Writing for Your Wealth

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3 Ways to Make Money Writing Ebooks

February 1st, 2010 · 17 Comments

If you enjoy writing and you’re looking to make money (which is probably a given if you found your way to this blog), then you may have considered writing ebooks. Unlike traditional ink-and-paper books, ebooks cost very little to create (you may pay a bit for some “cover art,” but your time is the main investment) so the profit margins are close to 100%. Let’s take a look at three ways experienced ebook writers make money with their digital texts: direct sales, affiliate links, and as a leader to generate other sales.

Making Money with Direct Sales

This is the most obvious way to make money with an ebook. Write quality content that informs, entertains, and/or solves a problem, and you have something people will potentially buy. You can sell ebooks directly through your website or blog (if you’re not a tech-stud, you may need help setting up a shopping cart) or through various marketplaces. Clickbank and E-junkies are both options; they offer you a place to sell your digital products, and they also help affiliate marketers find and promote your ebook.

An example of an ebook that makes money through direct sales is WriterGig’s How to Earn Passive Income at eHow.com: Residual Income for Web Content Writers. She worked her way up to making $1,000+ per month from eHow and makes additional money by selling her instructional ebook for $25. An affiliate program, which offers a 50% commission, entices others to help her promote it.

You could do the same thing, turning a little bit of expertise into an ebook that others help you sell over and over again for continuing income.

Making Money by Embedding Affiliate Links

Affiliate marketers have long used ebooks as a way to embed affiliate links that are related to the material in the text. If the reader clicks through and buys something from a merchant you’re associated with, you make a commission. An ebook that you give away for free on your website can end up making you a lot of money this way.

Some enterprising ebook writers will sell their ebook to the reader and embed affiliate links, so they have the opportunity to get paid twice. My recommendation is to do this with care as readers may feel gypped if they pay good money for the ebook and then find they have to buy another product in order to find the solution they were seeking.

An example of an ebook with affiliate links is Rosalind Gardner’s Super Affiliate Handbook. Almost since the beginning of selling on the web, she’s been making a high six-figure income by promoting other people’s products. Because of that, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that her ebook sells for $47 and includes affiliate links. Fortunately, she incorporated her links in a way that didn’t leave me feeling jilted when I read the book. For example, when she suggests purchasing your own web hosting and domain name rather than using free sites, she uses affiliate links to send you to web hosting sites. Sure, she makes money, but she’s recommending products you would have had to buy anyway if you wanted to follow her style of affiliate marketing.

Whether you sell your ebook or give it away, embedding affiliate links can be profitable.

Using Your Ebook to Promote Other Products

This method of making money requires you to have other products people can purchase. You write a solid, informative ebook and then give it away for free. This becomes a promotional opportunity, offering you a way to get people to visit your site and purchase items that you can sell for more (in some cases, much more) than a simple ebook. This is where it helps to have friends in the biz. If you can get people to blog about your free ebook and share the download link with their mailing list subscribers, then you can get a lot of exposure.

An example of an ebook that does a wonderful job of this is Yaro Starak’s Blog Profits Blueprint. He uses the free how-to text to subtly promote his membership site (which teaches you all about creating a profitable blog in a niche you’re passionate about). If you read the ebook, you’ll probably be surprised at how thorough and helpful it is, considering he gives it away for free. But, if you think about it, this is a wonderful way to establish a rapport with an audience, build trust, and entice readers to buy an online course (I’ve gone through the course myself, and thought it was a valuable experience, so I have no problem mentioning Yaro’s ebook here).

You never know: giving away a free ebook might just turn out to be the most profitable way to make money writing ebooks.

If you’d like to share ways you’ve made money with ebooks, please comment below. We’d love to hear about your success (or even plans for future success)!

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Tags: Books & Ebooks

17 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Derek // Feb 1, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks for another great article. I’ve read before where people also use affiliate links to promote their own books. For example, you self publish on Amazon and then use your own affiliate links to promote it. Then you get paid twice each time you sell the book. That being said Amazon will take their cut and that hurts, but they also provide a lot of exposure.

  • 2 Maria (WAHM) // Feb 2, 2010 at 5:04 am

    Wow, Lindsay, thanks for the link! It’s great to see you blogging again; I missed reading your blog.

    I hadn’t planned to write and ebook and didn’t know that they can be a great source of income, when I first started my online writing adventure. My eHow ebook grew out of my successful experience on eHow, a desire to help others and to answer the requests of eHow members looking for tips.

    It’s been more successful than I anticipated, and I encourage your readers to brainstorm ebook writing for all the reasons you mentioned.

  • 3 jen // Feb 2, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Wow!! Excellent blog!! I have been unsure about affiliate links- if it was worth the bother… And I must say, your blog has convinced me! Thanks! Great writing style, btw… :)

  • 4 Gayle McLaguhlin // Feb 3, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Thanks for this article. I found your blog following Maria on twitter. I am going to sign up for the Rss feed. Good stuff!

  • 5 Lindsey Petersen // Feb 20, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Wow! Great suggestions. I never even knew that e-books were anything other than the digital reading of regularly published books!
    Lindsey Petersen

  • 6 Moon Hussain // Feb 24, 2010 at 8:10 am


    Great post! I haven’t paid attention to the second way of making money from your ebook (selling affiliate products through it). That’s just incredible, six figures? Whew.

  • 7 Michele // Feb 24, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Hey, it is so nice to see that you’re blogging again. I wanted to ask what you thought of the Super Affiliate Handbook. I’ve read a little bit about it but nothing that makes me jump to buy it at the $47 price. I’ve bought a lot of stuff that gets me nowhere.

  • 8 Lindsay // Feb 24, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Hey Michele,

    It’s been a couple years since I read it (I was trying to find my copy to look over before writing this post, but I think it was on my old laptop and I didn’t think to save it before switching to a new one–the trouble with digital books, alas!), so I can’t remember the specifics. I remember it was over 200 pages and a pretty decent reference but that it also covered a lot of really basic (to me) stuff (getting webhosting and a domain and finding affiliate programs and such). There wasn’t a magic system or anything like that. Create good content, increase site traffic, and learn to “presell” products. As with most make-money-online ebooks, you can usually find the same information for free on various blogs if you’re willing to dig around. I do remember Rosalind got her start promoting dating affiliate programs (a lot of people seem to start by trying to promote how-to-make-money products, and that’s a relatively small–and super competitive–niche), and it was interesting and useful learning about the various niches she’d made money from.

  • 9 Michele // Feb 26, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    thanks Lindsey, I have been reading and studying different blogs about this stuff for the last year so I’m not sure there’s enough in the book for me to spend the money. I think my problem is putting my knowledge into practice.

  • 10 bari // Jun 16, 2010 at 5:53 am

    Superb article. I never knew that earning money threw e-books is also possible.
    Your information about affiliate links for promoting e-books is also beneficial for us. I will try to publish by e-books.
    Thanks for giving such information.

  • 11 Eklavya // Sep 14, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Have u stopped blogging completely or is it a short pause?

  • 12 Russell Davison // Feb 21, 2011 at 7:21 am

    I remember seeing lots of online adverts for $50 ebooks of 10,000 to 20,ooo words selling SEO, make money on the internet, my keyword secrets, etc., etc. I don’t see as many of these sites or adverts in February 2011. I guess the market for these downmarket publications has shrivelled up, by now.

  • 13 Vfrankz // Mar 13, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    I would absolutely love to write an ebook, but seem to struggle on where to start and what needs to be included. Can anyone offer any further guidance on this and what the most successful ones tend to be?

    I see these coming from established marketeers rather than newbies like myself..All tips welcome.

  • 14 Ed // Aug 9, 2011 at 4:47 am

    Writing ebooks for sale or to give away for free and then embed affiliate links to paid products
    will remain profitable venture because it is a need people will want to solve.

    I have been doing it and it is no brainer.

    Thank you for this content-rich article.


  • 15 karang'ae chege // Oct 29, 2011 at 5:39 am

    Hi. My kids’ ebook “Lost in the Forest by Karang’ae Chege” is out there in the cyberspace. Any suggestions how I may sell a kid’s book in plain language is welcome. I am new in this. Thank you.
    Karang’ae Chege

  • 16 corey // Sep 17, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I want to write an ebook and know exactly what it will be about and want to know if you think it would sell or be a good thing, It is a short story on differnt parts of my life ,the parts where I went from hell and back ,it covers a alot of subjects and would like to get i tout there and then have it on a website and answer questions from people in need. But I don;t know how to set up a website. corey

  • 17 Grace O'Malley // Sep 28, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    I’ve been writing a bit through odesk, and what I’ve realized is that people will use your writing talent to make their own ebooks and money. I personally think it’s fraudulant and don’t want anything to do with it, but here’s what I see being done: They offer a job for say 50 bucks to create an ebook on whatever topic. Desperate writers do the work, say 5-75 pages on whatever topic provided. They spend hours on research and writing, and then must sign over any rights to the job provider. The job provider then creates an ebook and begins cashing in on residual cash based on your book.
    My advice: If you have the talent and ability, create your own ebooks and generate the income on your own. Your work deserves your name and recognition, not to mention money. This article was just further proof that there is money to be made. I know that the scraps trying to get paid via content writing is nowhere near as lucrative as ebook potential. Thanks for the article.

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