[Click HERE to download BookBaby's free PDF guide: How to Boost Your Business with eBooks: Building Your Brand, Prospect List, and Customer Base]
eBooks aren’t just for fans (or writers) of fiction, memoir, and history. Thousands of businesses are also discovering the value of eBooks, both as an additional revenue stream and as a powerful passive marketing tool.
Writing an eBook for your business is one of the best ways to demonstrate your expertise, build brand recognition and loyalty, boost your website’s SEO, engage with clients, and increase your prospective customer base.
“But I’m in the business of doing business,” I hear you say. “I’m no writer!”
Fear not, friends. Read on.
6 reasons why you should be using eBooks to build your business
1. You don’t have to write an epic. eBooks can be SHORT!
It’s generally not worth it for publishers to print a physical book unless it LOOKS like it’s filled with the wisdom of the ages; and that means, ya know– lots and lots of pages.
As a result, plenty of business books and how-to books (heck, even most novels) tend to say a few things well, and then either repeat themselves or head off on wild tangents in order to fill those pages.
But there’s no standard minimum page-count with eBooks; they can be as short or as long as you need. Pressure’s off! The point is to share relevant information in an interesting way– and if you can squeeze that unique and helpful knowledge into 10 pages, your readers will find each page all the more valuable for its brevity.
For instance, if you’re a plumber– you could write a short eBook on DIY ways to unclog your toilet and keep the pipes clean. (The pipes in your house, I mean. For figurative pipe-cleaning advice, consult a nutritionist or doctor.)
There is another benefit to short eBooks besides the fact that they’re potentially easier to write/create: frequency. The shorter your eBooks are, the quicker you’ll produce them; the quicker you produce them, the faster you can build up a robust eBook catalog.
2. eBooks are inexpensive to produce and easily distributed worldwide.
Unlike physical books, eBooks are very cheap to make. The biggest consideration is usually the time it takes to write the book itself.
Then a company like BookBaby can take your file (.doc, .txt, PDF, etc.) and convert it into an attractive eBook that will be readable on all the major devices (Amazon Kindle, Apple’s iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, the Sony Reader, Kobo, Copia, and more). BookBaby will also distribute your eBook to all the major digital book retailers and pay you (weekly!) 100% of your net earnings.
eBooks don’t require fancy cover designs, but a nice cover can certainly help attract readers. If your design skills are lacking, BookBaby also offers professional and affordable eBook cover design services.
The relative low-cost of producing an eBook is also a bonus in another way: you don’t have to spend money doing market research for your book.
Once upon a time with printed books, it was wise to send out mailings to your professional peers and clients (even before you’d begun writing), telling them a few of the major ways your book could help them. The mailing would also include a self-addressed stamped postcard with a couple checkboxes to gauge interest in advance and see what your potential buyer would be willing to spend on the book.
Then you’d do a little math and see if writing and printing the book would be worth the effort. The worst thing would be to write it, spend thousands printing the books, only to see them languish in a storage closet in your office.
With an eBook– forget all that. There’s very little risk involved, and zero inventory concerns. Since the internet provides limitless “shelf-space,” you can leave your eBook on sale forever on the various retail sites and on your own website. If it’s not a big hit in the first month, no one is going to turn you away; you can still watch a steady trickle of sales add up over time to big earnings.
3. Everybody wants eBooks!
Over 20% of Americans own eReaders; over 20% of Americans own tablets (like the iPad or Kindle Fire); 66% of Americans between the ages of 24-35 own smartphones (iPhones, Android, etc.); and these numbers are increasing exponentially. While many European countries still lag behind the US in terms of eBook technology, they’re making the right moves to catch up. Soon enough, EVERYONE will be in the market for eBooks.
Over the past 15 years– email, websites, and social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have become ubiquitous tools for conducting and marketing your business. While business-branded eBooks probably won’t be quite as obligatory as those other tools, customers and clients will become conditioned to search for businesses, references, and testimonials not only on Google, Yelp, and YouTube, but also on Amazon.com, the Apple iBookstore, and other popular eBook stores.
Why not establish your presence in the business-branded eBook market ahead of the pack?
4. eBooks help you establish your expertise and build your brand.
I don’t care what kind of business you work in; consultant, stock analyst, blogger, booking agent, art courier, railroad engineer, plumber, tinker, tailor, baker, candlestick maker, spy– you have a particular skill or knowledge that someone out there will find useful.
If you can clearly communicate that knowledge in an eBook, your reader will trust your credibility and competency, be more likely to purchase your product, subscribe to your service, hire you for a job, or recommend you to a friend.
But again, don’t stress about writing the definitive masterpiece on the subject– just add something valuable to the conversation.
You’re not writing the great American novel. Instead, simply outline the information you want to share; use a confident, straightforward tone– and keep on track. If you do, your book will be useful– and if it’s useful, it’ll sell– all the while increasing brand awareness and loyalty.
Now some of you might be asking, “Why in the hell would I want to write a book teaching people how to unclog their own toilets? Then they won’t hire me!” Well, I’m not writing this article to start a debate on the pros and cons of content marketing, BUT… I will say this: If your 10-page DIY Plumbing eBook helped someone unclog their own toilet, who do you think they’re going to call when it comes time to install a new bathroom? Yep. You!
By providing helpful info, you’re building trust and increasing the odds of selling your big-ticket items.
5. eBooks help you grow your prospect list.
An eBook is one of the most versatile ways to gather prospective clients’ contact info.
Consider offering your eBook for free on your website. Build a dedicated landing page on your site (for a little extra SEO power) which allows visitors to exchange their name and email address for a free download of the eBook. If you want to get really fancy, you can give them the choice of downloading an ePUB or PDF.
You’ll want to include the URL for your website somewhere in your eBook for readers who found and purchased your eBook through a site like Amazon or iBookstore. Attracting readers to your site is important because the digital book retailers do NOT provide customer contact info to authors and publishers.
Once you’ve enticed the reader to visit your own website, they may want to download another eBook in your catalog (thus the importance of making a few different eBooks available)– at which point they’ll be prompted to provide their contact info.
6. eBooks help you boost your website’s SEO.
eBooks can also be used in tandem with a blog, further boosting your website’s SEO rankings.
If you maintain a blog for your business, you can create a content schedule where you slowly build your eBook over a series of blog posts. No need to stress yourself out writing it all at once.
Or, conversely, chop the finished eBook up into smaller segments that will fuel your blog over the course of several weeks or months.
If you use the later method, be sure to link to the landing page where blog readers can download the whole eBook.
And, of course, be sure to share the individual blog posts (as well as links to the finished eBook’s landing page) on all your social media profiles; you may just watch your eBook become one of your most powerful viral marketing tools.
Have you used an eBook to grow your business? We’d love to hear about the experience in the comments section below.
[Photo of businessman from Shutterstock.]