Six Figure Freelancing – Book Review
Six Figure Freelancing (The Writer’s Guide to Making More Money) by Kelly James-Enger
The title, when combined with a cover that looks like it came from the US Treasury, and using a dollar sign in place of the “S”, practically screams: “You too can make big, big money writing freelance!” Sure, we freelancers are interested in how to make more money in our particular fields. And self-help books can both help or hinder your goals. Could Kelly James-Enger’s version of bringing home the big paycheck be the definitive answer? We’ve read it from cover to cover and bring you the results.
But I’m Not A Freelancer Writer…
Let us get this first bump out of the way: just because you don’t write freelance for a living doesn’t mean that this book can’t help you. Kelly does focus mainly on the paper medium, as it is where she most successfully placed herself, writing for so many sources that you are bound to recognize a few. That said, her concepts could be easily adapted to any freelancer today, with a little translation to your specific world.
It does, then, make sense that those who are either writing freelance, or wanting to do so, would be able to take even more from the 287 pages of material (not including the appendix or index).
The Triple Stage
Kelly starts out the book with a very straightforward concept: You are in a business, start acting like it. And from that first page to the start of the appendix, she continues that mantra, layering step-by-step the ways that you, yes even you, could become a very well-to-do freelance writer. Missing, thankfully, is the super-positive-you-can-do-no-wrong energy that pervades so many self-help books. The book reads easily, and is structured in such a way that you can skip sections that you feel you already understand.
The chapters are configured to help you from Stage 1 (as Kelly refers to it, where you write just to write) or Stage 2 (writing to be published, possibly paid) to Stage 3 (writing for a living), with plenty of meat from area to area. With headings like “Laying the Groundwork” and “Boosting the Bottom Line”, it is easy to see that Kelly isn’t interested in hiding her secret money making skills, but instead is opting to share her information so that you can learn from her choices and even mistakes. I only found one contradiction, and that was Kelly can’t seem to decide if she isn’t (first page) or is (page 42) a workaholic.
Alas, there isn’t any easy instant money fix, even from Kelly’s perspective, giving me all the more respect for her and in the book itself. In any successful freelance market, the one who has clear goals, and the gumption to make those a reality has a much better chance surviving in their field She doesn’t discourage, but instead encourages, teaches, and trains you to think about the task and goals you are putting in front of you. There are even worksheet style areas for you to fill in your own details, so you can return to them ten years later and possibly wonder why you thought that was important in the first place.
There is a reason why this is considered a Random House Reference book – the resources provided within. From discussing the bits you need to get your office started, ways to manage your time, to sample query letters, or even a seemingly random 1040 Schedule C form which appears out of nowhere (and then is explained after). Not all of it relating to every writer’s situation, but enough that it is worth marking, clipping, or highlighting for future reference.
Since the book was published in 2005, it does already start to reflect the changing times. Enfish, for example, is recommended more than once through the book, and is no longer available as a commercial product, and Windows XP is no longer the newest operating system from Microsoft. Electronic recommendations are also slightly outdated, but this is a very small portion of the book, which, on the whole has some very helpful chunks of information.
I particularly enjoyed reading some of the sample letters through which various freelance writers queried editors. Or rather, I enjoyed the first few, and then found myself more scanning than actually reading some of them.
Words of Wisdom
In addition to the business-mind mantra, Kelly has sprinkled various bits of wisdom that I feel could help any freelancer out there. Items such as “Serve the client” and “Don’t be negative” or “Know your limits” are always important – even if you aren’t freelancing! While we had all heard some of these before, it is nice to be reminded sometimes.
Another important concept in this book is getting out and networking with your peers. If you aren’t constantly working to bring in new business or opportunities, the chances of you growing your freelance writing (or freelance anything) in the money making realm is very small indeed. Keep track of your contacts, who knows how helpful they can be in the future.
By the time you reach the end, you may even chuckle as she reveals the real twist, to quote “Despite this book’s title, I believe success as a writer isn’t measured by the amount of money you make…It’s measure by the satisfaction you feel in pursuing this challenging career…” How very true.
On a price per pound rating, I’d probably recommend this book to anyone who was either just getting started, or wanted to look in the freelance writing realm. I found it very refreshing to finish the book and discover that Kelly had decided that life was more important than money, and made sure to state that very clearly, rather than try to convince others that making bags of money writing would satisfy their every need.
Not a writer? Consider the other writers in your life that haven’t yet considered Stage 2, let alone Stage 3. By passing them this book, you may be providing the inspiration to take the next big leap, giving them a way to make money doing something they truly enjoy.
The cover price is $14.95 USD and should be available anywhere through online and brick and mortar resellers.