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3 Non-Freelance Books that have had an Outsized Impact on my Freelance Career

Updated: Dec 10, 2020

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” - Haruki Murakami

As a freelance copywriter, making time to read is practically in the job description.

Reading improves my copy by introducing me to new writing techniques and expanding my vocabulary.

It also gives me ammunition in the form of stories and ideas that I can then borrow to make my articles more interesting and sound.

But reading also opens my eyes to new perspectives across a range of history, cultures, and professions.

In fact, some of the most important books I've read for my freelance copywriting career had little (or nothing) to do with either of those subjects:

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Cal Newport’s thesis for Deep Work is two-fold.

On one hand, the modern workplace is more distracted than ever. Between endless pings and emails, open offices and loose parameters around how we schedule our work, many people jump frenetically from screen to screen for hours on end, leaving little time for what Newport calls “deep work.”

(Even writing that sentence was a little stressful.)

At the same time, there is a growing economic need for people who can spend long hours performing deep work: writers, data scientists, coders, specialists, etc.

In other words, the need for focused work grows daily while most people’s attention becomes increasingly fragmented.

Learn how to stop worrying and love... deep work.

Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday has been one of my favorite author-discoveries of the past year.

I’ve finished three of his books since then — and I haven’t even started his most popular works.

Trust Me, I’m Lying was a book I read at the right time. I had fairly strong knowledge of how media relations and PR worked from previous books and college classes. However, Holiday took me on a deep dive into the importance of partnering with bloggers across the web.

It turns out, I read the book just in time. Months later, I got my first large media relations retainer. I’ve put into practice many of the (good, not evil) ideas and techniques Holiday describes throughout the book.

Million Dollar Consulting by Alan Weiss

On the surface, freelancing and consulting can seem very similar. Both involve working alongside a business to offer a range of personalized services as an outside partner.

But as you dig into the minutiae, freelancing and consulting diverge in many ways.

Yet, their similarities remain prime for cross-pollination.

Million Dollar Consulting opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about my freelance career. Weiss provided me new language for thinking about and selling my services as a freelancer.


What are the books that have made the greatest impact on your career?

Want more book recommendations like these? Every Monday I send out a new nonfiction book recommendation. Subscribe for new book ideas.


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