BEHIND-THE-SCENES: HOW I CREATED THE BLOGGING BREAKTHROUGH EBOOK
It all started 14 months ago.
It was coming up to Christmas 2015 and I’d managed to finally find my blog’s true purpose. I knew the direction I was going in and I was starting to attract more and more readers.
I was planning my content for the New Year and I really wanted to kick off 2016 with a bang. I’d seen two of my favourite people online (Regina and Jen) create free challenges and I thought this would be a great thing to do on ABOH.
I spent hours and hours prepping all the content and taking all the photos, letting loose so many things I had learnt over the past two years. I wanted to help everyone believe that they could grow and run a blog to be proud of.
It’s not like there wasn’t enough information out there already. It was just that I found there wasn’t the right information out there that I needed. How many other people might feel that way?
So I put the challenge out there, publishing content almost every day throughout the month of January. It was only after what felt like the hundredth comment saying, “it’d be great to have this all in one place”, that I thought about repurposing it into something that people could access in their own time and work through at their own pace.
Within a few weeks, I’d put together an eBook for the 28-day Blogging Breakthrough Challenge.
There was basically a chapter for each part of the challenge, complete with hidden extras that weren’t available on the blog.
I launched it as my free mailing list opt-in in February 2016 (despite having some mega late nights towards the end to make sure it was good to go!) People loved it more than I expected.
What they loved the most was the fact that I was sharing information from my own experiences and from what I had learnt. They were putting these simple steps into action and seeing results.
It felt SO good.
But, as is the nature of the online and blogging industry, over this past year or so I’ve been constantly learning. I’ve been testing out new strategies and I’ve managed to more than double my traffic, following and engagement.
So now, I feel like I owe it to my readers and the Blogging Breakthrough community to update the challenge, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. At first, I thought I would direct it specifically to beginner bloggers.
Then when I was planning out some of the content updates, I realised something.
All bloggers, no matter whether they’ve been at it for three months or three years, face problems with their online presence on more than one occasion.
I had bloggers who’d been running their blogs for a while sign up to my mailing list to get a copy of the free eBook. If I was to improve this content but then narrow down who I wanted to target, surely that would mean I would be letting a huge chunk of my readership down.
And I know I’ve got better information in me.
Something more valuable, something more actionable, something that would let people see success again and again. Something that could truly help all the bloggers out there go from being stuck to knowing they’re on the right path – just like me.
That’s what I want to do.
So Blogging Breakthrough 2.0 is in the process of being created. I can’t wait. For now though, I want to break my creative process down into easy chunks so you can see exactly how I went about creating my last eBook and what I’m going to take forward for this next one.
#1 | GET FEEDBACK FROM MY SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY
I asked my audience for two things when it came to creating the first version of the Blogging Breakthrough challenge:
- What problems they were struggling with when it came to their blog/what they needed help with
- Comments surrounding the challenge that would act as testimonials
There’s no point putting something out there into the world unless you know your audience wants it.
Getting to know your audience on a personal level is one of the most valuable things you can do. It’s easy to assume that you know what they want, probably because you’re like them (or used to be like them).
But just because you share the same values, doesn’t mean you’re the same as them. Which also means you might not want the same things that they do.
When I found out that my readers were enjoying the Blogging Breakthrough challenge so much that they wanted it in one place, I was so pleased that I could offer a way to help them.
It turned out that the answers to my survey were all problems covered in the eBook.
For the next version, I want to go even bigger, even deeper. I want to get to know, not just more about you as a reader, but more about your processes. And I want to create an EPIC blog post about the trends I find.
So keep your eyes peeled on social media and in my mailing list community for your chance to take part in the survey and be in with the chance of winning a prize!
IF YOU DON’T ASK, YOU DON’T GET
It was never my intention for the Blogging Breakthrough challenge to turn into an eBook. It was only after feedback that I had a light bulb moment.
But what was great about this was the fact that people were already seeing the content on my blog, so could give me really good feedback.
As people were making their way through the challenge, they tweeted me with loads of feedback about it, including:
- “LOVING this series – I’ve been getting a lot out of it in a matter of days!”
- Loving the #BloggingBreakthrough challenge by @abranchofholly. So many great tips on upping your blogging game”
- “We are in love with @abranchofholly’s new free resource for bloggers”
- “So @abranchofholly and her #BloggingBreakthrough series have literally changed my life – thank you!”
- "Currently doing a blog spring clean with the help of the #BloggingBreakthrough guide from @abranchofholly, which is AMAZING"
- “I’ve kinda fallen for @abranchofholly… You NEED to read her #BloggingBreakthrough series – it’s eye-opening! It’s really inspiring me to make changes to my blog”
This will be like a goldmine for you.
Here’s what I did:
- I created a page for my mailing list community (where if someone signed up, they got free access to the eBook)
- I described what the eBook was all about
- I used my reader feedback as testimonials on the page to support the eBook
When you’re booking a holiday online you read the reviews, right? It’s the same principle here. People want to know what’s in it for them before they commit. This is how you do that.
#2 | CREATE AN OUTLINE FOR THE EBOOK
Next, I created a format for the whole eBook. Instead of working my way through page by page to format and add in all the content, I thought it’d be best to sort the layout first then I could drag and drop the text in.
I expected this to take a long time, but thanks to Pages being so easy to navigate (plus a free tutorial from Regina), I was able to get to grips with it and create the whole layout.
What made it easier to create was being completely aware of my brand. I used the exact colours, fonts and images to represent A Branch of Holly and that made the eBook even more successful.
Step two: complete!
#3 | INPUT/CREATE THE CONTENT
This was obviously the biggest task.
I wanted to make sure the chapters of the eBook were connected together like an actual eBook. I didn’t want to just input the posts and tie them together. I wanted it to be actionable, like a system or process.
For me, I know that I learn best when I’m being deeply guided through something and have a set of tasks to complete at the end of it. I knew I wanted to transfer this into the Blogging Breakthrough Challenge eBook (plus any other lessons or challenges I went on to create).
So keeping that in mind, I spent time planning the tasks that would really help students of the course get to where they wanted to be.
I decided to make it easier, I would split the challenge up into different weeks with a lesson on each day. That way, students could either work through in 28 days, work through it a week at a time with a bit of a break or just go at it at their own page.
Each lesson essentially became it’s own chapter in the book, with the four weeks breaking it up into sections. Then at the end of each chapter, I added in an actionable to-do list to make sure the students were taking steps at every lesson in the course. Then, they were able to move onto the next chapter once that to-do list was complete. Some lessons would take longer than others - it completely depended on the topic.
The end result was a challenge that neatly slotted together, where one lesson followed on from the next in a simple, flowing order to build up into a whole process.
Plans for the eBook update
I want to carry on with this actionable content idea with the next version of the eBook, to encourage students to do even more to take a step forward (especially as it’s going to be a paid product).
Sort of like extra worksheets and checklists for each chapter, with video training and tutorials to make it even more valuable and easy to implement.
#4 | LAUNCHING THE BLOGGING BREAKTHROUGH CHALLENGE EBOOK
At the time of publishing this blog post, it’s been one year, one month and twelve days since the launch of the Blogging Breakthrough eBook.
This was my first ever ‘official launch’ so I really didn’t know how it was going to go. I didn’t go all out with webinars, an email promotion series and interviews with other bloggers.
I found that because it was solely to do with my blog and building up my email list, I wanted to focus solely on those methods.
So that’s exactly what I did.
I did a launch plan on Twitter and Instagram which involved behind-the-scenes shots, testimonials and more, and that really helped to spread the word about the upcoming eBook launch.
Then on the day of the launch, I published a blog post purely to reveal to people that they could get their hands on the eBook. It told readers exactly what was in the eBook, gave some user feedback from people who had worked through the challenge, and even created a full page on my site to promote the Blogging Breakthrough community (which they would become a part of if they signed up to the the eBook).
The gold was in the challenge itself (obviously 😉) But for the launch, I wanted to tell them what else was available.
So here’s what I created for the launch of the Blogging Breakthrough eBook:
- A dedicated blog post explaining the eBook (read it here!)
- A special launch email to my community with the link to the eBook and what people would get out of it
- Tweets and Instagram posts to promote the launch
- A page on my site to promote the eBook and the whole mailing list community (view it here!)
And that was it. That was the launch. I wanted to keep it simple, but I wanted it to be effective.
Basically, I didn’t want people to think they were *just* getting an eBook. I wanted them to get so much more.
I put all of my heart and experiences into the first version of Blogging Breakthrough - and I’m ready to bring even more to the table for version 2.0.
Have you ever thought about creating an eBook for your blog? If you already have, what are some of your tips?