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Old 06-02-2010
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Default BOOK REVIEW - The Wealthy Freelancer
Reviewers note: This book has been reviewed from the observations of a virtual assistant, which is important to note as the book is written for freelancers who primarily perform project-oriented work.


The Wealthy Freelancer
12 Secrets to a Great Income and an Enviable Lifestyle
by Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Savage, and Ed Gandia


“Ugh”, I thought to myself when I saw the cover of The Wealthy Freelancer, 12 Secrets to a Great Income and Enviable Lifestyle (TWF) featuring a bigger-than-life photo of a red Corvette. “Not another get-rich-quick publication selling a phony lifestyle reminiscent of late night gold digger infomercials!” To add ‘insult to injury’ the use of the subtitle word ‘enviable’ was equally as dubious. However, my first impression would prove to be utterly incorrect. Lesson to self: “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” In fact, TWF is not about becoming financially wealthy at all. The introductory chapter titled, What Being a Wealthy Freelancer Really Means explains that … “Being wealthy isn’t just about the dollars you earn; it’s about the life you build-and the kind of person you become in the process.” Unfortunately, at first glance, the book title and its photo cover, most likely used as a visual ‘hook’ promoted a brief amount of uncertainty which was quickly reconciled by the excellent content within.

The Layout

Chapters are segmented into “Secrets” numbered 1 through 12. “Secret 1” builds upon “Secret 2” and so on. Each chapter/secrets is a comprehensive step-by-step process about anything-anyone-would-ever-want- to-know about developing a successful freelance business.

The layout is easy-to-read and the chapters are well-defined. Chapters are pleasing to the eye broken-up with varying sized fonts with clear chapter sections. The Wealthy Freelancer is well-edited with no visible grammatical mistakes or typos. The authors inject humor, personal stories (some belly-laughingly funny!) and utilize examples of business anecdotes throughout the publication. The style of writing is business casual.

The Cons

I initially had a hitch with the word ‘freelancer’ as this typically defines that the subject matter would be geared toward project-only work. Although Virtual Assistants do indeed service clients with project work; not all VAs offer this option. It is often the on-going client work which keeps virtual assistant businesses afloat. I mention this as a “con” because in the formative chapters, the authors discuss finding leads through large business connections. Typically a virtual assistant seeks to work with small business owners as opposed to larger companies so I was thwarted by most, but not all of the ‘how-to-find clients’ tips offered. As expected many of the tips were targeted toward the project-oriented virtual assistant or freelancer.

Another lament was that the book seemed to rename some of the business systems which are already ‘out there’; previously published by other prominent authors. As a result, some of the information was not inventive material [to me]. For example, in Secret 2, Simplify the Process of Getting Clients, the authors offer a Master Marketing Formula which is a business model in the shape of a funnel. In this concept, the funnel has a large opening and is filled with Prospects; in which those Prospects turn to Leads; then Opportunities and finally into paying Clients. This was previously presented to me in a similar format noted in CJ Hayden’s book, Get Clients Now! Hayden defines a similar concept; ‘filling the pipeline’ and moving those leads down “her” funnel as they become closer to attaining client-status. I say this because it seems that in some cases TWF concepts are already ‘out there’ and simply repeated for this book. (But it certainly does not ‘hurt’ to review what one already may know and certainly there will be virtual assistant readers who may not be familiar with other authors’ business systems. However, for a virtual assistant, who is familiar with client-attracting models, a number of the TWF concepts could be labeled ‘aged’ information.)

The same predicament holds true for Secret 8, Bring Focus to Your Freelance Business with the word Focus being the common concept for the term, niche. This chapter discusses a DIP; the acronym for Discover, Identify and Position Technique. If you do not know who your niche or target market is, this chapter will help any virtual assistant make that leap but if you are already marketing directly to your target, this information will seem ‘recycled’. In fact, we discuss many of these concepts here on Virtual Assistant Forums so I found some of this information to be redundant.

The Pros

Despite the Cons mentioned, this book truly does shine! The authors do elevate a majority of the content above other how-to business publications with many other bright and fresh ideas. For example in Secrets 3, Create Your Amazing Buzz Piece and in Secret 7, Price Your Services for Success; these two chapters alone are well worth the $16.95 price.

Create Your Amazing Buzz Piece is a superb idea! The authors take the reader through a guided process to assist in crafting a unique business document which can be used in a variety of ways by the freelancer to promote his/her business. Once the buzz piece has been written (and there are some clever ideas about how to have the piece written…one such idea includes the use of a virtual assistant’s services!) the unique document can be attached to project bids, offered as a report, used as a giveaway at networking events, copied into sales letters, and even used for cold calls. This is truly a superb chapter!

Price Your Services for Success is an equally inspiring chapter. I was thrilled to read more about project pricing vs. hourly pricing; with the former holding the best argument all-around. As a virtual assistant, I have been tossing around flat-fee payment for services as opposed to hourly for some time so this chapter was particularly relevant. And although the book is geared as I mentioned more toward project-type work as opposed to ongoing administrative services, the authors offer a semi-solution to the hourly vs. flat fee debate:

“How do you quote a project price if you don’t know exactly what the project requirements are?”

The authors’ response, “You can’t, but a solution is that you can bill both project and hourly.” The authors suggest, “…bill hourly until the project scope is better understood, at which point you can switch to a project price for the balance of the job.” Again, it is difficult to apply to ongoing virtual assistant work with so many unknown factors involved in the workload but this solution is thought-provoking. This solution opened-up a pricing options discussion I have not encountered on the virtual assistant circuit.

A common issue virtual assistants often encounter is the potential client who wants to ‘make a deal’. Price Your Services for Success offers an outstanding dialogue on this hot topic. The authors write, “…don’t just drop your price for no other reason than the client’s objection to it. Negotiate an exchange of value instead. That involves offering the client an alternative plan that gets her what she wants – your freelance service – and gets you what you deserve – your professional fee.” Clever TWF suggestions include, offering to get the job done faster; throw in an extra; offer a discount for paying your full fee in advance; ask for more time; offer a volume discount. (Suggestions come with detailed explanations.) Again, TWF comes through here as a ‘must read’.

Special Features


At the end of each chapter the authors offer value-added pearls of wisdom:

Wealthy Words are inspiring quotes from freelancers and business professionals.
Wealthy Takeaways are summaries of the tips offered in the corresponding chapters.
Wealthy Tools are suggested website resources. (Once such Wealthy Tool recommended the use of virtual assistants. IVAA the paid membership site was the recommendation; perhaps future editions might include Virtual Assistant Forums and VirtualAsssistantville.)

The authors have injected worksheets into the chapters without overwhelming the reader with an overload of distracting ‘homework’. Self-reflective questions, good visual examples and models all enhance the information-packed content. The Jigsaw Puzzle Visual in Secret 10: Construct Your Own Work-Life Reality rallies the user to prioritize projects and tasks using puzzle pieces.

Although the book has its many profound moments of ‘ah-ha’, I found that the Opportunities and Obstacles to Becoming a Wealthy Freelancer chapter to be one of the most inspiring. The authors discuss setting parameters for those potential clients who want a freelancer/virtual assistant to work on a commission basis. Again, this is yet another telling opportunity to invite discussion regarding alternatives to hourly fees.

Chapter/Secrets Titles


What Being a Wealthy Freelancer Really Means
  • Secret 1: Master the Mental Game
  • Secret 2: Simplify the Process of Getting Clients
  • Secret 3: Create Your Amazing Buzz Piece
  • Secret 4: Employ High-Impact Prospecting Tactics
  • Secret 5: Cultivate Repeat and Referral Business
  • Secret 6: Nurture Prospects Perpetually
  • Secret 7: Price Your Services for Success
  • Secret 8: Bring Focus to Your Freelance Business
  • Secret 9: Boost Your Productivity – Without Perspiration!
  • Secret 10: Construct Your Own Work-Life Reality
  • Secret 11: Create Alternate Streams of Income
  • Secret 12: Live and Work in the Wealthy Triangle

Where Do You Go From Here?
Appendix
Opportunities and Obstacles to Becoming a Wealthy Freelancer
255 pages


Recommendation


I give this book two thumbs-up (if I had more thumbs, I’d add those too!) for anyone who is a project-oriented freelancer or for anyone who wishes to become a freelancer.

If you are a virtual assistant who promotes project work, such as website and blog design, social networking set-ups, and once-a-month projects in accounting, for example, TWF is a terrific resource at all stages of business!

If you do not offer project services, you will find many, many useful tips and thoughtful creative ideas. Do expect that ongoing-service VAs will need to ‘dig’ a bit through the “secrets” particularly in the first few chapters to find applicable information but a good deal of the content can be applied to non-project virtual assistants.

The Wealthy Freelancer will be a great addition to any business library.

Click here to buy this book!

What are your thoughts regarding The Wealthy Freelancer? We want to hear from you! Please share your thoughts, comments and questions by replying to this thread.


Janine Gregor
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Old 06-02-2010
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Default Re: The Wealthy Freelancer
First, Janine, I just want to say what a great review you've crafted here. I really like the way you share your initial reaction to the book and ultimatley come away with a reminder never to judge a book by it's cover.

I really enjoyed this book - I don't think I've ever read anything quite like it. There are some wonderfully inspiring, unique ideas in here and I especially liked the authors' style of writing. It seems more and more authors are realizing that the way to reach their audience is by writing as real, accessible people - and that's one of the great things about this book. It doesn't talk 'at' you.

I work on both a project and hourly basis, depending on the circumstance - so was able to take more from the pricing discussion. And that part of the book did open up some serious new considerations for me that I'm STILL going over. (and based on our conversation via email Janine on this same topic, I gather, so are you.)

All in all, really liked the book - there some pretty big A-ha! moments for me, as well as lifestyle philosophies that I subscribe and/or aspire to. Ultimately, I think that's what this book is about: crafting your ideal LIFESTYLE as a freelancer.
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Old 06-02-2010
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Default Re: The Wealthy Freelancer
I love your review, Janine! I know the co-authors of the book and started working with them as their VA just before they launched the book, so I have some bias towards the book and the people behind it. (Who by the way are really as personable as they come across as in the book!)

I love seeing the book having been reviewed so objectively! It's one of the reasons I love the forums and look forward to reading the book reviews and VA interviews etc.

Here's my thoughts on the The Wealthy Freelancer:

I came into the VA industry with the mindset of "freelancer" that has transitioned into the more typical VA business model, so I relate to most of the book more naturally than others might. I think that will be a stumbling block for many potential readers of the book - to not discount the title as not applicable to them because they are a <insert title here> and not a freelancer, even though at the core, it's just semantics.

The pricing chapter wasn't wholly applicable to me either, but their advice and thought provoking questions gave me some great stuff to think about and apply in my business that is structured on hourly rates. It helped me in my confidence level in setting my prices.

I love their advice on defining your ideal client and brining focus to your business. I think so many VAs struggle with finding a niche, a market and even clients - and that when someone walks through their virtual door - they take them on even if they aren't "the perfect fit". I gained a great deal of clarity on why this harmful to your business and potentially to your reputation. Just as importantly, they tell you how to define that ideal client and find that focus. Interestingly enough, I thought this was one of the most applicable sections of the books to VAs and found it to be probably the most helpful part of the book overall to me.

Another great takeaway for me is on the subject of on client care. Not just about the getting clients.. but how to treat them from 1st contact to 1st project -how to build their trust in you, and keep them wanting more.

Other books outline how to get clients and how to market yourself, but I usually set the book down afterwards feeling like it's a huge task to tackle to apply what I've read. In reading this book though, I never felt overwhelmed in applying the secrets the techniques that they outline.

The biggest takeaway for me - living wealthy is about setting your standards - from your perfect client - to your work hours - to your fees and rates PLUS enjoying the lifestyle that you want. The book gave me a positive perspective on structuring my career and my life together and not having to sacrifice one for the other. The key, for me, was to be clear on what I want first.
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Old 06-03-2010
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Default Re: The Wealthy Freelancer
Another book for my wish list I see. I had thought to pass on this one, however between your fantastic review, Janine, and the glowing praises of Tess and Crystal I foresee myself getting this one in the next few days. Sounds like it is well worth it!
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Old 06-03-2010
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Default Re: The Wealthy Freelancer
Janine,

Awesome job! Thanks for your honest and thorough book review. I'm definitely intrigued. I look forward to checking out the VAF live event with one of the authors, Ed Gandia, on June 29th.
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Old 06-03-2010
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Default Re: The Wealthy Freelancer
This is a fantastic review, Janine. I love to hear the pros and cons on things. And it is especially helpful to hear the review from a virtual assistant's perspective. Thanks!

Deb

p.s. Now I have *another* book to add to my list. I shouldn't have read this thread. Then again, I'm glad I did.
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Old 07-17-2010
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Default Re: The Wealthy Freelancer
I have to admit that after reading the reviews here and then the chat... well I couldn't resist and I bought it. I am about half way through the book now and as Janine said. Although some of the info is in other books, the things that aren't are really worth buying the book for. Thanks ladies for all the great comments and reviews on this!
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Old 07-17-2010
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Default Re: The Wealthy Freelancer
The more I read these book reviews, the longer my list gets! Thank you for a thorough review, while my list is getting longer at least I know what I'm getting myself into and not wasting time when I get into a new book!
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Old 07-17-2010
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Default Re: The Wealthy Freelancer
Like Serita, I'm now half way through the book and it's really great information. It provides great tips that you can apply and inspires me to achieve my goals as a business owner. I totally recommend it! The book cover and title are totally misleading! It's not only about being wealthy in the dollar sense but being wealthy in your life by achieving and setting goals for yourself.
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Old 07-25-2010
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Re: The Wealthy Freelancer
Okay. I did it. I spent some of my limited hard-earned funds and purchased this book based on Janine's review.

This book lives up to everything in her review...and more!

One thing that I have struggled with is my rates. This book put things into perspective for me, gave me a new way to look at setting up my fees, and sent me on my way to come up with my new fee schedule (not implemented on my site yet, but will be soon). I am also charging full speed ahead with other very helpful information in this book. Maybe it is because I am a web designer that this book really hit a home-run for me - I could relate to every single "secret" in this book.

Sure, I love to do administrative tasks/projects, too, but my main source of income is from my passion, web design. But, the great thing is I can set up a fee schedule no matter what service I am offering! And, I can also use every "secret" in this book no matter what service I offer.

Janine, you talk about "ah-ha" moments...this book was chock full of 'em for me, too! Too many to mention here without giving away the whole darn book.

The only downside to this book was that it kicked my problem with insomnia into high gear! I couldn't put it down.

Another great thing is the book was on sale at Amazon, so I paid less than what I was expecting to. This was a pleasant surprise for a struggling VA...but on her way to becoming a "wealthy VA" due to the invaluable information and thought provoking insights in this book!

Hey guys, seriously, this book is a superb one. I am so glad I took this leap of faith and have it in my arsenal of VA tools. This was the second book I have purchased based on reviews here, and I have got to say that this book leaves the other one in the dust...literally!
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