Free Money took me 15 years to write, or rather 15 years to live. The book is a is a pricing and money mindset guide for freelancers and consultants.
Though I’d obviously like for you to buy and use the book, I’ll start with the backstory, not the pitch, because it contains the lesson I learned: all positive change starts with honesty.
Every good nonfiction book starts with a crisis.
Though I spent nearly three years working on the book, the process and ideas started germinating in September 2015.
I was technically on vacation with my family, and while everyone was hanging out on the beach, I snuck back inside to do some work. (Surely, none of you solopreneurs can relate.) As I caught up on paying bills, I realized that I didn’t have enough cash in my checking account to pay my credit card balance in full.
That may seem like a small thing, but at the time it felt like a steel-toed boot to the groin. My wife and I had paid off the last of our debt in 2013, so to be back in the same situation? Oof. I felt nauseated with anxiety, regret, and panic. What were we going to do?
I put on a good show for the rest of the “vacation,” but behind the fun guy facade, I counted every penny we spent and obsessed over every financial decision and perceived misstep that had led us back into debt. Let’s just say that inside my head wasn’t a pleasant place to be:
- Why had I not raised my rates in over two years?
- Why hadn’t I addressed the under-earning problem sooner?
- Why hadn’t I been more diligent in keeping in touch with past clients?
When I came out of this doom loop, I started searching online for a pricing methodology.
“All these approaches are total crap.”
The trouble was, every “how to set your freelance prices” process I found had more holes than a Swiss cheese factory.
For example, I was trying to solve this problem while on vacation. Why didn’t Cocky McConsultant’s process account for how many weeks I wouldn’t be working? Furthermore, it wasn’t like I could bill for all my hours while I was “in the office.” A big chunk of them I spent doing things necessary to sustain the business that I couldn’t charge clients for, everything from marketing and follow-up to tracking expenses.
When my frantic research turned up nothing but disappointment, I hacked together my own set of exercises and calculations.
The first version of the “methodology” (a generous term) was ugg-ly, but at least I had confidence that the rates it spit out would cover my family’s immediate needs and move us toward our long-term financial goals. It was honest, not delusional.
“That’s is what I really need to be making? Ouch.”
Before happy, shiny, future Austin falsifies this story, I want to grab and hold up one small problem I encountered—namely, that my rates at the time were nowhere close to what they needed to be. My effective hourly rate was approximately half of what I needed to be making per billable hour.
You’d better believe this was discouraging at first! I looked at my current rates and client roster and then looked across the metaphorical chasm to the land of milk and honey and that chasm seemed impossibly wide.
Hopefully, your experience pinpointing your Survival Rate and Dream Rate may be more encouraging. Even if it’s not, I want to pass along a core tenet, if you like, of Free Money. All positive change starts with honesty.
I learned that sunny day in Florida that it’s better to face the reality of your situation, accept that reality, and plan your next move than it is to keep pretending that your prices and freelance business are sustainable when they’re not.
In Clear Thinking Shane Parrish puts it this way: “Distancing yourself from reality makes it harder to solve the problems you face.”
At the very least, Free Money can help you collapse that distance.
What will Free Money help you do?
Fast forward roughly nine years, and that hodgepodge methodology has undergone significant refinement. It has already helps hundreds, if not thousands, of writers, designers, developers, and freelance sword swallowers to do two things:
- Identify seven key numbers.
- Calculate smart, strategic prices.
This is the book I wish had existed back in 2009 when I first started freelancing and had no clue how to assign value to the outcomes I delivered.
One writer charges $100 for a case study, and another, $10,000. Why? Is the second writer a hundred times better? No.
Factors other than raw talent come into play, and Free Money explores why some freelancers and consultants are able to attract better clients, charge much higher prices, and build a business that bankrolls their desired lifestyle.
Setting the right freelance or consulting prices is one thing, and winning projects at those prices is another.
That’s why the first part of Free Money focuses on pricing, and the second part focused on earning. Most of us need to spend some time clarifying what the extra money is for, and we also need to examine our beliefs about money. Before we can charge what we’re worth, we must believe in our worthiness.
Once we put together strategic prices, healthier mindset, and specific principles and practices required to navigate sales and negotiation, life-changing freelance income becomes not only possible but inevitable.
Who is Free Money for?
I wrote this book for freelance creatives, consultants, and coaches—really any independent service professional who sells their creative skills, expertise, and problem-solving aptitude. It doesn’t matter whether you’re part-time or all-in, in a single- or dual-income home, or planning to work for yourself for a short season or forever, Free Money gives you a step-by-step process for calculating prices that make sense for you, not someone else, right now.
If you aren’t confident in your prices, Free Money is for you. If you’re a creative who has a complicated relationship with money, this book is for you. If you need to reconnect with why you chose this independent path in the first place, this book is for you.
My sincere hope is that my little crisis at the beach in 2015 and the methodology it birthed will bring a reality check or confirmation (whichever you need most) and help you vault over the tiger traps and cruise toward to life-changing income much faster. This book is your clarifying, confidence-boosting map to higher earning and a more satisfying freelance business.
Millions of value-conscious clients are eager to pay a freelancer or consultant with your skills a premium. The “free money” you could be charging is there for the taking. Why shouldn’t you be the one to land those projects?
Check out some of the blurbs from advance readers below, and buy the hardcover, paperback, and/or PDF + EPUB here.
A handful of blurbs can’t hurt…
“Austin L. Church has penned a game-changer. In Free Money, he unpacks the art and science of pricing for freelancers and shares a treasure trove of relatable examples and anecdotes. This book offers not only a path to better income but also a better relationship with money and a better life. Every page resonates with wisdom and practicality. Prepare to be transformed.” – Ed Gandia, Founder, High-Income Business Writing
“Have you ever told a potential client your price and immediately thought ‘Oh gosh, was that too much? Not enough? What have I done?!’ Congratulations, you’re normal—but after reading Free Money you’ll have a super smart pricing strategy so you never feel or think that again.” – John Meese, Author of Survive and Thrive&Always Be Teaching
“This book is perfect for freelancers – it will get you through, over and past any money blocks you have, thanks to a combination of the clarity Austin brings, the stories he tells and the lilt of his southern voice, which you can literally hear on the page. He even makes the math painless – almost! Highly recommended reading!” – Ilise Benun, Founder of Marketing-Mentor.com and Author of The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money and The Simplest Marketing Plan
“For a long time, talking about money has been taboo. But freelancers need to have understand money and pricing in order to build a business that supports their lifestyle (rather than destroys it). Free Money is essential reading for freelancers who truly want to take control of their time.” – Jay Clouse, Founder of Freelancing School & Creator Science Lab
"If you want to make more money as a freelancer or consultant, buy this book and do what it says." – Tim Stoddart, Partner, Copyblogger
When you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:
- Freelance Fixes. This short guide walks you through 6 small but important “fixes” that you can make to raise your income without working longer hours. People really seem to like it.
- Morning Marketing Habit. This course will help you build an “always be marketing” practice, become less dependent on referrals, and proactively build the business you want with the clients you want. My own morning marketing habit has enabled me to consistently make 6 figures as a freelancer.
- Clarity Session. It’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle. I've done well over 100 of these 1:1 sessions with founders, solopreneurs, and freelancers who wanted guidance, a second opinion, or help creating a plan.