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
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 to write 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.
Rainbow Amigurumi in an ebook by Stacey Trock.
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. Stacey Trock of FreshStitches has done
this well with an ebook called Cute Crawlies that contains five crochet patterns for $12 and another called Rainbow Amigurumi that contains patterns for seven tiny animals for $12.
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
Another way to think about value is to consider the “pain
points” your readers or customers currently have. I would like to eventually move my blog off of it's current platform, Typepad, and onto the more flexible and less expensive platform, WordPress. It's tricky, though. In the meantime, I’ve admired the design
of the blog A Beautiful Mess, not just because it’s visually appealing, but because
it’s a Typepad blog like mine. Instead of just drooling over all those fancy
WordPress plugins that I can’t use, I bought the ebook, Blog (Design) Love, from the women who write 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 afterwards. 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 like 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.