Have you ever thought about offering an ebook for sale on your blog? Or maybe as a free resource to encourage opt-ins for your email list?
Ebooks and any form of digital information products are a really great way to start moving your blog, from blog to business. They don't require a lot of upfront cost to produce and they let you take that first step into a blogging income which will do a world of good for your initial confidence levels.
To end up with a finished, ready to sell ebook on your site, you'll need to move through 3 phases that we'll go through in detail below.
It's a lot easier to tackle something that feels big by breaking in down into manageable pieces and you'll also feel a lot more progress when each phase is finished.
The 3 phases of eBook creation are:
See, 3 steps, doesn't seem so bad now does it?
Phase 1: writing
DECIDING ON A TOPIC
Before you begin writing, you'll need to figure out what it is that you're going to write about.
When you start selling anything on your blog it can feel a bit scary. You may run into a bit of the “who do you think you are” mental gremlins that plague us all from time to time. But, if people are coming to your blog and reading your posts then you have hard evidence that you're already creating something that people enjoy.
Creating an ebook to sell (or give away as an opt-in incentive) is just a natural extension of what you already do, day in and day out.
When trying to discover the perfect topic for you ebook, keep in mind that there likely is no one perfect topic. There are likely many ideas that you could work with and the hard part is going to be narrowing down your idea to the best one for right now and putting the rest on the shelf for later.
Great places to look for ebook topic inspiration are your own posts:
- What posts or types of posts got the most comments?
- What got shared the most?
- What elicited the most emotional reaction from your readers?
- What do people ask you in the comments or on your contact page?
- What do people struggle with?
You have a unique advantage as a blogger that most new-to-business people don't. You already talk to your audience (and potential customers) on a daily basis.
You know their fears, frustrations and what keeps them up at night because in most cases, you are very similar to the people you write for. With this unique knowledge, you can choose a topic to write about that solves one of these problems that your audience faces.
If you already provide a paid service on your blog then a natural extension of that would be to write about what it is you do for other people.
A personal trainer can create a 12 week workout program ebook, a registered dietician can create a menu planning or nutritional guide.
When people already pay you to provide value for them use that as a jumping off point for your ebook. It's also a great way to earn income that doesn't require you to physically be providing a service and can provide a lower entry price point for people who aren't ready for your higher price services.
CREATING A WRITING PLAN & GETTING IT DONE
Once you have an idea of what topic you're going to write about, the next step is the actual writing. This is often where you run into a brick wall of resistance and procrastination.
When you try to step out of your comfort zone and do something against the grain, you're going to encounter these issues and honestly, I still get these doubts every time I start working on a new product too. They don't disappear just because you've sold things before. You just have to make your schedule and commit to seeing things through to the end.
Everyone who is now selling something on their blog was once a person who wasn't. They simply made the choice to try!
Carving out time to write your ebook may seem like an impossible task given that you're still writing your regular blog posts but it can be done if you start with a solid plan.
With your main topic in mind, start with a brief outline of the main points, chapters or sections. Chunk it down into manageable parts. Then take each of the sections and either outline them or if your book is short enough you can start the writing process after a basic outline.
How you chose to keep on track is ultimately up to you but I like to schedule time to work on each section as an actual appointment in my calendar.
For example, I would work on Chapter 1 for one hour on Monday afternoon, then maybe another hour on Thursday morning. For each section, I would guess-timate the time it will take to write and then schedule that much time in my calendar to make it happen.
If you like to free flow a bit more than that, you just schedule writing blocks especially reserved for your ebook at various intervals throughout the week, working on each section until it's done.
However you choose to tackle the writing task, the main thing is that you make a plan to consistently move your progress forward. You'll build momentum as you go and finish it faster than you thought possible.
One final note about the ebook writing process. Don't get hung up on length of the book. You only need to write what is required to solve the problem or frustration you set out to fix. No more no less. Focus on quality information and not fluff just to fill pages.
Some of the best ebooks I've read (and paid for) were short on words but high in value.
EDITING & FORMATTING
Once you're done the lions share of the writing, pat yourself on the back and enjoy a cocktail, and start working on those extra pages that need to be included but are often forgotten.
Pages like the:
- About the Author: this is a great place to refer readers back to your website to subscribe to your blog or other call to action.
- Copyright Information: This article lists many different copyright variations you could use as inspiration for your page.
- Table of Contents: Just like you needed an outline to write the book, your Table of Contents helps readers see how your information is organized and makes for a better reader experience.
- Footers: Not so much a page as it is a formatting note, be sure to include a link to your website and page numbers on your final document.
- References/Resources: Depending on your subject matter, you may need a reference section to site stats, other websites or more information to support your work. It's best to make notes of your sources as you go rather than hunt them down at the end.
Phase 2: design
Does the word photoshop scare the living daylights out of you (and your pocket book)?
Well don't worry, design should not be a block to getting your great idea out into the world. And with all things blog related, there's a sliding scale of investment where you can start with a total do-it-yourself effort and move into more pro services as the budget allows.
Essentially, you need to find a service or software that will allow you to insert your written copy and export it as a PDF. That's the format the final book needs to be in so you can upload it for sale.
There are many software options available to you so just be sure that you can get your final book in PDF before spending hours designing something you can't use.
BUDGET FRIENDLY EBOOK DESIGN: IBOOKS AUTHOR (FREE ON MAC)
If you're on a Mac, I've found no better ebook editor than iBooks Author. It comes with 15 easy to customize templates and they look pretty darn good right out of the box.
Even if you're not design inclined, it's hard to not make your book look good with the pre-designed templates. Even more experienced designers can enjoy this platform with it's multi-media features, interactive features and a step by step walk through to publish your book to the iBooks store.