Everyone wants a piece of the online sales pie. And over the last few decades of writing for profit, I’ve discovered the best product to sell online. Especially for beginner writers or writers who want to grow their following (and their income).
It’s an eBook.
An eBook is an “electronic book” — a book in digital form. It can be formatted for a tablet, Kindle, iPad, cell phone, e-Reader, computer, or other electronic device. You can publish an eBook yourself or you can pay a provider to format and publish your manuscript into an electronic format.
“Make sure you consider the advantages of e-books over every other type of product being sold online today,” says copywriting guru Bob Bly. Maybe you’re on the fence about creating an eBook. I was uncertain at first, too. But if you want to make money with your words, consider why an eBook is the best product to sell online.
The question is inevitable: “You’re a writer? What have you written?” Produce an eBook, and you have a concrete answer. For a writer, an eBook is an MVP — a minimum viable product.
Furthermore, your eBook can be as long or as short as you like. In fact, Kindle Short Reads offers books that can be read in 45 minutes, 30 minutes or as quickly as 15 minutes. You can write a 3,000-word eBook about one tiny topic in your niche or a 900-page magnum opus or any length in between. It’s your choice.
Apart from length, an eBook is an ideal starter product because it allows you to validate one of your ideas. Perhaps you want to write about amateur meteorology. Your initial research reveals plenty of fellow wannabe storm chasers. But can you make money online from your weather obsession? By writing an eBook titled, “Meteorology for the Average Joe,” you can scratch that itch and at the same time confirm that you can build a following.
Creating an eBook costs time and wordsmithing capital. But you don’t need a large outlay of cash to print an initial run. You don’t even need to hire an editor, although you can. (If you feel confident in your book’s structure and content, ask fellow writers to proofread your book and write reviews — and offer to do the same for them when their manuscript is ready.) You needn’t pay for an initial run nor store inventory.
However, you must pay a professional designer to create your book cover. And you need a landing page for your book. But beyond those initial financial expenses, an eBook requires little funding.
No packaging. No shipping costs. No trips to the post office or FedEx pickups. An eBook is delivered wirelessly and seamlessly.
Your e-book is delivered as an electronic PDF, Kindle, e-Pub, or MOBI file. Apart from online systems payment fees, the bulk of what you charge a customer for your eBook goes directly into your bank account.
Once you create your eBook and set up its sales page, readers can purchase it 24/7/365. “Meteorology for the Average Joe” continues to earn money long after you write and publish it. You can earn money from your eBook even when you’re not actively promoting it.
In the traditional publishing route, the publishing house sets a book’s sales price. But when you self-publish an eBook, you can price it however you choose.
An eBook’s reach is not limited by physical distribution. Anyone with an internet connection can purchase and download your eBook, enabling you to tap into a larger potential customer base. I live in the United States, but thanks to Amazon, I’ve sold eBooks to readers in the Far East, Europe, South America, Australia.
What happens if you want to add new product recommendations to “Meteorology for the Average Joe”? If it had been in print, you’d incur the expense of replacing hundreds of print books. But if you need to update information, add content, or even correct a small typo in an eBook, you can do so with a few mouse clicks.
By selling your eBook online, you can have a direct relationship with your customers. They’re expressed interest in your niche by reading your book. Now, you can collect reader data, add their email addresses to your marketing list, communicate with them one-on-one, and upsell or cross-sell your other products and services.
An affiliate is a publisher who operates a website, blog, social media page, or podcast. As a writer, you can partner with publishers in your niche who will promote your eBook for you. You offer an affiliate a percentage of a sale. You piggyback on another vendor’s audience … and make more sales.
Once you’ve got an eBook written and in circulation, you’ve proven you have mastered the process. Now, you can write and sell another one.
Or you can produce an online course or publish printables or set up a membership site. “Meteorology for the Average Joe” can lead to “Cloud Patterns for the Average Joe” and “Storm Chasing for the Average Joe.” Your first eBook is a watershed project that opens the door to selling other information products online.
Compared to launching a physical product or a more complex online business, creating and selling eBooks involves less risk. It’s an accessible option for beginners. And when your eBook offers value, people are willing to buy it. Readers — especially those who write initial reviews — validate you as a writer. And since an eBook always includes a feedback loop, you can use it to get reader input that guides your future writing projects.
An eBook helps establish your credibility in your niche, provides a passive income stream, and opens the door for you to sell more products and services online. That makes an eBook more than a minimum viable product for a writer. It’s the best product to sell online because it can launch your tiny writing empire.
More about Writing eBooks
Content by award-winning content writer and author Kathy Widenhouse, who specializes in writing for nonprofits and faith-based organizations.
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