Even before content marketing became all the rage, one particular form of content marketing has been already making rounds for quite a long time, and that form is ebook marketing. Ebooks have been used since early days of online marketing as a way to attract potential customers' attention, as a way to push affiliate offers, as a way to upsell, as standalone info products... The uses of an ebook are countless. In the recent years, there has been a lot of talk at conferences on how ELSE you can use them, how you can build links with ebooks, create brand awareness, build trust, etc.
Fine, so I don't need to persuade you. You already have decided to write an ebook. What now? How do you handle this task?
1. Decide what it is you want to write about. Are you knowledgeable about the topic? Is the topic relevant to your ultimate goals and your online marketing strategy? Is the topic something that people want to read about? Is there enough demand for the information you are about to cover? Is there too much supply of similar information out there already?
2. Research what's already available. Are people being fed myths? Is there lack of clear approaches? Is what's available overcomplicated and hardly digestible? How can you improve the situation?
3. Have a plan. Even when writing a blog post, you are better off using some sort of a plan lest you get sidetracked, what to say about writing an ebook. Plan for a logical flow of your ebook so that even readers new to the topic could follow and understand what you are trying to tell them. Ask yourself: what should a reader walk away with after finishing reading this ebook? - and proceed towards that goal and giving people exactly what they need.
4. Find the time to write the ebook. Surely we are not talking about writing any form of serious long form literature - but even a 30-page ebook requires time to be written! Don't underestimate how much time it can take you and ask yourself if you really have that time and can commit it to your ebook.
5. Don't take shortcuts. Don't assume that any filler content will pass. Even if you have stellar bits of content in your ebook, it does not justify having any filler content in between. If you do it, do it properly - or don't do it at all.
6. Don't steal other people's content and repackage it in the form of an ebook. If you must use somebody else's content make sure you give credit to the author.
7. Have a clear goal. Don't try to kill too many rabbits with one stone. Have a clear goal that you want to achieve with your ebook: is it getting signups? Is it making people aware of your brand/product? Whatever it is, make it one main goal. Make everything you do work for achieving that one goal. If you manage to achieve more it will be a great bonus - but the more you expect out of your ebook initially, the greater the chance that you will fail.
8. Don't repackage. Don't expect to sell an ebook that is merely repackaging the info freely available elsewhere. If you want to change for your ebook, it should add value and people should clearly see that value.
9. Don't overprice it as it will hardly sell - but don't underprice it either. If the price tag is too low, people tend to discount the real value of the ebook. Get a feel of how other similar products in your niche are priced - Amazon could be a good indicator, especially for books that are offered in the Kindle version. Also check out ebooks on similar topics sold via Apple AppStore. Pay attention not only to the price tags but also the user activity - are there reader/user reviews? How many? How many downloads has there been for an ebook?
10. Prepare for piracy. No matter what you do to protect your work, your ebook WILL get stolen and distributed for free at some point. Even printed books get stolen and pirated - with an ebook it's just so much easier. It's not a question of whether it will happen, it's a question of when it will happen and how many copies you would be able to sell before and after it happens. This is reality. Live with it. Once it gets stolen, you can track down the pirates and try sorting it out with them using threats or contacting their host or file sharing sites where they distribute your book, but chances are you won't be able to completely eliminate the problem.
11. Research your publishing platform. The easiest way to release an ebook is by putting up a PDF file on your own site. However, there are other solutions as well. If I were releasing my directory marketing ebook today one of the things I'd do differently from what I did back in 2009 would be using a self publishing service like Smashwords. They not only let you sell your ebook online but also distribute your ebook to the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo, the Diesel eBook Store, Baker & Taylor's Blio and Axis360 (libraries!) etc., effectively increasing your ebook's exposure.
12. Market the hell out of it. Once your ebook is out, market it! "Build it and they will come" might have been true for the early days of the World Wide Web but today, there is just too much content out there and if you don't do anything to get your ebook noticed, it will hardly ever get noticed. If you already have a relevant community of people following you in the social networks, let them know you have released an ebook that might interest them. If you don't have such a community, start building it, preferably even before you release the ebook. It doesn't even hurt to create a dedicated Twitter account for your new ebook, especially if it covers a topic different from what you regularly do and what people know (and follow!) you for. However, even in that case it doesn't hurt to let your followers know about your ebook - who knows how many of them might have the same side interests as you. It is definitely worth it creating a dedicated Facebook page for your ebook. If relevant, consider even creating a separate pinboard for it on Pinterest. If there are any social networks focused on the niche you are targeting, by all means become part of them - not by spamming them but by being a true member of the community.
13. Encourage your readers to share your ebook - if your ebook is great it shouldn't be very difficult as people will be willing to talk about it, you just need to give them an extra encouragement. Place the social buttons to make sharing easier for your readers.
14. Treat your ebook like a brand - build it into a brand! Look at how Aaron Wall started with the SEO Book - he's got no ebook any more but has built a true brand out of it and is running a large and loyal community. Make your brand recognisable. It's also great if you can rank in the search engines for the questions your ebook answers.
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