One of the biggest advantages of the internet is the ability to make money online. Doing so provides people with ways of making money outside of conventional jobs and within the comfort of their own homes.
However, figuring out good ways to make money is a tricky goal. The problem is that there are so many different methods out there and many of them are simply a waste of time. I cover many of those scams on this blog. But some are totally legit, and I make sure to highlight those!
Today, we’re taking a look at one specific approach, the idea of making money selling eBooks online. Now, as products go, eBooks are certainly appealing. After all, they’re fairly simple to create and there aren’t many overhead costs. All it takes is knowledge and a computer. But, is selling them a good way to make money?
That’s what we’re going to find out.
To begin with, as a general rule there are two different approaches for selling most types of products. One of these is the idea of creating the product yourself and then selling it. The key advantage of doing this is that you get all of the profit. At the same time, you’re creating something unique, so you don’t have to compete against other people selling the exact same product. There may be other similar products out there, but not this exact one.
Alternatively, you can sell products that other people create. Typically, doing this will mean less income per sale, because you only earn a commission. Plus, you’re competing against many other people and places that sell or are promoting the same product.
But, at the same time, there is less work involved in selling somebody else’s product and that product may already have a good reputation of its own.
When it comes to selling eBooks, you really can go in either direction, because they both have potential. With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at both ways of making money with eBooks and precisely what you can expect.
Selling Your Own eBooks
If you’re planning on selling an eBook that you personally write, then one of the most common ways to do so is through the Kindle store that Amazon offers. At this point in time, the Kindle store is immense and offers books from every genre imaginable. Of course, the tricky thing is that this means there is also a lot of competition.
The good thing about Kindle is that there is also a very large customer base, which gives you considerable potential for making sales. Additionally, it’s very easy for people to buy books through Kindle and get the books onto their devices. That’s another reason why Kindle works so well.
It’s fairly simple to get an eBook published on Kindle and to get to the point where people can buy it. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will be successful.
One ongoing challenge is that you have to get people to notice your book. With all the competition out there, that’s pretty tricky to achieve, especially if you don’t have much of a reputation or fanbase. It's very easy to be “just another title” by an independent author among the 10,000's of books out there.
Without a strategy to drive traffic to your book listing, it can be very hard to make sales unless your book has some shock factor or is incredibly and irresistibly unique.
Some people try to game the system a little bit by paying for positive reviews on their books. In some cases, this can even drive them to bestseller status within their topic area and makes it easier to get the book noticed. However, doing this is risky and you also end up looking bad if the book isn’t as good as the positive reviews imply. You can get all your reviews removed and even get banned from publishing on the Kindle store if you try this method.
Picking A Topic To Write About
If you have a particular topic you're interested in already, great. That's half the battle. If not, you can do some research beforehand to check for trends and where there are fewer competing titles. For example, zombies are trending now, but there's a lot of competition too. An area like Akira fan fiction will have less competition, but a much smaller audience.
Picking a topic area with low competition but high searches and planning your marketing carefully is the best strategy, obviously, but not always easy to do.
What about fiction vs. non-fiction? On average, non-fiction books are going to immensely outperform fiction for most people. It provides a service, and people will buy books the need versus books they just want to enjoy. If you need to paint your house, you're going to buy a book about painting a house. If you want to learn how to sew, you can buy a book. They're much less likely to buy a $0.99 book about the adventures Captain McFartpants and Harry Potter.
If you're serious about making money selling ebooks online, I highly recommend doing research into selling digital information products online. It's a very lucrative business to be in, whether you're selling your own info or someone else's, and it's much easier to find markets to get into. It's even easier to outsource the work and have someone else write the book for you.
If you know there's a hungry market out there, who says you have to know how to do that thing? Find an expert, pay them, and sell the book.
I wrote a non-fiction book about making money online and make consistent sales using my website and email list as a promotional tool. I'm not getting rich off of it, but it is making sales every day. 35 reviews so far and an average of 5 stars!
It is also possible to make money with the Kindle Unlimited program and with the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
These are programs where people don’t actually buy your book. Instead, they basically rent it. This approach means that you earn royalties based on the number of pages that a person reads in your book. That system means you may earn less per book but people may be more likely to read your book this way. As such, it’s an interesting option.
One appealing aspect about these programs is that it can decrease competition. In particular, many people who use Kindle Unlimited will only browse books available through the program, which means that you have less competition.
Now, the algorithm does favor books that people tend to read through, so it isn’t as good for books that you might use as reference material or ones that people have a hard time getting into.
It is possible to have your book in these programs and also for sale normally. However, be aware that anyone who uses Kindle Unlimited or the lending library is more likely to access it that way than they are to actually buy it.
Now, Kindle itself is just one website that sells eBooks, although it is probably the largest and most popular one out there. Other examples include Lulu, Smashwords and Scribd. In general, these sites have similar limitations to Kindle, although they will often have less competition. That doesn't really make them better though, as the sites also tend to have fewer members.
You could also sell your information as a PDF, but that would assume you're writing an infoproduct that teaches something. The most popular sites to sell it on include are Clickbank and JVZoo.
There is, of course, another direction to go with selling your own eBooks. This is to sell them on a website. I’m actually going to go into this idea a little later on but it is certainly achievable.
Selling Other People’s eBooks
If you’re not a writer or don’t want to create your own eBook, selling ones from other people is a good alternative. There is a lot less work initially in doing so and the risks aren’t as high either. It took me 3 months, two editors, and 100+ hours to write my first book. Luckily, it's selling and I'm happy with how everything went. However, I also have an email list of 5000+ people and 5 years of online marketing experience under my belt.
If this is your first venture into writing and selling an ebook, your first book might not do as well! (there's nothing wrong with that)
The simplest way of selling someone else's book for a profit process called affiliate marketing. The basic premise of affiliate marketing is that you sell products from other people and companies, for a commission. Typically, that amount will be a percentage of how much the product sold for.
Affiliate marketing is powerful because you don’t have to manage the actual sales process or any of the customer service. Instead, you’re simply pointing people to a website where they can buy what they’re interested in.
There are also a lot of different affiliate programs out there that you can choose from and you can even sell products from multiple programs at the same time. That gives you a lot of versatility in precisely what you sell. You aren’t limited to eBooks either and there are affiliate programs for just about every type of product out there.
In terms of eBooks though, one place to start is with Amazon, which has its own affiliate program called Amazon Associates. The commission rate for this option is lower than many other affiliate program but you do have the advantage of a wide selection of products, including all of the eBooks sold through Kindle.
The base commission is usually 4%, but with Kindle products you start at 8.5% which is pretty good!
Beyond affiliate marketing, another less common option for selling other people’s books is to buy PLR or similar products. The term stands for private label rights and it refers to a product type where you typically have the right to modify and rebrand the eBook as you see fit.
This method of making money sometimes sounds like a win-win technique because you get all the income from selling the book but you don’t do as much work. However, in practice, PLR doesn’t tend to be a good way to earn money.
One of the biggest issues is simply that the products tend to be extremely low quality. Typically, it takes a lot of work to get PLR products to a quality where people are going to actually want to buy them, which kind of undermines the whole point of PLR. At that point you could research and write the book yourself, or pay someone else to do it.
Using a Website to Make eBook Sales
Regardless of whether you plan to sell your own eBooks or somebody else’s, a website is one of the most powerful tools at your fingertips. With a website, you have the potential to reach a large audience and you also have the tools needed to actually get people to visit your site and to notice you.
At the same time, a website gives you the ability to develop a reputation as being a specialist in a field. For example, if you were to write a book on paragliding and try to sell it via Kindle, you might not get that much interest, partly because people have no idea who you are or why they should trust you.
However, if you created and grew a website around paragliding, you could easily become known as an expert in the field, especially if your website stood out. That reputation can play a key role in your ability to sell books. That pattern is the reason that many food bloggers create cookbooks that sell well, while cookbooks by other authors often don’t get noticed. Authors with busy Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts can have an awesome book launch just based on their online audience buying the new material.
When you have a website, you can leverage that audience and make sales directly from them. Consider the example of a food blogger. If you were a regular visitor to a food blog and they created an eBook, there is a decent chance that you would buy it. For that matter, you might even buy an eBook that they recommended, even if they didn’t write it.
One excellent example of doing this with an info product is My Archery Corner by Moritz Steck. He's got an excellent information resource online with his website, but then sells even more tips and exclusive information with his eBook The Bullseye Masterpiece, available on Amazon Kindle.
He could additionally be leveraging an email list to market his book, and do cross promotions with other archery and bow-hunting enthusiasts to gain a larger audience. It's hard to market yourself from just a book, but when you have a website, social media profiles, and YouTube channel filled with awesome content, suddenly reaching out to other content creators becomes much easier.
As you can see, websites really do have power.
Through a website, you have the ability to attract an audience that is passionate about your topic, whatever it happens to be. So, you could have a website on steampunk, beer, surfing, internet marketing, jewelry, sports, computers, woodworking, or just about any other topic that crosses your mind. This gives you a large amount of flexibility. It also means that you have the chance to make money talking about a topic that you love.
If you want to write your own ebook, the best course online is Chandler Bolt's Self Publishing School. It's the least confusing to join, and is very comprehensive.
If you want to learn about starting your own website and doing affiliate marketing, then Wealthy Affiliate is the best place to get you started. This website is the perfect place to get started with making money online because it offers strong community support and all the training that you need. It's where I learned about affiliate marketing, and how I started my first online business.
If you aren't sure where to start, I would choose Wealthy Affiliate just because I personally have more experience with their training, and I think it allows for you to start more simply, achieving small goals of getting your website set up, getting your first article published, and so on. Rather than having the first daunting task of getting an entire book written, you can start small and grow your successes over time.
What do you think you're doing to opt for?
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