Make an ebook

S o you want to learn how to make an ebook? We can help you with that.

Today we’re going to show you how to do everything when you make an ebook – from brainstorming ideas to defining concepts, designing the layout and cover to finally uploading it to your blog or website.

This article will focus on how to create an ebook to give away on your blog so you can get more email subscribers. But it will also have most of the information that you’ll need if you want to create an ebook to sell in an online marketplace.

Let’s start by taking a look at the quick steps that are involved in creating an ebook, and then we’ll go into more detail below.

Quick Steps for Creating an Ebook

If we miss out on something and you get stuck, please leave a comment below, and we’ll do our best to help you out. 

Why Make an Ebook?

Some of the reasons all online marketers and bloggers should make an ebook are to:

  • Get pre-loyal subscribers
    If you want to make money, you need loyal subscribers. And one of the best ways to get email subscribers and introduce them to your material is to give them a free ebook as a lead magnet.
  • Increase your exposure
    These PDF files are super easy to share, and you’ll often find that people send them on to their friends who then get introduced to you and your blog. Also, they tend to sit on people’s desktop for longer than a blog post or a web article, so you have multiple chances to get them to read it.
  • Add a new revenue stream
    Many people think that the top bloggers only make money on their blogs. But they don’t. A lot of their income often comes from a combination of having a successful mailing list strategy tied to a successful ebook.

All these things are possible as long as you know what you’re doing. Remember, there are a lot of ebooks out there, so you’ll need to create something special to capture people’s attention. But the good news is that people love reading ebooks on their phones as much as their computers, so the demand for PDF ebooks is still there.

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Step 1: Research Your Target Market

The first step when making an ebook is to take a careful look at who you are pitching it to.

Knowing this information is like knowing which person in a crowd is Waldo. You have to know what he looks like, what he’s wearing, and why he might be looking for you. 

Unless you know your target market well, you’re essentially shooting blind.

NOTE: This is the first step if you have an existing blog. If you want to make an ebook first and then build up promotional material around it, then you would do step two first.

Look for Popular Content and Keywords in Google Analytics

The first thing you want to do is log in to your Google Analytics account and check which of your pages attracts the most visitors. Then, once you’ve connected your Google Search Console and Analytics accounts, you can check the most popular keywords and search phrases that people are using to find your blog. 

We recommend using MonsterInsights because it makes it easier to track and see your Google Analytics stats, right inside your WordPress dashboard:

MonsterInsights dashboard
MonsterInsights Dashboard

You can check the Top Landing Pages report to see which content gets the most traffic and the Search Console report to find out which keywords are getting the most traffic:

MonsterInsights Search Console Report
MonsterInsights Search Console

Discover More About Your Audience in Google Analytics

Google Analytics also provides background information on your audience. You’ll need to enable the Demographics and Interests Reports in Google Analytics first. Once that’s done, you can collect data on the age range, gender, location, and interests of your audience.

Again, if you’ve installed MonsterInsights, you can see these details in your WordPress dashboard via the Publishers Report:

MonsterInsights Publishers Report Age and Gender
MonsterInsight Publishers Report – Age and Gender
MonsterInsights Publishers Report Interest Breakdown
MonsterInsights Publishers Report – Interests

Check What’s Popular With Your Competitors

Now you know what content and keywords perform best on your site, you need to check what’s popular with your competitors. Unfortunately, Google Analytics only shows data on your site, so we recommend using SEMrush to check your competition.

For example, if you were in the food niche and Pinch Of Yum was one of your competitors, you could enter their domain in the Organic Research report and see which pages bring in the most traffic and rank for the most keywords:

Use SEMrush to Find Related Keywords

You can also use SEMrush to find out if any other related keywords could perform better.

For example, if you research this article, you’ll find the related keywords, “make an ebook,” “create an ebook,” and “write an ebook” all have different search volumes:

You can do the same for your competitor’s keywords, too. For example, the search term “homemade chocolate chip cookies” is more popular than “chocolate chip cookies”:

Over time, using these related keywords can help attract more visitors to your ebook. And, now you more about your audience, you can write an ebook that will help them.

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Step 2: Come up With a Killer Topic and Title

Once you’ve narrowed down your target market, you want to come up with a topic and a title that will absolutely blow people away and solve their problems. To do this, it needs to have an original edge on a very relevant topic.

It’s About You as Much as Them

One important thing to realize is that making a good ebook is as much about you as it is your target audience. Why? Because you’re the one that is writing it, promoting it, selling it, and believing in it. 

Unless you have a passionate and knowledgeable interest in the topic, you’re going to fail before you start. For example, you wouldn’t make an ebook about puppy training unless you knew sufficient to help people and loved the topic enough to push it for the next five years.

Personalize Your Ebook

The best ebooks are the ones that share a personal experience about a common topic. Why? Because it adds authority and credibility. 

Authority is very important when it comes to ebooks and articles because you need to show potential readers and customers that you’re experienced enough to know what you’re talking about.

Let’s take the example of making money online, and you write an ebook called “How to Make a Million Dollars Per Year.”

Now, if you make a million dollars per year and think you can teach others how to do the same, then that’s a great book to write. 

If, however, you have never made that money yourself, then you really have no authority on the topic. And people will smell it a mile off.

So, whatever topic you choose for your ebook, make sure you have a personalized angle attached to it. This is very important.

Make the Title Specific

Specific titles work best. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an ebook or a blog post. For example, we wrote a post called “How to Sell a Blog for $20,000 in 8 Months” that hit the front of Delicious and even went on to get picked up by some newspapers. If we’d called it “How to Sell a Blog,” then it wouldn’t have done nearly as well. Check out these steps to make your title specific.

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Step 3: Write, Edit, and Format Your Ebook

Now you have to write your ebook and format it so that it’s easy to read. This is where the magic happens and, unless you know what you’re doing, the obstacles appear.

Use Google Docs to Write It

We’ve found Google Docs to be the best program to write ebooks. Why? Because it’s totally free and has all the features you need. 

For example, it allows you to convert the standard Google Doc file to a PDF instantly, and it also has a reliable range of fonts to choose from. Plus, Google Docs automatically backs up your work to the Cloud, so you don’t have to worry about losing it.

If you’re already using another word processor like Microsoft Word, then you can also export documents as a PDF. But please, don’t go out and buy any premium program solely to write an ebook.

Start With an End Result and Work Backwards

People will download your ebook because they want to figure out how to do something. For this reason, you should start with the outcome that they are looking for and work your way backward when planning your ebook. 

Sometimes it’s a good idea to create the contents page or a draft outline first because it gives you a sound structure to work from. Other times, you can just write like crazy, get all your ideas down, and worry about the layout later. 

Either way, it doesn’t matter as long as you are systematically getting people closer to achieving their goals.

Pro Tip: Add an ‘About the Author’ page at the end. When your ebook gets passed around, you can use this page to introduce yourself and point new readers to your website and mailing list.

Make Your Ebook Scannable

Have a look at all of our posts here on Blog Tyrant. You’ll notice they have two types of headers (main and sub), plus lots of lists and paragraphs. The reason for this is because people hate digesting large chunks of content. While long-form content is getting more popular, you need to format it in a scannable way.

The same applies to your ebook. You need to format the content, so it’s easy to digest. Use subheadings, short paragraphs, lists, and visuals to get your message across. And don’t be afraid of white space on the page. 

Get It Proofread, but Not by a Friend

The next step is to get your ebook proofread by someone who isn’t scared to give you harsh feedback. Ideally, this should be a professional editor or a knowledgeable person in your industry, someone who can give you the hard truths about your writing style and execution of ideas.

Before you share the ebook, use an online spell checker or editor like Grammarly to get all the obvious spelling and grammar mistakes ironed out. Then your professional editor can focus on whether the ebook is solving the problems you say it is, and check there is a coherent flow. 

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Step 4: Add Images, Graphics, and Cover Art

We already mentioned about formatting your text, but adding images and graphics can help illustrate important points and get your message across. And you’ll definitely want to make sure you have an attractive front cover design to your ebook.

Use a Safe, Well-Proven Font and Simple Colors

Have you ever downloaded an ebook and come across a crazy font that’s difficult to read? It’s not a pleasant experience, is it? You really only need to use a basic font like Arial, Verdana or Georgia at size 14 or 16 with a simple color scheme like black with one other. 

Don’t go overboard when it comes to this part. Less is always more in the design field! 

Get Some Awesome Images

There are so many different places to get images for your blog or ebook, but two of the best solutions we like are to use Shutterstock and your own photos. 

Remember, when using photos, you need to make sure you purchase the correct license and get permission. Plus, you want to avoid stock photos that have been used thousands of times before. And Shutterstock covers those bases.

If you’re really specific about what you want photos of or if you need your own product in there somewhere, then you’re going to have to hire a professional photographer. And this can be expensive. You’re usually looking at between $500 and $3000 for a full day’s shoot. 

If you’re taking your own photos, then make sure you use a good camera or smartphone, so they don’t look amateurish.

Use Stats and Quotes

Another way to enhance your ebook is to use graphics that contain stats or quotes. As long as the quote or stat adds value to your content, it’s another way to emphasize a point and break up the text.

Make an Ebook Cover to Use on Your Site

An essential part of the process here is to have an enticing ebook cover to promote your PDF document. Here’s an example of our ebook cover:

start a blog ebook cover

Book covers are great because they increase the perceived value of the product by making it seem like something solid. Of course, it’s just a PDF file and not a real book, but by giving it a graphical representation, people will feel like it is worth more. 

We highly recommend hiring a graphic designer from 99Designs or DesignCrowd to make you something professional. Remember, this is going to represent your whole brand.

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Step 5: Convert to a PDF File and Give It Away

The next stage is where your ebook baby is born. Now, we’re not going to talk about how to sell an ebook because we really believe in giving them away for free. But if you want to learn about landing pages and selling your ebook, then take a look at this guide to great landing pages.

Convert It Into a PDF

Most ebooks are in PDF format. Why? Because it’s universally recognized by Macs and PCs alike and works on all ebook readers. And most importantly, it also provides a consistent output. 

When you save a typical word document and send it to your friends, chances are everyone will see something different. But that’s not the case with a PDF. They all look the same. And this means your design and formatting work won’t go to waste.

If you’re using Google Docs, you just need to go File > Download > PDF Document (.pdf)

Pro Tip: Other file formats are available, but the PDF works on all devices and is best-suited to free downloads. If you were selling your ebook as a premium product, then you might also want to offer EPUB and MOBI formats.

Give It Away in Exchange for Email Subscriptions

Once you’ve converted your ebook into a PDF, you need to set up a system where you can deliver the ebook for free when people enter their email address into your optin form. 

We recommend using OptinMonster to make this process as straightforward as possible. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Build a high-converting optin form.
  2. Leverage OptinMonster success themes to confirm their subscription and deliver your ebook.
  3. Send your ebook via email to ensure lead magnet delivery.

Let’s take a look.

1. Build a High-Converting Optin Form

The first step is to capture the email addresses of subscribers in an optin form. For example:

OptinMonster has loads of high-converting campaign templates you can choose from. But if you’re looking for inspiration, then follow this guide for creating the ultimate optin form

Once you’ve collected the email address, you need to deliver the ebook. There are a few ways you can do this with OptinMonster, but we recommend using an instant Success Message plus a backup Email message.

2. Use a Success Message to Confirm Their Subscription and Deliver Your Ebook

The easiest way to deliver your ebook is through a Success Message.

And, what’s more, it’s also the quickest way for your subscribers to receive the ebook.

Here’s how to do it:

In your OptinMonster campaign, from the Design tab, select Success at the top of the screen to display the Success Message that corresponds to the campaign theme:

The default option (shown above) is to have the lead magnet link sent via email, but you can add a Download Now button with some easy customizations.

Using the Blocks editor, let’s add a Button Element:

Click on your new Button to customize the text and any other visual elements:

Now, use the Actions tools to add your download URL and, if you wish, enable conversion tracking:

3. Send an Email to Ensure Ebook Delivery

We always recommend sending an email to your subscribers in addition to the Success Message, just to make sure that they got your ebook. Plus, it’s also an excellent opportunity to welcome them aboard!

There are two sides to setting this up:

First, in your email service provider software, add the link to the downloadable ebook in the first email you send to new subscribers. Make a note of the email campaign or sequence name.

(Email service providers are all slightly different, but OptinMonster has a complete library of tutorials covering each type of integration.)

Second, in OptinMonster, go to the Integrations tab and select your email provider and the name of the email campaign or sequence:

Now when people sign up for your ebook, they’ll get it delivered immediately and get a confirmation email containing the download link.

Bonus: The analytics and email marketing data you collect from your optin form will also help you to understand your target market even more.

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Step 6: Promote Your Ebook

The final stage is where you promote your ebook. We highly recommend you follow this blogging strategy to help you understand the relationship between your website, mailing list, and a successful ebook. 

Simply put, the idea is to create quality content on your site and other sites that drives relevant traffic back to your ebook’s landing page. It’s called a sales funnel and works exceptionally well.

Advertise on Your Site

Make sure any visitor to your site knows about your free ebook. You can create banners on your homepage, in your sidebar, footer, and blog posts. 

For example, with OptinMonster you can choose from different campaign types to display attention-grabbing offers to your visitors, including:

  • Inline Form – displays in blog posts and page content.
  • Lightbox Popup – appears on page after specified time or action.
  • Fullscreen Welcome Mat – covers the entire screen.
  • Floating Bar – stays visible at the top or bottom of pages.
  • Sidebar Forms – display in sidebars across your site.
  • Slide-in Scroll Box – appears in the bottom corner after a specified time.
OptinMonster Campaign Types
OptinMonster Campaign Types

Make sure your ebook offer is highly visible!

Get Your SEO Right

Make sure your promotional pages are optimized with headlines and descriptions, as well as page speed and design, to boost your chances of ranking well in search results.

Email Existing Subscribers

Although you want to attract new subscribers and build your mailing list, don’t forget to let your existing subscribers know about your new ebook. Send them a newsletter with a link to the download page.

Publish Social Media Posts

Share clips from your ebook on social media with a link for new subscribers to sign up and download the ebook. Use striking visuals and captivating captions to generate the most impact across the different social media channels.

Leverage Social Proof

There’s nothing like a recommendation or endorsement from a fellow blogger or inspired reader to encourage other people to download your ebook. 

Approach your contacts and ask them to share their opinion and then place it on your landing page and marketing materials.

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Anything We Missed?

Okay, now you know how to create an ebook that rocks! 

Remember to follow each step, so your ebook appeals to the right audience and answers their burning question.

If you’ve made an ebook before and have some tips to share, please let us know in the comments below. We really want to make this post a helpful resource for people starting on the ebook creation road. 

Similarly, if you have any questions, then drop a comment below, and we’ll do our best to answer them.

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