Writing for Your Wealth

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First Time Ebook Author Makes $5,000 His First Month

October 29th, 2008 · 19 Comments

If you enjoy writing (and finding ways to make money from your writing!), you may have considered creating an ebook.

Since ebooks are entirely digital, they cost nothing but time to produce. And since you can set up payment and delivery so they are completely automated, they’re the ultimate for providing passive income. But can you really make money with ebooks if you’re not a big-name internet marketer with a huge mailing list and a gazillion RSS feed readers?

Since you read the title of the post before clicking on it, you probably already know the answer is yes. What you want are the details. Let’s get started!

What follows is an email interview with Pat Flynn, first-time ebook author, and awesome comment-leaver here in the Writing for Your Wealth community.

Pat starts with…

“Thank you Lindsay for having me for an interview today. It’s amazing to think that a website that I created has prompted someone to ask me for an interview, let alone about how I made money from it. It’s an honor and a pleasure and I hope I can provide some helpful insight and inspiration to your readers as to how a person like me, who started out with no experience or expertise, can truly become a successful author.”

Awesome! Let’s jump into the questions…

Your In the LEED site looks great and is a wonderful resource. What turned you onto making money online, and how did you come to pick your niche?

How I started making money online was actually an accident. I created Intheleed.com solely to help myself organize my notes and pass a particular exam in the field of architecture and design. It’s called the LEED AP Exam, and it’s about “green” buildings and sustainable design strategies.

All I did was use a blog to easily type, edit, and categorize my notes so I could make sense of it all. Little did I know, I was actually creating an entire website filled with outlines and summaries that was helping other people study for the exam too! Surprisingly people found me through Google, and when those people told other people, who then told even more people, all of a sudden within 3 months, I was averaging 150 unique visitors a day.

Because of this, I knew I had to make sure all of the information I wrote was actually correct and helpful not only for me but for everyone else too. I didn’t mind doing this because it helped me learn even more. I ended up creating some helpful tables, charts, tips, and tricks that are still being used today.

I was perfectly happy with just helping people for free. Making money didn’t even cross my mind. Then I learned about Google Adsense, a device Google has created to crawl the content of websites and strategically post relevant ads. Because the ads are relevant to the material written on the page, they actually become helpful to the reader, instead of annoying.

After a couple months, I passed my exam (yay!) and I had made enough money to pay for the creation of the website and also all of my study materials, just from people clicking on ads. Any money made after that was all profit. As the number of visitors grew each month, so did my profit. It was a great feeling because everybody was a winner. I could have stopped there and just let the site die, but I knew I had something great, so I kept adding material and helping people out.

To add to my success, because I had passed my exam, I earned a promotion and a raise at my 9 to 5 job.

What prompted you to go beyond running advertising on your site and to write an ebook of your own?

Originally I had no intention of writing an E-book. The idea crossed my mind, but I was reluctant because I don’t consider myself a good writer and I knew it would take a little bit of hard work. It was when I started running the numbers that I learned it would be worth my time and effort. This is what was going through my head:

I figured that in a worse case scenario I could probably sell 1 book a week, or 4 in total each month. If I sold the book at $15.00 each, that’s an extra $60.00 of income per month. I compared that to a free cell phone bill or free gas, and that was enough for me to stop being lazy and just do it.

How much time did you need to invest to create the ebook and your bonus giveaways?

In total, I worked an hour or two each day for a little over a month. It was actually a lot easier than I had originally thought because most of the content I used was already on my website! I bet a lot of your readers who have blogs could easily create a very informative, sellable E-book by using primarily the posts they have already written!

You’ve had quite a bit of success in a short time with that ebook. Did it exceed your expectations, or were you confident it would be a winner from the start?

The first day I launched my book I had zero sales. I was a little disappointed but just left it there to marinate. The next morning, I actually woke up to 4 sales! It’s really an amazing feeling to think that while I was asleep, 80 dollars just suddenly appeared to my name (I was selling my E-book for $19.99). Besides the fact that I was asleep, the best part is that because I was self-published and had no employees or overhead costs, virtually all of the money from each sale is profit. If that’s not enough reason for anyone to start writing his or her own E-book, I don’t know what is.

The success of the book was definitely a nice surprise and has far exceeded my expectations, as you can see. I knew that I could sell at least 4 each month, and I would have been happy with that. Now, only 25 days after it’s debut, I’ve sold over 250 copies.

Did developing your site first, and providing free content on there, help you when it came to attracting an audience who would buy your ebook?

I’m certain that my E-book would not have done so well if I hadn’t first started my blog. Starting a blog did a few really important things for me. First, I was able to becoming a fairly high ranking website for keywords about my niche on Google. Secondly, I was able to learn all about my readers, like who they were, what they needed, wanted, liked and disliked.

At the same time, my readers learned about me too. They learned that I was a reliable source for the information I provided and that I was always there to answer questions and respond to comments. As a result, I was seen as a trusted expert on the subject, so it was natural that when I wrote my book, they automatically knew it was well worth their money. This is the power behind kick starting yourself with a blog.

If I was just a website selling an E-book with no history, no readership, and no reputation, it would be a lot more difficult to 1) get visitors to my site, 2) earn the trust of those visitors who actually did visit my site, and 3) sell anything.

Is there any advice you’d like to offer other writers who are thinking of creating and selling an ebook?

Sure, of course! When you’re thinking about writing an E-book, the hardest part is just getting started. Just do it! Each day your book is not on a website for sale is a day of potential profit loss.

If you don’t know what to write about, brainstorm. Write down your ideas or use a mind map. Think about your typical day and the things you do. Is there something you’re particularly good at? Maybe there’s something you’re not particularly good at and you can write about how you’ve learned to be good at it. I know plenty of blogs that are specifically about how much debt the author has accumulated, and how they are learning to get rid of it. That’s frontline material and sometimes that’s the best.

If you’re having trouble getting organized, break your topics down into different sections and outline it. This way, you’ll know what topics need to be covered and you can be sure that the order of material in your book makes sense.

If you’re having trouble writing, think of your outline as a checklist of articles that need to be written. You don’t have to go in order. You can skip some here, insert some there, and after all of the articles are complete…Shazam! You have a complete book!

Lastly, after you’ve completed it, show it to some of your friends and colleagues. Get their honest opinion and work their comments into your revision. It’s better to hear them from your colleagues while it’s being drafted, rather than from customers after it has launched. If they leave you good feedback, make note of what they said. You can use it as a testimonial to help promote your book.


Thanks again Lindsay for having me for an interview. It’s actually nice to be reminded about how I started out with my book, because I do have a few more projects in the works as we speak.

I would recommend to anyone who wants to make money in their sleep, to put in the initial work and write an E-book. For tips, Lindsay’s Writing for Your Wealth is a great resource. If you would like some other tips, feel free to visit me and say hello at http://www.smartpassiveincome.com or my LEED website at http://www.intheleed.com.

My last final piece of advice to you is this: if you need help, don’t be shy and just ask. Once you become a success story, you’ll see how much you’ll like helping other people out too. Good luck!

-Pat Flynn
contact: pat AT smartpassiveincome.com

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Tags: Books & Ebooks · Interviews

19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ian // Oct 29, 2008 at 4:43 am

    Great post. Very inspirational for anyone getting started.

  • 2 WriterGig // Oct 29, 2008 at 6:12 am

    What an excellent and motivating story! Ironically, I used to write on LEED topics when working for the National Insulation Association. Now, I am more interested in the eBook aspect of this article, and this profile is an excelelnt example of how knowledge of a niche topic can be monetized through the power of the internet, coupled with hard work. My own eBook has been sellign very well, but not that well! Thanks for the tips to help me take it to the next level.

  • 3 Dawn // Oct 29, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for the interesting interview. This was great information!

  • 4 C.J. Harley // Oct 29, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Way to go Pat! Such a great inspiration for writers and bloggers everywhere.

  • 5 Pat // Oct 30, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Thank you all for your wonderful comments! It has truly been a ride of a lifetime, and I’m ready to start pursuing more projects because of it.

    Please let us know when any of you finish your projects, as I’m sure we’d love to see how it all turns out =)

  • 6 Michele // Oct 30, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    This is really inspiring. I have a fiction blog/website where I post small bits of a larger work, maybe I should sell the finished product instead of putting it all up for free.

    I’ve also been told by a friend that I should use my best posts on my spiritual site and create a devotional type book.

    You have really gotten the ideas and motivation flowing for me!

  • 7 My Monthly Report - October 2008 | The Smart Passive Income Blog // Nov 1, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    [...] by Lindsay at Writingforyourwealth.com about my [...]

  • 8 Lindsay // Nov 2, 2008 at 12:51 am

    Thanks for the comments, everyone! I see from Pat’s site that his total earnings for October were closer to $7,000 for the ebook. Amazing!

  • 9 HowToMakeMyBlog.com // Nov 3, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Truly amazing story, now $7000 in first month… very inspirational, I am on my way to mindmap my book…


  • 10 Anne Wayman // Nov 8, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Interesting… great tips about exploiting (in the best way) a niche market.

    Thanks for the interview.

    Anne Wayman, now blogging at http://www.aboutfreelancewriting.com

  • 11 Janet Civitelli // Nov 11, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    At a time when so many people are losing their corporate jobs and watching their retirement savings disappear, it is very inspiring to read about someone who is creating his own financial security. Thank you for the information!

  • 12 21 englischsprachige Blogs und ihre Einnahmen im Oktober 2008 » Geld verdienen » Selbständig im Netz // Nov 21, 2008 at 11:12 am

    [...] Ein Interview mit dem Autor zum Erfolg mit eBooks gibt es hier. [...]

  • 13 Ilene // Feb 7, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    This is an inspiring article. I really enjoyed reading it is possible to make money selling ebooks.

  • 14 Mr.Choice // May 13, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Good efforts Pat Flynn. May you prosper forever for coming out and alerting people about how possible it is to generate passive income through being creative.

  • 15 edwin // Sep 12, 2010 at 7:10 am

    After reading pats comments on how he got started and how he feels that his blog was instrumental in helping him sell his new ebook, it almost suggests that is the only way to make it happen.

    The confusion lies in that for a quick second it made me think that this must be the way to start selling ebooks online, by setting up a blog first and do blog postings for months before you launch your ebook and start selling it.

    I thank pat for sharing what has worked for him, for now I have learned that is another method to sell ones ebooks online.

    I would appreciate if anyone reading this comment can give me some insight on the various ways to sell ebooks online, since this is now my challenge in researching the different ways to sell ebooks immediately or a 1-3 months down the road.

  • 16 Chris // May 21, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Just released my first ebook, Pat’s story also was my main reason to go for it. It took longer than i expected, but now im thinking about a 2cnd, 3rd etc, which i know will go much quicker.

  • 17 naresh // Dec 14, 2012 at 7:37 am

    i love you pat flynn really excellent article i never read , your post gives matured decision on make money online through ebook, thank you very much…

  • 18 Jason Ellis // Mar 4, 2013 at 9:57 am

    I think one thing that wasn’t specified here was exactly where the sales traffic came from. Was Pat utilizing affiliates, a mailing list or just putting his sales page links at the bottom of every article on his blog.

    I’d love to know this kind of detail. 250 copies in the first month is incredible. Congratulations Pat!

  • 19 Ray Rink // Oct 29, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Just read this article, very cool to be able to travel back in time and see Pat being excited by his promotion at work. :)

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