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!
contact: pat AT smartpassiveincome.com