Blogging was for geeks a few years ago. Mention you were a blogger at a dinner party and people looked at you with strange eyes, mumbled under their breath and moved on. Being a parking meter officer was easier to explain and more socially acceptable.
It was a lonely experience.
Today it is almost cool. Like the hipster trend, except without the beards, the fixie bike and vintage clothes.
Emerging new media
Bloggers are no longer alternate but are part of the emerging new media mainstream. It’s about packaging your knowledge and accessing a global audience using social media and selling your expertise and passion as a digital product.
This democratization of media and marketing has traditional publishers, bricks and mortar stores looking for exits and new business models. The gatekeepers to publishing have become unhinged and desperate. They are no longer necessary.
Will they disappear? No, but they will look very different in 5-10 years.
Blogging and new media are opening up fresh frontiers and huge opportunities to create online businesses.
What is the secret to making money online?
So what is the formula for making money on the social web?
According to Ev Williams, the founder of Blogger and Twitter.
“Here’s the formula if you want to build a billion-dollar internet company. Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time…Identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps.”
So the thinking should be when building an online business is “how can I take out the steps?”
So what can you sell online?
Digital products and ebooks are maybe the biggest opportunity for a blogger. Why?
- There is no cost of delivery and distribution
- You are no longer exchanging time for money. Books sell why you sleep
- You can access a global market
- Your profit margins are close to 100%
- It satisfies instant gratification for purchasers. They can download it in seconds.
So self-publishing has some big benefits.
So what are the key steps to self-publishing?
Many of us want to write a book but never start. If you can write a blog post you can write an e-book. Just start. It means sitting down every day. It might mean waking up early or staying up a late. In the end it will be worth it. Mum will be proud.
The key steps include:
- The big idea – Title to the book, which encapsulates the big idea.
- The contents – In other words the chapter headings.
- Design – This includes the cover, the internal design
- Formatting – Taking the book contents from a Word format to Mobi for Amazon, ePub for Apple ibooks or PDF format for selling on your own blog.
- Setting up the selling platform – This includes selling it on Amazon, Apple (or other online publishers) or on your own blog or website.
- Marketing your ebook – Now this means that you need to learn about digital marketing. This includes building an email list, optimizing for search engines and social media marketing on Facebook and Twitter.
How can you sell ebooks online?
Setting up the platforms to sell can be daunting but as technology has evolved over the last couple of years it is now becoming easy.
There are two key ways to selling self-published e-books online.
1. Someone can do it for you
This seems like the easy route. Amazon and Apple are the elephants in the room with millions of e-books in their online inventories.
When I released my book “Blogging the Smart way – How to create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” on Amazon last year I managed to hit the best seller lists including “Marketing” and “Marketing for Small Business”. That was great. But selling on Amazon has some upsides and some downsides I discovered.
So what are the advantages and disadvantages of selling your ebook on Amazon or Apple?
Here is what I learnt.
- Trusted brand
- Makes it hard for people to steal your content.
- Access a huge marketplace
- They set up the payment system
- Amazon and Apple take a 30% commission
- They take out another 30% withholding tax on behalf of the government
- They pay slowly. You wait 3 months for payment from Amazon (after they get paid). Also if you are unfortunate to live in a country that Amazon hasn’t bothered to setup for digital payments, you receive payment by check (this includes countries like Australia). This means you receive it by snail mail. Checks for an international currency also incurs a hefty clearance fee.
- You have to create it in their proprietary formats (Mobi for Amazon and ePub for Apple)
- Setting it up on Amazon and the Apple store takes time and quite lengthy and cumbersome. I did find Amazon easier though than Apple.
- Amazon keeps the email list when people buy
I have self-published on both Apple, Amazon. It became quite a journey and sometimes daunting. It requires patience, persistence and some technical help. (Don’t try and do the formatting yourself or the design work unless you are a geeky designer with programming skills)
2. You can do it yourself
Is this hard? It doesn’t have to be.
I have been using the Selz.com payment platform. Setting up my own payment system on Selz.com only took a few minutes. Self publishing on your blog or website means formatting your Word document in the standard PDF format.
Selz practice what Ev Williams preaches. They have removed some steps. It is easy, quick and intuitive.
- Quick to setup. It only took me a few minutes
- Simple and easy to use with a modern interface
- Quick payment. You get paid every 2 weeks
- Your fees are only 5% plus 25c per transaction, with no additional levies. Leaving you with around 95% instead of less than 40% in your hand with Amazon.
- You can get paid online by PayPal or into your bank account
- You can sell it on your Facebook page with a free Facebook page app
- Customers don’t have to leave your site to purchase
- You can build an email list of customers that purchase your first book, because those that love your first book are very likely to want to buy your second book.
- There is no affiliate system yet (although Selz tells me it is on it’s way)
- You have to build your own traffic to your blog to sell it
So I have published my book “Blogging the Smart Way” on Amazon, Apple and my own blog and experienced the trials and tribulations of all three.
So what was my experience?
So should you sell your ebook on Amazon or your blog? Having the control of my own platform, marketing and payment system was a big plus. This meant setting up my own payment gateway but keeping 95% of my sales revenue and receiving prompt payment.
That’s a lot to like.
I also found that by selling on my own blog I was able to increase sales by 58% over my Amazon results. Amazon is always great at cross selling (which works for them but not for you). So when prospective customers land on your book page they are distracting you with other books to buy.
What about you?
Have you self published or thinking about it. What has been your experience?
Look forward to hearing your stories and insights in the comments below.
Want to learn how to create and market a successful blog with social media?
My book – “Blogging the Smart Way – How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” – will show you how.
It is now available to download. I show you how to create and build a blog that rocks and grow tribes, fans and followers on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It also includes dozens of tips to create contagious content that begs to be shared and tempts people to link to your website and blog.
I also reveal the tactics I used to grow my Twitter followers to over 192,000.