Aside from the community aspects of blogs one thing blogs generate is a lot of content. While most bloggers will at least consider advertising to generate revenue, are you missing a trick by not packaging and selling your information as a product?
One of the trends that have appeared during the world wide webs short life is the success of “free”. It seems that web users do not like paying for their information. Look around though and you will see this is not always the case, people do like to buy information. Amazon book sales are still going strong. Newspapers will obviously need to evolve to survive but people still buy them. Ebooks are very popular indeed.
From your point of view also ebooks could be a great move. With packaged content you are no longer earning one click at a time, or trying to create leads for in-person services. Sometimes it is good to have an intermediate product or service between free and expensive. Happy ebook customers might well convert into eager consultancy customers too.
The key is seeing the value. There is convenience value in packaged content, of course. More important though is the perception that free is in some way “diminished”. It is like it can’t be any good if you are giving it away. By placing a price tag on the information it seems more valuable than giving it away. So by selling your information packaged up into one product alone you are increasing the perceived value.
Packaging needs to be done right of course. Many modern products are 90% packaging anyway. This is where brand and positioning comes in. If you have been following the posts on Performancing you will already be well placed to put this into practice so I won’t rehash those topics here. Suffice to say the visitor needs to be aware concisely of why they should buy your product, why your product and not someone elses and what good it will do them.
In fact with the right packaging and branding pretty much anything can be sold at a higher price tag. Don’t believe me? One word. Evian.
Package Up, Ship It Out
Have a look through your visitor logs and see if there is any gold in your most popular posts. Is there anything that can be brought together into one product? Series posts are good, also step by step how-tos. One ebook author I spoke to told me everything in the ebook was available for free on the authors site. Visitors did not like to dig around, they wanted to be walked through the topic from step one to completion.
I am not going to suggest you throw a load of rubbish together and call it a product. For a start I am working from the assumption you believe in the quality of what you have produced, that the collection you create works as a product and that you will add value.
Rubbish might work in the short term but if you want longevity it is best to produce not just something good but something remarkable.
Most blog posts (even mine, heh) are usually below 2000 words. Most are below the 1000 mark I would estimate. An Ebook can be any size, of course. I would say though that your customer will be more pleased if it covers the topic well and also appears to cover it well. Remember back to your school days, some teachers would appear to weigh assignments rather than read them.
You will find you can usually flesh out more detail in your content, more references, side bars, links to further reading. Then there is hygiene factor stuff, you need a front cover, an index, contents page, maybe a glossary, a bit about you.
Adding value is not just about the product itself, you need to provide a money back guarantee. You might throw in a free consultancy phone call or email support. Perhaps a members-only forum. There might be a related topic you could produce a smaller ebook for as an added bonus.
Revenue From Ebooks
Obviously the direct sale is the most immediate way you will benefit from productizing your content but it does not necessarily need to be so. A free ebook can generate a significant traffic boost, freebies are terrific linkbait.
Your first ebook can be free or paid for. Pricing needs to be considered carefully, too low and it will seem to be low quality, too high and you restrict your market and risk people feeling ripped off. You might want to send a few review copies out and get an idea what people would be willing to pay and how it rates against competition. I would do this anyway as the feedback and buzz would be worth it.
Before you release your ebook consider how you can make future revenue. We have mentioned this before and it is an old marketing chestnut but you do really need to consider lifetime value. Gaining your first customer is expensive in time, money and effort. It is far more efficient to sell to the same person twice. Information products have a ready built market as one ebook can lead to another. Start with a “beginners guide” then the same topic for “professionals”, or 101 through to advanced. The end of the first can have a teaser for the second. This doesn’t need to be sleazy, I myself have bought many books by the same author where I bought the beginners or idiots guide then bought the next book up when I felt comfortable with the subject.
There might not be grades of difficulty but there might well be associated or related topics. For example gardening enthusiasts might be interested if you also have a book on water features. Again cross-selling does not need to be sleazy. If you do your job well your ebook will be highly focused and authoritative on one subject, to include too broad a range of content in one ebook would water it down. You simply need to introduce the out of scope topics with a mention “while discussion of xyz is outside the scope of this book you might also be interested in my …”.
There are many people who make good earnings from free ebooks. They do this through what they call “backend sales”. That is where their ebook gets swapped around and read by many people by virtue of it being electronic and no cost. Whenever people click through to merchants and products recommended in the text the author gets a commission. Because the ebook is being read in a PDF reader rather than HTML there is less of an instance of people chopping off affiliate codes. You will have to decide if you want to go this route, there as always is debate about the topic which I am sure you can understand.
Once you start putting your content together you might find yourself thinking “ebook? This would make a great book!”. Before you send it to a publisher, there are definitely publicity and authority benefits from being published but I wouldn’t recommend it for earning potential.
There is another route though, you could consider self publishing. Many services exist now that will take your manuscript and turn it into a printed book. Even ones Amazon will sell for you. While they do not have the ease of sale and electronic portability of a PDF they do have more prestige and perceived value. Make sure you get a kick-ass cover design, people do judge books by their covers!
What do you think?
Do you have content you could package up into a product? Are you able or willing to take the step from blogger to publisher? You might be surprised how eager your readers are to get hold of a product of this kind, it might be worth asking them …