Tag Archives: business

BOOK REVIEW: Talent Is Not Enough

I think sometimes the designers who stand out in the marketplace, land the most prestigious clients and make the most money aren’t those who have the most brilliant talent. Instead, they’re the ones who can build a brand and a business around their work and handle it professionally. Creative people aren’t always the best businesspeople and so many can struggle with the business side of graphic design.

I used books like the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook when I started my design business, but Shel Perkins’ Talent Is Not Enough: Business Secrets for Designers might be a better book than any I had. It’s almost 450 pages long and very focused on the business of design, and the advice Shel gives is solid. I think it can really set a designer up for business success.

There is some breadth to the topics covered in Talent Is Not Enough: marketing, human resources, cash flow, office management and intellectual property are all covered in the book. Many are essential topics, though some business types—such as sole proprietor—will find some chapters not very useful because they don’t apply to them. I’ll also say that some topics—marketing in particular comes to mind—are not fully covered in this book and should be supplemented with other books and information.

The other criticism I have of the book is it glosses over what I think are the two questions always asked by new creative professionals: “How much should I charge?” and “How should I write my contracts?” The chapter on pricing models is short and doesn’t give any dollar amounts, which is hard to quantify for everyone but help new designers the most. The aforementioned Graphic Artists Guild Handbook did share hourly rates, and it really helped me start my business. It also shared some boilerplate copy for proposals and contracts. Talent Is Not Enough does share contract boilerplate as well, and the copy is well-written, but it’s not clearly marked in the book. Placing the legal documents in an addendum might be helpful in a third edition.

Despite these quibbles, Talent Is Not Enough is a very fine business resource and updated for our times with the second edition. I have over ten years in the industry and I learned new things from this book. A designer just starting out will gain a good business foundation by adding this to his or her other repertoire of books on business development.

Talent Is Not Enough: Business Secrets for Designers
Shel Perkins
Published by New Riders
US $39.99
Rating: 9/10

BOOK REVIEW: The Wealthy Freelancer Is Essential For Freelancers Today

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The image on the front cover of The Wealthy Freelancer is a red vintage Corvette with “FREELNCR” on the license plate. Almost every freelancer has a dream—buying a beautiful car, working just a few hours a day or hanging out with family when employees elsewhere are working in their cubicles—but the practical pitfalls of freelancing or owning your own business often get in the way. Sometimes freelancing seems like more headache for less money. The authors of The Wealthy Freelancer think the truth is actually much different.

Concrete steps

The Wealthy Freelancer is an absolute gem, and was very relevant to my own difficulties and experiences as a independent creative professional—even though all three authors are freelance writers. This book applies to anyone who is a “freelancer,” whether they’re a writer, designer, programmer or independent expert in their field.

Business books like these tend to be a little broad and vague, providing platitudes instead of hard answers—which, of course, is what we all want because answers make things easier. The Wealthy Freelancer avoids the pitfall by providing real techniques and tactics that support 12 secrets that cover pricing, prospecting, building alternative revenue streams and building the mental fortitude to overcome difficult times. “Mastering the mental game” is the first secret and I think it is most pertinent today, when the world economy is still in rough shape and many freelancers are scraping by. This chapter alone is worth the book’s price.

Practicing what they preach

Normally my book reviews involve just a book. However, it’s fitting that The Wealthy Freelancer has spawned a blog, online products and other tidbits of information that make the “Wealthy Freelancer” more of a brand than just a book. This makes perfect sense, because it’s the same stuff the authors promote in the book itself. One key technique from the book is to build a “buzz piece” and post it online—which is pretty much what the authors did in the “Free Stuff” section of the companion website. You can even get three free chapters of the book, which is what turned me onto the book enough to request a review copy. The free chapters were brought to my attention via e-mail, another promotional effort that paid off.

I’m sure the authors didn’t know they would be getting a positive book review when they decided to build the website and post the free chapters, but these tactics create serendipity and that creates opportunities.

Conclusion

I can’t recommend The Wealthy Freelancer enough for freelancers of all varieties—and in these uncertain times, I’m sure it will be a lifesaver for many people in the midst of economic panic. For those who do pick up the book, I also recommend reading the comments you’ll find on the blog posts at TheWealthyFreelancer.com—they are uplifting and from real freelancers who have been there before.

The Wealthy Freelancer
Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Savage and Ed Gandia
Published by Alpha Books
US$16.95
Rating: 10/10