Today we're mixing it up! I don't take guest posts very often (or hardly ever), but this one from Mandi Ehman is about a very popular topic 'round these parts.
Mandi is a true entrepreneur and has many successful projects under her belt. Next week she's launching an in-depth ecourse for those who want to publish an ebook. Naturally, I'm curious about her process (and let's face it, it's been a while since I launched my own ebook), so I just paid to take the course too.
Want in on the deal? Mandi is offering the course for $17. I'll get a small referral commission (at absolutely no cost to you of course) when you purchase From Idea to eBook. For seventeen buckaroos you'll get lifetime access!
Alright, on with her post. I also sprinkled a couple comments of my own throughout; I just couldn't resist. Here's Mandi…
Ebook sales continue to grow year over year, and more and more authors are discovering the world of self-publishing and the benefits of skipping the traditional publishing house and publishing an ebook themselves.
While it's an industry that is open to virtually anyone, bloggers find themselves in a unique position with an established platform for selling their products and a fan base of readers who already look to them for advice and inspiration.
In a highly formal and scientific survey (or not…), I recently asked a group of popular bloggers why they have not yet published an ebook, and among their answers, one recurring theme was, "I don't know what to write about."
That strikes me as funny coming from a group of people who write great content every day, but I get that choosing an ebook topic can be overwhelming. ("Hasn't everything been written about? Do I really have enough to say about that? Would someone really pay for an ebook when I offer so much free on my site?") In fact, even bloggers who've been bit by the ebook bug can find themselves wondering what their next ebook might be about.
Whether you've already written an ebook or you're just starting to consider the idea, here are six sources of inspiration to help you uncover your next topic!
I love a nice blank piece of paper for brainstorming, so go grab one and start jotting down the ideas and answers to the questions below and see if you see a theme emerge! Our minds tend to work best and make the most connections when we struggle with a problem and then walk away and let our brain rest for a bit before coming back to it, so don't feel like you need to complete this process and choose a topic all in one sitting.
1. What are you passionate about? What do you love to talk about or share with other people?
Being passionate about a topic really does make all of the difference. Whether you're writing about earning money online, potty training or frugal living, your passion is one of the things that will set your ebook apart and make people want to share it with others. Information without passion is just boring!
2. What questions do your readers ask in emails or comments the most often?
If your readers email your questions or leave questions in the comments of your posts, those are a great springboard for choosing an ebook topic because it means 1) they already consider you an expert and 2) they want to hear more.
Note from Amy: Such a great point. Also a great point to remember to actively compile questions as they come up. You never know when you can use them!
3. Which posts are your most popular? Which get the most traffic? Which get the most comments?
Quantifying the popularity of posts isn't always easy. Some posts are popular on Pinterest. Some get shared on Facebook. Some get lots of comments.
In general, different types of posts trend in different places: Popular Pinterest posts are typically very specific – a craft, a recipe, a game-changing idea or a roundup of great ideas. Popular Facebook posts are often helpful tips or thought-provoking articles. And the ones that get the most comments on your blog tend to be those that really resonate with readers. Any of those might be a good ebook topic, and if you've got one that's taken off in all three places, I think it's safe to call it a winner!
4. What are you known for offline?
Considering your online reputation is one way to brainstorm ebook topics, but your offline reputation can be a great source of inspiration too. Whether you're the organized one, the one everybody goes to for decorating tips, the one who brings healthy food to potlucks or the one who always has encouragement for the weary mom, it's okay to think outside of the topics you regularly cover on your blog.
The first four questions were about your passion and expertise, and it's important to start with those. But let's look at what topics are popular or trending as well!
5. What ebooks are popular on Amazon?
Start at the Amazon nonfiction bestsellers page and see what the most popular Kindle topics are, but don't stop at that page. Click through the various categories on the left that relate to the topics you blog about (for example, cooking or parenting) and see what topics show up as the bestsellers on that page. You can get even more specific with subtopics for even more ideas.
You obviously don't want to copy the exact topic of one of these ebooks, but seeing what is popular can be a good springboard for coming up with your own ideas!
Note from Amy: Love this idea.
6. What blog posts do you see popping up again and again?
It seems like every blog I follow has posted tips and tricks for managing email in the last several months, and with friends posting on Facebook every other week about the thousands of emails in their inbox, I think it's safe to say that email management is a hot topic in the digital age. The danger in writing an ebook about popular topics is that they've been widely covered in the blogosphere already, but if you can bring a unique perspective and simple, unique and effective solutions to a problem (like Amy's Tell Your Time), it's still worth considering!
Choose a Salable Topic
Out of the potential topics you come up with, it's also important to choose a topic that will sell well. One way to do this is to research keywords using Google's Keyword Planner which shows you how many searches are performed on the words and phrases you enter. This is a great way to verify that people are actually searching for the information you're offering!
Amy uses the acronym PFC to identify three ways you can choose a salable topic: solve a problem, address a fear, satisfy a curiosity. Every product should have at least one of these characterstics, and incorporating two or more of them in one ebook will make it even more appealing.
From Idea to eBook
Want to learn more about the ebook writing process? Sign up for my brand new ecourse, From Idea to eBook!
Mandi Ehman is an entrepreneur, online publisher and author who is passionate about encouraging other women to live intentionally. As the blogger behind Life Your Way, the author of Easy Homemade and the founder of BundleoftheWeek.com, she interacts with dozens of bloggers and ebook authors every week. Mandi and her husband have four spunky little girls plus one baby boy on the way, and together they live, work and homeschool on a little slice of heaven in wild, wonderful West Virginia.