Freelance marketers don’t have time to read a book that doesn’t offer novel, actionable insights.
And let’s be honest, most business and productivity books are absolutely terrible — offering the same useless, generic advice again and again.
You won’t find that kind of book on this list.
I put together this list of the best books on freelance marketing and other topics important to freelance marketers — based on my own readings as well as recommendations from people I trust in the business.
They may not all be New York Times bestsellers, but they are all must-read books
If you are involved in freelance digital marketing of any flavor — whether content marketing, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, or whatever else — you’ll find something useful in this list.
Best Book on Modern Marketing — This is Marketing by Seth Godin
If you have been in marketing for more than 20 minutes, somebody has probably told you about Seth Godin.
If not, do a quick Google search for marketing books and watch just how many times his name pops up.
This is Marketing was Seth’s attempt to create the definitive marketing book of the post-advertising age.
If any other author had said that, I would laugh, but Seth delivers with impressive results.
From identifying your target market to making the buying choice feel good, you’ll get a lot of great advice in this one — and some insight into the type of storytelling skills that only a marketer can bring to the table.
If you need a more innovative approach to modern marketing, this is your book.
Best Book on Productivity — The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
I avoided this one for many years because everything about it looked like an ode to clickbait.
Well, I can’t always be right.
One of the biggest problems in the life of a freelancer is our lack of time.
Work-life balance is generally not in our vocabulary.
The thing is, we have as many hours in a day as anyone else, so why should this be such a big issue?
Ferriss offers some great insight on when to automate and when to delegate that you should definitely take to heart.
Combine that with his advice about the 80/20 rule — one of my favorite topics — and you’ll see how quickly you can free up your time and level up your productivity.
Best Book on Entrepreneurship — The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
This book is equal parts cringe, inspiration, and invaluable insight.
It’s a series of stories that illustrate the terrible decisions that an entrepreneur sometimes has to make and how even one of the greatest business minds of the modern era struggled with them.
Each of these cases is something that business school cannot prepare you for.
But they are exactly the type of scenarios entrepreneurs and freelancers need to be prepared to handle — the type that test whether you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
Ben offers advice from his own experience on how to cope with each of these dilemmas, but if that’s all you take from the book then you have missed the key message:
Experience is the best teacher.
Best Book on Freelancing — The Freelancer’s Bible by Sara Horowitz
Getting started with freelancing is far too broad a topic to cover in one book.
That being said, Sara has somehow done it.
This book gives practical advice on how to find clients, set fees, pay taxes, negotiate, and just about everything else that you want to ask on day one of your freelancing career.
The amazing advice in this tome doesn’t go away once you are up and running — Sara continues with vital knowledge on scaling your business and preparing for retirement.
You’ll take this one from the freelancing cradle all the way to freelancer heaven.
Best Book on Content Marketing — Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pullizzi
If I was putting together a list of the must-answer questions in a content marketing primer, it would look something like this:
- How do you determine your content niche?
- How do you grow your audience?
- How do you measure the performance of your content?
- How do you define a marketing mission statement?
These are exactly the questions that Joe answers, along with many more.
If you’ve ever wondered how to position yourself as an expert in the field, Joe has been there, done that, and knows how to layout the process step-by-step.
And he does it all through real-world examples from companies like Legos and Coca-Cola
Best Book on Marketing Psychology — Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
Okay, technically it isn’t specific to marketing, but I hope you’ll let that slide.
Some marketers treat the tools of the profession like brute force instruments.
Those are the people that give a bad name to marketers everywhere.
If done properly, marketing is subtle.
Whether you are working to drive conversions or just build brand awareness, the last thing you want to do is shove your message down the throats of your audience.
That’s where psychology comes in, and it’s where Robert’s book shines.
We are learning more every day about what leads people to change their minds, and this book gives you all the background you need to understand even the most modern ideas in marketing psychology.
Do you really know why social proof works or when scarcity is the right motivator?
You will after reading Influence.
Best Book on Social Media — Social Media Marketing Workbook by Jason McDonald
There are better books for the philosophy, psychology, and theory of social media marketing.
But it’s hard to find a more practical step-by-step guide to the subject.
Jason covers Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, and Pinterest, so there’s little doubt that his advice will be relevant to your particular corner of the social media universe.
It’s hard to imagine an area of marketing that changes as fast as social.
Generally, this would mean that I’d always recommend a good updated blog post over a book for anything practical in the space.
However, Jason’s book is different for one important reason:
He releases an updated version every single year.
Every book list I come across is either too short or too disorganized.
I want options, but I also want to know which options are best.
So I’ve given you my top 7 picks, but here are 42 other high-quality picks for your reading list, in no particular order.
- The Anatomy of Buzz by Emanuel Rosen
- Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
- Conversion Optimization by Khalid Saleh and Ayat Shukairy
- Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith
- The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout
- Purple Cow by Seth Godin
- Digital Marketing for Dummies by Russ Henneberry and Ryan Deiss
- Start With Why by Simon Sinek
- Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout
- Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
- The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott
- Marketing 4.0 by Philip Kotler
- Good to Great by Jim Collins
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
- The Business of Being You by Joe Plumeri
- The Art of Client Service by Robert Solomon
- The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib
- Permission Marketing by Seth Godin
- Creative Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Very Successful Freelance Business by Meg Mateo Ilasco
- Rework: Change the Way You Work Forever by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried
- What to Do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn) by Seth Godin
- Stop Thinking as a Freelancer by Liam Veitch
- Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port
- Million Dollar Consulting by Alan Weiss
- 100 Tips For Making Your First $100K by Ross Simmonds and Alex Vaughan
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
- Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
- Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
- Non-Obvious: How To Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict The Future by Rohit Bhargava
- Remote by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
- The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Chris Brogan
- Social Media ROI by Olivier Blanchard
- The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
- The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
- Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur by Derek Sivers
- The Hustle Manifesto by Ross Simmonds
As a freelance marketer, you are a marketing expert, a business owner, and so much more.
Experience will take you far, but it never hurts to keep a steady stream of expert advice flowing as well.
I’m always looking for new additions to the list, so let me know if I forgot to include your favorite book.