By John Pickett
TKA Contributing Author
There are few things more frustrating to us internet marketers than a website that refuses to grow. You probably know the feeling. You have a website with a lot of potential – decent traffic, su
bstantial earnings, a niche with room for growth – but for some reason, you just can’t seem to increase the money that you’re making from the site.
A couple of years ago, I was in that same boat. My wife and I ran a recipe site that was totally stuck. We had decent traffic (about 1,000 hits/day) and we were making about $500/month from Adsense. As pleased as we were with our success, we were also a bit frustrated. We had had those same traffic and earnings numbers for about 6 months, despite trying several different ideas and methods to increase them.
After beating our heads against the wall for several months, trying to sell a couple of affiliate products, we finally decided to write our own ebook. We released it several months later, and that changed everything. We saw an increase in earnings from $500/month to over $10,000/month. We became recognized as one of the top experts in our niche, and on top of that, we now have a much more stable business that is not completely dependent on Google.
The Benefits of Selling An Ebook
Why would you take the time and effort to write an ebook for your site when you can just throw Adsense on there in 5 minutes? I think there are 4 main benefits.
1) Get Customers – If you have a website that generates money in some fashion and don’t know who your customers are, you do not have a business. Customers are the driving force and the lifeblood of any business. If someone else (Google, Amazon, etc.) controls the people that make you money, that’s a risky position to be in. Selling your own product gives you a lot more control over your IM business.
2) Reduce Dependence on Google – I don’t dislike Google by any means, but I can’t exactly say that I trust them either. Having any significant portion of my income be dependent on Google (whether through Adsense, search traffic, or something else) gives me a slight case of the heebie-jeebies. Selling your own product to your own customers means that algorithm changes, Panda updates, and Adsense TOS changes will have less effect on your income.
3) Find Affiliates – We’ve all probably been an affiliate for someone else’s product at some point – whether it’s Amazon, something you found on Clickbank, or another product entirely. You can make decent money selling someone else’s product, but the real money is in having your own affiliates. Let me tell you, there is nothing more awesome than having a small army of affiliates who all want to sell as many of your products as possible.
4) Increase Earnings – Last, but definitely not least, selling your own product will almost certainly make you more money than Adsense.
Let’s look at some hypothetical numbers:
- 1,000 hits/day
- 5% CTR on Adsense
- $1 average per click
On Adsense alone, this would make you $50/day.
Same website, except now you’re selling an ebook for $20 (which is the absolute lowest I would ever sell an ebook for):
- 1,000 hits/day
- 1% sales rate
- $20 per sale
Selling your own product would make you $200/day.
Obviously these numbers can change from niche to niche, but they’re pretty typical across the board. In fact, the 1% sales rate is
probably a bit low. But as you can see, even with generous numbers, selling your own product will most likely make you significantly more money.
Despite the benefits of selling your own product, I don’t want to suggest that everyone drop whatever they are doing and go write an
ebook for their site. Not every person is at a point where they should focus on an ebook, and not every website or niche out there is suitable for one either. Let’s look at what you should know before you start writing an ebook.
Is Your Niche Suitable?
People often think that only information niches are suitable for ebooks. While this is partly true – information niches are definitely
great for ebooks – product niches often work very well for info products too. The question you need to ask yourself is this: “Will the
information on my website completely answer my readers’ questions, or will they still want some additional help?”
Or to rephrase that, “Is there some sort of value that I can offer my readers beyond the short articles or product descriptions on my
Chances are very good that a 400-word article isn’t going to completely answer your readers’ questions. Chances are very good, if they are really interested in your topic, that they are going to want more information. Let’s look at some examples.
Let’s say you have an article on your website about how you lost 20 pounds. You only have 400 words to talk about the subject, so you mainly focus on the food that you ate. What are some questions that your readers might have even after reading your article?
- What foods did you avoid?
- How hard was it to stay on the diet?
- Did you ever break down and cheat?
- How long did it take to see results?
- Were the meals you ate difficult to cook?
- Were the ingredients expensive?
- Did you count calories?
- Did you do any exercise on the diet?
And that’s just off the top of my head. I could come up with 20 or 30 more with a few minutes to think about it.
So now let’s say that you have website where you sell a product – in this case, digital cameras. What questions will people have before, during, and after the buying process?
- What sort of camera should I buy?
- What camera is the best for sports photos (kids, landscapes, up-close
- details, video, etc.)?
- What’s the best all-around camera I can get for $500?
- What do all of these buttons and knobs on my camera do? (This could be
- an entire book by itself!)
- How do I take better photos of sports, kids, landscapes, etc?
- I took a picture of X and had this problem. How do I fix that?
And on and on. The better you know your niche, the more questions you’ll be able to come up with. But as you can see there is a need for expert guidance and help in just about any niche. Which brings me to my next point.
Can You Become An Expert In Your Niche?
In order to help people solve the problems and answer the questions they have about your topic, you are going to have to become an expert. Readers don’t like to think they are wasting their time. They only want to give their attention to people they think can genuinely help them with their problems, questions, and issues.
The good news is that experts are made, not born. Jillian Michaels is pretty well known in the health and fitness niche, and most people would consider her to be an expert on losing weight and getting in shape. But was she born in a spandex jumpsuit doing aerobics with her own little baby dumbbells? Of course not. Over the course of her career, she learned as much as she could about fitness, and then she put it into practice.
If you want to turn your website into a business, you need to become an expert in your niche. Here are three crucial elements of being an expert.
1) Enjoy what you do. If you picked the niche for your website simply because there were a lot of juicy looking keywords, and now you can’t possibly bear to write another article about acetylene torches, conservatory blinds, or acai berry juice, you need to find a new niche.
Here’s the thing. Your readers are intuitive, and they can
tell if you don’t like your topic. If you don’t like your topic, they’ll wonder, why did you start a website about it? And more to the point, if you don’t like your topic, how are you ever going to become an expert on it?
Besides, who wants to run a business that they hate? Not me.
2) Personal experience is key. You cannot research your topic online and be done with it. People can spot that sort of fakery a mile away. You absolutely must try out your topic personally.
If you run a personal finance site, you have to actually pay off your debt, stick to a budget, or invest some of your money in an IRA. If
you run a health and fitness site, you need to actually lose weight, gain muscle, eat a healthy diet, or workout every day. If you can’t or won’t commit to doing the things you’re writing about, you need to find a new niche.
This doesn’t mean that you have to have accomplished everything that you write about. If you want to write about getting out of debt, that doesn’t mean that you have to be debt-free. But it does mean that you have to be actively paying off your debt, sticking to a budget, and trying out different strategies to see what actually works.
3) Never stop learning. Years ago I was in financial sales, and I had the great privilege of working with some people who were world-class experts at selling. One of the common traits that I noticed in just about all of them was their attitude toward learning new things. These people had been in sales for years, and could sell ice to Eskimos, but they never thought they knew it all. They were always trying to learn new things, try out new ideas, and find new ways to sell better.
You need to have the same attitude towards your niche. You’re never going to know everything (and that doesn’t need to be your goal), but don’t ever stop learning. There is always something more you can learn to help your readers.
Is Your Website Suitable?
Now that you have a better idea of whether your niche is suitable for an ebook (and, to look at it another way, whether you are suitable for your niche), let’s talk about the two most important things that you to accomplish with your website.
1) Authenticity. First, and most important, you have to speak with a consistent and coherent voice. In other words, you need to be authentic. If you have a content-farm type website, with tons of mediocre and conflicting content, you are going to have a hard time
appearing authentic to your readers. If you are trying to present yourself as an expert but are doing all of your research online, your
readers are going to figure this out.
I used to be an avid reader of Steve Pavlina’s blog. If you’re not familiar with him he is a personal development blogger, and he has
made some pretty incredible claims over the years, including graduating from college in only 3 semesters, adapting to a polyphasic
sleep schedule, and making over $40,000 per month from his blog. While I might question the wisdom of some of his choices, I never once thought for a second that he was lying about anything that he claimed.
Why not? Because everything that he wrote had the ring of authenticity to it. Your readers are going to be intuitive as well. Don’t make claims that aren’t true, don’t make yourself out to be something that you’re not, and if you say you’re going to do something, make sure to do it. It’s that simple.
2) Quality content. At the risk of sounding like one of the blogging gurus, let me say that the content you’re putting on your website has to be high quality. Let’s not kid around. You know whether the content you’re producing is good enough to actually help people, or whether you’re just throwing it up to get some Adsense clicks.
Think about it this way: Is the article you’re about to publish good enough to get some organic links from other writers in your niche? If not, go back and do it over.
What’s the bottom line here? If I were going to boil everything that I’ve just said down to one key point, it would be this: Everything
about your website (the design, the content, the niche, even your photo and About page) needs to make people trust you.
That’s what it comes down to. If you’re going to turn your website into a business, people need to trust that you can actually help them lose weight, get out of debt, take better photographs, train for a marathon, etc. First they are going to trust you with their time by reading your content. Then they might trust you with their email address. Then maybe they’ll trust you with their money – which, I have to say, is a pretty awesome feeling.
So that’s where you need to start if you think your website might benefit from an ebook. In my next column, I’ll talk more about when to write an ebook and how to get started.
If you would like to learn more about how to turn a website into a profitable, sustainable business, visit John and Mary Frances Pickett at www.theebookebook.com. John is currently writing The Ebook Ebook which will teach you how to build an audience, create a fantastic product (like an ebook, for instance), sell it successfully, and run your business without having to spend all of your time on it. Until The Ebook Ebook is complete, John will be blogging about these same topics on his site. You can sign up for his email list and get all of his updates sent to you for free.