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13 Lessons (& Tips) Learned Launching an eBook

Posted By Darren Rowse 9th of June 2009 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

ebook copy.pngIt’s been 10 days since I excitedly launched the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook. When it launched I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I was sure I’d learn a lot by doing it – I was right.

Today I thought I’d share a few of the lessons and tips that I’ve learned:

But first an Update – 31DBBB now has an affiliate program

If you’re interested in promoting the workbook to your network and making a 40% commission from it you can get more information and sign up here. There’s no pressure to be a part of this and if you’d rather not then I totally understand – but I was asked so many times in the lead up to launching this product whether there’d be an affiliate program that I thought it’d be worth doing to see how it took off.

13 Lessons Learned from Launching an eBook

Now onto some of the lessons I’ve learned over the last 10 days:

1. It is Possible to Launch a Product that You’ve published the majority of for free

This was the only real doubt about this project for me. Would people buy something that I’d been blogging a lot of publicly?

The answer was yes – people were willing to pay for all the content to be collected together, updated with some extra material and put into a format that they could have forever and keep dipping into over time.

Ultimately people will buy something that is valuable to them – the feedback I’ve been getting has been incredibly positive. People reporting renewed energy for their blogging, that they’re coming up with create ideas to reinvent their blogs, that they’re seeing upswings in traffic, discovering new ways to engage readers and more. It’s no wonder sales have been so good and the feedback has been remarkably positive – it comes down to producing something that is useful.

2. Partnerships are Important

I’ve relied upon a few people to get this workbook up and running. The team at SitePoint were particularly helpful and very generous with offering to bundle this workbook with every copy sold of their new book Online Marketing. By the way – this offer has only got 7 days yet to run so if you wanted to get the bundle you need to do so soon. You can place your order for the two books here.

3. Reese from Design by Reese rocks

Reese did a lot of the layout and despite some limitations that I put on her that didn’t release her to do what she’d normally do with an ebook she did a great job. Thanks to Albert Hallado for helping me with some of the affiliate banners/graphics.

4. Don’t Launch on the Week of a Major US Public Holiday

While I waited a few days after Memorial Day to launch the workbook I suspect things were a little slower sales wise as a result.

5. Email promotions out performed blog post promotions for affiliates

My initial findings in watching affiliates promote the workbook is that those who have promoted it to their email lists seem to have driven more sales than those who blogged about it.

Those who blogged about it seem to have driven more sales than those who Tweeted about it. While I don’t have enough information on how big people’s lists and readerships are the anecdotal info that I do have is that email won the day for this product.

6. Facebook…. Not so Good

One of the promotions I ran for the workbook was on Facebook by sending a message to all my ‘fans’ on my page there. As far as I can tell that didn’t really convert to more than a couple of sales.

Considering there were 14,500 people who received that message it probably wasn’t the most successful of promotions.

7. E-junkie is a solid performer

I’ve no doubt I’ll write a more extensive review of e-junkie in the coming weeks but I’ve been reasonably happy with my choice to use it to deliver my product. While I’m sure there are other products available with more features and flexibility – E-junkie is cheap yet solid as a delivery system.

I’ve had one hour of downtime with them in the week which was unfortunate but have not had any other problems apart from having a bit of a learning curve to discover all of its features.

8. Building a Network Before You Need it

This has been my catch cry of late when talking to people about social media. If you’re launching a product and decide to get on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and start a blog a week before to help you launch that product – you’re too late.

I’m very grateful for the time that I’ve put into building my network over the last 7 years because this week when I needed it it’s certainly paid off.

9. My Mortgage isn’t Paid off Yet

Releasing this ebook has definitely been worthwhile on many fronts – one of which is the financial reward. It’s more than broken even already – but it’s not something that’s paid off the mortgage by any means.

The great thing about doing it is that it has added another income stream to my business – one that should continue to tick over for months and even years to come.

10. Selling a Product is a lot of Fun

I had a suspicion that it’d be a fun process – but I didn’t realize just how fun it’d be.

I’ll admit that this week I’ve slept less than normal, particularly on the first two nights when I launched (I did major pushes just after midnight my time to coincide with the US waking up) and waited up to see how it went – it is very exciting to see the first few hours of sales of something you’ve worked hard to produce.

11. Pricing is Confusing

Setting a price on this workbook was one of the hardest parts of the process. In coming up with the price of $19.95 I did a number of things:

  1. I surveyed a group of participants in the initial 31DBBB challenge. On average they told me it was worth around $30…. or $1 a day of the challenge
  2. I asked a variety of internet marketer friends – their advice was to charge closer to $50 (in fact the range was quite astounding – some suggested closer to $100).
  3. I asked a few readers of ProBlogger who hadn’t done the 31DBBB course and they all suggested around $15.

In the end I was just confused and decided $19.95 was fairer than some of the higher rates (although a few of them think I’m crazy).

12. Be Confident

Some people are surprised when I tell them this – but I’m a shy guy. In fact on Myers Briggs personality tests I always come up as one of the most extreme introverts that you can get. While I like people I’m usually pretty reserved and always wondering about how I’m coming across. This transfers to how I interact online and many times my natural instincts are to undersell myself and what I do.

Over the years I’ve learned to be more confident in my blogging (to a point where some have critiqued me for having too big an ego) however when I launched this product I found myself going back to some of my old ways of going into my shell. Fortunately a couple of my blogging buddies pulled me up on this pretty quickly and told me not to sell myself short and to tweak what I was doing. As a result I tweaked a few of the things on my sales page (thanks Brian at CopyBlogger for that advice) and snapped myself out of my old shy ways.

While I’m not someone to be into hype or trickery in my online promotions there is a time to step up and sell yourself a little.

13. Keep Working on your Core Business

The last thing I’ve learned is that while it is an exciting thing and a lot of work to launch a product – you shouldn’t forget your core business. I’ve worked hard this week to get the book launched and to do a little extra marketing (interviews, promotion etc) – but I’ve also worked hard to keep my blogs producing content that meets the needs of my readers.

I’ve seen a few bloggers over the years become so sidetracked by the launches of products that they’ve become distracted from the thing that enabled them to launch the product and that will help sustain them over the long haul – their blogs.

Has It Been Worth It?

All in all the experience of putting together and releasing 31 Days to Build a Better Blog has been well worth the effort. While it took a month to write the initial material and then another 2-3 weeks of work to get the workbook together I’ve learned a lot through the exercise and it’s been a rewarding experience.

Thanks to everyone who has picked up a copy already. I’m looking forward to offering some extra bonuses for those who have picked up a copy in the coming weeks (everyone who has already got one will get them too) so if you’re looking for a little extra inspiration and motivation to get your blog back on track – grab yourself a copy.

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, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Salman says: 06/09/2009 at 12:43 am

    Hi Darren
    Thanx for posting this I was really in need for this.

    Regards
    Salman
    http://www.tips4blogging.co.cc for blogging tips and hacks.

  2. Great tips, Darren. I’m thinking to write up an e-Book on how to be a good reviewer. This post might come in handy when that time comes!

    “It is Possible to Launch a Product that You’ve published the majority of for free”
    This surprised me too. I would have thought people would just browse the posts one by one rather than paying for it

  3. Hmm … what do you mean by “it’s just about broken even?” What costs did you incur in making and selling the ebook? I realize that Design By Reese doesn’t come cheap, but e-junkie is and I’m surprised if you hadn’t done far more than exceeded it.

  4. Salman says: 06/09/2009 at 12:46 am

    I have created one ebook at lulu.com and I want to place it on my blog for downloading.Please suggest how to put it on my blog @ http://www.tips4blogging.co.cc

  5. It didn’t surprise me that *some* people would pay $19.95 to have all the posts in one permanent spot.

    I’ve been dragging my feet on doing the affliliate program. 40% is great for both sides – very nice for the person doing the recommendation, while 60% of the $19.95 is nice for you, since it’s a sale that you likely wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and the marginal cost is probably fairly low – since most of the eBook cost is probably up front.

    I’m launching a FreeBook in July(ish) – a compilation of the fiction from The Casual Observer ( http://www.observingcasually.com ) along with some bonus stories that won’t be on the site. I’m excited to see how well if goes over. I won’t make any money off it, though – it will be a reward for repeat visits and RSS subscribers.

  6. Pricing an eBook has always befuddled me. I don’t understand the Internet Marketers who charge $150 for a product that’s filled with info that I can get for free on the web or a public library.

    Personally, I won’t spend more on an eBook than I would for a hard copy book. But I understand lots of people will pay hundreds of dollars for an eBook if it’s worth it to them.

    $19.95 I think is a good price for a product like this.

  7. Great points, Darren. I have 2 major takeaways from this:

    1. Republishing content in a different form: We as bloggers put in a lot of effort in writing. If it can be reused, why not?

    And creating an e-book from already-published material is one of the best ways of reusing the content! Of course, you need to throw in something extra – like updates and more info on certain relevant things, but it is certainly easier than writing from scratch.

    2. Selling a Product: Relying just on advertising can be disasterous. You have to diversify.

    This can be in the form of a product, a service, paid courses, membership site, affiliate sales – anything. But you need to diversify.

    And I believe selling a product of your own is a very exciting way of diversifying. The whole process – from creation to viewing the sales reports – is very fulfilling!

  8. Hey Darren,

    Don’t think I’ve commented beforee, but been a reader for a while now. Got a question about ejunkie. Does it work with a separate email client like Aweber or Constant Contact?

    Having looked over the ejunkie site, it seems to charge you if you want to send out follow up emails to your customer list.

    Be interested to know.

    Cheers

  9. Darren,

    Fantastical tips! You really shared a lot of gold nuggets in this post. I found it interesting that you used E-junkie, I would have expected Clickbank, so I will look forward to seein the follow-up post on why you chose that provider.

    I’m curious to know if you would have done a video on Facebook vs a text message if it would have attracted more attention on your fan page.

    I’m so glad you included point #1. That’s interesting that people just want all the information in one place. . . in a bundle. That gives hope that you can repurpose something, put it in one place, give it a nice bow and people will still value it.

    Thanks for this insightful post.

  10. I went throught the month long program and I can confidently say that the program is surely worth more than $1 per day. As such, I think the ebook is a terrific value at $19.95. But as Darren puts it, it is a bit confusing since you are never sure what people would want to pay for the material that was available for free earlier. I do appreciate this post on the learnings through the process as some of these learnings will be useful to many of us in different stages of monetizing our sites. Thanks!

  11. You know what, if I were you I will price this for at least $67, is just more then an ebook, I mean it really push and force me to work on it, even when I feel don’t like it, I really can say you are absolutely crazy to price it so low.

  12. Hi Darren,

    Can I also say that I thought it was a smart move to offer the book as a partnership/affiliates to those who have bought the book.

    I think this reduces the likelihood of the book getting devalued as tends to happen when the world and its mother start selling it.

    FWIW i saw some posts on your site looking for the affiliates links, ie they hadn’t bought the book but just wanted to flog it.

    Congrats again!

    Ivan

  13. Your experience has been similar to mine, with both eBooks and print books.

    You are performing an invaluable service, Darren, by sharing your experience. All your efforts will come back to benefit you.

  14. If you had charged $100 for the eBook, I imagine that your sales would be much less. It certainly may be worth that much money, but since much of the content is available here for free, the incentive to purchase the eBook is slightly diminished.

  15. On pricing – I have a belief that when products are priced high, the net return is lower than when they’re priced sensibly like this book. I guess we’ll never know, but I’m sure the additional volume results in more money at the end of the day.

  16. When it came to pricing my ebook, I looked to my community. They just don’t spend money on things. They’ll click on ads but they won’t buy products. Even though many of my peers sold ebooks priced at $35 – $150, I knew it wouldn’t work for me. I priced mine at $9.95. While many suggested it was a low price, my community all agreed they wouldn’t have spent more than that.

    My recommendation is to use your stats and advertising trends to gauge how much a community is willing to pay. My next ebook will be a lot longer than the first, but the price won’t be going up too much.

    Good luck with the ebook, Darren!

  17. I love the idea of your Freemium approach, repackaging content already distributed and proved in a more manageable form for your readers is genius.

  18. Good summary. I learned a few of the same things in my own e-Book launch. I made my calendar ahead of time to lead up to my launch but didn’t take Memorial Day into account! D’oh! Not as many e-mails were opened and I suspect many people just didn’t “have time” to think about it. All in all, it has paid off, but I suspect i lost a few sales there.

    I find pricing the book THE HARDEST part, so it’s nice to “hear” you struggled with it, too. It’s pretty frustrating, actually, to figure out the right price. You have to get behind so much psychology of the buyer and all you want to do is really help people improve in some way, shape or form. I’m not looking to get rich, but would love to quit my “day job” and not even pay off the mortgage, necessarily. :p

  19. The biggest selling point to me was the 31 days. I’ve been frequenting your site for a while, so I trusted the information you were putting out there and I thought, “If he says 31 days, then it must work,” and it has been great so far.

    Keep up the good work Darren

  20. Darren,

    Congratulations, and thanks for putting such a brutally honest spin on the thought process. I’ve launched an e-book or two and I did do some of the things you list here. There were also one or two I wish I’d done.

    I’ll know better next time. Thanks, man.

    George

  21. Hi Darren, thanks for the insights. I have a workbook myself I’m working on and I read through your article line by line. Always nice to learn from other’s experiences.

  22. Another point that could have been a nice addition- you can write a neat post on your blog about the learnings you made in launching the product. One more post idea.:)

  23. Wow, I had to read #3 a couple of times before I understood what was going on there ;-) But you’ve got some good tips there, as usual!

  24. Jeff H. says: 06/09/2009 at 2:23 am

    Darren,

    Thanks for making the price for your e-book very low!!! Some of these Internet Marketing punks, yes I said punks don’t get it. They overcharge people for outrageous prices because they feel their information is the greatest thing since slice bread. All they do, is do a different spin on the majority of stuff that is available on the Internet for FREE.

    When it comes to growing my online business, I primarily go to one place and that is ProBlogger! I wish these lame Internet Marketers would take your lead and understand affordabilty is the RIGHT way to go.

    It is sad that some of the Internet Marketers suggested you sell your e-book close to $100. That is why I never read blogs from Internet Marketers, because every other post or every other day they want to sell you something.

    Thank God for ProBlogger!

    Jeff H.

  25. Thanks for the useful information. I have an ebook in the works and this will help me finalize some decisions.

  26. @Darren Rowse,

    Your blog is truly awesome. I got lot of inspiration to resume posting on my blog that I left last year after reading your blog and Steve Pavlina’s blog. I have never seen people like these who blog consistently and inspire others… Congratulations!

  27. Cool stuff…great insights and very honest.

    I’ve written and published 12 books and ebooks, operate two membership sties, have a home-study course (DVD and manual) and offer various coaching and consulting programs where i get to help others (more than 100 products over the last 7-years)…here are some additional tips from those experiences:

    1. The more benefit-oriented and value-laden position of the product,the better it will sell (and the more people will pay for it). For example – instead of “Build a Better Blog” – the title could have tapped into the fundamental GUT desire people have for their blogs (I’m talking about the top 20% of your market) – do they want it to make them rich? Famous? Boost their business by 2X or more….etc…

    Of course, the information you provide helps them build a better blog – but it will also help them to build a blog that really helps them achieve their “secret dreams?”

    2. I always suggest people start with the question – what would I have to provide to bring this to at least a $47 price point and ideally $97? Why? Because that makes it MUCh more enticing for affiliates to offer your product – you get tons more coverage and you get to keep more profit. So, would bundling a series of interviews have done it? How about offering a series of 2-3 coaching teleconferences in the next month or two? What about a follow-up Q&A session (recorded or conf call)? Perhaps a series of 6 10-min screen capture videos that illustrate key aspects of your book?

    Often, if you are clearly focused on the desires of your prospects, adding enough value to get the price up from $19 to $47 is not that much extra work and reward can be HUGE as even just a dozen additional affiliates could put your offer in front of Millions of additional eyeballs.

    3. Another way for bloggers with a decent platform could enhance their ebooks is to put up a survey or series of polls where they get to submit questions that they would like to see addressed in the book – adds value beyond the current material.

    4. Finally – adding in some shortcut, summary, workbook options often turn your ebook into a course, blueprint or other info product with higher perceived value. So, if you summarized all that you know for building an interactive and money making blog into a 4-page Quick – Start System – that can add tremendous value ot the program.

    5. OK, finally (sorry for all this, but I truly hope it helps)…focus on the real sensitive “pressure pain points” of bloggers. For example…I know bloggers that are doing an incredible job with their blogs, but can’t – for the life of them – get interaction going. If you did nothing more than write a “How To Triple (or Double) The Comments On Your Blog & Attract More Traffic” eBook, report or video series, this alone could sell for $47 as it is such a common, tough challenge for most bloggers to crack.

    So glad you made this post!

    Jeff

  28. I would have been perfectly happy at $29.95 for this ebook.

    What I have found marketing a hard copy book in a totally unrelated field is that price functions as a filter on customers. The higher the price, the more the customer will value the product. And more importantly, the more likely the customer is to *take action* with the material contained in the product.

    For 99/100 people, there’s something funny about “free.” It just doesn’t have any “value.”

    I’ve started using the ebook already, and I’m planning on printing it out. My plan is to use it as a guide to your blog, most of which I haven’t read… and time is money to me. I’ll reader deeper on blog where I find topics that interest me in the ebook.

  29. Link on previous comment is broken. :( I’m fixing it here so I don’t forget. Also putting in a redirect on the site…

  30. I’m happy the book is doing great, and I’m very happy with my purchase of it (I was waiting for it to come out since the survey you asked if people would buy it). Oh, and I would’ve paid more than $20 for it, but don’t charge me extra afterwards :)

    It is just way more convenient to read the pdf than browse the pages for something like this workbook and it’s even better to print it and keep it on the desk or read some for a bedtime story.

  31. Darren,

    I completed to 31DBB course in May and saw significant increase not only in my traffic, but my pageviews tripled due to several techniques like interlinking. My bounce rate went from 87%, down to 12%. I am still working on a few tasks (creating a Sneeze Page). But I can see a REAL improvement in my blog.

    During the course, I kept a notebook on each day’s tasks. Even so, I did not hesitate to purchase your e-book. (The first one I have ever purchased btw)

    1. The price. $19.99 is affordable. It is not much more than the price of a cheap dinner. I would have been less likely to purchase it for$50+.

    2. The added value of the bonus material/emails.

    3. To have everything laid out, in an orderly fashion. I had it printed and bound into a workbook.

    I have recommended this course to several of my fellow bloggers. I guess I should sign up for the affiliate program.

  32. I’m very happy to see the first one. I have eight books and I publish material from them frequently.

  33. Great Post Darren,

    Very interesting and usefull tips when it’s time to launch an Ebook.

    A good network, and a good confidence, are key aspects in my opinion…

    Keep up your unique work !

  34. Nice tips Darren. I’m working on my Radical Marketing ebook so I’ll be back to read this post again in a few days.

  35. Thanks for the enlightening post Darren. I’ve got several ebooks in the works and this post has helped me realize that much of my older content can be included, which should speed up the process quite significantly.

  36. Great idea

    I am a search marketer and have been dipping my hands in blogging in the past month.I look forward to reading your ebook for blogging tips.

  37. Thanks everyone for your feedback, comments and additional thoughts to this post.

    Amber – I didn’t say that it’s ‘just about’ broken even – I said ‘It’s more than broken even’ – ie it’s been profitable/passed the break even mark.

    Jason – yes there are ways of linking it to Aweber. it doesn’t capture everyone as people have to opt in to getting on your Aweber list but yes it does have a way of adding that (I didn’t discover it until a few days after launch).

    And yes – you pay for followup messages. However if you sync it with Aweber you can get most of your purchasers on the list.

  38. It’s great that the e-book is doing fine. Also surprised that you use e-junkie instead of clickbank. May consider it for my e-book launch later this year.

  39. BlogSEOExpert made an interesting comment. Yes, Darren I think that you are making a way for other bloggers to think about republishing content in a different way. We are certainly living in an exciting time.

  40. Thanks for sharing this for free. The mentioned marketers would have offered it for another $100 ;-).

  41. Yeah, facebook is tough. PPC there as well.

  42. Darren, I really appreciate the affordable price you’ve put on your E-Book. While I’ve already taken part in the 31DBBB, I’ll still consider purchasing at some point because the lessons are very valuable and worth repeating and the price is so affordable.

    Many bloggers run on very minimal to no budget, especially mom bloggers. Some might say that you have to invest money to earn money, and I know there’s truth in that. Many bloggers simply can’t justify investing the kind of sums others are asking for. It’s not even totally a question of money, it’s partly priorities and brain time. I’m on the slow boat to blogging success and your product allows for that. I’m sure it works marvelously too for those who are on the fast track!

    Your E-book opens up possibilities to many and I love that you’ve priced it like a book rather than like a marketing course. I think you’ll see steady and continued sales and I hope that for you :-)

  43. Ebook is the best way for the pre-launching of a new website too. HereI have written a related blog in http://www.internetbusinesspath.com/ecommerce/website-pre-launch come and visit it.

  44. Thanks for the feedback Darren. I’d also suggest you explore getting the book on the Amazon Kindle platform. I’ve converted many books for other entrepreneurs, and have published several of my own articles (yes articles, not books) – and am building readership monthly. Kindle is one of my favorite methods of repurposing already written books, articles, special reports, etc.

  45. Great write up Darren. It was a pleasure to be a part of the eBook development process and be in a position of offer it via SitePoint.

  46. 31DBBB was a great project to be a part of and the workbook is well worth the price to carry that work forward on an ongoing basis.

    Maybe you’d have sold twice as many at half the price, or half as many at twice the price, but there is really no right or wrong answer I think.

  47. Great 13 tips, after launching your eBook would you please sell it at my online eBook store. Thank you.

  48. hoho..thanks for that info. Now, i can setup my own ebook and launch it soon.

  49. Great information and useful tips. Having watched a lot of the material develop via your blog really adds to the understanding of how one could compile the material required to create an ebook (or any book really).

    It would be really great for you to revisit this in say 60 or 90 days with an update of how things turn out and any other lessons learned. Excellent post. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  50. Thanks for sharing these points Darren.

    The issue of price is always a tricky one. One way to look at it is to say that the price should be relative to the value i.e. if the knowledge in this book helps you make $1,000 then the book should sell for somewhere between $1 and $999.

    The other way is to compare it to a physical book. Many people are reluctant to spend more than $50 on a book, so there’s an argument that says you shouldn’t price yours higher than that.

    I lean towards the first option, but I find that many authors struggle to define the value in their books. That’s one reason there’s some skepticism about some of the blogging courses for sale.

    Good luck with your book – I think it’s exceptional value at the price.

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