As a proponent of lifelong learning and a freelancer, I can truly advocate for the use of books. Reading the right book will provide you with an inexpensive and time efficient education that can help you develop both personally and professionally. But it can be difficult knowing where to start and what books work best.

With that in mind here are my top picks for anyone looking to start or to grow their freelance business.


1. Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Tim Ferriss

This book comes from renowned business author and Apples’ number one business podcaster Tim Ferriss. Tim is also the author of four #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers: The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, The 4-Hour Chef, and Tools of Titans.

Tribe of Mentors pulls together insightful offerings from the wide-ranging pool of mentors that have helped Tim to flourish in business, such as Ray Dalio, Maria Sharapova, Kelly Slater, Tony Hawk, James Altucher, Noah Kagan, and others.

2. Crushing It: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk

This book, by four-time New York Times best-selling author Gary Vaynerchuk, offers a plethora of ideas, strategies, and advice taken from both his own business experience and that of other entrepreneurs.

In it, Vaynerchuk aims to teach us how to develop a compelling personal brand, how to utilise social media and how to use a podcast presence most effectively, as well as how to discern which platforms will be most effective.

3. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

This best-seller aims to help us master the skill of focus, a skill that is rapidly being lost due to the fast pace of life, and the myriad digital distractions that we all have at our fingertips.

Currently, the typical adult under the age of 45 uses four digital devices, and according to The Harvard Business review,  around 60% of users check email in the bathroom; 15% read their email in church, and 85% say they would take their laptop on vacation. We are searching 40 Web sites a day; open 85% of work emails within two minutes, and switch between programs nearly 37 times an hour. Microsoft conducted a study which revealed that once an employee has been interrupted, by email, from the task at hand, it takes a full 24 minutes to return to that task. People spend an average of 5 hours a day on their smartphones, that’s 35 hours a week, that is 150 hours a month, that is 150 days per year staring at our phones!

Offering us a timely solution, Cal Newport shows us that through cultivating eliminating distraction and focusing in on our most meaningful goals, we can become optimally efficient and effective in our own freelance endeavours.

4. What If It Does Work Out? How a Side Hustle Can Change Your Life by Susie Moore

In a similar vein to Deep Work,  Susie Moore writes insightfully about the importance of identifying our most meaningful and desired goals and then working to eliminate those mental blocks and self-defeating attitudes that stand in the way of our reaching those goals.

5. Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau

This book offers a step-by-step guide for those with a dream – from identifying ideas to getting started and selling your service, through to building a flourishing business.

Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau is the culmination of lessons learned from meetings with hundreds of entrepreneurs and freelancers who have started their freelancer projects around the time constraints of full-time work and other life commitments but have gone on to make them work successfully.

6. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin draw on their experiences in the United States Navy Sea, Air, and Land Teams, commonly abbreviated as Navy SEALs, and particularly from the rigorous leadership training they received there. This wisdom has been adapted to meet the needs of the entrepreneur, including those working as lone freelancers.

‘Extreme Ownership’ aims to empower freelancers to really own our experience, and what happens within our businesses. This book is essentially about taking full responsibility for achieving our dreams as well as for any struggles we might experience.

7. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell discusses the phenomenon of the tipping point – why it is that particular ideas, trends, and social behaviour cross a threshold, and go on to spread at a rapid rate.

Gladwell explores how to nurture the personality attributes that will enable our own ideas and products reaching a tipping point and how that can contribute to creating a flourishing freelance business.

8. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Bestselling and prize-winning author Charles Duhigg explain how to utilise the neurological science behind the habit-forming process to create positive results in our lives.

Duhigg explains how imperative cultivating habits can be in terms of achieving success and fulfilment in reaching both business and personal goals. Habits create the necessary structure and discipline that will enable us to keep working towards our goals.

9. Startup Opportunities: Know When to Quit Your Day Job by Brad Feld and Dr Sean Wise

Authors Sean Wise and Brad Feld have created a guide to creating a flourishing business through realistic appraisal of our ideas at each step of the way.

This book champions developing our ability to be critical and how to position ourselves to be successful. It shares a plethora of wisdom and guidance drawn from a range of successful freelancers and entrepreneurs.

10. The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win by Jeff Haden

In his debut book, Jeff Haden argues that motivation is not as we know it at all. Haden challenges current thought in saying that motivation comes as a result of being in process and isn’t a precursor to action.

Somewhat counterintuitive perhaps, but interesting nonetheless, and Haden brings very applicable advice on how to begin working towards accomplishing our freelance business goals.

Freelancing is a learning process; it can take years to find out what it is that will make you one of the successful ones. Being able to learn from the most successful people out there can really help you to bypass at least some of the struggle.

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