How to make money selling ebooks on your own site

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Let me know if this sounds familiar—you see a story about a first-time creator making $2,000 on a digital product and think, “I could totally do that.”

If you’ve spent any time writing, working, or coaching in a niche, you likely have an ebook idea ready to come to life. It doesn’t take long for your mind to start spending your imaginary earnings, so you start to think about how to sell an ebook. Only instead of finding answers, you discover more questions. How do I make an ebook? Where can you even sell it online? How much do I charge?

A moment ago you had a heart full of hope and a mind full of dancing dollar bills. You could practically hear the “kaching.” Now, a rain cloud is looming and you’re reasoning with yourself that your 9-5 isn’t always that bad.

There’s a magical cure for this challenge, and it’s called “small, simple actions.” The best place to sell your ebook is somewhere you likely already have ready to roll: your own website. And the great news is that you don’t need to figure out how to sell an ebook on your own website alone because we can look to the creators who have come before you.

Are you ready to feel a serious sense of accomplishment? Let’s get started.

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Why you should sell ebooks on your own site

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of making your ebook success story come to life, we need to consider the distribution elephant in the room. Amazon is essentially a monopoly in the publishing world, especially for self-publishers. When new creators try to learn about where to sell ebooks online, Amazon’s size and availability make them a convenient choice—but they certainly aren’t the best choice for creators looking to turn their passion into profit.

Instead, creators should sell ebooks on their own website. It’s not as difficult as it may sound (we promise), and there are some very clear benefits:

More readers can access your document on their devices

Book formatting and rights management through Amazon’s Kindle services can cause headaches. Creators have seen all the hard work they put into formatting their ebook go to the wayside when they convert to Kindle Direct Publishing formats. Plus, digital rights management (DRM) can pigeonhole compatible devices.

When selling an ebook on your website, you can choose a widely usable format like PDF for viewing across platforms and devices.

You create a deeper relationship with customers

When someone buys your ebook on Amazon, their name and information live in Amazon’s black box for the rest of time. Translation: you won’t know who buys your books—and you won’t have any way of reaching them in the future to market your other offerings.. Building relationships with your audience is one of the most fulfilling and lucrative prospects for online creators, so why would you relinquish that?

Instead, you can use your website and email list to provide value to your audience over time and connect with new buyers. Welcome emails, like the one from Angela at Stray Curls below, introduce new subscribers to your perspective and start the relationship on a positive note .

Creator and illustrator Angela leans into her skills and story to welcome new subscribers to her email list. Image via Stray Curls.
Creator and illustrator Angela leans into her skills and story to welcome new subscribers to her email list. Image via Stray Curls.

More money lands in your pocket instead of Amazon’s

You put the hard work into creating content, and you deserve to be paid for it. Typically, you earn more per sale when you sell ebooks on your own website.

Amazon ebook fees and royalties are…complicated. They consider factors like the file size and sales price, and there can be multiple fees taken for each transaction. Let’s say you sell 100 copies of your ebook for $15—after Amazon’s 65% commission, you would end up making $525 in profit.

Compare that to selling on your own site. ConvertKit Commerce is available on free and paid ConvertKit plans and has a 3.5% + $0.30 per transaction fee. That shakes out to $1,417 in profit from the same number of sales on your ebook—an increase in profit of 35%. Not bad!

You can launch faster

When you’re excited about launching an ebook, any delay is frustrating. Creators who publish via Amazon should expect to wait a few days before their book and listing details are fully live. Selling on your own site puts you in control, though, and you can begin making sales right after uploading your ebook file.

5 tips to make writing your ebook a breeze

There are few things as daunting as looking at a blank page with a mind full of hopes but seemingly few words. Writing your ebook is a huge topic—big enough that we wrote an entire guide on it—but here are five of our top tips to make creating ebook content easier:

  1. Uncover your book idea by finding themes between the work you do and common questions/concerns you come across
  2. Leverage content you’ve already created to save time
  3. Think about designing for readability and usefulness as you’re writing to organize your thoughts and make the content more engaging. An organized table of contents and descriptive headers help readers find the info they’re interested in.
  4. Ask for feedback on your draft so you can make important edits now and not after you’ve published
  5. Choose a format, like PDFs, that maintain design and formatting across devices. You can even make parts of your PDF digitally fillable for readers to take notes or respond to workbook prompts

Choosing the right ecommerce platform for selling your ebook

By the time you’ve made all the previous decisions related to creating your ebook, you’re likely eager to get it out there already. You could spend countless hours comparing fine details between ecommerce platforms, so it’s best to narrow your focus a bit.

Here are the four factors to consider:

Cost to transact

There will always be some cost associated with doing business, but seemingly small details in transaction costs can add up fast. Look at per-transaction expenses, along with any recurring monthly fees. You want to make sure your ebook is making you money and not costing you money.

Payments

After you’ve made some sales, you’ll likely be eager to see the money make it into your bank account. Research how each platform processes creator payments and how easy it is to get set up as a new seller.

Connectivity to your other tools

Chances are you have a few different tools you use to run your business. It would be frustrating to take time to get ready to sell on a platform only to realize that connecting to your email marketing or website forms aren’t as easy as you expected. The more elements of your sales process that “play nice” with your ecommerce platform, the better.

Ease of use

You don’t want to spend all day getting ebooks set up in your new platform or dealing with admin. Take time to explore demos, trials, and reviews of the product interface. It’s also wise to find supporting documents to answer your product questions.

Steps to selling your ebook with ConvertKit Commerce
After you’ve created a landing page for your ebook, all that’s left to do is add your product and get ready to sell. You’ll need to connect your Stripe account to ConvertKit to receive payments by entering your Stripe mobile phone number and email.

Your Stripe account mobile number and email connect ConvertKit payments to sell ebooks on your own website. Image via ConvertKit.
Your Stripe account mobile number and email connect ConvertKit payments to sell ebooks on your own website. Image via ConvertKit.

Once you’ve set up payments, you’ll notice the only option when you click “Create a New Product” on your products page is for a new product. You’ll hit that big red button and then fill in some basic product details. You can always come back and edit these details later, so your product name and price aren’t set in stone.

As of publishing, creators can set up a one-time fee for their ebook. Recurring subscriptions are coming soon! Image via ConvertKit.
As of publishing, creators can set up a one-time fee for their ebook. Recurring subscriptions are coming soon! Image via ConvertKit.

Once your details are in, hit “Next,” and then upload your file on the next page. After you’ve uploaded your ebook file, you need to choose a domain for your product’s sales page. Clicking on “Create Product” at the bottom of the page adds your product to the page URL you selected.

Choose between a custom domain for your sales page or use your account’s “ck.page” domain. Image via ConvertKit.
Choose between a custom domain for your sales page or use your account’s “ck.page” domain. Image via ConvertKit.

Your last step in setting up your ebook with ConvertKit commerce is setting up your sales, checkout, and confirmation pages. The editor for these important pages is nearly identical to the Landing Page Builder we covered in the previous section, which means it’s just as easy to customize.

In just a few clicks you can update the look and feel of your ebook sales page to match your branding. Image via ConvertKit.
In just a few clicks you can update the look and feel of your ebook sales page to match your branding. Image via ConvertKit.

One of the benefits of selling ebooks on your own website is the control you have over every step in the buying process. ConvertKit Commerce lets you customize branding and write copy that converts at each point in the sale, and automatically sends a receipt email.

In addition to selling from a dedicated ebook landing page, you can embed a link or button for your ebook anywhere on your site.

How to price your ebook

If the thought of choosing a price for your ebook strikes fear in your heart, you aren’t alone. Assigning a value to your work can feel tricky and uncomfortable, especially if you’re new. It’s helpful to remember that you don’t need to come up with a number at random, and you aren’t stuck with that price forever.

These are a few tips to make pricing your book less daunting:

  • Check for minimum prices on your ecommerce platform. Kindle books can be as low as $0.99, while ConvertKit Commerce has a minimum product price of $5.
  • Look at what other creators in your niche are charging, since some topics may tend to cost more than others.
  • Consider the length of your ebook and what other bonuses come along with it. For example, you could include an audiobook recording with each ebook purchase.
The Authority ebook package comes with multiple file types, including an audiobook read by the author. Image via Nathan Barry.
The Authority ebook package comes with multiple file types, including an audiobook read by the author. Image via Nathan Barry.
  • Experiment with ebook pricing over time. You can poll your audience about what they’d be willing to pay or try different prices. Remember to keep other variables the same when you experiment with the price and don’t jump to conclusions too quickly.

Ideas for promoting your ebook

Creating and setting up your ebook for sale is only the beginning of your creator journey. To truly reap the rewards of your hard work, you’ll need to dedicate some time to promoting your ebook. There are plenty of ways to promote your ebook, but it’s best to start with the basics and build from there.

Here are some ideas for using social media, website content, and email to sell your ebook online.

Social media ebook promotion ideas

  • Put up polls about topics to gauge interest
  • Consistently share behind-the-scenes of creating the ebook
  • Create a scavenger hunt throughout your content for the chance to win a free copy
  • Ask readers to share a picture on social media when they download their copy
  • Promote content that has a CTA for your ebook at the end
  • Share occasional bundles or discounts
  • Pin a tweet about your ebook

Chef Daniella Maltifano cross-promotes her cookbooks on daily live streams. Image via Plant-Based Made Easy.

Website ebook promotion ideas

You can create a list of potential ebook buyers before you write a single word by creating a pre-sale interest landing page. Image via Mission Plantified.
You can create a list of potential ebook buyers before you write a single word by creating a pre-sale interest landing page. Image via Mission Plantified.

Email ebook promotion ideas

Creator Ryan Baustert learns about his audience by asking what held them back from buying his products. Image via Ryan Baustert.
Creator Ryan Baustert learns about his audience by asking what held them back from buying his products. Image via Ryan Baustert.

Start selling ebooks on your own site today with ConvertKit

Trying something new will always come with its fair share of triumphs and trials. With enough on your plate, though, you shouldn’t have to spend a single minute worrying about the ecommerce platform you’ve chosen.

ConvertKit Commerce was created by and for creators just like you who dedicate their time to teaching everything they know. Using our tools to sell ebooks on your site lets you make more money and launch more quickly than other platforms. You’ll also have more control and flexibility over your subscriber experience and relationship with your audience than selling on Amazon.

If you’re ready to make the leap, you can realistically set up your product today. Sound good?

The post How to make money selling ebooks on your own site appeared first on ConvertKit.

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