Nearly all traditionally-published authors put out electronic copies of their work these days, and the market for ebook-only indie novelists has also skyrocketed in recent years. Ebooks offer an ultra-convenient way to get excellent modern fiction into many more hands, but writing an ebook and giving it away for free can be a brilliant marketing strategy for almost any business, too.
Regardless of your business’ core mission, its field, and its size, a free ebook can build your profile, your credibility, and your customer base.
How can businesses make money from free ebooks?
Your brand may be a solo endeavor — perhaps you are a blogger, a freelance editor, a life coach, or a plumber — or you may own a small to mid-sized online or brick-and-mortar business. As long as you learn how to market your ebook, you are tapping into a whole new way to bring in customers. Someone who is genuinely interested what you have to say will happily download your free ebook and walk away from the experience feeling like they’ve learned something useful. As they remember your ebook, they’ll also engrave the name of your brand into their minds.
Not only can a well-written free ebook build your credibility as a business, giving away a free ebook is an awesome marketing tool. As you connect with people you already know are interested in your business — because they were willing to share their email address to gain access to your valuable guide — you will easily be able to inform them about future offers and promotions. In addition, don’t forget that you’ll actually be able to embed links to specific pages on your website throughout the ebook, sending customers straight where you want them!
Although writing an ebook and polishing it to perfection should be somewhat of an investment (you’re going for quality, after all!), businesses can realistically expect to cash in on a free ebook giveaway down the line.
What should your free ebook be about?
The most memorable free ebooks meet a genuine need or solve a real problem — for your particular customer base. When you start brainstorming how to write an ebook, you’ll want to be familiar with your target audience. If in doubt, you can even simply ask your existing customers or followers for ideas and feedback.
These tried-and-tested formats will help you get off to a good start:
- How-to guides will never get old, as long as they teach something valuable. The possibilities are almost endless, from “how to repair your own sink” to “how to get started as a freelance writer” or “how to sew your own baby carrier”.
- Must-know ebooks tackle topics like “10 things you should before you go camping”, “essential ingredients for a close mother-son relationship”, or “25 things every man needs to know to grow an epic mustache”. They promise a solid grasp on the basics, allowing readers to dive in.
- Best-of ebooks are list-based guides that teach your audience how to make the most of something they really want or need. Think “the best tools for beginning DIY enthusiasts”, “the best ways to build a professional website”, or “the best exercises to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome”.
- If you want to entice your readers with a little mystery, you might choose an ebook that promises “the truth about” something or shares “little-known trade secrets”. “The truth about caring for a relative with dementia”, or “an insider’s guide to the insurance industry” would be two examples.
Almost everything else out there boils down to some variation of these formats. These ebook recipes work because they truly help your audience — but only, and here’s the caveat, if you understand their needs intimately.
What boxes should your free ebook tick?
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics of ebooks, and you’ve cooked up a riveting topic that’s sure to be a winner with your current and future base, you’ll need to make sure that the text itself isn’t just neatly organized into sections that make sense, but it’s also been edited professionally. Some very short ebooks, especially those high in visual content, are as short as 2,500 words. Many text-based ebooks, while still succinct, will at least reach the 10,000 word mark.
Your ebook should have a gripping, well-thought out title and a professionally-designed cover that looks great in full size as well as in the thumbnail.
As a business, you probably already know more about how to market an ebook than most aspiring fiction authors do, but the importance of this step can’t be underestimated. Get your ebook everywhere, with the help of email promotions, social media, and other marketing campaigns, and prepare your strategy to make that happen well before you publish.