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.
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…” 😉
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.
Passing It On
I have been totally and utterly amazed at what writing our own eBooks has done for our blog and our business over the past few years. As I spend more and more time talking to other bloggers, the more I realize that there are so many people out there like I was– considering writing an eBook, but having absolutely no idea where to start.
We’d like to help with that.
First, we’ve written a free mini course that teaches bloggers how to tackle one of the most important aspects of eBook writing– growing a focused email list in preparation for their launch. The course talks about how to get the right types of people to sign up for your list, how to use email to build urgency and increase sales during launch, how to utilize email long after launch has ended to keep eBook sales rolling in month after month, and much, much more. If you’ve ever considered writing an eBook but weren’t sure where to begin, I encourage you to click the image below to register for the free course.
Secondly, Donnie and I have recently fallen in love with Periscope (a live video streaming app) and will be doing an eBook writing “scope” series every night at 8:30 pm EST for the next 10 days, March 1-10, 2016. (If that time doesn’t work for you, you can catch the replay on Periscope for 24 hours or at katch.me/justagirlabby anytime it’s convenient for you.) Follow us at @justagirlabby on Periscope to join the fun!
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?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Have a wonderful day, sweet friends!
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