There are lots of great copywriting books out there, many of which were written decades ago. However, many of the tips and tricks laid out by the early copywriting pioneers still apply today! In this article, I’m going to go through my favorite books for freelance copywriters.
The 14 best books for freelance copywriters are:
- The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly
- The Art Of The Click by Glenn Fisher
- Cashvertizing by Drew Eric Whitman
- Finding The Right Message by Jennifer Havice
- Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins
- Ogilvy On Advertising by David Ogilvy
- Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi and Brian Piper
- How To Write Copy That Sells by Ray Edwards
- How To Launch A Freelance Copywriting Business by Jules Horne
- The Copy Book by D&AD
- The Elements Of Style by William Strunk Jr and E.B. White
- The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout
- How To Write Seductive Web Copy by Henneke Duistermaat
- Copywriting Made Simple by Tom Albrighton
Below, I’ll go through why each of these books is great for freelance copywriters or those looking to go down this career path. I’ve picked ones specific to copywriting, so there’s no 4-Hour Work Week or generic productivity books here!
While they’re great books, they belong on our list of the best freelancing books, not the best copywriting books!
Note: These books are in no particular order, as they’re all worth picking up if you want to make it as a freelance copywriter. Some are focused more on the writing part, others on the advertising side of things. If you’re looking for more general writing-focused options, we also have a list of the best freelance writing books.
The 14 Best Freelance Copywriting Books
1. The Copywriter’s Handbook By Robert W. Bly
Pages: 496 | Best For: Those looking for a complete guide to copywriting
First on our list is The Copywriter’s Handbook, which is one of the longest and most in-depth copywriting books out there. It’s packed with useful information, tips, and guides for anyone involved in the world of copywriting – including freelancers!
The book covers:
- How to write good headlines
- Tips for boosting conversion rates on landing pages
- Email marketing tips
- Creating lead magnets to get more customers
The book discusses everything from the basics up to more advanced techniques as well. It has been updated to cover modern copywriting techniques and use cases, and it serves as an excellent resource for beginners and more experienced copywriters alike.
The book does cover a lot of the basics, and the author repeats many concepts to ensure you fully understand them. I didn’t find it too repetitive, but some sections can definitely be skimmed while others will need all of your attention!
2. The Art Of The Click By Glenn Fisher
Pages: 236 | Best For: Freelance copywriters looking for actionable tips to improve their CTRs
Moving on to a book clearly aimed at copywriting in the digital age, The Art Of The Click focuses on what it takes to get potential customers to click. Whether it’s more clicks to your website or more clicks on the buy button, more clicks lead to more money-making potential, and that’s what copywriting is all about!
The author goes through everything you need to know about getting customers to take action through your content. With tips on writing headlines, finding inspiration for new copywriting ideas, and how to keep it concise, this book is a great tool to have on hand during your freelancing journey.
I love the fact this book isn’t just words about words – you also get some exercises to do as well! This helps you put what you’re learning to use, and I definitely learn better by doing, so it ticked a big box for me. But even if you don’t do the exercises, this book has the power to make you a better copywriter!
3. Cashvertizing By Drew Eric Whitman
Pages: 208 | Best For: Those seeking a no-nonsense guide to the essentials of copywriting
Cashvertising, spelled Ca$hvertising on the cover, is a book packed with the ‘secrets of ad-agency psychology’ that will help you become better at selling things. At the end of the day, copywriting is essentially advertising in one way or another, and this book does a great job of explaining how you can use the guidance of the great advertisers to write better copy.
Sure, it’s a bit old now, with the most recent publication from 2008. This did make it quite an amusing read, with references to bygone technologies and products. However, the essentials still apply today, and I found this book to be a great introduction to the world of copywriting when I first started.
It’s a light read, not necessarily in length (at just over 200 pages), but in terms of style. Whitman takes things at a good pace, and he makes it very easy to follow. It’s full of easily digestible sections with great examples of each concept, and it’s a must-read for anyone looking to become a freelance copywriter.
4. Finding The Right Message By Jennifer Havice
Pages: 166 | Best For: Anyone looking to convert more sales through copywriting
Good copy is based on good research, and that’s what Finding The Right Message is all about. Jennifer Havice draws upon her years of experience helping businesses use effective messaging to turn potential prospects into some of their biggest fans to help you understand the importance of using customer research when writing your copy.
The book is jam-packed with tips, examples, templates and case studies, which I think is vital for a book trying to teach you to become a better writer. However, the clear focus here is on using customer research to drive more sales, and that means it’s less focused on the actual writing itself.
So, if you already have the basics of copywriting down, but you’re looking for that missing piece of the puzzle to get more customers (either for you or your freelance clients), this book could be the perfect choice for you!
5. Scientific Advertising By Claude C. Hopkins
Pages: 126 | Best For: Those looking for one of the best books on the foundations of good advertising and copywriting
This book was written in 1923, but Scientific Advertising still holds up as the starting point for many newbie advertisers and copywriters all over the world. It covers the basics of what makes your customers tick, helping you understand how to get more sales.
As the name suggests, it’s based on testing and evidence-based techniques, with the goal of getting results in a way that you can measure and then repeat time and time again. It covers everything from good headlines to using artwork in your copy, and from strategies to get more sales to how you can set yourself apart from your competitors.
In fewer than 130 pages you’ll get a massive amount of knowledge thrown at you, which is what prompted advertising giant David Ogilvy (see his book below) to say the following:
“Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times. It changed the course of my life.”– David Ogilvy on Scientific Advertising
Note: Another old-but-gold choice is Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz. However, the reason it’s not on this list as a standalone choice is that it’s no longer in print, and hardback copies regularly fetch $300 or more!
6. Ogilvy On Advertising By David Ogilvy
Pages: 224 | Best For: Anyone looking to learn from one of the true masters of copywriting
Up next we have an entry from one of the most prolific men in advertising, often dubbed the “Father of Advertising,” David Ogilvy. His book, Ogilvy on Advertising, takes a look at how the world of advertising works. Sure, it was written in 1985, but it still paints a great picture of how the world of selling operates and how you can perform better in it.
You’ll learn about getting a job in advertising (some of which may indeed be outdated now), how good copy works and how to write it, and the importance of research in copywriting. There are some other sections that won’t be all that useful (such as how advertising can help charities and how to choose an ad agency for your product), but overall it’s still an incredibly valuable resource for the modern copywriter.
Ogilvy draws upon many examples from his stellar career to make everything crystal clear, and I found these to really supplement the wisdom on every page. I will caveat things again with the fact this was written when print and TV advertising were what social media and video ads are today, but the underlying narrative is still relevant for the modern copywriter.
7. Epic Content Marketing By Joe Pulizzi And Brian Piper
Pages: 368 | Best For: Anyone interested in copywriting in the modern era and beyond
Epic Content Marketing is a book that merges the best ideas from content writing and copywriting and explains how you can use them to optimize how your content performs. The updated edition contains new tips for creating content on digital platforms, from YouTube and other video platforms to using social media effectively.
There is also some focus on the world of Web3, covering things like NFTs, DAOs and Discord servers. I didn’t personally find these sections to be all that valuable for my writing, but if this is an area of interest for you, it could be worth picking up. Most copywriting books don’t deal with these kinds of concepts so it’s quite refreshing in a sense, and it does get you thinking about the future of content marketing.
However, the main components of the book deal with the fundamentals of writing good content, no matter the platform. It teaches you about the basic psychology of your potential customers, and how you can leverage that within your copywriting to get more sales.
Note: There are some older versions of this book going around, so just make sure you opt for the latest edition.
8. How To Write Copy That Sells By Ray Edwards
Pages: 186 | Best For: Writers that don’t want to be seen as too ‘salesy’ in their copy
How To Write Copy That Sells has a title that is perhaps the most self-explanatory on this list. Like the previous entry, this book goes through tips, tricks and guidance that is relevant to copywriting in the digital age.
It covers how to write copy for websites, email marketing campaigns, and social media, along with more traditional methods as well. These are all vital areas of your own and your clients’ businesses, so learning how to write better copy specifically for these channels is essential if you want to make it as a freelance copywriter.
It’s an enjoyable read above all else, but I think the tips in this book are truly some of the most valuable in any copywriting book. The book puts a focus on dispelling the myth that salespeople = bad people. It emphasizes the importance of using evidence, facts, and solid research to create better copy.
9. How To Launch A Freelance Copywriting Business By Jules Horne
Pages: 198 | Best For: Those looking to become better writers in general
Next on our list is a book that focuses more on the business side of freelance copywriting. How To Launch A Freelance Copywriting Business will teach you everything you need to know about, well, launching your own freelance copywriting business!
However, it should be noted right off the bat that the title is a little misleading. This book is more about content writing in general rather than copywriting, but much of the wisdom still applies if you want to become a freelance copywriter.
More specifically, it dives into things like:
- Finding clients
- Managing your time
- Dealing with your finances
- SEO basics
If you’re looking for guidance that’s more focused on the business side of freelance copywriting, this could be a great choice. However, if you’re seeking a book specific to copywriting, other books on this list would be better options.
10. The Copy Book By D&AD
Pages: 536 | Best For: Copywriters in need of inspiration from some of the best in the business
This mammoth book is actually a compilation of work and essays from a huge selection of professional copywriters. The Copy Book is therefore an eclectic mix of copywriting wisdom from all corners of the industry, making it a suitable choice no matter what niche you find yourself in.
There are a lot of different viewpoints in this book, and this means there isn’t necessarily an overarching narrative to follow. It makes for a great book to pick up every now and then, especially when you need inspiration for your next piece of copywriting.
One pain point is that it’s really just a selection of ads and viewpoints from those in the industry, without much substance in terms of what made those ads so great. It means it’s not so much of a guide but more of a resource that you’ll need to apply your own copywriting knowledge to in order to get the most out of it.
Nonetheless, it’s still a great read!
11. The Elements Of Style By William Strunk Jr And E.B. White
Pages: 122 | Best For: Copywriters looking to solidify the basics of good writing
The Elements Of Style, like many books on this list, is a classic in the world of copywriting and advertising. First published back in 1920, there have been several subsequent editions republished, with the most recent in 2022. This fairly short book has served as one of the best introductions to writing well for over a century.
William Strunk Jr was an English professor at Cornell University, and he drew upon his vast wisdom to produce an easily digestible playbook for being a good writer. It focuses on the key principles of writing, and so it’s the perfect book for anyone that wants to really nail down the essentials.
While one of the few books on this list that doesn’t concern itself entirely with copywriting, The Elements Of Style is still well worth picking up.
12. The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing By Al Ries And Jack Trout
Pages: 143 | Best For: Beginner copywriters looking to learn the basics of marketing
Next we have another short book with The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing. Published back in 1994, we once again have a slightly outdated option that still holds great value for the modern copywriter.
I will start by saying I found this book to be a bit basic. I had understood or at least heard of all of the laws in the book in one way or another beforehand, so I found myself using it primarily as a refresher for these foundational ideas (and a lot of them overlap with each other). But I think that makes it a great choice for those with no prior copywriting experience.
It’s a very easy book to read, and as I said it’s also very short. There are also lots of examples (although a little dated) that help illustrate the importance of each law. It gives you a whistle-stop tour of the basics of marketing, and this means it’s worth picking up if you’re a beginner freelance copywriter.
13. How To Write Seductive Web Copy By Henneke Duistermaat
Pages: 75 | Best For: Anyone looking for an easy read that’s packed with actionable tips
Another short entry, this 75-page guide from Henneke Duistermaat takes us from the slightly outdated immutable laws to the modern era of web copy. How To Write Seductive Web Copy outlines a 6-step process for being more persuasive with your website copy, helping you reach your ideal reader and make them an offer they can’t refuse.
The chapters include some assignments to make it a highly practical guide, and you’ll also learn:
- The common pitfalls of writing poor web copy
- Top techniques for writing better copy
- A comprehensive editing checklist
Personally, I found the fact it was so short to be exactly what I was looking for. Copywriting is meant to be concise and value-packed, and this book definitely ticks both of these boxes! If you want a short but useful guide to writing better copy for the web, this is the book to buy.
14. Copywriting Made Simple By Tom Albrighton
Pages: 305 | Best For: Beginner freelance copywriters
Finally, we have Copywriting Made Simple. Another self-explanatory title, this book serves as a great introduction to the world of copywriting, making it great for beginner freelancers. The book covers all the basics, from understanding who your reader is to how you can engage them and turn them into a customer.
You’ll get access to lots of actionable strategies for writing better copy, and it’ll serve as a crash course in consumer psychology too. It’s also an inspiring read for anyone looking to make a career out of freelance copywriting.
The book is packed with easy-to-follow instructions for writing better copy, and it’ll function as a highly actionable and practical guide to the world of copywriting for anyone making their first steps into this career path.
Which Freelance Copywriting Book Would I Recommend?
I’d strongly recommend any of the old-but-gold copywriting books as starting points for beginner freelance copywriters. Scientific Advertising and The Elements Of Style are great for beginners looking to learn the fundamentals.
For a more comprehensive guide, check out Copywriting Made Simple, and if you want to understand more of the business side of things, How To Launch A Freelance Copywriting Business is worth reading too.
Chris is the creator of Freelance Ready. He originally started freelancing (on Fiverr) while at university, writing and editing website content. He created this website to share his freelancing experience and help others on their own self-employed journeys. He is now a freelance SEO consultant and content editor. You can learn more about Chris here.
Freelance Ready is reader-supported. That means some links on this website are affiliate links. If you sign up or make a purchase through these links, we may earn a commission.