14 inspiring books for freelancers

Sometimes, you just need a little inspiration to get your creative juices flowing again or to reassure you that you aren’t alone in ploughing your own furrow.

I’ve put together this list – a lot of personal favourites and books that have helped me get out of a rut or challenged me to think differently about life and work.  There’s probably something for everyone here, and I’ve added in some links to make it easier for you to find them.

Thinking of freelancing?

1. Escape from Corporate Hell: Unlock your potential and love your workPam Slim

We’ve all been there.  The moment when you realise that you just can’t face another day working for your employer.  You’ve fallen out of love with the cult of the company. In this book, Pam gives some no nonsense advice about how you can get over the wall and make a break for freelance freedom.

It’s one of the best ‘escape’ books. Easy to read and just enough inspiration to help you make that move.  (Along with KindredHQ of course!)

2. The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career – by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

One of the traits that sets us freeagents apart from the herd is the way we are able to adapt and enjoy the rollercoaster that is freelance freedom. In The Start-Up of You, the advice from the authors is all about how you can adapt to change and make it work for you. It’s about you thinking about your career as work in progress and how you take intelligent risks.  It’s an exceptional book that I often return to once I need a nudge.

Inspiration for new freelancers

3. ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever – Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, Founders of 37Signals

I’ve rated this book before.  I love it. It is the book that promises to change the way you work forever by making you think about work in a very different way. It helps those of us who work for ourselves – often alone – think of ourselves as being on a par with the bigger businesses.

4. Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell

I love Malcolm Gladwell’s books.  This third book is about how hard work and a little bit of luck is what brings success.  It’s an inspiring book with lots of great success stories that will help you feel you aren’t alone.

5. Uprising: How to Build a Brand–and Change the World–By Sparking Cultural Movements – Scott Goodson

Think you can’t compete with the big brands and their marketing campaigns?  Well you can start a movement.  No really! If you feel really passionately that something has to change, you really can start a movement from your bedroom, with some basic tools and a heap of conviction.  This book is full of practical advice and stories that will help you do that.

6. The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich – Timothy Ferriss
‘Escape 9-5, live anywhere and join the new rich’ says Tim Ferriss.  And he really does challenge the status quo and the accepted norms of working. Even if you don’t end up running a multi million business from the beach this is an interesting read that will inspire you to change your thinking and hopefully inspire you to change your approach to work.

7. The $100 Startup: Fire Your Boss, Do What You Love and Work Better to Live More – Chris Guillebeau

What I really like about this book is that he doesn’t set out to sell people his own success story – he sells the success stories of very ordinary people who have made very successful businesses, making this a very believable book.

Read this, and then read his blog at ChrisGuillebeau.com. You will definitely pick up some great inspiration.

8. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants – Malcolm Gladwell

OK. I sneaked in another from Malcolm Gladwell.  In David and Goliath he takes on the topic of ‘underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants’. Which appeals to us, as that’s often how we feel when we strike out on our own.

This book turns everything upside down.  It will help you see the things you might think would work against your chances of success into those that will ultimately drive them.

9. The Social Animal: A Story of How Success Happens – David Brooks

This wonderful book is a story of how success is achieved and uses a mixture of anthropology, psychology and behavioural economics (so its based on some serious science) to explain.

You will start to understand your motivations and what can help you be more successful, but it will help you understand other people and what drives them too.

Being productive

10. Getting Things Done: How to Achieve Stress-free Productivity – David Allen

At the end of the day, our success depends on our ability to stay productive.  This book helps us become more efficient and yet have a life at the same time. Which is kind of where we all want to be isn’t it? It will transform the way think about work.

11. Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-free Play – Neil A Fiore

Let’s face it. We can all do procrastination really well. Neil Fiore explains how to recognise what you are doing, overcome the causes of procrastination and deal with the symptoms. He will help you to get things done more quickly, saving you the stress of not meeting your deadlines.

Building brand you

12. Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd – Youngme Moon

The essential idea behind this book is that being different is what will set you apart from the competition but that the way to achieve that is not what you’d necessarily expect.  He talks about withholding benefits that other businesses would think were important to succeed.

This book reminds you to think differently and helps you stand out from the crowd.

13. The E-Myth Enterprise: How to Turn a Great Idea into a Thriving Business – Michael E Gerber

This bestseller dispels the myths and wrong assumptions surrounding starting and a business and working for yourself. Most of us launch head first into making a business out of doing the things we enjoy without knowing how tough it will be and vulnerable to the widely available so called advice that invites us to get rich quick.  This book tackles the whole entrepreneurial journey, preparing you whilst encouraging you to follow your dreams.

14. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Robert Cialdini

One of the classics.  This interesting book shows you why people say yes and build in you.  It’s based on decades of evidence based research about what moves people to chance their behaviour and is based on 6 universal principles that you can put into practice.  If nothing else, this book is fascinating, and I thoroughly recommend it.

So – stock up on some books – and save a train journey or a bit of downtime to relight your creative fire and move towards your goals.



Who is Alex Butler

Hello, I'm Alex Butler and I founded the KindredHQ community and blog back in 2011 after I re-started a freelance career. I LOVE freelancing and I wouldn't swop the freedom, control and joy of working for myself for anything. But I realised how much I missed the company and energy of other people - of having a team around me. So, I got a few people together one day with our laptops, a jar of coffee and some jelly babies and we sat and worked together one afternoon. We've been doing that every week in London, UK since then! I am still 100% freelance and I like to share the everyday highs and lows of being a freelancer here on the blog.

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