This week on my main blog – Digital Photography School – we launched our 24th photographic eBook (a guide to post production of portrait images) and it got me thinking back about some of the changes in my blogging since I started back in 2002.
Over the last five years I’ve completely changed the way that I monetise my blogs. Up until this point my focus had very much been about making money through advertising (with some affiliate marketing) but in 2009 I began to experiment with eBooks (read more on this evolution in my blogging income in this post).
A Few Stats on our eBook Sales
- On ProBlogger, SnapnGuides and Digital Photography School we’ve now launched 34 eBook based products (including two printable collections).
- Last time I checked we’d made over 235,000 individual sales of these products.
- This 235,000 sales includes quite a few ‘bundles’ of eBooks so the individual number of eBooks sold would be much higher.
To say that I’m happy I took a step out of my comfort zone and created my first eBooks back in 2009 would be an understatement!
I still monetise my blogs through advertising and some affiliate marketing – but to have this newer and larger income stream is a bonus (although, it’s worth emphasising, was a lot of hard work).
The Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned In Selling eBooks
While that’s a lot of products when you look at them all together I’ve learned heaps since 2009 when I launched my first two eBooks and have many many mistakes a long the way.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve had is that the ‘launch’ of a new product is super important.
Today I looked back on my first product launches and was amazed just how much the approach to launching our products has evolved.
Note: Next week we’ll be running aon this topic that will walk you through the way we launch eBooks on dPS and ProBlogger.
My First eBook Launch
In 2009 when I launched my first photography eBook I wrote about the launch here on ProBlogger. To save you the read – the launch was pretty simple.
Once the product was created and loaded into our shopping cart system with an early bird 25% discount we launched with:
- an email to our newsletter list
- a blog post
- a handful of tweets and Facebook updates
emailing a handful of potential affiliates to ask them if they wanted to promote the ebook
- halfway through the 10 days I mentioned it in our weekly newsletter – very subtly
- 10 Days later I ended the launch I again emailed and wrote a blog post saying that the discount period was coming to an end.
The result in sales looked like this with two spikes of sales around the two emails/blog posts:
I was pretty amazed by the launch – 4800 eBooks sold and an income of around $72,000.
I wrote about some of the lessons from this first launch in a post on ProBlogger after the launch – in that post I wrote about a few ways that I’d change it next time – one of which was to not only have an email at the start and end of the launch but more in the middle – to try to stimulate sales in the middle (and to change the shape of the chart from a U to a W).
This is exactly what I began to experiment in the launches that followed. In fact today as I look at a typical launch of an eBook things have evolved a lot!
Our eBook Launches Today
Typically now when we launch an eBook our launch happens over a 4-5 week period (as opposed to the 10 days of that first launch). This enables us to promote the product numerous times in different ways over the month.
Note: if we go for a five-week launch it usually means we have a week off in the middle of the launch – so after week two, we wouldn’t email on week three. We do this if a product is going well naturally just to let our affiliates have a bit more time to promote it.
Here’s a graphic from a recent talk that I gave that lays out what a typical launch might look like (click to enlarge):
You’ll notice some of the same elements as the first launch outlined above but see that we’ve added a few new things including:
Preparing readers for what is to come can build anticipation and whet their appetite for your product. Also getting readers familiar with the author/creator of the product (if they are not already) is important.
Showcasing the Author/Creator
If the author is not you – the blogger – getting them involved on the blog during the launch is important – it can help you build credibility and gives you natural ways to mention the product. As you’ll see in the graphic above we involved the author in guest posts and interviews on the blog but there might be other ways to showcase them including webinars, videos etc.
We don’t always do a competition but will sometimes introduce one in week two which puts anyone who purchases our eBook in the draw to win a prize. Note: this is something you’ll need to check your local regulations on as not all countries allow competitions that require a purchase.
Week 3-4 usually involves an email and/or blog posts that involved testimonials that we’ve received from readers who bought the eBook. This of course relies upon you getting them – we typically find them in reviews that people have written or comments people have left on social or on the blog.
Mix it Up
Each of the weeks have a different focus. So instead of each week us emailing the same message ‘check out our eBook’ we’re emailing some kind of update that gives a different message and hopefully hits a different trigger point to purchase.
- Many of our readers simply buy everything we launch so week one is all it takes.
- Others need an incentive of a competition so week two hits the spot.
- Others like to see what others think about the product so the testimonials work best.
- Others still just need the incentive of the price rising, a competition ending or a bonus offer finishing to get them to buy.
Minimise the Annoyance Factor
It’s also worth noting that if someone buys the eBook that we are able to stop them receiving further emails – so they’re not being emailed another 2-3 times about something they’ve already bought. We do this simply by putting any purchases of the eBook into a new list on Aweber and then excluding that list from the next emails we send.
It’s also worth noting that over the launch period I’m very conscious of keeping everything on the blog as normal as possible.
Over the launch we still do the same amount of regular blog posts, our newsletters continue to mainly be about sharing great tips and tutorials and the vast majority of our social media updates are not about the product.
This means anyone who is not interested in the eBook still can be engaging with us in the way that they always do – so as to minimise the annoyance factor.
What Have You Learned About Launching Products?
The way that we launch our eBooks has evolved a lot over the last five years and will no doubt continue to change. It’s also something that we no doubt do differently to others.
So… I’d love to hear what you’ve learned about launching products on your blogs? What have you tried that has worked well for you?