This guest post is by Chris The Traffic Blogger.
Ebooks have played a vital part in my business for all three of the years I have been operating. From free offers to successful products, these handy publications enabled me to earn quite a bit of money in three years, as well as grow an audience of over 11,700 members.
What I’d like to do for you today is go through a history of the ebooks I’ve written, and explain what I’ve learned along the way. My hope is that you will learn from my mistakes and failures as well as enjoy the experience of sharing in my story.
Ebook case study 1: $2030 in one day
My first ebook was written about World of Warcraft gold (the in-game currency for players) and how to make as much of it as possible, as quickly as possible. The ebook benefited from being sold to a highly receptive audience that I’d spent months building a relationship with.
Having only 500 subscribers made me nervous, but I went forward with writing the book and publishing it anyway. To my pleasant surprise, the ebook made over two thousand dollars in the first twenty four hours. I was absolutely ecstatic.
Why was it so successful? I didn’t know it at the time, but I had done quite a lot of things right throughout the process of creating, selling, and advertising my new ebook.
I used media that was perfect for gamers within my product, namely diagrams, audio casts and videos. This ensured that readers would absolutely love the product once they purchased it. I always find it interesting how people assume ebooks have to be … well … books! The “ebook” wasn’t just a .pdf file, it was actually a series of web pages that you needed to have paid for in order to visit. Being unconventional was one of the primary reasons for the success of the ebook.
The content itself was straightforward, easy to use and incredibly useful. I had worried that maybe I wasn’t writing enough, but as the sales poured in I soon realized that this was exactly what gamers were looking for: easy strategies that anyone could follow and be successful with. That’s what I was selling; solutions to their problems. Who wants a long-winded solution anyway?
To improve the number of successful sales, I used a huge number of websites, social media outlets, and forums to sell and/or advertise my ebook. I didn’t simply write “buy this now to be successful!” Rather, I took the time to engage members of these sites in conversation about similar topics. Eventually, someone would ask for more information, or if I had a website. That’s when I would promote my ebook, and it worked amazingly well. All those people who were reading the conversation but not contributing ended up buying the ebook, not just the few involved directly.
This is a life lesson for selling anything online: don’t try to sell outright. Instead, focus on answering questions. If your ebook is the answer, then you can feel confident recommending it within the discussion!
Ebook case study 2: Freebies for subscribers
Getting more subscribers to my autoresponder email sequence was very important to me throughout the process of building up my business. To increase the influx of new subscribers, I created an incentive to sign up: a short ebook broken up into seven emails. Each of these seven emails contained a very specific piece of information, and discussed how this could help readers succeed. These were an incredibly big hit to the tune of +220% new signups per day; once again, I made use of an unconventional way to share an ebook.
Free ebooks are one of the simplest ways to test how good an ebook writer you are. Splitting up the ebook into a series of emails is also a great way to distribute it, especially if you aren’t sure if your audience would want to download something from your site. This is particularly true if you are dealing with a group of users who are afraid to download anything online.
Ebook case study 3: A flop
Not all of my ebooks were amazing success stories. One in particular was my first book about making money online: The Why People Course. I chose to forget everything I did right with the past two ebooks and try something new.
It’s okay to try new things, but not at the expense of the lessons you learned in the past. I simply wrote up a very long peice (105 pages) on everything I knew regarding running a business online. There was no table of contents, just three gigantic sections of information. It was, to be frank, completely overwhelming for readers. Since I didn’t focus enough on any one area, many readers said that they felt the information was great but far too spread out to be truly useful. That’s not to say I am disgusted with the book, it’s actually pretty good in terms of content, but it’s nowhere near focused and organized enough.
Unfortunately, I also tried to really sell this book instead of engaging others in conversation about related topics. I told them to just go buy it and see for themselves, instead of proving the value I could bring through discussions and debate. I was a salesman instead of a friend recommending a successful product.
Why didn’t I write in such a way that the information was concise and immediately useful like my previous ebooks? Why didn’t I take advantage of unconventional methods for selling the book like I did in the past? For one, I fell victim to the lie that you have to do things a certain way in order to be successful selling an ebook. Because the niche was new to me, I felt that what I had learned in other niches was no longer true. I see this in the words of many of my readers who move to the make-money-online niche from either offline sales or similar businesses to my own. It’s not a good mindset to get stuck in.
The book earned very little and I went back to the drawing board.
Ebook case study 4: Re-focused
Black Sheep is my newest ebook and, I think, one of the best I’ve written. It combines traditional book writing methods with the new age of online concepts. I concisely define what it is I want to teach my buyers (critical thinking and decision making skills in order to improve their online businesses) and keep the book focused on only the information that will achieve this goal. Instead of 105 pages of fluff, I have less than 40 pages of actually useful and powerful information.
I’m still learning to write in the make money online niche and am nowhere near as successful with it as I have been in the gaming niche. However, I hope to continue to go back to what worked in game writing and apply the same concepts to writing for online marketers.
The next ebook I write will probably be for either making money online or a new gaming blog I’m starting about the Diablo 3 franchise. In either case, I will be going back to using outside the box methods for presenting the information within my next ebook, all the while remaining as concise as possible.
These are the lessons I have learned from successfully and not so successfully writing ebooks. What have you learned? Have you not tried to write an EBook yet?
Chris is a self proclaimed expert at showing bloggers how they can get traffic, build communities, make money online and be successful. You can find out more at The Traffic Blogger.