One of the most common questions readers ask me through email is how can they get started making passive income online relatively quickly and easily with little to no financial investment.
This is a very good question, and very much relevant for someone just starting out. When you are new to the concept of creating passive income streams online some of the questions you are immediately interested in are how quickly can you establish such streams and how much financial investment is required.
It is hard to argue that there can be another more passive way to generate income online other than publishing an eBook. Once you publish an eBook, you can sell it on unlimited platforms online for as long as those platforms and the Internet exist. And that can be done with little to no monetary investment.
An electronic book, or eBook, is a book that is available in digital format. In other words, it can be read on a computer, eBook reader or a smart phone. It is a portable document in that you can take it with you where you go and where you have access to an eBook reader, which again could be a computer, a reader like the Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, iPad, iPod Touch or any other reader/tablet computer or smart phone. eBooks are formatted most commonly in PDF, which stands for “portable document format”.
Thanks to Apple for creating the iPad, Amazon for creating the Kindle and Barnes and Noble for creating the Nook, more readers are gravitating toward the eBook culture. It is no surprise for this reason that we are seeing more libraries and book stores shut their doors. There is no doubt that digital media has surpassed traditional print media, and the trend will likely remain that way.
Given the facts and trends, eBook stores online are cropping up left and right. Most notably, three big reputable names have joined the field who have leveled the playing field even more so by establishing no barriers to entry. This market is wide open for anyone interested and willing to capitalize on this limitless opportunity.
Here is an image of one of my eBooks selling on Amazon:
Here is another one of my eBooks selling on Barnes and Noble:
And here is another one of my eBooks that is selling on Google Books:
Collectively, I now have over 20 eBooks successfully selling online on numerous platforms. What I want to do in the next few weeks is compile a series of posts that discuss how to successfully publish an eBook. I want to discuss the proper way to research, write, market and sell an eBook.
The key here is the word “successfully”. Many can easily slap together an eBook and put it on their website, but marketing and selling it successfully is a whole different ball game. The best selling eBooks follow a time tested and proven methodology, which I will discuss in detail in the coming posts.
I also want you to know right now that you DO NOT need your own website or blog to take advantage of this opportunity. I will discuss several eBook stores online that you can syndicate your eBooks through and benefit from earning passive and residual income. I will go over how you can publish an eBook without expensive eBook publishing software. You don’t need eBook writing software either, but using one can help expedite the process. By the time you and I are done with this series, we will have a comprehensive guide to properly research, write, publish, promote and sell an eBook without owning your own website or blog.
EBooks are a dear subject to me because I publish a few every year and have seen the passive and residual income from them come in consistently and grow with each passing year. I personally can’t think of anything else that I have done that is simpler to execute and passive in nature.
eBooks are a great way to build rapport with and establish long lasting relationships with your readers, fans and followers. When you publish a quality eBook, those who read it will become familiar with the quality of your work. If you have wowed your readers once, you can easily wow them again when you release another product or service. I have given away free eBooks to establish that wow factor, which has subsequently led to several sales of paid products and services. It is that rapport and perception that you establish which is going to work for you in the long run.
From a financial perspective, I’ve had tremendous success selling multiple eBooks online. When you publish just one eBook every few months, or even every year, the cumulative parlay effect translates into several handsome passive income streams overtime. Creating and selling eBooks has given me the freedom and flexibility that comes with establishing passive income streams.
Later in this series I will discuss how you can establish a fully automated business model with eBooks which involves everything from the sale, to the collection of funds and distribution of the product. The best part is that you don’t need to be involved in the process after you’ve set up it up once. I literally make money in my sleep with this method.
Finally, publishing an eBook is an activity that is relatively quicker to complete compared to a niche website for example. It is also repeatable in that once done, you can rinse and repeat the process and move to your next eBook. And once you get the hang of the process, you can outsource the entire initiative by leveraging the help of freelancers and virtual assistants.
So stay tuned. In the next post of this series I will discuss why create an eBook to begin with. You wouldn’t want to miss the post, especially if you are under the impression that you cannot or are not able to write an eBook.
Readers: What are some of the questions and concerns you have regarding how to publish an eBook? What would you like to see incorporated in the upcoming posts of this series?
Hey Sunil, you’re definitely right about writing the ebook being only a small portion of the effort. I realized the hard-way that marketing is make or break.
I first created an ebook for my car website and realized just how hard it is to sell it (or even give it away for free) without establishing authority or a reader base first. I’ve since published all the content for free on my website, but learned to think twice before blindly writing another without a marketing plan. Very interested to read your suggestions on distribution.
Stay tuned Geoff, I will follow up soon with marketing and distribution. eBook marketing is similar to web marketing in the sense that making the book/product is the easy part, getting exposure is the more challenging aspect.
Fabulous topic. You definitely have peaked my interest. I’ll read every word. Thank you so much for offering helpful advice so freely. You are a GREAT resource, and I’m so happy to be a subscriber!
I’m about to send you the email you requested earlier!
Thanks Roshawn. Feel free to write what you’d like to see discussed as part of this series and I will incorporate it in the discussion.
Hey Sunil, great post!
I’ve been waiting for you to do a post on this topic since you did a write up on Spencer’s site.
I don’t think I’m alone in wanting to hear more about what kind of return you’re getting for the effort here, seems like a lot of work to write up 20-30 ebooks.
Sure Josh. Returns have been overwhelmingly positive for me. Assuming you get the traffic anticipated, and assuming you leverage the resources/platforms online through which you can distribute your ebook (i.e. Amazon), the factors that impact ROI are mainly the topic of choice and the price point of the product.
Don’t forget that not all ebooks have to be “authored” by you. You are only an expert at 1 or 2 topics, but you can find mega experts in any other topic of choice who will happily research and write a book for you (for a price of course).
Sunil, very much looking forward to this series. I’ve thought about doing an ebook before, but I always shelve the idea because my blog has so little reach at this point in time. I never considered some of the distribution methods you mention, so I eagerly await that part of the series. I’m also very interested in the mechanics of putting the book together. If you have a way to put together a quality book without expensive software (or extensive training!!), I’m interested in that the most.
Thanks for a great post and looking forward to a great series!!
You are correct, one doesn’t need a website / blog to succeed with an ebook. Case in point: I have a few niche sites that sell the same ebook I sell on other platforms at a much higher price. Sales from other platforms are so much more robust because I am guessing the ebooks get more exposure there as opposed to my websites.
Although I have used a few different paid software programs, I will go over a way to put together your ebook for free, which is what I have mostly done myself.
Kindle publishing sure is hot topic right now with courses,etc…It does seem that there is more to it than just publishing it. Do you write your own stuff and if you spent the time researching and writing something do you think it would be more profitable just doing a mini site and than low price kindle it yourself
Brian welcome to the blog. Not only Kindle, but online publishing in general is picking up fast given the handheld device saturation (readers). I have written my own stuff, and I have outsourced several as well. There is not a specific answer to your question. Like I said in an earlier comment, I have some ebooks that sell like hot cakes on publishing platforms, while some of my niche sites (which sell the ebook on them) outperform the ebooks. Both are very much profitable for me.
I am the author of three ebooks and I agree with you that they are a great way to make passive income. Some ebooks do better than others.
I am interested in learning more about publishing an ebook on an Amazon Kindle. I hope to do thas in the near future.
Good to see you here Jim. Have you tried using Amazon’s self publishing platform? I will do my best to incorporate, but feel free to ask / remind me along the way if your questions are not being addressed. Would also love to hear more about your ebooks and their successes/performance.
This series looks promising.
I’ve written one e-book and put it up for sale on Amazon with a little bit of success, and I also used it for list-bait. I’m working on another right now, that I hope will do a lot better.
I’m most interested in learning how to market e-books — how to get lots of the right kind of traffic to the end of the sales funnel.
I’m looking forward to answers to that question in this series.
Will do my best to cover. As you likely can anticipate, driving traffic is a combination of several factors, which I hope to cover in depth.
Yes, I’ve been researching my upcoming Kindle book about people making money online — and I’m excited to see how that KDP Select performs, because some folks are earning good money from it.
Plus, it’s a fun process to get a book onto Amazon and other places.
Welcome to the blog Paula. I agree with you, part of the fun in the process is to see your work live on Amazon, available for sale to the world.
Tell me more about your writing for Examiner. Are you a staff writer? Part time freelance writer?
Anyone can apply to examiner.com and if they get accepted, can begin writing articles in hopes of making money but I won’t lie, the google panda update hit them too and affected our views but I like to supplement with affiliate sales.
Do you publish your income from your kindle sales?
Paula – help me understand how examiner fits into the content of this post?
I have not yet published income from Kindle sales, but I don’t mind doing so. Kindle alone does not represent all revenues from book sales however. Not sure how that would add value to the readership?
Oh.. And people love reading actual numbers detailing how much others really make online with endeavors like publishing kindle books online to see what’s possible and probable.
Have you found that you need to establish yourself in an expert before you can successfully sell eBooks? For instance, I wrote one on paying off credit card debt but how can I compete against the Suzie Ormans of the world?
Also, I just posted my first blog post on my new site and I’d love your feedback!
Not at all Gary – oh the beauty of the internet. While I don’t sell as many books as Orman or Ramsey, I am selling enough to make me happy. Isn’t that what it’s all about? In a world of a few billion individuals, I am sure there is a small percentage that will flock to you for one of several reasons. Get it out there and let the market dictate your destiny/direction.
I like the material on your blog. It is very specialized, specific and your expertise shines right through the words. I’d focus on its aesthetic appeal. Make it easy on your reader’s eyes (bigger and cleaner font, background color, lots of white space for breathing room). I am not sure how much you know about SEO but learning the basics and incorporating those in your posts will help your traffic tremendously.
I am currently working on an eBook about wordpress codings and stuffs and it will be my first time of selling an eBook then. I will follow your guidelines for it and hopefully earn from it. Thanks for sharing by the way.
Welcome to the blog Farrell. With the growing number of bloggers and WordPress users, I am sure there is a huge market for your material.
As you and other commentors have mentioned gaining authority and having a marketing plan can be make or break when releasing an ebook, but if you can do it the rewards can be significant due to the Kindle and iPad take up and the subsequent thirst for ebooks. One question I have is how do you determine if there is a market for your ebook and how big that market is? I’m very interested to read your follow up posts on this.
Welcome to the blog Beth. Having an existing readership/followership is certain huge leverage (i.e. your own website/blog), but it is not mandatory in my experience. I will definitely cover market research, but please keep reminding me / asking me if I am not addressing your questions as this series progresses – stay tuned.
From everything that I have learnt and seen, it’s that there’s a market for anything, you just have to know how to break into it and dissect the audience within
Agree – the fun part is figuring out how large that market is and what the competitive landscape is like
Nice Sunil, right now I´m writing an eBook, but I´m going to give it away for free. Anyway, the ebook wouldn´t be so long and I´m doing for testing purposes.
It´s my first ebook.
I’ll be watching for the series.
Welcome to the blog Julio. Some of the free ebooks are the best performing ones. Look to your top left for an example 🙂 I will also cover free ebooks, the advantages / disadvantages in releasing one, etc. Good luck to you and I am looking forward to your questions / comments and interaction.
You had an awesome ideas to write this series! I didn’t know that you had so many eBooks for sale!
– do you do everything by yourself or outsource a part of the work?
– If so, which part do you outsource (writing, editing, formatting) and where can you find great resources to work for you?
– Do you sell only electronic copies? if so, why?
– How do you price your book?
– What is a reasonable amount of book sold per month? what kind of expectation should I have when I launch my book?
Mike, ebooks have been one of my most lucrative means of passive income. I’ll attempt to address some of your questions below. The rest will be covered in future posts in this series.
I have written 5 ebooks, 3 of which I sell and 2 of which I give/will be giving away. One is to your top left as a freebie, and the other is coming soon. In many cases I have outsourced the entire project. I have established go to resources over time using mediums such as those listed on the Resources page (have a look at the header menu). For the books I wrote, I outsourced the cover/logo design. Electronic copies, audio files (audio books) only at this point. Reasons to follow…discussion on pricing also to follow.
As far as sales, as you know this is predicated on search demand. Take your market (demand) and multiply by your expected conversion factor. There are other variables at play as well which I will discuss in the series. Can’t wait till online ebook platforms become more analytic savvy. When they do, you will be able to estimate sales quite precisely, much like we can today for adsense revenue on a potential niche site idea.
Great article, I would really like to create an ebook sometime in my life. I’m looking forward to your follow-up article. I would like to know how you keep your older ebooks marketable and “fresh” so that you continue to make money off them.
There will be several follow ups to this article. Keeping ebooks fresh depends on the topic. For example, there is not much to update on an ebook that discusses shoulder pain. On the other hand, an ebook on getting a job in Dubai requires touch ups every now and then. Just as large publishers do, mark a review/update date on your calendar annually.
On another note, I would appreciate it if you included your name in the name field of the post. As a first time commenter, leaving a keyword comes off as spammy. I will leave your comment up for now, but please include your name in the future so we know who you are.
Very interesting article. Looking forward to your next posts. Thanks
Welcome to the blog Jen – feel free to fire questions so I can incorporate as the series progresses.
Looking forward to the post, I am in the process of creating an ebook myself to either give away to get more leads or sell as a quick income generator. I might consider ewen chia as your probably aware he a very successful marketer and has created several ebooks.
Also Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income Blog give away a pretty cool pdf on how to create a pdf. He is become a very popular online marketer that I respect as well.
So looking forward to seeing your next post for creating successful ebooks that create passive income.
sure Akil – I am attempting to draft a comprehensive series that should cover everything there is to know about ebooks. are there specific areas of the topic you’d like to see more emphasis/coverage on? I want to make sure I incorporate that.
looking forward to your feedback.
Sounds like the start of a great series. One question, which you may have already addressed in the later entries in this series: would there be a significant difference between creating a fictional eBook versus a nonfiction eBook? Most of the eBooks I see being promoted, by you among others, are nonfiction, but honestly, if I were to go in this direction (and I have considered it over the years), I’d probably rather do a fictional piece; I get enough non-fiction writing in my blog and for my school work, so a chance to stretch my fiction writing wings would be a nice change. Just something that popped in my mind.
Roger, it’s tougher promoting a fiction book in the ebook format, but success is possible (look at some of the best sellers on Amazon). It is easier to go digital in the fiction capacity if you already have a brand / credibility in the paper format (think popular physical books that are now selling online)
Ah, fair enough; I suppose that makes quite a bit of sense, as most people are more likely to want to read stories from authors they already know and like, given the choice.
wonderful posting . just wondering how many niches you are in now ? can you let us know wht are the niches . For a beginner we always confuse which niches we should target or it should be something that we are passionate about. are you into recipes niches . ? sorry perhaps my questions are not related to ebook though but i thought i just want to ask
Please share your thoughts on profitable niches so that for beginner it will give some insights to quick start with
Apart from SITEBUILT can we use wordpress to create our niches sites ? if yes can you put some guide on it perhaps videos . Just want to learn the blueprint of the niche sites.
sorry for the long posting sunil
thanks Sutha. i have over 20 niche sites now, and as you can imagine I cannot reveal all niches for obvious reasons. if you read the blog you will notice several niches revealed. that said, a “good” niche is relative and varies for all of us. I’d start with areas of interest if I were you. yes, you can definitely use wordpress or any other medium you are comfortable with
Good elaborated details Sunil.
These are actually fantastic ideas in on the topic of blogging.
You have touched some good points here. Any way keep up
Do you write all Ebooks on your own or do you outsource the content? Secondly, how many pages in a Ebook should I target to earn a decent income?
Rinkesh, you can visit my ebook series for all the facts. no I don’t write all and the page count is all over the board.
I have been contemplating creating an eBook with the ultimate aim of earning money from the online traffic I already receive on my blog. However, I am not sure if I should offer it for free to start with or should I sell it. What do you thin?
Writing the ebook was initially a major challenge for me until it got to the marketing and selling aspect. That was when i realized that i had just faced my greatest challenge. I am so happy I encountered this site. Thanks for sharing this great ideas
tell us more about your ebook Mulla. how long have you been selling it? what have been the sales like?
What you say makes so much sense (in a market full of non-sense). Your articles and lessons are priceless especially for beginners…
Thanks for another very good article!
Thx Anne Marie. welcome to the blog