The Top 19 Books in Content Marketing to Read in Your Downtime

Picture of Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy

Creator and Co-founder

content marketing books

Let’s be honest. If you’re a busy entrepreneur or marketer, you might be thinking, “Books?! I have no downtime to read a book.”

Do you ever feel like you’re a clown juggling dozens of balls at once – family, work, hobbies, and more?

If you pause for just one second, you might drop an important ball.

The average adult spends less than 17 minutes a day reading. People don’t want to risk neglecting an important duty because they’re reading.

Despite this fact, reading should be a priority.

It has DOZENS of benefits. Here’s just three:

  • 20% of people who read regularly feel happier.
  • Reading reduces stress by over 68%.
  • Lack of time is the number one reason most people don’t read. Yet, the average person spends over two hours per day on social media and three hours watching TV.


Convinced yet that you should turn to the written page instead of the electronic screen?

Even better — read a book that will grow your content career and skills.

Check out some of my favorite content marketing books to find inspiration for your career and exercise your mind. Turn off the TV and put down your phone – replace them with the soothing smell of fresh ink on paper. Feel the subtly rough edges of your favorite book’s pages. (Yes, this will mean skipping the Kindle. While I love Kindles and have a couple in my house, nothing beats the feel of a real book. 😉)

writing mistakes

Top 19 Content Marketing Books to Read Again and Again

Overwhelmed with the deluge of content marketing tools? Skip the tech and start with a tried-and-true book. Here are nineteen of my personal favorite content marketing books that helped me grow as a leader in the marketing industry.

1. Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi

Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi takes his readers through the basics of content marketing – but with a unique twist. He combats the common causes of failure in content marketing through his strategy for creating content, connecting to your market, and engaging your audience.

Pulizzi is one of my mentors and helped me grow Express Writers into the successful business it is today. Because of him, I attended Content Marketing World 3 years in a row and had a chance to speak on stage about content marketing  at CMWorld, the largest event for content marketers.

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

7 habits of highly effective people by stephen r. covey

Stephen Covey’s guide is a New York Times bestseller and was named the most influential business book of the twentieth century. Covey gives his readers seven habits to incorporate into their lives to become successful.

These seven habits guided me as a marketer and leader. I realized that being a leader isn’t just about success, it’s about values and ethics which shape your legacy. This knowledge was VERY impactful in my choices as a marketing leader.

3. Mean People Suck by Michael Brenner

mean people suck by michael brenner

We’ve all had that bad employer – the one that makes waking up for work feel like a chore. (For me, it was the manager at the McDonald’s I worked at when I was 16. Phew!) What’s the key to boosting the happiness and productivity of your employees and avoiding being THAT employer?

Michael Brenner breaks down the secret to being an effective leader through the power of empathy. This is a great read for all aspiring content marketing leaders.

4. Cumulative Advantage by Mark W. Schaefer

cumulative advantage by mark schaefer

Do people listen to you? The world is LOUD! Information pours in from every direction.

How are you supposed to rise above that noise as a marketer, so your audience hears you?

Mark Schaefer uses a combination of motivation and case studies to guide your marketing strategies to success through his witty and engaging guide for the modern marketer.

5. Marketing Rebellion by Mark Schaefer

marketing rebellion by mark schaefer

Mark Schaefer takes you on another journey into marketing success by teaching leaders how to put the human back in their content marketing strategy.

If you’re feeling lost, then this book is for you. Schaefer explores essential marketing techniques that will help you stand out and stay in touch with the most effective modern marketing techniques without losing the human touch.

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6. KNOWN by Mark W. Schaefer

Known by mark schaefer

If you enjoyed Mark Schaefer’s other two guides, then you don’t want to miss out on this well-known book. It’s your roadmap to success in a digital age through branding and marketing. Follow his easy plan and watch your content marketing take off.

7. Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

everybody writes by ann handley

You don’t need the title “writer” to write. Ann Handley takes you through the steps of creating engaging online content that will attract your audience and increase your sales.

Whether you’re a seasoned writer or a marketing leader who avoids the blank page – this book is for you. It’ll improve your writing skills with actionable marketing advice in a modern world of online content.

8. Content Rules by Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman

content rules by ann handley and c.c. chapman

Want to increase the effectiveness of your marketing strategy? Start with your content.

Content rules because it’s key for building your business through engagement on blogs, podcasts, videos, ebooks, webinars, and so much more!

Follow along with Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman for practical advice on developing content that people care about.

9. The Content Fuel Framework by Melanie Deziel

the content fuel framework by melanie deziel

Focus + Format = Engaging Content

Award-winning content marketer Melanie Deziel uses this simple formula to break down the barriers of writer’s block. Finally, you can meet the high demand for fresh, new content using her strategies for generating new QUALITY ideas.

10. The Boron Letters by Gary C. Halbert

the boron letters by gary c. halbert

Gary C. Halbert is a copywriting legend!

Now you can get in on his secrets to success by reading this collection of letters revealing how he creates effective marketing strategies.

11. Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach

Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach

At the foundation of every successful business is quality content. If you improve your content – you’ll see your business grow. This handbook is a go-to strategy for understanding content marketing and executing it in your own business.

12. Content Chemistry by Andy Crestodina

Content Chemistry by Andy Crestodina

If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to content marketing – look no further! This book combines the most important lessons and advice from thousands of conversations with hundreds of companies.

You’ll learn effective strategies and content marketing examples for SEO, social media, email marketing, and more.

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13. Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller

Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller

Everyone likes to hear a good story.

Donald Miller teaches you seven universal elements of powerful stories that you can use to connect to your audience. Discover the power of the StoryBrand and watch your business grow through effective customer engagement.

14. RE:Think Innovation by Carla Johnson

RE:Think Innovation by Carla Johnson

Are you short on time? Carla Johnson reveals REAL techniques used by businesses that result in EXTRAORDINARY outcomes in less time. No need to waste hours struggling through content marketing strategies. Just follow Johnson’s guide to innovation in the workplace.

15. Traffic Secrets by Russell Brunson

traffic secrets by russell brunson

No one likes traffic – unless it’s traffic coming to your business.

Except, no one knows your business exists.

Sound familiar?

Having a successful business is more than creating products. It’s about generating traffic. Russell Brunson reveals his secrets to getting your message out to the world, so people find you.

16. Dotcom Secrets by Russell Brunson

Dotcom Secrets by Russell Brunson

Don’t stop with Russell Brunson’s guide to getting traffic to your site. Next, learn how to KEEP those customers on your website. Master the science of the funnel. This funnel is the journey people take from being visitors to valued customers.

17. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

No marketing book list would be complete without this classic. It’s a timeless guide for creating leaders at home and in the workplace.

Dale Carnegie teaches you strategies for getting people to genuinely like you, win people over to your side, and change people without any resentment.

18. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Do you have any bad habits?

James Clear gives you practical strategies for combating those bad habits and exchanging them for positive habits. Changing your behaviors leads to REMARKABLE results in your life and career.

19. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

What? The Chronicles of Narnia is a content marketing book?

Well, no – and yes.

While gifting Turkish delights is an effective way to connect to customers 😂, that’s not why you should read fiction as a marketer.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a marketer, it’s the importance of writing. From blog posts to emails, you’ll write EVERY DANG DAY. And how do you become a better writer? By studying the greats, and letting your brain breathe in great fiction – like the works C.S. Lewis wrote.

Whether you read through Narnia (one of my all-time favorite fiction series!) or another novel, the key to being a successful writer is being a regular reader.

Bonus: Get My 4 Practical Content Marketing Guidebooks

Why stop at nineteen books? Here are four more bonus books just for YOU!

I’ve written these four books on content marketing to give the average person all the tools necessary to become a successful leader in business using the secrets I learned from experience – and of course, reading.

Never Stop Learning – Go from the Page to Your Computer

Tired of being stuck in the same rut?

You work, eat, sleep – then do it all again tomorrow.

For a few minutes each day, you can escape the monotony of your life and be transported into worlds where anything is possible through the pages of a book.

When you come back to your life, you’re changed.

You’ve replaced monotony with inspiration, knowledge, and motivation to become better in your career as a content marketer.

Don’t stop at the last page of the last content marketing book on this list, either. Keep learning.

Learning effective content marketing is more than just reading content marketing strategy books. You also need to USE what you learned. Books are just the start of your journey to becoming a leader in your industry.

And if you don’t just want to learn content marketing, but also use it strategically to build your business…

Books aren’t enough.

You’ll need mentorship. Proven strategies. Business and creative skills. Systems set up to keep your business running like clockwork.

Guess what, friend?

It’s all inside The Content Transformation System, my coaching program for creative entrepreneurs like you.

By applying today, you can gain a real, tangible roadmap to growth for your biz with a content-forward approach. You’ll work 1:1 with me and our team of expert coaches to absolutely nail each piece of the puzzle. You’ll learn through videos, templates, cheat sheets, and a supportive student community.

Ready to get started?  Watch my free training today.

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