Writing an ebook can seem daunting. As a marketer, you want to provide value to your audience and also generate leads for your business or company. So, what should you write about, how long should your ebook be, and how do you make sure your ebook is actually useful for your business? We’re breaking it down for you in this post.
The 9 step process of writing a high-converting ebook
For content marketers, writing an ebook is more than just words on a page. A lot of strategy goes into the behind-the-scenes work. We’ve worked out nine steps to improve your workflow and write ebooks that lead to conversions.
1. Decide whether you actually need to write an ebook
Should your content be an ebook? Or would it be better as a blog post or series of blog posts? What’s the difference?
A blog post typically takes one idea from conception to completion. For example, a post on SEO basics may walk readers through implementing on-page SEO. Things like:
- SEO titles
- meta descriptions
- alt-text usage
- keyword optimization
Readers leave satisfied with the gleaned points and can put them to use right away.
With a series of blog posts, you might go in-depth and continue the general conversation thread for about three to five more steps — or indefinitely in some cases. For example:
- The first post may focus on optimizing titles and headings for SEO.
- The next post could focus on internal linking.
- Subsequent posts may even touch on off-page SEO aspects like backlinking.
Some marketers eventually decide to compile a series into an ebook, and that works too.
Often, though, the best ebooks target a specific pain point in a manner more fluid than stitched blog posts. An ebook on SEO, for instance, would break down technical, on-page, and off-page SEO, while including relevant stats, graphics, actionable step-by-step guides, maybe even a checklist and a call-to-action (or several).
Quick tip: If you have expertise on a multi-pronged topic that is of high interest to your audience, then an ebook might be the way to go. This medium also works well for case studies and other data analysis articles.
2. Choose a topic
What should you write about? Your topic should be the point where your product/service and your audience’s pain point intersect. If you’ve recently started writing for a new audience, it may be worth investigating what their needs are. Many sites encourage you to run a survey, but not every customer has time to complete a survey — even if it “will only take two minutes.”
So, meet your customers where they are: Eavesdrop on Twitter, Quora, LinkedIn and other relevant social media sites. Join Facebook groups and forums with people in your target audience. Learn what they like by watching how your content performs. Even if they aren’t filling surveys, they can still tell you what they like by their actions, which speak louder anyway.
Quick tip: Besides watching and listening to what your customers want, your competitors are a crucial information source. See what they’re writing about and note how their content performs.
3. Set goals
Now you know what the people want, it’s time to figure out what you need. What do you hope your ebook will accomplish for your team? How can you use ebooks to achieve your business goals? Ebooks can help content marketers to:
- Generate leads: To market content, you need to stay in touch with your audience. A valuable resource is a powerful incentive for readers to share their email with you, hence providing a point of contact.
- Establish authority: Long-form content allows you to display the wealth of knowledge you have about your industry. In turn, readers see that they can trust you and want to remain connected to that fountain of knowledge.
- Advertise a service: After you’ve proven that you know your audience, you rise to the forefront of your customers’ minds. As soon as you advertise your services, they’ll be eager to click, if for nothing else to see how they can work with you.
Quick Tip: Knowing what you want to achieve will impact the way you structure your ebook, as well as the CTAs you use, and how you choose to repurpose the content in the long run.
3. Create an outline
As tempting as it is to just dive in, writing ebooks is long-form content on steroids — you don’t want to start without a plan. Otherwise, you will waste valuable time and energy meandering before arriving at a structure that works.
Remember, though, that research births the outline. So, while deciding what to write about is the first step in researching your ebook, you’ll need additional research to settle on the scope of your content.
Once your research is done, draft an outline, starting from the outside in. Begin with chapter titles and what you plan to tackle in each one. Then, if you’re inclined, include subheading suggestions within each chapter.
Quick Tip: For an effective outline, write the objective/learning point your reader should take away from each chapter. This ensures that you’re fighting the fluff from the very beginning.
4. Start writing
With your outline in hand, it’s time to fill in the blanks. Craft an inviting introduction by showing your expertise from page one. Readers and potential customers need to be sure that you understand their needs.
This means that if your ebook is about fine-tuning SEO, you should display your understanding of common SEO pitfalls and their manifestations: poor traffic, low conversion rates, and not ranking on Google, for instance. One expert is good, but two heads are even better. So, you could also gather quotes from subject matter experts to enrich your content.
As you write, focus on keeping the information factual, specific, easy to digest, and actionable. Always keep your target audience in sharp focus, making sure that each sentence provides value for your reader.
Quick tip: Writing can be overwhelming, so consider outsourcing your ebook. Before you try a human copywriter, give an AI writing assistant a shot. We recommend Jasper. The Content Improver template — one of over 52 templates the AI has — is designed to rewrite your content to make it more engaging and enjoyable.
Also, don’t forget to mix things up, including bullet points, headings, and quotes to make the text more readable. And remember those goals you set for your ebook? Include calls-to-action (CTAs) to lead your readers to more content on your site, to purchase a product, or any action you’d like them to take.
6. Add visuals
Research shows that people who follow directions with illustrations do 323% better than those following text directions alone.
Visuals give your ebook extra oomph — and more so when they’re illustrating a specific point. You don’t want your images to be page fillers. Use images to explain a concept or solidify the concept in readers’ minds.
Colors and fonts are also important visual components. Invest in your ebook’s design; it shouldn’t be an afterthought. A few tips to keep in mind:
- Choose complementary colors and ensure that anchor text is easy to decipher
- Strive for a semi-minimalist design that allows your text to shine
- Avoid unnecessary design elements that will overwhelm readers’ senses
- Use a readable font and font size — no one wants to squint that hard, no matter how valuable your content is
Overall, your ebook should be user-friendly and accessible.
Quick tip: If a section of your ebook highlights multiple statistics or useful data for your readers, consider designing an appealing graphic for this section.
7. Format your ebook
You’ve written your content and edited it at least once or twice, your visuals are in, and you’ve chosen a cover for your ebook. What next? It’s time to format it. If you created your book as a Word document or on Google Docs, it may be as easy as exporting it into your desired format.
Google Docs allows you to export files as a PDF document, Rich Text Format (.rtf), OpenDocument (.odt), and EPUB Publication, among others. Generally, this preserves most of your formatting and can be done in seconds.
Most ebooks are formatted as PDFs since this format is often more pleasurable to read and tends to be readable on a wide variety of devices. If you’d like a richer visual experience, and more creative leeway, try using a software like Canva to format your ebook.
Quick tip: If you’re thinking of selling your ebook on a platform like the Amazon Kindle store, you would need to convert it to a .mobi file or .azw. You may need a professional to work out the kinks for you.
8. Create buzz
Your shiny new ebook is all written and set to go off into inboxes. Now all you need are inboxes, right?
If you’ve already been building hype around this lead magnet or resource even while you were drafting an outline, you’ve done well. But don’t fret if you have yet to tell a soul — content marketing is a long game, and you have time.
Set up a landing page or any other sign up form on your website — with compelling copy, of course — to host your ebook. Landing pages are worthwhile because they can rank for search engines, which gives your resource an extra boost. You can broadcast the ebook launch to your network across all your social media, too.
You can also repurpose your ebook content by sharing sections as a blog post (with a sign up form at the end for the full ebook) or a social media infographic. If you have a podcast, that’s another useful medium for distributing content to your audience and encouraging sign ups.
Quick tip: Use your ebook as a sign-up incentive at the end of related blog posts or website content. This way, anyone who needs that content will find it after reading a related article. And, you’ll be building your mailing list in the process.
9. Track your ebook’s progress
The best way to measure progress is to track it. So set up your email software to track sign-ups and downloads and see how many people are getting your ebook. You can also set up Google Analytics event tracking on your website to check PDF downloads hosted on the site.
If your work is valuable, it will likely be a hit with your target audience. Hopefully, they’re vocal enough to share it with their network.
Quick tip: You can also remind your audience to share the ebook far and wide (all copyright observed). After all, there’s no such thing as too much buzz.
How long should an ebook be?
Most ebooks should be anywhere between 2000 - 5000 words. Anything under 2000 words could have as well been a blog post and anything over 5000 words is closer to a novella or actual novel than a marketing ebook.
Ultimately, however, don’t be bogged down by word count details upfront. Focus on creating value and ensuring that every word on the page is worth readers sharing their email information with you.
3 tools to make writing an ebook faster and easier
You now have an overview of the ebook creation process, but figuring out the nuts and bolts can be intimidating still.
If you have an idea about what you need to do but are stretched for time, then you might need some extra help to generate content and expand on what you have. These ebook writing tools can help.
1.Jasper [AI writing assistant]
Jasper is a unique AI copywriting assistant with an outstanding well of knowledge to draw from. As a content marketer, you know that good writing simply lures readers in from headline to sentence after sentence. Let Jasper worry about writing the perfect headline for every chapter, using its Perfect Headline template.
As you switch up your narrative style, Jasper can handle the twists and turns. Just guide the Long-form Assistant by providing some information about each chapter, and watch it generate content with less than half the usual effort from you. With Boss Mode, all you need to do is tell Jasper what to write about (e.g. “Write an article about SEO best practices”).
Jasper knows how important bullet points can be for readability and engagement. That’s why the Persuasive Bullet Points template is there to craft points that will keep your readers transfixed.
Pricing: Starts at $29/month for the Starter plan. Pro and Boss Mode plans cost $109 and $119 respectively.
2. ConvertKit [email marketing platform]
An email marketing platform can make or break your ebook reach. You need one that won’t be too steep a learning curve and will ensure high deliverability.
If your marketing emails keep hitting spam folders, instead of actual inboxes, no one will read them or buy your product. ConvertKit is a reputable option, with a deliverability rate of 99.72%. You can set up an unlimited number of landing pages and sign up forms with your ebook incentive attached.
If you decide to sell your ebook, ConvertKit’s new “Buy Now” feature enables you to sell your digital products without any additional integrations. Best of all, the sign up process is one of the easiest for newsletter clients, and you can start using it completely free of charge until you hit 1000 subscribers.
Pricing: Starts free and varies depending on subscriber numbers. Get two months free with an annual subscription.
3. Skillshare [courses for writing an ebook]
There are several courses that help you through the ebook writing process, but many of them focus on writing fiction or non-fiction ebooks — not so much content marketing. Thankfully, this Skillshare course exists.
It walks you through coming up with a niche idea, writing the ebook, and then sharing it with your audience. If you need a video tutorial akin to this article, this would be a good place to start.
Want to try a different course? Jasper offers a free 54-minute YouTube tutorial for writing and publishing ebooks on Amazon.
Pricing: Skillshare Premium starts at $8.07/month and $32 billed annually.
Ready, set, go!
Writing ebooks is no joke. Beyond the gruelling long-form content creation, it’s also a high stakes venture, because it can often be the content that makes the first impression on potential customers. Follow our nine-step guide to smooth out your process and produce an ebook that actually converts for your business.
If writing ebooks is a significant part of your content strategy, you can start producing content up to 10x faster with Jasper. Jasper reduces five hours of brainstorming and writing to a mere 20 minutes — or less. Don’t believe us? See real-life examples of ebooks written by Jasper.
Sign up here to get your first 10K words free, and start creating ebooks that convert.