I am a huge fan of using the power of content creation to establish yourself as a credible expert, build authority, create rapport, and attract your ideal audience online. When you put yourself out there, you attract people who are truly interested in what you have to say and find your message to be in true alignment with who you are.
Through your words, you resonate with your audience, leads, prospects, and buyers. You don’t need hypey copy or sleazy persuasion tactics. You just need to publish the right words. So how do you create this content that helps you achieve every goal in your business? Read these books, of course.
Top 10 must read Content Marketing books for Solopreneur:
- Everybody Writes: The Go-to Guide to Writing Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley
- Epic content marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break Through the Clutter and Win More Customers by Marketing Less by Joe Pulizzi
- Clout: The Art and Science of Highly Influential Web Content by Colleen Jones
- Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, ebooks, Webinars and More that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business by Ann Handley
- World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories by David Meerman Scott
- Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing by Lee Odden
- Steal like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About being Creative by Austin Kleon
- Accidental Creative How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice by Todd Henry
- Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky
- Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
#1 Everybody Writes: The Go-to Guide to Writing Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley
Some people are quick to brush off content marketing because deep in their hearts they fear they can’t write, let alone do it well. They don’t think of themselves as writers. Ms Handley disagrees. She asserts that if you have a website, if you are on social media, this means that you are publishing – meaning you are already writing.
She believes that the level of a quality of a piece of content is determined by its usefulness, “Quality content means content that is packed with clear utility and is brimming with inspiration, and it has relentless empathy for the audience,” She is of the view that we can reach far and wide in this age of Internet using the power of words, that it would be silly not to do so. In her own words, “In an online world, our online words are our emissaries; they tell the world who we are.”
She urges people to tell stories but take them to the next level. “What matters now isn’t storytelling; what matters is telling a true story well.”
#2 Epic content marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break Through the Clutter and Win More Customers by Marketing Less by Joe Pulizzi
Are you struggling to define your content niche? Then look no further than this book.
Pulizzi talks about creating the right content to attract your ideal audience so that you can achieve your business goals. He teaches you strategies to create content for your blog and various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. What is content marketing exactly? Here’s how he defines it:
“Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Pulizzi says to create content in response to a need or a question. Do it in your own voice and state it like an opinion rather than a balanced report. Get rid of the sales jargon and do it consistently. He covers content marketing for all angles so this is a really comprehensive, in-depth look at the subject.
#3 Clout: The Art and Science of Highly Influential Web Content by Colleen Jones
This book outlines a solid overview of creating influential web content. This one is especially useful if you are a beginner and new to the world of content creation and marketing.
Colleen believes that your audience is not stupid. You need to try understand them in order to give them what they need, and not manipulate them. And she gives you the framework to do just that.
This book will deconstruct how to actually write content that persuades and makes a difference. It gives readers practical tips, guidelines and how-to to accomplish this task. This book is practice-driven and if you are familiar with the theory and are looking for some actionable advice, do check it out.
#4 Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, ebooks, Webinars and More that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business by Ann Handley
This is the second book by Ann Handley that made it to my top 10 list and for good reason. Again, the aim is to teach you to create content that everybody cares about. Handley suggests how to really start harnessing the power of content marketing in your own business. She says:
“Today, I see my business as a content marketing company. In other words, my entire goal is to give more valuable, helpful, and remarkable content to consumers than anyone else in my field, which will in turn lead to more sales.”
After going through this book, you will learn how to create an authentic voice and create share-worthy content. You’ll understand that not only should you create content that people find useful and share, you do it as a part of your overall content strategy, and do it across various social media networks.
Give it a go – you won’t be disappointed.
#5 World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories by David Meerman Scott
There is a great book called “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” by the same author which I recommend highly. But I recently came across this book by him that I loved reading also.
If you want a book that takes you slightly back in time (just a few years) and makes a case for content creation and getting online, then you would really enjoy reading it. If you are a no-nonsensical, season pro, pick up the former and skip this one. Here are some of my favourite nuggets from the book.
“Nobody cares about your products (Except You).” Who knew, right?
And this one:
“Consider your own answers to these questions. In the past two months, either privately or professionally, in order to find an answer to a problem or research (or buy) a product, have you: (1) Responded to a direct-mail advertisement? (2) Used magazines, newspapers, TV, or radio? (3) Used Google or another search engine? (4) Emailed a friend, colleague, or family member (or used instant messaging, chat rooms, or equivalent) and received as a response a URL, which you then clicked to visit the web site?”
#6 Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing by Lee Odden
Content creation is one thing and integrating content across various channels is another altogether.
“Content Isn’t King, It’s the Kingdom.”
This book will give you a practical approach to combine content marketing, social media marketing, and search to supercharge your overall marketing efforts. Odden teaches you how to create a plan for each of them so they work in harmony and provide the absolute best results for your business.
#7 Steal like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About being Creative by Austin Kleon
Let’s move away from content and social media marketing for a second and step into the process of creation. Let’s talk creativity. And this is the perfect book to read if your reserves of inspiration and creativity are running low. If you are feeling a bit depressed that whatever you are doing doesn’t seem to make much of a difference on the world and wondering why even bother in the first place, here is something to cheer you up:
“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.”
Feeling the pressure but not delivering? This is sure to help. “Creative people need time to just sit around and do nothing.”
Or, how about this one? “Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find your self.”
Makes you feel like you need to take action right now, doesn’t it? And one last one, as I possibly can’t list them all here.
“The best advice is not to write what you know, it’s to write what you like. Write the kind of story you like best—write the story you want to read. The same principle applies to your life and your career.”
#8 Accidental Creative How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice by Todd Henry
Another personal favourite of mine, this book won’t simply allow you to give up on your dreams. No, that is not an option.
Henry says, “No one lies on his deathbed wishing he’d had the time to reply to one more e-mail, but a great many people express regrets about not having treated life with more purpose.”
Here’s another kick in the pants, “No matter what you say about your priorities, where you spend money and your time will prove them out.” Profound!
And another favourite of mine:
“The key to cultivating creatively stimulating relationships is threefold: you need relationships in your life in which you can be real, you need relationships in your life in which you can learn to risk, and you need relationships in your life in which you can learn to submit to the wisdom of others.”
#9 Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky
Now, the next two books I present do not fall under the umbrella of content or social media marketing, or even creativity books but I want you to give them a chance. Some books should just be read for inspiration. How do you turn an idea into reality? This book will teach you how.
According to Belksy: “An idea can only become a reality once it is broken down into organized, actionable elements.”
And you make the process easier by rewarding yourself along the way.
“Whether it means prizing the value of lessons learned, building games into your creative process, or getting gifts upon certain milestones of achievement, self-derived rewards make a big difference…You cannot ignore or completely escape the deeply ingrained short-term reward system within you. But you can become aware of what really motivates you and then tweak your incentives to sustain your long-term pursuits.”
Looking to get the word out about you and present yourself in the best possible life? This is what Belksy has to say on this:
“We will ultimately live in a perpetual data-driven talent edition. Everything you create will be measured and tracked by others through comments, share, and likes. Your work will come up on the radar of potential employers and clients, and the data will tell them if you are worth talking to or hiring.”
#10 Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar, yes the Pixar, tells the story. There are plenty of a-has and actionable insights all the way so get ready for the ride. Like this one: Detach yourself from your ideas. In his own words:
“This principle eludes most people, but it is critical: You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged.” Profound!
And, changing your mind is totally fine.
“For many people, changing course is also a sign of weakness, tantamount to admitting that you don’t know what you are doing. This strikes me as particularly bizarre—personally, I think the person who can’t change his or her mind is dangerous. Steve Jobs was known for changing his mind instantly in the light of new facts, and I don’t know anyone who thought he was weak.”
Lastly, my favourite quote when it comes to dealing with fear.
“By ignoring my fear, I learned that the fear was groundless. Over the years, I have met people who took what seemed the safer path and were the lesser for it…I had taken a risk, and that risk yielded that greatest reward…Always take a chance on better, even if it seems threatening.”
As a content marketer, the dilemma you face is two-fold:
- On one hand you need to hone your craft and work at it on a daily basis. You need to practice so you become an expert in the real sense of the word.
- On the other hand, you constantly struggle with creativity and just to keep it going day you after day. You need to master your inner game and there isn’t a better book that to inspire you.
The list of books I have presented above should hopefully help you in both areas. Let us know in the comments below, which one makes the biggest impact and how.