Having a profitable ebook business allows you to work from home—or from anywhere in the world. While this sounds ideal, you should be aware that it does take time, planning and hard work to establish a lucrative online business selling ebooks. One of the differences between a profitable ebook and one that bombs is writing about something that people want to know and that they will pay to learn. If you're writing about things that are readily available online free, you'll have a hard time selling your books.
Find a problem to solve. Identifying a good niche is perhaps the most important thing that you need to do if you want to own a successful ebook company. Start by looking at topics that you already know a lot about or that interest you. Make a list of things that people may want to know about that topic. For example, if you are interested in dogs, you may know that people want to know about how to train their dog or how to pick a dog that's right for their family. These problems are potential ebook topics.
Check for other solutions to the problem. Once you have a few potential problems, look to see if other websites or books address this problem. If solutions already exist, determine how you could do a better job.
Write an ebook to solve that problem. Your ebook should be long enough to solve the problem. This could be just a few pages or it could be a hundred pages. Have someone else edit the book for clarity to be sure that you haven't left out any steps.
Convert your document to a PDF file. A portable document format, or PDF, is the standard format for ebooks because people can open the file on any computer. Adobe Acrobat is a software program that creates PDF files. However, you can also use a free software program, such as Open Office, to create the PDF file (see Resources section).
Decide on the cost of your ebook. Consider your market to decide how much to charge. Some industries will only support a low price for ebooks, while others will pay a premium for quality information.
Purchase a domain name and hosting. Choose a domain name that's related to your ebook. You'll also need a hosting plan, which is where you will keep the files for your website (see Resources section).
Sign up with a sales processor. You need a method to accept money from customers. Check out ClickBank.com or PayPal.com, which are both popular choices.
Write a sales page and upload it to your website. Your sales page should be compelling and explain to potential customers the benefits of your ebook. If possible, include testimonials of people that have read your ebook and can verify that your solution works. Upload this into your website.
Send Web traffic to your offer. You can't have a profitable ebook business if people aren't visiting your website. You can get free Web traffic by writing articles and using search engine optimization, which helps your site show in the search engines. Alternatively, you can pay for traffic through Google Adwords or similar programs.
Capture customer leads. When customers visit your site, they won't always immediately buy. Invite them to sign up for a mailing list to receive more information by email. Send them emails that include additional information about their problem, but also advertisements about your ebook.
Recruit affiliates to do the sales work for you. By offering a certain percentage of sales, you can sell more ebooks by doing less work. Look for others in your niche who have websites and let them know that they can make money by promoting your ebook.
Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.