Book Review: My So-Called Freelance Life by Michelle Goodman

By Jodi Wiley

Looking to strike out on your own or maybe you’ve already taken the freelance plunge? You could do worse than to consult this very readable guide on ‘how to survive and thrive as a creative professional for hire’ by Michelle Goodman.

My So-Called Freelance Life contains all the topics you’d expect to find in a guide to running your own show (setting goals, creating a portfolio, acquiring quality clients and time management) with the added entertainment of Goodman’s irreverent writing voice. She is funny, chatty and informative. It’s like sitting down for a coffee with a really fun buddy who’s full of excellent advice and smart quips. Far from being a dry instructional tome, this book is full of spirited enthusiasm and humour. And it’s infectious. After reading this it’s hard not to begin hatching grand freelance plans.

I particularly like Goodman’s advice about acquiring freelance projects which pay the bills while also making room for the dream projects that might not pay so well. She firmly believes in making time for those projects (after all, isn’t that why you wanted to freelance in the first place?) but also acknowledges the reality of doing bread-and-butter work.

She’s also full of great organisational ideas: how to manage your invoicing, client expectations and how to avoid frittering away your time on social media. Like other creative biz guides out of North America, much of the tax and legal business advice is specific to that country, but this information can always be researched locally and doesn’t take up too much space between the covers. On the whole, this book is a useful and motivational tool for anyone toying with the idea of going solo, or for seasoned freelancers wanting ‘to pick up some tips and tricks’.

Although Goodman’s professional experience is in freelance writing she is careful to make the information relevant to those in other creative fields. My So-Called Freelance Life is general enough to be useful to all creative professionals while still giving specific advice. And a big motivational push too. ‘What matters,’ Goodman concludes, ‘is that I’m doing what I’ve wanted to do since I was an eight-year-old in pigtails writing essays about Pocahontas and gluing together dioramas of dinosaurs - I’m making a living making stuff.’

My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire by Michelle Goodman is published by Seal Press.

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 won awards for her artwork and been a finalist for several art and illustration prizes. Visit Jodi’s blog: