Everyone knows that a free ebook is one of the best lead magnet strategies for businesses of any size. But did you know there’s a whole other ebook world where you can actually make money?
Look at the data visualization below and how ebook sales have exploded in the past few years, and yes, the growth is still happening exponentially.
Even though free ebooks offer value to the subscriber exchanging their email for the download, paid-for ebooks must deliver a wealth of valuable information plus actionable advice for the reader.
Are you an expert at something with lots to share? Or are you a great storyteller? Either way, you can make money selling ebooks. All you need is — well — ebooks, and a good dose of productivity, effort and passion. If you feel like this is the right next step for your business, this guide is for you.
In this article, we’ll help you learn why ebooks are great for earning passive income, and share tips and guidelines for where and how to sell your ebooks.
Let’s get started.
Ready to make a stunning ebook online? Create, publish, share and sell your ebooks easily using Visme’s online ebook creator. Use ready-made templates, drag-and-drop design tools, built-in images and more.
Table of Contents
Why Ebooks Are Good For Passive Income
How to Sell Ebooks in 11 Simple Steps
Why Ebooks Are Good For Passive Income
Passive income is one of the most sought-after sources of income today. It means you’re able to generate income with minimal labor involved. In other words, work less and earn more. Who doesn’t want that, right?
Well, ebooks are a great addition to any passive income strategy. Why? Because once you create an ebook, market it and share it, it can technically sell itself.
Now, it takes a decent amount of effort to write valuable content. Not to mention, building a strong brand that will carry your ebook to success is not an overnight task.
But when you do set everything up correctly, ebooks can help you make money for a long time. In fact, the more evergreen your content is, and the more you keep promoting and updating it, the longer the life of your ebook.
Need more convincing? Here are some reasons why ebooks are great for passive income:
They’re relatively easy digital products to make.
Even though an ebook will take work to put together and publish, it’s still a much easier digital product to create than a multi-lesson online course. You might even have most of the content in your blog post articles that can together create the foundation for an ebook.
Templates also make ebook creation a lot easier than starting from scratch. Visme, for example, offers pre-designed multipage templates in lots of different designs and for a variety of industries.
Believe it or not, once you have the content, putting the ebook together is pretty straightforward. If you’re working with a team inside your company, then it’s even easier. Using collaboration tools makes ebook building an accessible and inspiring activity.
Plus, even if it takes you a while to create your first ebook, it will be much easier to make more. Why? Because you’ll learn from the failures and successes of your last ebook (or ebooks) and make sure your future works are best-sellers.
They make for great lead magnets.
Collecting leads for your business is a vital step in the marketing funnel. Ebooks are great lead magnets because you are offering value as you get the person’s email. Many people create free ebooks in exchange for a sign-up, so your paid ebook must provide more value than a free one.
The best ebooks, specifically the ones that are most suited for passive income, are the ones that offer evergreen content. A good example of evergreen content is a topic that won’t change or evolve too fast after you’ve written it.
They help with link building.
Ebook creation and promotion generally need a landing page on your website as the lead generation starting point. Add the landing page URL to relevant blog posts and other content on your site.
Likewise, other people can add your link to their content, and you can share the landing page directly on social media.
How to Sell Ebooks in 11 Simple Steps
Now to the good part — selling your ebook(s). Even if you’re hoping for your ebook to grow your brand awareness and be a good lead magnet, you also want it to be profitable.
Here are the steps to follow for selling ebooks that fatten up your bank account.
1. Find Out What Your Audience Wants, and Plan
To make money with ebooks, they need to be worth paying money for. Your ebooks must bring valuable information and actionable advice to the reader.
The content should be either timely or evergreen. If the content is about a current trend, you must update the ebook when needed and send previous buyers a notice to download or read the new version.
Have a planning meeting, or start a Slack channel with your team to get the ebook project off the ground and running. Use a project management document with charts to organize the tasks by importance, dependency and person in charge.
Brainstorm with your team to get a good plan going and start doing the research. Here’s a project plan template you can use to organize and plan your own book writing project:
The one golden rule about ebooks is to “write what you know.” That said, it also needs to be content that your audience wants; otherwise, they won’t feel the need to buy your book.
Use tools like Google Trends, SEMrush, Answer the Public, Quora and Reddit to find out what people are searching for in topics you know about. Also, check what your current customers ask your support team; you might get some ideas there.
Finally, look at the ebooks already available online. Take notes on the best-selling titles, their price, number of pages and what the cover looks like.
To help with the voice and message of your ebook, create a user persona profile to have a better idea of whom you’ll be writing the ebook for.
Here’s a user persona template you can customize for your own use:
2. Write Your Ebook
Now it’s time to write your ebook. Before you start, check if you don’t have content you can reuse from blog posts or newsletters. You can, of course, write the book with all new content.
Here are some tips for writing the content for your ebook.
Start with an outline.
Like any type of long-form content, start your ebook with an outline. The depth of subheadings and bullet points depends on your earlier choice: text-heavy or visually rich formatting.
Separate your content into chunks; for an ebook with mostly text, you’ll need main headings, similar to how chapters have titles. When creating a visual style ebook, branch down from your main headings and use subheadings, bullet points and quotes. Make a note of any image placements and their captions.
Use the main titles to draft an initial table of contents. Rule no.1 of creating the table of contents pages: Do so at the very end; you won’t know the final page numbers and titles until you’ve finished the entire ebook.
Write the content.
Using the outline, write the content. Remember we said to write what you know? Well, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to fact-check. You need to show that the statements you make are accurate and back them up with expert quotes, links to research, footnotes or proof of personal and professional experience.
When giving advice or tips, use examples of possible scenarios that apply to what you’re sharing. It’s better if the examples are real, but you can change names for anonymity. Mention and refer to case studies or previous experiences to prove that your advice works.
When you’ve got the entire ebook written, put it down for a couple of days (if you have the time) and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Read it from beginning to end and check for these things:
- Is there a flow from opening to closing?
- Is the introduction inviting and interesting?
- Does the content progress in some way from one topic to another?
- Are all the visuals supporting the content positively?
- Does all the interactive and multimedia content work as it should?
- Do the transitions between sections make sense?
- Is the conclusion concise and well-rounded?
Don’t forget to proofread!
Finally, don’t forget to proofread the text. Use tools like Grammarly or Language Tool as you write, and then do a final check with Grammarly Pro or Hemingway App to find language and grammar inconsistencies. If there’s an editor in your team, have them look through it and make changes to improve the flow, message and tone.
One of the reasons we love interactive ebooks made with Visme and shared with a live link is that all changes will reflect for the user next time they open the ebook. This way, changes as small as a typo or as significant as a missing paragraph won’t mean republishing the ebook completely.
3. Get an ISBN For Your Ebook (Optional)
Before you design your ebook to sell, you might need an ISBN for it. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and is what distributors and bookstores use to distinguish your ebook from others.
Most publishers and distributors need an ISBN to sell any book, including an ebook. The only exceptions are Amazon and Visme live links and some digital download sites like Gumroad.
If you self-publish a physical book and an ebook of the same manuscript, each will need a unique ISBN. The same applies to different file formats of the same ebook.
4. Design Your Ebook
Designing your ebook is next. If you decide on a text-heavy format, incorporate some visuals to break up the content here and there. For expert knowledge ebooks, don’t use random stock photos to fill up space; use data visualizations instead.
These will both add visual richness and value for the reader. If you write a fiction book with very few visuals, try adding a small illustration at the beginning of each chapter, even the title or chapter number can be creative.
For ebooks with a highly visual approach, you’ll need to consider visuals a homogeneous and balanced collection. The imagery is meant to both support and accompany the text while helping with the flow of content.
Placement of the visuals is vital for an easy-to-read pattern on every page. Take a look at some magazines to get inspired. Analyze how the text is easy to read with images and visuals dispersed in between.
Here’s a quick rundown of the pages your ebook needs:
- Info Page
- Table of Contents
- Content Pages
- About the Author
The info page includes the copyright, ISBN, year of publication, any disclaimers, acknowledgments and primary sources of content that need mentioning.
You have two choices to begin putting everything together: start with a template or design from scratch. The choice depends on your team and how confident the person in charge feels about it.
Even if you want to start with a blank canvas, there might be a template you like the look of. Templates are great for inspiration, and if you didn’t know, even designers use templates.
Start with a template.
Templates are great for free ebooks because they’re usually shorter and include less information. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use these for longer ebooks that you will charge for.
Look for templates on sites like Visme, Behance or Renderforest and choose one that fits your content. You can add, remove and duplicate pages in templates easily.
Ebook Template – The Generations
Fashion Annual Sales Ebook
Developments in Technology Ebook
Graphic Design – Ebook
As you design the pages, you’ll notice why it was important to separate the content into clusters. Separating the content this way makes it easier to format both the text and visuals into the pages.
Take note of what content you copy into the template to avoid duplicating or missing significant sections.
Design your ebook from scratch.
Designing an ebook from scratch does need a certain level of design experience. If you want your ebook to look different and not like any other that used the same template, then create from a blank canvas.
You’ll need to plan the formatting first, take notes from templates of other ebooks or ones you’ve bought or read previously.
Try out a couple of designs with sample pages and test with your team before fully finalizing all the pages. This technique will save time, much like a wireframe saves time when designing websites.
Here’s a checklist to help you complete all the steps when creating an ebook.
Tips to improve your ebook design.
Regardless of whether you’re using a template or not, these design tips will help. Each section has a link to more helpful reading about design. Open them in a new tab to read later.
- Font choice: Use no more than two fonts (or two styles of the same font) in your ebook—one for the headings and the others for body text. Great fonts for body text are; Lato, Garamond and Verdana. Choose the one that best matches your brand voice and tone.
- Color palette: Choose a color palette that won’t tire the reader. Avoid using color for the main body text and stick to black or a very dark gray. For the visuals, stick to the same balanced color palette for illustrations, data visualizations and even for photography.
- Visual hierarchy: Follow the rules of visual hierarchy on every page of your ebook. Also, apply flow hierarchy from page to page. Every section starts with a large title, maybe a smaller subtitle and then the body content in a regular size. Further down in the hierarchy could be footnotes and image captions.
- Margins and spacing: One of the biggest mistakes made by non-designs is to forget about the margins. Give your ebook page margins big enough to make the content feel like it’s floating in the center of the page. Maintain the same margin for every single page. The only exceptions are full-width images.
- Page numbers: Remember to number the pages in your ebook, but do so at the very end. You don’t need to put a page number on the cover, info page, or table of contents. Most document creators can number the pages automatically, look for that before trying to number the pages manually.
5. Create an Eye-Catching Ebook Cover Design
Create a clever and exciting ebook cover design with the target reader/user persona in mind. Use visuals that will be attractive or relatable to them. Remember that the cover design will not only be part of the ebook itself; you’ll also use it in a mockup to promote the ebook.
The cover design should include the following elements:
- Ebook Title
- Company Name/Logo
- Brand Colors and Imagery
Even though people say to “not judge a book by its cover,” you can bet that people will do just that, regardless. Make sure the cover is inviting and makes sense with the topic of the book.
Use visual hierarchy to organize the content. For example, the title has the largest font, then the subtitle and finally the author name. You can see this in the example below.
6. Download & Publish Your Ebook
When you’re confident that your book is ready to publish, you’ll have to get it ready to sell. Refer back to the section above, where we list the different types of ebook file types. Choose the one that’s right for you. Here are a few more tips regarding your options.
If you choose to download it as a PDF (static or with active links), you’ll need some way to send the ebook to your clients. Here are some ways to do that:
- Upload the PDF to your website to generate a link.
- Add the PDF file to a Dropbox folder, generate the link and when sending it to the client, change the last digit from 0 to 1, so it downloads as soon as someone clicks on it.
- Publish the ebook to the web with Visme and share the live link with customers. They’ll be able to read in Visme (without needing an account) and can download from there if they wish to do so. This option also allows for password-protected access.
Do you want to publish your book on one of the online publisher or distributor sites? You’ll need an EPUB or Word document file.
- Use an online converter to change your PDF ebook into an EPUB— the best only for mostly text publications.
- For responsive ebooks with lots of visuals, download it as an HTML5 and convert it to EPUB.
- Upload your Word document file ebook to the publishing site, and they will convert it for you.
Is your ebook a digital visual experience with multimedia, animations, videos and more? Your best bet is to use the Visme publication option mentioned above.
7. Price Your Ebook
When putting a price on your ebook, it’s crucial to do some market research. How much are other writers charging for their ebooks on similar topics?
Notice how books are priced like this: $6.76, $16.78 or $13.89. It’s all about pricing psychology and how consumers see the price in decimals as being lower than a whole number.
When you choose the platform to publish and distribute your ebook, look at how much they take as a service fee. Mark up the price to a point where you’re making a profit.
How do you know if you’re making a profit? Calculate the time and work it took to create the ebook, to begin with. How much are you planning on spending on marketing?
Is your target audience people that will pay for a higher-priced book, or not? Calculate how many books you’d like to sell before making a profit and then price according to that.
8. Create a Landing Page For Your Ebook
Regardless of how you publish your ebook, you’ll need a landing page to promote it and bring people into your sales funnel. There are several ways to get your customers to pay for the book. Remember that the least number of clicks is always best.
Sell ebooks via your website using an e-commerce integration. Both Shopify and WooCommerce are great options. For something more simple, just add a PayPal button to the landing page. Then either set it up for automatic download or via an email to their inbox.
If you’re using a publisher or distributor like Amazon or a digital product marketplace like Gumroad, add the product link to the button on your landing page.
The landing page below is for a book that’s for sale both as a hardcover or an ebook. Each button directs to the relevant sales page.
9. Promote Your Ebook
Now that everything is ready, it’s time to promote your ebook. Some writers and marketers start promoting the book before it’s even finished, building excitement and expectation.
It’s your choice if to start promoting before or after the ebook is ready. To advertise in advance, you have to be confident that it’ll be finished on a specific date, otherwise, a delay can harm your marketing strategies.
A great way to promote and share news about your ebook is to create a mockup graphic. Here are some ways you can promote your ebook, using the mockup in a promotional design:
- Social media posts
- Social media ads
- Newsletters and email blasts
- Outreach opportunities like guest posts on other sites
- A popup on your site
- As a footer or sidebar ad on your blog posts
- Add a link to the landing page on your email signature
- Ask readers to leave honest reviews which you can share
When you have more than one ebook, create a landing page for all of them together like an archive. Add the main page with all ebooks to your website’s primary menu as an essential resource for your visitors.
10. Track Ebook Sales
Tracking ebook sales performance is essential to know how to proceed with promotional strategies or further ebook creation. Use a combination of techniques to track sales and reading time; that way, you can find out if the people who buy the book are actually reading it or just letting it sit in their inbox.
Most of the sites to sell ebooks in the list above offer some type of analytics. You’ll have to see what each of them has in store when you look at the pros and cons of choosing. Visme, for example, has an analytics tool that shows visitors, views and demographics.
Use Google Analytics to track who visits the landing page but doesn’t buy. Add a UTM parameter to the landing page link when sharing it on social media or anywhere else. Create unique UTM parameters to track where the visits are coming from specifically.
Pro Tip: Create sales and performance reports showing all the analytics. Visme, for example, offers a Google Analytics integration to add custom charts to your reports.
11. Nurture Your Readers
If someone bought one of your ebooks, they’d likely buy another. Once you’ve captured their email and contact through email or via a Facebook pixel, nurture the communication with them.
Use an email provider to send newsletters about upcoming books and personalize messages relevant information to their interests.
Use Facebook ads for retargeting people that have visited your site, landing page or Facebook page before. Use mockups with your cover design to make your ebook look inviting, interesting and worth buying. Send repeat buyers the first couple of chapters of an upcoming book, asking them to have first access when it goes live.
Write and Sell Ebooks to Generate Passive Income
Are you ready to make money selling ebooks? In this guide, we share all you need to know to get started, from writing, designing and publishing an ebook to several possible sites to sell your ebook through.
Adding an ebook to your passive income strategy might be just what you need for the next quarter. There’s surely a wealth of knowledge you could share with readers, or maybe a fictional story or memoir you’ve been working on. Inspiring ebooks do well also, in both business and self-help circles.
If you’re looking for a platform to create an ebook to sell, try out Visme’s online ebook creator. You can easily create a multimedia ebook to share as a live link or convert to EPUB. Or, create a static or interactive PDF ebook to download and share in various ways.