Chris Kenworthy’s The Human Freelancer: A guide to happy and honest self-employment for conscientious newcomers isn’t your usual guide to freelancing for newbies. Yes, it covers calculating your rates, handling difficult clients and dealing with criticism. But that’s where the similarities end.
Kenworthy, a freelance copywriter/event photographer, dispenses wisdom like a sweary Yoda. His analogies are as vivid as they’re inappropriate, so if you’re not keen on profanity this book’s not for you.
At just 122 pages it’s a quick read. Each chapter’s only three or four pages long, and the main points are helpfully summarised at the end of each one.
Because Kenworthy loathes “greedy capitalism”, this isn’t one of those shouty, Bigger! Better! More! kind of self help business books liberally sprinkled with words like strategy, lean and thought-leader.
His contribution to the genre focuses on mindset, behaviour and the F word (feelings) instead. He urges the newly self-employed to decide what success means for them, rather than accepting others’ markers and definitions of it.
Kenworthy sees freelancing as a satisfying way of sticking it to The Man, so he’s pleasingly positive about it. (As he would be, because for him self-employment means working on his business two days a week, and spending the rest of his time “interfering with vegetables and drawing willies”).
That said he’s not Pollyannaish when it comes to the reality of working for yourself. As well as describing its benefits, he acknowledges some of its downsides – uncertainty, isolation, financial insecurity.
Despite its irreverent, verging on abrasive, tone and overly generous helpings of scatological humour, The Human Freelancer is full of empathetic advice.
For example, Kenworthy’s champion self-congratulation and recognising a job well done. His words are a welcome reminder of the value of taking time to celebrate the positive. Because it can be easy to get into the habit of brushing off the good stuff and ruminating on the bad.
And it’s refreshing to hear an experienced freelancer say it’s OK for small businesses to be your bread and butter. A lot of handbooks of this ilk assume that, although you’ll work with smaller outfits to begin with, your goal is to claw your way up to the big hitters. Which may be true for some, but not necessarily for all.
The Human Freelancer is enjoyable, informative and reassuring. Perfect for anyone who’s just entered the world of freelancing and is after emotional support as well as no-nonsense guidance.