Both. You should potentially do both if it’s possible.
But let me break down the what and the why behind each approach so you can decide for yourself how you want to proceed.
Steve Scott makes thousands of dollars selling 20,000-30,000 word Kindle ebooks.
So does Colin Wright.
So does Johny Truant.
Could you do the same?
With hard work mixed with smarts and luck, it may be possible if you have a plan that you follow closely.
I’m personally not crazy about the Kindle ebook business model, the idea of building out an online course is much more appealing to me.
Perhaps my attitude towards this sort of endeavor would be different if I considered myself more of a writer, but regardless of what my interests are, it is a viable way to earn an income with your digital presence. So let’s break the plan of action for both Kindle books and selling ebooks directly on your own website.
So what pray tell is the plan that I write of? It’s the business model that successful Kindle publishers use and it flows as follows:
Have a strong personal brand via a website.
Attract an audience with said website through search, YouTube and social media.
Convert traffic into an email list.
Leverage that email list as a relationship building tool.
Research topics and hash out ideas for books.
Publish a lot of books. Using your list as a way to get reviews and feedback on content and books you publish.
Don’t half ass it, give up or get lazy. Continue to publish.
Then publish some more.
This sort of model requires oneself to really dedicate themselves to writing and publishing, A LOT. Because, you will create books that flop, some books that do OK, and other books that take off an make up the bulk of your income.
It’s the 80/20 rule at work.
It also takes a lot of work to build an email list of interested people and a thriving website to go along with it.
Creating a website is of course part of the equation, but you have to really learn how to manage and grow an email list.
It all works together, and any chink in the armor will result in the whole thing not working to it’s full potential.
So while you may want to just publish books; to really build a thriving publishing micro business you need to:
- Learn how to create a website that reflects your brand.
- Learn how to run a successful email list.
- Have a talent for writing, creating quality books that people love.
It’s not just one skill, one thing you need to do well, it’s a few different tools and skills you must use in conjunction with one another.
Oh, and you have to commit yourself to publishing. One book is not enough. If you’re going to do it, go all in and write up at least 5 books or don’t bother.
From self published authors, the concenseous of what constitutes a successful book is at least 5 sales every single day more or less. If you write a Kindle ebook that performs this well after being run through your own internal marketing funnel, double down and create versions of that book in audio, paperback and multiple languages.
If it fails to reach that 5 sale a day threshold, consider your book a flop and move onto the next.
If successful however…
You will build a micro publishing business. One where you can focus more on the writing over time because the marketing funnels will already be in place.
But don’t underestimate the difficulty of this. It’s easy to start, but it’s always the most challenging to keep at it even when you feel like giving up.
The sort of website you create should be closely related to what your books are about and you need to strive as an author to have a theme for your portfolio of books.
Now, there are always exceptions to everything but people like to box other people in.
They can’t handle a web designer who wants to write about dating advice or a life coach who has a double interest in personal finance.
So go with the flow and build a publishing business around a theme. Curate content and ideas around that theme on your social channels and website and be the guy (or girl) know for something.
Steve Scott used to write books about internet marketing and what not. Like Pat Flynn who launch a “niche site duel” with professional bullshit artist, Tyrom Shum, as a way to build a new website from scratch.
The funny thing?
His case study overtook his SteveScottSite.com in terms of profitability. Now it’s no longer a side thing, or a case study. DevelopGoodHabits.com IS his core business.
Subscribe to his site and get an idea of the process he uses to make tens of thousands of dollars a month from selling Kindle books.
Because that’s the model he uses. Traffic to DevelopGoodHabits.com gets funneled into an email list and that email list is his main marketing tool for all his Kindle books.
Make sure to browse through the archives of his self publishing podcast questions show. It’s required listening as far as I’m concerned if this business model for your digital presence appeals to you.
He now publishes that habits blog as well as book on Kindle and has become a “Kindle expert”. That’s now his online brand.
Selling an ebook on your Own Website as a downloadable PDF or whatever.
Ok, so you don’t want to go the $2.99 route and publish on Kindle, or perhaps you just want a handful of books on Kindle, but long term you’re more interesting in creating something that can only be bought on your website.
An information product.
It’s still quite a popular and profitable model as well. You lose out on the Amazon marketing machine (which only kicks in you can get your book sales and positive reviews to a high level), but what you can do instead is:
- Charge more per unit, $12-27 is what people are OK with.
- Have affiliates.
- Have tiers of different product offerings. Book, book + stuff, book +more stuff.
Their are so many different examples of this at play:
2KnowMySelf – A poorly written personal development blog (seriously, not even kidding. The author should read this) that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each month and makes money from the sale of again, poorly written, grammatically plagued ebooks.
I still don’t understand why this website is so popular. I bought one of his ebooks to see the genius behind this content, but it’s clearly written by someone who’s English is a second language at best.
Nomadic Matt – A website that has evolved into a travel blog that shows you how to travel by breaking the limiting belief that travel has to be super expensive. Matt has numerous books, I’ve purchased a few, they are all well worth the price of admission.
Nick Kelly, (aka Victor Pride) of Boldanddetermined.com – This guy does it right. Have an ebook, create a website that acts as a landing page for ebook (30daysofdiscipline.com), have testimonials and an introduction video that clearly demonstrates why you’re the guy to listen to.
Nathan Berry – Made famous by the App Design Handbook; it’s more of full information course with the actual book being the lowest tier.
Unconventional Guides – Chris Guillebeau created a second website to be the umbrella company for all his information products. Most of the products follow the same format: Book, book + stuff, book +more stuff.
The Business Model
Build trust and authority with your digital presence (YOU online).
Figure out what people want and need by interacting with your audience.
Then, write an ebook and make it into a comprehensive guide. Price it between $12.99-$39 max.
Host your ebook for purchase on places like Gumroad.com or e-junkie.com. If you’re making a lot of sales, you can eventually buy your own shopping cart software.
Create a separate satellite website for your ebook. This helps with sales for numerous reasons. A landing page converts better than a page on your website, it allows your affiliates to link to and send traffic to a specific website, and it helps to define the product better.
Which model do you think will work best for your website?
Do you consider yourself a writer and are you willing to publish a lot of Kindle books and build and manage an email list?
OR, are you writing on a more technical, “how-to” topic that would be a better fit to make into a two or three tiered product with it’s own website and URL?
These are some considerations to keep in mind for your decision process.
Both have pros and cons. If you can pull of the Kindle model, you will gain access to Amazon promoting your work. With quality reviews and rating, you can make a book that sells for years and years to come.
However, the other model allows you to create a bunch of higher priced guides that may not sell at the volume Amazon can provide, but can be sold at a higher price point with affiliate helping you drive sales.
Let’s look at Kindle and ebooks on your own website for example.
You can do something similar to Nathan Berry or Chris Guillebeau and create an ebook on a technical subject, then create a more expensive upsell on top of said ebook.
Ebook for $17, a middle level offer for $77 then a high level offer for say $147.
That sort of thig.
This concept is best for technical “how to” ideas. Example sales page by Chris is Upgrade Unlocked. First tier is an ebook, next two levels include audio and video with more documents.
Nathan’s best seller is the App Design Handbook. It follows the same structure as Chris. In fact, he credits Chris in this interview with giving him the idea that 3 tiers work well. First level is just the book, next levels are more value.
This concept works well because it transforms people from bargain hunters into value purchasers, and it works really well for specific, skill oriented topics.
It’s not too difficult to discern weather or not your upcoming book should be self published on the Kindle platform or if it should be a stand alone product.
If it’s a “how to guide” on a specific topic, where you can have a clear upsell, make it into it’s own stand alone product with it’s own website and it’s own sales page (and charge more per unit).
If it’s a fiction book, or a book that is equivallent to a bunch of blog posts that go deep into one topic, make it a Kindle book.
So in the long run it’s a good idea to have a few Kindle books and to have a few information products if it makes sense for what you’re doing online. Again, think about the long term, your audience size and topic.