When you write an ebook you have the opportunity to really explore a topic in depth, much more so than in a blog post or tutorial. It’s a satisfyingly fast way to get your ideas out into the world, and you retain complete control over every aspect of the content. Writing an ebook is a great way to monetize your blog and expand your product line.
What Should I Write About?
English teachers always advise writing about something you know. And they’re right, of course. Identify a topic you could talk about all day, then consider a way to focus on that topic so that you’re providing something of value to your blog readers and customers. Let’s look at the different ways you can interpret “value” as you’re thinking about a topic for an ebook.
Defined in the most straightforward way, you can provide value by putting together an ebook of patterns and selling it for less than the patterns would cost individually.
This ebook by Sarah of Dolls and Daydreams provides added value.
How about “added value?” Can you write an ebook that will add value to your existing products? Sarah of the popular plush pattern line, Dolls and Daydreams, has an ebook about how to sew softies with faux fur. Customers who buy her sewing patterns would see this ebook as a way to get more value from their Dolls and Daydreams patterns by learning to sew them with a material that creates a whole new look.
Another way to think about value is to consider the “pain points” your readers or customers currently have. When I wanted to move my blog off of Typepad and onto WordPress, but wasn’t ready to take the leap, I admired the design of the blog A Beautiful Mess, not just because it’s visually appealing, but because it was a Typepad blog like mine. Instead of just drooling over all those fancy WordPress plugins that I couldn’t use yet, I bought the ebook, Blog (Design) Love, from the women who wrote A Beautiful Mess which told me how to make my Typepad blog beautiful. It was worth every penny of the $34 I spent.
Tips for Making a Bestselling Ebook
If you’re going to spend time and effort writing an ebook, you want it to sell well right out of the gate, and to continue to sell in the weeks and months afterward. Here are my five favorite tips to help ensure the success of your ebook:
Add a bonus offer
I was just at Jo-Ann’s this morning buying some flannel. At checkout, I received a 40% off discount on a single non-sale item good for next week. That’s smart. I’m likely to come back for something then. Sweeten your ebook deal a little by offering ebook customers an exclusive discount on your other products. Put the discount on the thank you page customers get after they purchase your ebook, or put it within the ebook itself. The discount makes your already valuable ebook even more valuable!
Design a Professional Cover
People really do judge a book by its cover. If you’ve ever worked with a mainstream publishing house you know how much work and deliberation goes into crafting the perfect cover for a book. As a self-publisher, you should do the same. A great cover starts with a great photo. You’ll need plenty of white space for the title and subtitle. Either take an awesome photo or buy one on a site like Shutterstock for $15 as I did.
People are more likely to buy an ebook if it looks like a real book. Ebooks are still a fairly new thing and it can be hard for customers to envision what it is they’re buying. Do the work for them by creating a 3D mock-up of your ebook. Try this $5 Photoshop template to create mock-ups like those I’ve used.
Hire a Freelance Editor
Having worked with editors at mainstream publishing houses I know that a good editor will make your text tighter and better organized. She’ll pick out weak spots in your writing, correct errors big and small, and make suggestions that will improve your manuscript tenfold. If you want to be confident that you’re putting forth a professional-level ebook, hire a freelance editor. I’d like to recommend Kim Werker for crafty ebooks. She did a fantastic job editing mine and I made back the money I spent in the first five hours of the book being on sale.
Create a Marketing Strategy
Just adding a listing to your shop, or a widget to your sidebar, isn’t enough to make your ebook really take off. Think strategically, and creatively, about how to reach your target audience.
- When you release your ebook, send a special newsletter out to your subscribers. I use MailChimp.
- Send a review copy to a few bigger sites that cater to your target audience. Ask if they might consider sharing it with their Facebook fans, for example, or if you could write a guest post highlighting some ideas from your ebook.
- Share testimonials. Whenever someone emails you to say how much they like your ebook, write back thanking them and asking if you might quote them on your website.
- In the months, or even years, that follow the release of your ebook, continue to write some blog posts that share your knowledge on the topic. The day I wrote this post about tips for sewing teachers I sold 12 more copies of my first ebook, Get To Know Your Sewing Machine: A Teacher’s Guide even though it was already a year old. Content marketing works.
Even if you’re new to blogging, or your business is still fairly young, consider writing an ebook. See it as a chance to establish yourself as an expert on a particular topic and show that you can compose a long-form piece that people consider valuable enough to pay for. From there new opportunities are bound to come your way.