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Q&A: What books have most influenced you as a blogger & business owner?

Continuing on with the Q&A series on blogging I started two weeks ago, Christa asks:

What books/resources would you recommend as being the most influential in your blogging/business mindset? I recently started reading Platform by Michael Hyatt. I know you highly recommend Dave Ramsey. Are there any other books you would recommend that have been foundational in developing your mindset? -Christa

I highly recommend that anyone who wants to succeed in life becomes an avid reader of good books. Books will inspire you, challenge you, and shape the way you think. Best of all, books allow you to be mentored by amazing and successful people.

I can’t stress enough how much of a priority everyone should place on reading. Even if it’s just reading 1-2 pages of a book each day. Read something to stimulate your mind and I promise you’ll grow as a person as a result.

Here are a few suggestions and book ideas:

1. Watch, Listen, and Learn From People You Want to Emulate

Do you want to develop the character or work ethic of someone else? Read everything you can get your hands on that they’ve written. Their books, blogs, and articles will give you a peek into what has helped them to develop into the person they are.

I read and listen to Dave Ramsey, Michael Hyatt, Jon Acuff, Robert D. Smith, Jeff Goins, Lysa TerKeurst, among many others, because these are people who inspire and motivate me and whom I constantly learn from. {Speaking of which, if you haven’t watched this short video by Lysa TerKeurst, you must. She’s brilliant and I’ve been learning so much from reading, listening, and observing her!}

2. Read Books By People Who Are Successful Business Owners

If you want to have a successful blog or business, read books by people who are successful bloggers and/or business owners. They don’t need to be in your field. In fact, they can be doing something completely unrelated to what you’re doing. But you can apply the principles they share to your unique situation.

Here are a few biographies I’ve read in the last few years that have given me a lot of great business insight:

Pour Your Heart Into It — the story of how Starbucks came to be. It’s fascinating!

Against All Odds by Chuck Norris — full of inspiration to face your fears and move outside your comfort zone.

Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People — the story of how Chik-fil-A was born.

The Duck Commander Family — While this book isn’t really a business primer at all, I found the many business insights and ideas from it. You’ll want to have watched Duck Dynasty some before reading it or you probably won’t get the personalities of this family. 🙂

3. Feed Yourself a Steady Diet of New Ideas and Inspiration

Never be content with the status quo. There is always so much more to learn, so many new ideas to try, and so many ways to improve as a person.

Challenge yourself to read books that will inspire you with new business ideas and help you develop strong character as a business owner. A few such books that I’ve enjoyed and been motivated by in the last few years are: What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekends; Developing the Leader Within You; The One-Minute Entrepreneur; Becoming a Person of Influence; ReWork; and Today Matters.

Related: I also posted a list of 7 Must-Read Books for Work-At-Home Moms last year.

4. Immerse Yourself in Good Writing

If you want to be a successful blogger, constantly be seeking to improve your craft. This means exposing yourself to people who are amazing writers in a variety of genres. One reason I’ve been reading more fiction (outside the obvious fact that I enjoy it!) is because I’m gleaning so many ideas about good storytelling from it.

Emily Freeman, Jeff Goins, the Incourage writers, and Angie Smith are all bloggers and authors who inspire me as a writer. They are wordsmiths who paint pictures with their laptop. I want to be like them when I grow up.

Related: Two books on writing that I’ve loved this past year are: Every Writer Needs a Tribe and You Are a Writer.

5. Make All of Life Your Classroom

One of the greatest gifts my parents gave to me was a love for learning. When I graduated from high school, my education had just begun and all of the world was now my classroom.

As a blogger and business owner, you will never know everything there is to know about every subject. Every person you meet is a potential opportunity to learn something completely new. Ask questions, analyze, dig, experiment — and, most of all, enjoy the process. It’s an adventure!

Other Options to Develop as a Blogger & Business Owner

Listen to Podcasts & Audiobooks

I’m not much of a podcast listener but my husband regularly listens to Michael Hyatt’s podcast and the EntreLeadership podcast.

Reach Out to Wise People

Don’t be shy! It never hurts to ask for advice or input so long as you don’t feel hurt or offended if you never hear back or someone is unable to fulfill your request.

One suggestion: keep your requests short and succinct. A busy professional is much more apt to consider answering if you are asking a very simple question.

Find a Mentor

I’ve become a very firm believer in having mentors in your life. I’m blessed to have a mentor right now who meets with me once a week. She answers my questions, gives me counsel on situations, encourages me as I plan for the future, and inspires me to be the best I can be.

Hire a Coach

If you can afford it, hire someone short-term to help coach you in areas that you’re currently seeking to improve in.

I hired a proposal writer and ghost editor for the manuscript I recently wrote and she made a world of difference in the writing process — helping me think, process, plan, and write in a much more organized and efficient manner.

I also recently hired a speaking coach who is helping me craft all of my presentations. She is teaching me so much, helping to train me in how to wisely approach the art and craft of speaking, and shaving hours of prep time off my plate, too.

Related: Read this great article by Robert D. Smith on Do You Need to Hire a Coach?

Attend Conferences & Events

I cannot stress this option enough. The contacts and relationships I’ve made at conferences and events have been invaluable to me in helping to shape me as a blogger and business owner. If you have the opportunity to attend a writing, speaking, blogging, or business conference — GO! And go with gusto: use every minute to network and learn.

Ask questions of everyone you meet. Go talk to the keynote speakers and pick their brains. Take notes in all the sessions. Develop action plans. And then come home and put them in place!

What suggestions and ideas do the rest of you have for Christa? I’d love to hear!

Do you have a question on business or blogging that you’d love to have me answer as part of this series? You can email it to me here and I’ll be happy to consider doing so.

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  • I think there are 2 bloggers that have inspired me the most. You and Operation40k. Especially in the last 2 years.

    I love the weekly menu and goals plans. I am STILL doing it this year and it has been several weeks. I am not ALWAYS meeting my goals, but it is SO MUCH better THIS year than last. I would NEVER have done it if I hadn’t kept up with your blog. A friend also loaned me your book. I loved it. I can’t wait to read your new one. 🙂

    Dannelle at Operation40K is actually a local coupon site. I have actually gotten to meet her. Very sweet and I have learned so much about coupons. She is also very creative. I wish I was. I sometimes wish I could be a fly on her wall! I can’t wait to go shopping on Black Friday next year now.

    I doubt I will EVER blog like you ladies, but I sure do enjoy your posts. Keep up the good work and keep sharing. 🙂

  • Janet says:

    It’s posts like this that keep me following MoneySaving Mom. I only selectively coupon anymore because I feel full on couponing takes too much time–but I was just telling a girlfriend that this is one of the few coupon blogs that I still follow because the content is so much broader than just coupons and is still applicable to my life.

    Thank YOU! I am always interested in great books. Crystal, you are an inspiration and I appreciate the good you put into the world.:)

    • Heather says:

      I agree with this so much!! I used to love to coupon – back in the good ole days when it didn’t feel like you had to be in the store at 5am on the first day of the sales flyer or the shelves would be wiped. Now, it’s stressful and not very much fun. I check MSM for the deals still, but I keep coming back for the content.

      Crystal, I’ve been around your website for many years now and I have to say, you just keep getting better. The layout is fabulous, your posts are well-written and meaty. I really enjoy your content posts much more than the deal posts now. I hope your new book – or maybe a future one – will be less about $ and more about all you’ve learned along the way! You may not know it (or maybe you do!), but so many people would love to read a book from you on what you know – in much the same way you love reading the works of others!

      Keep up the fabulous job! 🙂

      • Crystal says:

        Your comment was too kind; thank you! And I’m grateful that you’ve been blessed by what you’ve read here. I’m so blessed and honored to have the opportunity to be a part of this community!

    • Crystal says:

      Thank you so much for your sweet encouragement, Janet! You’re a blessing!

  • Victoria says:

    I agree with the importance of being a life long learner. I love podcasts, I listen to them while cleaning house, cooking&baking, and knitting at night when I am winding down from the day (I find TV sometimes plays with my ability to wind down) My favorites right now as far as blogging go are This is Your Life by Micheal Hyatt and Smart Passive Income by Pat Flynn.

  • Kate says:

    I have to agree with the other readers, I find so much information here from you, Crystal. I don’t coupon, I come for the personal content and for posts about saving money. You are an inspiration, and know you inspired me to start a blog.

    The other site I find most inspirational is Simple Mom by Tsh Oxenreider. Both of you have provided me with so much inspiration!

    Thank you!


  • Diane Long says:

    What a wonderful series on blogging!! I greatly appreciate your willingness to share the tools and lessons you’ve learned along the way. My biggest struggle in not being computer savvy. I find it difficult to understand written directions on things like fixing html issues, moving page elements, widget errors etc. spent many hours searching and watching youtube with no luck.

    • Crystal says:

      Thanks for your kind encouragement!

      Have you checked out I love her site and how she make things simple enough for non-techy people like me to be able to figure out!

      • Diane Long says:

        YES, its because of Amy’s blog I’ve gotten as far as I have. Since my blog is not big enough to make money I am stuck with using Blogger at the moment and haven’t made the leap to actually getting a domain.

  • Crystal, thank you, this post has so many tips that I needed too; I think I could work on them the rest of the year and just be getting started. 🙂 A neat quote came to mind when I read this, from Bill Johnson of Bethel Church (Redding, CA): “If you want to kill giants, hang out with giant-killers.” All of these resources you listed above are from giant-killers, so to speak, and I have bookmarked this so I can dig in. Thanks so much!

  • Chelsea says:

    Agree, agree and agree! 🙂 I’ve always admired your entrepreneurial spirit, and I often find myself doing these things. Delving into good books, learning from others I admire, stepping out of my comfort zone and asking advice, and consistently looking *everywhere* throughout my day for inspiration. I’ve been blessed to gain advice from you in the past and each day I seek to improve to get my blog and business off the ground. Thanks for serving as such an inspiration to me!

  • Awesome info…my biggest challenge..time management and staying focused! What ideas do you have for those two areas? 🙂

  • Sumitha says:

    Crystal, I started following your blog about 5 years back mainly for baby deals when I was pregnant with my daughter. As the years passed, I unsubscribed from many of the other deal blogs, but couldn’t unsubscribe from yours because you were bringing so much to my life. For instance, even though I am an agnost, I have got my daughter into the habit of saying a nightly prayer of gratitude because of you and another close friend! And now as I start out on my own entrepreneurial journey, I find your blog an incredibly helpful source of motivation and information! “Watch, Listen, and Learn From People You Want to Emulate” – you are one of them for me! Thank you!

  • One book I finished up in February I would highly recommend to writers is called “Making Ideas Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” It’s fun to read, covers fascinating case studies, and has really think through my posts in terms of what my core message is and how to make that message “stick” with my audience. Highly recommended!

    Also, I hadn’t considered the use of a speaking coach, but I can definitely see how helpful that would be. Thanks for the tip Crystal!

  • Wow – that video was excellent. Thanks so much for all the specific titles and authors you shared. I have heard of and follow some, but not all of them.

    I want to second what some other commenters have mentioned – you are certainly an inspiration to me and someone I learn from. That is why I chose to email you with these 3 questions! I appreciate your practical wisdom and generosity in sharing what you’ve learned.

    Okay, I’m off to reserve some of these books at the library! 🙂

  • Annie Kate says:

    I read everything that Amy Lynn Andrews of Blogging with Amy writes. It’s all about the nuts and bolts of blogging and social media. She’s generous with her advice and an all-round wonderful woman.

    Recently I read The Digital Mom Handbook. It helped me decide that, with my current blog goals, I don’t have time for Facebook. Because, after all, life isn’t only about blogging.

    I’m also inspired by you, Crystal, and by Jessica of Life as Mom. You two ladies have set goals that inspire you and you both work so hard to make them come true for you.

    And I’m inspired by my Mom who spent her life caring for her children and her family without any thought of outside work, because that is what God called her to do. I, too, want to do what God calls me to do. The hard part is finding out what that is, but I’ve learned a lot from Elisabeth Elliot’s insistance on ‘doing the next thing’.

    • Dianna says:

      I’m so glad to read That I am not the only one who just doesn’t have time for Facebook. It’s just one of the things my blog will have to do without. I’m still growing without it.

  • Jo Lynn says:

    I really enjoy these posts you’re doing on blogging. Such helpful information and I love that you are so encouraging to others that “we can do it”! I agree with so many of the comments before me about the impact you have had through your site and the “meatier” posts you have written. I always look forward to your posts, not just because they are a good read (which they are) but I always come away with something, a new way of looking at a situation, practical things to working on implementing, or just comfort from the grace and understanding you have extended to people who are in tougher situations.

  • Kalyn Brooke says:

    I really enjoy Michael Hyatt’s podcast – he’s so inspiring! I also just put some of those books on my To-Be Read list. 🙂

  • Shay says:

    Thank you for this post. I do not follow for coupons but I follow for your goal setting updates and your book posts. I bought your 21 Days To A More Disciplined life and I am excited to dive in.

    I follow a lot of blogs: Marie Forleo is amazing for women wanting to take their blog to the next level, I follow Amy Porterfield and Ann Sieg too. I love their style as far as having the goofy side and not just the serious side of things. It let’s me know I can be real and make mistakes too.

    Thank you Crystal for all of your motivational posts! I am never disappointed when I come here to find new amazing posts.

  • Kathleen says:

    Blogs & bloggers that inspire me: Money Saving Mom (!), Blogging with Amy, Kevin DeYoung (gospel coalition).

    Books: Mission of Motherhood (Sally Clarkson); Educating the WholeHearted Child (Clarkson); For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay; Hints on Child Training by Henry Clay Trumbull; Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt; Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease; Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv; Real Food by Nina Planck.

    Thanks for this awesome list of books, blogs and ideas!

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