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 a fuller webinar for ProBlogger.com members on 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?
Very proud of you Darren for selling that many e-books on Internet. It takes sheer dedication and hard work in order to accomplish dough sales numbers. We all know your dedicated to blogging and empowering others with useful information to help them succeed which is why you achieved those astronomical numbers in your e-book sales.
Do you plan on creating and selling e-books on the Internet for the next 10 years? Thank you for just being you and keep up the good work. :-)
Thank you for the interesting read. My first ebook launch – which is getting closer — hopefully will go better for having read your invaluable insights.
Interesting recap here Darren, thanks for it. Particularly I’m interested in the long launches. Do you think that it works for you because of the lower price point for the Ebooks versus conventionally higher-priced online items? That you’ve built such a strong relationship with your audience over such a long period of time? Or something else?
The reason I ask is the need for scarcity (or perceived scarcity) that I’ve seen in selling anything. I’d love to figure out a way to avoid or circumvent it.
Thank you Darren for sharing your strategy of launching a book. I published my first eBook without any launching strategy. It ended by very small sales.
I am writing my 2nd book. Some people said we should wait until we have at least 1,000 subscribers in our email list before we sell a book.
What is your opinion about this?
Wow, thank you soooooo much for detailing your book launches, sales successes, and evolution/development of your launching scheme. This is really helpful to me.
I wrote/self-published 2 travel guide eBooks in 2011. I didn’t know anything at all about marketing, sales or even that the concept of ‘book launch’ existed. I spent all my time & effort writing, editing and publishing the books. Period. No launch plan, no marketing plan. Needless to say, I did not sell many books. :(
Since then I’ve noticed many book launches and have come to realize how critical marketing, promotions and launches are to successful sales. I’d been wondering how exactly to go about a successful launch, so I really appreciate this article.
Before I write another eBook I will plan out the launch, marketing and sales phase & save plenty of time & energy for that.
Thanks again for your insights.
Thank you very much. I’m planning to launche my first product, it will be very helpful to me :)
This is a great article.
As ebook publishing is often one of the first types of ‘own product creation’ that many choose it is really helpful to know how to structure the promotion as oftentimes people just don’t have the experience. This really highlights a best practice and also shows the potential. My ebook launches have been pretty similar to your first launch and I’ve only ever done more in depth promotion on courses and programs. I’ll be re-structuring and re-thinking that approach on future ebooks.
Great share, I’ll tweet this.
You have the brand and now it is easy for you to create another ebook and make money.. congrats darren
Congratulations Darren for this success of yours.carry on the great work and keep inspiring new bloggers like us.
Congratulations Darren! Very insipiring I must say!
I am thinking writing myself an ebook. I know I can help many people, but I don’t know how to get started. But, looking at your numbers it motivates me to start writing!
Congratulations Darren, With heart :)
Many many congratulation.Another great achievement for you.Looking forward to have that photographic eBook.
Thank you so much for this great insights. I’m also about to launch my first ebook! I can’t wait for the webinar this wednesday !!! Thank you again
Congratz for this.best of luck man.
Heady numbers! Congrats!
I’ve learned from my Blogging from Paradise eBook series that blitzing folks across multiple channels, promotion-wise, promoting an eBook continually though less subtle in your frequency, and simply devoting a post’s worth of breaking down the eBook do best.
I’m on #4 now in 3 months. So far, so good, as I really dive into the promoting side of things.
New folks are always happening upon your blog so keep promoting those eBooks to spread the word, and keep packaging up those bundles too, to drive sales and to also simply make it easier for folks to buy what you have to offer in bulk form.
Many authors or bloggers fear promoting old eBooks; rubbish. I just received a glowing review for the first eBook in my series from my friend Sarah Arrow. This is 3 months after launch. Friends new and old, and new readers, are on the prowl to soak up and promote really good content, and if you’ll keep churning out eBooks you’ll have few problems boosting sales through many channels.
I’d also say like as you’ve shown, keep writing the eBooks. Don’t rest on your laurels, build your name, and give your readers something to sink their cyber teeth into. If you’re willing to create like a machine you can have quite the stable of eBooks to promote, then get on your blitz of promoting each one.
Off to write a post for my new release.
Thanks for sharing the inspiration Darren!
Tweeting soon, and signing off from Fiji.
Im getting ready to launch a course on podcast marketing I’m going to your webinar for sure!!
Thank you for sharing. This is helpful for myself and several clients.
I have written a handful of small eBooks. I have found that they are a lot of work, especially when editing them. Usually I write under 40 pages but I spend days pouring over them, then re-editing them later on to several versions.
I have not yet gotten up the nerve to offer them for sale, I was just hoping to get additional traffic by sending them out to the internet… and the results have not been that great. BUT, I have had several people write to me saying how good they are. So I am still offering them on our web site to see if they ever turn viral… and plan for the next one.
Just blogging is a lot for me though with a full-time business on the side.
Thanks for sharing this, its so helpful.
Loved this post, Darren. You really outline so nicely and simply your launch methodology. I’m writing and publishing a lot of ebooks right now, so I found this quite helpful. Appreciate your openness about your process.