How to Create an eBook for Your Subscribers and Prospects

Collection of booksWho doesn't love freebies? Business websites and professional bloggers often use various techniques to increase their subscriber or customer base by offering freebies in exchange for putting them inside the conversion funnel. Giving a free eBook along with a subscription is by far one of the most popular methods to attract prospects to your website. However, nothing can beat quality content to retain those subscriptions. Today, we're going to see how we can create such eBooks for our potential customers. No matter which tools or process you're using to create such an eBook, it takes some time and genuine effort to produce one. If you're creating it for the first time, be ready to follow the rinse and repeat process to create an alluring eBook bundle for the target audience. Depending on your budget, you can change the tools to create such an eBook. Remember, though you're giving away the book for free, it's only going to help you increase your followers or customers base, which essentially means more business and money.

Collection of books Note: Creating an eBook solely for the purpose of selling is a different thing and we'll not touch that topic in this post. Instead of that, we'll learn to create an eBook to be given for free to the subscribers.

Identify Traits of Your Target Audience and Prospects

Once you have decided to create an eBook for your subscribers, it's time to do some research on your audience. This way, you will be in a better position to identify their demands and expectations.

In other words, unless you don't know the type of information your audience love to consume, starting the eBook creation process will be a fruitless exercise. To get started, answer the following questions.

Who are my readers?
Where do they come from?
What are their common traits?
What do they look for on my blog or website?
In general, what are the interests of my readers?

To get the answer to all these questions, you'll need the demographics and interests data of your inbound website traffic. If you're using Google Analytics, you can collect this data, quite easily.

Once you have answers to all these questions, you'll essentially have the building blocks for your eBook content. This whole exercise will help you in identifying the right kind of eBook content that is needed to lure the subscribers.

Do not skip this first step and diligently devote some time in researching about your prospects. It's the foundation of creating an eBook, your audience will love to the core.

Prepare eBook's Outline and Draft

Once you've completed the first step, start with the drafting of the eBook. In other words, you need to identify the content and various other eBook features that need to be considered for the distribution copy. Here's how to go ahead with it.

Take a problem-solving approach - eBooks that provide solutions to the common problems of the readers are the most popular ones and have the potential to go viral. Keep this in mind and tabulate all such solutions making a list of problem solver topics.

Prepare a crude draft - Prepare a rough draft dividing the solutions into major sections and sub-sections. While doing that, do not hesitate in scanning your blog's archive and in picking the most relevant articles to further expand them in your eBook, with a new perspective.

Collect/Create images and illustrations - With a rough draft in hand, start collecting images to be used in the eBook. There are dozens of websites offering royalty-free images for personal as well as commercial usage.

Decide on pages & eBook size - An ideal length for a free eBook for subscribers can be anywhere between 30 pages to 100 pages. The more pages it will have, the better it will be. Try to keep your eBook less than a 5MB size, so that even a slow connection user can download it, easily.

Do not use too many large high-resolution images to keep the eBook size under control. In fact, one should optimize each image before using them in an eBook.

Plan a writing schedule - Professional bloggers and business website owners have a very busy schedule, especially if their website has picked up speed and the organic traffic is increasing at a consistent rate. Create a strict timetable and allocate at least 1/2 an hour daily for your eBook.

This way, in less than a month you will be able to write an entire eBook. The best time to write is in the morning with a fresh mind. You can configure daily reminders for the same to stick with your writing schedule.

Write the final draft - Use your favorite word processing software to write the final draft. Feel free to attach notes and summaries (wherever you like) to ensure you can add more depth to the content when writing the distribution copy.

Write the Distribution Copy Through eBook Creation Tools

Now comes the technical part of creating an eBook. At this stage, a bit of technical know-how can speed up the entire process. This part is broadly divided into two parts.

In the first half, we decide about various visual and technical attributes of the eBook. The second half is devoted entirely to writing and processing the eBook using specialized tools and applications.

Let's once go through this process. Feel free to select the tools and applications you're comfortable with.

Craft an alluring eBook title - No matter how good is the content inside, unless you don't come up with a magnetic title for the eBook, you're not going to get good results.

In short, keep the title length less than 100 characters and clearly state the biggest advantage of reading the eBook.

Decide the typography - The fonts type, style, size, paragraph alignments, line heights, headline size, and colors all broadly falls under the typography of a document.

Choose a crisp, clear, and easily legible font. You can choose fonts for free from Google Fonts or Free Typography. Make sure you keep ample white space (wherever required) in the layout to keep things clutter-free. Use this powerful typography design tool for the same.

Create a custom eBook cover or poster - An eBook cover not only add more weight to it but also becomes part of the landing page where you offer the book in return for a subscription.

Try these two tools offered by Canva to create a cover or to craft a custom poster for your eBook. One can also use this professional-grade eBook cover designer to come up with a stunning and unique design.

Choose the eBook format - Though there are several popular formats, when creating a free eBook for the subscribers, PDF format is going to be your best bet. One doesn't need any specialized device or software as almost every modern web browser can open a PDF file, with ease.

I'll recommend PrimoPDF if you're looking to convert your completed eBook's copy into a PDF file.

Write eBook copy with your preferred application - Now, comes the important step of writing the entire copy of the eBook using the final draft you've prepared earlier.

I'll recommend using a standard word processing application because it can be easily converted to a PDF file, at completion. Some of the popular options for such applications are Microsoft Office, LibreOffice, and WPS Office.

Instead of starting from scratch, one can use the following readymade eBook templates (no signup required) to get started, instantly. In fact, one can further enhance and customize these templates or can create a completely new one taking inspiration from the sample designs.

And, in case you're looking for a specialized eBook creation solution where you get all the required features at a single location, here are some handpicked applications for the same.

No matter which application you're using, make sure the final PDF is read-only and is not editable. Use a version system for the eBook and keep the entire copy saved at a secure location. This way, you can create improved and enhanced versions of the same in future with added content.

Add a license to the eBook - Always make it your habit to license just about anything you create for the web. If you want to retain the exclusive copyright of the eBook, a simple copyright statement inside the book is good enough.

And, if you're okay with others using your eBook in different ways provided they give credit and link back to you, choose one of the Creative Commons licenses and include it in your eBook.

Build a Reliable Distribution System for the eBook

Now that your eBook is ready, it's time to build a reliable distribution system that grabs subscribers' emails in exchange for the free eBook. If you're self-hosting your website, things become easy because you get complete control over customization.

Broadly, this is how the eBook distribution system should work.

Design a landing page - You'll need a custom landing page to get the maximum number of conversions. This way, you'll get enough space and opportunity to lure potential subscribers about the free eBook content.

Self-hosted WordPress users can use one of the landing page building plugins to ease the entire process. Remember, this is the very page where you can use the eBook poster or cover image you've made earlier.

Upload and secure the eBook file - Because this free eBook's size is not going to be big, you can upload it directly to your self-hosted site's web server. Use specialized download monitoring plugins like WordPress Download Manager or Simple Download Monitor to secure and monitor the eBook file.

Setup an email lead capturing form - Once the eBook has been uploaded and the landing page is in its place, it's time to integrate the most important part of this distribution and lead capturing system. That's the email capturing form one needs to embed at the right place within the custom landing page.

Some of the best email capturing systems I'll recommend are MailChimp, Sendy (self-hosted solution), and AWeber. Use a double opt-in system so that you can provide the eBook download link on the confirmation or a thank you page when a visitor confirms his subscription.

This reduces spam and ensures only legitimate users get the eBook download link. One should feel free to experiment with different versions of the same landing page. Almost every good page building plugin has a built-in support for split testing. So, make sure you take advantage of that feature.

Aggressively Promote and Market Your Free eBook Offer

Now is the time to aggressively spread the word about your free eBook. This step is of utmost importance to make sure you get the initial exposure to your offering. Here are some ways to promote and market it.

Share eBook copies with peers and friends - When it comes to promotion, nothing works better than word of mouth. Shortlist some of your peers with a decent online following and preemptively send the copies of the eBook to all of them.

Send the copies to your friends' network too. This way, you open the probability of getting more eyeballs for your offering as these contacts may talk and share about your free eBook offering.

Write a blog post about it - If you're already running a blog with a decent number of subscribers, quickly write a post about the offering. These subscribers will automatically spread the word about your eBook among their contacts.

Announce in major discussion forums - Go to all the relevant discussion forums on the web and announce your eBook offering. Make sure you post it in the right sub-forum and do not spam the entire forum with too many links.

Leverage social media - Use the power of social media to spread the word about the eBook. Some of the promising platforms to promote your offering are Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.

Do not forget to use the relevant hashtags to increase the reach of your promotion. Schedule these social updates for the peak hours to get the best possible results.

Try search engine marketing - If you see that your free eBook offering is received well by the audience and you also have enough budget, do not hesitate in giving your promotion a big boost by running a short duration search engine marketing campaign.

Mention the offering in your email signature - And last but not the least is your good old email signature. Add the link to your custom landing page in your signature in a compact form and let your business contacts, friends, and people know about your free eBook.

Over to You

Have you ever given an eBook for free to your readers to increase your subscriptions? If yes, how was your experience and how much you succeeded in pulling more subscriptions through this method?

We'd love to know about your experience and the methodology you applied for the same.