If you’re going to become a successful freelance copywriter or entrepreneur, you need to start reading about how to get better at writing and copywriting, how to find great clients, how to stay productive when you work for yourself, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I’ve personally read all of these books at different stages of my business, which is why they’ve made my list of the best books for freelance copywriters.
Whether you’re a beginner freelancer, or have spent years on the emotional rollercoaster that is copywriting, content writing, or any other self-employment, there’s a book out there that can help expand your ideas and improve your approaches to everything from writing skills to marketing, productivity, financial management, and human psychology.
Best books for freelance copywriters and entrepreneurs
by Tim Ferriss
The book that launched a thousand digital nomads (including me!)
I read this before I was thinking seriously about the whole freelance writing thing.
This made me get serious about getting serious.
Even though the title is misleading, and the author does a lot more work than 4 hours a week, this book wouldn’t have sold nearly as well if it was called “The 60 Hour Work Week – The Ultimate Guide to Laptop Servitude and Internal Screaming”.
Which would be a more honest take on entrepreneurial life.
Anyway, it wasn’t so much what was in the book, but reading it started my brain churning around ideas, what-ifs, ambitions, outcomes, and the confidence to say f*** it, I’m going to go all in with this writing thang and see what happens. Maybe I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t read this – but there’s no way to know for sure 🙂
Whether you love Tim Ferriss or loathe him, this book has spent 7 years on the New York Times bestseller list for a reason – it’s definitely worth a read.
by Jen Sincero
If you desperately want to improve or change your lifestyle, this is an entertaining how-to guide by a reknowned, best-selling success coach.
Jen is an author and traveller herself, so she knows all about what we face as business owners. Hilarious and inspiring stories, wise advice, simple exercises, and a bit of swearing will all help identify and unravel your self-sabotaging beliefs and the behaviors that are stopping you from creating a life you totally love.
This book endeavors to help you create it NOW. Make that money. Pack that suitcase. Kick your day job to the curb. I loved the style of this book, and found it super motivating when I was having a “bleh” patch in my business. Hope it helps you get unstuck too!
by Peter Bowerman
This was published ten years ago now, so it might seem a ittle dated in some places, but the fundamentals are rock solid. It covers essential things to help you start and thrive as a freelance writer, even if you have zero experience, zero samples, and zero contacts.
You’ll learn things like:
- What you need to do to succeed as a freelancer
- How to build a foundation for freelancing while you’re still at your day job
- How to find well paid work – and get hired!
- How to find consistent client work to keep cash coming in
- What to say on a call with a potential client
- What you should charge for different types of writing work
- How to ensure you always get paid
- How to increase your hourly rate to $100+ per hour
This book is a great start for anyone thinking about getting into the business of freelance writing.
by Stephen King
Yes, it’s by THE Stephen King, master of horror, and creator of crazed killer clowns and rabid St Bernards.
I love this book and it’s always top of my list when people ask me for book recommendations as a new writer. It starts with King’s first foray into writing, how he got his big break, and the ups and downs of his career wins and personal tragedies.
King shares the most important elements of writing as both a craft and a business, and how to create environments and routines that enable you to stay productive and do your best work. He also shares a ton of advice on how to become a better writer.
If you need more convincing, this book has a solid 5-star rating from over 9,000 reviewers!
by Strunk & White
A must-have guide to grammar and correct word usage for anyone that’s thinking of making a career out of writing. This Amazon bestseller is a solid guide on the ins and outs of composition for any content creator.
“This classic style manuscript is only a few dollars but is worth its weight in gold. It teaches you writing that communicates a clear, robust and precise message. It equips the writer with greater technical skill and is overflowing with best practices. It also benefits your reader, who will no longer flounder in the sea of ambiguity. After reading this book, I now realize how bankrupt modern writing is; this includes my own writing” – Amazon reviewer
by Blair Enns
This book was created for anyone who sell services and advice to clients. It outlines 12 steps that owners of creative businesses can take to stand out from their competition, create better client relationships, and learn to close bigger project amounts and earn more money – without writing lengthy, time-consuming proposals.
As a freelancer or small business owner, this will inspire you to think about how your services are bought and sold. I recommend this constantly to other copywriters and business owners, because it frees you from so many bad ideas that can hold you back from charging what you’re worth.
It might also be the most beautifully bound business book you’ve ever held in your hands!
by Gill Andrews
Written by a fellow copywriter, this book will help you generate more business from your website. And if you’re writing website copy for clients, this book is a valuable asset to have on hand.
You’ll be able to make a great website, with practical tips you can apply right now to start getting more client calls and sales.
The book describes in detail the real website problems that freelancers, digital agencies, ecommerce stores, and SaaS companies have – and shows you how to fix them step by step.
- How to spot (and fix) problems on your website
- How to sound trustworthy – even without testimonials
- How to structure your homepage to sell your writing services
- Where to place buttons on your website to get more people to click
- What design mistakes get in the way of your message
by Steve Krug
Another great addition to your book collection – this will be especially helpful if you decide you want to write website copy (which is a lucrative space be in as a freelance writer).
It’s a valuable resource for small businesses and individuals who need guidance on:
- Launching a new website
- Redesigning their website
- Making corrections and improvements to an existing si
Best books for copywriters
by Robert Bly
As the name suggests, this super helpful handbook covers everything you need to know about a wide variety of different copywriting projects you might get asked to work on, and how to ensure you get great results for clients (and for your own personal projects!). It’s a staple in a copywriter’s arsenal.
Note: Make sure you grab the latest version, as this book has had a few different revisions to keep pace with the needs of digital marketing over the years.
10. Finding The Right Message: How to turn voice of customer research into irresistible website copy
by Jennifer Havice
Jennifer is a copywriting colleague, and the author of this insanely valuable book about finding the right messaging to use for website copy, emails, sales pages, landing pages, and anywhere else you need to interview and survey people to create copywriting that sells.
Copywriting that converts doesn’t come from guesswork. It comes from the voice of customers. This book will help you learn to gather the data you need from people, organize it into a powerful and useful asset, and then turn it into sales copy that your clients will love you for.
- The step by step process to gather data from customers
- How to run interviews and surveys
- How to use your research when you start to write
- How to create a value proposition
- The differences between features and benefits, and why this makes a huge difference when you’re writing website pages and other sales copy
Research is the DNA of professional copywriting, so if this is something you need to learn about — there’s no better resource out there than this book. It’s saved my butt on so many occasions!
by Luke Sullivan
A copywriting favorite, this book sets out everything from starting out as a copywriter to creating successful advertising campaigns across both digital and traditional media.
You’ll learn how to create compelling brand stories, and how to use storytelling to create authenticity, conflict, and resolutions in your work.
Advertising is a saturated market, so this book is essential reading to give you strategies that cut through the noise. It covers:
- How to turn an idea into a winning campaign
- How to work across multiple media channels
- How to protect your work
- Campaign mistakes
- How to succeed without becoming a sell out
It’s an engaging, fun read about the realities of a competitive industry, giving you the knowledge to get started and succeed with your copywriting goals.
by David Ogilvy
As one of the world’s greatest advertising wizards, Ogilvy shares his knowledge on:
- How to get started in the advertising industry
- The secrets behind successful advertising
- How to be a successful copywriter
- Why you need to research before writing a single word
The vintage ads and images in here are amazing! It’s a solid read for people who want to study the craft of copy and advertising from the perspective of one of history’sgreatest ad men.
by Dan Kennedy
A copywriting classic, and an essential read for anyone who writes sales letters or sales pages. You’ll learn how to create effective messages that sell products like crazy – no matter which industry you write for.
Headlines formulas, creative exercises, and how to use design to influence your copywriting are all covered in here.
“He started his copywriting business straight out of high school without any training beyond ye olde English Composition class. While he was still a senior. He picked up more than a few simple tricks since then from his own research and methods he tested personally and from many, many friends in the same business of salesmanship. As a result, he wrote this slim volume of hard-earned discoveries that will save you a lot of time in getting to the MEAT of what actually brings in the bread” – Amazon reviewer
by Joseph Sugarman
This book covers everything you need to know about the craft of copywriting. Under expert guidance, you’ll learn how to write copy that creates interest, increases motivation, establishes authority, and moves customers to buy.
by Eugene Schwartz
Rather like a mystical holy grail of copywriting, this highly revered book doesn’t come cheap – and is very hard to find. I cracked around 2 years into my copywriting business and bought a copy. I thought it was well worth it, and it’s a book I’ve relentlessly referred to during copywriting projects.
If you’re buying a cheap knock-off copy, be aware that it may be missing pages or be incredibly hard to read due to bad photocopying. I’ve heard some horror stories!
For those serious about the business and craft of copy, this website is the official home of the book by the late, great Gene Schwartz. As you’ll see on the website, it’s possibly “the greatest book ever written about persuasion, human behavior, and marketing”. And no, I won’t sell you my copy 🙂
by Claude Hopkins
Yep, advertising was a hot topic in 1923! This book is a classic, and comes highly recommended by the advertising Mad Man himself, David Ogilvy, who said everybody in advertising needs to read this. Most copywriters are familiar with, or own this book.
Although it’s 100 years old, this book covers principles that are still the core of marketing today, such as testing and measuring, writing to one reader, using human psychology to create compelling copy, eliminating buyer risk, and learning how to sell with words.
Best books about content creation and blogging
17. Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less
by Joe Pulizzi
If you’re in the business of blogging and content creation, this is a must read. Learn how to:
- Create engaging messages and stories for distribution across the web and social media
- Step by step guides for creating successful content pieces
- Best practices for creating content for social media
- How to ensure your content ranks for SEO
The author is the founder of the Content Marketing Institute – so you’re learning from an expert!
by Ann Handley
One of the most loved books on content writing in existence, Ann Handley weaves her delightful humor and personality throughout this book.
It’s a wonderful and valuable addition to the collection of any blogger, content creator, marketer, copywriter, and pretty much everyone that writes any content at all on the web – no matter which industry you’re in or who your readers are.
You’ll learn how to attract and engage readers and create content that builds relationships, as well as establishing authority and building a solid content marketing strategy for yourself, or your clients.
19. Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business
by Ann Handley
Another excellent book from Ann Handley, this one covers all the forms of content you’ll come across as a writer or business owner. Learn from a master of the craft and supercharge your content creation!
Best books about productivity for freelance copywriters
by James Clear
One of my all-time favorite books on productivity and creating better habits. Let’s start with the accolades:
- Wall Street Journal bestseller
- USA Today bestseller
- Publisher’s Weekly bestseller
- One of Fast Company’s 7 Best Business Books of 2018
- One of Business Insider’s Best Self-Help Books of 2018
- 43,425 reviews on Amazon
I picked up so many simple tips to improve my business processes (and life in general) that I read this book twice. I also have it on Kindle, and two copies in hardcover that I got sent as gifts because, honestly, everyone seems to love this book.
Lots of excellent anecdotes, and plenty of tips on how to achieve more, overcome setbacks, and form positive habits to last a lifetime.
by Cal Newport
Are your social scrolling habits getting in the way of work? Trying to multitask to get more done…but ending up getting even less done during your day? Are your days going by in a blur without you achieving anything?
Deep work is the key to fixing your problems.
This book unravels your focus issues, and gives you the techniques you need to get more done and produce better results in less time. It’s like opening a book and finding a superpower inside! Worth reading at least twice 🙂
by Steven Pressfield
Procrastination, resistance, impostor syndrome — as a freelancer, these are very real setbacks that can get in the way of your work, and life in general.
This book sets out strategies to help any creatives achieve what they set out to do, without all that head trash getting in the way!
No matter which creative field you’re in, you’ll learn how to harness your potential, create better work, and create a roadmap to get you out of trouble when those mental roadblocks show up.
Best books about human behavior and psychology
by Dale Carnegie
Possibly one of the best selling books of all time, this book has rave reviews from over 32,000 people on Amazon.
Understanding human behavior is the key to being successful in both life and business, and as this 60-year old book can attest to, nothing has changed since this was published!
A must-read book for anyone who wants to improve their copywriting, marketing, and selling skills!
by Robert Cialdini
A masterclass in human behavior and the persuasion techniques that make us buy things. Probably the most quoted, referenced book for copywriters and marketers.
Learn the 6 principles of influence and how to use them in your business, plus how to realize when other people are trying to influence YOU:
- Commitment and consistency
- Social proof
The book is based on scientific and evidential research, plus field studies on behavior mechanisms and triggers. A goldmine for copywriters everywhere!
If you’ve read this already and loved it, check out Pre-suasion by the same author – another awesome resource.
25. Made to Stick
by Chip and Dan Heath
This book provides solid frameworks to ensure that people pay attention to your messages and buy your products. It’s the outcome of years of research, and gives fascinating case studies around how ideas can be created and shared that stick with people.
It’s entertaining and packed with super interesting case studies such as:
- How a scientist convinced the world he’d discovered the cause of stomach ulcers by drinking a glass filled with bacteria
- How a sports reporter got people to watch a football match just by showing them the outside of a stadium
- How movie pitches such as “Jaws, but on a spaceship” (Alien) and “Die Hard, but on a bus” (Speed) convinced movie producers to throw vast sums of money at projects with barely any information
If you’re looking for new, effective ways to help you get your ideas across to people as a freelancer writer or entrepreneur, this is a recommended read.
Best books about managing your finances as a freelance copywriter
by Mike Michalowicz
When I was creating this list of best books for freelance copywriters, I had to include a couple of books about budgeting and spending.
As a freelancer, managing your finances is critical – especially if you’re planning to work remotely and travel! This book sets out a simple cash management system that ensures you can pay your taxes, stay out of debt, and achieve profitability as a small business owner. No small feat!
With plenty of case studies and practical how-to advice, this is a definite must read if you struggle with your finances – it’s a bestselling book for a reason!
by Ramit Sethi
A New York TImes and Wall Street Journal bestseller, the second edition of this book is packed with even more information about making your money work harder for you.
Love your double-strength organic pumpkin spice soy lattes? Don’t feel guilty about spending money on them. Learn how to manage your finances, invest sensibly, and live the lifestyle you want without sacrificing the things that make you happy!
- Crush your debt and student loans – fast
- Find no-fee, high interest bank accounts
- Automate your finances so your money goes exactly where you want it to the moment it hits your bank account
- Investment strategies
- Insights on the psychology behind money
- Case studies from people who have used this book to create richer lives
Best books about business
by Greg McKeown
One of my favorite productivity books – this isn’t about getting more done in less time, it’s about getting the right things done. The things that matter most to you and your business.
Have you ever:
• felt your energy and time was stretched too thin?
• simultaneously felt overworked and underutilized?
• felt busy but not productive?
• felt like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people?
Essentialism is more than a time-management strategy or a productivity technique – it’s a system to help you understand what is absolutely essential to you, then eliminate everything that doesn’t fall under the “essential” umbrella so you can make the highest possible contribution toward the things that really matter in your life.
When you’re tuned in to what is essential, the “disciplined pursuit of less” means you can reclaim control of your own choices about where to spend your precious time and energy.
It’s about doing less, but better, in every area of your life.
“A timely, essential read for anyone who feels overcommitted, overloaded, or overworked.” – Amazon reviewer
29. Company of One
by Paul Jarvis
Want to know how to create a life where you work for yourself, set your own hours, and become a highly profitable company of…just you?
This book centers around the many benefits of staying small and running lean as a business so you have more freedom to spend time enjoying the things you really want to do with your life.
by Michael Gerber
Behind one of the world’s most boring book covers lies a goldmine of advice about how to start your own business.
We all start out with wild dreams and expectations of being rich and successful as entrepreneurs, but the author points out how these assumptions and expectations can get in the way of your growth.
Take a walk through all the steps in the life of a business—from entrepreneurial beginnings and dreams, through growing pains, and on to the mature entrepreneurial perspective.
This book helps you take a step back from your mad rush to achieve everything as fast as possible, and allows you to understand how you can work on your business, instead of being consumed by working in your business. If you’re looking for one of the best books for freelance copywriters that will help you balance your work and life, this is a great read.
by Pat Flynn
As a freelancer, your business relies on you finding clients…which means getting out there and networking, growing your followers, subscribers, and fan base.
People look to us to give advice, and to care. They look for trustworthy tools and resources (much like the one you’re reading now), and for someone to help them to achieve their goals.
These are the people who have potential to become your superfans.
This book is about cultivating superfans by taking people on a journey that only you can give them, and growing something that’s more than your average freelance writing business. Pat is a master at growing a huge fanbase, so this is a must-read for any entrepreneur.
That wraps up my list of the 31 best books for freelance copywriters. I know there are a ton of great copywriting books out there, but I aimed to provide a variety of my favorite books that cover all aspects of a successful freelancing business (productivity, motivation, mindset, finances, creativity, and writing). It’s not all about studying the “greats” of copywriting – you need to have a diverse skillset to ensure every aspect of your business is where it needs to be.
Rachael is a full-time digital nomad and freelance copywriter for B2B and SaaS companies. She’s worked with brands like Unbounce, Biteable, Datacom, Viddyoze, and Owler.
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