The Ultimate Guide to Creating, Selling, and Marketing Your Own eBooks and Digital Products
Daisy contacted me because she had a bunch of questions about the nuts and bolts and “how to” associated with creating and launching your first digital product. I had a great call with Daisy about creating your first digital product. We talked about pricing, how to deliver the file and collect payment, marketing, and more.
She was mostly interested in eBooks, but this information really applies to any digital product: eBooks, e-courses, digital guides, etc.
When I started putting this together I asked my Twitter followers what questions they had about creating and selling their own eBooks, and answered all of those questions in this post as well.
I’ve compiled the Q + A session into the best bite-sized bits to create this guide to creating and launching your own products.
We'll go from the bottom to the top, step by step.
And if you want to create and sell your own digital products, read on to the bottom because I have something fancy for you.
Are eBooks and other digital products "worth it?"
Let’s get one thing clear: I truly believe that creating digital assets, or products such as eBooks, courses, and other digital programs, are one of the ONLY things that are “worth it” in your online business.
I am SUPER strict and picky about how I spend my time (I hate busy work and I only work on high ROI activities), and I think the most important uses of your time are
1. Creating like a crazy person (for me it’s writing the products and programs),
2. Promoting like a boss via strategic partnerships and guest posting. Everything else is just gravy, baby.
I want to say that again, it’s so important: Spending your valuable time creating something like an eBook or digital product that you can sell again and again is literally THE best use of your time.
So yes, it’s absolutely worth it.
There’s no denying how much money there is to be made by writing and selling your own eBooks and digital products. People like Nathan Barry have really shown what is possible with selling eBooks. I personally know more than a few people making 6-7 figures selling eBooks.
A lot of times when you talk to these “infopreneurs” they talk about how small their ambitions were when they first started. They say things like “I just thought I’d create a little eBook and sell a few copies - my goal was to make $1,000”. Then a few months later they’ve made tens of thousands of dollars and it’s completely changed their business.
To answer the question “Is it really worth it for me to create an eBook, for the amount of work and time it will take?”
I honestly think it is one of the ONLY things that is worth your time as an online business owner. You can spend 20 hours working on something you can sell once. You can spend 20 hours with one client, being paid hourly, and only be helping one (lucky) person. You can spend 20 hours creating a website for one client, get paid by the project, and then be done. Or you can spend 20 hours creating something that you get paid for again and again.
Our lovely example Daisy is currently transitioning from freelance work to creating and selling her own products like eBooks, and this is a very smart move. (Good plan, Daisy!).
Alright, let’s jump into the nitty gritty.
What do you use to create the eBook?
I have been using Pages.
First I write all the content in Google Docs. I get out all the written content and edit it there.
Then I put the words into Pages which is where I design the layout and add any images or graphics.
It took me a few minutes to become familiar with Pages - I think it’s the perfect blend of super simple but with plenty of functionality. Obviously it’s not as robust as something like InDesign - but it will also only take you a few minutes to get started.
Export to PDF and BAM! you’re a publisher :)
How do you set it up on your website?
You can use a service like Samcart or SendOwl to easily start selling your eBook on your website.
Gumroad is another popular choice, and Squarespace has built in e-commerce too!
Speaking of pricing…how the heck do I price my eBook?
Price based on value.
Example: Daisy is creating an eBook about social media for certain types of online business (she has a niche!).
For a business, increasing their social media followings and managing their profiles effectively could result in a return on investment in terms of sales and revenue.
I recommended that Daisy price her eBook at $29-$49. This might seem high for an eBook at first glance. I mean, eBooks on Amazon are like $3 right?
But if you think about value-based pricing models, where you price your book not on the length of the book or the time it took you to write, but instead on the value of what’s inside and how it will help improve the readers’ lives or business, $39 is totally reasonable.
I also believe that pricing your work higher than usual makes people value it more and pay attention. I can’t tell you how many $5 eBooks I’ve bought, downloaded, and then just never read because I got distracted or started doing something else. If I buy a $40 eBook you better believe I’m going to read it, take notes, and put it into action.
My number one piece of advice is to NEVER, EVER compete on price. Just don’t do it. It’s a race to the bottom, and you don’t need to play that game.
Price your eBook based on the value it provides to the reader, not what’s “normal” or “popular”. Price high - premium pricing attracts awesome customers and is better for you too.
Should my ebook be about social media or “social media” for a specific group? (AKA how do I niche?)
Daisy wanted to know if she should niche down her social media eBook into something more specific.
You probably know what I’m about to say :)
YES you should get REALLY specific with your first eBook or product.
Convergence and synthesis baby!
Create a specific resource for a very specific person/group/demographic/audience.
In Daisy’s case, she wasn’t sure whether to write an eBook about social media in general, or for a specific audience. She was deciding between something like “Social Media for Business” or “Social Media for E-Commerce Shop Owners” or “Social Media for Lifestyle Bloggers”. Picking a specific audience, like in the second and third examples, is the smart way to go. I’ll explain below.
Why you need to niche:
1. Though the foundations of using social media are probably the same across the broad audience of “business", there’s probably a lot of different techniques, methods, and practices that are very specific to your type of business or industry. It makes sense that there would be different information depending on what business you're in.
2. When people see that you’ve created a guide JUST FOR THEM, they will immediately connect with it. Someone reads the title or description about a social media eBook for business owners - they think “hmm I’m a business owner but I don’t know if that will really apply to me and I’ve seen a hundred other books like that so…” *clicks away*.
Or they read the title “Social Media for Finance Bloggers” and they think “HEY THAT’S ME! Wow that’s cool - I bet that has tons of specific tips I can use”. You’re speaking RIGHT TO THEM.
3. You can’t stand out with a book about general “Social Media”. There are hundreds of books about rocking it on social media. But you CAN stand out with THE best book about Social Media for Yoga Instructors. Or Social Media for Food Bloggers. In fact, it’s the only way to stand out in a crowded space.
This also opens you up to much better joint venture and affiliate possibilities, down the line, but that’s it’s own beast we can talk about at another time.
Okay, I’m convinced. I want to create my own eBook or digital product. Where do I start?
I like to validate my ideas before spending a lot of time creating them. This process will make sure people are actually interested in buying what you want to make.
Step 1. Write a blog post about your eBook topic - like a basic overview of the things you might cover in the book.
Step 2. At the end of the post, include an email opt in.
Step 3. Ask people to sign up if they’re interested in more information about this topic. You can say “I’m writing a resource/eBook/guide to help you with this, sign up to get notified when it’s ready”.
If no one signs up, no big deal. It might be a good idea to pick another topic for your first product.
If you get a good amount of email opt-ins, you now know that there’s significant interest. You also have your pre-launch list ready to go - these people are the most likely to purchase your new offering.
When they sign up for the “I’m interested!” list, have the welcome email sequence link to a short survey. Ask an open ended question like “what do you want to know about ____ (your topic)?” or what their number one struggles are with this topic. Now you know what people need you to address in your eBook or product, and you can use that as an outline to get started writing.
Once your idea is validated and you know you’ll be creating the product, set up a simple "sales page” (which is really just a landing page at this point) to explain the basic idea of the product you’re creating and include an email opt in for people who are interested. Offer a free chapter when it’s ready as an extra incentive.
Now you’re growing your pre-launch list of interested customers while you build and create your eBook!
My eBook’s done (whew)! How do you launch it?
Launching products is one of my super powers and I could write an epic novel about how to do it, but today we’re focusing on the simple get started steps. In it’s simplest form, launching is about creating interest, building anticipation, giving before you ask, and creating urgency.
Share the creation process with your readers and your growing list of interested customers by showing photos of you working or writing, what your work space looks like, or how the cover design is coming along.
Share chapters you’re creating as they get finished - and ask for feedback! I know many authors that say they share anywhere from 30% - 50% of their book's content with their readers before they launch it. Don’t give away the entire book, but don’t be stingy either! You need to give immense value before asking for the sale.
Share progress and give updates to keep everyone interested. You’re building up anticipation. You want people to think “I’m ready to buy this now!” before it’s even ready for sale.
Launch to your email list by holding a limited time special offer price during the “launch” of the book. This could be a special price for the first 3 days after launch, or you can have a “bonus” that’s only available to people who purchase the product in the first few days. Urgency is important.
Get some of your blogger pals and other people in your niche to help you out by mentioning your new book when it comes out. I like to give everyone a few sample tweets and emails they can use so that it’s no extra work on their part.
What about the other publishing platforms like Amazon?
Most importantly though - if you sell through Amazon you have no way to contact your customers as you don’t get their email addresses when they purchase your book. This is the main reason to stay away from selling on these platforms. You want to be able to email your customers and communicate with them, and you can’t gather email addresses from Amazon.
The exception to this is using Amazon to sell PHYSICAL copies of a paperback using a service like CreateSpace - in which case Amazon is great for fulfilling orders.
You can use Amazon purely as a marketing tool by creating a small, “pamphlet-length” version of your eBook (maybe it’s just the first few chapters or a summarized version) as a lead in to your actual eBook sold on your site. This way it gets in front of the large Amazon audience but it acts as a funnel that links readers to the full version of your book. You’re not using Amazon to make money per se (you’ll probably have a $1.99 price tag) but instead to get potential interested buyers to your main eBook sales page.
Putting it all together
This is a very simple step by step breakdown of what you need to do to create and launch your first (or next!) digital product or eBook. I’ve just scratched the surface, but in case you couldn't tell I love talking about this stuff.
I’ve been helping my students create, launch and sell their own digital products (books, courses, etc) and it’s kind of my special talent. I can get REALLY nerdy about this stuff, guys.
I know it can seem super overwhelming to actually produce, market, launch and sell your first product. There are so many moving parts and little details that can make or break your big successful product launch.
So I’ve created a very detailed step by step guide to creating, launching and selling your own products to your own email list. If you want a step by step, next-level guide and incredible resources to help you build your audience and launch your product (nothing vague - nothing left out!), join us in Your First 1K®.
So just to recap:
Is it worth it to create digital products like eBooks?
>>> YES - it is absolutely worth your time.
How do you create the actual eBook?
>>> Pages to PDF - easy peasy.
How do I collect payment/deliver the digital thing?
Samcart, Sendowl, Gumroad…
How do I price my book?
>>> Higher than you think and based on the value it brings your readers.
How niche should my topic be?
>>> SUPER NICHE - the more specific the better.
Where do I start?
>>> Blog post > validation > email opt in > survey > get busy.
How do I launch it?
>>> Create interest and anticipation then launch with an offer to create urgency.
Did I answer your questions? If you have a question of your own, make sure to leave it as a comment so I can answer it!
If you want a ridiculously in-depth, step-by-step guide FULL of practical strategies for building your email list and making money from your own products on your blog, Your First 1K® is your new best friend.
In the course you will focus on both foundation and blitz strategies, so your website becomes a conversion machine AND you're having major windfall days!