Review: My So-Called Freelance Life

In My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire, Michelle Goodman jumps from writers to massage therapists to just about every other freelance profession you can think of. That variety doesn’t detract from the book though — it just proves that there are basics that every type of freelancer needs to be aware of, from taxes to health insurance.

I think that My So-Called Freelance Life is particularly useful for writers: that’s not exactly a surprise considering that Michelle has been a freelance writer since 1992. It’s essentially a guide to how to get set up so that you’re operating like a professional. With a bit of humor, Michelle conveys just why freelancers need to take a professional approach. The fact of the matter is a point that I’ve struggled to get across more than once — treating freelancing like a business rather than a job will make you money.

Michelle illustrates her book with examples from a wide variety of freelancers. I actually recognized a few names — including one writer I’ve actually met in person — from their efforts to promote themselves online as well as work they’ve done in a freelance capacity. These are the tactics of real freelancers, all of whom have been successful in their chosen paths. There are also a few ‘what not to do’ examples, including one straight out of Michelle’s personal history: no one figures out freelancing on the first day and we can learn from others’ mistakes. The fact that Michelle includes the less-than-glamorous tactics she had to resort to in order to resolve those mistakes are even more helpful.

My So-Called Freelance Life did set off one of my pet peeves: it seems like there’s a reference to another chapter on just about every page. I’m a firm believer that self-references should be kept to a minimum; after all, there is a table of contents. It was distracting. But that’s my biggest complaint about the book — overall, I think it’s a wonderful resource.

If you’ve been debating making the shift to freelancing full-time, I want you to read this book right now. I doubt it will change your mind about freelancing, but it will definitely make the transition much easier.

Michelle Goodman has another book, The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube, and she blogs at The Anti 9-to-5 Guide.


  1. Burak   •  

    I’ve never worked freelance, and I’m quite curious about it. A fabulous scenario about freelancing is that you’re good at various professions. Imagine you’re a fiscal advisor, like to write, and also good at playing trumpet. Instead of having a job as fiscal advisor, you work as a freelance on all of them. Doesn’t it sound great? I wonder if there’s someone like this out there?

  2. thursday   •     Author

    @Burak, I do know many freelancers who sell more than one talent at a time — such as writing and playing a musical instrument. However, I know that a lot of people prefer to focus on one skill to make money and make a hobby of the rest in order to enjoy something like playing a musical instrument rather than trying to earn money from it.

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