Both. You should potentially do both if it’s possible.
But let me break down the what and the why behind each approach so you can decide for yourself how you want to proceed.
Steve Scott makes thousands of dollars selling 20,000-30,000 word Kindle ebooks. He’s actually step up the quality of his books so their more like 40,000 words now.
So does Colin Wright.
So does Johny Truant.
Could you do the same?
Maybe, but books are a tough business.
Johnny FD makes $100-200 a month selling his Kindle books for example. He originally sold the books as a downloadable PDF on his website but then converted them to Kindle.
I asked him which is better and he said for those books, Kindle was less profitable in the short term and at first he thought he made a mistake but now sees it as the right decision as it gives greater exposure to his personal brand and social proof despite making less money (side note, buy his books – they are a great read).
Personally, I’m not crazy about the Kindle ebook business model, the idea of building out an online course is much more appealing to me in terms of actually building a business asset.
Now, don’t get me wrong – if you feel compelled to write then write. I personally have an idea for a book about my time in Thailand. It’s just a matter of priority for me. Videos, content and courses for WCP come first. Until I finish those things it’s silly for me to spend time doing anything else.
Now, as for selling a downloadable PDF on your website, yes you should totally do that too. Websites like Dirt Bike Planet and Bold and Determined both sell low priced ebooks.
Bold and Determined is a men’s site that gets somewhere in the range of 10,000 visitors per day (according to SEM Rush). If you sell a $10 ebook, how many of those daily visitors convert into sales? Let’s say 1 person out of every 500.
That’s 20 ebook sales per day which is $200 passively from selling an ebook. $200 a day is $6,000 dollars a month. Not bad from a silly little “ebook.”
Kindle Business Model
What exactly is the Kindle business model? It’s the business model that successful Kindle publishers use and it flows as follows:
- Have a strong personal brand via a website.
- Attract an audience with said website through search, YouTube and social media.
- Convert traffic into an email list.
- Leverage that email list as a relationship building tool.
- Research topics and hash out ideas for books.
- Publish a lot of books. Using your list as a way to get reviews and feedback on content and books you publish.
- Don’t half ass it, give up or get lazy. Continue to publish.
- Then publish some more.
- In your ebooks give a link to an email opt-in form to your “strong personally branded website.”
This sort of model requires oneself to really dedicate themselves to writing and publishing, A LOT. Because, you will create books that flop, some books that do OK, and other books that take off an make up the bulk of your income.
It’s the 80/20 rule at work.
It also takes a lot of work to build an email list of interested people and a thriving website to go along with it.
Creating a website is of course part of the equation, but you have to really learn how to manage and grow an email list.
It all works together, and any chink in the armor will result in the whole thing not working to it’s full potential.
So while you may want to just publish books; to really build a thriving publishing micro business you need to:
- Learn how to create a website that reflects your brand.
- Write a lot of topically similar books.
- Learn how to run a successful email list.
- Have a talent for writing, creating quality books that people love.
Hey what about that bald Canadian guy on YouTube that sells Kindle Mastery?
Don’t buy Kindle Mastery. It’s lame. His premise is that you can outsource the writing to multiple authors who speak English as a second language and then go ahead an publish a 100+ low quality ebooks.
It’s all quite silly. It’s almost like he read about this idea but never actually did it. Also, he can’t actually point to any books he’s published as an example.
If you’re really interested in this model, follow Steve Scott’s lead.
One Kindle book is not enough.
From self published authors, the concenseous of what constitutes a successful book is at least 5 sales every single day more or less. If you write a Kindle ebook that performs this well after being run through your own internal marketing funnel, double down and create versions of that book in audio, paperback and multiple languages.
If it fails to reach that 5 sale a day threshold, consider your book a flop and move onto the next.
If successful however…
You will build a micro publishing business. One where you can focus more on the writing over time because the marketing funnels will already be in place.
What I like about this model is how simple it is. Get email subscribers, send them down a pre-made funnel, promote books. When you release a new book, promote it to your list.
Once your books have a good amount of sales and reviews, Amazon promotes your book and you’ve just built a passive income source.
So you could get to a place where you’re making a full time income and you spend your days writing books. A dream for some people.
Back to Johhny FD. He’s making $100-200 from two Kindle books. What if he had 50 Kindle books like Steve Scott that he was making sales from and using to drive traffic from Amazon to his website and email list?
I think you can see how this scales now.
Steve Scott has a fun story (as I was a reader of Steve Scott site back in the day).
Steve Scott used to write a bunch of Kindle books on internet marketing. He was surprised by how well these Kindle Books sold but was getting annoyed with people saying he was only able to make money by talking about how to make money.
The funny thing?
His case study overtook his SteveScottSite.com in terms of profitability. Now it’s no longer a side thing, or a case study. DevelopGoodHabits.com IS his core business and he retired from writing at SteveScottSite.com
Subscribe to his “habits website” to get an idea of the process he uses to make tens of thousands of dollars a month from selling Kindle books.
Because that’s the model he uses. Traffic to DevelopGoodHabits.com gets funneled into an email list and that email list is his main marketing tool for all his Kindle books.
Make sure to browse through the archives of his self publishing podcast questions show. It’s required listening as far as I’m concerned if this business model for your digital presence appeals to you.
He now publishes that habits blog as well as book on Kindle and has become a “Kindle expert”. That’s now his online brand.
Selling an ebook on your Own Website as a downloadable PDF or whatever.
Ok, so you don’t want to go the $2.99 route and publish on Kindle, or perhaps you just want a handful of books on Kindle, but long term you’re more interesting in creating something that can only be bought on your website.
An information product.
It’s still quite a popular and profitable model as websites like Bold and Determine show us. You lose out on the Amazon marketing machine (which only kicks in when you can get your book sales and positive reviews to a high level), but what you can do instead is:
- Charge more per unit, $10-27 is what people are OK with.
- Have affiliates.
- Have tiers of different product offerings. Book, book + stuff, book +more stuff.
Having a low price product is an excellent way to make sales on your site. You could have things like a course, but selling $10 ebook when your site is getting thousands of daily visitors is going to make money.
Their are so many different examples of this at play:
2KnowMySelf – A poorly written personal development blog (seriously, not even kidding) that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each month and makes money from the sale of again, poorly written, grammatically plagued ebooks.
I still don’t understand why this website is so popular. I bought one of his ebooks to see the genius behind this content, but it’s clearly written by someone who’s English is a second language or has an IQ of 80.
Nomadic Matt – A personal blog that has evolved into massive that shows you how to travel by breaking the limiting belief that travel has to be super expensive. Matt has numerous books, I’ve purchased a few, they are all well worth the price of admission.
Nick Kelly, (aka Victor Pride) of Boldanddetermined.com as we mentioned does it right. Have an ebook, creat landing page for said ebook (30daysofdiscipline.com), have testimonials and an introduction video that clearly demonstrates why you’re the guy to listen to.
Nathan Berry – Made famous by the App Design Handbook; it’s more of full information course with the actual book being the lowest tier.
Unconventional Guides – Chris Guillebeau created a second website to be the umbrella company for all his information products. Most of the products follow the same format: Book, book + stuff, book +more stuff.
Which model do you think will work best for your website?
- Do you consider yourself a writer and are you willing to publish a lot of Kindle books and build and manage an email list? If not, don’t bother with Kindle unless you really want to write a handful of books like Johnny FD and have no intention of making it your full time income.
- Are you writing on a more technical, “how-to” topic that is niche specific like the “app design” handbook where you could sell it for a higher price and make varied tiers out of it? Making it a full blown course? Do that then.
- Are you at least selling one low priced ebook on your website currently? Launch that ebook first on your website before going after Kindle.
These are some considerations to keep in mind for your decision process.
Both have pros and cons. If you can pull of the Kindle model, you will gain access to the Amazon machine promoting your work. With quality reviews and rating, you can make a book that sells for years and years to come without needing any overhead.
However, the other model allows you to create a bunch of higher priced guides that may not sell at the volume Amazon can provide, but can be sold at a higher price point with affiliate helping you drive sales.
Consider having Three Tiers
Nathan Berry and Chris Guillebeau do this:
Ebook for $17, a middle level offer for $77 then a high level offer for say $147.
That sort of thing.
This concept is best for technical “how to” ideas. Example sales page by Chris is Upgrade Unlocked. First tier is an ebook, next two levels include audio and video with more documents.
Nathan’s best seller is the App Design Handbook. It follows the same structure as Chris. In fact, he credits Chris in this interview with giving him the idea that 3 tiers work well. First level is just the book, next levels are more value.
This concept works well because it transforms people from bargain hunters into value purchasers, and it works really well for specific, skill oriented topics.
What to consider for your own website:
At a minimum sell a low priced ebook on your website. Price it between $9.99 to $27. Higher price points should be reserved for more technical stuff. If it’s a book on how to travel long term for example, I would make something like that $12.99.
You can also use your ebook as an upsell. So when someone subscribes to your email list for example, you can send them to a “thank you page” that presents them your book for sale.
Consider adding tiers to your ebook as well in order to make more money IF it makes sense.
Then publish to Kindle as an experiment if you like. See how the books perform.
If it’s a work of fiction, obviously go with Kindle.
What would I personally do?
This is what I do. Depending on the site, I like to sell one low priced ebook. If I’m not selling the ebook directly, I’ll use it as an upsell for when people subscribe to the website. Focus more on creating higher priced information products. So you should have at least two products. A low priced entry level product and a more expensive product.
Low priced ebooks work well for niche websites because they tend to be more impulse buys. I once bought an ebook on “how to make a computer” that covered how to assemble a my own personal PC. I found it on an information site that was all about computer parts. The ebook was super helpful and I was more than happy to pay $18.99 for the ebook.