One of the great things about going it alone these days is the amount of information at your fingertips. It’s pretty insane. The answer to more or less any question you might have is out there somewhere – if you know where to look. But that’s just it! With so much noise, it’s not always easy to find what you’re looking for, or know which are the most reliable sources. So I thought I’d put together a digital reading list to round-up some of the best blogs for freelancers and entrepreneurs.
Like all good reading lists, it’s nice and varied, ranging from personal blogs to online communities. As well as no-nonsense, actionable tips to help you on your way, you’ll also find sites to help with your personal development – such as how to find a good work-life balance or get in the right headspace for creativity. Some are focused on particular areas, such as writing for the web or marketing, while others are just great places to go to expand your mind and get inspired by creative new ideas.
I’ve grouped them under handy subheadings so you can see what’s what, and for each one I’ve suggested a place to start – an article or section that I found particularly useful or inspiring. Enjoy!
To help you write better web content and blogs
1. Copyblogger is a fantastic blog full of useful advice on how to create killer web content rather than “bland corporate crap created to fill up a company webpage.” Hear hear.
Start with: 60 ways to increase your influence online
2. Men With Pens – A great blog started by a female author who writes under the pseudonym James Chartrand. (Confused? Read this.) Readable, entertaining and full of useful insights and tips to help you become a better writer.
3. The Renegade Writer – Run by freelance writers Linder Formichelli and Diana Burrell, the Renegade Writer is based on the ethos that successful freelancers need to find the approach that works for them – which sometimes means flying in the face of convention! Well worth a read.
Start with: How to gain control over your freelancing life
To help you become a successful freelancer
4. Freelance Switch – A very handy site for anyone looking to go it alone. Articles span pretty much every aspect of freelance life, from finding jobs and working with clients to managing your working day.
Start with: 10 essential marketing skills for freelancers
5. Freelance Folder – Another popular community for freelancers, with loads of useful insights into what it’s like to become your own boss, and how to make it work.
6. Imbreannarose.com – The beautifully designed blog of freelance graphic and web designer Breanna Rose is well worth checking out. She offers great insights into the world of freelancing, shares her sources of inspiration, and even offers free desktop wallpapers for readers to download.
Start with: Be free, lance: know your worth
7. Kindred HQ – I love this blog! Refreshingly honest writing on the realities of going it alone, which leaves you with a real sense of being part of a supportive community.
8. The Freelance Strategist – Brought to you by the people behind Contently, (a network where professional writers can set up a free portfolio and find jobs), the Freelance Strategist offers tips, advice and encouragement to help wordsmiths become successful freelance writers.
Start with: Annoying things people say to freelance writers
To help you start and run a small business
9. The Design Trust – An educational resource for professional designers and craftspeople looking to start or grow their own business, with articles ranging from planning and preparation to marketing, sales and funding your venture. The site also hosts regular webinars.
10. Enterprise Nation – Founded by Emma Jones, home business website Enterprise Nation has now evolved into a small businesses community boasting more than 75,000 members. The brand now encompasses events, books, webchats and a regularly updated blog.
11. Guardian Small Business Network – As well as lots of small business related articles and interviews, the Guardian Small Business Network runs regular online Q&A’s on different aspects of starting and running a business, where you can pit your questions to industry experts.
Start with: Q&A round-up: How to build a brand on a budget
12. Inc is an American publication for entrepreneurs – but most of the advice is universal. Along with business tips and interviews, Inc publishes lots of articles on personal development skills, such as how to become a better leader and how to combat stress.
Start with: How to be the best version of you
13. Smarta is full of content to help you start and grow a business. In particular, check out Smarta’s step-by-step guides on how to start different types of businesses, and its great collection of video interviews with some of the UK’s top entrepreneurs.
Start with: How to start a design agency
14. Startups is an unmissable site offering stacks of advice on every aspect of going it alone, from business planning to making your first sale, raising finance, marketing and more. (Full disclosure: I’m the former editor!)
15. Quora is a treasure trove of useful information, all generated by its community of users. Anyone can sign-up, choose categories to follow, post questions or answer those set by others. You can often find some really insightful content, including posts from the likes of Stephen Fry and Mark Zuckerberg.
Start with: The freelancing section
To help improve your marketing
16. Econsultancy – A leader in the digital marketing field, Econsultancy’s blog contains stacks of useful information on topics such as search engine optimisation, using social media, writing web-friendly content and more.
Start with: 10 of the best social media campaigns of 2012
17. Seth’s blog – All-round marketing legend and author of business bibles such as Tribes and The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin posts regular insightful blog posts covering topics such as how to become more resilient, resourceful, socially minded and happy – in business and in life – along with sharing his marketing know-how.
Start with: Getting picked (need to vs. want to)
To boost your creativity, productivity and happiness
18. Buffer – Covering productivity, life hacks, writing, user experience, customer happiness and business, you’ll find lots of useful posts to help you work more effectively and get a better work-life balance.
19. Fast CoCreate is the creative arm of US business publication Fast Company. It’s a great source of articles on the creative process, as well as examples of innovative creative work and projects.
20. Lifehacker is, in its own words, ‘tips, tricks and downloads for getting things done’. That could mean anything from handy shortcuts for software programs, to tips on how to organise your workspace to get more done.
Start with: The How I work series
21. ZenHabits – Everything getting a bit much? Leo Babauta’s popular blog is a great place to go to find tips and perspective to help you calm down, simplify your life and achieve your most important goals. Start with: Nine rules for a simpler day
22. 99U – From the makers of Behance (a website where creatives can set up a free portfolio), this is one of my favourite sites, full of articles on how to make great ideas happen, covering everything from tips on how to manage your time to do your best creative work, to overcoming mental blocks.
Start with: Seven ways to boost your creativity
To find innovative ideas and inspiration
23.GOOD.is – The social network for social good is one of the best places to get inspired by creative ideas on the web. The site is powered by a global community who collaborate and share great ideas to make the world a better place. Content is split across different hubs (eg good.is/creativity; good.is/technology).
Start with: The best examples of street art from 2012
24. Springwise – Also powered by a global network (15,000 strong and counting), Springwise’s ‘spotters’ unearth smart new business ideas and start-ups from around the globe. A great source of inspriation for entrepreneurial minds.
25.TED – Need a burst of inspiration? TED has an amazing collection of talks from some of the brightest minds of our time, including Steve Jobs, Sir Ken Robinson and Professor Stephen Hawking.
What other sites do you recommend for people looking to start their own business, and why? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below…