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Creative, Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business

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As the hipster classic Craft, Inc. did for crafters, this book will teach all types of creatives illustrators, photographers, graphic designers, animators, and more how to build a successful business doing what they love. Freelancing pros Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho explain everything from creating a standout portfolio to navigating the legal issues of starti As the hipster classic Craft, Inc. did for crafters, this book will teach all types of creatives illustrators, photographers, graphic designers, animators, and more how to build a successful business doing what they love. Freelancing pros Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho explain everything from creating a standout portfolio to navigating the legal issues of starting a business. Accessible, spunky, and packed with practical advice, Creative, Inc. is an essential for anyone ready to strike out on their own.


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As the hipster classic Craft, Inc. did for crafters, this book will teach all types of creatives illustrators, photographers, graphic designers, animators, and more how to build a successful business doing what they love. Freelancing pros Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho explain everything from creating a standout portfolio to navigating the legal issues of starti As the hipster classic Craft, Inc. did for crafters, this book will teach all types of creatives illustrators, photographers, graphic designers, animators, and more how to build a successful business doing what they love. Freelancing pros Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho explain everything from creating a standout portfolio to navigating the legal issues of starting a business. Accessible, spunky, and packed with practical advice, Creative, Inc. is an essential for anyone ready to strike out on their own.

30 review for Creative, Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business

  1. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    When my sister and I run the world, all college students, no matter their chosen field, will take a basic business course as part of the mandatory freshman curriculum. Having zero business skills is a good way to invalidate any degree. In the freelance world, there’s much more to staying financially afloat than having all the necessary skills to pull off excellent work. Creative, Inc. is a crash course in business for creative folk, and it’s refreshing to read authors who don’t pretend starting a When my sister and I run the world, all college students, no matter their chosen field, will take a basic business course as part of the mandatory freshman curriculum. Having zero business skills is a good way to invalidate any degree. In the freelance world, there’s much more to staying financially afloat than having all the necessary skills to pull off excellent work. Creative, Inc. is a crash course in business for creative folk, and it’s refreshing to read authors who don’t pretend starting a freelance business is simple. It’s not. Authors Mateo Ilasco and Cho hit every key point a person needs to build a start-up creative business, including a superb mix of practical advice and personal success stories. With well-rounded advice for beginning freelancers, even those who’ve already leapt into freelancing will find help navigating the dark waters of taxes, billing, finding clients, and other business practicalities. Written in a neighborly tone, you’ll find solid, practical advice from the authors, who tackle issues like establishing your hourly rate and hiring employees from an educated perspective. Author interviews with a range of seasoned professionals — from prop stylist to designer to photographer — offer alternate views on how to get started and what worked for them. The spirit of invention is only one ingredient in a successful business venture. Drive counts more than your skillset and talent level. If you’re already motivated, Creative Inc. offers everything else you’ll need to begin freelancing full time.

  2. 4 out of 5

    susie

    This book could very well be the best friend a freelancer could have. I love everything Meg Mateo Ilasco does, and this book is no exception -- it's a perfect starter guide for an artist on the verge of a career. But even though I've been a freelancer for 9 years now, this book comes in like well-needed shoulder massage. It's motivating and packed with so many great reminders & tips & interviews. Highly recommended! This book could very well be the best friend a freelancer could have. I love everything Meg Mateo Ilasco does, and this book is no exception -- it's a perfect starter guide for an artist on the verge of a career. But even though I've been a freelancer for 9 years now, this book comes in like well-needed shoulder massage. It's motivating and packed with so many great reminders & tips & interviews. Highly recommended!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeannette

    Maybe because I've been freelancing for the past 8 years, I didn't really get much out of this book but maybe for someone starting out it provides good information. I did think their example on how to do an invoice is so completely wrong - one shouldn't provide an itemized list, broken down by time spent to the client. However, I did find the interviews with established freelancers inspiring and interesting. Maybe because I've been freelancing for the past 8 years, I didn't really get much out of this book but maybe for someone starting out it provides good information. I did think their example on how to do an invoice is so completely wrong - one shouldn't provide an itemized list, broken down by time spent to the client. However, I did find the interviews with established freelancers inspiring and interesting.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor

    It was perhaps silly of me to read this book right after Craft, Inc. but I liked to see Meg Mateao Illasco's approach to building a craft business expanded to speak to creative freelance business in general. Similar to Craft, Inc. I liked the authors focus on mission statement and knowing when to stop. I also liked the author's thoughts about collaboration and how to balance your work and your life. I think they make the point very well that a creative person looking to make a go of it must defi It was perhaps silly of me to read this book right after Craft, Inc. but I liked to see Meg Mateao Illasco's approach to building a craft business expanded to speak to creative freelance business in general. Similar to Craft, Inc. I liked the authors focus on mission statement and knowing when to stop. I also liked the author's thoughts about collaboration and how to balance your work and your life. I think they make the point very well that a creative person looking to make a go of it must define success for themselves, cultivate habits of mind to achieve that success, and have clearly defined goals with intermediate steps to reach them, as well as constantly reassessing what they are doing and achieving. They don't sugarcoat the freelance lifestyle, but they do provide a guide through it. If I made the leap to freelance I would buy this book to have on hand as a quick reference guide. The design is a little busy, but still very beautiful.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Grégory

    Goldmine of tips and information. I colour coded at least 10% of the book for future use. Very US centric. Would have given 5 stars had it been a bit less localized. Still would recommend.

  6. 4 out of 5

    nicole

    A friendly motivator even when the advice and rules don't sync perfectly with your mission (not that they ever could; we're all individuals doing different things). Creative Inc. covers all the areas you need to be thinking about and get you headed in the right direction and that's helpful place to start. The interviews with successful freelancers are full of interesting and helpful tidbits. You might feel a little jealous, but hopefully more inspired :) More specifically, the Making It Official A friendly motivator even when the advice and rules don't sync perfectly with your mission (not that they ever could; we're all individuals doing different things). Creative Inc. covers all the areas you need to be thinking about and get you headed in the right direction and that's helpful place to start. The interviews with successful freelancers are full of interesting and helpful tidbits. You might feel a little jealous, but hopefully more inspired :) More specifically, the Making It Official section made me think starting a freelance career in Michigan would be more work than it was (I don't even need a business license and trips to the county clerk aren't necessary when you can do most things online, from filing for an EIN number to getting your tax license) and the itemized invoice for creative services is more detailed than I would send a client (though a good mental/private breakdown for quoting jobs). Government websites, at least for my state, aren't the most user-friendly, so it was nice to know exactly what I was looking for so I didn't get overwhelmed. Despite the now-seems-obvious nature of determining your hourly rate, I found the gross income/hourly rate equation very helpful. Their emphasis on contracts and licenses/rights got my brain a bit worked up, but in a good way (I also recommend Jessica Hische's "Thoughts" on what to charge/licensing for more specific examples for illustrators). Overall I highly recommend it. An inexpensive way to really get your butt in gear.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ksenija

    In all honesty, it deserves 3.5 stars for the quality of the content. It is clearly meant as a tool for graphic designers/illustrators, but nevertheless, there are some extremely valuable advices about good business practices that can be applied to freelances in general, notwithstanding the precise operational sector. I did however, find the resources quite 'thin' and mostly useless. No one can seriously propose 'facebook.com' as a resource in this day and age. It feels a bit the authors forgot In all honesty, it deserves 3.5 stars for the quality of the content. It is clearly meant as a tool for graphic designers/illustrators, but nevertheless, there are some extremely valuable advices about good business practices that can be applied to freelances in general, notwithstanding the precise operational sector. I did however, find the resources quite 'thin' and mostly useless. No one can seriously propose 'facebook.com' as a resource in this day and age. It feels a bit the authors forgot they're living in the XXI century. Also, if you do not live in the USA, you might want to skip over some specific explanations of legal requirements that may not be the same in your country of residence. Of course, that does not mean you should ignore them, but rather seek out some additional resource that would refer to your business situation.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Ciarvella

    I wavered between three and four stars on this one. The book was good and gave me a lot to think about, but the focus and the writing was directed entirely at design, art, and illustration freelancers. I knew from the author descriptions that both authors had backgrounds in freelance design but I was still hoping for a little attention directed at freelance writing or editing. An interview with a freelance writer or editor would have been excellent. Otherwise, I think the book title should have I wavered between three and four stars on this one. The book was good and gave me a lot to think about, but the focus and the writing was directed entirely at design, art, and illustration freelancers. I knew from the author descriptions that both authors had backgrounds in freelance design but I was still hoping for a little attention directed at freelance writing or editing. An interview with a freelance writer or editor would have been excellent. Otherwise, I think the book title should have specified that it was intended more for designers than the current iteration, which seems to be aiming for "everybody doing creative freelance work."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    This is a very elegantly composed book. It has a myriad of useful, easy-to-implement tips for the novice freelancer artist. I really enjoyed the "breaks" offered by QA interviews with real live freelancers. My main gripe--and while it doesn't reflect the quality of the book, it does impact its usefulness to me--is that it is targeted exclusively toward visual freelance artists...which I am not. However I still found the book both enjoyable and informative, and I hope to find its counterpart for This is a very elegantly composed book. It has a myriad of useful, easy-to-implement tips for the novice freelancer artist. I really enjoyed the "breaks" offered by QA interviews with real live freelancers. My main gripe--and while it doesn't reflect the quality of the book, it does impact its usefulness to me--is that it is targeted exclusively toward visual freelance artists...which I am not. However I still found the book both enjoyable and informative, and I hope to find its counterpart for literary freelancers.

  10. 4 out of 5

    C.A.

    A great and thoughtful introduction to the world of freelancing. Without sugar coating it, they give you the facts and make the whole thing seem possible.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Olga Kovalenko

    Creative, Inc. by Meg Ilasco and Joy Cho is a self-help book for a person who does some sort of creative activity and would like to build a freelance business around it. It’s not about What, but about How. Mind that the book is from the pre-Instagram, pre-Etsy era, so some aspects of it (marketing and accounting, for example) might not be as relevant because Etsy already does many things for their sellers. I find the authors’ tips helpful in case I would want to start a website or branch out into Creative, Inc. by Meg Ilasco and Joy Cho is a self-help book for a person who does some sort of creative activity and would like to build a freelance business around it. It’s not about What, but about How. Mind that the book is from the pre-Instagram, pre-Etsy era, so some aspects of it (marketing and accounting, for example) might not be as relevant because Etsy already does many things for their sellers. I find the authors’ tips helpful in case I would want to start a website or branch out into illustration or graphic design and go big, like start approaching companies or getting an agent. The book is written for all creative people, but because of many references and interviews around illustration, animation, and graphic design, I kept on projecting the text onto a commercial visual artist. I can’t say I took many practical pointers from the book - maybe because I’m at a stage of growth, not start, and development of a business that I already have, but the book was very inspiring nevertheless. I kept on making notes throughout, many times totally irrelevant to the text, sometimes inspired by the creatives from the interviews section. It felt like having an energetic companion for a coffee, who inspires all those new ideas, and you rush to make plans and chart a strategy. Surprisingly, even though the book is about How, I now have plenty of What on my index cards. 💫

  12. 5 out of 5

    KLS

    A great primer for someone interested/planning to go freelance, but perhaps not as useful for someone already in the trenches. The book covers a lot of detail that many might not think of when first considering freelancing, such as business permits and licenses, taxes and work/life balance, of which the book covers briefly and leaves further research up to you. As such, it makes for a great overview into the world of creative freelancing as well as a good checklist to revisit upon when consideri A great primer for someone interested/planning to go freelance, but perhaps not as useful for someone already in the trenches. The book covers a lot of detail that many might not think of when first considering freelancing, such as business permits and licenses, taxes and work/life balance, of which the book covers briefly and leaves further research up to you. As such, it makes for a great overview into the world of creative freelancing as well as a good checklist to revisit upon when considering if your freelance business could be optimized further. It's not a book that will change the world or the way you think, but it's a great guide and directive for anyone who is at loss with how to start/sort out their freelancing gig or needs a little help with finetuning their current way of life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

    A good summary for someone who is starting out on their art/design freelance career. It discusses some basic but necessary points such as setting up your brand and business idea, marketing yourself, communicating with clients, how to calculate your fee and make contracts, agents, and balancing your work and personal life. Each chapter also has interviews with people in different creative professions discussing how/why they took up freelancing/self-employment over other types of employment. The s A good summary for someone who is starting out on their art/design freelance career. It discusses some basic but necessary points such as setting up your brand and business idea, marketing yourself, communicating with clients, how to calculate your fee and make contracts, agents, and balancing your work and personal life. Each chapter also has interviews with people in different creative professions discussing how/why they took up freelancing/self-employment over other types of employment. The subjects might not be talked about in depth but it is certainly a good starting point for further research.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Haydn Martin

    Gave up within half an hour of opening: - Not what I was looking for. - Opposite of my 'no-frills' preferences. - Waffle. Too wordy. Not enough actionable information. - Information is basic. Examples: moving to a big city is expensive but there are more opportunities there, make sure you communicate with the client, think of yourself as a business, etc., etc., etc. The list goes on and on and on. To be fair I think this is exacerbated by the fact that I know this area fairly well at this point, but Gave up within half an hour of opening: - Not what I was looking for. - Opposite of my 'no-frills' preferences. - Waffle. Too wordy. Not enough actionable information. - Information is basic. Examples: moving to a big city is expensive but there are more opportunities there, make sure you communicate with the client, think of yourself as a business, etc., etc., etc. The list goes on and on and on. To be fair I think this is exacerbated by the fact that I know this area fairly well at this point, but the point remains. - Interviews didn't add anything.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Wesley Hilario

    Will refer back to this book as the years come by. So much invaluable tidbits. I wish that the interviews provided more bits about handling difficult challenges. I get that they're all successful and all but it's invaluable to know what they did during the harder times. Most people reading the book are looking for guides and answers to their problems not revel in someone else's successes. To clarify, its inspiring to listen to those kinds of stories, it's just a little bit excessive for a sub 200 Will refer back to this book as the years come by. So much invaluable tidbits. I wish that the interviews provided more bits about handling difficult challenges. I get that they're all successful and all but it's invaluable to know what they did during the harder times. Most people reading the book are looking for guides and answers to their problems not revel in someone else's successes. To clarify, its inspiring to listen to those kinds of stories, it's just a little bit excessive for a sub 200 pg book that says it's an "ultimate guide."

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patrycja

    This is a good source of information. The problem is that it is a little bit outdated. Also I haven't really learn anything new. I was hoping for more tips and legal advice. But still I think it is a great book to familiarize yourself with law and how freelancing works. I hope that there will be a newer version of it, with different arist`s profiles. I didn't find artist's listed in the book too exciting. But maybe I have a little different style and taste. This is a good source of information. The problem is that it is a little bit outdated. Also I haven't really learn anything new. I was hoping for more tips and legal advice. But still I think it is a great book to familiarize yourself with law and how freelancing works. I hope that there will be a newer version of it, with different arist`s profiles. I didn't find artist's listed in the book too exciting. But maybe I have a little different style and taste.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shirin

    A quick read for those who ever wondered if they had a knack for freelancing. It is well worth noting that freelancing is not only about graphic design, photography or animation; when disruptive creativity peeks in, there are a gazillion of potential ideas that prove to be success stories for entrepreneurs and freelancers.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Agus Vega

    It is a great guide to start planning or thinking about a freelancing career. I found a lot of details that I hadn't thought about before and are super useful. The only thing I wish this had is a more international resources list. All things listed are relevant only to the USA and maybe they could mention where to seek information in other countries It is a great guide to start planning or thinking about a freelancing career. I found a lot of details that I hadn't thought about before and are super useful. The only thing I wish this had is a more international resources list. All things listed are relevant only to the USA and maybe they could mention where to seek information in other countries

  19. 5 out of 5

    Wamiq Maj

    I loved the fact that first hand accounts of people in the relating professions were able to give an account with context of the chapter. Also a no nonsense guide to running a creative business, definitely will get another read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    For the most part, this is a fantastic book. There were some areas that don't apply to me (yet) so I skimmed over some of them but otherwise I'd highly recommend it. I hope they create a revised edition to reflect the changed in freelancing in the next decade. For the most part, this is a fantastic book. There were some areas that don't apply to me (yet) so I skimmed over some of them but otherwise I'd highly recommend it. I hope they create a revised edition to reflect the changed in freelancing in the next decade.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Trang Ngo

    More suitable for illustrators/graphic designers/photographers but writers and creatives can also find some good advice.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Matt Krieg

    Helped me start my business!

  23. 5 out of 5

    gvgvgvijayan

    Nice book with so many people interview regarding how they start their work and how they achieve.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stef

    I think I may need to buy this. Informative, attractively formatted, and inspiring, with several valuable resources listed at the end.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Khairil Mahusin

    Lots of case study that related and usefull to me.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jaime the Nomad Soul

    Good all-purpose book for general creatives wanting to start their own business. Good gems and advice but Art Inc. By Lisa Congdon specializes on the visual artists, illustrators and designers.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    Fantastic book I read at the beginning of my freelance days. It has succinct, useful insights into all the aspects of being a freelancer, and has brief interviews with people in different fields. Would recommend to any freelance, especially newbs.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laura Fudge

    A brilliant book on freelancing – mainly in the graphic design business. It’s written by two freelancers with lots of experience, and ranges through from whether or not you should be a freelancer through to finding success and expanding your business. The book looks lovely, it’s well laid out and type-set, and the front cover is gorgeous. The book is peppered of little line drawings and there is an ongoing orange and turquoise colour theme with text and supporting graphics, which makes this book A brilliant book on freelancing – mainly in the graphic design business. It’s written by two freelancers with lots of experience, and ranges through from whether or not you should be a freelancer through to finding success and expanding your business. The book looks lovely, it’s well laid out and type-set, and the front cover is gorgeous. The book is peppered of little line drawings and there is an ongoing orange and turquoise colour theme with text and supporting graphics, which makes this book seem very laid back and a little quirky. The book is made up of 8 chapters, leading you through from deciding whether or not to become a freelancer, through to the beginnings, marketing, working with clients, finance, agents and growing your business. In each chapter there are interviews with different people from different ends of the spectrum discussing how freelancing affects them, and advice they have for freelancers. This book is full of good advice for any aspiring freelance creative – not just graphic designers, and despite this book having an American slant to it, most of the advice works over here (you just may need to find out about the UK equivalent for taxes etc.) There is also a very good index section for looking up things quickly, and a good resource section too. Good to read all the way through and definitely something I will look back into and dip into for help and advice further down the line. I wish I had picked this up when I started!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Deanna (Anya)

    This gives actually stories of artists' types who freelance their work and how they recommend starting your own freelance business out of your home at first. Good comments. Reading slowly. Motivated me to get a brand for my business, while I'm still consuming the contents. Put it down from time to time to read other books. Using it mainly as a resource to go back to for next steps as I am beginning this freelance process. Getting the brand, next is preparing the portfolio. This book does an exce This gives actually stories of artists' types who freelance their work and how they recommend starting your own freelance business out of your home at first. Good comments. Reading slowly. Motivated me to get a brand for my business, while I'm still consuming the contents. Put it down from time to time to read other books. Using it mainly as a resource to go back to for next steps as I am beginning this freelance process. Getting the brand, next is preparing the portfolio. This book does an excellent job outlining the steps one by one to getting your freelance business started. So glad I bought it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    A greatly informative book for everyone wanting to start freelancing but have absolutely no idea how (like me!). And unlike other books on a similar subject, it directly pertains to creative professionals. There are chapters on seemingly everything and pros and cons for the different topics, so it's quite unbiased. My only criticism would be where the interviews were placed within each chapter. They are distracting being so randomly placed within the information and would be better at the end of A greatly informative book for everyone wanting to start freelancing but have absolutely no idea how (like me!). And unlike other books on a similar subject, it directly pertains to creative professionals. There are chapters on seemingly everything and pros and cons for the different topics, so it's quite unbiased. My only criticism would be where the interviews were placed within each chapter. They are distracting being so randomly placed within the information and would be better at the end of the chapter to reflect on the knowledge just acquired.

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