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The Hard Truth: Is My Blog Post Worthy of Becoming an Ebook?

This guest post is by Nicolas Gremion of Foboko.com.

Bloggers invest a lot of time in their craft. Whether they’re dissecting the latest episode of Dexter, offering business tips, or creating Twilight-inspired fan fiction, bloggers work to provide timely, relevant content for their readers.

Most bloggers eventually wonder if they should develop a book, but they struggle with deciding what’s “important enough” for a full-length work. Should writers repurpose existing posts from their blogs, or go with entirely new content?

Determining whether a blog post topic is worthy of an entire book can be hard, but it’s not impossible.

Is this post compelling enough?

One great thing about blogs is they allow you to measure the popularity of a post easily. By tracking the number of reads, comments, social media shares, trackbacks, reposts, and questions asked, you have data that highlights what your audience wants to hear.

If you’ve written 100 posts about quilting, you may have enough content to repurpose into a book. Rather than scrabbling to find a new topic, use your best content to establish the foundation of your ebook.

If you doubt whether a post’s topic is still relevant, take a look at the impact it made long after it was published. Lifehacker.com, for example, frequently has year-old posts receive airtime and commentary. Because the issues discussed are everyday problems, they maintain a timeless quality. That means, conversely, that topical issues are less likely to have a long shelf life – an eBook dissecting the Obama/Romney race won’t have nearly the relevance today it had two months ago, for example.

Pulling in more feedback

Yes, blogs’ features make it easy for you to determine how interesting people find your work (gulp!). But in order for these tools to be useful, you have to actually be receiving feedback. How can you get more of what you need?

  • Write for offline publications, whether that’s an occasional article or a regular column. Writing for print publications will help you refine and edit your pieces.
  • Participate in traditional media, such as T.V. or radio interviews, using sites like PRWeb.com to find opportunities. The chance to share your thoughts via other outlets allows you to garner feedback from their readers.
  • Provide an email address and encourage feedback.
  • Speak at industry events; if your blog focus doesn’t naturally lend itself to a specific industry, check out lifestyle shows. Live events collect the conversations occurring in your space.
  • Join a “virtual book tour” via teleconferences, webinars, or online T.V. or radio interviews. Callers’ questions and comments offer great, real-time feedback.

Once you have feedback, how can you gain a bigger perspective about implementing changes to your work?

  • Visit blogs in the same space or industry, especially those with conflicting opinions or viewpoints.
  • Check out blogs outside your arena in order to sample other styles of writing, presentation, and attitude. What works for them may make excellent tweaks for you.
  • Read books, from contemporary works to historical tomes, to gain a deeper understanding of different ways of thinking and being.
  • Invest in continuing education, whether that means conferences, trade shows, courses, or training. These keep you updated on the latest news in your field, preventing your ideas from feeling stale or recycled.

Because blog posts are short and sweet, you can easily test different topics or approaches. Take advantage of your blog’s flexibility to develop a voice—and perspective—that will lend itself well to a full-length ebook.

“Red flags of death”

While most of your posts are probably fascinating, there are some topics that raise the “red flag of death” over your ebook before it’s even started.

If you’re working on non-fiction pieces, the usual topics should be off-limits; this means sex, politics, and religion should be relegated to the back corner. However, if it’s controversy you want, these may be the very issues you touch on. The challenge then becomes controlling the conversation so it remains constructive—and doesn’t degenerate into the name-calling brawls these topics lend themselves to.

If your non-fiction is business-based, don’t create a book that reads like one long sales letter, or piece of overhyped marketing material, for your company. Not only will people not want to read your ebook, you’ll not add anything to the industry conversation—a deadly trait for a blogger.

The great thing about investing time and effort in these different kinds of research is that you’re giving your audience a chance to see you in action. They’re engaged with the content you’re working on, and that creates interest. These are exactly the people who will download your ebook—so you’re building not just a product, but promotion for it.

You’ve invested a lot of time in your blogging. Don’t shy away from a longer piece if you’re ready for it. To boost your success, assess the interest level of your topic, as well as the voice and insights you’re offering. By making sure your ebook speaks to your readers, you’ll develop an even more loyal following than you currently enjoy.

Nicolas Gremion is the CEO of Paradise Publishers, Inc., and founder of Foboko.com, a social publishing network where members get support writing their books from peers and connect directly with readers.

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Comments

  1. Samuel says:

    That is a very smart strategy to take!

    I didn’t think a longer piece of article can be turned into an E-book.

    Plus it all makes sense if a post is long enough, it can literally be a book online.

  2. Rajiv says:

    This is nearly an online ebook, and becomes popular with time, its presentation, content and social media, followers.

  3. I believe that with hard work you, then you deserve a blog post ebook. But to start it sometimes takes motivation and a good teacher educators so that no one is watching, and also discussions for the truth. regards blogging

  4. Anurag says:

    Not all my posts but some of them are real worthy of becoming an short ebook in one of my blog. For a feedback maybe you can tell your readers to comment on your BLOG with the feedback. Watching related videos to your work can also help to implement different changes.

  5. Rina says:

    Whoa! I am just gearing up to launch my self-published ebook next week when I read this post. Really great tip. I am converting my last year material taken from a post series with additional of couple new contents. Will see how it goes because if the response is good I already have plan to develop further.

    • Nic says:

      Great plan Rina! Why re-invent the wheel if you already have quality content which can serve as the foundation of your eBook. Remember to encourage feedback in the eBook itself; you can add a footer or an extra page in the back with a call to action such as “Help! I want to put together the best eBook for my readers as possible. Any constructive feedback or comments would be appreciated [link to blog or social media accounts, or email]” – obviously that’s a rough example but remember that those who ask shall receive

  6. Hi Nicolas,

    Excellent insight here!

    If you are willing to objectively observe your blog, and gauge which posts are popular, you can gain an idea what topics your ebooks should cover.

    Now, group together your most popular posts from this niche to develop a framework for your ebook. Get feedback from respected bloggers from within your niche as well as your regular readers. What topics would they like you to delve into?

    Feedback is the ultimate ebook tool, for you can narrow down your list of potential topics quickly when you receive valued feedback from respected bloggers and readers.

    Thanks for sharing your insight!

    • Nic says:

      Thanks for kind words Ryan!

      It’s also important to remember that blogs (and facebook accounts as you mentioned) are 2 way streets giving the author the powerful option of asking it’s audience directly what they’d like to hear more about or what type of things they’d like to see expended in an eBook. It never hurts to ask!

  7. hi, you are always written some new thing and i really like to read your writing. i tel you a secrete that is by reading your post i have been know some extra information which i do not know before reading this site. that is really a good work.

  8. Hi Nicholas,

    I enjoyed this post very much – it gives me some food for thought on how to further explore this topic. I would love to write an e-book, or two, but I do want to make sure I am doing so for the right reasons – and of course in the the right way. I want to write something that is useful and meaningful to others. That’s pretty much all it comes down to for me. I liked your reference to not writing what amounts to a really long sales page for your business :-) well-worded.

    Keep up the great work!
    Lisa

    • Nic says:

      Thanks Lisa! Also make sure it’s something you’re passionate about and if possible something you’re keen to further explore so that you are having fun and learning so it’s meaningful to you as well!

  9. Kent says:

    I have to say that almost 95% of the blog posts in the world have the same content. There are no differentiations. I believe only 5% can publish their own eBooks.

  10. Dave Moser says:

    The red flags section is really subjective. With the nature of blogging, those “off-topic” subjects are probably “on-topic” for a lot of bloggers. For example, as a religion blogger, if my ebook wasn’t about religion it wouldn’t have any allure to readers.