The Freelancers’ Guide to the Books You Should Read

Sharpen the Saw is the 7th of Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, which means to “preserve and enhance the greatest asset you have–you. It also means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.”

We asked Freelance Heroes members, in a time of global lockdown what ONE book (either general or industry-specific) would you recommend to other freelancers, and why? Here are a selection of their answers, from the well-being to helping you become an even more finely tuned freelancer.


As mentioned, at the time of writing we’re in a lock down situation, which influenced a number of freelancers’ suggestions:


Title: Bolder

Author: Carl Honoré

Reason: It’s the best book on ageing I have read. With everything happening at the moment, understanding this area is going to be so important to everyone’s futures.


Title: The Brilliant Freelancer

Author: Leif Kendall

Reason: When I first started freelancing, this book was so useful and I return to it still.


Title: The Choice

Author: Edith Eger

Reason: It’s about this incredible woman who lived through Auschwitz and beyond with a strength of character that is simply beautiful. If anyone is struggling to see how we survive this time, she’s inspirational.


Title: Convict Conditioning

Author: Paul Wade

Reason: The Bible of bodyweight training – supreme strength and fitness in a small space.


There were some industry specific titles too, including this for Graphic Designers…


Title: Know Your Onions: Graphic Design

Author: Drew de Soto.

Reason: This is the ultimate go-to for basics of design and is quite humorous in parts.


And this one for writers….


Title: Dark Angels on Writing

Authors: The Dark Angels Collective

Reason: It beautifully demonstrates the importance of creativity and connection for business communication.


Other suggestions covered a wider need for freelancers, including productivity, self-development and well-being, negotiating, and more:


Title: The Speed of Trust

Author: Stephen MR Covey

Reason: A book for everyone. Really impacted my mediation practice and my outlook on relationships.


Title: From Nothing

Author: Ian Pribyl

Reason: It’s in depth but easy to follow and Ian’s writing style is quite funny and witty! I can struggle to read guides like this and have to read them like textbooks – in this case it kept me super engaged & I could read it like a novel!


Title: Four Hour Work Week

Author: Tim Ferriss

Reason: He sounds like a bit of an idiot in the book at times but in his podcast he’s more thoughtful (though a bit blokey). The book really made me think about what was important to me and how to work most effectively to get it. (Spoiler: it’s not really about working for four hours a week!)

So, what is it about? It’s about how to work out what you want and work most effectively to get it.


Title: Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

Author: Chris Voss

Reason: A genuine page turner by a former FBI hostage negotiator & priceless for those of us who struggle to ask for decent rates of pay with clients.


Title: The Answer

Authors: Andrew and Barbara Pearse

Reason: In all honesty, a book that takes no prisoners, tells you that you are where you are because of the choices you have made and shows you how you can change. It made me feel less of a victim, got me to focus on me and not those around me and more importantly, what changes can I make within myself, to make me, a better me. Deep, heavy, but utterly brilliant in my humble opinion.


And another from the same authors…


Title: Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps

Authors: Allan & Barbara Pease (again. Who, by the way, have been married for over 27 years – Ed)

Reasons: It demonstrates how male and female brains differ in their thinking and importantly, the evolutionary reasons why. Very useful if your customers are predominantly of one sex, especially if you are of the opposite. A good read and entertaining too, they are Aussie after all!


Title: Simple Tips, Smart Ideas

Author: Erica Wolfe-Murray

Reason: I heard Erica speak & bought the book! Very relevant to both product and service based small businesses. She provides a great ‘cake’ analogy to help you develop business growth ideas!


Title: Think Your Way to Success

Author: Mark Rhodes

Reason: Great tips, including on how you word and think about things – and the steps in the book do work – easy to read, revisit sections, follow and NEVER comes across as self-helpy. In fact, the book also helped change by views of business and personal development books too.


What about us? Not one to miss an opportunity, here are our recommendations too:


Ed Goodman (@edagoodman) recommends:

Title: The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success

Authors: Andy McNab and Kevin Dutton

Reason: I struggled to decide between this and Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, which is still talked about and revered 30 years after it was first published. I opted for “The Good Psychopath” for the way it describes the traits of one and then goes on to explain how they can be applied to day-to-day life. It is packed with neuroscience studies and real-life examples, this book is packed full of rich knowledge that helps you learn more about who you are and why. My favourite passage to sum up the book is:

Psychopaths aren’t ruled by emotion. In fact, they take a step back and surgically remove emotion from the situation. When stressing over a difficult task, ask yourself: what would I do if I didn’t feel this way? What would I do if I didn’t give a damn what other people thought? What would I do if it just didn’t matter?


Annie Browne (@hellomypa) recommends:

Title: Anti-Sell: Marketing, Lead Generation & Networking Tips for Freelancers Who Hate Sales

Author: Steve Morgan

Reason: A must have for freelancers who value individuality in what they do. I’m so over boring business books that do not reflect the variety of personalities to be found in entrepreneurship and freelancing; so, this book was a welcome change. Steve demonstrates an empathetic and realistic approach to growing your business leads in a genuine way, without trying to fit into an outdated stereotype of what it means to ‘sell’. It really reflects the individuality of freelancers as an industry and allows readers to discover many different ways to grow their business.



What ONE book would you recommend and why? As always, we love to read your thoughts either via #FreelanceHeroes on twitter or Instagram, or via the Freelance Heroes FB group.