I go though the web on a daily basis looking for inspiration and just following links that catch our attention one such link was found though twitter posted by Creative Blog that they where offering a free download of the Computer Arts published PDF called “The Freelance Handbook” which sounded like a interesting idea to look at mostly to see if I might learn anything new from it. So I did the steps to get the download and turned out it wasn’t as fast as I was expecting, but I did eventually get the link to the document to download. It is to be noted that the document is UK based thus much of the writing as aimed at that market (pricing, etc) so some areas you will need to convert or just disregard outright.
The PDF is split into 8 Chapters…
Chapter 1 is going at it on your own (Go It Alone)
Chapter 2 is How to get more clients (Win more clients)
Chapter 3 is how to Work Smarter
Chapter 4 is on How to manage your money (Manage Your Money)
Chapter 5 is on how to be more business savvy (Be more Business Savvy)
Chapter 6 is on how to Promote yourself (Promote yourself)
Chapter 7 is on taking care of yourself (Well-being)
Chapter 8 sums it all up with resources (Essential Resources)
In Chapter 1 it comes off as being almost redundant if you have ever looked at other book that talk about starting your own business or doing freelancing within the graphic/web field. Though page 18 does have some handy things listed on it that I liked to see mostly to do with the resources which I found to be decent for getting info from to various degrees since I actually do follow on twitter many of them that are listed.
In Chapter 2 it deals with getting clients and one quote we like is “freelance life can be notoriously unpredictable, and at some point you’re going to have to branch out.” which we know to be oh so true. We like how they breakdown on how to get yourself out there, some of its old news others not so much. The tidbit of information “treat every job as if it’s going to be your best portfolio piece, and your clients will tend to come back” holds very true when dealing with one or several clients over the course of your work life.
In Chapter 3 it covers Time Management something that isn’t always easy to do, but is an essential skill to have for freelancing. Some of the tips and tricks that are in this chapter are helpful and I use them (though not always) such as turning off Online Chat (Facebook, Google Talk, Skype, etc) so you are not distracted from what you are working on. Plus the most common short cuts in Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator I found to be handy to have (since a few of them I keep forgetting) and the idea of keeping your skills sharp though attending classes, online training, and the like is most valid.
In Chapter 4 it covers Managing Your Money something that is really daunting to figure out when you are developing your business or even if you’ve been at it a while. This chapter has a lot of information that is worth going though a few times because it does give you a basic break down in how to figure out how much you could be charging a client so you are not in the whole at the end of the year. The chapter gives an over view of Hourly, Fixed and Ad Hoc plus using an accountant to help you during tax time.
In Chapter 5 it covers Being More Business Savvy something that I know many of us could be or need to be depending on your level of comfort in this area. The fist part of the chapter deals with Copyright and Royalties (though mostly UK based it does apply outside of the UK in various fashions), this is an area that many who freelance don’t know much about unless they have taken the time to learn about it (I took a digital copyright course in collage and even I don’t understand all of it even after I took the course, but I understand it better then I did before the course) and you do need to know at least the basics if nothing else to cover your backside down the road. The chapter also covers a over view of keeping a record of invoices something that you need for you own records but also for tax reasons.
In Chapter 6 it covers Promoting Yourself something that all who freelance need to do sooner or later and continue to do so over time just to keep fresh business coming in so you have that income that you need to survive. The chapter covers a decent amount of what you can to do get yourself out there, from being on twitter or mailing out actual post cards and other material to potential clients. Plus the all important follow up that you should be doing with anyone that you network with.
In Chapter 7 it covers Well-being something I know many of us put on the back burner normally to our cost. The chapter touches on out sourcing to help with your work load, taking a break to re charge those batteries, and even looking at how much you are charging and reviewing it account for how busy you are now. The chapter also gives an overview of what to look for when it comes to burnout and how to try and avoid it and the chapter also touches on getting that all important sleep and some tips that might be of use for getting it.
The final chapter is Chapter 8 and its the Resources chapter of the PDF that has to me is almost the best part of the entire booklet that is on offer, yes not off of it is relevant but I found this chapter to be the most useful over all for me the reference section on paper sizes for business cards around the world and paper sizes though I know in the abstract having a list that I can just look at is a helpful thing for myself I find.
In Summary what do I think about this PDF? I think it depends on what you are looking for when it comes to such a handbook, I believe that the guide is a decent one when it comes to over views of various areas that are important for a freelancer within the graphic and web design fields so a handy companion to have on hand just for that reason. As far as a publication goes its worth reading though and even taking notes of sections that you find interesting and even looking up more info on those sections that catch you attention to expand upon, big time if you knew nothing about it before hand. I would recommend this to everyone who is coming out of Collage or even university and is thinking about freelancing while trying to find employment or even if they have employment and are looking to freelance on the side to help with their bills it is worth going though and referring to. So for this PDF I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars.
Review: The Freelance Handbook
Publisher: Computer Arts (Future Publishing)
Date: March 27th 2015
Reviewer: Nyx Cole