Hey everyone! Today, my fellow female finance blogger, Fiona Smith, is going to show you how she made $2,000 in 1 week by self-publishing an ebook on Gumroad. Fiona is the creator of The Millennial Money Woman, she’s been featured on Forbes, she’s a speaker at the national FinCon conference, and she’s a co-founder of a local non-profit charity, promoting financial literacy to underprivileged minorities. Today, Fiona will teach you how to potentially make a few extra $1,000 a month by writing an ebook. Take it away Fiona!
Hey guys and gals!
My name is Fiona aka The Millennial Money Woman. I run my own personal finance blog and love helping others make more money and build long-term wealth.
If you had told me in early 2020 that I would soon make $2,000 in 1 week by self-publishing an ebook, I would have probably looked at you like you’re crazy!
I’ve always had an inner author and always thought about writing a book. I just never got around to it because, you know, life.
And for whatever reason, in the middle of the pandemic, I had the urge to write, publish, and sell an ebook about personal finance!
Here’s a bit of my personal story:
When I was young, I saw my grandparents lose everything they ever put into their small family business due to poor financial planning.
From that day forward, I swore to myself that I would never go through the financial difficulties that my grandparents faced.
I also swore to myself that I would try to help everyone I could to avoid making the same financial mistakes my grandparents once made.
That’s why I committed myself to the path of learning about personal finance (I earned my Master’s Degree in Personal Financial Planning) to give others the tools that I wish I had growing up.
…And that’s ultimately how I came up with my ebook topic: How to Get Rich from Nothing.
My ebook doesn’t necessarily define “rich” as just having money.
In my ebook, “rich” also means:
- Building a rich mindset
- Developing rich relationships
- Maintaining a rich outlook on life
…You get the point.
And you know what?
Although I was admittedly a bit scared to write the book (because I was afraid that it would be a total flop), I decided to sit down one morning and put pen to paper. It was time I show the world what The Millennial Money Woman was made of.
Now, 2 months after my first ever ebook release, I can happily tell you that in my first week of selling my ebook, I’ve made more than $2,000!
And in this article, I’m going to show you exactly how I did it.
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How to Make Money by Writing an eBook
The cool thing about writing ebooks is that there’s no secret code or formula to making money.
You can write an ebook that’s 5,000 words long or 100,000 words long. It could be a fiction novel or it could be an educational resource (like mine). It could be about the different types of dirt used on a golf course or it could be about how to start a blog.
Like I said, there’s no secret sauce.
The only key ingredient that holds true for any profitable passive income is to start! You won’t know your potential if you don’t give it a shot.
As Wayne Gretzky famously once said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
So, here are some things you may want to keep in mind as you start writing your ebook:
- Start with a topic where you have “expert” knowledge
- Set mini-goals so that you finish the book on time
- Write in simple, plain-English text
- Proofread & re-edit often
This is the key to writing a successful ebook:
Write something that you’re passionate about – because you will spend a lot of time on your ebook (I took about 100+ hours from start to finish!).
Imagine spending 100+ hours writing something that you don’t enjoy talking about!
That’s tragic – and such a waste of time.
I would not have completed my ebook in 1 month if I had not set mini-goals.
Typically, it takes about 4 to 8 months for the average author to complete a book.
Because I’m trying to promote myself, my work, and my ebook in the shortest amount of time possible, I knew that time is of the essence, which is why I pushed to finish my ebook in just 1 month.
Imagine hearing yourself say, “I want to publish and sell my ebook in exactly 1 month from today.”
How would that make you feel?
Would you get heart palpitations? Would you feel anxious? Would you feel so overwhelmed that you wouldn’t know where to start?
Yep, that was me.
Here’s how I got over my paralysis and anxiety:
I broke my big goal (finishing a book in 1 month) into much smaller, more achievable goals.
And, guess what? It worked.
Here’s what I did:
- First, I figured out how many chapters my book would have (turns out I wanted 14 chapters)
- Second, I determined what each chapter would cover
- Third, I determined roughly how many words each chapter would have (turns out between 1,500 to 2,500)
- Fourth, I determined how long it would take me to write each chapter (between 1 day to 2 days)
- Fifth, I arranged for someone else to proofread my book once I finished the first draft
- Sixth, I figured out a basic marketing strategy to promote my ebook on my Twitter account
After exactly 2 weeks (14 days for 14 chapters), I had someone re-read my first draft after which I [heavily] edited my ebook and re-read my book again for more edits.
After exactly 3 weeks, I had a preliminary draft completed with a cover image that I created using Canva (see below).
After exactly 4 weeks, I had finalized my ebook, written 3 drafts, and had accomplished my pre-marketing strategy.
Was I successful?
My goal, at the official launch, was to sell exactly 1 ebook (I set my sights low).
By the end of week 1, I had made over $2,000 on ebook sales. I honestly couldn’t believe it – I was literally earning money in my sleep.
All of this was made possible because I decided to break down this 1 huge goal of selling my ebook in 1 month into tiny little mini-goals.
After each mini-goal was accomplished, I moved on to the next step.
I created a structure for myself (and I work very well with a structure) so that I could stay in line with my overarching goal while not overwhelming myself without knowing where to start.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
I’ve published over 100 blog posts in the past 12 months on my website.
My blog posts are typically 3,000 to 6,000 words each, so they’re lengthy, they’re well-researched, and they offer lots of visual graphics about finance.
So, as I started writing my ebook, which is about finance, I had an idea…
If you already run a blog or have content written about the same or similar topic you’re planning to write about in your ebook – consider repurposing your old text!
Why reinvent the wheel if you already took the time previously to write about the same/similar topic?
Believe it or not (and I’m living proof), people who value your content and thoughts will pay money for an ebook with similar information that they can find on your blog, website, etc. for free.
Because an ebook is typically a thoughtful curation of your finest work – carefully selected in an order that is often easier to read than on a blog or website, for example.
Of course, you wouldn’t want to have your ebook be exactly the same as your previous content – your audience will notice that you didn’t put effort into the ebook.
And if your audience notices you didn’t put in effort, they can leave their remarks via ebook reviews or lower-star ratings (which will hurt your sales and your reputation).
Put in the work, edit the text, and make sure that the content you provide makes sense, adds value, and flows.
Your eBook Marketing Strategy
Guys and gals – I cannot say it enough: Your network is key.
How do you expect to sell your ebook if you don’t have anyone to sell it to?
Here are some things you’ll probably want:
- A social media following
- A website following (potentially)
- Ambassadors to help promote your book
- An email or e-newsletter with a wide reach
I’m not saying you need 10,000’s of followers on social media to make a profit on your ebook. In fact, you can see profitable numbers if you “just” have a few hundred followers.
That’s because the quality of your audience matters – not the quantity.
Would you rather have 10,000 unengaged followers or 1,000 high-quality, engaged followers – who would buy your book if you push a marketing campaign their way?
I know which option I’d take.
A good marketing strategy honestly should start before you start selling your ebook.
I started promoting my ebook the day I started writing my ebook!
Because I wanted to see if my audience was even interested in buying my ebook – I didn’t want to spend 100+ hours on my ebook if I was only going to generate $100 in sales.
Here’s what I did:
I made sure I slipped into the inboxes of all of the important “influencers” in my niche (finance) – both on and off of Twitter – and asked them their candid, honest opinion:
Would they be willing to spend $15 on another finance book?
The only caveat is that this finance book was structured as a 14-week program, with actionable advice, written in simple English without technical jargon, and offered advice from a Millennial for Millennials.
And you know what?
I had a lot of positive feedback and a lot of constructive feedback. I used that constructive feedback to improve the overall format and outline of my ebook.
Don’t ever shy away from constructive feedback. It will make you better.
Here’s how I started my ebook marketing strategy:
- Market ebook before it is officially published to garner interest
- Promote your ebook 1x to 2x times per day on your social media account
- Send invitations to your niche influencers to read & review your ebook for free
- Ask the top influencers of your niche to share your ebook link on its official launch day
And this is what my launch tweet looked like:
Another marketing strategy is to offer your book on a pre-order basis.
You’re basically selling a product that doesn’t exist yet – and you’re still making money!
If you receive 0 interest, you can cancel your project, save yourself some time, and give everyone a refund that has purchased your pre-order.
If your pre-orders come in hot, then you better make sure you can deliver what you promised your audience.
Your Earning Potential
I get a lot of questions about how much money you could expect to earn with an ebook.
And the answer is this: It completely depends.
Honestly, it depends on a lot of things like:
- Your niche
- Your expertise
- Your audience
- Your popularity
When I wrote my first ebook, I was honestly a nobody – and I was writing about a topic that has been talked about so many times before.
In other words, my niche was pretty saturated.
But here’s how I differentiated myself:
My value proposition was that I would write my personal finance book in an easy-to-read, visually effective, and story-like manner.
I also didn’t just talk about money in the form of numbers.
I included many anecdotes, stories, and my past experiences (with my millionaire mentor) in the hopes that my readers would pick up the same valuable information that I did from my mentor.
Once my book was ready to publish, I used the publishing and sales platform known as Gumroad.
Gumroad is an online platform that offers either free accounts or premium accounts for new users (if you’re serious about making sales on Gumroad, then the premium account – although more expensive initially – is worth the price).
I’ve published my book using the premium Gumroad account, and haven’t looked back since.
So how much can you earn by selling an ebook?
You can earn between $50 to $5,000+ per month.
How much you earn is completely up to you.
It also largely depends on how often you market your ebook (marketing it too many times is spammy and marketing it too little won’t give you the sales).
I promoted my ebook between 1x to 2x per day.
Just make sure that whichever platform you use to promote your new ebook (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, your website, your newsletter, etc.), you are authentic and genuine.
You don’t want to come across as pushy or aggressive, because that could cost you your followers (and likely reputation).
You should also be aware of this:
Typically speaking, your ebook will earn you the most money at the beginning of your launch – that’s because you’ve [hopefully] promoted the ebook in the weeks and days coming up to its official launch.
As the weeks turn into months after your ebook launch, chances are the demand (aka your profits) of your ebook will wane.
That’s totally normal and expected.
You can always bring back the original hype about your ebook by doing things like this:
- Go on a podcast and promote your ebook
- Add a new section or chapter to your ebook
- Give away something for free with your ebook
- Promote a notice that your ebook prices will increase soon
There are savvy ways to reignite the hype of your ebook.
Or – you could simply write a new ebook!
Why Writing Ebooks is an Awesome Side Hustle
Writing (and selling!) ebooks is honestly one of the best side hustles.
Because you can literally make money while you sleep.
I’ve never earned money in my sleep before (aside from maybe my stock market investments), and I’ll never forget the first time I awoke to a Gumroad email on my phone that gave off a loud “ping!,” notifying me that I had just made a sale.
I wasn’t even working!
And I made money.
Ok, so I made $15, which in the grand scheme of things, isn’t a lot of money.
But for me, passively earning $15 from my first sale shattered a glass ceiling.
I finally realized the power of earning passive income – and how passive income could literally change your life forever.
Earning money passively – like by selling an ebook – is one of the very few ways (aside from maybe being a business owner) that can help you escape the daily grind of the 9 to 5 job.
If your goal is to have the freedom to choose whether you want to work or spend time with your family on any given day, then passive income from ebooks could be a great start.
Your side hustle income could literally help you earn your way to early retirement.
The money that you make with passive income can help you:
- Save more
- Invest more
- Pay off debt
- Build wealth
The possibilities are endless.
You just have to recognize the opportunity.
If you want to earn some side income, but don’t know how, then you should seriously consider writing and selling an ebook.
Speaking from personal experience, an ebook is one of the best side hustle incomes you can earn. I mean, who doesn’t want to earn an extra $2,000 per week?
I sure could use an extra $2,000!
The beauty of ebooks is that the process can be 100% free – you don’t have to hire an editor, an advertising agency to promote your ebook, or a publishing company.
So aside from the opportunity cost of spending your time writing the book, you’re basically looking at a 100% profit!
Hopefully you’re not like me, where I took 4+ years to realize my vision and pursue what I love (writing and helping Millennials understand personal finance). Instead, if you are an expert in a certain area – I don’t care if it’s dog training or cookie baking – you should consider writing an ebook and using your network to promote your work.
Don’t wait for tomorrow if you can do it today.
Your bank accounts will thank me later.
For those of you who are wondering which ebook I wrote, mine is called How to Get Rich from Nothing. The book is designed to help you “get rich” not just financially but also “get rich” through your network, your mindset, your spirit, and your future goals.
Are you interested in writing a book? What questions do you have for Fiona on this topic?