1. Storage. You have all that great material already, right? Blog posts, articles, rants, whitepapers, etc. It’s time to put them together into a nicely packaged document that delivers more value. Content = useless until it’s accessible to all.
2. Reach. Sure, you could charge $7, $17 or $47 or whatever other shrewd pricing strategy you learned from those Internet marketing dudes. But if it’s free, more people are going to see it. And if your ebook ROCKS (and has some, but not too much, cross pollination of your additional services) the revenue will bounce back ten fold. Er, seven fold.
3. Differentiation. Most ebooks out there, especially the ones people charge for, suck. Very little value given. Just a teaser to get you to buy something bigger. And I’m all for using ebooks to cross-promote, but don’t chince out. Don’t give away one or two good ideas; pack it full of dozens of ideas and content that is SO good, people want more.
4. WOM. Seth Godin wrote the best-selling ebook in the history of ebooks. Funny thing is, he didn’t charge for it. At least, not if you didn’t want to pay for it. He offered people a choice: get it for free, pay a small donation, or pay full price. Your choice. BRILLIANT! More people talked about that ebook than anything else ever written!
5. Value. You’re smart. You’ve got lots of good ideas, tips, techniques and philosophies that can help others. Don’t be selfish with your knowledge. Share it with the world. Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas.
6. Fans. Your duty to your company, yourself and the people you serve is to cultivate fans. NOT customers. Fans. The people who loyally love your stuff and tell everyone about you. Free ebooks = new fans.
7. Free. Statistically speaking, research proves that people like free stuff.
8. Traffic. Kind of a no-brainer, but yes. Ebooks drive traffic. I’ve written ten of them and received more website (and blog) traffic that I can possibly keep track of. NOTE: remember, however, that ‘hits’ is an acronym for ‘how idiots track sales.’ So before you post that ebook, make sure your website ROCKS and is CONVERTIBLE. Still, the ebook will enable you drive web traffic the ‘old school’ way: content. Forget ad words, sponsored links and pay per click. That’s interruption. You need interaction.
9. Sales. I don’t believe in selling. I believe in enabling people to buy. And that’s exactly what a free ebook does. You deliver value FIRST in a manner consistent with your brand and philosophy. As a result, readers are interested, educated and excited about you. That’s why at the END of the ebook, be sure to include plenty of info about what ELSE you do. And not some ridiculous five-page sell sheet. Just a note that says, ‘Hi! Hope you learned a lot from my ebook. Actually, I’m more than just a writer. I also do these other things. If I can help you, drop me a line.’
10. Time. As an author myself, I know cranking out (real) books is an arduous process. In 2007, I’m putting out five new paperbacks. It’s not going to be easy. That’s why ebooks are a nice ‘placeholder’ for your content. You don’t have to go all the way and publish a real book per se. You can simply do the ebook, post it on your blog and wait until you’re ready for the BIG one to do it for real.
11. Testing. OK, so you’ve got these ideas, stories, tips, etc. You want to test the waters before writing a real book, right? Cool. Write the ebook, post it for free, and see what people say. Maybe you’ll get glowing emails from around the world saying how great it is! Or, maybe nobody will download it except your wife and even she’ll tell you that it sucked. Either way, you’ll have a better idea of how the market responds to your content before spending $5000 on the real thing.
12. Content. Content is king. People might forgive sub-par packaging, but they’ll never forgive crappy content. Work hard on making your ebook meaty and chunky. Like Campell’s. Full of great stuff. People LOVE that. Plus, writing a content-rich ebook will put you in the 90% percentile, since most ebooks are total fluff.
13. Authorship. Writing an ebook doesn’t make you an author. Author = actual, tangible books. However, it’s one step closer. You’ll feel like an author. And once you write an ebook (that everybody loves) perhaps you’ll be inspired to get that real book out of you.
14. Practice. I’ve written four paperback books so far. And I don’t think I discovered my true voice until the third one. So, practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes polished. And starting with an ebook or two is going to let you sweat out some potential sub-par stuff until you get it right. The more you write, the more clear your voice becomes.
15. Credibility. Providing that your ebook gives useful, sound advice, you will be perceived as an expert. An authority. Maybe not THE expert or THE authority. But the more you write = the more credible you become.
16. Build your list. It doesn’t matter what you sell. If you’re reading this right now, odds are, you’re in the business of NAME ACCUMULATION. You need to build a following and stay in front of these people (your fans who love you) on a regular basis. Your ebook will help accomplish that. Especially if you give it away as a bonus to anyone who signs up.
17. Google. FINALLY…post that bad boy on your blog, website, myspace page and everywhere else you possibly can. Go back after 1, 3 and 6 months and search on Google. Just watch the hits come up!
Good luck. May the e-Schwartz be with you.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What’s your favorite ebook?