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)!