On this 9th day of Content SEP gives you 9 tips for writing an effective eBook.
eBooks are a much larger undertaking than many other content formats, but they are also paramount to success. Among other benefits, they allow you to:
While they do require quite a bit of legwork - in terms of both time and resources - eBooks are a type of content that presents marketers with a tremendous opportunity to attract and nurture prospects. Here are 9 tips to keep in mind when you begin to tackle your next eBook.
1) Ask your audience what they want - Many people assume that they know what their readers want. But as some veteran eBook writers can tell you, this is a mistake. Does your audience actually want what you are about to create? Are you addressing their pain points and common challenges? Don't assume that you know what they want; make sure of it.
2) Don't overreach - Once you have established what your topic is from audience feedback, focus on that topic and stick to it. You have to be wary of the scope of your eBook. You can't tackle everything about your industry or business in one fell swoop, at least not in a length that is acceptable. The aim is to provide an informative piece of content that is useful but readable, so don't write 300 pages of material.
3) Do your research - Trying to research as you write is not only inefficient, it's also annoying. You don't really get anywhere when you have to refer back to things or look something up every 10 minutes. Get your topic figured out, make the outline, and then research accordingly before you start writing.
4) Leverage internal resources - As a writer, you're not going to be an expert on every subject. Yes, you should have a good working knowledge of what you're writing about, but there is always someone who knows more. If you are writing an eBook related to your industry, chances are that there is an expert within your organization whose knowledge can work to inform your piece. Talk to them, get their input, ask questions - pick their brain and learn as much about the subject as you can from them.
5) Make an outline - Breaking up the topic into chapters or subject headings is unbelievably conducive to the process of writing an eBook. When you map out what you should be talking about and organize how it can be structured logically, your writing is guided, making the task that much easier.
6) Offer help - The driving purpose of your eBook should be an offer of help; an answer to common audience questions or solutions to a problem. The content within should not read like a sales pitch. Being helpful is much more valuable, as it builds your credibility as a brand, helps you develop relationships with prospects, and works to position your company as the choice of vendor when it comes time for the prospect to buy.
7) Pay attention to design and formatting - eBooks are a content format that allow you to go in-depth into a particular topic, much more so than you could via a different content type. They usually include quite a bit of copy because that's what is required to really delve into a subject. That said, you need to strike a balance between detail and readability; a dense block of text will turn readers off. Formatting and design are crucial in this respect. Add relevant visual elements to compliment the text, and where appropriate, break the text up into sections, bulleted or numbered lists, chapters, sidebars, headers, footers and so on.
8) Build outwards from your eBook, not vice versa - Slapping together some blog posts you've already written may seem like a good idea, but it's definitely not the right approach. You want to create your eBook and then work to break up the content into other fresh, exciting pieces. This will allow you to repurpose content in a way that directs back to the larger anchor piece - the eBook. It also ensures that your eBook actually makes sense (if you amalgamate a number of already existing pieces into an eBook, it will be obvious). Focus on creating the eBook first and use it as a foundation to build out related content.
9) Promote your content - eBooks are often fairly large projects. They require planning, research, writing and design. Given the time and resources that go into their creation, there should be a plan in place aimed at promoting the finished product so that it has the biggest reach and impact possible. Make sure you have optimized CTAs on areas of your website that are relevant. Launch ancillary content that directs readers towards the eBook. Promote the eBook over social media networks. Keep subscribers aware by launching an email campaign that directs readers to the content. If you don't promote the content you create, it's likely to perform poorly and be a waste of valuable time and resources.
While eBooks are often time-consuming projects, they offer a tremendous opportunity to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and build brand authority; thus, they are a pivotal part of any content strategy. Following the above tips when creating your next eBook can help make the process less daunting and ensure that your content makes an impact.
There still are more tips to come in our 12 Days of Content Series. Check back tomorrow for the 10th day to see what we give you.
Daniel is a Content Writer at Search Engine People. He is always experimenting with new formats and looking for creative ways to produce, optimize and promote content. He previously wrote for CanadaOne Magazine and helped create and implement online marketing strategies at Mongrel Media.