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Everywhere I look it seems people are releasing eBooks and trying to cash in on their audience. There are quite a few success stories out there, but for the most part, people just aren’t making the sales they want. As I have had a lot of success with my own eBook, Cloud Living (no longer for sale, follow this instead, I thought it would be helpful to a lot of people if I wrote a guide about the whole process.
For those of you who don’t know, Cloud Living is my eBook which teaches people how I make a living online. That being said, I want to make it clear that I don’t make a living by teaching people how to make a living online. My biggest successes are in personal services which offer an affiliate program and various sites I run in the health niche.
When I had the idea to create Cloud Living, I had just finished giving away a free eBook on blogging. It was 90 pages long and included most of what I know when it comes to growing a blog. As I don’t just make money through blogging, I wanted to make an expanded guide which offered tips on affiliate marketing.
In addition to that, I wanted to make the guide a resource for people who want to make cloud living (making money from the internet) a reality. Therefore, I included a number of interviews with people succeeding online and my own tips for getting things done, even if you have a full-time job.
The product ended up being around 176 pages and I couldn’t be happier with the end result. Something you may find interesting is that I genuinely just wanted to make $1,000 from releasing the guide. That way I knew I would have helped a lot of people and the months of work it took to put the guide together will have been somewhat worth it.
Before I share how I made all of this possible, let’s look at some of the reasons for writing an eBook in the first place, apart from the obvious financial benefits.
The obvious answer to most people, is money. If that is your sole motivation though, then you’re missing out. There are actually quite a few reasons to write an eBook that you may not have initially thought of:
And, of course: to make money.
Many of you might be tempted to write an eBook now, but have absolutely no idea what you’re going to write it on. If that’s you, this section will help. For those of you who think you have an idea and are ready to roll with it, I still think you should continue reading. There are a lot of eBooks that sell well, and a lot more that sell poorly. Often, the topic of the eBook makes a massive difference to whether or not it will succeed in making money.
As a way to help you narrow down the ideas buzzing around your head right now, here are some of my suggestions to help you think of what topic you could write an eBook on:
Hopefully these tips have given you topic ideas for your eBook. If you’re still looking for suggestions, leave a comment at the bottom of the post and I’m sure other readers here can help you brainstorm.
Once you’ve decided you want to write an eBook and know what topic it’s going to be about, it’s time to get started. There are a number of eBook creation tools and software packages out there, but I keep the process fairly simple. First of all, I write everything in Open Office. This is a free office suite that works on all popular operating systems.
A lot of tools that can turn documents into PDF format do not allow custom security settings and most of them cannot export hyperlinks properly. Thankfully, Open Office does not have this problem. In terms of structure, I like to map out exactly what I’m going to talk about in the guide and get all of my content sections down first. From there, I can slowly work towards completing the guide by filling out a few each day.
After writing your guide, you probably want to work on the design. I use some nice covers on my eBooks so that they look like real physical products. Of course, I do not pretend they are more than eBooks; it simply looks better. As well as giving the design an external look, you can also work on the internals. I like to start the first page of an eBook with another picture of the cover and copyright information.
From there, I design a nice footer that will display on every page so keep a general ‘theme’ running throughout the guide. And, finally, I replace all headings with an actual image file so that they look much better. A lot of people design their eBooks differently so you should look around before just following my own outline. To create the graphics I personally learned how to use Photoshop but you could also hire someone for cheap from Digitalpoint.
Once you have your eBook written and it’s looking pretty, you should then set-up a payment processor. This will allow you to receive money for your guide and have it automatically delivered to a buyer, instantly. I personally use e-Junkie to handle this process as it works perfectly and handles everything behind the scenes for just $5 per month. I noticed many other sites like Problogger and Copyblogger also use them.
Getting started with e-junkie is quick and totally free (7 day trial). You can upload your eBook PDF file into their admin area, set your price, and then you will receive a ‘Buy now’ link code. This allows you to send people straight to PayPal to buy your guide. Once the payment is approved, e-junkie will automatically send the buyer the eBook, without you having to do anything.
Now that everything is in order and the payment processor is sorted, you’re going to want to look at promoting your eBook.
The sole task of writing an eBook is sadly not enough to bring you the benefits that we discussed earlier — you actually have to promote your work. The tactics involved in marketing an eBook are very similar to the tactics involved in marketing anything online, but I’ll still share my tips here:
If I had to estimate how many Cloud Living sales were based on these as a percentage, I would say:
If you can pull off any of these methods well, you’re going to have a good chance at making sales and enjoying the other benefits that owning your own product has to offer. If you’re going to focus on just one or two, then definitely work to build up your own audience and gain a list of affiliates who would like to promote your product.
I know this has been an absolutely monster post (although I’m sure you are used to them by now), but there are a few more points I want to talk about in order to make this guide as useful as possible. There a few things that didn’t really fit into the other sections here but definitely deserve to be discussed.
When I launched Cloud Living, I never mentioned any form of money-back guarantee. Maybe it would have increased sales, but there have literally only been 3 refunds in over 600 purchases. I actually meant to launch the product with a 30-day money-back guarantee but since it was selling well with that, I never made the change. If someone is clearly being scammy by purchasing the book and requesting a refund in the same day or something of that nature, then I will try not to give a refund as that only encourages scammers to con more people.
If someone seems even slightly legitimate though then I will happily give a refund as quickly as possible. It’s not worth the possible reputation management nightmare for the price of one guide.
I personally like to price my products around the $27 – $37 range when working with eBooks. I know in the future, when I create bigger products with more features, that price will rise quite a lot. The price of your eBook should really be whatever you think it is worth. After all, you made it and if it doesn’t sell, you’re the one who has to deal with that.
Of course, ideally you will want to pick a price point that is going to get you sales from the start. Price too low and you run the risk of your product looking low-value and miss-worthy. Price it too high and you may alienate your audience with an out-of-reach price point. My advice for pricing is simple: see how other people in the niche are pricing their guides, for what, and start with something similar.
I personally think it’s better to price a product too low than too high. If you price it too low then at least you will get sales and can know to increase that. If you price your product too high and then have to bring that down, it will be clear to your audience that sales are low and you lose any social proof you may have had.
My Own Success
This guide is just my thoughts on creating a profitable eBook online. There may be better ways to do everything I have suggested, but these are the steps I take. $30,000 is nothing compared to some of the launches out there, but the result is something I’m proud of and also something I think many of you here would like to reach.
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As always, I would appreciate your feedback in the comments and support on Twitter if you like this article!