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“I barely have time to write blog posts. Now you’re telling me I need to create eBooks?”
If this is your reaction to the blog title, your frustration is valid. Writing a valuable eBook takes time and effort but can do a great deal of good for your business. Authoring an eBook sets you up as an authority within your industry, strengthens your brand, and can sometimes evolve into a new revenue stream.
Even if you don’t sell your eBooks, they can indirectly bring you new business. Building an email list of opted-in contacts is easier when you can offer something as valuable as a free eBook. Prospects are typically more willing to fill out an online form that asks for information such as their job title and email address if they’re getting something useful in return. As a result, you can use the data from these forms to strengthen your buyer personas, segment your email campaigns, and reach out to potential customers.
Feeling a little more excited about writing that eBook? We thought you might be. But before you rush off to get started, read on. In this guide, we’ll explain what an eBook is and discuss eight elements that can make your eBook stand out.
8 Must-Have Elements of an eBook
Remember the old adage, “Never judge a book by its cover?” It doesn’t ring true when it comes to creating an eBook. On the contrary, eBook readers will judge the book by its cover, and decide whether to read it or not.
If you want to hook your readers, make the cover visually attractive, branded, and credible. breathe life into the content and help you connect with the reader before they even turn the first page. Besides adding visuals, give readers a teaser — an intriguing and curiosity-evoking title and description of the book.
Lead With a Powerful, Active Title
Any eBook, especially one produced by a business, has to offer value to prospective readers. The difficulty is conveying that value as quickly as possible to someone who may close the tab. What you need is a powerful title. Your title should be descriptive and specific so that it is clear and stands out among internet noise.
Let’s use a fictional business owner named Mona as our case study. Mona opens a flower shop called Blossom, and she is particularly interested in becoming the go-to source for flowers at special events in the city, so she decides to publish an eBook that she’ll offer for free in exchange for a reader’s name, email address, and phone number.
- Bad eBook Title: Flowers for Special Occasions
- Good eBook Title: How To Find Beautiful Wedding Floral Arrangements on a Budget
The second title is active (“find”), specific (“wedding floral arrangements”), and adds value (helps readers who want to be cost-effective). A prospect knows exactly what they’ll get out of reading this eBook, and once they’ve read it, they’ll be inclined to visit Mona’s flower shop in person or online to apply the advice she’s outlined.
Create a Table of Contents
Even if your eBook is relatively short, include a table of contents. Organizing your eBook makes it easy for readers to skip to the sections that are most relevant to them and read those chapters in detail.
Why is this important? Well, remember that the point isn’t to get prospects just to download the eBook. The hope is that they will read it, find it valuable, and either visit your store or share it with others who will visit your store instead. If they download the eBook only to find dense, disorganized text, they are less likely to spend time with it. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste – include a table of contents and of course, page numbers.
If you’ve followed the tips so far, your eBook cover and title will pique the reader’s interest. They’re yearning to turn pages to unearth nuggets of helpful and resourceful information. Don’t disappoint them.
Remember: an eBook isn’t a blog post that a reader opens online without a hassle. Once they have filled out the form and hit the “download” button, they expect something useful. So, if you promise something specific—to disclose top email marketing tactics, for example—make sure to do your research well and show the reader unique tactics that will undoubtedly drive better results for their businesses.
If your content meets reader expectations, they will be inclined to visit your website again and will look forward to the next eBook.
Data and Statistics
While great content gets readers hooked, some might be skeptical about the ideas you’re talking about. Let’s say you’re showing readers an email marketing tactic to boost lead generation. If the tactic is something that your readers haven’t tried before, they could be left wondering, “What if I try and it fails?” Some might even question your expertise; “Who are you again?” Data, statistics, and expert quotes can help you dissipate doubts over your concepts.
For example, you could pick a case study from a customer who tried the new tactic and succeeded. Say something like, “Brand A tried this tactic, and within 12 months, they doubled their lead volume.”
Describe what that brand did and how your company helped them achieve the results. If possible, add a comment from Brand A’s head of marketing to enhance the credibility of your opinion.
Incorporate Visuals Throughout The eBook
Pictures are your best friend for two key reasons:
- They reduce reader fatigue. We don’t read things off a screen the same way we read things off paper. A page full of text is a tempting invitation to put the eBook aside and return to it later. Breaking up pages with a bright image lightens the mental load.
- They reinforce concepts. If you’re writing an eBook on HVAC maintenance for homeowners, you’ll be dealing with technical topics. Photos and diagrams help readers follow along with your tips and reinforce lessons.
One thing you should be mindful of is the licenses of the images you choose. Fortunately, for business owners who don’t wish to spend money on stock images, websites like Pexels and Pixabay offer free, high-quality images for any use.
Customers are always looking for social proof. They want to know that someone has taken a risk on your business that paid off before they take the plunge themselves. Case studies are an easy way to provide this social proof. They are your opportunity to highlight how you helped a business with its challenges, in order to demonstrate your competence, adaptability, and professionalism.
If you don’t have case studies, don’t lie. Instead, use hypothetical scenarios and examples to outline what customers can expect from a given situation. Through storytelling, you can help people insert themselves into the role of “your customer” and imagine how seamless the process of working with you can be.
Provide Takeaways, Links and CTAs
Like how HubSpot closes every page with an expert quote.
Don’t let your reader miss out on a shred of value in your eBook. At the end of each section or chapter, reiterate the key lessons and takeaways so that readers are regularly reminded of what they learned.
Most importantly, embed internal links throughout the eBook. You don’t have to discuss basic concepts or introductory topics in the eBook. Instead, link back to helpful blogs and articles on your website. Links to external resources help readers grasp the idea better and can help to send traffic to your service pages and other parts of the website.
Don’t forget to add call-to-action buttons. You created the eBook with a goal, whether that be to improve lead generation or grow your email list. You have given readers irresistible value; the CTA is your chance to ask them for a favor in return. Include a CTA on the last page of the eBook to boost the leads into your sales funnel.
How to Create an eBook
Now that you have our top tips on eBook elements, you’re ready to dive in! Here’s a 7-step guide on how to create, publish and promote your eBook:
1. Choose a Topic and create the eBook Outline
First and foremost, choose a topic that your audience cares about. The topic should also be in your area of expertise, particularly one that you’re excited to write about. Here are some tips to help you find topics that tick these boxes:
- Find topics that span your work and common concerns your audience is facing.
- Poll your target audience on what topics they would like you to discuss in the eBook.
- Look at the content you’ve created to date; do you have the best-performing blogs that you think are concise and don’t explain each idea in detail? Pick such blog posts and flesh them out with additional information.
- Think about your buyer’s journey. Are you targeting middle-of-the-funnel or bottom-of-the-funnel leads? What content is most likely to resonate with your target audience?
Once you settle on the topic, delve into creating a detailed outline. The outline should include all the ideas you’ll cover and stipulate the best angle to keep the readers hooked. It gives your eBook clear direction and cuts unnecessary edits down the line.
Even though you’re an expert in the topic they’re writing about, you’ll still need to show readers you have your fingers on the pulse of your industry.
For this reason, you can’t just dive straight into writing without conducting in-depth research. Interview thought leaders on the topic and find data and statistics to back up your opinions and add compelling substance to the eBook.
3. Write eBook Content
Flesh out the sections of your outline with the best information possible. Quote the experts you interviewed, and cite original sources of data and statistics to add credibility to your content.
Remember: the essence of the eBook is to provide absolute value and solve readers’ problems. To that end, use language that the target audience is most likely to understand so that they can grasp the information quickly. Stay away from things such as obscure metaphors and technical jargon, because they tend to erode readability and complicate the uptake of information.
4. Design the eBook
eBook designing is akin to product packaging. It makes the eBook more appealing and highly likely to pique the audience’s desire to read it to the last page. Moreover, good eBook designs improve readability and usefulness. What does eBook design entail?
You already created the content; now start by ensuring the thoughts are organized in a chronological manner. Do you have an organized table of contents? Are headers descriptive enough to nudge the audience to stick around?
Next, find images and visuals and designate where they fit in your eBook. Keep a good balance between visuals and text. Fortunately, there are many eBook designing software options available, such as Canva and InDesign, that can help you get the design right.
Some of these tools offer a flat learning curve for beginners, but if eBook designing isn’t your thing, hire a graphic designer.
5. Review and Edit the eBook
Make sure the content components (text, visuals, prompts, CTAs, etc.) fall into the right place. Are there errors that complicate the messaging? Does every page match your company’s style and format? Confirm that every link is active and every fact is correct.
If everything seems okay, save the eBook in your preferred format. PDFs are still very popular with marketers, but if that doesn’t work for you, there’s an abundance of eBook formats, including:
By now, your eBook is ready, but don’t hit the publish button yet. If you need approval from the editor or director of marketing, this is the time to share the eBook with them.
6. Publish the eBook
Once all stakeholders give it the green light, hit publish. You can offer the eBook to the reader in different ways. If you want readers to get it for free, share the eBook’s URL on your website, social media, or author page.
You can also use the eBook as a lead magnet. In this case, you have to create a landing page on your website where readers can offer their contact information in exchange for the eBook. Gated content helps you grow your email list and improve lead generation.
Lastly, you can sell the eBook, in which case you’ll need to pick a price that the reader will willingly pay in exchange for the content.
7. Distribute the eBook
Don’t publish and forget — continue to promote the eBook on platforms available to you. Pick snippets of the major takeaways and share them on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Write Twitter threads and LinkedIn carousels sharing the main points.
You can also share exclusive snippets with your newsletter subscribers, add the eBook link to your email signature and promote it in webinars.
Take Time to Create Quality eBooks
If you’re going to write an eBook, do it right. A sloppy eBook wastes your time, offers a poor return on investment, and runs the risk of damaging your brand. Conversely, a well-written, nicely organized eBook can raise your company profile and bring in more customers, especially if you follow these best practices.