Day two of the Andrew and Daryl show was all about how they created a business selling ebooks online. Daryl Grant spoke for most of the day and the focus was on the practical steps to start your own ebook business.
If you listened to the two part podcast audio interview I did with Daryl you should already have a basic understanding of their business model since Daryl was very generous with the details. If you haven’t, I recommend you do so immediately. This article acts as a great companion piece to go along with the audio.
On Saturday Daryl and Andrew broke their system down in more detail and I’m going to summarize some of what was presented for you below.
Steps to an eBook Business
Here’s a break down of the process to create an ebook business. This is the model Daryl and Andrew used to generate over $250,000 in passive income during their first year in the ebook business.
Step 1: Market Research
Conduct keyword research to determine the amount of people searching online for particular niches. Daryl recommends the Pixelfast site, which makes use of the Overture keyword lookup tool. This will tell you how many people are searching each month for certain keyword phrases.
If you follow the recommendations from Daryl, you aim to collect 20 ideas for possible books – and these ideas can be from absolutely anywhere, in any niche. From these 20 ideas you perform a six step disqualification process to narrow down your list to only the really viable ideas.
One of the criteria is you need at least 30,000 – 50,000 searches per month (roughly) on specific relevant phrases based on Overture data before you continue the research process for that niche. This is to ensure there is enough potential traffic to make significant sales, but is only one condition that needs to be met. Daryl provided a fantastic table listing some example niches that were researched and how each topic area was disqualified or qualified for the next step, based on the following criteria –
- How much and what quality is the free information already available online on the topic?
- How many competing products/books are already for sale?
- How many adwords campaigns are currently running on the search phrases?
- Is it an inch-wide and mile-deep niche?
As you can see, it’s not just about a demonstrated need in the marketplace based on search data, there is also competitive intelligence conducted way before you even start planning the creation of your ebook. Daryl spent significant time demonstrating each of the six steps she goes through in the workshop, including some live demonstrations to show attendees how it all works. I’m sure for many it was an eye-opening experiencing.
Step 2: The Survey Site
Once the disqualification process is over based on current market conditions, Daryl and Andrew take one more research step before investing in the creation of the ebook – a survey site.
A survey site is a one page website that asks people if they are interested in the topic they plan to create an ebook about. They use a basic namesqueeze style page, but they don’t offer information in exchange for an email address like a traditional squeeze, instead they ask people who come to the site whether they are interested in a book/website on the topic and what is the most pressing questions they would like to see answered.
Here’s an example survey site template text:
Thank you for reaching my site.
I need your advice.
Currently I am in the process of building this site to help you improve your business and technical writing skills.
I would really appreciate your feedback and ideas on what you would like to see on this site.
In fact if you have any tips of your own that you’d like us to include please tell us about them. We’d of course acknowledge your contribution.
What do you want to see on this site?
That last bit where you capture the name and email is driven by an email autoresponder and until recently Andrew and Daryl used AWeber (they recently switched to infusion). As many of you know, AWeber is the same autoresponder I use for my email lists. You add an additional comments field to request feedback and this information is taken into your AWeber database, which you can review at any time.
If there is a good percentage of respondents to the survey site and the feedback is positive, you have an idea of what topics to cover in the book and what conversion rate to expect once the product goes live. Generally the amount of people who fill in the survey is indicative of the conversion rate you will get for the ebook. It won’t be exactly the same, but if someone is interested enough to respond to a survey they are probably interested enough to buy as well, and your sales page will pull all the right triggers to make the sale (hopefully!).
Step 3: Pay Per Click Traffic
To drive traffic to the survey site and eventually the ebook sales page, Daryl uses Google AdWords. Daryl did a great introduction to AdWords for the workshop attendees, which provided just enough information to get a grasp of how it works.
Obviously the topic of AdWords optimization is huge, including keyword selection, adcopy optimization and avoiding Google slap penalties, all of which Daryl covered in brief during day two.
The archives of my blogs can help with your AdWords campaigns, including these two articles on the Google Slap and Quality Score here and here, my introduction to AdWords and Pay Per click here and here, and the best resource if you want to become an AdWords expert is Perry Marshall’s Definitive Guide to Google AdWords ebook.
AdWords pay per click is the main traffic source used for the survey site and about 500 visitors per day is a good amount for the purposes of collecting data. From that traffic you can gauge what the market thinks about your idea for an ebook and what sort of click-through-rate to expect. Once you have a few days worth of information, switch off the traffic and it’s time to decide whether you will create the ebook.
This extensive research process really blew me away when I first heard it from Daryl. It’s the scientific nature of the process, including the very tight real-world metrics collected, that ensures a good chance of launching a product that succeeds.
For most people, myself included in the past, you tend to think about book ideas first, then start creating one, perhaps writing it yourself, and then you launch it and no one buys. That’s because you didn’t figure out if the market had a need for it and instead you just assumed because you considered the idea good, that it would sell. That’s completely backwards.
Step 4: Creating the Product
Daryl ran through various ways they create products, but in general the process involves hiring a ghost writer/researcher and arranging interviews with experts. The ebooks are around forty pages and between ten and twenty thousand words. Writing and researching is outsourced via sites like Rentacoder.com and experts are contacted directly for interviews over the phone, which can be recorded and transcribed.
It is quite clear that the content creation step is largely in response to market needs. Once you find pressing problems people have, you search for experts that can solve the problems and compile their knowledge and expertize into a book. All that work is done by other people, you provide the strategic direction and instructions. You don’t need to find experts either, if the ghost writer can produce the book simply by conducting research online, that’s fine too – the importance concept to understand is that other people produce the content, you just need to be the driving force to get it created.
Step 5: Selling the eBook
Once the product is ready you have a landing/sales page written, and here Daryl and Andrew recommend you have a professional copywriter at least review what you or someone else have written, or if you have the money, hire the copywriter to produce the whole sales page.
Good copywriters generally charge about $2,000 for a copy review and around $10,000 for writing a sales page – so yes, this is a huge investment – but since the copy ultimately sells the product, it’s worth it. If your book starts generating $500 a day you quickly recoup your costs, even if it does $500 per week it won’t take too long to make your investment money back.
Copywriting is an art form. It requires marketing savvy, skill with persuasive words and an ability to innately understand what the consumer desires. This skillset is not common. Copy is the main interface that converts prospects into customers and if you don’t nail this part of your process you are wasting all the energy you put in to get to this point.
Daryl says to aim for a 1% conversion rate, which is not unrealistic, but may require ongoing tweaking of certain areas. The sales page is one place you can do things like split testing of headlines and other copy elements and you can do similar tests with the words in your AdWords campaigns. The idea here is to keep testing and tweaking until you break that 1% mark and then keep looking for other ways to drive more traffic to the site, which was a topic discussed on day three.
If your funds are tight you can have a go at writing the copy yourself. Just remember that if you don’t make many sales when you launch and all the metrics were good up to that point and you have lots of traffic, chances are it’s your copy that is letting you down. This might be an area where you look to bring in a pro copywriter or study some materials from expert copywriters so you can learn what works. A basic understanding of good copy can carry you very far in the Internet business world.