There’s no shortage of free learning materials available online for both new and experienced freelancers. While you can turn to hundreds of articles and blog posts, there’s nothing like reading a longer, more comprehensive book to really get some insight on a particular topic.
Here’s a collection of some great downloadable PDFs, e-books and manifestos:
Freelancing and Teleworking
Leif Kendall’s “Go Freelance” is an introductory guide to the world of freelancing. You’ll go through the process of preparing yourself for the leap to the freelance world, finding work, networking and setting rates. If you’ve been freelancing for while, some of Kendall’s advice might seem elementary. But if you’re a new freelancer or about to become one, you can easily learn the basics from this e-book.
Unlike the nuts-and-bolts guide listed above, this PDF from Charlie Pabst focuses on productivity and work habits. As practicing freelancers know, these things are just as important as business skills.
Howard Mann’s guide strips away the non-essentials of business building, allowing you to “go back to the brickyard” and start with the fundamentals. It’s a useful book if you’re encountering problems with your business. On the first reading, I was able to take a long, honest look at my own freelancing practice and spot several weaknesses. There’s also an accompanying goal-setting worksheet you can download.
“Getting Real” from 37signals (the company behind the popular project management app, Basecamp) may be about building web apps, but many of the ideas are applicable to almost any kind of freelancing endeavor — especially if you find yourself working with a group. This e-book is free to read online, but if you prefer to read it as a printed book or downloadable PDF, you’ll have to buy it.
Although the title sounds gimmicky, the advice contained in this guide by management guru Tom Peters is practical. It includes points on thanking your clients, getting up early and finding your story. At over 60 pages, this book is much longer than most of the guides in this collection, so you might want to read this in small doses over a few days.
Improving Your Web Presence
For anyone who has ever wanted more from their blog or web site, Skellie recommends that you evaluate each element based on four categories — Gripping, Resonating, Interacting and Talking. As the name implies, the ideas in this guide are simple and easy to implement.
This is required reading for anyone with a professional blog. In this e-book, Chris Garrett talks about the importance of compelling blog posts, the “flagship” content that will be the core of your blog. (Note: a feed subscription is required to download the book)
If you’re new to personal branding, this free download provides a clear, actionable introduction. Throughout the guide, Skellie asks some simple yet compelling questions that can help anyone form their brand, be they generalists or specialists. Other topics include how to craft your personal elevator pitch and how to leverage blogging for your brand. (Note: a newsletter subscription is required to download the book.)
In this guide, Jonathan Mead of Illuminated Mind lists the reasons why you should liberate yourself from the cubicle-bound lifestyle. Mead provides an inspirational boost to aspiring teleworkers, particularly if they have a rebellious streak. A recommended read for those who can’t seem to push themselves to take the first step.
Hugh MacLeod, best known for his business card cartoons over at Gapingvoid.com, compiled this honest, straightforward collection of blog posts on what it takes to be creative. It’s worth reading over and over again, especially when you’re feeling uninspired or frustrated with your work.
Have you read or made any e-books that you’d like other WWD readers to know about? Share them with us in the comments.