The Very Best Books About Blogging and Writing
One thing online that there’s no shortage of is books about blogging – especially eBooks.
It’s almost as if throwing together a website and then selling a lazily-written blogging book is a legitimate business model! Sadly it IS the business model for plenty of online marketers. (And before you say anything, WriteBlogEarn is an eBook free zone – at least for now!)
This puts aspiring writers and bloggers in an awkward position; It’s valuable and desirable to pore over a book that will help you achieve your goals, but it’s not desirable to throw $47 (it always seems to be $47!) at 30 pages of lazy, generic advice.
With that in mind, here’s a small but perfectly formed list of the best books about blogging and writing – books that I genuinely feel are worth the money. Better still, they’re proper books – the kind that you can flick through, keep on the shelf, and read in the bath without fear of dropping them.
All of these have helped with my own writing and blogging at various points, sometimes on a practical level, and sometimes as a source of inspiration.
I can still remember when I first started to read the ProBlogger book by Darren Rowse.
It was 2009, and I was sitting eating lunch in a cheap pizza place above Victoria train station in London. I was mulling over a future where I sold my IT business, moved abroad and made a living from home. I found myself dreamily wondering if it could really be possible to earn money from blogging.
I did move abroad and I did start blogging. An awful lot has happened in the intervening time, and I’m now settled back “home” with two young children. However, I continue to make the lion’s share of my living from writing and blogging. Most importantly, I thoroughly enjoy it. (I’m actually writing this on a plane on my way to ten days in the sun. Yes, I’m that pretentious guy with an Apple Mac!)
Anyway, I’m conscious that I’m rambling on so I’ll get back to the point.
The Problogger book was truly the start of something for me, and that’s why I recommend it at the top of this list of the best books about blogging. Although there’s some lofty talk of “six figure” incomes, the content is surprisingly down to earth and realistic, which makes a refreshing change. For many, a blog that brings in just couple of hundred bucks a month is a very appealing goal, and this book does cater for those with that goal, as well as the more money hungry.
Darren Rowse is very much a “face” in the blogging world, but he’s one who really does “walk the walk.” Coming from me that’s saying something, because I don’t enjoy the bluster from many of these online personalities.
Problogger is in its third edition, and it’s fair to say it could do with another update soon. Lots can change in the world of blogging. However, the fundamentals here remain solid. I hope this book inspires you as much as it did me.
I’m very much in favour of books you can digest in bite-sized chunks. I have two young children at home, so reading is often something I have to do in snatched bursts here and there.
Everybody Writes is primarily a book about writing technique – it runs through topics such as using analogies effectively, how to write for social media, and how to track down the best sources. Each chapter concentrates on a specific way to write better.
This is the kind of book that truly will make you a better writer. It’s always at the top of my list as a gift for anyone who wants to improve their writing skills.
Everybody Writes was written by Ann Handly, an Entrepreneur Magazine columnist. She talks a lot of sense, and I often refer back to her words when I feel like my writing is getting stuck in a rut.
Contagious is a book that was recommended to me by an old colleague. I’ve gone on to recommend it to several people since, and now I’m recommending it to you.
I strongly recommend Contagious is a book if you’re working on a blog of your own, or writing posts for clients. It discusses, in accessibly scientific terms, what makes articles popular and – more importantly – shareable.
Using examples such from such big names as Disney, Apple and NASA, Contagious really gets you thinking about ways to produce content that will “catch on.” It’s one of those books that’s worth keeping on the shelf for a re-read, because you can usually rely on it to spark off some ideas when the well of inspiration runs dry.
I don’t completely agree with everything this book recommends. For example, I’m not a huge fan of scarcity techniques, as they feel a bit overdone nowadays. However, this is still a book that deserves a place on the bookshelf of every aspiring writer or blogger.
Eats, Shoots and Leaves
Between Christmas and New Year 2018, I was walking off some excess Christmas calories along the local beach when my iPhone binged. It alerted me to the fact that someone had put a comment on one of my blogs, complaining about the way that I used possessive pronouns in association with gerunds.
Despite this, the comment did serve to emphasise something important: many blog readers do care about grammar, and good quality writing clients definitely do.
Just because a blog belongs to you, it doesn’t mean you should take an unprofessional approach to the standard of the writing. Eats, Shoots and Leaves, written by Lynne Truss, is a lightweight and witty tome that will help you get your grammar on point.
Covering topics such as how to properly use commas, and giving some humorous examples of when grammar goes wrong, Eats, Shoots and Leaves is a surprisingly absorbing read on a topic as dry as punctuation. It’s a great addition to your collection if you’re serious about the quality of your writing.
The Associated Press Stylebook
I finish with perhaps the most “boring” entry on my list of books about blogging and writing – but it’s a very worthwhile book to be in possession of if you’re aiming at pro-level writing jobs. Many people recruiting writers specifically look for those who are experienced in writing in “AP style.”
A style guide dictates how you should write certain things, such as choosing between “one to ten” or “1 to 10,” or whether you write “world wide web” or “WorldWideWeb.” Due to the fact that newspapers and professional publications usually edit strictly to style guide rules, getting these things wrong can make writing look amateurish – or it may just irritate a perfectionist client.
The AP style guide isn’t the kind of thing you’re going to sit and read from cover to cover. However, it’s a useful reference, and it’s good to have a pretty detailed look through if you’re going to claim to be “fully versed in writing to AP style.”
It’s important to note that the Associated Press Stylebook isn’t the only style guide out there. Some publications conform to the rules of others, such as the Chicago Manual of Style. However, in my experience it’s AP style knowledge that seems to pop up in more job adverts than any other.
As discussed at the start, these books about blogging and writing are just a drop in the ocean among the hundreds out there. But when building your starter collection for a new life of writing, you’d struggle to do much better than these.
I’ve taken plenty of help and inspiration from these titles, so I hope you have the same experience.
If you’re keen to start a blog of your own, you’ll find some invaluable advice here.