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11 Ways to Convince Readers to Buy Your eBook

This post was written by the Web Marketing Ninja — a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger. Curious? So are we!

eBooks are a great monetization channel for your blog. Unlike methods such as advertising and affiliate programs, your own products allow you to keep the lion’s share of the profit. But with this great power comes great responsibility. Unlike other monetization methods, with ebooks, it’s up to you to turn your readers from fans into real customers.

In this post I’ll explain 11 ways you can convince readers that your ebook justifies them pulling out their credit cards.

1. Don’t leave them wondering.

If a reader has to think twice about how to buy your ebook, that’s one time to many. Your readers shouldn’t have any doubts in their minds about how they can order your product. Now this doesn’t mean you should turn your sales page into one gigantic Order button (believe me, I’ve tried), but it does mean you should have clear and identifiable order buttons at the top, middle, and bottom of your page.

2. Give them safety in numbers.

People don’t like missing out, nor are they comfortable with feeling as though their friends, competitors, or colleagues have the jump on them. If 10,000 people have read your ebook and they all love it, make sure you let everyone know. Give your readers safety in numbers, and they’ll give you their credit card numbers!

3. Connect them with advocates.

Anyone can write testimonials, including testimonials that never actually happened — and your readers know that. But what you can do is provide advocates. If there are real people in the real world who love your ebook, ask them if they’d be prepared to openly share that with others who might be interested in the product. A testimonial from someone who includes their social media profiles and encourages readers to get in contact with them is going to pay much better dividends than a testimonial that you made up yourself.

4. Give them a guarantee.

Buying any product requires some sort of leap of faith on the part of your readers. You’re asking them to spend their money on something that, even with the world’s best sales copy, is an unknown. You can reduce the size of that leap by guaranteeing your ebook: “If this doesn’t deliver all that you hoped for, we’ll refund your money – so you’ve got nothing to lose.” The smaller you can make that leap of faith, the more sales you’ll make.

5. Give them a sense of urgency.

Perhaps an unfortunate reality is that we’re often lazy, or easily distracted in our daily lives, so you need to create a sense of urgency to ensure your readers stay the course and complete the entire purchase process. An easy method to achieve this is to threaten a price increase after a certain number of days. If they don’t act now, they’ll pay twice the price.

6. Tell them your story.

Whether yours is a technical book or a novel, readers will value being able to connect with you as the author. If you book involves the completion of a journey that a potential reader is about to embark on, and you can help them avoid all the mistakes you made, they are much more likely to order.

7. Don’t bore them to death.

If your ebook’s sales page contains as many words as your first chapter, you’re going to do nothing but bore them away from your page, and your key sales messages will be lost. Write your sales page as concisely as you can, then strip out 50% of the words — and you’ll just about be there.

8. Make it easy for them.

You’ve only won half the battle once you’ve got your reader to click that Order button. What happens next is perhaps even more important. If you ask them to jump through four more clicks and fill out 20 fields with information, chances are you’re going to lose them. Ask your potential customers only to do the minimum required to make your sale, and get the money in your bank account. If you want extra information, do that after the sale is made.

9. Cater for their preference.

eBooks these days are more than just PDFs. iPads and Kindles have changed the expectations of ebook purchasers. If you can, make sure your product is available in the maximum possible number of formats (ePUB and Mobi). This can be a great point of difference in a competitive ebook market.

10. Know your audience members’ problem and tell them how you’ll solve it.

You probably should have figured this out before you wrote the ebook, but you need to still convey what problem your ebook solves for a reader, and make sure this message dominates your sales copy. Your friends will buy any book you write, but the mass market will buy books that solve their problems.

11. Give them one thing to do on your sales page.

It’s very easy to hedge your bets when it comes to creating a call to action on your sales page. There should be your clear Order button, but you might be tempted to add a Tweet This button, or an alternative product, or even someone else’s ad! Unless you stand to make as much money from someone tweeting your book page, or clicking your ad, as you will through an ebook sale, then ensure your page asks visitors to do one thing and one thing only: buy your ebook.

Selling ten ebooks is easy; selling 10,000 can be a little more challenging. I hope these tips help get you going.

Stay tuned from most posts by the secretive Web Marketing Ninja — a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing more of his tips undercover here at ProBlogger over the coming weeks.

How I Make Money Blogging: Income Split for July 2010

Over the last few months I’ve been sharing a monthly breakdown of where my income comes from in the hope of illustrating some of the methods bloggers might like to look at when making money from blogging (see previous months linked to below).

The month of July was the second month in a row where eBooks were the biggest money maker for me. Here’s a pie chart showing the percentage breakdowns.

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Before I say much more let me show you how the different income streams have tracked over the last 4 months (note I’ve expanded ‘speaking’ to be ‘speaking and events’ to include the ProBlogger Training Day (which wasn’t a massive earner as we kept the price down – but because it’s something I’d like to try again). I have also added a ‘total’ line to this chart to track total income.

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A few comments:

  • Obviously there was a big eBook spike in June as we launched a photography eBook that month. July was down on the launch month but still very healthy – partly because of a few specials that I ran in July (I did a ‘Christmas in July’ special as well as offering a few communities a discount on the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook).
  • AdSense was also pretty good last month – there’s no real explanation for this as traffic was steady. I can only guess that some advertisers were involved in a bit of a bidding war on Digital Photography School which drove prices up a little.
  • Affiliate programs were quite down – that can be explained simply by me not doing as many promotions in July – mainly because there were not too many product launches in my niches (for some reason they always seem to come out at once).
  • Direct Ad Sales are on the rise and you’ll see this continue to grow next month as I’ve been working with a direct ad sales rep who is now selling ads for my sites which has already led to some new clients.
  • Over all it was a good month. While not as spectacular as July it was up on the previous two months significantly.
  • Continuity Programs – a few people have asked what they are. In short – they’re membership sites – ProBlogger.com and The Third Tribe.

August is shaping up to be an interesting month. Later this week I’ll be launching a product here on ProBlogger (at a fairly inexpensive price point) which will be interesting to track. I’ve also participated in a couple of affiliate launches and have seen some interesting direct ad sales. I’m not quite sure whether it’ll be as good as July but am working toward it.

How was July for you?

If you’re interested in the previous months breakdowns they’re at:

Repeat Visitors vs New Visitors – Which is Worth More to Your AdSense Earnings?

A few days back I shared a little analysis of my AdSense earnings as it related to sources of traffic and looked at how – for me – traffic from newsletters was actually the most valuable traffic that I get on my photography site.

This dispelled the myth that loyal readers to your site become blind to ads and are not likely to click them – but I wanted to dig down a little deeper to look at the difference between first time visitors and repeat visitors and how they interact with ads. Here’s what I found when I looked at the last 3 months.

adsense-visitor-types.png

On my photography site it is the case the new visitors click ads and earn more per 1000 visitors than repeat visitors.

In addition to those coming from newsletters repeat visitors on my site would include RSS readers, visitors from social media (facebook and Twitter).

This makes sense – those there for the first time are probably clicking around more, exploring and looking for things to click on. They’re also seeing ad units for the first time and are likely to click them.

However repeat visitors are not far behind. I’m not allowed to share the exact figures but the difference in CTR was tiny and the eCPM difference while noticeable was not huge. Repeat readers are still valuable – particularly as many of them are coming back on a daily basis so on a per visit basis they’re not earning as much but over a year they’re earning considerably more than a one time visitor.

update: I should say that one of the reasons that I suspect AdSense is better at converting for repeat visitors these days is that they not only rely upon CPC (cost per click) ads but also use CPM (cost per impression) ads which means that people no longer need to click ads for you to earn anything.

What They Don’t Tell You About Successful Product Launches

Many times we see successful product launches being talked about and are so dazzled by the huge sales numbers and income generated but fail to see all the hard groundwork that has been done behind the scenes for months and years before the launch.
[Read more...]

Big Content Monetisation Ideas for the Little Guy

Earlier in this series, we talked about treating content as an asset. In reality, content may represent an asset for a number of reasons: because it’s evergreen and can be repurposed into other forms; because it’s time-critical and extremely viral, sparking conversation and attracting new users; because it’s unique and can only be found on your blog … the list goes on.

We all know the standard on-site means of monetising blog content: through advertising programs, affiliate programs, and so on — Darren’s written about them in detail. Here, I’d like to look at some of the other ways you can get more out of your existing — and evolving — content inventory.

Creative Monetisation

When we discussed content strategy earlier in this series, we talked about the importance of having a grip on your content inventory so that you can achieve the best possible return on your investment in content.

How can you achieve that ROI? There are many options. In fact, as we’ll see, being creative about your monetisation strategy really can pay off.

To get you in the mood, take a look at the blog of illustrator and artist James Jean (Warning, artistic nude drawings there). Check his store to see some innovative approaches to the concept of “content monetisation”.

Whitepapers and Ebooks

Whitepapers, reports, and ebooks are established means by which to repackage quality content you’ve published on your blog into new, cost-effective formats. But don’t forget physical products, either — it works for James Jean, and it could work for you, too.

Before you begin, consider existing competition in the space — if leaders in your field release quality research or insight free, you’ll have to do something different, and do it well, if your audience is going to pay for your offering. Simply republishing a selection of your current blog content as an ebook won’t cut it. Augmenting that content, as a basic platform from which you can provide a range of value-adds, tools, and philosophies, might.

If you’re constantly immersed in your area of interest, you’re likely to come across information that, while it makes for good blog posts, also fuels your creative fire. It might start you innovating and exploring, and the resulting insights and experiences may generate new content or new perspectives that can augment and extend your existing content in other formats.

Products like these are usually most successful if you can provide solid practical value, unique insights, and compelling evidence. Don’t neglect to give your customers a means to assess the information for themselves, independently, as well as under your guidance. Interpret the results of your research in a paid report, by all means — but provide the raw data to allow users to conduct their own analysis, too.

Paywalls and Subscriptions

We’ve all heard about the News Corp decision to charge for access to its news sites — a plan that’s now going ahead in the UK and USA. Although opinion is divided over charging for web news, many blogs offer premium subscriptions that provide access to suites of value-added content such as research and interpretation, or deep insight and opinion. The free GigaOm network does this with its GigaOm Pro subscription service. Subscription services may also take in alternative media formats, such as videos or podcasts, that aren’t available through the free area of the blog.

Subscriptions won’t work for all blog types — expert content on business and academic topics seems to be one area in which paywalls have proven successful, but the average hobby blogger may have trouble justifying this tactic to an audience that can obtain parallel content free of charge elsewhere. If you do go ahead with a paywall, you’ll have to think carefully about how you’ll communicate the value of a subscription to your readers: will you offer a free trial? A demo? Will you let users pay on a weekly or monthly basis, or have them purchase a longer period, perhaps at a discount?

Users are already skeptical of paywalls and subscriptions. They can work, but usually they’re best left to the larger players who can afford to take such risks.

Content Syndication that Pays

An interesting alternative to the online news paywall approach has been developed by the UK’s Guardian news organisation. The Guardian is launching a service that allows others to syndicate Guardian stories free of charge — with the caveat that the content must appear as provided, and that includes an advertisement.

Syndicating your blog’s content with automatically-included inline ads may not be an option just yet. But are there other forms of “syndication” you can use? Could you arrange to republish selected posts regularly in another industry publication — perhaps in print — for payment?

Reselling your posts can be tricky, since you don’t want to dilute your brand or readership. By the same token, a well-planned strategy can serve to build your audience and your income. For example, you might syndicate time-critical content to other publications for a payment, but publish timeless, evergreen content, posts that build and engage community, and articles that provide great educational value, exclusively on your own blog.

Finding outlets that will pay to republish your posts may be a challenge, particularly while you’re still establishing your foothold in your chosen space, but as the Problogger income split posts prove, the small steps — and approaches that aggregate a range of income sources — really do add up.

What techniques have you used to monetise your content?

Continue reading this series of articles on questions surrounding blog content.

About the Author: Georgina has more than ten years’ experience writing and editing for web, print and voice. She now blogs for WebWorkerDaily and SitePoint, and consults on content to a range of other clients.

Brainstorming Activity: What Could You Sell from Your Blog?

Today I’d like to suggest an exercise to think about the future of your blog. It’s a brainstorming task to get you thinking about the types of products and services you might one day add to your blog.

I remember doing this for ProBlogger 4 or so years ago and coming up with a long list of potential things I could add to the blog including a job board, membership area, eBooks, ‘real’ book, events and more.

At the time I wasn’t ready to add any of these new products, services or featured – but having that list in the back of my mind enabled me to keep moving my blog forward towards achieving some of them.

The other benefit of identifying these potential income streams that you could one day develop is that others may already be developing them. This might feel a little like you’ve missed the boat but it could also be an opportunity as those with these products might be potential advertisers and/or might have affiliate programs that you could promote.

Once you’ve come up with your list of ideas feel free to share some of them in comments below – it’ll be great to see what everyone is thinking.

PS: stuck for ideas? I don’t blame you – it can be hard to think of how to add a product or service to your blog. Check out the list of products and services that other bloggers have added to their blogs in the results of a poll I ran here on ProBlogger exploring this very topic.

How I Make Money Blogging: Income Split for June 2010

It’s that time of month again where I talk a little about the split of my own income streams in the previous month. We’re looking at June here and I’m excited to share this month’s charts because it illustrates something that I’ve been saying for the last couple of months really well – things DO vary from month to month.

In April and May we’ve seen the charts look much the same from month to month with AdSense being the #1 earner, followed by Affiliate earnings, eBook sales and Continuity programs. This month we’ve seen AdSense toppled as the #1 earner.

blogging-income-june-2010.png

eBook sales dwarfed all other income streams in June – mainly because I released a Travel Photography eBook. I should note that the figures I used to calculate this graph are not total income from eBooks but just my share of them (I do a revenue share with the author of this eBook).

Continuity programs also earned just a few dollars more than AdSense this month so it was pushed down into #3 position.

Interestingly the earnings in all areas except eBook sales, continuity programs and the Job board were down on May figures. I do tend to find this happens most years in the middle of the year – probably due to a bit of a downswing in the number of people in the northern hemisphere who are getting out and enjoying good weather in comparison to the number of people inside during winter months in that part of the world.

I thought it might also be interesting to share the different income streams over the last 3 months so you can see how they each do go up and down a little from month to month.

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Last month a couple of readers pointed out that the charts are a little meaningless without actual dollar figures and people were confused about whether we were talking about the different areas being in the tens, hundreds, thousands or more. I’m not going to get into specifics on this except to say that June was comfortably in the six figure zone for a month after expenses.

July will probably return to a more ‘normal’ looking month – although I do hope to launch another small eBook here on ProBlogger in the coming weeks which could lead to that segment being a little higher than in April/May (although I doubt as high as June).

How I Make Money Blogging: Income Split for May 2010

Last month I produced a video in which I walked readers through the split of my income over the month of April to show what different income streams brought in different percentages of my income.

In the video I shared how the split between income streams can vary a lot from month to month.

The feedback from the video was so positive that I’ve decided to keep producing monthly breakdowns. I’m not interested in getting into totals of income for the different areas but want to share the breakdown as a way of showing the variety of ways that a blogger can make money.

Here’s the breakdown for May 2010:

income-split-May-2010.png

In comparing the previous month (April) with May you’ll notice that there were not that many differences. The two months were remarkably similar in the order of the top 4 earners and then a bit different in the lower ones.

Next month you’ll notice a big difference in the eBook sales. I’m yet to do the calculations but I expect it to hit #1 as a result of the release of the Travel Photography eBook that we launched.

The only other main difference in May was the decrease in Direct Ad Sales as I had a couple of campaigns end and I’m transitioning my sales approach. It’s not a major area of income but I’ll be working to see that segment increase in the month or two ahead.

How to have a ‘Middle Road’ Mentality and Grow Your Online Business

My Dad’s Middle Road Mentality

My Dad always taught me an important lesson in life that still serves me well today…. “Learn from everyone you come across in life – whether they’re on the same path as you or not”.

He called it the ‘middle road’ and told me that in life you’ll come across all kinds of people with different views (in politics, in theology, in business). Many of them would write off everyone else’s experience or views as wrong and believe that their way was the best.

However he’d found that rather than writing those with different perspectives to you off, it was powerful to listen to everyone and to learn from them.

The key was not to just accept everything that they said as truth, but to take what was relevant to you from those on different paths to you and apply it to your own situation – and to leave behind what didn’t fit with your situation, values and approach.

Dad’s advice has continued to come back to me through life in different situations – but recently it’s been applying a lot to my business and approach to building an online presence.

The Middle Road and Online Entrepreneurship

You see in the online entrepreneurship space there are many approaches. Some of them are more extreme than others and often they rub people up the wrong way.

The temptation is to simply write off everyone who rubs you up the wrong way and to ignore their teaching completely – however the problem with this is that you could be throwing out some great teaching that is mixed in with a few bits that you don’t like.

I was a Purist Blogging Snob

I’ve been guilty of throwing out the baby with the bathwater in this space many times. I remember being asked to speak at an internet marketers conference in the USA 4-5 years ago and coming away from the experience feeling sick in my stomach. The hype, trickery and manipulation of some of those presenting turned me off completely.

In hindsight I should have taken my Dads advice to that conference because while there were things in it that I was right to feel sickened by – there was also a lot of good stuff that I should have taken on board.

You see at the time I believed that I simply had to build a great blog and people would come to it and I would make money – I didn’t need to market it, I didn’t need to develop products to sell, I could just build a great site and put some ads on it and I’d do well.

This ‘purist’ approach worked OK…. to a point, but I could (and should) have learned a lot from those internet marketers.

  • I should have listened to them talking about the importance of building an email list/newsletter
  • I should have taken note about what they said having my own product to sell
  • I should have listened to them talk about the process of launching those products

I should have learned a lot that week…. but I didn’t. I allowed the bad stuff that I saw to overshadow the gold that would have taken what I did to the next level.

How I got Back on the Middle Road and Doubled the Size of My Business in a Year

Of course, 3 years later I did learn those lessons. Those of you who read ProBlogger will know that I’ve changed my approach somewhat of late. While I still believe in building great blogs and I still make good money from advertising, I’ve begun to develop email lists along side my blog and have started to release my own products.

I’ve also started to read and learn from some of those ‘internet marketing’ people. I struggle with some of the more extreme ones, but there are a few good people in that camp who are starting to get the social media/blogging space too.

One I’ve mentioned here before is Jeff Walker. He’s known for his Product Launch Formula – something I enrolled in last year when he opened it up and which taught me a lot. In fact he was one of the main people who helped me to get back on the ‘middle road’ and to see that while I was having some success that I still had a lot to learn.

I’ve since launched 4 products which have done really well and this income stream has more than doubled what I was earning previously in just under a year (my accountant emailed me recently to ask me what I’m doing!).

Of course there are a few things in Jeff’s teaching that I’ve left out of my approach – but the stuff I’ve taken on board has been invaluable. The key is to not swallow everything whole but to take what resonates with you and to apply it to your situation and to calmly leave what doesn’t ‘fit’ aside.

Jeff has recently released a video that talks about big product launches and what he’s learned along the way. He reveals some great details (including income figures) on some massive launches. The video is well worth the opt in.

Whether you learn from Jeff or not, I guess the take home lesson that I’m trying to communicate is to have a ‘middle road’ mentality. There is great power in opening yourself up to learn from those on different paths who are trying different approaches to online entrepreneurship.

Learn what is working for others, filter it through your own situation and values and you might just find your business grows as a result.