The Top 10 Resources That Make Up My ‘Marketing Degree’ {some are FREE}

The top 10 resources that make up my 'marketing degree' on Blacksburg Belle

I’m a marketing nerd.

Unlike lots of business owners, I looooooove to learn everything I can about marketing. Books, podcasts, courses, videos, blogs, articles. I want to devour it all. Every single morsel.

I enjoy everything from copywriting to email marketing to social media.

Along the way, I’ve found some amazing resources and they range from completely 100% free {no need to empty the piggy bank} to high-end training that will cost you a pretty penny. No matter your budget, you’ll find something on this list that’ll help you.

{The prices included are the prices at the time of writing this.}

10. Copyblogger {FREE!}

When I first started Blacksburg Belle, I’d brew a cup of tea, settle in front of my computer and read the latest post on Copyblogger every day. Now, I read the posts that speak to me on Fridays. And, I still get so much from this site. You should definitely download their free ebook: Copywriting 101.

Remember that if you’ve got an online business, your words matter—more than practically anything else.

9. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath {$7.27 on Amazon}

If you’ve ever wondered why some ideas thrive while others die, you need to read this book. Your fingers will itch to highlight passages and mark things to come back to again and again. My copy is littered with sticky notes.

8. Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Robert Cialdini {$13.24 on Amazon}

Persuasion isn’t just an art. It’s a science. And, if you want to learn about the hidden rules of moving people in your direction without spending lots of money on psychology courses, this book is for you.

7. The Fascination Advantage Test {$37}

Your personality influences your business and brand. You can learn how to use that to your advantage with this test. I also recommend you read Sally’s book, Fascinate. When you apply this to your business and marketing, you’ll be much more likely to attract your target market.

6. Different by Youngme Moon {$10.94 on Amazon}

One of the biggest struggles creative entrepreneurs face is setting their businesses apart from their competition. What makes you different? If you can’t answer this question clearly and simply, this book is worth the $11 investment.

5. The Unmistakable Creative {FREE!}

Podcasts like this one make my day so much better. I listen to these inspiring interviews while washing dishes, cooking, folding laundry, sewing, working in my art journal, and walking my dogs. You’ll get so much more than marketing advice from these interviews, but you’ll definitely learn about promoting your business.

4. Start With Why by Simon Sinek {$9.04 on Amazon}

This book completely changed the way I look at business—my business, my clients’ businesses, businesses that I buy from. I recommend this to every business owner I know. I bet it’ll change the way you do {and see} things, too.

3. MarieTV {FREE!}

B-School buzz has taken over the internet lately, and some of you are bummed out that you can’t afford to join this year. The good news is that Marie Forleo produces high-quality, free training every single week. You wouldn’t believe how much of that free training I’ve used to improve my marketing strategies, and you can, too. You don’t have to spend money to improve your selling skills, my friend.

2. The Middle Finger Project {FREE!}

When I’m so busy that I don’t have five minutes to shower {aren’t those days the craziest?}, I still read the emails I get from Ashley Ambirge, the brilliant wordsmith that runs The Middle Finger Project. I took a copywriting course from her and tried to find it for this list, but I don’t think she’s offering it anymore. If she ever offers another one, sign up. Immediately. Without a second thought. She’s that good. If you don’t mind a little adult language, you will get so much out of reading her blog. You’re welcome!

1. B-School {$1999}

You can learn a ton from the other resources on this list, but if you want something complete from A to Z and you can afford the monthly payments, B-School will teach you everything you need to know about marketing your business. I was able to recover my costs of ‘attending’ B-School within a couple months just from putting what I was learning into action. It was truly worth every penny.

I know this post is about resources I’ve absorbed to learn marketing techniques, but I’d be remiss not to tell you that I’ve written a book just for creative entrepreneurs like you, Marketing for Creatives

Did I leave something off this list? Have a favorite book, blog, or course that you’d like to add? Share it in the comments below.


18 Responses to The Top 10 Resources That Make Up My ‘Marketing Degree’ {some are FREE}

  1. Sarah February 26, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    Hi April
    Thanks for the list, great to have your recommendations. Looking forward to getting started! A couple of questions though – firstly, do you have a favorite resource for photography? And secondly, I am considering purchasing your eBook and am wondering whether it is just as relevant for vintage sellers. Thanks!

    • April February 26, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

      Hi Sarah,

      You’re so welcome!

      Question 1: It depends. Are you using a DSLR? If so, then you should check out Nicole’s Classes at — they’re a bit pricer than other courses, but they are definitely worth it. They offer a tabletop photography course that looks really good for product-based businesses.

      I also really like A Beautiful Mess: Photo Idea Book, but that’s more about giving you tons of ideas–not technical advice.

      And, Beyond Snapshots with Rachel Devine and Peta Mazey is really good, but they focus a lot on pictures of people. Of course, you can take a lot of the tips and use them for product photography, too.

      Question 2: It was written with creative-based businesses in mind–mostly artists and makers; however, the content will work for a vintage seller. The only thing is that I use lots of examples throughout the book and they’re almost always based on artists and makers. I have had some feedback from about three vintage sellers who’ve bought and read Marketing for Creatives and it was all positive–they all said that it helped them.

      I hope that helps some!

      • Amanda Sue February 26, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

        OH! I know you didn’t ask me, but you should (and April too if she hasn’t already 😉 ) should check out Click It Up A Notch. She TONS of awesome information….back button focusing, what lens to start with, stuff about lighting, composition, etc.

        And Darren Rowse (famous for ProBlogger) runs digital-photography-school, and you could spend FOREVER wading through the articles on there. 🙂
        Amanda Sue recently posted..Business Lessons From the Pistol

        • April February 26, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

          Thanks for adding those, Amanda Sue!

  2. Amanda Sue February 26, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

    April I LOVE this list…I totally fell in love with that quote of Simon Sinek’s (People don’t buy what you do), but I’ve never read his book, so I’m totally adding that to my list to go through.

    And, now I need to go back through and re-read my thing from Sally….someone bought me one of the fascination tests, but I hadn’t heard much about her, and I didn’t know if it was any good or not. So this is now a 2nd recommendation for her, lol, so I’m going to go comb back through the results and see what I can learn.

    AND I wanted to tell you….it was a different list, but another time you mentioned Sachiko Umoto’s stuff. I love doodling, and my husband has been encouraging me to do more/grow my skills, so I picked up that book (I got the happy people one) and it is SO CUTE!

    Thanks for this awesome list of resources (and the other ones too!)
    Amanda Sue recently posted..Business Lessons From the Pistol

    • April February 26, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

      Simon’s book is soooooo good.

      Yes, find those results! I love Sally’s stuff. I saw her speak in person and she was amazing. Her book is not only really helpful for branding–but it’s also really interesting.

      Yay for doodling and creativity!

      You’re so welcome!

  3. Sarah Phillipe February 26, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

    Hi April,

    Thanks so much for this list – just been bookmarking and adding to my Amazon Wish List!

    I wondered if this may have been the copywriting course you mentioned from Ashley Ambirge?


    • April February 26, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

      You’re so welcome! 🙂

      That’s not the one that I took–it only focused on copywriting. But, that one looks pretty good, too!

  4. stephanie@babasouk February 26, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

    Great stuff April! Some ressources I didn’t know about and can’t wait to dig in. Wow I wish I only needed 3h of sleep so I could tackle this list during my night shift 😉
    stephanie@babasouk recently posted..Inspired By, Wallpaper

    • April February 27, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

      I know the feeling! I wish I was one of those people who can get by on five or six hours of sleep.

  5. Julie February 27, 2014 at 1:36 am #

    Thank you April for your list:)
    I would add this book from Gary Vaynerchuck
    Crush It!: Why Now is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion
    It is amazing!
    Julie recently posted..Interview with Kaylene from TwoTiming

    • April February 27, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

      You’re so welcome! Thanks for the addition!

  6. Jennifer Kennedy February 27, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    Whoop whoop! Just added all of these books to my ever growing book list!

    Since I work full-time, I mainly listen to books on CD. Although, I hate commuting, I always look forward to learning! I’m working on Book Yourself Solid right now with Michael Port!

    Thanks for the share, April!
    Jennifer Kennedy recently posted..Connect the Dots: How Not to Leave Learners Scratching Their Heads

    • April February 27, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

      Oh yeah! I love adding more books to my wish list.

      Are you an audible member? It’s my favorite resource for audio books. I upload them onto my iPod and plug it in for long trips. I’ve downloaded and listened to over 60+ books from audible. I also love listening to them when I’m creating: sewing, painting, or making of any kind.

  7. claire stone February 27, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    Brilliant list – thank you soooo much for writing it up. I was just pondering about my next book purchases: you’ve solved that problem for me!

    Have a fab rest of the week,
    claire stone recently posted..Are antibiotics making you fat?

    • April February 27, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

      Thanks, Claire! You’re so welcome. I hope you enjoy these books!

  8. lindsay February 27, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

    I love learning about marketing too! I technically work in marketing but reading what others write always give me more ideas. Thank you so much for this list, I’m going to check them out.
    lindsay recently posted..Custom Birth Stats Print With Your Name And Colors by LoveBugAndPeanut

    • April February 28, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

      Isn’t is sooooooo much fun? I’m so happy to have found another marketing ‘nerd.’ 🙂

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