Book Review: Creative, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco & Joy Deangdeelert Cho

By Jodi Wiley Thinking of taking the leap from employee to self-employed? Or just want to dip your toe in the freelance waters and see how you go? If you're unsure about where to start, how to promote yourself, the etiquette of working with clients, negotiating your fee or even just how to manage a work/life balance, this book covers it all.

Subtitled 'The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business', Creative, Inc. covers the basics of setting up shop, networking, winning jobs and bookkeeping before addressing the more advanced topics of when to increase your fees, grow your business and the pros and cons of hiring staff.

Aimed at creatives of all stripes, this book is deliberately general in it's information and doesn't focus on any one creative profession. (As an aside, Craft, Inc., which came before it and is also written by Meg Mateo Ilasco, is aimed specifically at crafters wanting to turn their hobby into a business. I haven't read this book but might be worth checking out if your business is a crafty one).

Creative, Inc. aims to appeal to a range of professionals by including freelancer profiles under each chapter. Interviewees include illustrators and photographers, animators and graphic designers, as well as a prop stylist, industrial designer, an art director and an accountant specialising in the arts. I liked reading these interviews. It's always fascinating to hear about an individual's career trajectory and the obstacles and big breaks they've encountered along the way. It was interesting to read that working with a big-name client actually hurt one illustrator's freelance business. A photographer credits his blog as being 'the number one thing in helping me get work'. Another creative was forced into going it alone after being made redundant and is now a very successful freelance animator. These little snippets of real-life stories encourage, motivate and invigorate.

As for the 'how-to' information provided, it's thorough, very accessible and seems to address every possible question that might arise about freelancing. But it probably couldn't serve as the single go-to guide for setting up a business. More research would need to be undertaken into your field of interest as well the finer details of legalities, especially for readers outside the United States for whom the advice about registering your business and tax information would be quite different.

I was drawn to this book because of it's subject matter, yes, but attractively designed books also catch my eye. This is a funky little book with cute rounded page corners, line illustrations and a little colour. I do like the way it looks.

Creative, Inc. does cover a breadth of topics but if you already run a freelance business the early chapters may be a bit too basic for you. But information on pricing your work, on whether to get an agent and how to grow your business may consolidate or extend what you already know. This book is probably most useful if your business idea is still just that, or you are at the very beginning of start-up.

Creative, Inc. is published by Chronicle Books.

Jodi Wiley is an artist, writer, teacher and blogger. She has written freelance articles and book reviews for magazines and newspapers, as well as education curriculum. She has been a finalist for several art and illustration prizes and has won awards for her artwork. Jodi is currently on maternity leave from high school teaching and is on a (quite frankly deranged) quest to update her blog daily: