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The 46 best copywriting books to read in 2021

A collection fo the 46 best copywriting books that will help you hone the craft of writing to sell.
The 46 best copywriting books to read in 2021

If there’s one question I see pop up across every single copywriting community, group, or course its “what are the best copywriting books?”

That question is usually ended with a qualifier. Something like “the best copywriting books for…

… beginners.”

… direct response.”

… freelancers.”

Or something else.

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But here’s the thing.

Every single copywriter I know who’s made something of their career is a voracious reader.

And not just the books that focus on our craft. They’ll read fiction, non-fiction, historical, biographical, and more.

Reading is a part of being a good copywriter. The more you read, the more ideas you’ll have and the more source of inspiration you’ll be able to pull from.

Put simply, quality input = quality output.

However, there are certain books that are gonna offer you shortcuts to building a successful copywriting business.

Whilst not a completely exhaustive list, the below are the 46 books I’ve found to have the biggest impact on my freelance career.

What you’ll notice is that these aren’t just copywriting books. I’ve included a lot of books that have also improved my business and my understanding of how to sell effectively.

I’ve broken this list of copywriting books into 5 sections.

Technical copywriting books

Technical copywriting books

Psychology & Persuasion books

Psychology copywriting books

General writing books

Best writing books

Inspirational copywriting books

Inspirational copywriting books

Business strategy books

Best copywriting business strategy books

I’ve also left links (which are affiliate links) to grab a copy of each of the books.

You could also get instant access to many of these books for $9.99 a month through Kindle Unlimited.

If you read more than 2 books per month, you’re likely saving cash with it.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a Kindle, you can also use your mobile phone or desktop to download the free Kindle app.

Try Kindle Unlimited Free for 30 days here

Now, let’s get into the list.


The best copywriting books to read

These initial entries are the best pure copywriting books.

We’re talking things that focus on the technical aspect of copywriting and that will help you improve your ability to craft compelling copy.

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Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 5 out of 5.

Ogilvy on Advertising: Amazon.co.uk: Ogilvy, David: 9781853756153: Books

This is a fun, easy read. However, it’s also packed full of wisdom.

As a Brit, I especially love Ogilvy’s dry and cutting remarks on the state of advertising and copywriting. He’s blunt about calling out BS where he sees it.

If you’re not aware of David Ogilvy (what kind of copywriter are you?!), he was the founder of one of the worlds most successful advertising agencies – Ogilvy and Mather.

He’s regarded as the father of modern-day advertising and copywriting.

And this book is an in-depth look at how he viewed the world of advertising. It breaks down the key lessons he learned in growing an absolutely huge brand that created campaigns and ideas you’ll still see influencing modern-day ads.

You may have heard that this is focused on advertising and not a pure copywriting book. And that’s fair. But there is still a strong focus on copywriting in this as Ogilvy – quite rightly – believed that good copywriting is what made or broke a good campaign.

This is touted as a must-read copywriting book by so many because… well… it is.  If you’re a copywriter and you’ve not read this that needs to change now.

Biggest takeaway

The purpose of anything you create in advertising (and for us, copywriting) is to sell. The most creative approach is not necessarily the most effective.

Here’s the only question that matters: Is your copy actually effective?

Highlighted review

“GREAT for learning effective and convincing copywriting. It was also just cool to learn about this history of some of the old ad firms.”

Alvaro Berrios – Goodreads review

Grab a copy of Ogilvy on Advertising here


Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Confessions of an Advertising Man: Amazon.co.uk: David Ogilvy:

Another Ogilvy copywriting book, and with good reason.

As I mentioned above, the guy’s the father of modern advertising, and it would benefit you to read whatever he has to say.

Personally, I don’t think this is as good as Ogilvy on Advertising. But it’s still excellent and there’s some great advice in there on things like “How to Build Great Campaigns”.

The advice is from a bygone era. And so you’re not going to be able to simply apply it without any thought.

However, the ideas and processes that made Ogilvy famous and successful still work. You just need to consider how they can be applied to the modern digital landscape.

If you’re getting one Ogilvy book, I’d recommend Ogillvy on Advertising, it is the better option as a copywriting book.

If you can get both, you won’t regret adding this to your library.

Biggest takeaway

The insight into how Ogilvy ran his agency, locked in clients, and ran his creative processes is absolute gold.

Seriously, that alone should make this book required reading for any freelancer, copywriter, or small business owner.

“Ogilvy makes advertising look like a noble profession, and as the way he practiced it, it was noble indeed.”

Rebecca – Goodreads

Grab a copy of Confessions of an Advertising Man here


The Art of the Click by Glenn Fisher

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Art of the Click: How to Harness the Power of Direct-Response  Copywriting and Make More Sales: Amazon.co.uk: Glenn Fisher: 9780857196941:  Books

Compared to the books above, this is most definitely a new kid on the block. Which is probably why you won’t find it on many people’s “must-read copywriting books” lists.

Here’s the thing though.

This book is gold.

I read this while on vacation in Santorini, and I’ve re-read it since because the processes the author – Glenn Fisher – outlines for writing great sales pages are so simple to follow yet get great results.

Glenn wasn’t just a copywriter for Agora Financial – one of the biggest direct response publishers in the world – he also helped set up their UK arm and hire new copywriting talent into their UK team.

The book explains the simple processes Glenn’s used across a successful career as a copywriter to create blockbuster sales promotions. However, unlike some copywriting books, Glenn makes the whole process seem almost effortless.

This book isn’t just an easy read, but it also makes actioning Glenn’s advice (to get you or your clients better results) insanely simple.

If you’re looking for a book on the nuts and bolts of writing highly persuasive sales copy, this is a must-read. It’s written from a place of modern experience. And Glenn’s a great chap as well which makes recommending this so much easier.

Biggest takeaway

The one thing that’s stuck with me is the 3 strike rule Glenn mentions. When reading your copy back, ask yourself “so what” after each paragraph.

If you can’t answer that question with something that’s going to appeal to the reader, you give the paragraph a “strike”. 3 paragraphs in a row that offer no benefit (so 3 strikes) means you’ve got to go back and rewrite some of the sections.

“Even though the author covers topics that I’m familiar with – features/benefits, addressing the reader, structure – he always adds a new perspective or an example that I hadn’t considered before.”

Lewis King – Goodreads

Get The Art of the Click Here


Great Leads by Michael Masterson (A.K.A Mark Ford) and John Forde

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⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message eBook:  Masterson, Michael , Forde, John : Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

This copywriting book is accredited to Michael Masterson, which is the pen name of Mark Ford.

Here’s the thing. Mark Ford is a highly successful copywriter and businessman who’s used his copy chops to grow multiple businesses that have scaled past $100,000,000.

So he knows what he’s talking about.

This book is all about writing a great lead.

Which, in my opinion, is one of the most important aspects of anything you write after the headline.

If your lead is crap, no one is going to read whatever it is you have to say in the main body of your copy.

Great leads gives you a really simple breakdown of what it takes to write a lead that gets attention. Mark goes into detail on how to identify what kind of lead would work best, how to write them effectively, and offers some real-life examples to help illustrate his point.

I would give this more stars.

The only reason I haven’t is that this is focused solely on leads.

I’ve cracked this book open numerous times over the years to get some inspiration when writing leads. But I guess I’d just like a little more information on things like segueing from the lead into the main body.

Still it’s an incredible book on perfecting one of the most important parts of your copy.

Biggest takeaway

I’m a stickler for processes and formulae proven to work. Some copywriters think it robs you of your ability to be creative, I disagree and think formulae allow you to be more creative more quickly.

The thing I love in Great Leads is that there’s a formula for the different types of leads. It’s made writing leads that get attention so much easier for me.

“I don’t think I can say enough about this book. It is terrific. Clear, concise, informative, logical, fun, well developed, and just plain helpful. I improved both my headlines and lead copy as soon as I read it.”

David Pederson – Goodreads

Purchase Great Leads here


Hey Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan

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⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads:  Amazon.co.uk: Sullivan, Luke, Bennett, Sam: 0884874997808: Books

This, unlike many copywriting books, is pretty fun to read.  It’s a little more irreverent than some of the other copywriting books on this list, but it does go in-depth on breaking down what makes an effective advertisement.

There’s a good deal of the book where Luke brings in real examples of ad campaigns to help him illustrate some of the points he’s making.

Now, maybe I’m just a lover of explanatory images, but I feel these really add to the messages Luke delivers. They make them real and applicable for you as a reader.

In addition, Luke takes a fun tone with the entire book. This is far from one of the stuffy business books you might be used to. It’s actually… dare I say it… fun to read.

There is an element of repetition as you get further into the book. But that just goes to show that across industries and campaigns the same principles are effective in creating copy that sells.

This is an easy read and one I’d recommend for anyone trying to get a better handle on the creative side of copywriting.

Biggest takeaway

Write like you talk. Yeah, I know this is common advice now. But Luke not only goes into detail on why this is important, but the book itself is a great example of how writing as you talk can make a hum-drum topic really quite fun.

“Easily one of the best books I’ve read on advertising. I’ll keep this one in my library for some time.

Some of the reasons is that it speaks to you in the same way a good advertisement does–you’ll have to read this book to figure out what I mean!”

Alexander Kelley – Goodreads

Get Hey Whipple, Squeeze This here


Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 5 out of 5.

Breakthrough Advertising: Amazon.co.uk: Eugene M Schwartz, None:  9780998503509: Books

This is the big one.

If you were to ask 10 copywriters for their favourite copywriting books, I’d argue 8 of those 10 will say Breakthrough Advertising is their #1.

The only reason the other 2 won’t also give this as their favourite is that, for a long time, it was super hard to get.

Eugene Schwartz, the author of Breakthrough Advertising, wrote this bad boy back in 1966. And unfortunately, it didn’t have a huge printing run.

So you can pick up a copy on eBay of the originals for like $500. The good news is Brian Kurtz (another extremely skilled and successful copywriter) bought the rights and is publishing the book once more.

It’s still pricey as it has an almost cult-like following, but it’s also worth the money.

This isn’t just a book for copywriters. It’s a book for anyone in business.

Eugene goes into great detail on the basics of writing great copy to achieve incredible results.

Some of the language might feel a little outdated now, but the lessons contained within are timeless. Much like Ogilvy on Advertising, if you can adapt the lessons here to modern channels, you’re almost guaranteed to see success.

If you could read only one book on copywriting, it would be this one. Seriously, it’s incredible. And with each read through you’ll pick up something new.

I cannot recommend this one highly enough.

Biggest takeaway

That people never change.  Sure, the channels we use to engage people to change, but the underlying reasons why people engage with and buy from a piece of copy are the same as they always were.

Eugene had an incredible insight into the human condition and how to leverage people’s wants and needs to help your business grow.

“By far the most sophisticated book on marketing I’ve ever read. Schwartz was ahead of his time! A big take away from this book is that it is not the job of the marketer to create desire. Rather, you must unearth already existing desires and channel them into action towards your product/service.”

Omar Khateeb – Goodreads

Grab a copy of Breakthrough Advertising here


Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 5 out of 5.

Scientific Advertising: 21 advertising, headline and copywriting  techniques: Amazon.co.uk: Hopkins, Claude C: 9781517038076: Books

If you thought Breakthrough Advertising was old, you’re in for a shock. This copywriting book was written way back in 1932.

But once again, we see that the masters of the past have something to teach modern copywriters and marketers. Back then they truly understood the psychology of the buyer.

I mean, they had to because the costs of printing and sending physical letters was a lot higher than throwing up a cheap Leadpages page.

What I love about this book is how it genuinely looks at the scientific side of advertising. You see, good copywriting isn’t really all that creative. As Ogilvy said, creative doesn’t mean effective, and sales reign supreme.

Claude goes into detail on how – way back in the 30s – he was using things like coupons (which he invented no less) to track sales.

Yes, some of the information in here is outdated. But to get a masterclass in advertising from someone who was so objective and tracking based is a real treat.

If you want to become a better copywriter, you have to know how to track your copy’s effectiveness.

And this book is an incredible primer on achieving that because everything Claude writes about has been tested to crazy levels by him.

Biggest takeaway

Tracking is the most important thing you can do for any copy you create. Words on a page are worthless if they don’t make sales.

And Claude has some great insights into how to track and what to look for. If, once again, you can adapt it to modern digital channels.

“It is not hard to browse around Facebook and see tons of bad, terrible ads out there. And they could be much better (and much more effective) if the ad owner simply read this small book, which was written nearly a century ago!”

Phat Nguyen – Goodreads

Get your copy of Scientific Advertising here


The Boron Letters By Gary Halbert

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⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Boron Letters: Amazon.co.uk: Halbert, Gary C., Halbert, Bond:  9781484825983: Books

This is another one of the classic copywriting books you’ll see recommend pretty much everywhere.

Thing is, this isn’t a book as you’d expect it. It’s a collection of letters from copywriting legend Gary Halbert to his son, Bond. At the time of writing, Gary was in prison and writing these as instructional, motivating letters to his son.

Which is kinda cool.

The letters themselves have a good balance of copywriting, marketing, and general life advice (perhaps more on life advice than anything else).

They are a little dated, but the foundational information is still solid and offers a great insight into what it takes to be successful in the copy game.

As these were intended as instructional, they’re actually really easy to follow along with as well.

Once again, just make sure to update Gary’s advice for modern digital channels.

Biggest takeaway

The way Gary writes. These letters contain great information, but I particularly like the way Gary writes. It has that specific cadence and rhythm you’d expect from great direct response sales.

“While they may seem a bit outdated, the principles within can be carried over into the digital age with just a little bit of ingenuity. The subject line is the new envelope, the link title is the new bag of soil, etc.”

Corey Constable – Goodreads

Get The Boron Letters here


The Copywriters Handbook by Bob Bly

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⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Copywriter's Handbook: A Step-by-step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells:  Amazon.co.uk: Bly, Robert: 8601400122693: Books

Bob Bly is one of the most highly paid copywriters working today. To a lot of folk, he’s a living copy legend. And with good reason.

This book is Bob’s breakdown of what it really takes to write copy that makes sales.

You’ll not only get a good overview of what it takes to write highly compelling copy, but you’ll also get a couple of templates and formulae you can use almost immediately to improve your assets.

We’re talking headline formulae, leads, and tips on making your copy easy to read. Lessons all learned from Bob’s long career as a successful copywriter.

There are other areas in this that focus on the freelancing and business building elements. These are quite useful, but I feel the best information in here is focused on the copy.

Biggest takeaway

The headline formula. Headlines are the most important element of any piece of copy you write.

Having another handful of tried-and-tested formula to work from is an absolute Godsend.

“ If you read nothing else in this book, read the section about headlines. The simple step-by-step process for headline creation is worth its weight in gold.”

Don Sevcik – Goodreads

Get the Copywriter’s Handbook here


The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Ultimate Sales Letter, 4th Edition: Attract New Customers. Boost your  Sales.: Amazon.co.uk: Kennedy, Dan S: 8601200559507: Books

Dan Kennedy is another one of the big names in copywriting. One of the giants who’s generated millions through his copy. And The Ultimate Sales Letter is his (highly useful) entry into history’s great copywriting books.

This is, obviously, focused on sales letters. But don’t worry if you don’t write those as the lessons to writing a highly persuasive sales letter can be applied to pretty much every other type of copywriting.

What’s great about this book (and where I think the real value is) is it’s not so much focused on the technical aspects like The Art of the Click.

There’s a heavy focus here on how to get into the mind of your customer and how to leverage that position to create something they read, keep, and engage with.

It’s a slightly different approach than some of the copywriting books focused on the technical side of writing. But it’s just as (if not more) important.

Knowing what people struggle with is key to writing something they’ll engage with.  And this book really helps you find that key, big idea.

Biggest takeaway

That there’s a lot of work to do before writing copy. And that if that pre-writing work is done, the writing bit is so much easier.

“Dan Kennedy reveals why he’s the highest paid copywriter in the world in this book. Put simply, he works hard to collect the information — a lazy man would say an excessive amount — that he needs for each part of the sales letters he writes.”

Daniel Taylor – Goodreads

Get The Ultimate Sales Letter here


The Ad Week Copywriting Handbook by Joe Sugarman

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⭐⭐⭐Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful  Advertising and Marketing Copy from One of America's Top Copywriters:  Amazon.co.uk: Sugarman, Joseph: 8582124444448: Books

Another book from another great copywriter. Sugarman’s responsible for some of the most successful ad campaigns in the US in recent history.

This is often listed as one of the must-read copywriting books for copywriters, marketers, and business owners. There’s a good deal of foundational knowledge that, for those earlier on in their careers, is a great primer.

Personally, I think it’s a little too high-level and foundational, but that might be because I’ve been doing this a while.

The core principles are there.  And they are still effective today.

It’s a great look at Sugarmans’s process and will help you approach copy from the best possible direction (the “will this sell” direction).

Biggest takeaway

How clearly Sugarman is able to describe a lot of his methods and processes. Makes it super easy to understand and a great early-stage copywriting book.

“What I love the most is how he starts his ads. The first line is always short and enticing. It lures you in to the next sentence. And before you realize it, you’re already reading the last sentence.”

Zaheen Deep – Goodreads

Grab a copy of The Ad Week Copywriting Handbook now


This Book Will Teach You to Write Better by Neville Medhora

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book will teach you how to write better: Learn how to get what you  want, increase your conversion rates, and make it easier to write anything  (using formulas and mind-hacks): Amazon.co.uk:

I love this book cause you can literally read through it in about an hour.

Seriously. It’s super short and incredibly easy to digest. It’s also written by one of the most accomplished modern-day, digital copywriters around, Neville Medhora.

Neville is the chief copywriter for AppSumo, runs the Copywriting Course website, and is an advisor for a lot of very successful businesses.

This little book is an explanation of the one thing I think Neville is better at than 99% of the copywriters you’ll ever meet.

Simplification.

Neville has an incredible way of communicating very complex topics in the easiest to understand terms. This copywriting book lets you in on a couple of simple actions you can take with your copy to help it stand out from the crowd by making it incredibly simple to understand.

For the time and financial investment, this is an absolute steal and a must-read.

Biggest takeaway

Neville’s simple formatting tips. It’s amazing how changing the layout of something can help make the message so much more impactful.

“The author has a sarcastic sense of humor that I just loved and I liked that he cut to the chase and didn’t make this book 300 pages long when it didn’t need to be. I would definitely recommend it.”

Lauri Fink – Goodreads

Get This Book Will Teach You to Write Better today


Take Their Money by Kyle Milligan

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Take Their Money | Kyle Milligan Copywriter

Kyle Milligan is a relative newcomer to the world of copywriting books and advice. But he’s a very welcome addition.

Kyle has a lot of experience in the world of direct response with one of Agora’s financial divisions. If memory serves, in his first year there he cleared $7,000,000 in sales for them. Which is incredible.

Here’s the best bit though.

Kyle’s really taken to teaching others in his relatively short time in the spotlight. A thriving YouTube channel and website are his two places to teach.

However, Kyle also created this awesome book that breaks down his process for creating hugely successful promotions.

It’s a must-read for any copywriter who wants to break into the direct response world.

Biggest takeaway

Kyle’s NESB framework (New, Easy, Safe, Big) – I love a framework to work from and Kyle’s is really one of the easiest to apply for quick results.

Get Take Their Money today


Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing by Drayton Bird

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⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4 out of 5.

Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing: Amazon.co.uk: BIRD, Drayton:  9780749447601: Books

Drayton Bird has something 99.9% of copywriters wish they did. A real-life recommendation from David Ogilvy himself. It’s front and centre on Drayton’s site.

According to the father of modern advertising, Drayton knows more about direct marketing than anyone in the world.  Which is huge praise.

His entry into this growing list of copywriting books, Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing, is an updated version of his older book (simply omit the digital).

This book is a complete breakdown of everything Drayton knows about getting huge results through direct marketing.

It is not a small book.

You’ll find information in here on pretty much every aspect of marketing from getting started to research and advice on choosing an agency.

This isn’t just a copywriting book. There is a true wealth of information in here that makes it absolutely vital for any business owner to read.

Biggest takeaway

How direct marketing isn’t just about sales letters. How the ideas and concepts both should and need to integrate with every aspect of your business to achieve the greatest levels of success.

“The best book you will ever purchase about marketing! Not only explains how marketing fits into your business plan but clearly explains to integrate all forms of marketing.”

Red47 – Amazon

Get Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing here


How to Find Your Big Marketing Idea! – Todd Brown

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⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4 out of 5.

Amazon.com: How To Find Your Big Marketing Idea: Stand Out and Grab  Attention with Your Marketing Message In a Crowded Marketplace eBook: Brown,  Todd: Kindle Store

I bought this book on a whim, and I’m glad I did.

I’ve known of Todd Brown for some time – I even applied to help out with some of his copywriting needs.

One thing I’ve always liked is Todd seems like a great guy who (at least for me) has always got back to emails I’ve sent him.

He’s also highly ranked in the online world of marketing. In particular, he focuses on copywriting for funnel optimisation. He is, as he says, the guy funnel experts go to for help.

And he’s got the testimonials to prove it.

This book is all about the big marketing idea that’s needed to make any new campaign cut through the noise and get your prospects’ attention.

The big marketing idea is a common concept in direct response marketing, and you’ll discover in this book how some of the biggest campaigns of any kind have all been built on a single big idea.

It’s an eye-opening copywriting book that’s a quick read.  However, it’s also highly valuable if you’re ever creating a campaign to help your clients.

Biggest takeaway

The short formula Todd uses to easily find and communicate a big idea to stand out. It’s super simple and easily applicable to any new campaign or promotion you’re creating.

“Wanted to extend my appreciation to Todd for the How To Find Your Big Marketing Idea Book. What a Masterpiece. Thank you for taking the time to detail out the nuances of the Big Idea. This is a PERFECT book for ANY marketer. In gratitude…”

Ed Ferrington – Facebook Group

Get How to Find Your Big Marketing Idea here


The best copywriting books focused on human behaviour and psychology

These books are a little different to the straight, pure copywriting books.

They focus more on the human condition. And, specifically, how people think and make decisions.

Whilst not pure copywriting advice, these will be on the shelves of any copywriter serious about their craft.

If you can understand how your audience processes information to make decisions, you can better tailor your copy and content to speak to their needs.

Which will lead to more success for you.

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Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion: Amazon.co.uk: Cialdini PhD, Robert  B: 8580001041766: Books

In all of the copywriting books until this point, you’ll see a number of actions and approaches that keep popping up.

Things like reciprocity and urgency.

While copywriting books help you understand the nuts and bolts of how to implement them, you really need to understand why they work to get the best results.

This book looks, from a psychological perspective, at why people say yes to doing certain things.

Which is what’s gonna help you set your copy apart. Knowing that scarcity works in copy will help you get a lift in conversions, no doubt. But knowing why it works will enable you to more effectively implement scarcity for even better gains and results.

Biggest takeaway

Reciprocity. This was the big one for me out of the 6 principles. Understanding how even offering a small token of value or help to someone can help you get a lot from them in return was a game-changer.

If you look at the content marketing industry, that’s basically what it is. We offer free content so that when we do ask for something from our customers, they’ll almost feel like they have to repay our kindness.

“Required reading for all marketing professionals. The book details the most common approaches to influencing the decisions of others, backed up by the authors time spent infiltrating direct marketing companies and the like. Offers handy hints on how to spot when you’re being manipulated and how to handle it.”

Mark Cheverton – Goodreads

Get Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion here


Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton

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⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Getting to Yes: Negotiating an agreement without giving in: Amazon.co.uk:  Fisher, Roger, Ury, William: 8601200791662: Books

One of the most overlooked areas of freelancing is sales.

Copywriters like to read copywriting books and write about the craft of wordsmithing. Designers prefer to read design books and design beautiful images.

We all stay firmly within the technical aspect of our chosen career.

But here’s the thing. Even the best people in their field need to know how to sell their service.

And that all comes down to effective negotiation.

Getting to Yes is all about overcoming your lead’s objections and focusing on solutions to reach an agreement.

This book will teach you to be a better negotiator in all aspects of your life. But it’s in your copywriting business where it’ll make the biggest difference.

What I really like with this book though is how it will also help the copywriting persuasion nerds out there to add another dimension to their copy.

The language in this one can be a little tough to slog through, but the messages are well worth learning and remembering.

Biggest takeaway

That, as a negotiator for anything, you don’t have to come up with the perfect solution to their problem. In fact, a great negotiator will come up with a few potential solutions and work to the right one with the client.

“In a better world, “Getting To Yes” would be required reading in secondary school. Every page is full of wisdom and suggestions for handling interpersonal interactions — or negotiations, since most bidirectional communication is in some sense a negotiation.”

James – Goodreads

Grab a copy of Getting to Yes here


Getting Past No by William Ury

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4 out of 5.

Getting Past No - PON - Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School

Much like Getting to Yes, this is a book all about negotiation.

I prefer this one slightly as the prose is a little easier to get through. Not as dry as Getting to Yes.

The whole book is about turning those with opposing views into people who see your way of thinking.

And like I said above, it’s not a copywriting book, but there are some great copywriting lessons to be learned about overcoming objections.

If you had to pick one of the “Getting” books by Ury et al. I’d recommend this one over Getting to Yes.

It’s easier to reward and has a better look at conflict resolution.

Biggest takeaway

Not a groundbreaking thing, but one we should all be aware of. Emotion has no place in negotiation. If anything, emotion is going to prevent you finding your perfect resolution.

“Just today (I finished this book on the train home today) I used techniques described in here (possibly unknowingly) to get 3 adversely positioned colleagues to change their stance on the issue in question by 180°.”

Miles de Grifter – Goodreads

Grab Getting Past No here


Made to Stick by Chip Heath, Dan Heath

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Made to Stick : Chip Heath : 9780812982008

What is it that makes an idea stick? Or more accurately, how can you create something that gets people to take note.

As mentioned in the above book from Todd Brown, a great marketing campaign has to be built around a big idea.

Unlike Todd’s offering, this one isn’t a pure copywriting book. However, there’s a lot of overlap.

This is more of a general business and marketing book, but there is a great lesson you could take into your business and future copywriting campaigns.

There’s a great breakdown in this book on how to make an idea “sticky”. If you can build this into your own business and campaigns, you’ll see everything get an immediate uplift in terms of engagement and success.

Biggest takeaway

That sticky ideas can be broken down into key elements. Which means that they can be replicated for any brand or offering out there.

“If you’re a public speaker, teacher, pastor, manager, or even a parent trying to teach ideas to your children then I think you will find this book beneficial.”

Rick Lee Lee James – Good reads

Get Made to Stick here


The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We do in Life and Business: Duhigg,  Charles: 9780385669764: Books - Amazon.ca

I bought this book hoping to understand how I could amend my own habits to build more positive, productive actions into my life.

And I did get a great understanding of habits and how a huge number of the actions we take every single day aren’t conscious but are, in fact, our brains simply acting out pre-learned habits.

However, there was a lot more value in this book than I thought. Value that is directly related to marketing and creating highly compelling copy.

Charles Duhigg uses a lot of real-life examples from real marketing campaigns to explain how simple shifts in positioning can make a product no one cares about into a best seller.

It’s a masterclass in how to create something that will speak to your ideal audience.  And it’s a must-read for anyone in marketing, especially copywriters.

Biggest Takeaway

The Febreze story. And how a simple change in the advertising – that was closely linked to the way people actually used the product – saved Febreze from being cancelled and turned it into a household brand name today.

“Everyone knows someone who was out of shape, or was a smoker, and then in what appeared as if almost overnight, changed themselves in a short period of time. How did they do that? They formed new habits and changed old ones, that’s how.”

Robert Chapman – Goodreads

Get the Power of Habit today


How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 5 out of 5.

How to Win Friends and Influence People: Amazon.co.uk: Carnegie, Dale:  9780091906351: Books

It’s a classic. And like some of the classic copywriting books in the section above, it’s still relevant for one primary reason.

This bad boy focuses on human psychology.

If you can learn the lessons in this book, you’ll have a much easier time speaking to people and getting the result you want.

It’s a great explanation and guide on how to be more effective at things like client negotiations. However, a lot of the lessons can (and should) translate to copywriting as well.

Things like Dale’s explanation of people being creatures of emotion. Speak to any good copywriter and they’ll tell you that emotion sells.

If you can learn to appeal to people’s emotions (which this book will help you do) you can create better relationships. Which means you can also create better copy and get better marketing results.

Biggest Takeaway

That being interested in other people is the key here. Good copywriting comes from listening to your prospects, being interested in their needs, and crafting something that speaks to them.

This book is a great example of how to do that well.

“Not a book per se for making friends, although it certainly can be used that way (with a grain of salt perhaps), but more directly a book that promotes good communication, kindness, and the social skills to foster healthy and productive working relationships.”

Sheri – Goodreads

Get How to Win Friends and Influence People here


Ca$hvertising by Drew Eric Whitman

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4 out of 5.

CA$HVERTISING: How to Use More than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology to  Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone: Whitman, Drew Eric:  9781601630322: Amazon.com: Books

There’s a lot of actionable insights in this book for you to apply in your own business.

And the reason it’s in this section and not the above pure copywriting books section is because there’s a good deal tied back to why the action works.

Which is key to getting the best results from anything.

However, some of the explanations can come across as a little scammy. Yes, scarcity sells, but I get the feeling we’re advised to “crank up the scarcity” in a way that is purely intended to increase sales.

However, that kinda thing can come back to bite you if it’s not genuine.

It’s a great book about good copywriting and why certain tactics work.

Biggest Takeaway

Much like Ogilvy, Drew hammers home the point that advertising is not meant to be creative or fun, it’s meant to sell. And if it ain’t selling, it ain’t working.

“There’s dozens of lists, examples, and practical steps to follow that will immediately make a difference in your own advertising efforts. The book is well organized and easy to digest. At around 200 pages in length, it’s easily worth your time. I highly recommend checking it out”

Mike – Goodreads

Get Ca$hvertising today

The best content writing books (or general writing books)

A good copywriter learns from whatever source they can.

And while a lot of the recommendations up to this point have been heavy advertising and copywriting books (the kind of stuff intended to make sales) there are other books in the writing sphere that you should consider.

This section is dedicated to writing books. Not copywriting, advertising, or sales-focused books.

But books that look at the craft we’ve chosen as a career.

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On Writing by Stephen King

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 5 out of 5.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft eBook: King, Stephen: Amazon.co.uk:  Kindle Store

This book is part memoir from Stephen, part advice on his technical processes for churning out writing.

The memoir part is super interesting on its own, and I’d recommend any King fan to read it. I was actually pretty shocked to hear his addictions became so bad that he can’t remember writing certain books.

But it’s the latter half of the book where this one stands out for me.

Stephen goes into detail on his writing process, and breaks down a lot of the tools and tricks he finds are needed to create something compelling.

It’s a great explanation of how to create something worth reading. The tips in this are something every writer – copywriter or no – needs to read.

Biggest Takeaway

The writing toolbox is something that’s always stayed with me. Stephen has this wonderful analogy about filling your toolbox with the right tools.

Then, when you need to solve a task, you simply dip into your toolbox to pull out the best tool.

It’s a great way today – basically – that you should never stop learning new techniques.

“I know it’s like saying “puppies are cute,” but it bears repeating: everyone who wants to write, whether for a living or not, simply must read this book.

On Writing did more for me as a writer than anything, and any success I’ve found as a storyteller can be traced to my reading it.”

Wil Wheaton (yes, that Wil Wheaton) – Goodreads

Get On Writing here


On Writing Well by William Zinsser

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: An Informal Guide to Writing  Nonfiction eBook: Zinsser, William: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

Like many of the classic copywriting books above, this one was written some time back. Fortunately for us, the fundamental rules of writing well haven’t changed drastically and this is still a great book to read.

This is a great breakdown of the fundamentals of writing something people will want to and enjoy reading.

Zinsser offers some really good lessons on clarity, writing to your audience, and even interviewing which is a nice little addition.

If you write for a living (which I’m guessing you do as you’re on this page) this is a very good addition to your library.

Biggest Takeaway

The initial focus on removing clutter. A lot of writers have an issue with killing their darlings, but Zinsser offers some good ways to help you cut the waffle.

“I learned about the writing mistakes that I was making, and also how to enrich my own writing. This is the kind of book I would re-read every now and then for inspiration.”

Rowena – Goodreads

Grab a copy of On Writing Well today


Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Reviewing'Everybody Writes' in #SEJBookClub | SEJ

This is a good primer on how to write effective copy. But if you’ve been doing this a while, I wouldn’t expect you to find anything that’s groundbreaking.

What I do love is that Ann provides a great example of how to write well in the way she’s written the book.

It’s easy to read and does cover all the basics of effective content.

I’d recommend this strongly to anyone who’s just launching their career or is segueing from other kinds of writing into web content.

If you’re more established, I’d skip this and go for one of the sales focused copywriting books.

Biggest Takeaway

That writing is a skill to be learned, not some weird talent some people are born with.

“Part mindset and understanding, part theory and grammar, part messaging and “Why”, Ann breaks down her decades of experience in writing and editing to give readers everything they ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask.”

Elise Doucette – Goodreads

Get Everybody Writes today

The best “swipe-file” copywriting books and resources

Every great copywriter and marketer I know has two things they refer to when trying to improve their skills.

  1. A massive stack of copywriting books that focus on the technical and persuasive side of copy
  2. A well-stocked “Swipe-file” of ads, copy, and more they can use as inspiration

Getting your own swipe-file up and running is a brilliant thing to do as a copywriter.

A good swipe file can help blow away the cobwebs and get your creative juices flowing if you’re struggling to find the right way to word something.

They can also be a great way for you to analyse other people’s past successes.

If you can analyse a breakthrough piece of copy and understand why it works, you can apply the same process to your own upcoming campaigns.

Here’s the thing though.

Creating a swipe file has, for a very long time, been a laborious, manual action.

There are very few copywriting books filled with ads because some company or copywriter somewhere owns the copyright to them.  Meaning other publishers can’t sell them on.

So this section is a mix of websites that offer free access to great content and copy to study, simple collections you can purchase access to through the copyright holder, and one or two hard sought out books that contain great copywriting examples.

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The Selected Letters of P.T. Barnum by A. H. Saxon

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Selected Letters of P. T. Barnum | Columbia University Press

This might be a bit of an odd choice.

But, there are some good lessons here about copy.

If you’re not aware of P.T Barnum, he was an American showman, businessman, and later politician.

You might know of him through the Hugh Jackman movie, The Greatest Showman.

Here’s the rub with this. P.T Barnum was not a nice, enlightened, or respectable man. He had some very poor views of people of other cultures and took some very reprehensible actions.

And if that’s an issue for you, avoid this book as there are some examples of his awful views included.

However, Barnum was also a very accomplished copywriter and marketer. He wrote all of his own ads and promotional material, which were huge drivers for his various successes.

This book is not (unfortunately) a list of his ads – although some are included. It is, instead, a collection of letters he sent to various people.

And they are a great example of how he wrote, how he promoted himself, and how he continued to believe his own hype.

If you want to get a look at how a master copywriter and marketer wrote other forms of content, this is the book for you.

Biggest takeaway

Hype can be a great thing when selling. If it’s used well and controlled.

“A great selection of letters that really give you a sense of the man. The editing is also excellent–providing enough additional information without overwhelming the text.”

Daniel Silliman – Goodreads

Get The Selected Letters of P.T Barnum here


All American Ads of the 50s, 70s, 90s and more by Jim Heimann et al

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4 out of 5.

All-American Ads of the 50's: MI (Specials S.): Amazon.co.uk: Heimann, Jim:  Books

These make great coffee table books. I have All American Ads of the 50s (as I love ads from this era) on my living room coffee table as I write this.

Jim Heimann has also put several other similar books together, all of which are packed full of examples and great swipe-file copywriting books.

They are quite large and not suitable for travel or flicking through by the pool.

But they are great to look through when you need a little creative pick me up.

Inside you’ll find a huge number of curated ads from whichever decade you’ve selected.

And while the design of these ads are great, it’s the copy you really want to look through.

This is a copywriting books list after all.

Some of the copy in these ads is a great example of how to craft copy that converts, and how to pair it with design.

You’ll likely not find a lot of actionable tips from this, but it’s great for motivation and inspiration.

Biggest takeaway

No real defined takeaways for me. Just a great book for motivation and inspiration.

“Probably the best of this incredible collection of ad images, due to the fact that the ’50s was a boomtime for both consumerism and advertising. Beautiful and hilarious.”

Leonard price – Goodreads

Check out all of Jim Heimann’s Ad books here


Swipefile.com

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a website created by Copywriting Course’s Neville Medhora.

It’s a collection of great copywriting pulled from around the world. Each entry also includes a few notes from Neville and/or his team on what makes this a particularly great example of copywriting or design.

And that’s the great thing with this one.

Neville’s focus on simplification translates to the images included as well. So you get more bang for your buck in this copywriting resource.

I also like that this one is still frequently updated.

Biggest takeaway

A great place to get inspiration from all manner of copywriting. Seriously, the breadth of the site is great.

Check out Swipefile.com here


Swiped.co

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is very similar to the above in that it’s a collection of great copywriting examples with author notes.

One thing I think this does better than Swipefile.com is that there are specific callouts on the entries.

The author of the site literally highlights particular areas and gives you a detailed breakdown of why they work.

It just makes it easier to analyse something like the headline or lead.

However, it’s not as well updated or as frequently edited as Swipefile so the rating is a little lower.

Biggest takeaway

These guys have a great collection of older direct response stuff. The kinda stuff that’s been tested to high heaven, so you know it works.

Check out Swiped.co now


Hard to Find Seminars by Michael Senoff

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 5 out of 5.

Michael Senoff is himself an accomplished copywriter.

However, he’s also an incredible researcher. Michael has pulled together a number of incredible ads from some of history’s best copywriters including Eugene Schwartz, Claude Hopkins and more.

In addition, there are a bunch of other awesome copywriting and marketing materials Michael sells including copywriting books, persuasion tomes, and general business materials.

I’ve purchased a couple of the swipe files from him and they are incredible. I’ve got 100s of old ads from the 50s up to present day.

Ads that are tested and known to work.

Have a search through his products to see what takes your fancy. However, get on his email list as he’ll often run a promo (which is what hooked me) where he’ll bundle several ad swipe ads together.

Biggest takeaway

A great resource if you’re able to drop ~$50 on research materials.

Take a look at Hard to Find Seminars now

The best freelance business books

Up until now, we’ve focused on pure copywriting books and information. Basically, stuff that’s gonna help you improve your craft as a copywriter.

However, if you wanna make money with this, you’ve also gotta know how to sell those copywriting skills. And honestly, you’re not gonna find that information in copywriting books focused on crafting headlines.

This next section is all about the business aspect of copywriting and how to turn your wordsmithing into cash in the bank.


Make Them Want You – Pete Boyle

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is, obviously, one of my own books.

It’s actually a little more than a book. You get an eBook, a number of video walkthroughs, and some email templates and a phone script.

All of this is to give you the skills and confidence you need to better communicate with clients on the phone, with the specific aim of closing higher-value deals.

This is less of a high-level breakdown and more of a step-by-step guide on how to do this well. The intention was to give freelancers a simple process they could action immediately to increase their fees.

Biggest takeaway

That effective phone negotiations can be part scripted. And that if you have the right process, closing higher-ticket deals is actually pretty simple.

“Before enrolling in Pete’s course I was terrified of client calls, not because I was a wimp or anything, but because I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t wanna sound stupid. Now, I’m not promising you I won’t sound stupid, but I can assure you I won’t sound like an employee. Pete’s course shifted my paradigm from a freelance writer happy to land one-off gigs to a consultant landing four-figure contracts.”

Terry Montgomery

Get your copy of Make Them Want You here


Make Them Listen by Pete Boyle

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This is, once again, a creation of my own.

This particular course is focused on the most effective way for new freelancers to land clients. Cold email outreach.

This course focuses specifically on two items. Email templates to get your message read and your pitch listened to. A scalable process that helps you send large numbers of emails to potential leads with very low time investment.

Basically, it’s a walkthrough on how to do cold outreach the right way.

The reason i put this together is I see a lot of freelancers send 1-5 emails. When those 5 emails don’t land a client, they quit.

As I mentioned in a piece about cold pitching, it took me 102 sends to land 3 client offers worth $10,587.

This is the process that allows me to do that every month with relative predictability. And now it can be your process as well.

Biggest takeaway

Cold emailing can be effective. But it’s a quality and quantity game. However, if you have the right process hitting both quality and quantity is easy.

“Pete’s an established and talented conversion copywriter with a passion for teaching others. As a fellow writer, I’ve found his training materials to be some of the best in the business. His courses are packed full of practical and actionable advice for copywriters at all stages of their careers.”

Richard Rowlands

Grab a copy of Make Them Listen here


Profit First by Mike Michalowicz

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4 out of 5.

Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a  Money-Making Machine eBook: Michalowicz, Mike: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

A key aspect to running an effective business is understanding your cash flow and profit.

I mean, look, we’re service providers. And as such, we focus on the service.

Accounting, well, that’s beyond a lot of us.

Thing is, accounting is super important for the success of your business.  This book gives you a great overview of the basics of accounting so you can run a more profitable business.

We’re not talking about it going in-depth about spreadsheets or anything like that. But rather the author focuses on simple explanations and concepts to help you put… profit first.

It’s a simple, but highly effective book that’ll get you to think about the way you’re running things.

Biggest takeaway

The idea that, whatever your business, you should take your profit first.

“No rocket science here, just basic common sense, and a system that’s wonderfully easy to apply and manage.”

David Huff – Goodreads

Get a copy of Profit First right here


DotCom Secrets, Expert Secrets, and Traffic Secrets by Russell Brunson

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

DotCom Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Growing Your Company Online  (1st Edition): Amazon.co.uk: Brunson, Russell, Kennedy, Dan: 0884797766284:  Books

DotCom Secrets, Expert Secrets and Traffic Secrets by Russel Brunson are 3 books all focused around building online businesses.

They all focus on different elements of online business, and they’re all somewhat useful.

These things are written in really easy to understand prose and Russell’s added in multiple images that help understand the points he’s trying to make.

Here’s the thing. These books aren’t going to provide you with your next big “Eureka” moment. They are a great grounding in online businesses for anyone looking to grow their income online.

They’re also great advertising for ClickFunnels, Russell’s software business.

I’m not a huge fan of ClickFunnels for various reasons. However, I cannot argue with Russell Brunson’s results. And whether you like the service or the audience around it, you can’t deny Russell knows how to grow online businesses.

Biggest takeaway

People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams.

“This is SOLID information. I’ll be honest…I joined the ClickFunnels community, but I quickly found it wasn’t for me. I cancelled before my 14-day trial was over. The information inside of this book, however, is SOLID gold. He really doesn’t hold back and wraps Traffic, sales and sign-ups for you with a little nice bow on top.”

Terra Dawn – Goodreads

Get DotCom Secrets hereGet Expert Secrets hereGet Traffic Secrets here


From Poop to Gold

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐Rating: 3 out of 5.

From Poop To Gold: The Marketing Magic of Harmon Brothers eBook: Jones,  Chris: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

I argued whether or not to put this book on the list.

It’s not a copywriting book, nor is it really a business book.

This book is a breakdown of the Harmon Brothers’ success in advertising. It doesn’t have the level of detail some of the other books have, especially when we’re talking about actionable information.

However, it is a good look at what it takes to grow a successful business in creative industries.

And, as I mentioned in the opening of this article, a great copywriter reads a lot.

You’re not gonna get the step-by-step guides on how to write that you would from one of the copywriting books listed, but you will understand the methods and processes of a big creative business.

Which is in its own way a worthwhile goal.

This is also a pretty fun read so, if you’re looking for something lighter that you can still take something away from, give it a shot.

Biggest takeaway

Nothing specific here. Just a great look at how creative businesses are run.

“This is an in-depth look at the day to Day PROCESSES and approach about how HB became a successful ads company. This book is a fly on the wall look at how they balance the whimsical flow of creative energy with hard deadlines, raw numbers that show what’s working and what’s not, and having fun along the way.”

Bethany Jett – Goodreads

Read From Poop to Gold today


Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Start With Why | Simon Sinek

One of the things I’ve always pushed my copywriting and business students to ask is why.

Because a lot of the time, we’re too quick to copy what someone else is doing without understanding why they’re doing it.

If you can understand the why, you can better reverse engineer their success.

If you can understand the why,  you can come up with a better action to provide real results.

This book is a great example of how starting with why is so important.

Start with Why is a great look at some of the world’s most successful people. Sinek looks at these people throughout history and creates a story that will show you, without doubt, why starting with why is the best thing to do.

It can be a repetitive book at times. And I get that it makes this a little annoying (and also lowered the score), but the points Sinek makes are solid.

If you’re looking to understand how to better grow your business, Start with Why is a great premiere on the foundational considerations you need to make.

Biggest takeaway

That to really gain traction, you have to find your why. Sounds a little woo-woo for my tastes, but it’s also true.

Actions are great, but if you don’t understand why you’re taking them, no one else is going to care about anything you do.

“For the first few chapters, I did not feel that I was really getting any new information. However, the latter portion of the book went in to more specific examples of how great leaders have changed the face of their companies by focusing on Why.”

Natalie – Goodreads

Get Start With Why now


They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4 out of 5.

They Ask You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content  Marketing, and Today's Digital Consumer: Amazon.co.uk: Sheridan, Marcus,  Kotrla, Krista: 9781119312970: Books

I have a soft spot for Marcus Sheridan. Years back I sent him an email out of the blue and, within a day or so, he responded with some really great advice.

This book is a look at how Marcus took a failing pool company at the height of the 2008 recession and turned it into one of the largest pool companies in the US.

All through content marketing.

This isn’t a copywriting book per se, but the lessons in here on content marketing are extremely close to what a lot of modern copywriters do.

Marcus explains what is the key point in marketing that most people overlook.

Good marketing answers the questions of the ideal customer. If you can answer their questions, they’re gonna trust you and hand over their money.

Too many people are focused on the results without offering any value. This book will show you that providing value upfront leads to results.

I’d recommend this for any business owner, but especially for those of us who specialise in the written word.

Biggest takeaway

That asking a question of your prospects and then answering it is the key to business growth. It really is that simple.

“The book is also excellent in promoting the concept of “assignment selling”: sending targeted content to a prospect before a sales meeting and asking them to review it as homework.”

Bruce Harpham – Goodreads

Grab a copy of They Ask, You Answer now


Making Websites Win by Dr Karl Blanks and Ben Jesson

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 5 out of 5.

Making Websites Win: Apply the Customer-Centric Methodology That Has  Doubled the Sales of Many Leading Websites: Amazon.co.uk: Karl Blanks, Ben  Jesson: 9781544500539: Books

This is, genuinely, one of my favourite books published in recent years.

It’s by the two founders of one of the world’s most successful conversion rate optimisation companies – Conversion Rate Experts (CRE).

And it is absolute gold.

Seriously, pick this bad boy up.

The entire book is about the processes CRE use to improve the sales and conversions on their client’s websites. Clients that include behemoth brands like Google, Amazon, and Facebook.

There’s always a real risk with a book like this that it could be too dry. However, this is actually a fun read.

The prose is super easy to run through. You can tell that the authors have a long history in optimising copy to make it enjoyable.

Also, the way the book is laid out makes it really easy to get a foundational knowledge of the CRE process and tools that they use to improve websites.

Not only will this book help you improve your website, but it’ll also help you offer more value to your copywriting clients, which will help you increase your fees.

It might not be a pure copywriting book, but it offers better copywriting lessons than most in that category.

Biggest takeaway

The tool breakdowns and what they’re used for are great in this. You’ll not only get an understanding of the best conversion increasing tools on the market, but also how to implement them to make more money.

“My biggest takeaways from the book is that you need to A/B test everything. And he was completely right – I doubled conversions in a 2 week period after reading this book :O”

Alan – Goodreads

Get Making Websites Win today


I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4 out of 5.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich: No guilt, no excuses - just a 6-week programme  that works: Amazon.co.uk: Sethi, Ramit: 9780340998052: Books

If you learn nothing else from Ramit Sethi, it should be what an incredible marketer he is.

He has some of the best copywriters in the world on his staff at his website. This book headline is a great example in writing something that grabs attention.

I kinda wish he’d release a copywriting book explaining his processes.

But for now, we’re stuck with I Will Teach You to be Rich.

Which isn’t a bad thing as this is a great book.

This is all about personal finance and basically clawing your way (with some super smart tactics) out of debt.

And while it’s very much focused on the personal side of finance, a lot of the lessons here could easily be transferred to your business.

The same principles – if applied to your business – could help you reduce unnecessary spend in certain areas to free up money for actions that are more profitable.

At its core, this book simply redefined what it means to be “rich” and helps you plan your life around your “rich life”.

Biggest Takeaway

That establishing simple saving rules will give you a lot of extra money to spend on the things you love.

“In one chapter, this book briefly describes a girl that spends $5,000/year on shoes. Since it’s a book on being rich, I figured she *must* be rich in order to waste that much money on shoes. But no, her annual income is about half mine. She’s able to do this because she decided that “$5,000/year on shoes” was her own personal definition of “rich” and she oriented her life around that decision.”

Jean-Luc – Goodreads

Get I Will Teach You to be Rich here


The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich:  Amazon.co.uk: Ferriss, Timothy: 9780091929114: Books

The book that launched thousands of freelance and solopreneur careers.

The real value of this book is the message about working smarter, not harder.

It was this book that pushed me to start outsourcing some of the monotonous and unprofitable work from my business so I could focus on more profitable actions.

The result? More money with less work and less stress for me.

The book, to some, might feel a little hypey. And I get that. But if you can dig into the lessons Tim is sharing there’s real gold to be found.

Not only does Tim share these lessons, he also uses real-life examples to help illustrate them.

This is a great book that’s helped countless people set up their own business and live life on their terms.

Biggest Takeaway

Outsourcing. How easy it can be and how effective it is at increasing profits.

“The book that changed my life a few years ago. My aim was to be location independent, after a number of businesses and investments that tied me to one place. 5 years later, I am location independent and a full-time author-entrepreneur. This book helped me see it was possible.”

J.F. Penn – Goodreads

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Company of One by Paul Jarvis

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business:  Amazon.co.uk: Jarvis, Paul: 9780241380222: Books

Paul Jarvis is a very well known designer and freelancer. He’s grown a very successful career for himself as… a company of one.

This book focuses on the nuts and bolts of running a business as a solopreneur.

Paul walks you through really key things like keeping clients happy and how to plan actions out.

However, unlike some of the other books out there, Paul focuses on doing this all on your own.

Which is what a lot of freelance copywriters want.

As someone who prefers working in small teams, this book speaks to me. It’s an important read for small business owners who want to get results – both for their clients and for themselves.

Biggest Takeaway

That creating a business to be better instead of bigger is a really viable way of generating more revenue for yourself.

We’re all a little too focused on “big”. And I think as automation becomes more prominent, better is going to be easier to achieve. The sooner you focus on being better, the sooner you’ll get to where you want.

“Paul Jarvis challenges growth as the primary determinant of success. And how well he does that. What emerges is a new paradigm of business, if we so choose, as collectives of empowered individuals doing what they are good at doing business based on relationships and service.”

Anne K Scott – Amazon

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Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor  and Middle Class Do Not!: Amazon.co.uk: Kiyosaki, Robert T.: 0884547133656:  Books

This book is similar in tone to Ramit’s IWTYTBR.

There are some great initial primer lessons in here about finances and how to manage your money.

Robert’s simple breakdown of assets and liabilities makes it really easy to figure out how you should be classifying things.

Again, it’s a little bit of an odd choice for a list on freelance copywriting books. But your finances are inextricably linked to your success.

Knowing how to manage your money, even from a very basic standpoint, is key to success.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad does a great job of demystifying the basics and giving you the information you need to make financial decisions – in your business and personal life – with clarity and confidence.

Biggest Takeaway

Ownership of revenue-generating assets.  Robert talks about this in terms of personal finances, but the lesson is the same for your business.

Are the things you own generating money, or losing money? Is that website you’re paying to host generating clients and income or not? If not, can you fix it to make money?

The more of these revenue-generating assets you have, the better your business.

“This book is not just about money. It’s about how we are taught to think; how we are programmed by schools, family, and friends to look at the rich as greedy no good bloodsuckers and opportunities as risks.”

L – Goodreads

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The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 5 out of 5.

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do  About It: Amazon.co.uk: Gerber, Michael E.: 0099455020992: Books

Every freelancer needs to read this book.

Why?

Cause the number of people I meet who don’t understand that running a successful freelance copywriting business isn’t just about slinging words… is worrying.

Yes, you need to be great at what you do. But you also need to be able to manage the business side and the ideas side of things for growth.

Most freelancers are too focused on the copywriting to look at growth or the day-to-day.

This book offers a really good breakdown of the 3 personas you need to grow your business, and how you can strike a balance so immediate jobs get done but they’re also building into your ultimate goal.

Biggest Takeaway

How the 3 business personalities are broken down, explained, and how you’re instructed to strike that balance between all 3.

“The author uses a fictional small business owner who started a pie shop and running herself ragged. She has a great gift in making pies but is burning herself out. She was thinking about how her job was making and selling pies when her business could and should be so much more.”

Wellington – Goodreads

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The Goal by Eliyahu M Goldratt

Growth Models rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement: Amazon.co.uk: Goldratt, Eliyahu  M: 9780884271956: Books

This is a bit of a weird one.

This is the only business book I’ve ever read that’s written in the style of a novel.

Here’s the thing though, if we’re being honest, it wouldn’t stand up on its own as a novel. The writing simply isn’t that great.

However, the business lesson embedded within is wonderful and makes this a great book to read. The novel approach simply makes sure this isn’t a dry book to read.

The story is of a plant manager who needs to quickly improve performance.

It details how he identifies the problems within the plant and implements simple, but highly effective, tactics to combat the low performance.

If you can extrapolate the lessons here, you’ll be able to streamline a lot of your business processes to increase productivity. And that’s whether you’re a solopreneur working to create your own service, or managing a team who help you out.

Biggest Takeaway

The idea of bottlenecks and how, if unmanaged, a single bottleneck can completely derail your productivity and profitability.

“Great explanation of the theory of constraints and operations management. It’s a business classic- first published in 1984 – but still relevant as it gets at the fundamentals.”

Otis Chandler – Goodreads

Get The Goal today

Start reading these copywriting books today

As I mentioned in the opening of this piece, every great copywriter I’ve met reads copious amounts of books.

And they do it because the more quality material you read, the more quality material you produce.

The above list does provide you the copywriting books you need to perfect the technical aspect of this job.

However, if you really want to succeed as a freelancer, marketer, or small business owner the other books on this list are just as important.

There’s more to making money than crafting a great sales letter.

If you want to start ensuring you’re getting the “quality input” to generate quality output, consider grabbing a Kindle and signing up for a free 30-day trial of Kindle Unlimited.

With Kindle Unlimited you can get access to a huge number of books at no extra fee. And there are a good deal of books on this list that are included in that access.

It’s been an absolute lifesaver for me.

I take my Kindle with me pretty much everywhere and it’s got over 200 books on it as we speak.

And I know I’m not the only one.

A friend of mine noticed he’d fallen off with his reading, so bought a Kindle at the airport before heading to Thailand.

That Kindle kept him sane on the long flight and helped him knock 10 new books off his “to read” list.

Not bad, right? Give it a whirl yourself.

Sign up for Kindle Unlimited today

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