Writing an eBook: Lessons Learned
Over the past few years, I have watched my little blog that no one was ever supposed to read become a business that now fully supports our family. While I still have to pinch myself about it sometimes, I also realize that we never would have gotten to this point without a few key events. First, I never would have grown the blog to this extent without Donnie coming on board to help me. His strategic business sense, genius ideas, and endless support have kept this thing going and taken the blog to another level.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
The second thing that happened that allowed both of us to become full time bloggers was that we started writing eBooks. Ebooks are the thing that transformed my hobby blog into a full-on business that Donnie and I work on together, and I hate to admit it, but in this case, Donnie is the one that gets to say, “I told you so…” 😉
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How It All Started
When Donnie first told me that he thought I should write an eBook, I told him he was crazy. It was near the beginning of 2014, and I had been blogging for a little over a year when I started receiving a steady stream of emails asking me for blogging advice. While I sat there in utter disbelief that people would actually be asking me how to blog, Donnie saw it as an opportunity. “You should write an eBook about all of the strategies you learned during your first year of blogging,” he told me, “I’m sure there are lots of people out there who would love to know how to get started.”
I had about a million objections.
“There are people who know way more about blogging than I do.” “I’ve only been doing this for a year.” “I don’t have time to write an eBook and keep up with my blog content and watch our children and keep the house clean and keep everyone fed and happy.” “And besides, no one would buy an eBook from me anyway.” “What if people get mad at me?” (This is an objection that I have for pretty much every scenario of my life. I hate it when people are mad at me. 😉 ) And on and on and on.
But Donnie wouldn’t hear it. “You don’t have to be the world’s leading expert on a topic to be able to write about it,” he said, “You just have to know more than some people.”
Friends, I married a wise, wise man. And also a persistent one. 🙂
So at his urging I headed of to a hotel alone for a weekend to begin writing what would become the first edition of my Building a Framework eBook. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I continued writing after I got back home, waking up every morning at 5:45 so that I could get an hour of writing in before Donnie left for work for the day.
While I was working on writing the eBook, Donnie was researching eBook launch strategy, learning to set up landing pages, finding the best payment processor, and finding formatting options. Finally on June 10, 2014, my 30th birthday, we launched our first eBook.
And people actually bought it.
I was in disbelief. I was also hooked. I loved that with eBooks I could cover much more ground than I could in a single blog post and help many more people along the way. I loved having another outlet for my writing, which was one of the big reasons I had started a blog in the first place. And I was in awe that the act of writing and launching an eBook had turned my little hobby blog into a business and allowed me to contribute a consistent income to my family month after month.
Lessons Learned from My First eBook
- I don’t have to be the world’s top expert on a topic to write about it. I just have to be ahead of some people.
- I can do hard and scary things. And people will not yell at me for writing an eBook. 🙂 (In fact, they thanked me for it!)
- I won’t ever have all sorts of extra time to write an eBook. I had to make a conscious effort to make the time.
Doing It All Over Again
As much as I had loved writing and launching our first eBook, it was a ton of work, and I have to admit– I was a little burnt out after it was all over. I had some ideas for a second book but put off writing it until we found ourselves in a mastermind group led by Corbett, Chase, and Barrett, the guys behind the amazing Fizzle.co. Donnie had won a contest to land us a spot in the group, and I came out of our first meeting with them in December 2014 feeling totally pumped up.
“I’m going to make that eBook of printables I’ve been thinking about writing,” I told Donnie, “And we need to launch it in January.” We ended up setting a launch date that was just three weeks away, and even I thought we were crazy.
Still, I knew I could get away with posting less on the blog over Christmas, so I would have more time to work on the eBook. This was a product that my readers had been actively asking for, so I knew that it would be a good fit and that an abbreviated launch timeline would work in this situation.
I made all of the printables for Simplify within 3 days and spent a few more days after that writing descriptions and coming up with a bunch of different ideas about how to use them. I created everything in Microsoft Word because that was the program I knew best, and I was the fastest at it.
As if we weren’t being crazy enough, we decided to do a short pre-sale to encourage people to buy early and ended up selling over 150 copies before the eBook was even available! It was a total whirlwind, but it paid off. Simplify has sold consistently for over a year since we launched it, and it has helped thousands of people organize their lives with pretty printables.
Lessons Learned from My Second eBook
- Give your audience what they’re asking for.
- You don’t need 6 months to write an eBook. It can be done in a short span of time. (For certain topics, that is. I never could have done Framework in three weeks.)
- You don’t need super complicated tools to write an eBook. Microsoft Word is far from the most sophisticated eBook-writing tool on the market, but it did the job just fine, and we were able to put out a professional-looking product using a simple program that we were most comfortable with.
A Giant Opportunity
God is funny sometimes. He has a habit of throwing us out of our comfort zone or changing our path when we least expect it, and though we may fight it, He always ends up knowing what’s best for us… go figure!
Near the beginning of January 2015, in the midst of the craziness of launching Simplify, I wrote a blog post about goals and mentioned that if my wildest dreams would come true, we would love to have Donnie be able to leave his corporate job to work with me on the blog full time by the end of 2015.
I was thinking December.
Like almost one full year away.
If the stars aligned and everything went exactly according to plan.
At the end of that January in 2015, Donnie was laid off from his job in oil and gas.
super major minor freak out, I was able to take a step back and see what a giant opportunity we had been given. This was our chance to go all in and do everything we could muster to become full time bloggers! We, of course, did what we knew and began to work on another eBook.
Since Donnie now had much more time on his hands, he was able to immediately begin working on chronicling the unique paperless system he uses to maintain our family records. Not only did he write an entire eBook on the topic, but he was also able to create a video series for the first time, demonstrating different techniques that he talks about in the eBook. We launched The Paperless Home in April 2015 and added another income stream to our growing blog at the absolute perfect time.
Lessons Learned from Our Third Ebook
- It’s cliche, but true: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Seize the opportunity!
- Look for a system or method that you use that is completely unique and different from anyone else. You never know how many people you can help by sharing your ideas.
- A tier system can be extremely effective for eBook sales. Because we were now offering videos along with the eBook, we were able to create two packages– a less expensive option that was just the eBook, and a more expensive option that included the videos as well– and people could choose what they wanted.
Making Tweaks and Getting Better
We learned a lot each time we went through the eBook process. As we began to look back on our products, we saw where they could be improved and added to.
We got feedback from our readers and continued to pay close attention to what they were asking for. Eventually, we took that feedback + our own observations and re-launched Building a Framework and Simplify to make them even better in hopes that they could help even more people.
Have you ever considered writing an eBook? If you haven’t gone for it yet, what’s holding you back? And if you have, what did you enjoy most about the process?
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I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Have a wonderful day, sweet friends!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
Hi Abby! Thanks for posting this! I just finished writing my eBook and was trying to figure out a launch strategy. I will be checking out the emails and Periscope. This felt like amazingly good timing- thank you!!! I am so excited to learn from you 🙂
Yay! I’m so excited for you about your eBook and can’t wait to check it out! “See” you on Periscope!
Abby, you are always such an inspiration! I love watching your Periscope videos. Looking forward to the plethora knowledge you will be sharing over the next 10 days.
You are the sweetest, Miss Crystal! Thank you so much for your encouraging words! “See” you on Periscope!
I love this post! Thank you for sharing about your journey. In a much smaller scale I’ve been going through what you describe in the beginning of this post recently. I’ve just started my own blog, and a lot of the preparing time was spent thinking ‘why would anyone want to read what I write?’, or ‘what if someone gets mad/make fun/etc’. Our own fears make us miss out on oppertunities and possibilities and it’s only when we manage to rise above them and do something despite being afraid that we reach our dreams. It’s great that you have someone in your life that pushes you to be brave. I think we all need that.
Thank you for the post, I really enjoyed reading it, and I can’t wait to follow along with the course! 🙂
Oh girl, the description you just gave brought back so many memories and a flood of emotions. That is *exactly* how I felt when I was just getting started. (And how I still feel sometimes!) You are totally right about our fears causing us to miss opportunities; I’m so glad you’re pushing those fears out of your way and chasing your dreams!! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!
This is fantastic timing Abby. I am just finishing off an ebook and my thinking is consumed with launch ideas. Looking forward to your periscopes.
Yay! I’m so excited for you Joanna! “See” you on Periscope! 🙂
My most favorite quote….”you just have to know more than some” how true and we almost always do~
I have wanted to write an e-book for years. I tried to research how to. I didn’t get very far. Now that I am in blogging there is so much info but I still may not know how to actually carry it all out because I don’t have a Donnie. I have a Bruce, my best friend and hubby for going on 38 years (I think..oops!). He isn’t able to do much on the internet. But my boys, well that’s their jobs. Getting them to help me, another story. It took my husband getting hospitalized for them to be sitting next to me and help me try to figure out the beginning. So there is hope and then there is you guys, your books, page, blogs and periscope. If I ever make anything out of all of this, I will definitely have you, Abby to thank.
One more thing. My daughter just launched last week while we were on vacation together. She was so frustrated that some things just weren’t going correctly. She is also 4 months pregnant and a little hormonal. She already has an instagram and youtube account. Her baby announcement was chosen by People Mag in Snap Chat as one of the top 25 truly adorable ways to announce. Last night she called and said the television show that does Rattles wants to know if she and her husband would be interested in I guess auditioning for a new show on new parents…she got that by her Instagram account~ this is a crazy wild ride!
Isn’t the internet crazy?! I remember the first time I had a post go viral– I couldn’t believe how fast something could spread and how many people were all of the sudden reading my stuff! Congrats to your daughter! So exciting!
And I totally hear you with the frustrations of getting started. The learning curve can be steep, but if you can stick with it and just keep getting a little better each day, it can pay off in major ways! Hope you’re having a wonderful week, Debbie!
This is so helpful to read. What I see in your post as well is that you took your own unique experiences and translated those into successful ebooks. It makes me wonder what experiences I might have that would be helpful to write about for others. I’m looking forward to the free course!
YES! The phrase “you don’t know how much you know” certainly rings true with eBooks. Things that are second nature to you are the things that other struggle with, so if you can teach them your process and make their lives easier, everybody benefits! Hope you’re having a wonderful day, Jenni!
Thank you for another inspiring and informative post! Can’t wait to check out the video series.
This post inspired me to get moving. I have a bigger idea for a project, but the timing isn’t working and because of that I’m not moving forward on any of my ideas. Making the time is just becoming an excuse. This post is motivating me to prioritize my time and just get an eBook out there! Thank you. 🙂
I am loving your nightly Periscopes (although I think I have only caught one live!) Thanks for sharing your experience in such a real and practical way. I just launched my first ebook before you started the scopes! I almost wish I had waited a week or two. But I set a date and stuck to it – like you said!
Thank you so much, Resa! It’s been so fun “hanging out” with you all! And congratulations on launching your eBook! That’s so exciting! Hope you’re having a wonderful day!
Such an awesome post Resa! I love how you learned that you don’t have to be an “expert” to write a successful eBook – you just have to know more than some other people.
I went through the exact same things when putting out my first product, Ultimate Azon Theme. I was really scared to put myself out there. There were already some great WordPress Amazon Affiliate themes out there, why would anybody want mine?
But guess what, they did want it! Over 600 sales later I’m so glad I faced my fears and put myself out there.
I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog, nice to meet you!
Sorry ABBY! I knew you weren’t Resa.
Congrats on the success of your theme, Dave! That’s awesome! So nice to “meet” you!
Inspirational, must say! I am a novice to EBook writing and I am looking for a jumpstart. Thanks for posting!
So glad it was helpful for you!