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February 2, 2015

Eight Steps to Create a Killer E-Book for Your Content Marketing

Content marketing allows you to promote yourself as well as the content you produce. It revolves around brand recognition and requires a dedicated effort by content marketers to make content that is both deeply engaging as well as highly entertaining. One of the newest methods of content marketing that has come out of the 21st century is the penchant for content marketers to develop eBooks.

eBooks have now long been a part of the Internet and many companies have benefited from producing an eBook that deals with solving a specific problem or discussing a particular issue. Writing an eBook means that you have to understand what the needs of your audience are and how you can help to fulfil those needs by targeting your audience specifically. Unfortunately, there’s no recipe for making an eBook that can go viral. That takes research on your part.

Eight Guidelines For Creating an Awesome eBook

However, there are a number of guidelines available that help you to put together an eBook that has the potential to spread to millions of people worldwide. Here we examine a few of the things that you should do to create an eBook that’s worth writing.

  1. Know Your Audience. As with content creation, the No. 1 thing you can do to write an eBook that appeals to a specific niche of readers is to know your readership. Setting out the things that defines your audience allows you to make an eBook that is personal and addresses specific characteristics of a niche. When writing an eBook, the aim is to provide information and possible solutions but you can’t do that unless you know the things that plague your readers. Ideally, if you already have content that deals with a topic, then it is probably best to stick to a topic you are already well-known for. Trying to branch out when you’ve already established a brand presence as an authority on a specific thing is a bad idea. EBooks need to present their information to their audience in a tone that their audience agrees with. This means that a book written for personal trainers is obviously not going to have the same tone as one written for homemakers. Knowing who you’re writing for allows you to adjust your tone accordingly.
  2. Provide a Solution to a Problem. The thing that sets a good eBook aside from a mediocre one is its ability to solve a particular problem. Going back to the point above, you should be able to pinpoint a problem and then start drawing solutions that may work. The problem you choose should be widespread enough so that there is a distinct interest in it. A problem that affects a lot of people that fall into your niche should be your number one focus. After developing a hypothesis regarding the problem, you research how it can be solved and then produce your eBook based on your results. Many times you are likely to find that there is no simple solution to the problem. However, presenting options to the reader is also very useful, as is helping the reader to understand the underlying causes of the problem (which should also be a part of your research). Good eBooks, like good content, provide value to the reader. By providing a solution to a problem or even informing the general population of a problem that affects a large number of people, you are already providing value to your readers. Readers appreciate eBooks that give them something to think about, and once you delineate a problem and propose solutions, you’re already on the right track to get them thinking.
  3. Write to Inform, Not to Sell. Content marketing in an eBook should not be overt. You should not be trying to peddle a product every second line of your copy. That isn’t what good eBook writing is about and will only alienate your readers and make them wary of reading anything else you give them. First and foremost, your writing should be informative. You’re looking to push the value of your eBook to your readers as a resource, not as a brochure. There is a time and place for making a sale and closing it, but it’s not inside your eBook copy. Your writing should engage the reader and teach them about something or ask those probing questions to get them thinking about the subject themselves. Informational eBooks usually do much better than sales-based eBooks for one simple reason: people prefer having a conversation over being talked to. When you write an informative eBook, you don’t talk to the reader, but you engage them in conversation with you. You make them consider things from your point of view and formulate their own ideas based on your information. Your audience will appreciate informative eBooks over those dedicated to turning them into cash.
  4. Format Text and Relative Images. An eBook that is informative can have both images and text making it up. In the past, books were heavy on the text and light on the images (mainly due to cost constraints in producing an image-heavy eBook combined with the size of the output file). Now, with most of your target audience having high speed Internet, you can easily combine images and text to make a very colorful and easily read eBook that appeals to your audience. Ideally, you would include text that informs and does a good job of educating the reader. Along with these will be images that underline the text. These should not be used for their shock content, but rather for their valid relation to the topic at hand. One of the best ways to present text and images in a consumable fashion in an eBook is to develop an infographic. People tend to internalize images much easier than text and by developing an infographic you combine the best of both worlds: limiting the text to the bare necessities while giving the reader easy-to-remember facts and figures. At the end of the day your eBook should not only inform but be easy to read and encourage the audience to finish it and take something useful away from the encounter.
  5. Write As You Speak. Setting a tone is important when writing an eBook. You need to develop a style that appeals to your audience and makes them feel as though they are getting something out of reading your book, but at the same time put them at ease with what you say. This can be a difficult undertaking and different styles work differently with particular niches. The best way to see what sort of style works best for your chosen demographic is to examine the blogs that make up the most frequented locations of that demographic. You can glean from the way the posts are written the kind of style that works best with those readers and then try to adopt something similar. A style for a writer is like a fingerprint: no two styles are the same. Although you’re borrowing from another writer’s style you should make the writing sound like yourself even though you’re leaning on someone else’s archetype. The rule of thumb in cases like these is simply to write as you would speak. Adopt the appropriate style and then construct your sentences just as you would if you were speaking to the reader.
  6. Be Clear and Concise in Your Copy. It’s one thing to write an eBook that solves a problem but it’s something else when you manage to solve a problem and none of your readers can figure out how to benefit from your writing. Being clear and concise in your writing means that you have to be aware of the limitations of your communication media. EBooks have the benefit of being electronic media that allow for hyperlinks to be inserted in order to aid in your explanations. Even so, there are a lot of things that eBooks can’t do and in order to deal with the limitations your writing and your graphics must be able to communicate to the reader exactly what you want to say. One of the best ways of examining how well your eBook performs in the art of communication is to select a cross section of your readers and have them read a few excerpts from your eBook, some simple and others complex. Let them rate the level of communication in each except and from there you can start editing your eBook to be easier to read and understand. At the end of the day, your content marketing advantage hinges on the fact that your readers must be able to figure out what you’re trying to tell them. Losing things in translation is a skill human beings have managed to perfect over millennia. Proper communication helps you avoid that.
  7. Keep it To the Point. One of the major things that content creators have a problem with when it comes to content marketing is keeping to the point. There’s a lot of interesting things that surrounds a particular topic, but in order for you to create an eBook of a reasonable length, you have to keep your eyes on the main idea. If you’re solving a problem then you may need to outline the problem before you solve it. Other than that, flavor additions like historical effects of the problem and statistics about the problem don’t really help the reader and will bog them down with excess information that they don’t need. Just because an eBook is informative doesn’t mean you need to give the reader irrelevant information. It is your responsibility as the writer to sift through the data, collect the relevant information and condense it into simple copy that the reader can understand. You should give your readers your references if they do indeed want to follow up on your eBook and read more, but by making it a section in your eBook, you’re making it unnecessarily long.
  8. Develop a Distribution Tactic. Writing the eBook is only the tip of the iceberg. If you want to get your eBook into the right hands you need to have a distribution plan. The start of this plan should deal with what sort of format you are going to deliver it in. People that read on desktops prefer their eBooks to be in PDF format but there are quite a large number of tablet and eBook reader users that would enjoy having the book in other formats as well. If you’re not interested in publishing in all different formats, you should get a handle on what sort of eBook format does the best. After deciding on the format, you’re going to need to let your target audience know that your eBook exists. A book that doesn’t have advertising behind it isn’t going to get downloaded. One of the best ways of raising awareness about your book is to do a series of themed posts, based around the ideas of the eBook. Additionally, you can use social media outlets to share updates about the book and even excerpts that will draw readers in.

Generate Leads & Form Relationships With Your E-Book

An eBook is a great way to develop marketing for your content and to generate leads. However, as with any sort of marketing, it requires a platform. An eBook that has the right kind of information targeted to the right niche and answering the right questions has the potential to go viral. Leads that are generated from such a book could reach into the stratosphere. eBook circulation is at an all-time high and more and more users are reading eBooks on mobile devices.

Reading is cool again and an eBook taps into this fact by allowing a reader to consume information anywhere they go. Smartphones and tablets are almost omnipresent and circulation of a well-written eBook has the potential to reach hundreds of millions of users. An eBook that does that, however, has to first find the right question to answer. So what are you waiting for? Find that question!


Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.