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$72,000 in E-Books in a Week – 8 Lessons I Learned

Over the last 11 days I’ve been on a massive learning curve.

This post is a number of the scattered lessons I’ve been learning – mainly from the launch of my Portraits E-book over at Digital Photography School. This builds upon the post – The Insiders View of How I Launched My New E-book from last week.

Update on the Launch

In the last few hours I’ve ended the official launch process of the e-book. You may remember that we launched the book with a 25% off discount on the book that was to last a bit over a week (9 days actually).

In that time we’ve sold a bit over 4800 e-books.

Before you rush off to grab the calculator – that’s a little bit below $72,000 USD since launch.

While it has certainly been a profitable week – do keep in mind that there are some costs to take off this figure, it’s not all profit. PayPal takes a fee off every transaction, there were design costs, proof reading, affiliate commissions etc.

All in all it’s been a fun week but I’d learned a lot about this type of launch that I’ll do differently next time.

Lesson #1: Offers with Deadlines Work:

You’ll see from the following chart the number of sales each day during the launch.


Day 1 and 2 were the ‘pre-launch’ – held over the weekend and basically a trickle of sales from a couple of tweets that I made.

Day 3 was launch day. It was when I emailed my list, posted on the DPS blog, tweeted in earnest about it and posted my last post mentioning it here on ProBlogger. It was a great day of sales.

Days 4-9 saw me do a few promotions on Twitter and an attempt by me to get my affiliates for the product promoting it. I’ll talk more about the affiliate promotions below. I also mentioned the e-book in the weekly newsletter that I sent out (Day 5) but that promotion wasn’t as in your face as others as I didn’t want to burn out readers. These days were steady in terms of sales which surprised me a little as Thanksgiving was in the middle of it all!

Day 10 was the day I sent out my final ‘last chance’ email to my list. It was a short email simply reminding them that they had 36 hours to go to take action on the 25% discount. The email also linked to a page on the blog where I had a number of reviews from other blogs that said nice things about the e-book.

This last action email and the post on the blog drove a heap of sales. I was expecting it to be a good day but Day 10 went past the launch and considering that the promotion ended halfway through Day 11’s figures that was a good day too.

All in all I think this chart illustrates the power of having an offer with a deadline. The sense of urgency and scarcity that such an offer brings about is powerful.

Lesson #2 – Extra Launch Offer

One thing that I almost immediately regretted with this offer was not having a time sensitive offer that ended after 24 hours. While the first day and last day were great, the reaction of a lot of readers on Day #1 was ‘I’ll think about it’.

Perhaps having a fast action bonus of some kind might have helped convert some of these procrastinating buyers. I’m sure some did end up buying but perhaps not having a fast action bonus lost a few sales on launch day.

Lesson #3 – Mid Promotion Offer

I mentioned above that on Day 5 I mentioned the e-book in my weekly newsletter. I showed the above chart to a couple of experienced internet marketers over the last few hours and each one of them said it’s a pretty typical result. The first and last day of an offer are generally the biggest.

However a couple of them also suggested that they also try to do a mid launch promotion also. In this way they try to get their chart to look more like a W than the V that my chart is like.

Upon reflection I could have done something similar with a number of things. Next time I’ll consider a post and/or email mid launch that points to some reviews/testamonials of the product as well as adding an extra bonus.

Jeff Walker did a nice mid launch promotion on his latest launch that seemed to work well – midway through he added a series of extra bonuses for buyers.

Lesson #4 – Affiliates Need More Hand Holding

Next time around I will be putting a lot more effort into developing relationships with the affiliates promoting the promotion. While 2-3 of the affiliates did quite good promotions – they were in the minority. Here’s what I’ll work on next time:

  1. communicating with affiliates before the launch – the craziness of the launch I didn’t start equipping affiliates until I’d already launched. While I did have a couple of them set up and ready to go most signed up on Day 3-4 and didn’t start promoting until days 5-6 which coincided with Thanksgiving.
  2. tips for affiliates – as I watched the promotions that some of the affiliates ran it became pretty obvious that many didn’t really have much experience in affiliate marketing – I think I assumed too much and should have developed some resources for them that showed them how to promote the e-book. While I’m not a big fan of swipe files and would never use them myself when promoting a product – I can now see why many people offer them to affiliates.
  3. banners – again, I wish I’d put a little more time aside to put together some banners and other graphics for affiliates to use. This was on my list of things to do but in the whirlwind of the last few days before launch it didn’t happen.
  4. recruit affiliates – I think this will get easier as I launch more products because I’ll have previous affiliates already set up but next time there are a few sites that I’d like to target as potential affiliates that didn’t come on board this time. Perhaps they didn’t come on because it was all too last minute or perhaps I simply didn’t have the relationship with them that I thought I did – but next time I want to be more prepared and have done more groundwork in this area.

Lesson #5 – Pre Launch Buzz

Apart from a few comments in passing in newsletters and blog posts – I did very very little to build anticipation on DPS in the weeks before this launch. I think I wasn’t wanting to build unrealistic expectations with readers or to be too in your face – and in doing so failed to create ANY anticipation among readers.

I look back now and think I should have done more – perhaps doing a live interview with a portrait photographer in the days before, running a competition, publishing an excerpt from the e-book…. etc

I don’t think that these pre-launch promotions need to be ‘in your face’ at all – rather they should both build buzz but also be useful to readers.

Lesson #6 – Price Isn’t Everything

When I ended the 25% off discount I expected that the folder in my inbox that collects emails about new sales would sit dormant for a while. The promotion is over – sales will stop now won’t they?

Not true. The price is back up to it’s normal price now of $19.95 but the sales are coming in pretty much at the same rate that they were before the discount. There’s still a certain buzz going around about the E-book and this momentum continues to drive sales. Even since writing this post we’ve had another 10!

Lesson #7 – It Takes a lot of work

This type of launch is both exhilarating and exhausting.

The excitement of launching this 9 days ago was fantastic. Seeing the first sales being rung up over the first few hours was a real buzz. Getting up each morning and realizing that you’d sold several hundred e-books was great.

However the number of emails that I’ve personally replied to this week must have been quite a few hundred. The weight of customer service type queries that come in when doing a launch is massive.

People whose computers crash during downloads, problems with credit cards, complaints about PayPal, people with old versions of Adobe Reader that mean they can’t read the PDF, people who fail to see that you’re selling an E-Book not a hard cover book (despite you slapping it all over your sales page)….. etc

This is just the territory that comes with this type of launch and if I were smart I’d probably have outsourced it – but it was good to get my head across it all as it taught me a lot.

Lesson #8 – Products are Powerful For More than Just the Money They Earn

I’m planning a post on this later in the week so won’t say too much except that both with this Portrait e-book and the development of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook I’ve discovered that having a product of your own is something quite powerful.

Not only is it an income stream – but it’s something that has a real impact upon both your readers and your standing in your niche/industry:

  • I’ve noticed that readers are quite excited about the launch – they are proud that a blog that they belong to has it’s own resource.
  • Some readers somehow feeling more ownership of the blog because they have bought the e-book. I guess they now have something a little more tangible from the blog that they own.
  • I’ve also had a few emails from others in the photography space who seem to have taken a bit more notice of the site as a result of the e-book. It’s already opened doors.

That’s it for now – I’m going to log off now for a bit and have a glass of bubbly before crashing into bed to try and recuperate before I have to do it all again!

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Congrats Darren – very inspirational for my own eBook as I’m getting ready to release a third edition.

  2. Darren, your hard work and diligence has paid off – congratulations. Looking forward to hearing about the next launch and the things you did differently.

    Thanks for always keeping the posts down to earth and real, you ensure people understand what it truly takes to be a success in Internet Marketing.

  3. Immanuel Tse says: 12/03/2009 at 10:15 pm

    wow… u’r awesome dude !!!

  4. Wow! 72k in sales in just 11 days? Thats years of my salary already.

  5. Great pointers here for my imaginary launch:) A few points and questions:

    1. How much $$ did the biggest affiliate make? Cheeky:)
    2. What exactly are swipe files?
    3. I see the need to anticipate problems and work out how best to deal with them before they happen. It should be easy to set up web pages for some of these problems such as the old version of adobe so people can help themselves.
    4. Another thing that may interest you. A camera catalogue came through my door today and I was browsing through thinking of getting a new camera but over-whelmed by the choice. Then I remembered DPS. Have never visited or read it but it definitely occurred to me that I would use it if I did want to buy a camera so all I’m saying is that just subliminally mentioning your diff blogs on each blog is a good thing.

    And finally, well done! You’re definitely setting the bar high and I think it’s a huge achievement.

  6. Ohh ! It’s absolutely great, lot to learn , it’s about consumer behaviour , it’s changing, slowly but in a positive way.
    With Warm Regards

  7. I’m really enjoying the Portrait e-book. Every time I read a little section I want to grab my camera and practice. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge & experience.

  8. Posts like this make me keep coming back to this site!

    One comment:

    You said: “One thing that I almost immediately regretted with this offer was not having a time sensitive offer that ended after 24 hours.”

    With some people this might work, maybe even most. But with me, it is the opposite. If an offer doesn’t leave me time to consider, I always skip it.

  9. GREAT post! Thanks for sharing and being so transparent!

  10. Very inspirational and great information. Congratulations on the sales. I’ve long toyed with the idea of an e-book and this gives me more impetus.

  11. Darren, phenomenal results – congratulations!

    For lesson #7 about the work – have you considered adding a FAQ section on the sales page at all? Or even once someone purchases the ebook, using aweber to forward an automated email which contains all the troubleshooting and FAQs?

    The FAQ and troubleshooting could also be added to as emails come in and as you realise the problems customers keep having or questions that keep getting asked…

    It won’t eliminate all the emails, but might reduce the volume a little and should stop you having to answer the same questions all the time…

  12. Very cool to get an inside look on a product launch Darren. People really underestimate urgency when promoting a product or offer. Yeah, a lot of the big-wigs of internet marketing know how to use it extremely well and many people do, but it’s usually very generic and mediocre such as “The doors close in 2 days, This page is being taken down Wednesday at 12AM EST., etc.”

    Having the use of discounts like you did or even something different can make your offer more unique and get more sales.

  13. Paul Saunders says: 12/04/2009 at 3:26 am


    Firstly thanks for your open honesty with your readers on a subject very few would reveal as much, think this puts you in much higher regard.

    This is an interesting post, particularly as it follows your frank admission earlier in the week that you had failed to expose yourself to any of Jeff Walkers strategies over the last few years and realised you had let yourself down by not doing so.

    I really hope you will at least run through some of his modules as it is so relevant to this post. I have never, yet, done a launch, but hope to in the early part of next year and will certainly be using your experience, and Jeff’s very logical step by step plan. Reinvest less than 5% of your net profit from this launch and I am sure you will achieve 50% increase in figures next time.

    Well done.

  14. Congrats! I understand it’s not all profit, but no matter what it proved to be a successful launch and I wish you much more success with it. I love the part you learned about Affiliates, as a person who is still learning affiliate marketing, often having a hand to hold at first would be best, at least in my opinion :-)

  15. Darren,
    What ebook software do you use, for ebooks that you are planning to sell. That have features that protect against copyright infringement, unauthorized printing and forwarding. Do you also have a cover making software that you have used and recommend?

  16. Carolyn Edlund says: 12/04/2009 at 6:34 am

    Your results show the power of compounding “interest”!

  17. I am returning to update my previous comment with another one. I read your book on my blog under “Reviews_Books on Blogging” in the header section that you can check out. I must say that I found it interesting and you sold me. There were a few things that I would have done differently in the book but overall, it was a great read and a person can learn a lot from it. My next adventure…after obligations of’course….31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook.

  18. You seriously need an edit button for comments. I sort of chopped up by comment by accidently deleting part of it and not realizing it. So, the comment was suppose to say

    “I am returning to update my previous comment with another one. I read your book and even reviewed it on my blog under “Reviews_Books on Blogging” in the header section that you can check out. I must say that I found it interesting and you sold me. There were a few things that I would have done differently in the book but overall, it was a great read and a person can learn a lot from it. My next adventure…after obligations of’course….31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook.”

    Sorry about that. Just didn’t want anyone to think that I was dazed and confused while writing comments on here.

  19. Nice tips on selling an ebook on a blog. I think one has to have a lot of regular readers first before hoping to profit from selling such books online

  20. Hi Darren,

    I’ve never commented on your blog before – but wanted to share my experience with deadlines, which tallies exactly with your experiences. I consult with juried art fairs in the U.S. and the artists have to send in applications to participate. No matter how the events try to position themselves with discounts, etc., the applications always come in right before the deadline. Something about its “drop dead” time. Congrats on your sales.

  21. It’s easy to build an empire online once you create a platform, through which you can keep building your online empire. Having the use of discounts you can make your offer more unique and get more sales.
    That’s really an appreciable post you have shared.

  22. No matter what kind of product you sell, you must have a good reputation first in your niche. So, use the first year to gain popularity and reputation and tin the second yearm you can start making money online.

  23. Dear Darren,
    I think you are really a hardworker. I hope I will do the best like you, soon. When you launch this e-book, did you do other bussiness too?

  24. Wow, I think I’m gonna buy this one.. I hope to have a blog like yours that earn big time.. :D I guess I’ll start reading you posts here.

  25. Hey, your article is really interesting and has given me motivation to work harder on my blog. From now on I will make more efforts.

  26. Great stats and post. Learned another great lesson today. Thanks Darren.

  27. Hi Daren,

    I hope I will have the chance to fallow your plan one day.


  28. This is great that you are sharing this information. Many marketers hold back on information like this.

  29. Darren,

    Thanks for the thorough recap of your launch. I am currently working on a launch for a small business networking product of my own and I am definitely going to incorporate some of your strategies this week. I appreciate how thorough you are in your explanations.

  30. wow. Thats big number. I just manage to get around $1-2k for 1 month for selling ebooks. But you got more than me..

  31. I came across your ebook while googling and immediately became interested. I JUST started a blog of my own and I’m sure your tips will help me become a better blogger. You mentioned that this book is not for beginner bloggers. How many months of blogging experience do you suppose i should have before applying your tips? Thanks.

  32. That’s fantastic Darren. I’ve just started my blog so income so far is $0. I have plans for future eBooks, I’ll be happy if they were 1/10 as successful.

    I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve learned from your site and how much it motivates me.

    Thanks for everything.

  33. Darren,
    You are an inspiration,
    and a motivator, to
    us all!

    thank you

  34. Great Congrats on Your success You Are earning like anything :)

  35. Great Post. I love the concept. Its really hard to sell ebooks online. Great Job.

  36. At $72k in one week, there’s just one lesson: repeat.

  37. I’ve read about this product launch formula where you set a deadline.

    As a consumer journalist, I don’t really like very much pushing people because of a deadline. It’s too much like high-pressure sales.

    However, a $20 e-book isn’t a very big expenditure, not like some of the expensive courses being sold on how to do the product launch and how to market.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

  38. Thanks a lot for this information! it is very useful Darren.

  39. Congratulation!! you had a great sale of ebook…. Ya!! your book was interesting, i read it. Thanks for such a fantastic book you sold.

  40. Congrats Darren. You’re changing the way that people look at how to make money from their blogs. I think a lot more bloggers will be happy at how they can increase their income, and a lot more visitors to those blogs are going to be happy that they’re getting offered quality products. Thanks for all the info, and here’s to wishing you continued success!

  41. Congratulations.

  42. Congratulations on a major milestone.

  43. Congratulations for your success. I am quite sure you put a lot of hard work into it. And on top of that, you provided quality. So now you earned credibility and passive income online. More power to you!

  44. Thanks Darren for the great post. You may want to consider writing another eBook sharing the whole life cycle of creating an eBook, from conceptualization, designing, development to product launch. I believe it will be interesting and beneficial too.

  45. Fantastic! For someone who gets excited if he sells 3 eBooks in one day thia is massive. Congratulations!

    Would love to be on the affiliate list if you ever decide to do an Outdoor Photography ebook. (and as noted, great idea to give your affiliates a few days notice before the launch to get em selves organised – with some resources to point em in the right direction…)

  46. This article should be called, “How to do a product release if you have an authority site like Problogger.net.”

    Congratulations on your success!

  47. That is awesome success. Thanks for sharing the tips. Congratulations!

  48. Great Congrats on Your success You Are earning like anything :)

  49. This is so inspiring. I’ve written a great e-book at a great price and I didn’t do it for the money. Just wanted to help future bloggers save time and energy and the response has been beyond my imagination…maybe I need to raise my e-book price….hehehehe….

    Blog Your Passion:


  50. Thank you for sharing! Outstanding results in only 9 Days.

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