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How to create and promote an ebook on a small budget

By Alexandra Gavril - September 6, 2018

If you’re a blogger, a small business owner or a professional who is looking to make a name for yourself in your field, you need to write an ebook. Why? Because there are few tools as effective as an ebook at building authority and generating leads.

In fact, entrepreneur, best-selling author, and podcaster James Altucher dubbed self-published books as “the new business cards”. That’s because they say more about who you are and how you can help than a business card. So it’s a great way to stand out, attract more customers and make more money.

This is also the reason why so many bloggers and businesses offer ebooks as lead magnets, content upgrades or exit popups when you try to leave the site. When you offer visitors a free ebook that covers a relevant, interesting topic, many won’t hesitate to give you their email address in exchange for it.

Now, while anyone can write and publish an ebook, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Not only do you have to pick an interesting topic and write the content, but you also need to design and format it into a professional-looking document that stands out and makes people want to download and read it.

In this post, we’ll walk you through the steps to creating an ebook that will help you to attract more prospects and turn them into paying customers.

But first…

Why should you create an ebook?

There are lots of reasons for professionals and business owners to create an ebook.

You may want to sell your knowledge and expertise. There are lots of people who make money from selling ebooks but it’s a long process that takes time and lots of promotion.

Or you may want to boost your credibility by showing off your expertise. Publishing an ebook that prospects can download and read for free can help to build your reputation as an expert in your industry. It allows you to talk about the things that matter to your prospects.

You can recommend ways and solutions to fix the problems they’re facing, thus helping to build trust in you as a reliable source of information as well as an authority in your industry, one that they’d buy products and services from.

But the most commonly used tactic with ebooks is giving out free copies in exchange for people’s email addresses. This allows you to grow your mailing list, which you can then nurture and lead to the next step – buying from you.

How to create an ebook on a small budget

Get to know your audience

Make sure you know your ideal customer or audience well. If you’re just getting started online and don’t have a solid understanding of who your ideal customer or reader is, take this opportunity to do your research.

Find out who they are, where they live, what they like and dislike, where they get their information from, what problems they’re facing and the type of solutions they’re looking for.

This is a step you can’t afford to skip if you actually want people to download and read your ebook.

If you need further guidance, read our article about buyer personas and how to create yours. It’ll explain what a buyer persona is and walk you through the steps and tools you can use to learn more about your ideal customers.

Choose a topic that matters to your audience

The biggest mistake you can make with your ebook (and with any piece of content you publish online) is to write about what you want to say instead of what your audience wants to read.

Remember: the goal of your ebook is not to brag about how awesome your business or your products or services are but to generate leads.

So when picking your topic, you should choose one that’s interesting, informative, helpful. One that makes it easy for readers to go from downloading and reading your ebook to becoming impressed and buying from you.

If you have a blog, that can make choosing the topic easier. All you need to do is to go into your Google Analytics account and review your most popular blog posts. Since you already know that people enjoyed reading those posts, why not turn them into longer form ebooks?

Create an outline for your ebook

Now that you know who you’re writing for and what you’re writing about, you can begin to create an outline for your ebook.

Start with the end in mind: what will your readers learn once they’re done reading your ebook? What will it help them to achieve or what problems will it help them to solve?

With that in mind, think about what they need to know in order to achieve those goals or solve those problems. Then turn those key messages into chapters.

Let’s take this book from Amazon called “Make Money As A Life Coach: How to Become a Life Coach and Attract Your First Paying Client” as an example. Right from the title, you’d expect to find the following information:

  1. You want to become a coach but are you sure it’s the right profession for you?
  2. If you’re sure, then here’s how to find your speciality
  3. Now here’s how to package and price your services
  4. Next you should learn how to promote your coaching services online
  5. Here’s how to build trust and attract your first clients
  6. Finally, here’s how to grow your coaching business

When you’ve written down your key messages, add some key points for each that you want to expand on when you start writing the content for each chapter.

Deciding on the key messages and key points now rather than later will save you lots of time as you begin to write your ebook. It also ensures that you don’t miss any important information that your readers need to know in order to achieve their goals or solve their problems.

Write your ebook

If you’re passionate about the topic and you love writing, you’ll probably enjoy this part. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. To make sure you get it done, schedule one or two hours in the day to write your ebook.

But what if you don’t like writing? In this case it might be best to hire a professional to do it for you.

Content marketing is one of the many tasks that business owners prefer to outsource to freelance writers. That’s because it takes less time and it’s also written by a professional, which means it’s high-quality and engaging. Just make sure you hire the right person for the job who has experience with your industry and with writing ebooks.

In terms of how much you should write, there’s no magic length for an ebook. What’s important is to make sure that you deliver on your promise. In other words, after reading your ebook, people should be able to understand the topic and learn how to apply your advice in order to achieve their goals or solve their problems.

Come up with a catchy title

When it comes to choosing a title for your ebook, try to avoid going with one that seems clever. Instead, pick a title that makes it clear what the ebook is about and what readers will learn from it.

You can also have a subtitle to support it – ” how to...” or “X ways to…” formulas work well.

Here’s an example:

A simple way to find title ideas is to run a search on Google and on Amazon to see what comes up for your ebook topic. Based on the results, try to create your own title that’s not only catchy but also includes your topic or main keyword.

Looking at Abby Phon’s ebook, it’s clear what it’s about (a guide to sugar addiction), who it’s for (people with a sweet tooth) and what readers will learn from it (how to control sugar cravings).

Include relevant calls-to-actions within the ebook

Now that you’ve written the content, don’t forget to also add one or two calls-to-action (CTAs) throughout the ebook.

A CTA is a text link or a visual object that entices the reader to click and arrive on a page on your site that will get them further engaged with your business.

For example, a CTA can send readers to a special offer, the registration page for a webinar or an event, or even a product page.

Get the formatting right

Basic formatting includes chapter titles, fonts, paragraphs.

Make sure you break up your text into smaller chapters, each with a catchy heading and subheading.

Also add relevant images and graphics throughout the ebook to highlight an important point you’re making.

All these elements will make it easier for readers to scan and read your ebook.

If you’re on a budget, here are 18 places to find stock images for your ebook.

Create a bold cover design

You can produce an ebook yourself cheaply but there’s an area where you don’t want to skimp. That’s the cover design.

Think about it: the cover is the first thing people see when considering to download your ebook. If your cover design looks cheap or doesn’t stand out, it won’t get a lot of clicks.

To entice people to click to download your ebook, you’ll need a bold design that clearly communicates what your ebook is about, who it’s for and how it can help people solve their problems or achieve certain goals.

Go to Amazon for inspiration and ideas on how to design yours.

If you don’t have design skills, it might be best to hire a professional graphic designer to create your cover design. Considering how important it is, it’s worth the investment.

Create a dedicated landing page for your ebook

Most businesses produce ebooks to educate prospects, to build trust and to finally turn them into customers.

If this is your goal too, then the next step is to create a landing page where people can opt in and get a copy of your ebook in exchange for their email address.

This landing page needs to describe the content of the ebook and tell visitors why they should download it.

Here’s an example from Workamajig to get an idea of the format and things you should include on your landing page:

For more tips and advice, read this article on how to create an ebook landing page that generates leads.

Tips for promoting your ebook

You may think your work is done once you’ve written your ebook and set up your landing page. Unfortunately, if you stop now, few people will know your ebook exists, let alone download and read it.

So make sure you promote it as much as you can to get your target audience to read it, talk about it and share it with their friends.

Here are a few ways to promote your ebook:

  • Place a call-to-action button or link on your website and blog. This should lead visitors to your ebook’s landing page where they can download it.
  • Write an article on your blog where you talk about the ebook. Or write a blog post on the same topic as your ebook and link to your ebook’s landing page at the end of the post using a CTA to entice readers to learn more.
  • Send an email to your subscribers letting them know you’ve published an ebook and why they should download and read it.
  • Publish several posts on social media with a link to your ebook.
  • Run paid ad campaigns on Google and social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (depending on where you’re active and what’s relevant to the topic of your ebook). If you’re not familiar with paid advertising, take our free training courses on social media advertising and pay-per-click advertising to learn how to set up and run your own ad campaigns.

Wrapping up

Hopefully this blog post has helped you to understand what the key steps are to creating and promoting your ebook. While it’s not an easy job and it takes time and effort, if you choose a topic that’s relevant and interesting to your target audience, and if you manage to provide valuable information that they’ll find useful, it’ll be worth the effort.