(Improve your Copywriting Game!)
Are your great ideas not translating to paper?
…Or maybe your emails need a little pick-me-up?
Well, would ya look at that – I’ve put together this resource of books to help you anti-up your copy game. Because after all, copy is never going out of style – it’s a NECESSITY to selling online.
From the nitty-gritty copy techniques to modern-day marketing, grab the resources below to sharpen your copy chops and sell more of your awesomeness…
- How to Write Copy That Sells – Ray Edwards: The all-in-one book is foundational for writing sales copy. It turns out there’s no secret – and many of it is touched on in this quick read. Ray meticulously explains everything from headlines, sales letters, and launch copy, to risk reversal, irresistible offers, and copywriting mistakes. In true teacher fashion, he has solid implementation section and summaries that help make sure you have words on your page prior to finishing his book.
- The Adweek Copywriting Handbook – Joseph Sugarman: My favorite beginner’s book because it explains both the art AND science of copywriting. (Who knew copywriting was more than just words on a page all willy-nilly?!) I highly recommend you purchase this book instead of taking it out from the library because you’ll want to highlight and mark up all the fundamentals that Sugarman so wonderfully explains.
- The Ultimate Sales Letter – Dan Kennedy: This bad boy (The book, not Dan… well ok, maybe Dan too) offers up copious amounts of old-school direct response letters that are still strong as ever in today’s modern world. This is a must-read even if you don’t plan to write sales pages: It’s the down and dirty tactics to making sure the words you write get read in its entirety.
- Ogilvy on Advertising – David Ogilvy: Even though the medium in this book has changed (print ads), the concepts written can still 100% be applied today. Nicknamed one of the copywriting kings, soak up Ogilvy’s brilliance on product personality, keeping your audiences’ attention, and the fact that copywriting is the heart of advertising. #Amen!
- Breakthrough Advertising – Eugene Schwartz: This one took me several times to get through. It’s dense, intense, and not recommended if you’re a beginner copywriter. Yet when you feel you have a grasp of this conversion copy thing, then add this guy to your must-read list. It may just be the most highly-coveted copywriting book around (and you won’t find it for less than $125).
- Claude Hopkins – Scientific Advertising: Data, data, data. Claude wasn’t eluding to ANYTHING else when he titled this book – it helps wire your brain to write in a proven, set-in-stone structure. It’s a quick read and should be added to anyone’s list if you’re looking to beef up your copywriting career. After all, anything that Hopkins wrote was pure gold.
- The Gary Halbert Letters – The Copy God himself, Gary Halbert. This FREE online resource should be read by every business owner and marketer, in my opinion. (IMO as the cool kids say). Scroll to the bottom to read through all of his famous letters. Yes, they’re old. Yes, they are classics. Yes, they will change the way you write.
- Dot Com Secrets – Russel Brunson: This could have gone under the ‘Marketing’ section, but I’ve put it under copywriting because, among other things, it maps copy for a solid welcome sequence. Brunson calls it a Soap Opera or Seinfeld Sequence. There’s no angry soup nazi in this sequence though, and it explains the structure, goals, and the ‘how to’ behind a great string of emails. If you’re looking for marketing in today’s world, don’t pass go, don’t collect $200, and immediately go buy this book. Brunson’s genius mind doesn’t hold back in Expert Secrets, either.
Once you begin writing for the conversion, much more strategy comes into play. And being successful at it means a whole schwack of other things, too – such as being a business owner, having reliable processes, delivering consistent content, and giving your clients a “WOW” customer experience. Many of these concepts boil down to understanding the actions and behaviors of people, and being able to market yourself like a boss – two critical categories that I’ve provided my top books on below.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie: There’s good reason why Carnegie is such a famous man. My mom gave me this book along with, ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’ plus her course notes after taking his Effective Communication and Human Relations program back when I was in high school. I still have all three. We both continually pull lessons from this beast of a book such as talking in terms of the other person’s interests (not yours). His tactics will never go out of style… After all, it takes exceptional and timeless writing to still be a best-selling book 80 years after initially published!
- Influence – Robert Cialdini: Influence is a classic book on getting people to say ‘yes.’ It may be out-dated but still holds immense value, and is a highly-regarded book on human behavior and decision making.
- Pre-suasion – Robert Cialdini: Dry at times but I highly encourage you to read through this one, as it offers a view on how people are more receptive to arguments depending on their state prior to the argument happening. It outlines the key moments that take place before you ask for the sale, bettering your chances of being successful.
- Buyology – Martin Lindstrom: The brain science behind why people buy and why consumers can be irrational. Martin teaches us to become more aware of how unconscious desires motivate our buying behaviors, which is an important marketing tool in copywriting.
- Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman: A little redundant at times, but a solid book to have under your belt for understanding how we process information for decision making. You can directly apply these lessons to moving your customer towards a ‘yes’ in your conversion copy.
- Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill: A personal development book that not only outlines the habits of the most successful people in the world, but it also delivers on self-motivation, too. The Law of Attraction at it’s finest…
Market Yo’ Self
- Book Yourself Solid – Michael Port: Most of Michael’s advice can be summed up in two statements: 1) Make yourself emotionally attractive + 2) Live on the right side of the Law of Reciprocity. These beautiful concepts are outlined to help you produce positive emotions in other people, thus bringing in more business and consistently booking more clients. Ohh it’s a goodie!
- This is Marketing – Seth Godin: This man doesn’t give bad advice – simple as that. Seth offers a new way to talk about your work that builds trust in your readers. It’s *this* type of trust that creates genuine marketing which leads to transforming lives. A brilliant man, and a brilliant book.
- Building a Story Brand- Don Miller: A valuable book for entrepreneurs, it provides a framework for tailoring your message to connect with your customers. It gives a fresh new spin on how to build your story and deliver your message along with the ‘how to’ of the ultimate goal: getting your readers to take action. (AKA opting in, purchasing your package, upgrading their membership, etc.)
- Jen Havice – Finding the Right Message: Dishing out all her go-to ways of discovering your reader’s pain points, I’ve read this book several times and implement a little more each round. It’s loaded with value and actionable work that explains how to use current software to gather data such as voice-of-customer research.
- Hey Whipple Squeeze This – Luke Sullivan: Focused primarily on ad writing for an agency, a lot of great concepts can still be brought to our copywriting world today. This includes work processes, writing for clarity, and writing words that people will read – it’s littered with great visuals and classics ads that still make me grin.
Smart people read books! Congrats on taking the steps to up-level your copy game!
Yes, some nights are a struggle choosing Ogilvy over Shameless…but seeing clients do a happy dance after I test their copy, inspires me to keep improving, learning, and reading. So enjoy this list of my favorite books that will help with *your* conversion copy as well…
Have any more that’s helped you? Send em over!
Want a swipe file of sales emails that convert?
Out-of-the-box thinking will help EVERY writer! So remember to take breaks from the scienc-y, theoretical, and business books every once in a while, and treat your mind to a good ol’ fashioned murder mystery or thriller novel! Books like this will continually improve the way you write compelling stories and move the needle forward in your copywriting career. My favorite authors in these genres are Harlan Coben and Janet Evanovich. Enjoy!