Book Review – The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Money in Freelancing

Let’s be honest, most of us don’t want to work for someone else. (To be completely honest, most of us don’t want to work, period; but that’s a topic for a different blog entry.) Given our choice, we’d much prefer to work on our own, for ourselves, keeping what we earn and having no other boss (or coworkers) than ourselves. But how can we achieve that goal?

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Money in Freelancing (hereafter referred to as ‘Making Money in Freelancing’, because the whole title is a bit of a mouthful) seeks to show you the way. It tries to cover just about everything a would-be freelancer needs to know, in an easy-to-understand, usually entertaining way. Does it give you what you need to set out on your own, or leave you high and dry? Let’s read on to find out!

Summary

The book opens with an Introduction from the author, Dr. Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D., sharing some of what you’ll learn about freelancing in its pages, as well as how the book is organized and some of the Complete Idiot’s Guide icons that will show up throughout. The remaining twenty-five chapters are divided into seven parts, with Part 1 looking at the general nature of freelancing. It shares some of the details of what freelancing entails, and how to gauge if you have what it takes to be a successful freelancer. Some of the good points, and bad points, of freelancing are also shared, to give you a more well-rounded view of the opportunity.

Part 2 looks at how to get your foot in the door freelancing. It covers some of the careers (largely in areas like writing, consulting, and marketing, where the author has experience) that you might consider in your attempt to become a freelancer. It also discusses the importance of setting up a business plan for your freelance business, and how you can find clients to hire you in your work.

Setting Up Shop is the subject of Part 3. It covers the importance of building a home office (while staying within any applicable zoning laws). There’s a lot of (somewhat dated, as the book was published back in 1998) discussion of technology and the needs of the typical home office, as well as the telecommunication tools that you’ll need to be successful, from call-waiting to courier services.

Part 4 gets into the business end of the freelancing field, starting with a two chapter look at the money end of the business, discussing how to set your rates, and how to GET your rates from sometimes reluctant to pay customers. There is a chapter covering the various legal ways to arrange your business (here in the United States, at least), and a final chapter on how to manage your bookkeeping to help keep everything in its place for tax time (or any other time you might need to access your documents).

Trying to manage your business and your home life successfully is the subject of Part 5. It opens with a two chapter guide to how you can spread the word about your business and draw in more customers, followed by some advice on how to handle the good and bad customers you encounter. There’s also a few chapters that help you to balance your work and your home life, which is generally a tricky proposition for anyone trying to both work and live in the same place.

Part 6, titled Economics 101, looks at some of the financial issues you’ll have to face. From dealing with taxes as a freelancer to being sure you have adequate insurance to cover yourself and your business, it’s included here. Just in case you don’t want to work forever, even in a freelance position, there’s also a chapter about setting up one (or more) retirement plans for yourself, covering the various types available for the typical freelancer.

The book wraps up with Part 7, which looks at how you can keep growing and developing as a freelancer. It shares some of the pitfalls you might encounter, from boredom to becoming burnt out. It also mentions how to handle success, including expanding your clientele, adding more staffers, and potentially leaving your home to continue your work.

Pros

Making Money in Freelancing is a pretty solid introduction to how you can build a business of your own. It covers many of the issues you’ll encounter in most freelancing attempts (including some I’ve not seen in my own part-time work endeavors), and provides fairly solid solutions on how to handle them. As with most books in this series, it breaks everything down into simple, easy to follow points, making it a good guide for a beginner.

Cons

It’s a bit broadly written, attempting to cover any potential job that someone could take, and as such doesn’t have much detail for any particular job. It’s also a bit dated, going back to 1998 (with no updates available) and thus not covering nearly a decade and a half of progress, up to and including blogs. (Also, call me biased, but I find it a bit hard to believe that even in 1998, during the Tech Boom, there were too many people who needed to be told what ‘e-mail’ meant.)

Overall

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Money in Freelancing presents a pretty solid introduction to the requirements and advantages of freelancing. You’ll likely need to do further research in your own chosen freelancing field to work its own unique trials and tribulations (particularly if you plan to do much online, as the book is extremely light there). As a guide to freelancing in general, though, it makes a nice source of useful information.

4 Responses to Book Review – The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Money in Freelancing

  1. I have watched a lot of friends try freelancing, and I’ve been a successful freelance myself full-time apart from a few year-long jobs — for the past 15 years or so.

    In my experience it’s a bit like riding a bike — you don’t know what it’s like to work on your own two feet until you try it, though it seems easy to explain.

    And it’s a bit like Cherry Coke in that you’ll either love it or hate it! 😉
    Monevator´s last blog post ..Weekend reading: Normal returns in the stock market aren’t normal

  2. I have read many of the “Idiots” series. This looks like one worth reading. I have another book that is helping me save and make money. It is called, “1001 Best Ways, Volume 1” by author Paul D. Angles. This a Non-fiction self help book, which is Volume 1 in a three volume series. This is a collection of responses to life’s changes and challenges. There are 1,001 different ideas that could change your life, any one of which could be worth thousands of times the cost of the book. http://1001bestways.com/

  3. Monevator, congratulations on your success as a freelancer for the past decade and a half! You make a good point; it seems like it’s easy enough to explain, but I doubt anyone can really understand until they’ve tried themselves. I’ve been ‘freelancing’ part-time through this blog for over three years now, and still don’t think I could properly explain it to someone who’s never tried. And yes, it is the sort of thing you either lover or hate, with little room between the two.

    Robyn, thanks for the compliments, and for the suggestion. I’ll have to add that to my ‘to be read’ list; although, given how long that list is already, I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to read it.

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