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30 Books You Need to Read if You Want to Make it Big Online

30 Books You Need to Read if You Want to Make it Big Online

What does it take to succeed online?

  • Create highly useful content?
  • Build authority and Influence people?
  • Be business savvy?
  • Master social media?
  • Engage in promotion and marketing?
  • Have the right mindset?
  • Be productive?

I would say all of it.

And the best way to get up to speed on all of it is to pick up the best books covering these topics. All the ‘experts’ and the ‘gurus’ do it, so why should you lag behind?

There is one problem though, for the uninitiated, the simple task of picking up a so-called business book can be daunting and unnerving. Where to start? Aren’t all business books kind of…dry?

Not the ones on my must-read list.

I suggest you jump in with both feet. All books are followed by a brief book description to help you pick the right one. Good luck!

Books on Productivity and Success

It all starts with the right mindset.

1. Drive

Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money–the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake – that the secret to high performance and satisfaction–at work, at school, and at home–is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. Daniel Pink examines the three elements of true motivation–autonomy, mastery, and purpose–and offers smart and surprising techniques to transform our lives.

2. The Power of Habit

Charles Duhigg talks about all the successful who achieved success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives. They succeeded by transforming habits. Along the way we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. Habits aren’t destiny. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

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3. Brain Rules

See how the brain works while using it in the process of reading this book! Most of us have no idea what’s really going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent, and teacher should know – like that physical activity boosts your brain power.

4. Accidental Creative

It isn’t enough to just do your job anymore. In order to thrive in today’s marketplace, all of us, regardless of our role, have to be ready to generate brilliant ideas on demand. The Accidental Creative teaches effective practices that support your creative process like how to focus in on your most critical work and reclaim your attention, develop stimulating relationships and leverage your hours wisely and effectively to eliminate creativity drains.

5. The War of Art

The War of Art is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul. What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do? Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece? Whether an artist, writer or business person, this simple, personal, and no-nonsense book will inspire you to seize the potential of your life.

6. The Big Moo

Most organizations are stuck in a rut. On one hand, they understand all the good things that will come with growth. On the other, they’re petrified that growth means change, and change means risk, and risk means death. Nobody wants to screw up and ruin a good thing, so most companies (and individuals) just keep trying to be perfect at the things they’ve always done. Seth Godin challenges people to become remarkable.

7. Getting Things Done

In today’s world, yesterday’s methods just don’t work. David Allen shares the breakthrough methods for stress-free performance. His premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential. It transforms the way you work, showing you how to pick up the pace without wearing yourself down.

8. The 8th Habit

The world has changed dramatically since the classic, internationally bestselling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was published. In order to thrive, innovate, excel and lead in what Stephen Covey calls the new Knowledge Worker Age, we must build on and move beyond effectiveness…to greatness. Accessing the higher levels of human genius and motivation in today’s new reality requires a new mind-set, a new skill-set, a new tool-set — in short, a whole new habit.

9. Outliers: The Story of Success

Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.

10. The Dip

The old saying is wrong—winners do quit, and quitters do win. When you find yourself asking if the goal is even worth the hassle; maybe you’re in a Dip—a temporary setback. But maybe it’s really a Cul-de-Sac, which will never get better, no matter how hard you try. What really sets superstars apart from everyone else is the ability to escape dead ends quickly, while staying focused and motivated when it really counts.

Books on Content

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    If you are online, you need content. Period.

    11. Content Rules

    Content Rules equips you for online success as a one-stop source on the art and science of developing content that people care about on platforms such as Blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+. Find an authentic “voice”, Leverage social media and understand why you are generating content.

    12. Convert

    Solve your traffic troubles and turn browsers into buyers and double the conversion rates by identifying simple yet powerful solutions involving design, copy, appropriate analysis, classic optimization techniques, and targeted testing. Understand the essentials – your market, your proposition, and your delivery.

    13. Blogging for Business

    The authors talk about why businesses should embrace blogging. The book talks about how to tap into the power of blogs and how they are different from e-zines, Web sites, and message boards.

    14. Content Strategy for the Web

    Better content means better business. Your content is a mess: the website redesigns didn’t help, and the new CMS just made things worse. How can you realize the value of content while planning for its long-term success? Read it to understand content strategy and its business value and make smarter, achievable decisions about what content to create.

    Books on Influence

    Now…it is time to be a thought leader.

    15. Influence: Science and Practice

    This book is an examination of the psychology of compliance (i.e. uncovering which factors cause a person to say “yes” to another’s request). It reminds the reader of the power of persuasion. The compliance techniques are organized into six categories based on psychological principles that direct human behavior: reciprocation, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.

    16. Platform

    Michael Hyatt shows you what best-selling authors, public speakers, entrepreneurs, musicians, and other creatives are doing differently to win customers in today’s crowded marketplace. In Platform, Hyatt will teach readers not only how to extend their influence, but also how to monetize it and build a sustainable career. The key? By building a platform.

    17. Fascinate

    Why are you captivated by some people but not by others? Why do you recall some brands yet forget the rest? In a distracted, overcrowded world, how do certain leaders, friends, and family members convince you to change your behavior? Fascination: the most powerful way to influence decision-making. And it all starts with seven universal triggers: lust, mystique, alarm, prestige, power, vice, and trust.

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    18. Clout

    Results. Everyone wants them, whether to sell more products, spread good ideas, or win more funding. In our busy digital world, the way to results is influencing people on the web. But how? Clout explains the key principles of influence and how to apply them to web content.

    19. Enchantment

    “Want to change the world? Change caterpillars into butterflies? This takes more than run-of-the-mill relationships. You need to convince people to dream the same dream that you do.” Guy Kawasaki argues that it is not about manipulating people. It transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility and civility into affinity. And when done right, it’s more powerful than traditional persuasion, influence, or marketing techniques.

    Books on Social Media

    Don’t forget to promote your stuff…

    20. Trust Agents

    Two social media veterans show you how to tap into the power of social networks to build your brand’s influence, reputation, and, of course, profits. Learn how businesses are using the latest online social tools to build networks of influence and how you can use those networks to positively impact your business.

    21. Likeable Social Media

    The secret to successful word-of-mouth marketing on the social web is easy: BE LIKEABLE. A friend’s recommendation is more powerful than any advertisement. In the world of Facebook, Twitter, and beyond, that recommendation can travel farther—and faster—than ever before. This book helps you harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing to transform your business. Listen to your customers and prospects. Deliver value, excitement, and surprise. And most important, learn how to truly engage your customers and help them spread the word.

    22. No Bulls#!t Social Media

    Stop hiding from social media–or treating it as if it’s a playground. Start using it strategically. Identify specific, actionable goals. Apply business discipline and proven best practices. Stop fearing risks. Start mitigating them. Measure performance. Get results. You can. This book shows you how.  “Conversations” and “communities” are wonderful, but they’re not enough. Get this book and get what you really want from social media: profits.

    23. The New Rules of Marketing & PR

    Business communication has changed over the recent years. Creative ad copy is no longer enough. This book has brought thousands of marketers up to speed on the changing requirements of promoting products or services in the new digital age. This pioneering guide offers a step-by-step action plan for harnessing the power of the Internet to communicate with buyers directly, raise online visibility, and increase sales.

    24. The NOW Revolution

    The social web has changed the way we do business forever. This book isn’t about how to “do” social media. Instead, The Now Revolution outlines how you must retool your organization to make real-time business work for you rather than against you. Read about seven shifts that will help you make your company faster, smarter, and more social.

    Books on Marketing

    And on to marketing…

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    25. Made to Stick

    Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? Brothers Dan and Chip Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier and communicate better. It shows us the vital principles of winning ideas–and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.

    26. The Tipping Point

    The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.

    27. Permission Marketing

    Book based on the groundbreaking concept that enables marketers to shape their message so that consumers will willingly accept it, the opposite of Interruption Marketing, which no longer works. Instead of annoying potential customers by interrupting their most coveted commodity — time — Permission Marketing offers consumers incentives to accept advertising voluntarily.

    Books on Entrepreneurship

    Reaffirm that you are meant to do this.

    28. Crush It!

    Do you have a hobby you wish you could do all day? An obsession that keeps you up at night? Now is the perfect time to take those passions and make a living doing what you love. Gary Vaynerchuk shows you how to use the power of the Internet to turn your real interests into real businesses.

    29. The $100 Startup

    In The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau shows you how to lead of life of adventure, meaning and purpose – and earn a good living. He presents stories of those who’ve found ways to opt out of traditional employment and create the time and income to pursue what they find meaningful. You can start small with your venture, committing little time or money, and wait to take the real plunge when you’re sure it’s successful. It’s all about finding the intersection between your “expertise” – even if you don’t consider it such — and what other people will pay for. You don’t need an MBA, a business plan or even employees. All you need is a product or service that springs from what you love to do anyway, people willing to pay, and a way to get paid.

    30. The Everyday Entrepreneur

    A primer for pursuing entrepreneurial ambitions and achieving success, it is filled with strategies and powerful anecdotes about defining and setting goals and pushing for entrepreneurial success. The book reveals how readers can apply the ambitions of a go-getter in their own lives, position themselves ahead of the pack, examine how to calculate risk, and understand the mindset necessary to venture forward on their own.

    So there you have it. What are some of your favourites that should go on this list? Share in the comments below.

    Featured photo credit: Books by Shutterhacks and inline photo Content Rules Book by Shashi Bellamkonda via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

    More by this author

    Marya Jan

    Marya is a business strategist. She shares tips about life and success on Lifehack.

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    Published on September 16, 2020

    12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

    12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

    Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

    Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

    Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

    Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

    Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

    Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

    1. Organization

    When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

    When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

    Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

    To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

    To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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    2. Flexibility

    You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

    Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

    For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

    To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

    To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

    3. Collaboration

    As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

    Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

    To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

    To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

    4. Poise

    Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

    When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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    What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

    To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

    To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

    5. Communication

    Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

    When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

    To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

    To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

    6. Good Computer Hygiene

    Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

    Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

    To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

    To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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    7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

    Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

    Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

    To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

    To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

    8. Respecting Feedback

    In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

    Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

    To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

    To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

    9. Project Management

    Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

    To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

    To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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    10. Staying up to Speed

    Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

    To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

    To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

    11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

    “Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

    To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

    To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

    12. Teamwork

    Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

    Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

    To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

    To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

    Final Thoughts

    Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

    More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

    Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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