How I Made $318 within 1 Hour of Launching my eBook

How to Design the Ultimate Home Office Ebook

When I published my eBook – “How to Design the Ultimate Home Office” – around a year ago, I made 32 sales within one hour of launching it. The total dollar amount was $318.

While $318 is not a crazy amount of money (I know some entrepreneurs who make 100 times as much in a single launch), I did that without the help of any partners or affiliates, and without investing a lot of money on marketing.

In this post, I’m going to explain to you exactly how I did it, and how you can too by following simple, straightforward steps.

 

Step 1: Find out what people are interested in

I never thought I’d write an eBook about designing a home office. In fact, I stumbled on the topic by accident.

Here’s how it happened.

On my other blog, The Couch Manager, I published a post about my own home office that I designed from the ground up using GTD principles.

For those of you who don’t know what GTD is, it stands for Getting Things Done, a phenomenal book written by David Allen about increasing your productivity.

A few days after publishing the post, I got lucky because it was picked up by the WordPress.com editors to be featured on their Freshly Pressed homepage.

Within 48 hours, more than 12,000 people viewed the post, and I received over 100 comments and dozens of emails from folks asking me how I did this and why I did that.

That’s when the idea went off in my head.

I thought that if people were really interested in learning about how to design their own home offices, then maybe if I create a much more detailed eBook about home office design, I could probably make some money off of it.

 

Step 2: Verify interest using Google Keyword Search

The next step was to find out if people were actively searching online for home office design tips (and specifically GTD) on Google.

The reason for this was that if the number of  people searching for those keywords was not enough, then it probably wasn’t worth writing the book.

To do the analysis, I used Google’s Keyword Tool, which is a free tool that lets you check how many people search for specific words on a monthly basis.

I punched in the keywords “GTD,” “Home Office Design,” and “Office layout” and got global monthly searches of around 450,000, 22,200, and 49,500 respectively, which are relatively good figures.

I ran a few other searches and also got some numbers which were promising, so I decided to move on.

Just as a side note, I could have done a LOT more detailed analysis here using the Google Keyword Tool. In fact, there are hundreds of third-party tools, articles and blogs that focus on this topic alone. However, I only wanted to get a general idea at this point.

 

Step 3: Create an Opt-in Page

Opt-in pages (also called squeeze pages or landing pages) are simple webpages that ask people for their email addresses.

You’ve probably seen those all over the Internet, where they’re typically used to offer you free reports or webinar sign ups.

I had two specific objectives for creating an opt-in page at this stage.

First, I wanted to find out if people were REALLY interested in the topic. My thought was that if not enough folks were willing to provide me with their email address, then it would probably be harder to sell them something later on.

Second, I wanted to have an actual list of prospective customers who I could sell to once I was done writing the book.

So I created a quick opt-in page that looked like this:

Sample Opt in Page

Basically, I asked people to sign up to get notified once the guide was out. I actually still have that opt-in page uploaded here if you want to see how it looks like on my blog.

There are a lot of tools that could help you create opt-in pages, but here’s what I used (aff links):

  • Premise: I used Premise for creating the opt-in landing page by using one of the preloaded templates that comes with it. [Note: Premise now comes with a lot more features, and is therefore more expensive since I bought it, so you might find cheaper alternatives elsewhere.]
  • AWeber: I used AWeber for collecting email addresses. AWeber is hands-down one of the best email management software out there, and it makes it super-simple for you to just copy/paste form code into your blog.

I also created the header graphic at the top of the sales page by drawing it myself. You don’t really need one (you can use a text-based header instead), but having some form of visual is better because it increases the level of appeal. If you’re interested in creating a graphic on your own, here’s a post I wrote about how to create hand drawn pictures even if you’ve never drawn anything in your life.

 

Step 4: Create a Facebook ad to direct people to your Opt-in page

The next step was to get as many people as I could to visit my opt-in page so that I could track how many individuals would actually give me their email address.

Technically, I could have used any advertising platform for this (Google Ad Words, LinkedIn Ads, etc.), but I chose Facebook because it offers relatively cheap ads, and it lets you easily target people who have an interest in GTD and home office design.

Creating an ad on Facebook is a straightforward process that doesn’t need any technical expertise (click here to start one).

Here is the Facebook ad I created.

Sample Facebook Ad

The target audience was people living in English-speaking countries (USA, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia), age 20 and over, and like the Official GTD Page or the #Getting Things Done phrase.

The total audience for this demographic was approximately 50,000 users, and I ran the ad for around a week.

I paid approximately $40 and got a total of around 65 people who opted in with their email address.

That was a good number to move forward with.

 

Step 5: Write the eBook & set up payment processors

It took me around a month or so of part-time writing and taking photos of my home office to finish the final version of the eBook. I spent a good amount of time here trying to perfect the book because I wanted to make sure that I provided enough value to the people who would end up buying it.

At the same time, I set up my PayPal account for accepting payments, and my shopping cart software (through E-junkie) to deliver the eBook automatically to customers.  I also kept advertising my opt-in page on my blog and other venues during that time to gather more email addresses.

Writing an eBook is a lot simpler than it sounds. Here’s a 5 minute presentation that I gave about how to write and sell an ebook in 3 simple steps. Click play below to watch it.

 

And here are the tools I used and mention in the video (aff links):

  • Bluehost: for creating a website for your eBook and blog
  • PayPal: for accepting payments
  • E-junkie: for delivering your eBook automatically to customers after they purchase it
  • BoxShotKing: for creating a 3D image of the eBook cover in under 2 minutes

 

Step 6: Write a sales page

A sales page is a single webpage that convinces people to buy your eBook. It basically describes what your book is about, and highlights some benefits that your readers will gain from it. The sales page also includes the “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” button for your readers to purchase if they’re convinced. Here’s the link to the final sales page of my eBook.

I used Premise here as well to build my sales page, where I just used the template they provided, and added my own text and pictures.

 

Step 7: Email your list announcing the launch of your eBook

A week before publishing the sales page, I emailed the list of people who were interested in the book to let them know that it was in its final stages (by that time, I had over 100 people on my list).

I also emailed them a couple of days before the launch to let them know when I’ll open the doors for purchasing the book.

Emailing everyone a few times before you officially launch the eBook will help keep your book on their mind and increase their sense of anticipation.

On the day of the launch, I emailed my list, and within the first hour, I got 32 sales at $9.95 each (total of $318).

I then got around 15 more sales over the next several hours, and a few more over the next few days.

The eBook still makes me some money on the side every now and then, and I still do a little dance every time I get the notification from PayPal when someone buys it :)

 

Would you like a FREE copy of my eBook?

I’m giving out free copies of my eBook for readers of this blog during the next 3 days only (ends Friday, Feb 1, 2013  at noon EST).

If you’d like to receive a copy (whether you’re interested in the actual topic, or you just want to see how the actual eBook looks like), do the following two steps:

  1. Leave me a comment in the section below, or on my Facebook Page, telling me what you thought of this post or asking me any question you may have.
  2. Send me an email to hassan [at] parttimewebpreneur [dot] com with your own email address so I can send you the link to my ebook.

That’s it!

Hope this post was helpful, and I look forward to your comments.

Comments

  1. Nice post. Thanks for laying out the step by step process you used to create and sell your eBook. I was curious though as to whether or not you tried any other sales channels for your ebook, namely Amazon.com?

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks Ryan. I actually have not used Amazon for this ebook (but I have used it for a previous book), mainly because this book has a lot of pictures in it, and the layout in Amazon’s kindle format would change it significantly.

  2. Hassan,

    Thanks for your post. I shared a link to your post with my writers group. Some of our writers have published e-books while others are thinking of doing so. I am sure they will find your post to be of assistance in what they are doing.

    I also have Guy Kawasaki’s recent book “APE” on my books to read list. I have watched a couple of his interviews and it sounds like a great read.

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks Gary! Appreciate you sharing this post with others. And thanks for highlighting Guy Kawasaki’s “APE” book – I haven’t heard of it before, and I just added it to my Amazon wish list.

  3. Nice presentation – added to my YouTube favorites.

    You make it look easy – which it is (except for the “write-your-e-book” part :)). Thanks for the links to other ancillary services.

    I would like to see other options, particularly alternatives to PayPal, an odious company that desperately needs some real competition to keep them honest.

    I am looking forward to the follow-up article where you tell us how much your book has earned versus how many hours of effort it cost you.

    Now I’m off to write my e-book…

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks Wizard – glad you enjoyed both the YouTube video and the post.

      The two alternatives that I can think of are Serve and 2CheckOut, but PayPal seems to still be the market leader by far, especially since it integrates with most of the third-party systems for online marketing. They have been getting a lot of negative press lately, especially about freezing honest accounts, but I also heard they’re listening and doing something about it. Guess time will tell.

      Thanks for the recommendation about what to write about next – though I don’t think I actually kept track of how much time I invested. However, I guarantee you that if you approach writing your ebook the right way, it’ll be nothing but a positive return on investment :)

  4. Liked your post but thought your representation of the writing not needing editing and being very simple…perhaps for Harvard students it is…is misleading or else conducive to encouraging lousy eBooks which give the entire process a bad name.
    Still I have to applaud your process for getting comments!

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks for your comment Tom! I don’t disagree with you there (I think editing thoroughly is definitely important when it comes to any material that gets published). However, the point I was trying to emphasize is that content is more important than grammar or punctuation when it comes to ebooks (particularly non-fiction & how-to books), and that folks shouldn’t worry so much about editing and perfecting before launching.

  5. Very interesting post, thanks for sharing. It is really interesting how nowadays writing a book is actually just a small activity somewhere in the middle of the steps you need to take to successfully sell it. One step out of seven. Although I think you should split the writing from setting the payment side of things, which would be one of eight. I can only imagine how many good books/e-books I will never see because an author focused solely on writing…

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks Iza! Totally agree there. It also doesn’t end at the launch (unfortunately). There are a lot more steps after publication that you’d need to do, including setting up an affiliate program, investing in marketing, and optimizing keywords for traffic generation. So writing is more like one step out of 20!

  6. Jad Chamcham says:

    Good post Mr Osman.

    A couple of questions:
    – didn’t see any costs in terms of writing the book. I assume you simply used Microsoft Word?
    – did you consider additionally selling physical copies of the book (via something like Amazon’s CreateSpace)? Or do you think the margins would be too low for a physical medium.

    Keep on writing!

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks Jad! Great questions.

      1) That’s correct – I only used MS Word (and just saved the final version as a PDF file). So there weren’t any costs associated on that front. However, I did use BoxShotKing (link above) to create the 3D image of the book cover, and I had to pay for that.

      2) I did consider selling a physical copy, but decided against it because a) the margins would be too low as you mention (I currently make around $9.50 in gross profit from a $9.95 ebook) and b) because it’s picture-heavy, which means a physical color copy book would probably cost upwards of $20 to produce.

  7. Hassan: Thanks for the steps. I have an ebook that I am in the process of creating. This has given me some great action steps to take to see if I will continue or not with the creation. Specifically the research into keywords.

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks Michael – glad you found the post helpful and best of luck with creating your own ebook!

  8. Observations from seeing the actual eBook:
    1. if possible you should set the pdf so the initial view is single-page-continuous. Seeing left and right pages side by side makes the too small to read easily and makes it difficult to track down the pages. Once the view is changed the material works quite well on a PC.
    2. I had calibre convert the pdf to mobi (or AZW3) and found that it is a mess on at least one eReader! The 2-column format gets mede into successive, interleaved sentences…or rather parts of sentences! If you were going for the eReader market you would have to change that. Also the pictures behave poorly. In particular, at least to view on the Kindle Paperwhite, the pictures should be lightened in the darkest areas.

    So, the question to address with an “eBook” is the actual target platform to be addressed. Making a pdf will not necessarily do the job for the eReader platforms.

    • oops, I am dependent on the spell checker which for some reason wasn’t working…my apologies, but I can’t edit the post when sent out.

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Thanks for the insights Tom. A couple of quick replies to your comments.

      1) You’re right. The pdf was designed to be read as a single page (which is what most folks have as their default setting).

      2) That’s exactly why I haven’t published an eReader version of the book . Given that the material is graphic-intensive, and the fact that I want to control the layout where a picture appears on one end, and the text on the other, an eReader might not be the best solution here.

  9. What a timely and helpful article, Hassan! As a first-time author, I literally caught myself taking notes! Thank you for sharing your expertise. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I am selected for the book!