Want to Start an Online Business? These 5 Books Will Guide You

Focus on understanding the basic principles first.


Akis Apostolopoulos

3 years ago | 6 min read

I started my first online business back in 2015. I remember spending countless hours seeking information on how to launch an online business. I consumed podcasts, read articles, watched lots of webinars, and bought a few courses.

For newbies, the online business world can seem overwhelming. Everyone is throwing information at you, and many savvy marketers and fake gurus are promising you dreams and success as long as you enroll in their program.

Many of these marketers' only experience in online business is selling people courses on how to start a course. They end up teaching you the one technique that worked in their space but will probably never work for your audience.

Among the countless books that I consumed, I have come across a few that provide timeless advice. Books that explain the fundamental principles behind running and growing your online business. Rather than focusing on one marketing trick, these books give a better overall perspective on various ways to sell your products and grow your business.

The five books that I recommend that you start with are listed below. These books are not expensive, and they are well worth investing a few hours in each book.

Launch: An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula To Sell Almost Anything Online, Build A Business You Love, And Live The Life Of Your Dreams by Jeff Walker

Jeff Walker is the grandfather of product launches. He was among a few renegade internet entrepreneurs who were doing launches in the late 90s just when the internet was taking off.

A product launch is a process by which a digital product is released into the internet world. Jeff Walker was one of the first to systematize this process. From collecting emails and sending recipients a sequence of emails. Then, creating suspense for the impending launch. Finally, launching the product and setting a deadline to buy.

Jeff Walker was the person that convinced me of the importance of building my own email list. Up until then, I was resisting, thinking that customers would be charmed by my offer. It turned out my assumption was wrong, And Jeff was right.

Whenever you see some guru today talking about their secret system on launching a product, remember the original idea came from Jeff Walker. The funny thing is most of these gurus have never even heard of Jeff Walker.

Dotcom Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Growing Your Company Online with Sales Funnels by Russell Brunson

Russell Brunson is one of the world’s most famous internet marketers, who built click funnels, a top-rated software for building funnels and sales pages. I have to admit; I do at times find Brunson’s marketing tactics a bit too aggressive ad slick for my liking.

However, the guy is an absolute pioneer in internet marketing. Many of the standard marketing techniques used today in the internet world were first tested and adopted.

Brunson has written three outstanding books on internet marketing. He provides lots of data and actual results from his experiments on what worked and what didn’t work. I can be very resistant to trying out new marketing techniques. But, if you show me the data, I can be swayed. Brunson is unique in this sense. He is very transparent with his numbers, and he convinced me to run experiments and try out new marketing strategies. I am still using these strategies 6 years later.

You do not need to adopt everything he suggests, but you must understand how internet sales work, and he is the best person to teach you. I recommend that you start with the book suggested here, and if you enjoy it, you can move on to his other books, Traffic Secrets and Expert Secrets.

80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More by Perry Marshall

Perry Marshall is one of the sharpest business consultants that I know. He started as an expert in Google Adwords but has since evolved into an overall business consultant and strategist.

This book is based on the 80/20 principle first popularized in the business world by Richard Koch. After reading this book, you will start seeing 80/20 everywhere in your business. You will start focusing on where your traffic is coming from and which traffic is bringing in sales and profits.

Perry introduces the concept of $10, $100, and $1000 an hour of work. This book got me counting my hours and making me realize how productive, or rather how unproductive I was. Perry made me realize that tweaking a page on my website that was only getting three views per month was not the best use of my time.

I have been on Perry’s email list for over 10 years, and I have never gotten bored or unsubscribed. I had the honor of meeting him personally at an event in Prague a few years ago, and his teachings have guided me over the last 10 years of my entrepreneurial journey.

After reading this book, you may want to explore the latest editions of his books on Google and Facebook ads. All his books follow a similar philosophy: Focus on the 80/20, the few things that actually matter.

The Perfect Conversion Funnel: The Top 9 Funnels Online Experts are Using Today to 2x, 3x, or Even 10x Their Business by David Nadler

I have often been overwhelmed by all the different advice out there to grow your email list and sell digital products. One guy says to give out a freebie and collect emails, another person says you need to make a webinar, Guru №3 says to do a video series launch, and the 4th person suggests a 10-day email sequence.

David Nadler is the first to take all these different funnels and stack them up against each other. He explains in easy-to-understand tables which funnels are perfect for which occasions. He explains why something will work when selling a $99 product but will not work if you sell a $2000 product.

I remember how I would try running ads to get people to watch a webinar. I was having little success until this book made it clear that I would be better off warming these people up first. This book is relatively short and is usually for sale at a very low price. But don’t be put off by the low price. The book has helped clear up many things in my head and improved my decision-making.

SEO 2021: Learn search engine optimization with smart internet marketing strategies by Adam Clarke

I assume you have heard of SEO, you know that it is important, but you cannot figure out how to make your site show up high in Google rankings. Meanwhile, so-called SEO experts are lingering everywhere, promising you that your website will end up on Google if only you wait six months and pay them a monthly retainer in the meantime.

Before you hire an SEO expert, read this book. Adam Clarke explains in simple writing what SEO is and which factors will get your website ranked higher. He explains which tools you can use to improve your ranking and research for the right keywords. Even if you do not want to get involved in the day-to-day technical details of SEO, you need to read this book to hold the SEO people accountable.

One of the most important lessons I learned from this book was the importance of building an online reputation. Your SEO rankings are directly affected by your presence through the content that you bring out and the engagement that you are getting.

I believe all online businesses need to balance paid and organic traffic to grow their business. Even if you decide to outsource these tasks, sales and marketing is the most important aspect of your business, so you need to know what you are doing.

Closing Thoughts

I chose the above 5 books as they are fairly easy to read, and they cover a broad range of the necessary skills in growing your online business.

Russel Brunson taught me how to get more people to buy my offer. Jeff Walker showed me to launch my product and build anticipation. Perry Marshall made me realize that I wasted my time and spent my efforts in the wrong places. David Nadler helped me navigate all the chaos and confusion with funnels.

And finally, Adam Clarke explained in simple terms why SEO matters, and how over the long term, I can build an organic following on the internet.

Before you start spending thousands of dollars on online courses, focus on understanding the basic fundamental principles of running an online business. Learning these principles will cost you less than $100, and you can keep on going back to these books years later.

Originally published here.


Created by

Akis Apostolopoulos







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