Book review: Survival Skills for Freelancers

July 3, 2020


Sarah Townsend has been playing the freelance game for over 20 years. In her new book, Survival Skills for Freelancers she shares which rules work and the myths that need breaking

Freelancing is hard. I should know. I’m on my second attempt after effing up my first try and bolting for an in-house job when the chance presented itself. But that was way back in 2012 and, thankfully, things are different now.

They’re different because wonderful freelancers such as Sarah Townsend, are sharing what they know about being freelance and what it means to set up a solo business. In doing so, the millions of us now working in the gig economy can (hopefully) stand a better chance of settling into freelance life. Being just three years into my own self-employed journey, I’ve got plenty still to learn as I discovered while reading Sarah’s, Survival Skills for Freelancers.

The blurb

Sarah Townsend is a UK-based marketing copywriter who ditched her full-time, in-house job and jumped on the self-employed rollercoaster 20 years ago. Her first book, Survival Skills for Freelancers is 200 pages of honest talk about being freelance. Each chapter tackles a different freelancing myth with the aim of banishing the BS. By the end, you’ll have the knowledge you need to survive as a freelancer. All without sacrificing your mental health and burning out.



What’s inside

Becoming self-employed is a very personal journey. Everyone has their own story about how they got to where they are and their motivations for turning their back on the corporate world. Sarah begins by sharing her own story, which took her from school to agency land, the glitz of B2C promotional publishing and finally freelancing.

From here, Survival Skills for Freelancers launches into the practical things you need to set up as a freelancer (separate business bank account, somewhere comfortable to work, tools for your trade) but also discusses the essentials that aren’t so easy to see. Things such as mindset, discovering your personal strengths, acknowledging your weaknesses and dealing with the emotional side of being a one-person show.

Whether you’re new to freelancing or not, taking the time to stop and reflect on these points are what lays strong foundations for your freelance career. Foundations that help you overcome the many head-spinning myths of being self-employed.

The rest of the book addresses eight common freelancer struggles, such as loneliness, the importance of outsourcing, saying “no” and working for free. Sarah offers sound advice for dealing with each obstacle and dismantles the fables. But don’t just take her word on how to do it. As I mentioned at the start, no two freelance stories are the same, so throughout the guide you’ll find advice and real experiences shared by Sarah’s network of freelance colleagues. Reading through them is a great reassurance that there’s a whole community who have gone through (or are going through) similar experiences to you.

My favourite bit

A lot of freelance talk is about scoring clients and making enough money to survive and, eventually, thrive. Of course, this is important to discuss but there’s so much more about freelancing which, I feel, the community is only just starting to acknowledge and open up about.

My favourite bit (or bits) in this guide are Sarah’s straight-talking moments about the emotional stress and pressures of freelancing. I especially like her honesty when it comes to the personality traits that serve a freelancer well. This paragraph on building resilience is a perfect example and had me nodding along like a bobble-head possessed.

“Your resilience is your ability to bounce back from difficulty – and it determines how well you adapt to challenging circumstances, while maintaining a stable mental wellbeing. The more resilient you are, the better equipped you’ll be to deal with the relentless ups and downs of freelance life.”

Ready to take on the freelance life?

Survival Skills for Freelancers is available from Amazon and in paperback and Kindle. It’s one of those guides you’ll return to time and again during your freelancing career, just to remind yourself you’re not going mad, you’re not alone and you can do this.

Have you read Survival Skills for Freelancers? What did you think of it?


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