If you’re even a tiny bit serious about building an online presence, then you’ve probably started to realise something big: it takes WAY more than just your blog. You’ve also probably started noticing that eBooks are popping up everywhere.
Since eBooks are becoming more and more accessible (and doable), that must mean that there’s no room or point in you creating one, right?
Actually, there is.
In a contrasting sort of way, the fact that eBooks are becoming more mainstream is a positive thing. It’s growing the amount of people who want to read or buy them in the first place.
Do you think your family or friends would really get the point of creating an eBook? When people hear that I’ve created one that’s 100+ pages and give it away for free on my site, I get some odd looks. But as more and more people learn how powerful eBooks can be, more and more people are interested in downloading and buying them, too.
Here’s the deal: if you’ve ever wanted to create an eBook to boost your online presence (or even just to add it to your CV), then now is a great time to do it. In fact, since launching my first eBook in February, my mailing list more than doubled and continues to grow on a daily basis. Because of that one eBook. MADNESS.
Now, I know the one question stopping you. The one you want to ask me. The one that stopped me moving forward.
“How do I come up with a topic that people will actually give me something for?”
It’s an important question, friend. In today’s post, I’m digging into all the ins and outs you’ll want to know so you can come up with a successful eBook idea of your own.
Ready for a lesson?
I was taught this during my Masters degree and it’s something I’ve carried with me into everything I create.
Here’s what you need for a successful idea:
- What you know about
- What you’re passionate about
- What problem your audience has
Let’s go into those a little deeper.
What you know about - Aka, your knowledge. Everything in that amazing mind of yours. What do you know about that you could teach someone else? And don’t say “I don’t know anything” - I can read your mind, right? 😉 You actually know a hell of a lot more than you think.
I thought the same as you. I didn’t think I had enough knowledge to create an eBook about anything. But the way I did it was this: teach people something that you needed one or two years ago. What did you need back then? What did you learn? Think how useful it would be to someone who is in that exact same position right now.
For me, back then I needed everything in one place about passing a certain point with your blog. That’s the thought I started working with.
What you’re passionate about - Ah the big ‘P’ word. So, just because you know a lot about DIY, doesn't mean you have to create an eBook about DIY. This is where you need to find the point that your passion meets your knowledge and experience. What do people say you’re really good at? What types of questions do you love answering?
I knew two things for sure - I was passionate about my blog and passionate about wanting to help and inspire others. That’s how the two connected.
What problem your audience has - This is probably the biggest one and it’s the foundation of everything you create. We’ll be focusing on this quite a lot as it’ll help you out in so many other areas than just an eBook idea. The question you need to ask is: what problem does your audience have and how can you help them with it?
So your eBook topic comes to life with a mixture of these three things: knowledge, passion and a problem. If you look inside yourself a little deeper, I know you can uncover what you know and what you’re passionate about. But what your audience needs help with? That takes a bit longer, and research is the best way to start. Here are some ways for how to go about it.
HOW TO COME UP WITH AN EBOOK IDEA THAT WILL BE SUCCESSFUL
1. Use social media
Facebook groups and Twitter chats are two PERFECT places to do some research. I use these two methods all the time to see if what people need help with can be turned into some form of content for my audience.
(And hey, just keep in mind that a Facebook group and Twitter chat are on my “to launch” list 😉 #WatchThisSpace)
Here’s how you can use social media to get some research done:
- Find the groups and chats that your audience is taking part in
Sounds great, but I’m not psychic! There are different ways to do this. So many blog posts have been created listing the best Twitter chats or Facebook groups for [insert keyword here]. That’s exactly what you need to put into Google or Pinterest to find what you’re looking for.
This way, you’re not just joining random groups that aren’t relevant to you. There are Facebook groups and Twitter chats full of self-promotional rubbish, so you want to work smart and go off other people’s recommendations. Plus, that way you know they’ve got a seal of approval too.
Now what you’ve got to be careful with is this: you want to interact where your AUDIENCE is. Not where your fellow bloggers are. So if I were a digital marketer who mainly works with small digital agencies, I wouldn't interact in groups and chats aimed at other digital marketers. Are they going to hit download on your eBook and sign up to your mailing list? Nope. Instead, I’d want to look at places where small digital agencies hang out. With me?
- Get your spreadsheet on
Now that you’ve got a running list of Twitter chats to take part in and you’ve joined some Facebook groups, you want to collect all the data that you’re coming across. Here’s what I do:
- Notice any keywords that are being used related to your knowledge and passion and note them down. If I were planning to write an eBook about “How to Nail a Job Interview”, some keywords might be “job interviews”, “interview questions”, “job interview questions”, “interviews” and so on. Don’t be afraid of having single words as well as full phrases.
- Now it’s time to search. In Facebook it’s easier. There should be a bar saying “search this group” that you can put your keywords into. For Twitter, you’re going to have to be more aware and pay attention to what people are saying.
So any time you see a question on social media using one of your keywords, you need to grab that information. It’s like giving candy to a baby - you’re seeing the exact questions that your audience wants to know the answers to.
Keep doing this until you find a pattern of the same question being asked over and over again. Know what that is? Your eBook idea.
2. Launch a survey
Spoiler alert - this is what helped me hone in on my eBook idea. A survey is one of the most powerful ways to find out what kind of content your audience wants to consume. While social media is great for bloggers of all sizes, surveys work best if you’ve already got some people on your mailing list and a decent online following.
Here’s the question you need to include in every survey:
“What’s the biggest problem you’re facing with your [keyword] right now?
Please be as honest as possible. Go beyond writing a word or a sentence. The more detailed your response, the more likely I am to be able to help you with it in the future.”
What you don’t want to do is just ask, “if I could create any eBook, what would you like to see?”
You know when you’re chatting to your other half or friend about what they want to do this weekend? It turns into hours and hours of indecision and not knowing what to do. Asking what someone wants won’t get you an answer.
Something I tell people when they ask for job hunting advice is that it’s important to know what you want - but it’s also really important to know what you don’t want.
By asking a question that directly targets someone’s problems you’re helping them get rid of what they don’t want. That’s massive.
I’ve also taken part in surveys that include the question, “Would you be willing to pay for an e-course that solved this problem for you?”
We could use this for our eBook.
“Would you be willing to sign up for and download an eBook that solved this problem for you?”
If people say no (and they will), you don’t need to pay as much attention to their answers. But for the people that say yes, you want to get the link to your eBook page, send it to them and let them know they can sign up early to make sure they get it as soon as it launches.
You might get some people who won’t open that link and just delete your email. But for those who follow through and sign up, you might be on to a winner. And you don’t even have to have created the eBook at this point.
Want to know the exact questions I asked in my last reader survey (which led me to coming up with my eBook idea)? Click the button to download the questions I sent to my audience!
Once your survey is ready to go, you need to get people to answer it. Write a blog post about it, share it on your social channels, send it in an email to your mailing list. The more you share it, the more chance people will have to answer it.
Now some people turn this into a competition. "Take part in my survey and be in with a chance of winning X!" People think they need to offer an incentive to get responses to their survey.
If someone is more interested in the prize you're offering rather than taking your survey that's going to help solve their problems, they're probably not going to want to download your eBook.
Plus, you'll also get people who enter just for the freebie and you don't want to spend your time working your way through pointless responses.
So if you've got to this point, well done! Your eBook idea should be getting a lot easier to figure out. The next part of this post is about what to be aware of when you're actually creating it.
3. Ignore what everyone else is doing
We hold ourselves back as creators all the time. "Suchabody's already written a post on that and it's awesome" or "I can't write about Instagram because suchabody's grid is so much better than mine."
But it's not really about that, is it? Let me explain.
Say you're looking at a restaurant and five people tell you they've eaten there and it's been great. Four of these people you've never met before and one is your best friend.
Which person are you more likely to be convinced by?
It's exactly the same for when you're creating something like an eBook. I really want you to understand this point, because it will completely change your thinking. Just because there's already an eBook out there on your idea doesn't mean you shouldn't create one, and it doesn't mean that people won't pick yours. Look at mine as an example - how many eBooks do you think are out there about blogging? Yet it didn't stop me creating one.
It's about how you position it. It's about building a loyal community of people who trust and like you. That way, they won't care about anyone else's eBook. They'll care more about yours, because they've already got a connection with you.
Something else I was taught during my masters course was that it's actually a positive thing if there are similar eBooks out there to your own. It means they're working. They wouldn't be made one after the other if no one was reading them. So take reassurance that yours is a good idea - you can make it different by how you actually offer it to people.
4. Be as detailed as you can
One of the questions I always get asked about my content is, "how do you come up with so many original ideas?" My answer is usually something along the lines of being as detailed as possible.
Yes, your audience will probably be able to find similar information online in blog posts. But how do they know they're getting what they need? How do they know what to search for? They wouldn't even know where to start and they would waste time searching for the information in the first place.
OR - they could sign up to your mailing list and get your eBook, which takes them step-by-step to getting to where they want to be with your tried and tested methods. See how it works?
Notice how in most job descriptions, it says 'attention to detail'? That's because detail is really important. When someone sees your eBook, you want them to think "THIS IS TOTALLY FOR ME!" If your eBook is too general and doesn't focus on one specific problem, it'll be harder for people to connect with it. There'll just be things in there that they don't need. You want them to read every word.
And to get them to read every word, you need to know what they want right?
5. Don’t go with your biggest idea
I know this might come as a surprise to you, but it’s actually for your benefit if you avoid as huge eBook as your first offer. The first one you do is probably not going to be your best idea. Believe me - I love Blogging Breakthrough, but since then I’ve come up with way better ideas! You can do so much reading into how to create the perfect eBook, but the best thing to do it create one and work things out as you go along.
Plus, now you know to start with something a big smaller, I bet it feels more freeing, right? It’s easy to look at bloggers launching these massive eBooks and think that you should do the same. But if you’ve never created anything like this before, it’s best to start off which something smaller (which is why a 30 day challenge is ideal). Or even better, take content that’s already on your blog and turn that into an eBook.
The last thing to consider is that creating an eBook takes a hell of a lot of work. That’s exactly why I took content that was already on my blog and put it together - it took away a big sensation of overwhelm. This way, it’ll make the first one you create easier and help you launch it with a bang while you’re learning as you go.
Well friends, there we have it. The five things you need to know. I hope this helps you feel more confident about coming up with a successful eBook idea. If I believe in you, you should believe in yourself too.
Got a question? Want to share thoughts on your own eBook idea? Leave a comment below and let's chat :)