In this post, you'll find our picks for the top “how to start a blog” books. They include the business of blogging, content marketing, outsourcing, writing, lifestyle design and more.
How to Start a Blog: Top 16 Books for Business Bloggers
When I first heard about blogging, I didn't really see the potential.
In late 2008, my wife started a free Blogger (Google) blog to document our progress in our move to Ecuador. It was private – meaning that only those with an invite could see it. We didn't want to share our life online. How things have changed…
Before moving, we purchased a set of books about writing, blogging, and photography. This was part of our plan to make a living in Ecuador. It was all new to us. We thought that maybe we would become writers or photographers. We never expected to do both as bloggers.
Shortly after arriving in Cuenca we started our public blog – which became GringosAbroad. If you're interested, you can read more about our back story.
Some of these books we brought with us to Ecuador – and some we've bought since arriving. Hopefully, you'll find some books that will help you be successful in running your blog.
16 Best Business Blogging Books
This is the book that opened my eyes to the potential and power of a professional blog. While some of the chapters are overly simplistic and could probably be deleted, the majority of the book is pure content.
Written by two of the world's most successful bloggers (Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett) it's one of the clearest books out there on how to earn an income from your blog.
- Helps novices choose a blog topic, analyze the market, set up a blog, promote it, and earn revenue
- Proven techniques and tools needed to succeed in building a business from your blog
- Reveals 20 key ingredients for a successful blog post
- Offers solid, step-by-step instruction on how bloggers actually make money, why niches matter, how to use essential blogging tools and take advantage of social media and content aggregators, how to optimize your advertising, and much more
- Includes techniques for attracting and growing an audience and how to mine new business opportunities beyond your blog
ProBlogger tells you exactly how to launch and maintain a blog that makes money.
Number of Pages: 336 pages
The Bottom Line: If you are going to buy any book specifically about blogging, this is the one you need.
Where you can buy it: Amazon
2. Bloggers Boot Camp
I bought this one a few years ago after we had already been blogging for a few years. Bloggers Boot Camp shows how to build a great blog from the ground up. This isn't a book about technology – it's a book about engaging millions of readers. Starting your blog is easy, but building and maintaining a popular one is hard.
Blogging experts John Biggs and Charlie White (Gizmodo, Mashable and TechCrunch) share their secrets from the frontline showing you how to blog with quality and flair, find the best stories, and attract millions of readers to your blog.
Number of Pages: 224 pages
The Bottom Line: This book will give you a bloggers mindset. The authors have run blogs that publish up to a dozen times a day. They talk about how to increase production and how to effectively promote the content.
Where you can buy it: Amazon
3. Content Rules
Blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other platforms are giving everyone a “voice,” including organizations and their customers. So how do you create the stories, videos, and blog posts that cultivate fans, arouse passion for your products or services, and ignite your business?
Content Rules equips you for online success as a one-stop source on the art and science of developing content that people care about. This coverage is interwoven with case studies of companies successfully spreading their ideas online—and using them to establish credibility and build a loyal customer base.
Number of Pages: 320 pages
The Bottom Line: This is a good overview of the types of content to create and the rules that you should follow as you create it. Great for idea generation.
Where you can buy it: Amazon
4. Attention! This Book Will Make You Money
This is the book that was pivotal in the re-branding of our travel site – and subsequently in the name of this site. Instead of a generic, forgetful name we became GringosAbroad and BloggerAbroad. The attention generated by these names is a definite reason for the success of our sites.
Attention equals revenue. When you direct more attention online to your brand or business, you drive more long-term revenue. Regardless of who you are or how small your business is, you can have a huge impact using free Internet tools…provided you understand and correctly apply the latest techniques.
In three parts, you'll discover everything you need to know to get off the ground and thrive in the social media sphere, including:
- The tools, techniques, and tricks to get attention online and turn that attention into profit
- The theory behind the importance of making your mark on the Internet
- How other businesses and individuals made money from online marketing
Number of Pages: 289 pages
The Bottom Line: You should read this book both as you are planning out your blog and again after you have it up and running. I love Jim's style and always generate new ideas from this book.
Where you can buy it: Amazon
5. The Little Red Writing Book
The Little Red Writing Book is designed for visual appeal and ease of use. Elegant yet practical, it will be an intriguing, inviting reference you'll turn to again and again.
Author Brandon Royal offers clear explanations and non-intimidating instruction based on the four pillars of sound writing – structure, style, readability, and grammar. His discussion centers on 20 immutable writing principles as well as 30 commonly encountered rules of grammar. A wealth of examples, charts, and engaging exercises make The Little Red Writing Book an invaluable guide for anyone who wants to master those skills that will make a good writer even better.
Number of Pages: 160 pages
The Bottom Line: This is the most readable book on improving writing that I have ever seen. It covers almost every aspect of writing, including structure, style, and readability. A must for every blogger.
Where you can buy it: Amazon
6. Brainfluence (Roger Dooley)
I'm about halfway through this book and I'm loving it. They are lots of blogs about the science of effective marketing but this book puts it all in one place. As an added bonus, you don't have to endure regurgitated blog posts by cocky bloggers in love with their own voice.
Learn how to create great marketing without suffering through the over-acting and childish attitudes. Roger Dooley backs up his application with solid science and research.
7. Virtual Freedom (Chris Ducker)
I need to listen again before I begin hiring out specific tasks. While the process is simple, he offers lots of great tips that I want to have clearly in mind as we begin.
Based on the very popular PersonalMBA.com author Josh Kaufman takes complex business concepts and explains the need-to-know principals clearly. I enjoy his casual approach and detailed case studies.
9. Epic Content Marketing (Joe Pulizzi)
While the majority of the book will apply to individual bloggers, some of it is better suited towards large companies with a full staff dedicated to content creation / promotion.
10. Street Smarts (Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham)
Basing each point on a real-world event, the application is clear and memorable. I'm eager to cover this material again.
11. The Magic of Thinking Big (David Schwartz)
This is a bit of a classic. The style of writing (and the reading in the audio version) is old-school motivational. While the information is good, the tone can come across a little condescending. If you can look past this, you'll probably enjoy the material.
We all deal with self-limiting beliefs – and this book addresses what they are and how to grow past them.
12. FREE: The Future of a Radical Price (Chris Anderson)
Create product users and then offer premium add-ons. Done correctly, it's a great way to build a user-base and awareness of your company.
13. The 4-Hour Work Week (Tim Ferriss)
Little needs to be said of this business classic. I have the first edition on my bookshelf and the latest version on Audible. I'm not sure how many times I've read / listened to this title, but it continues to give useful tools and perspectives as our business grows.
Yes, parts of the book are a little irritating and pointless. But other sections are pure gold. You need to read this book.
14. Time Power (Brian Tracy)
This is a classic time management book – I read it the first time more than 10 years ago. Although I have the print book here in Ecuador (it was one of the few we moved with) I most recently listened to it again on Audible – classic time management technique. 🙂
While some of the techniques are for busy executives, the majority of the book applies to our blogging lifestyle. I've been through the book countless times and I improve every time I re-read it. Highly recommended.
15. The Happiness of Pursuit (Chris Guillebeau)
With 50+ case studies of people from every life situation, you will find motivation in designing your life. The book focuses on how to “find your quest”.
16. Launch (Jeff Walker)
I was introduced to Launch via Amy Porterfield's podcast where she interviewed Jeff about how to launch an online product. I was impressed by his knowledge and how he systematized the launch process.
I'm reading Launch on Kindle right now – and have lots of great ideas for our upcoming product launch.
On My Reading List
- Spunk & Bite: I've read the first half twice, but something keeps coming up and I've yet to finish this one. The title is a play on the names of the authors of The Elements of Style: Strunk & White. The book teaches contemporary, bold writing style – the opposite of the original book by Strunk & White. It is an enjoyable read and it helps me loosen up and add life to my writing. I plan on finishing this over the next month.
- On Writing Well: This came recommended by a number of bloggers so I thought I would check it out. Like Spunk & Bite, I haven't finished this one either. It is a bit of a dry read. It's slogan is: “The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction.” I guess that about sums it up. Stuff you need to know, but isn't all that fun to learn. I plan to finish this one by the end of November. I guess with more than a million copies sold, it can't be all that bad.
Another book that came highly recommended by another blogger is Bird by Bird. I was excited to check it out. It is a national bestseller and carries the slogan: “Some instructions on writing and life.” But this book was a disappointment. First of all, it doesn't have anything to do with blogging. It is for writing fiction. Bloggers write nonfiction – at least that's what most of us write. After a few chapters, I gave up on this one and threw it away. Maybe you can save yourself the time and money and avoid it too.
Why I Favor Audiobooks (via Audible)
Since discovering Audible a few years ago, I seldom read a book. Whether I'm driving, working, or showering, I prefer to listen to the book in audio. I make use of time that would otherwise be wasted and I find that my focus is better.
To make use of time in the shower, I use a waterproof Bluetooth speaker. It works great with the Audible app on any mobile device.
Living in Ecuador can make it hard to get English books. I can ship them here, but it's expensive and takes a long time. With Audible, I get an instant download to any of my devices – even to the desktop computer.
3 Losers on My Reading List
I discovered a few books that aren't worth your time. I recommend scratching them from your list.
- The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding While I loved Focus (also by Al Ries), this book was a fail. Of course, it is old – something I should have checked before buying it. Don't waste your time on this title. It is either common sense or just wrong. Nothing useful in this book.
- Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah) I guess that this book is okay for a newbie. A true newbie who knows nothing about the internet. Seth Godin says it best: “Buy one for your clueless colleague”, because no one else will want this.
- Internet Riches (Scott Fox) Maybe I shouldn't say that I bought this book. What should I expect from a book that sells the flawed idea that anyone can get rich online? I guess I got what I deserved. If you want hype, just Google “make money online”. Don't buy this book.
Personal Reading (3 Titles)
- 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (Charles C. Mann) I'm only about 25% of the way through this book – but along with my 13-year-old daughter – we are loving it! The writing is entertaining and the audio version is very well done. In spite of this being a history book, we frequently laugh – out loud! The book is about new discoveries about life in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus. I love the history of it and that it is something I can do with my daughter. It is her audio of choice as we work together in the kitchen. If you enjoy history at all, you need to check this out. While I'm sure the print version is good, it would be hard to beat the audio format. Update: I'm now reading 1493, the next book in the sequence.
- Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (Jack Weatherford) This book is one of my favorites. I love the glimpse into another culture and time. And to understand the affect this nation had on our modern world. I've read this three times – once this year. It is one of the books I use to unwind before going to sleep.
- Pimsleurs Spanish: Well, this isn't a book, but it is critical to our life here in Ecuador. Using our waterproof speaker, I try to do a lesson each morning. It is the best program for learning a foreign language. You can go from zero to fluent using just this course – and maybe a little immersion. Read our full Pimsleurs Spanish review.
What I'm Reading Next
In addition to finishing Launch, Brainfluence and The Happiness of Pursuit this is what's up next for me: Essentialism (Greg McKeown)
Now it's your turn
Have you read any of these titles? What recommendations do you have for my reading list? Please share your comments below. (I'll be responding to all comments.)
So that's it. These are the blogging and writing books in my library. What books have you found helpful? Have you read any of these?