Top Books for Freelance Developers

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When you’re a freelance developer you need to be the:

  • CEO
  • Salesman
  • Project manager
  • Programmer
  • Designer
  • Marketer
  • And the list seems endless

Essentially you need to be a full stack business person. In this guide I’ll go through the top books for freelance developers.

Top Books for Freelance Developers

These resources can help you as a freelance developer, whether you’re starting out or if you’ve had a freelance business for years. Several of these books I’ve actually gone through multiple times. And with each time I’ve been able to learn something new.

Book Yourself Solid

top books for freelance developers

I’m going to start the book list off with “Book Yourself Solid” by Michael Port. I decided to start with a book on sales because initially getting new clients was my biggest obstacle. Throughout the book Port supplies practical examples from his own business as a consultant.

The strategies I learned from this book apply to all types of freelance businesses. So whether you’re a developer, designer, or pretty much any other type of worker, this book can help you build up your client list.

I especially liked how Port describes the process he uses for deciding if he wants to keep a client or not. If you’re new to freelancing the idea of dropping a client may seem ridiculous. However, I can tell you from experience that dropping a difficult client is one of the best ways to improve the overall quality of your life… And your freelance business.

Rework

top books for freelance developers

For the next book I selected “Rework”. Written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of the Ruby on Rails framework, Rework has become one of the most popular freelance books on the market. Fried and Hansson’s unique perspective and practical approach will help you develop a strategy on how to accomplish more work in less time.

This is a great book, not only for aspiring freelancers, but for all developers in general. It’s rare to be able to learn from an individual as successful as Hansson and his views may seem very different than most. But I think you’ll find they are effective if implemented properly. (Much like the Rails framework. 😉 )

Grit

top books for freelance developers

Continuing down the list, next is “Grit”. Even though Grit isn’t targeted at building a freelance business, it speaks directly to one of the most important traits you’ll need as a freelancer: determination. The author, Angela Duckworth, has put years of study into human performance and the role that grit comes into play. And it’s that research that she clearly walks through in the book.

I especially liked how Duckworth gives illustrations from a number of different fields. From mathematicians to athletes, it’s evident that the common denominator to be truly successful is working hard.

Building a great freelance business is not easy. It takes countless hours of work and this book can help you developer a system for consistently working hard, and even more importantly: working smart.

What You Need to Know About: Project Management

top books for freelance developers

Next on the list of top books for freelance developers is “What You Need to Know About: Project Management” by Fergus O’Connell.

No matter how good of a developer you may be, if you don’t know how to properly manage a project you will struggle building a sustainable freelance business. Freelance developers need to be able to manage a project from beginning to end. This includes:

  • Building a requirement’s document.
  • Giving daily reports to clients.
  • Updating a project after a scope change.
  • Effectively working with a team.

O’Connell does a good job of giving practical tips on how to manage a project that you can leverage on freelance projects. Many project management books I’ve gone through seem to waste quite a bit of time on formality that seems unnecessary. However Fergus does a great job in making the process as practical as possible.

I can tell you from experience that if you can manage a project for a client they will be begging to give you more work. They will also become your biggest fans, recommending you to their friends and colleagues. All of which makes project management a critical tool to have in your freelance arsenal.

The Phoenix Project

top books for freelance developers

Last on this list of the top books for freelance developers is “The Phoenix Project” by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford. I wanted to save this book for last because it’s the most enjoyable read on the list. In fact, “The Phoenix Project” is a novel. However, even though it’s a work of fiction the authors interweave a wide variety of business lessons into the book.

Back when I was the IT Director for a 800+ company I gave this book as a present to every team member that reported to me. The concepts taught throughout the book are foundational to working in the tech field. And the fact that it reads like a novel makes it feel like you’re not even studying a boring business book.

Summary of the Top Books for Freelance Developers

I hope that this has been a helpful guide to the top books for freelance developers and that you can use these books as tools to help you build a successful freelance business.

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