Looking for the top must-read books for entrepreneurs and bloggers?
Then you’ve landed in the right place of the interwebs. ?
I’ve come up with a list of the top must-read books for entrepreneurs and bloggers after scouring through goodreads, Amazon, and fellow bloggers’ own “must-read books” lists to present you with the very best books for entrepreneurs and bloggers out there.
(Also, I read a lot of these myself and seem to think they’re pretty darn good at helping you build your empire.)
Most of the books below, by the way, are available for you to read for free through Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Unlimited is perfect for you if you tend to read a lot of books and don’t want to pay for each book. You can sign up for a free trial of Kindle Unlimited here.
I sorted the books by the following categories below so that it’s easy for you to find a book under a topic you’re looking for. I also included a quote from each book to give you a better idea of the author’s writing style and the type of advice you’ll expect to find in the book.
Use the table of contents (arranged in alphabetical order) to navigate to a specific section, or start browsing the list straight away.
Table of Contents
2. Business & Leadership
3. Buyer Psychology
4. Copywriting, Writing, & Direct-Response Copy
5. Financial Management
10. Personal Development
12. Sales & Selling
Did you know that, on average, consistent branding is linked to a 23 percent revenue increase?
The branding category shows up first here by default because the list is alphabetical, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to brand your business the right way.
Here are a few books to get you started on remarkable, consistent, and memorable branding your readers and fans will love.
“A powerful brand identity is more than just a logo and a couple of colours, it’s made up from a number of elements which add depth, texture and personality. And it’s the sum of all of these parts that creates a brand identity that will really resonate.” — Fiona Humberstone, How to Style Your Brand: Everything You Need to Know to Create a Distinctive Brand Identity
Let’s face it: most of us entrepreneurs and bloggers aren’t designers. We have to learn to wear many hats along the way, and some of us just don’t have that eye for design (sometimes we’ll leave our websites looking like a 5-year-old colored them with crayons, amirite?). Fiona Humberstone walks you through how to use colors, styling, and brand psychology so you can get your branding just right.
“If you’re remarkable, it’s likely that some people won’t like you. That’s part of the definition of remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise – ever. The best the timid can hope for is to be unnoticed. Criticism comes to those who stand out.” — Seth Godin, Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
Ah, Seth Godin. He comes up a few times in this list, and for good reason. If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind business tips on branding, strategy, and marketing, then he should be your go-to guy. Purple Cow is a favorite of mine. Godin goes into how to put that “remarkable” element (the “wow factor”) into everything you create so that you have something worth marketing to begin with.
“The most basic way to get someone’s attention is this: Break a pattern.” — Chip Heath, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Chip Heath talks about why some ideas “stick” and why others don’t in Made to Stick. He even outlines six major principles that make something “stick,” including unexpectedness, credibility, and simplicity. If you want to know what will get your idea to catch on – and stay that way – check out Made to Stick for a quick and actionable read.
“In every line of copy we write, we’re either serving the customer’s story or descending into confusion; we’re either making music or making noise.” — Donald Miller, Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen
Miller teaches you how to simplify your branding message using the principles of storytelling in Building A StoryBrand so that your readers actually pay attention. If you want to present your business in a meaningful way that’ll show its true value to your readers, then StoryBrand will help you craft your message with purpose.
Do you really need an MBA to be a successful businessperson? Ashley Stahl doesn’t seem to think so.
Below are a few books that’ll give you the essence of what it means to do business, the mindset you need to have as a businessperson, and so much more.
“You would not believe how many emails I get from people that say, ‘Oh, Ramit. So this is it? After getting 15 free emails from you, now I realize it was all leading up to a course that you’re SELLING?’ Here’s the most fascinating thing behind what they’re really saying. Beneath the words is the belief: ‘If you make a dollar, I lose a dollar.’ That’s a scarcity mindset. People with a scarcity mindset believe there’s a limited pie, and if you take one piece, that’s one piece less for everyone else. The truth is the pie can infinitely expand.” — Ramit Sethi, Your Move
I love Ramit’s work. He cuts through a lot of the clutter out there to give you straightforward, practical advice in starting and growing your online business. This book is no different: it’ll guide you through all things money mindset, idea validation, and even learning to scale your income and make it passive.
“The truth is, everyone gets scared. We have a tendency to think that supersuccessful people aren’t scared and everything is effortless for them, but that’s simply not true. It’s not that they’ve never had fears; it’s just that they don’t let their fears hold them back…starting something new is risky and uncomfortable. But the people who win in business and life press on anyway.” — Christy Wright, Business Boutique
Christy Wright’s book is packed full of both inspiration and savvy business know-how. Although I think the book places too much emphasis on “doing what you love,” it stills sets a solid foundation on the basics of starting, marketing, and running your first business.
“Some leaders seem to drain intelligence and capability out of the people around them. Their focus on their own intelligence and their resolve to be the smartest person in the room had a diminishing effect on everyone else. For them to look smart, other people had to end up looking dumb…Other leaders used their intelligence as a tool rather than a weapon…These leaders weren’t just intelligent themselves — they were intelligence Multipliers.” — Liz Wiseman, Multipliers
Liz Wiseman’s book focuses a lot on leadership. When you’re starting out, you most likely won’t have a team at all — you’ll probably ride solo for a while. But at some point, you’ll have to outsource tasks and scale your blog or online business — if you want to. Wiseman’s book gives a great context on how you should lead as you grow.
“Think of this book as a filter. Instead of trying to absorb all of the business information that’s out there — and there’s a lot out there — use this book to help you learn what matters most, so you can focus on what’s actually important: making things happen.” — Josh Kaufman, The Personal MBA
If the idea of starting a business (online or otherwise) scares the chocolate-frosted cake out of you, then take a stab at reading Kaufman’s book. Remember how I mentioned earlier that a lot of people think getting an MBA is a bit useless? This book will fill in the gaps you think you have when it comes to business (how businesses work, starting a new business, developing business skills, etc).
She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas Into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur by Carrie Green
“While the journey is a crazy one, there’s something we all have to realize: Success is not an accident; it’s something we have to create on purpose. And we can all do it, every single one of us.” — Carrie Green, She Means Business
If you didn’t know, Carrie Green is the founder of the ever-growing Female Entrepreneur Assocation. She details her journey in the beginning from confused and directionless to successful — so successful, in fact, she’s empowering hundreds of thousands of women across the world to start their own online businesses. Read her book if you need some much-needed words of wisdom and inspiration to start your own thing.
Will It Fly? How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money by Pat Flynn
“In other words, a sure-fire way to predict the future is to take no action at all. When you do nothing, you get nothing.” — Pat Flynn, Will It Fly?
If you’ve ever browsed through Pat Flynn’s website, then you’ve probably noticed the scarily-enormous latest income report figure in the corner. If there’s someone who’s a testament to persistence, heart-in-the-right-place-goodness, and passive income success, then it’s Pat. You’re in safe hands when you read Will It Fly? when you want to figure out if your business idea is a flop or not.
Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition by Jay Abraham
“I’m going to show you how to recogize the income- and success-increasing connections that are all around you. I wil give you proven strategies and detailed examples of how to leverage those strategies so you can turn them into greater income, respect, power, and success. And when you do, your life will never be the same.” — Jay Abraham, Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got
Jay Abraham is an advisor to top corporations and mentor to many successful businesspeople (like Ramit Sethi). The whole premise of the book is that you’ve got a ton of “hidden” opportunities around you for your business — Jay Abraham just helps you unveil them and make them work for you.
“The name given to that one dramatic moment in an epidemic when everything can change all at once is the Tipping Point.” — Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point
The Tipping Point will make you think and look differently at success. Gladwell describes how contagiousness, “big effects” resulting from small causes, and that things can happen dramatically and at once instead of gradually all contribute to how an idea spreads like wildfire. This book alone changed the way I looked at business growth.
“If our programmed behaviors are so influential in guiding our everyday actions, surely harnessing the same power of habits can be a boon for industry. Indeed, for those able to shape them in an effective way, habits can be very good for the bottom line.” — Nir Eyal, Hooked
Hooked explores the nature of habits — we’re quite habitual creatures, aren’t we — and how creating products that revolve around preexisting habits can boost your business and revenue. It makes sense, if you think about it, right (when have you ever decided, no, I don’t need toothpaste anymore — unless, of course, you decided to stop brushing your teeth)? Check out Eyal’s book to see how you can use the same principles in your blog or business.
Did you know 61 percent of online shoppers decided not to buy a product because it was missing a “trust seal” at the checkout page?
People are fickle when it comes to buying. As much as we’d like to think the opposite is true, most purchases are emotional rather than logical.
The books below will give you a glimpse into what’s really going on in your potential buyer’s brain (and yours!) so that you can crack the code on knowing how to present your offer.
“Often we don’t realize that our attitude toward something has been influenced by the number of times we have been exposed to it in the past.” — Robert Cialdini, Influence
Dr. Robert Cialdini’s name comes up a few times in this post — that’s because he’s spent nearly his whole life researching the principles of persuasion and negotiation, two things you have to get pretty comfortable with in business. Influence goes into the psychology of being persuasive — namely, why people say “yes” to you.
“But equally important, I hope you’ll see the very act of selling in a new light. Selling, I’ve grown to understand, is more urgent, more important, and, in its own sweet way, more beautiful than we realize…The capacity to sell isn’t some unnatural adaptation in the merciless world of commerce. It is part of who we are.” — Daniel Pink, To Sell Is Human
Are you afraid to “sell” to your readers? Are you afraid at the very idea of selling? Then this book is for you. Daniel Pink makes you look at selling in a completely new light — so much so that you’ll never think of it as a sleazy thing ever again.
“I’m going to show you, in detail, my Ask Formula, the same formula my clients, customers, and I have used to quietly generate over 3 million leads and over 200,000 customers across 23 different major markets in just the past several years — generating well over $100 million dollars in revenue in the process.” — Ryan Levesque, Ask
That’s a hefty declaration, ain’t it? Here’s the thing: Ryan Levesque isn’t joking when he makes it! His Ask Formula is one seriously strategic way to know exactly what your customers, leads, and readers really want. In fact, you’ll never go back to doing business the same way again after implementing just some of his strategies.
“The highest achievers spent more time crafting what they did and said before making a request. They set about their mission as skilled gardeners who know that even the finest seeds will not take root in stony soil or bear fullest fruit in poorly prepared ground.” — Robert Cialdini, Pre-Suasion
Another Cialdini book. He’s that good! I loved Pre-Suasion because Cialdini turns everything we know about crafting the perfect offer on its head. He emphasizes that timing is just as — or more — important than the offer itself. He even gives tips on how to be an effective “pre-suader.” A must-read if you want to get the timing of your offer just right (and make more sales as you’re at it).
It can literally make or break an offer.
It can mean the difference between $800 in sales — or $8,000.
If is both a science and an art.
Writing good copy takes both lots of practice and knowledge of best practice. The books below go into just that.
“People don’t like to be addressed as a crowd. They prefer to read something that addresses them personally, directly.” — Henneke Duistermaat, How to Write Seductive Web Copy
This was the first book on copywriting I purchased years ago when I was learning to write for the web. Ah, the memories. It really is such a simple, basic starting point — but an effective one. If you don’t know how to write at all for web readers because all you’ve known about writing was how to craft 4th grade biology reports and college history essays, then this book is for you.
“The truth is this: writing well is part habit, part knowledge of some fundamental rules, and part giving a damn.” — Ann Handley, Everybody Writes
Everyone should have this book, whether you’re an experienced copywriter or just starting out in the world of web writing. Handley goes through the best practices for every common form of web content and shows you how to write for the web in a way that is appealing for readers. A perfect place to start if you’re a blogger or online entrepreneur.
“Clever advertising can convince people to try a bad product once. But it can’t convince them to buy a product they’ve already tried and didn’t like.” — Robert Bly, The Copywriter’s Handbook
I am utterly overwhelmed with nostalgia. This is yet another classic in the Copywriting section of this list. This book is also a must-read because you’ll learn how to craft copy that gets people to take the next action; in other words, you’ll learn the art of direct-response copy. There is much to learn about direct-response copy after this book, but it’s nevertheless a good starting point.
The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful Advertising and Marketing Copy from One of America’s Top Copywriters by Joseph Sugarman
“Another factor that makes a great copywriter is the experience of running your own company and being responsible for every word you write. The really great direct marketing copywriters often don’t work for advertising agencies, but rather run their own companies and experience their own successes and failures. Ben Suarez, Gary Halbert, the late Gene Schwartz and dozens of others recognized as top copywriters have owned their own companies and learned over years of trial and error — years of both big mistakes and great success. You can’t beat that type of experience.” — Joseph Sugarman, The Adweek Copywriting Handbook
Doensn’t it comfort you to know you’ll have — or you’re having — exactly that type of experience Sugarman mentions? Sugarman is an advertising legend. I included another one of his books in the “Sales & Selling” section of this post; his tips on persuasive advertising copy are no less stellar than his tips on selling. If you want to finesse your direct-response copy, buy this book!
“I don’t know the rules of grammar. If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language.” — David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising
Known as the father of advertising, Ogilvy has a bit to say about what it means to advertise to people. Although the book has a few chapters that are a bit redundant, most of the chapters still apply to any copywriter or blogger today: advertising that converts, secrets behind successful copywriting, and the “miracles” behind consumer research.
Words That Sell: More than 6000 Entries to Help You Promote Your Products, Services, and Ideas by Richard Bayan
“Too many words like fabulous and fantastic within a brief space will destroy your credibility. You don’t want your audience to dismiss you as a propagandist. Instead, try to convince the audience that your product is fabulous. Make them say, ‘That’s really fantastic!'” — Richard Bayan, Words That Sell
Ever wish there was a super-charged, effective-copy-oriented thesaurus for words like “awesome” and “amazing?” Ever feel like you can’t supercharge your adjectives the way you’ve always wanted to? Then Words That Sell was made just for you. There’s more than 6,000 words and phrases in Words That Sell to help you find better alternatives and versions for even the least flavorful words you can possibly cook up.
The Halbert Copywriting Method Part III: The Simple, Fast, & Easy Editing Formula That Forces Buyers To Read Every Word Of Your Ads by Bond Halbert
“All the power in your sales copy comes from what you are saying and knowing your audience…not how you say it. In other words…market research is much more important than any creative writing ability…Just remember…no amount of clarity will make a bad offer better. Selling the wrong products to the wrong people at the wrong time will result in more wasted energy than poorly-worded copy.” — Bond Halbert, The Halbert Copywriting Method Part III
This book is probably the only one that gives a short, sweet, yet effective crash course in copyediting; that is, refining your copy to the point your buyer can’t refuse your offer. It’s polishing what you already have. Useful book if you want to have a system in place for going over your copy just when you think you’ve finished it.
How to Write Copy That Sells: The Step-By-Step System for More Sales, to More Customers, More Often by Ray Edwards
“Rapport demonstrates that you know the reader’s pain, that you understand his or her problems, and that you have some common experiences that you can share that proves you understand his or her pain.” — Ray Edwards, How to Write Copy That Sells
You’re going to get a crash course in How to Write Copy That Sells in one of the most-coveted traits any copywriter would die to have: empathy. Edwards takes you through, step-by-step, exactly how to craft killer copy that resonates with your readers and makes them want to buy from you.
Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business by Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman
“If you aren’t having fun creating content, you’re doing it wrong.” — Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman, Content Rules
Ahh, that quote makes you think twice about the content you’re creating, doesn’t it? Ann Handley returns in this list with another book, Content Rules. This book is like a guidepost for writing killer content in a bunch of different media and platforms.
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” — Stephen King, On Writing
Stephen King is one of my favorite authors and writers, and this writing section would be missing something if I didn’t include his famous memoir, On Writing. Truly a must-read for any writer, blogger or entrepreneur, King weaves his story into On Writing in a seamless way as he gives priceless advice and doles out inspiration.
“There are many fine, successful writers out there who equate writing quikly with being a hack. I firmly disagree. My methods remove the dross, the time spent tooling around lost in your daily writing, not the time spent making plot decisions or word choices.” — Rachel Aaron, 2K to 10K
Rachel Aaron wrote this book from the perspective of it being useful for novel writers; but any kind of writer can extract value from it, including copywriters. I used her tips to be able to write 5,000 words a day without breaking a sweat — and no, without spending the entire day doing it. Great if you want to improve your writing flow.
This list would be missing something if I didn’t include a sectinon on financial management books.
If you’re starting out your blog or online business, then your finances can get tricky to keep track of.
The books below go into wealth mindset, budgeting, and more.
“The single most important factor to getting rich is getting started, not being the smartest person in the room.” — Ramit Sethi, I Will Teach You To Be Rich
Yes, I know the title is a bit silly. It’s named after Sethi’s equally popular blog, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. It’s one of the best best, straight-to-the-point personal finance books for millenials that I’ve ever read. You’re bound to walk away with actionable tips after going through this quick read.
Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert Kiyosaki
“If I had had only one dad, I would have had to accept or reject his advice. Having two dads advising me offered me the choice of contrasting points of view; one of a rich man and one of a poor man.” — Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad
When I started working for myself, Robert’s book was one of the first ones I read in the money-mindset niche. The books goes into the tale of two dads and how their ideas about wealth, money, and success shaped their actions towards wealth and the resulting wealth they had. Interesting read, especially if you think you’ve been conditioned to think about money in a limited way.
“Instead, this proven plan is having a national impact because I have realized that to change your money thing, you have to change. You have to change your life. When you change your life, you will get out of debt, give, and invest at an unbelievable rate.” — Dave Ramsey, The Total Money Makeover
What I love about Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover is that it won’t preach any get-rich-quick schemes or just leave you with debt-reducing plans. It’s a way to completely change your money habits so that you’re set up for the rest of your life. Must-read if you’ve been looking for a real change in the money-habit department.
“Many people who live in expensive homes and drive luxury cars do not actually have much wealth. Then, we discovered something even odder: Many people who have a great deal of wealth do not even live in upscale neighborhoods.” — Thomas Stanley, The Millionaire Next Door
If you’re looking to have some of your ideas about wealth turned on their head, then look no further than The Millionaire Next Door. If you’re struggling to “keep up with the Joneses” during your entrepreneurial journey, this book will come as a lifesaver to you.
Ahh, the allure of The Hustle.
Sometimes all you can do is hustle to your goals, eh?
The books below talk about hustling from a few different angles: when it’s good, when it’s bad, and when it’s absolutely crucial to.
“Quitting projects that don’t go anywhere is essential if you want to stick out the right ones. You don’t havae the time or the passion or the resources to be the best in the world at both.” — Seth Godin, The Dip
The Dip changed how I looked at success, failure, and quitting. If you feel like you’re about to quit something, you need to read The Dip! Most people tell us quitting = bad, but Godin actually roots for quitting in certain circumstances.
“Words lie; actions can lie too. Consistency speaks the truth.” — Lilly Singh, How to Be a Bawse
Do any of you watch Lilly Singh’s videos on YouTube? God knows I spent a good number of nights watching them. Lilly is hilarious and she proves she’s wise, too, in How to Be a Bawse. I mean, it takes some kind of grit and hustle to go from YouTube-nobody to getting signed with YouTube and moving to L.A. to live out your dream as a YouTube personality and influencer. No matter how old you are, you’re bound to pick up a few gems of advice in her book.
“I suggest that you become obsessed about the things you want; otherwise, you are going to spend a lifetime being obsessed with making up excuses as to why you didn’t get the life you wanted.” — Grant Cardone, The 10X Rule
Sometimes you need an older-brother-like-figure to slap some sense into you. Grant Cardone is your older-brother-like-figure and he’ll happily do that for you in 10X Rule. Cardone talks about “Massive Action,” which allows you to lock down success by bypassing “ordinary action” — the action everyone else is taking.
The $100 Dollar Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau
“To succeed in a busines project, especially one you’re excited about, it helps to think carefully about all the skills you have that could be helpful to others and particularly abut the combination of those skills.” — Chris Guillebeau, The $100 Startup
Chris Guillebeau has written a few books about side hustling. The $100 Startup in particular goes into how to take your passions and turn them into proft — all while adding value to the world. He focuses on 50 case studies throughout the book after studying 1,500 people who started side businesses grossing $50K+ from little ($100) to nothing in startup costs. Interesting and inspirational read, especially if you’re just starting out in your blog or business.
Sometimes you just need to read other people’s success stories to remind yourself the same is possible for you, too.
Get ready for inspiration-overload in the books below.
“No matter where you are in life, you’ll save a lot of time by not worrying too much about what other people think about you. The earlier in your life that you can learn that, the easier the rest of it will be.” — Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS
Amoruso’s tale is really inspirational; she went from dumpster diving to launching and growing a successful retail empire. She dropped out of school at 22, but she proves you don’t need the typical education to “make it.”
“Instinctively she knew that talking, talking, talking kept people from probing, probing, probing. The more she seemed to reveal about herself, the more she could hide, and still appear to be open and forthcoming.” — Kitty Kelley, Oprah
Anyone here loves Oprah? ? Her story is so inspirational. If you’re feeling like all odds are against, read a bit about Oprah and you’ll entirely change your mind about what you think is possible.
“Some people say, ‘Give the customers what they want.’ But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, ‘If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, “A faster horse!” ‘ People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” — Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs
I couldn’t leave out Steve Jobs from this section. You’re probably holding his legacy in your hand as you’re skimming this article. His biography is brilliantly written; it lets you really get into Jobs’s head and explore his visionary streak.
“So that morning in 1962 I told myself: Let everyone else call your idea crazy…just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where ‘there’ is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.” — Phil Knight, Shoe Dog
Who would have thought the founder of Nike had so much insight? This book really surprised, and I’m sure it will (pleasantly) surprise you, too. See how Knight took the company from a fledgling startup to an icon almost everyone in the world recognizes today.
“There needs to be a reason for a grade. I’d rather play video games, write software, and read books than try and get an A if there’s no point in getting an A.” — Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk
Did you know just days after starting a PhD, Elon Musk dropped out of the program to pursue a new business, or that he was bullied endlessly when he was in elementary school? We can all learn something about grit and the uneven path to succcess from Musk’s biography.
According to one statistic, for every $92 you spend acquiring a new customer, you spend $1 in converting them.
Pretty insane, right?
Becoming good at marketing, I think, takes a lot of openness from your end — to keep learning and getting better. Sometimes even unlearning what you think you know.
The books on marketing below give you the basics on marketing and pointers on how to keep improving.
“The single most wasteful thing you can do in marketing is try to change a mind.” — Al Ries, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
Ries and Trout laid out the 22 most important “laws” to marketing; if you’re just starting out marketing for your online business or blog, the book has some pretty valuable information to get you started on your way.
“Social media has a lot of the same dangers that email marketing does. It is free and can be distributed quickly with a very low barrier to entry. Not much thought or strategy needs to be put into place in order to launch messaging or paid ads. Just because it is social media doesn’t mean it shouldn’t use all of the same principles as direct response marketing.” — Dan S. Kennedy, No B.S. Guide to Direct Response Social Media Marketing
The book holds up to the title: it really cuts through the fluff and offers no-b.s. advice and solutions to all your social media marketing woes. I love that Kennedy treats social media as its own separate platform to master; a lot of people “blast” social media with little strategy and still wonder why they don’t see results. Must-read!
“People don’t think in terms of information. They think in terms of narratives. But while people focus on the story itself, information comes along for the ride.” — Jonah Berger, Contagious
Jonah Berger goes into why certain ideas have a life of their own and why certain ideas just kind of…hit a wall. Contagious goes into the power of social transmission and what “word of mouth” really entails. If you want to know about what really makes something viral, then Jonah’s book is for you.
“Permission Marketing is just like dating. It turns strangers into friends and friends into lifetime customers. Many of the rules of dating apply, and so do many of the benefits.” — Seth Godin, Permission Marketing
Absolutely love this book. I love that Godin tears apart what he calls “Interruptive Marketing” — the kind of marketing that vies for people’s attention without adding real value to their lives. Permission Marketing is built on the premise of building and encouraging a relationship with your customers — really, the best way you can market anything in my opinion.
The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand out From The Crowd by Alan Dib
“Your job as an entrepreneur is to be an innovator and builder of systems.” — Allan Dib, The 1-Page Marketing Plan
If you’re new to marketing, then you probably know how overwhelming it is to look at your marketing plan from a top-level position. You’re also probably overwhelmed by all the acronyms and the things you have to measure. Dib’s book gives a clear explanation of all of these concepts and lets you create your own top-level marketing plan for yourself.
The Story Engine: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Content Strategy and Brand Storytelling Without Spending All Day Writing by Kyle Gray
Gray emphasizes the importance of your business’s story, saying that it’s one of the most important assets you can have. Not only that, he teaches you how to weave that compelling story into your content and content strategy so that you nail inbound marketing once and for all.
“In the business of referrals, trust is the most important reason a recommendation is made and, conversely, lack of trust is the single greatest reason referrals don’t happen.” — Jon Jantsch, The Referral Engine
Wouldn’t it be awesome if your customers did your marketing for you? That’s the entire premise behind referrals, after all. Jon Jantsch goes into how to turn your business into a “referral engine” so that your customers can spread the word about your products for you.
From what I’ve seen, your mindset can make or break your success as a businessperson.
The more you believe the negative self-talk, the more you’re destined to turn those words into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The books below show you how to cultivate the right mindsets and mentalities for succeeding as a businessperson.
The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs by Kevin D. Johnson
“People with the ability and the audacity to think big carve the path to greatness.” — Kevin Johnson, The Entrepreneur Mind
Ever wondered what so many entrepreneurs have in common? It’s the way they think about their lives, themselves, and their businesses. If you want to develop the right cognitions about all three and pave your own way to success, The Entrepreneur Mind is for you.
“We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.” — Carol Dweck, Mindset
Dweck’s perspective in Mindset is do. Damn. Refreshing. She talks about a “false growth” mindset that so many people have and shows you that you can have a “true growth” mindset instead — one where you believe your abilities can be continuously (and limitlessly) developed. If you think you’re simply just “not good” at something, then this book will change your mind for the better.
“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.” — Angela Duckworth, Grit
Oof. Sometimes people’s words hit you really hard. That’s how it was for me when I read Grit. Duckworth reminds us that there’s no shortcuts to excellence, and that true success is yours only if you have the will to persevere — and keep persevering. As Duckworth states in Grit, “Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it…it’s doing what you love, but not just falling in love — staying in love.”
“If you think your life’s purpose needs to hit you like a lightning bolt, you’ll overlook the little day-to-day things that fascinate you.” — Derek Sivers, Anything You Want
Derek rewires what it means to do business so that you can start now, even if you start “small.” After getting through Sivers’s book and listening to how sensible he is, you’ll feel empowered to pursue those “crazy” ideas in your head.
“I could not recommend side hustling more highly. You make extra money, use talents that lie dormant in your 9-5 day job — plus you’re hedging your bets against an uncertain economy. Starting a business while employed also allows you to determine proof of concept more safely. This means, you prove that your product or service is wanted in the world before you dedicate your full-time focus towards it.” — Susie Moore, What If It Does Work Out?
Susie Moore has a lot of practical advice about starting a side hustle the right way in What If It Does Work Out? She argues side hustling offers you an extra income stream, idea validation, and groundwork for when you’re ready to make your side hustle a full-time thing. Must-read if you want to put those talents you’re not using to good use.
“Originality brings more bumps in the road, yet it leaves us with more happiness and a greater sense of meaning.” — Adam Grant, Originals
If you’re looking for permission to be yourself and stick to your guns, then Grant has it for you in Originals. He draws from inspirational stories in business, politics, and entertainment to show you the benefits — and payoff — non-conformity can bring.
The books I listed below don’t fall into any particular category, so I created a “personal development” category for them.
Don’t be mistaken: just because they didn’t fit anywhere else doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable reads.
There are some real gems in here, everything from advice you wish you had in your twenties to the “subtle art of not giving a f**k.”
You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
“If you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll find a way. If you’re not, you’ll find an excuse.” — Jen Sincero, You Are A Badass
Ah, Jen Sincero. Thank you for letting me know, I’m so honored you would say that about me. No, seriously — You Are A Badass is a hilarious self-help guide on reminding yourself why you want to start that life you’ve always dreamed of — and giving you the badassery and guts to do it, too.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
“There is a simple realization from which all personal improvement and growth emerges. This is the realization that we, individually, are responsible for everything in our lives, no matter the external circumstances. We don’t always control what happens to us. But we always control how we interpret what happens to us, as well as how we respond. Whether we consciously recognize it or not, we are always responsible for our experiences. It’s impossibile not to be. Choosing to not consciously interpret events in our lives is still an interpretation of the events of our lives. Choosing.” — Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck
Oh, Mark Manson. Have you ever read his blog? He takes “personal development” to the level of craftsmanship-quality-content and his book is no different in what it delivers. Think of this book like a wonderfully curseword-filled self-help guide. Reader beware = Manson throws around cursewords like it’s his day job, but that doesn’t mean he has little left to offer of value.
“‘Supposed to’ is a lie. A fairy tale. It is the stealer of peace and productivity. It is the leading cause of Obsessive Comparison Disorder with everyone who ‘has it better.'” — Paul Angone, 101 Secrets for Your Twenties
I know this book sounds like a “list-icle” from a random media site, but once upon a time, I read this book and I felt 200 percent better about life. Holy crap. This book will make you laugh, cry, giggle in amusement, and nod your head gently in agreement. Such an awesome book to remind us we’re only human when we’re in our twenties.
“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.” — Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit
This book was named one of the best books of the year by the Wall Street Journal. It’s got to be good, then, right? The answer: yes, yes it is. Duhigg goes into how you can use the power behind habits to change how you do everything — including your business, your relationships, and self-improvement.
“You can make more firends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” — Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
Another classic. Carnegie’s book goes into everything about networking and getting “somewhere” in the world and using the network of people around you to help you — everything from how to make people like you to how to change people’s mind without making them dislike you.
“The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again and again in studies of exprtise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.” — Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers
Another Gladwell book on the list for y’all. Gladwell explains to you what it is that really makes people so successful; in fact, he turns most of our ideas about success on their head and offers a more hollistic view on what makes people truly successful.
“First, opportunities are abundant. At any place and time you can look around and identify problems that need solving…regardless of the size of the problem, there are usually creative ways to use the resources already at your disposal.” — Tina Seelig, What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20
If you’re in you’re twenties and struggling, this book is for you. If you’re out of your twenties and struggling, this book is for you. You’ll breathe a huge sigh of relief as you turn the pages, knowing you’ve never really done anything “wrong.”
“Talen had destroyed him. Talent is the tiniest of sparks. A spark lights the fire. But you have to feed the fire more fuel to keep it going. Else it dies out.” — James Altucher, Reinvent Yourself
Altucher argues that change is the only constant in Reinvent Yourself. If you want to survive and thrive in the world, you have to be open and willing to change the way you look at things, the way you do things, and the how you think of you. Amindst tales of reinvention, Altucher shows you how you can use change to prime yourself for success.
An all-encompassing list of the top books for bloggers and entrepreneurs wouldn’t be complete without a section on productivity.
Below are some of the best and counterintuitive approaches to making your day as productive as possible.
“The most successful people change the world not through sweat and tears but through ideas and passion. It is not a matter of hard work or time on the job; it is having a different view, an original idea, something that expresses their individuality and creativity. Success comes from thinking, then acting on those thoughts.” — Richard Koch, The 80/20 Principle
Koch argues that there’s this secret little principle called the 80/20 Principle. Basically, it states that 80 percent of our results in anything (be it business or life) stem from just 20 percent of our efforts. He teaches you how to identify the things you do that actually count towards your results in The 80/20 Principle.
“Success demands singleness of purpose. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects…The pursuit of mastery bears gifts.” — Gary Keller, The ONE Thing
Keller argues in The ONE Thing that you need to focus your energies on fewer things — preferably one — because the signs of this working is all around us (he uses examples from real life of how people getting really good at that “one thing” set themselves up for a lot of success). The ONE Thing will teach you to narrow your focus so that you can become skilled and successful at what you do.
“Two core abilities for thriving in the new economy: 1. The ability to quickly master hard things. 2. The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed.” — Cal Newport, Deep Work
Newport argues that we’ve lost out ability to do “deep work” because we’re so used to our modern-day distractions. Deep work, in fact, is a necessary skillset now to achieve the success you want — working with minimal distractions and with intensity to achieve the end result. A deep work ethic, Newport believes, is one of the best assets you can train yourself to acquire.
“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, ‘I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,’ that person cannot say, ‘I choose otherwise.'” — Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Oof. Another quote-suckerpunch for you. That one still gets me. Here’s the thing about 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: it’s a classic. And because it’s a classic, you’re obligated to read it. You will absolutely pick up something useful from this golden nugget of a book. Read it now!
Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind by 99U and Jocelyn K. Glei
“A truly effective routine is always personal — a snug fit with your own talent and inclinations. So experiment with these building blocks and notice which combination gives you the best foundation for doing your best work. You’ll know it’s effective when your daily schedule starts to feel less like a mundane routine and more like a creative ritual.” — Manage Your Day-to-Day, 99U & Jocelyn Glei
Even though some of the advice here is given from the perspective of working in an office, the tips are still invaluable for bloggers and entrepreneurs alike. The book goes through expert tips to show you how you can be the most productive by designing your day and narrowing your focus.
Selling: you either love it or you hate it.
Mostly, I’ve seen people hate it.
The books in this section show you how to hate it a lot less because they add strategy to your selling.
Triggers: 30 Sales Tools You Can use to Control the Mind of Your Prospect to Motivate, Influence, and Persuade by Joseph Sugarman
“People are funny. And the way they respond sometimes makes for some very valuable insights. That’s the basis of this true but crazy story of how I ordered ice cream and discovered a very valuable psychological trigger, even though I didn’t realize I was learning at the time.” — Joseph Sugarman, Triggers
I know what you’re thinking. The book cover looks gimmicky and the subtitle sounds a little a con artist wrote it. But trust me when I say Sugarman is definitely not trying to con you or teaching you to con; he’s just teaching you sales techniques that you yourself encounter every single day. And these techniques work. Because at the end of the day, people respond to psychological triggers to take action, and this book will teach you 30 of the most effective ones.
The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies by Chet Holmes
“You will attract way more buyers if you are offering to teach them something of value to them than you will ever attract by simply trying to sell them your product or service.” — Chet Holmes, Ultimate Sales Machine
If you can’t make sense of sales, Chet Holmes makes sense of it for you in the Ultimate Sales Machine. The book teaches you how to turn your businesss into a selling machine by extreme focus on key areas like management, systems, and marketing strategy. This is a great big-picture book of selling in business to get you started.
“When you are reacting to the other person, that person owns the frame. When the other person is reacting to what you do and say, you own the frame.” — Oren Klaff, Pitch Anything
Oren Klaff goes into how you can position, formulate, and deliver your pitch so that it’s always well-received. He also explains, in detail, the STRONG method of pitching that you can use off the bat to craft successful pitches.
“When you show a man what he wants, he’ll move heaven and earth to get it.” — Frank Bettger, How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling
This book is nothing short of a classic. Frank Bettger became one of the most famous salesman — after a stint in insurance selling that was a failure. He gives actionable tips and advice to help you conquer your own self-limiting beliefs on selling so that you’ll close your sale every time.
Over To You
Thanks for making it to the end, everyone. Talk about #persistence!
Is there any book I didn’t include that would fit this list?
Any book that really inspired you, clicked with you, caused you to have a major breakthrough in your blogging or entrepreneurial journey?
Let me know in the comments below!