We’ve already covered what an infopreneur is and why it’s a form of entrepreneurship that can pay off for a lot of people. Successful infopreneurship depends on putting together information products that pack a lot of valuable information into the formats people like to consume their information in. And no matter how much content forms like videos and podcasts start to take off, people still like to read.
One of the most important formats entrepreneurs have to work with in building an information-based business is the ebook.
There are two ways for infopreneurs to use ebooks to build their business:
- As a free product you offer website visitors in order to build your email list and help grow their trust in your brand.
- As an information product you sell to make money for your business.
Some infopreneurs use ebooks for both purposes. Chris Guillebeau offers a few free ebooks he calls manifestos that help curious people learn more about what his brand stands for.
Many of the people that start with his manifestos then go on to read one (or more) of the books he has for sale that expand on the topics he covers in his free ebooks.
Another option is to use your ebooks to sell other information products. That’s one way Mirasee uses theirs. On their website, the first things you see on the homepage are a sign-up prompt for a training session they’re offering, with a trio of free ebooks available for download below. For visitors not quite ready to commit to the paid training session, they have a free option to start with that provides value in and of itself and can help them decide if Mirasee’s paid resources are for them.
And, of course, you can use other information products to help sell your ebooks. Crazy Little Projects provides sewing tutorials and project ideas as a way to help promote the brand’s ebook on learning how to sew.
Finding the right mix between the free informational products you use for promotion and the ones you sell to make money is something every infopreneur will have to figure out on their own, but for a good number of infopreneurs, ebooks will play some role in the process.
Here’s what you need to know to create one.
Step 1: Identify the best topic(s).
Before you sit down to start writing, you have to determine a topic that will be worthy of the time and energy you’ll be devoting to it. It has to be something that:
- You know a lot about (although you should be prepared to do research to learn more).
- Fits with the infopreneur brand you’re building
- Is a topic of interest to your target audience
That last part will be the toughest to figure out, unless you’ve had the chance to talk to people in your target audience and get a feel for the issues and questions on their mind. For most new infopreneurs though, figuring out the right topic will involve doing some research, which brings us to step two.
Step 2: Do your research.
This is a big step and it could be easy to get stuck in if you’re not careful. You may need to do a few different phases of research here. First, if you haven’t yet taken the time to do customer research and create personas, start there. You won’t know what to write for your audience until you know who your audience is.
Next, you want to spend some time looking into the information that’s been put out there by other businesses and websites working in a similar information space to the one you’re in. You don’t want to put in all the work of researching, writing, and publishing an ebook, only to realize that there’s another ebook out there on the same subject by a brand with bigger reach than yours.
Researching the other brands and people in the space will both provide insights into what your audience is interested in and help you identify the gaps in information that you can help fill.
Finally, you need to start doing the research into the topic your ebook is on. Whatever knowledge you already have on the subject, it’s a good idea to double check and supplement it with additional sources. Browse online, buy books on the subject, or head to the library to expand your own knowledge.
Then start organizing all that information into an outline that clarifies the shape your ebook will take.
Step 3: Get started writing (or hire a writer).
Once your outline is complete, it’s time to dive in and start writing. If writing isn’t really your forte, it’s ok to look for a professional ghostwriter during this step. You can provide them with your outline, notes, and knowledge to turn into writing gold.
Whether you write it yourself or not, you’ll likely find that it’s worth doing additional research as you go. Just don’t let the research become an excuse not to get the writing done.
This step will likely take the longest of any of them, but it’s the most important part in having an ebook to release for your business.
Step 4: Hire an editor.
It’s tempting to skip this step, but don’t. When your business is built on information products, every one you produce needs to be top notch. If your writing is sloppy or you let typos through, it makes you look unprofessional and makes the people reading less likely to trust you or return to your business for any additional information.
Even if you hired a writer, it’s worth also hiring an editor in order to have a second set of professional eyes that know what to look for on those pages before you take the plunge of publishing.
Step 5: Hire a designer to turn it into a proper ebook.
It’s crucial that the information in your ebook is high quality and well communicated, but it’s also important that it’s presented in a way that’s easy to read and looks good. Good design makes a big difference in the experience your customers will have when reading your book and you want them to come away from it finding every part of the book impressive.
For that reason, it’s worth spending a little more to invest in a good designer who can help you with the formatting, overall design, and images you bring into the book. An ebook that’s intuitively designed and visually appealing will help your readers absorb and retain the information better, and the fact of taking that extra step to make the ebook look good tells them something about your brand and professionalism.
A designer can also do the important job of designing you a great book cover that will generate interest in the ebook. Book covers may not be quite as important for your average ebook as they are for the print books people browse in book stores, but they still matter and may help pique the interest of some readers who wouldn’t otherwise check the book out.
Step 6: Determine your pricing and promotion plan.
This isn’t as much work as writing the ebook, but for some infopreneurs it might feel as hard. Pricing is a subject all entrepreneurs have a hard time with, and if anything, it can be trickier for information products than for goods and services.
But before you can move forward, you have to make a decision. Will you be using this ebook as a marketing tool, or selling it as a product? And if the latter, how much are you going to charge?
At least as importantly, how are you going to let people know your ebook exists and it’s worth their time? No matter how good you make it, writing and publishing an ebook will be worth zilch to you if you can’t get people to read it.
Before you go a step further, work out a plan to promote your ebook so you can be sure to get the most out of it.
Step 7: Publish.
The hardest parts are now (arguably) past. You just need to get your ebook out into the world where people can see it. You have a few ways you can do this:
Make it available as a PDF for download on your website.
If you’re using your ebook as a way to build an email list rather than selling it as a product, then this is probably your best bet. You can also self-publish to your own website if you’ll be charging for the ebook, as long as you set up a shopping cart on your website that allows visitors to securely purchase products there from you – which is something you should go ahead and do anyway if most of your infopreneur products will be sold through your website.
Self-publish to distribution platforms.
If you’re planning to sell your ebook, you want to get it on as many distribution platforms as possible to help get it in front of potential readers. The biggest player you should use is Amazon. Their Kindle Direct Publishing is fast, easy to use, and free. But they’re not the only distribution platform worth looking into, take some time to research and decide which of the following might be right for you:
Keep in mind that using these distribution platforms means your readers find you somewhere other than your own website, which is the hub of your infopreneur business. If you’ll be distributing your ebook on a third-party platform (or several), then make sure you include information in the ebook that encourages readers to check out your website and brand.
You don’t want them to have one interaction with you and stop. For your business to thrive, you need people to keep coming back once they find you.
Step 8: Promote
Finally, you have to get out there and do some marketing. Make use of social media to promote the book. Read up on SEO best practices to make it easier for people to find your website, and keep writing blog posts and other valuable content to help people find and learn about you. Consider if paid advertising on search engines and social media might be worth the cost to expand your reach as well.
For the vast majority of infopreneurs, writing a great ebook won’t amount to much unless you put a lot of work in to getting it in front of the right people. But if you succeed, a great ebook could be the information product that puts them on the path toward a long relationship with your brand.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.