrappy by Nick Westergaard.

What it's about:

“It's an exciting time to be in marketing: The Internet, social media, and content marketing are powerful equalizers, resetting the playing field for businesses large and small. Yet it's also a challenging time, with much work to do and an ever-changing array of platforms, features, and networks to master – all on a tighter budget than before. Don't get discouraged. Get scrappy! Shattering the myth that only big brands can do big things, Get Scrappy will help you:

  • Demystify digital marketing in a way that makes sense for your business
  • Do more with less
  • Build a strong brand with something to say
  • Find inspiration in unexpected places
  • Create relevant and engaging content and promote it via Twitter, Facebook, and other channels
  • Integrate strategy and message across touchpoints for a unified brand experience – both online and off
  • Spark dialogue with your community of customers
  • Measure what matters

The result is a reliable, repeatable system for reinventing your marketing as marketing reinvents itself. Featuring frameworks, hacks, tips, idea starters, and more, Get Scrappy is the map you need to take your marketing from good to great.” – From Amazon

Why I recommend it:

I included Get Scrappy in this list of books for freelancers because knowing how to market your online business is essential to your success. However, most freelancers (especially newbies) don't have big marketing budgets. With that in mind, they have to be strategic about how any available funds are being utilized. Get Scrappy can teach you how to do that. Westergaard teaches readers to take a new approach when it comes to digital marketing and more importantly, that doing it well doesn't require a huge investment.

A favorite quote from Get Scrappy:

“To get scrappy, you need to remember to (1) put your brains before your budget, (2) market like a mousetrap, and (3) see ideas everywhere. Then and only then can you start doing more with less. More isn't always better. Sometimes it's just more. By embracing this mindset, you can get scrappy with your marketing as others are already doing—at organizations big and small.” – Nick Westergaard, Get Scrappy

Buy it here.

02. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Next up is one of my favorite books I read in 2019, Atomic Habits by James Clear. I found out about this book from a fellow freelancer and after reading an excerpt on Amazon, I knew I had to read this book!

What it's about:

“James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results. If you're having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn't you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don't want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

Here, you'll get a proven system that can take you to new heights…Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits – whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress or achieve any other goal.” – From Amazon

Why I recommend it:

This is a great book for freelancers because it helps you develop the habits/systems that can help you be more productive and successful. I actually was featured in CEO Blog Nation's roundup, “21 Entrepreneurs List Their Favorite Business Books of 2019,” where I shared why I loved this book. Here's my little blurb from the article:

“As an entrepreneur, I'm always on the hunt for great personal development and business books. One of the best books I read in 2019 was Atomic Habits by James ClearAtomic Habits teaches readers how to tackle the seemingly insignificant behaviors that add up to form bad habits and transform them into good habits. This book not only taught me practical strategies for forming habits aligned with my goals but also provided insight into the science behind how habits are formed. Such a great read!”

A favorite quote from Atomic Habits:

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.” – James Clear, Atomic Habits

Buy it here.

03. Calm the F*ck Down by Sarah Knight

Have you ever read a book title and just thought, “that book was written for me” because that's the exact thought I had when I saw this book on the shelf at Barnes and Noble.

What it's about:

“Just because things are falling apart doesn't mean YOU can't pull it together. Whether you're stressed about sh*t that hasn't happened yet or freaked out about sh*t that already has, the NoWorries method from “anti-guru” Sarah Knight helps you curb the anxiety and overthinking that's making everything worse.” – From Amazon

Why I recommend it:

I will be the first to admit that I am an anxious person. I tend to overthink just about everything, whether it's overanalyzing a situation or worry about the tone of an email. Since I started freelancing full-time, my anxiety has improved but it's still there, especially when it comes to making tough calls or putting myself out there. That's something I think a lot of freelancers can relate to, which is why it's a great book for freelancers to read.

Knight recognizes that there are different causes/types of anxiety and does a wonderful job of getting to the root of each one. With a clear understanding of what your anxiety is stemming from, you can employ Knight's tactics for overcoming it. In addition to being a practical, easy to digest guide to anxiety, Calm the F*ck Down has many laughable moments which makes it all the more fun to read.

A favorite quote from Calm the F*ck Down:

“The path from what-ifs and worrying to calming the f*ck down is a straight line from “things that exist in your imagination” to “things that exist in reality” and then “accepting those things as reality.” – Sarah Knight, Calm the F*ck Down

Buy it here

04. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

Chances are you're already familiar, at least in name, with this next book: The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.

What it's about:

The Miracle Morning is “being widely regarded as ‘one of the most life changing books ever written' may be the simplest approach to achieving everything you've ever wanted, and faster than you ever thought possible.”What if you could wake up tomorrow and any—or EVERY—area of your life was beginning to transform? What would you change? The Miracle Morning is already transforming the lives of tens of thousands of people around the world by showing them how to wake up each day with more ENERGY, MOTIVATION, and FOCUS to take your life to the next level. It’s been right here in front of us all along, but this book has finally brought it to life.” – From Amazon

Why I recommend it:

While I'm talking specifically about the original The Miracle Morning, there are many different versions. That including one for entrepreneurs, which is aptly named, The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs. From what I can tell, the concepts are very similar but are more tailored to those on an entrepreneurial pursuit. The reason I included it in this list of books for freelancers is that it teaches the merits of a morning routine and creating the right mindset to tackle every day. One of the biggest strategies I use from The Miracle Morning is envisioning how I want the next day to go while I'm getting ready for bed. By telling myself “I will wake up feeling well-rested and ready to take on the day,” I am already setting my intention for the day.

A favorite quote from The Miracle Morning:

“Remember, the moment you accept total responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you claim the power to change anything in your life.” – Hal Elrod, The Miracle Morning

Buy it here…or read the kindle version FOR FREE when you sign up for a free 30-day trial of kindle unlimited.

05. You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero

After reading You Are a Badass (which I LOVED), I couldn't wait to get my hands on Sincero's latest in the series, You Are a Badass at Making Money. I'm happy to say that it did not disappoint!

What it's about:

You Are a Badass at Making Money will launch you past the fears and stumbling blocks that have kept financial success beyond your reach. Drawing on her own transformation—over just a few years—from a woman living in a converted garage with tumbleweeds blowing through her bank account to a woman who travels the world in style, Jen Sincero channels the inimitable sass and practicality that made You Are a Badass an indomitable bestseller. She combines hilarious personal essays with bite-size, aha concepts that unlock earning potential and get real results.” – From Amazon

Why I recommend it:

Whether you're just getting started as a freelancer or you've been at it a while, or you're freelancing part-time or full-time, this is a must-read. We all want to make more money. I mean, it's a major factor for anyone who starts an online side hustle, right? Whatever the reason, a lot of us have a complicated relationship with money. In You Are a Badass at Making Money, Sincero calls on many of the ideas she spoke about in You Are a Badass to teach readers that a relationship with money doesn't have to be as complicated as we make it. It all comes down to mindset. Sincero helps readers get to the root of those issues and provides strategies for overcoming them.

One of the reasons I love this book is because it follows the same direct, honest approach Sincero takes in You Are a Badass—there's absolutely no sugar coating. If you want to change your relationship with money and achieve your financial goals, whether business or personal, this book can help you do it.

A favorite quote from You Are a Badass at Making Money:

“We’ve been raised to believe that you have to work hard to make money, and certainly there are times when this is true, but the real secret is you have to take huge, uncomfy risks. You have to do stuff you’ve never done before, to make yourself visible, to acknowledge your own.” – Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass at Making Money

Buy it here.

06. Content Inc by Joe Pulizzi

I can't remember how I stumbled upon this book but I'm so glad I did! I added this to my list of books for freelancers for several reasons. In addition to being really well written in general, it's chock full of content strategies to help freelancers work smarter, not harder.

What it's about:

“Build your audience first. Then create your product. This is the simple but profoundly successful entrepreneurial approach of one of today's most creative business minds. A pioneer of content marketing, Joe Pulizzi has cracked the code when it comes to the power of content in a world where marketers still hold fast to traditional models that no longer work. In Content Inc., he breaks down the business-startup process into six steps, making it simple for you to visualize, launch, and monetize your own business.

Pulizzi walks you step by step through the process based on his own success (and failures) and real-world multimillion-dollar examples from multiple industries and countries. Whether you're seeking to start a brand-new business or drive innovation in an existing one, Content Inc. provides everything you need to reverse engineer the traditional.” – From Amazon

Why I recommend it:

Content Inc is one of the best books for freelancers because it teaches how to be strategic and creative with your content.

In addition to backing up his ideas with some great examples, Pulizzi provides many concepts that are underutilized by content creators. He essentially provides a roadmap for growing a business without spending an abhorrent amount of time or money to do it. Not only do these concepts work for freelancers looking to grow their own business, but they can apply them to the work they do for their clients. For example, freelance writers can boost their income by providing clients with more value by stretching content further.

A favorite quote from Content Inc.

“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.” – Joe Pulizzi, Content Inc.

Buy it here.

07. The Money Book by Joseph D'Agnese & Denise Kiernan

The Money Book was another book I picked up during my quest to be better at managing money. This one drew me in because it's geared entirely toward freelancers and answered some of the burning questions I had about saving money, dealing with debt, planning for retirement and taxes, and bookkeeping.

Many of the financial books I've read have been written for people with regular paychecks, but as a freelancer, money can ebb and flow. The Money Book provides practical advice and strategies for those of us who not only get paid irregularly but have to account for taxes, retirement savings, and paying out of pocket for things like health insurance.

Buy it here.

Honorable Mentions

Like I said, I only managed to read nine personal development books this year. However, there are a few books for freelancers I want to mention anyway. While I didn't read them cover to cover this year, I still refer back to them from time to time.

You can find out why I recommend these books to freelancers in the following blog posts.

Are there any nonfiction books you've read and would recommend to other freelancers? I'm always looking for suggestions! Leave a comment below and tell me all about your favorites.

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By Katie Jenison

Katie Jenison is a freelance writer offering copywriting, blogging, and ghostwriting services. She works closely with home builders, remodelers, interior designers, real estate and property management professionals to help them create content marketing strategies, improve their digital presence, generate leads, and engage with their target audience. Katie also helps freelance writers and creative entrepreneurs pursue their dreams of working from home by providing tips and advice, business strategies, and writing tips on her blog, The Quiet Type. Download her free workbook, A Freelancer’s Guide to Setting Rates, here.

View all of Katie Jenison's posts.

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