3 Ways Content Creators Can Learn From A Book

by Paul Wolfe on January 22, 2011

Recently there was a post on Copyblogger entitled 38 Critical Books Every Blogger Needs To Read.  The 38 books listed in the post make an interesting collection – and the post inspired a slew of comments with suggestions of a whole heap of other books.

And reading books IS something that bloggers and content creators should do regularly.

However the problem with most authors of business books is that whilst they can put together great content, making that content accessible so that readers can readily learn from it and implement it is a much more difficult task.

And a task that few authors seem to tackle.

I think there are 3 ways you can learn from a book – each successive method is more time intensive, but yields proportionately greater returns.  Most bloggers and content creators only use the first method:

Method #1: The ‘Overview’ Read Through

This is how most people treat business books.  They get recommended a book – by a friend, or Amazon, or Copyblogger, or wherever – and they head off and order it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

When it arrives they read through it once.  Maybe a chapter a day for several days.  Or in a shorter time period.  Perhaps they take a few notes.  Perhaps not.

What they take away from the book is a general overview of the Author’s ideas – and possibly an idea of what direction they now wish their online business to be headed in (if they agreed with the Author of course).

If they did make a few notes, then maybe they’ll have some concrete and actionable steps that they can actually apply to their business.  If not, the effect of the book will wear off quickly – especially if it’s replaced by another business book from the recommended list.

If you read a book to get an overview of the Author’s idea, and you find them startling and revelatory the last thing you should do is read someone else’s book.  Instead you should read the book again – and that’s the second method.

Method #2: The ‘Digging Deeper’ Read Through

After you’ve read a great business book, one that excites you and fires you up with ideas you should go back to Page 1 and start all over again.

The first read through helps give your brain a working overview of the Author’s subject material. But you simply cannot take it all in with one read through.  To get into the detail you need to dig deeper into the book.

Hence the ‘digging deeper’ read through.

There are two ways you can do this – you can read the entire book again and take detailed notes as you go through it.

Or to get a really detailed understanding of the Author’s subject material you can read the book by repeated read throughs of the same chapter.  So go back and read Chapter 1.  And then go back, and read it again.  If you’re going for a walk or a drive and you have the book on audio book, then listen to chapter 1 on your iPod or on your car story.

Only when you feel you fully understand Chapter 1 do you move onto Chapter 2.  And you start the process again and repeat Chapter 2 as many times as needed before you move onto Chapter 3.  And so on.

This immersion in the author’s subject matter lets you gain a much more comprehensive understanding of the material – combined with detailed note taking it will allow you to come up with many ideas that you can implement in your own business.

This second method will give you more material to put to work in your business.  But there’s one more method that will really allow you to master the material.

Method #3: Create Your Own Workbook

Here’s where you’re really mine the gold.

Go back to Chapter 1 and go through the written version and your notes, and now turn that into a workbook.

Imagine you were teaching someone who had not read the book you’re working on – and what you want to create is a rich, learning experience for that person that not only presents the information they need to know in a concise and complete manner, but also presents the information with a step-by-step Action Plan so that they can grasp the concepts and go immediately to their own real world experience and apply that information.

By the time you’ve finished creating a workbook from the business book that you really like, you’ll not only know the material and the concepts intimately but you’ll also have laid out a blueprint that you can use to actually implement the material in your own online business.

How Do I Choose Which ‘Method’ To Use?

That’s a good question – methods 2 and 3 can be very time intensive.  With the right material though, the time invested is more than paid back from the learning you make combined with the practical implementation fo that learning.

My advice would be to look for books that interest you and potentially offer skills that you would like to acquire to improve areas of your business.  Start off with an overview read through – and only when you’ve read the book at least once do you decide whether the book warrants a ‘Digging Deeper’ read through, or perhaps even a Workbook approach.

Next Step
There are scores of business books out there – so here’s what I want you to do.  In the comments section of this post I want you to write down the last two or three ‘business’ books that you read, and what kind of reading you did, and what concrete, actionable steps you were able to take away and apply to your business.

So what were the last 3 business books you read?  Answers in the comments please…

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