You’ll often hear or read the times we live in referred to as the Information Age. And Information is truly a valuable currency. Even more so, now that digital self-publishing has advanced to the stage where the biggest cost for you to publish your own information in digital form is the time it takes you to write.
And creating your own eBooks can be great for your online business. As well as the obvious benefit of having something tangible to sell to potential clients, you could also create eBooks to give away as bonuses for other products. Or you can create eBooks that you can give away for free, but use to expand your reach on the old Interwebz and help build your audience.
There are people out there who’ve created 6 and 7 figure businesses on the back of 20 or 30 page eBooks. (Of course, they’ve scaled up over time and added more products – but their businesses started with very modest eBooks.)
So Why Then Do Many Bloggers Find Writing An eBook Difficult?
Let’s be honest, writing scares the crap out of a lot of people. Part of that fear is the fear of looking silly. Part of that fear is also induced by your own ego – the force of resistance that I’ve talked about many times on the blog.
But part of that fear is also that instead of writing a blog post, or a short web article – which most people can do – the thought of writing 30 or 40 pages fills them with dread.
When they look in the mirror, Resistance stares back at them and whispers: You can’t write 40 pages of content on one topic. And they nod and agree….and quietly shelve their eBook project. Or put it off for another day (that will never come).
Or worst of all, when asked about their eBook they say: I’ve got writer’s block.
And yet they can happily turn out regular posts for their blog. Now back in the day when blogging was new and Google didn’t own YouTube, blog posts looked more like ‘diary’ entries. But these days more and more blog posts look like website articles – often the only way you know it’s a blog is because there’s a comments section after each post, because the blog owner refers to his site as a ‘blog,’ and because somewhere on the page will be the phrase “‘proudly powered by WordPress’.
If you write regular blog posts, you should have absolutely no reason to be scared about producing an eBook. Especially if you use the method I’m about to show you – the Outline and Bundle method.
So What Is ‘The Outline And Bundle’ Method?
Let me start by telling you that the Outline And Bundle Method works. I write all my eBooks and Books this way. (For the record, so far I’ve written six). And this method is not unique to me – Darren Rowse from www.problogger.com used it to write his ’31 Days To Build A Better Blog’ eBook. If you’ve read Steven Pressfield’s book The War Of Art, that could have been written using this method. My mentor Sean D’Souza has written upwards of twenty eBooks using this method.
In fact, Sean was the guy who first showed me how to use this method when I wrote my first eBook.
Here are the steps you need to use the Outline and Bundle Method to create an eBook.
- Come up with the concept for your eBook.
- Brainstorm the different sections that are needed for your eBook.
- When you’ve completed the brainstorming, then order the sections as they will appear in the finished eBook.
- Then outline each section. The trick here is to divide each section into chunks – each of those chunks should be approximately the same length as a good sized blog post or web article.
- When you have done this, then you can start writing. Pick an ‘article’ sized chunk, outline THAT. And then sit down and start writing. Remember that you’re only writing the same length as a blog post, or a website article.
- Do that for every chunk in the eBook. So you’ll end up with 25 ‘articles,’ or 30 ‘articles,’ or however many articles you need, all written around the same topic.
- Then ‘bundle’ the articles together. So that now they fit together to form a complete whole – an eBook. You may have to go through and edit so that the sections flow together. But when you’ve done this two or three times, you’ll find that the amount of editing needed is minimal.
- Add a cover. Add graphics.
- Voila. You have written an eBook.
Some Cool Things About The ‘Outline And Bundle’ Method
There are some things about the Outline And Bundle method that can work really well for you.
Firstly, if you write 5 or 6 of the articles for an eBook you’ve outlined, and find your enthusiasm waning, well you can put the project on hold. But you can still make use of the articles, because they can be published on your blog anyway. And if those articles prove popular you’ve still got the outline stored on your hard drive and can always resurrect it later.
Secondly, publishing some – or even all – of the articles on your blog first can be an effective method of fine-tuning the eBook as you write it. Because if you have an audience already, their comments on each blog post will tell you what you’ve missed out. Or give you ideas about what your audience really wants to hear. Those comments can also generate material that you’d not originally thought of.
And don’t think that just because you’ve published the articles on your blog already doesn’t mean you can’t sell your eBook version as well. Darren Rowse’s ‘31 Days To Build A Better Blog’ was originally written as a series of blog posts. The last time I really had a long, cold look you could get the book for free as an autoresponder series, and have the individual articles delivered daily to your inbox. (I think the frequency was daily.)
Or you could just buy the book for 20 bucks.
There will be those in your audience who’ll gladly buy the eBook version. That percentage will increase if you add additional graphics to the eBook version. Maybe some worksheets or some checklists – depending on the topic. Or add a relevant resources section. Or record yourself reading the eBook, and make an audio book for extra value. There are plenty of ways of making sure your clients get additional value from your eBook compared to reading the articles separately on your blog.
Thirdly – and this is something I think more bloggers and writers need to address – outlining and bundling may suit your own writing system better than the ‘traditional’ writing system. By this I mean that a lot of writers and people who want to be writers think they have to start at the beginning of their eBooks and write sequentially to the end.
If you’ve outlined your eBook properly you can start wherever you want. Feel like writing the last article of the book. Go ahead, jump to it and write it. Want to switch to a couple of articles in the middle, then do it.
It’s liberating – you can write in whatever sequence you feel like. This enables you to gather momentum, because there are always a couple of sections or articles that you don’t want to write (true for me anyway). And you can skip them and write something that you’re happier to get down on paper now.
And then momentum of nearing the finish line will get you through whatever aversion you have to those parts you’ve avoided. A thorough edit when it’s all completed – and the only person who’ll know the eBook was written out of sequence will be you.
Successful Online Businesses Need Leverage – eBooks Are A Good Way To Start
For your online business to be successful in the long run, you’re going to need some leverage built into your business model. (Leverage here is used to mean something that you create once, and then you can sell it on autopilot. Or you upload it somewhere and it builds your audience on autopilot.)
A 30 or 40 page eBook is as good a place as any to start with creating that leverage. Once you’ve created one, and been through the process, it’s fairly easy to create another. And another.
Each additional eBook you create adds bottom line to your business – and increases your expertise and creditability in the eyes of your audience because everyone knows that it’s hard to write an eBook, right? And writing two, or three, or four is harder by an exponential degree, right?
Now I know that writing an eBook is pretty easy – especially using this method.
And now you know too. Once you’ve followed the process through and created your first eBook using this method you’ll wonder what’s been holding you back all these years!
9 Ways You Can Use eBooks As Leverage In Your Business
Once you’ve put an eBook together, there are plenty of different ways you can use it to grow your business. (Grow your business is defined here as either generating revenue, generating leads, or expanding your reach on the old Interwebz).
Here’s the 9 ways:
- You can sell it on your website.
- You can use it as a bonus for a higher priced product on your website.
- You can create a Kindle version and sell it on Amazon as a lead generation device.
- You can use Create Space and self publish the eBook on Amazon as a physical book. Or if you are prepared to work a little harder – and potentially generate more income – you can self publish via a company called Lightning Source.
- You can create an audio version to use as a bonus, or add extra value to your overall package.
- You can make the individual articles that build up the eBook into a Podcast series to build your audience.
- You can use it as an ‘ethical bribe’ to build your list – in exchange for their email addresses, potential clients get to download your eBook for free.
- You can use it for lead generation by uploading it to eBook websites, or document sharing sites like Scribd.com.
- You can convert the individual articles to Video Articles and upload them to video aggregator sites like YouTube, Metacafe, Blip, and Viddler.
That’s not bad for a bundled collection of articles is it?
Producing eBooks for your online business is a great way to start generating revenue. Or it can be used to generate more leads. Or get yourself more widely known.
And it doesn’t have to be hard.
In the Outline and Bundle method you outline your eBook, and then chunk it down into Article sized sections. And then simply write the book one article at a time. When it’s complete, you bundle the articles together, add graphics and a cover, and suddenly you are an author of an eBook.
Once you’ve got one or more eBooks there are different ways you can use those eBooks to help build your business in the ways we’ve talked about today.
The Next Step
What are you waiting for – immediate implementation is the key to truly learning a new skill. So go brainstorm/outline/chunk down and start writing! Post your thoughts in the comments section below – if you use a different method to produce an eBook I’d love to hear it!