Marketing makes me cringe. I can’t do it. I struggle to say “buy my eBook.”
So when I wrote an ebook 7 months ago without wanting to market it traditionally, you’d think it would have sold zero copies. (Side note: I’m not linking to the book because it’s irrelevant, and this isn’t a content marketing, slap-you-over-the-face blog post.)
But a guy named Haydn Dinsdale was the first to buy it. Many more people after him decided to buy it.
Like a scared kid watching the movie Silence of the Lambs for the first time, I drafted an email to send to my mailing list. My hands were shaking when it was ready to send.
I really don’t like the idea of marketing anything. It feels weird. Similar to the feeling of walking into a strip club with the love of your life.
Somehow I got the courage to send the email out. It was a badly written email. You wouldn’t be convinced to buy the eBook at all after reading it. I never sent another email about the eBook. I didn’t jump on a million podcasts and scream “buy my book!” I didn’t get on stage, give a free speech designed as ‘value’ and then tell people to go to the back of the room and buy my book.
Seven months after that tiny, little email, I’ve made five figures from my eBook. That’s not a comment designed to impress you. It’s a demonstration of what is possible without the traditional approach to promotion. Here’s what you can learn from the process.
It’s What Happens Before You Write an eBook
I only sent one email. A few sales came from that email, but the majority did not. How is that possible?
Writing an eBook is like gazing at the iceberg that sunk the Titanic. It’s what is below the surface of the iceberg that you can’t see.
Before I published the eBook seven months ago, I spent six years writing content on the internet. The sales from the book didn’t happen by magic. They were directly linked to what came before the eBook.
You can avoid marketing your digital products when you’ve put in the work prior and created an archive of free content.
Free Content Makes People Believe in You
Free content is how people get to know you before you publish an eBook. That’s important because people are more likely to buy an eBook from someone they feel like they know.
Build relationships with future readers who will buy your eBook by publishing free content, so you can opt out of marketing if you choose.
An eBook Can Be Bigger than You Think
I always thought eBooks were stupid. I didn’t think anyone would ever buy a short book I’d written that you can’t get on Amazon. It turns out I was wrong.
What changed my mind about eBooks was my mentor who wrote a short PDF about how to set up a blog and sold it for $20. This eBook ended up making him $400K USD. You could google most of what he wrote for free, yet people paid him for the book.
Seeing someone achieve an outcome you didn’t think was possible is powerful motivation for your own endeavors in life. If, like me, you think eBooks are stupid, let this blog post help change your mind.
An eBook is a powerful tool people will pay for if it’s useful.
Two Ingredients of an eBook: Stories and Practical Strategies
Writing the eBook felt like it was going to be an enormous process. Then a fellow writer said to me “just share some of your stories and add in a few practical strategies people can copy and paste into their own life.”
So, I did exactly that. I wrote my silly little story about working in a bank, blanking out from mental illness, and writing online after work. Then I wrote exactly how I did it. I ended the book with some pro tips for those who wanted to become obsessed with the topic and go even further than me.
You can’t go wrong with an eBook when you tell it how it is through your life experience.
LinkedIn Is Full of People Jamming Their Expensive Products in Your Face.
Go on LinkedIn. Watch traditional marketing in action. Many of the posts have something to sell you. Every day on the platform feels like you’re being subliminally sold something. There’s a book for sale, or worse, a seminar. It’s exhausting.
LinkedIn was what ruined any chance of me ever becoming a marketer. I’m a human with a story to tell — not a marketer. Sorry Gary Vee.
Money Doesn’t Just Come from Your eBook
“But wait, there’s more.” (Such a classic infomercial marketing line from the 90s.) When I say the book sold five figures, not all the money came from selling one copy at a time for $20 each.
Money came from these other sources:
- People that bought my eBook decided to do my education program.
- People that bought my eBook pitched me business opportunities.
- People that bought my eBook offered me consulting opportunities.
- People that bought my book asked me to write content for them in return for money.
An eBook gives you opportunities. What you do with those opportunities can make you even more money than the eBook.
Time in the Content Game Beats Marketing
You can’t beat time in the content game. I found that other writers I looked up to had to market the heck out of their eBook when they hadn’t put in the required hours beforehand.
It’s hard to go from nobody knowing who you are, to New York Times Bestselling author, without having published a lot of free stuff beforehand.
Marketing is only a shortcut if you’ve got thousands of dollars to bet on the Casino table of Facebook and Amazon ads. For normies without a trust fund to bankroll their future — like me, and perhaps you — effort and practice will be a better route. Your eBook will be better for it too.
You Can Do Zero Marketing and *Not* Be In Love With Yourself, and Still Earn a Living.
Book publishers are going to knife me in the back for saying that. It’s the lesson I learned from self-publishing, not using Amazon, and only sending one email to market my eBook.
The lie is you have to be loud to make money from your craft. I’m here as proof that you don’t.
You can quietly go about your work and earn a living from it.
It’s up to you. If you put in the work, dare to release free content, back yourself, research people who have already done it, tell stories backed up by practical strategies, and put in the effort before you ever release an eBook, you too can do zero marketing on your first paid eBook.
Paid marketing is loud.
The silent marketing of honing your craft and letting people get to know you is far more rewarding, and can make you just as much money.
More from my site
- People Don’t Pay for Content. They Pay for “Organized” Content.
- This Month Has Produced Millions More Readers for My Writing than I’ve Ever Seen
- Give Away 99% of Your Best Writing for Free
- Your Writing Can Go Viral Regularly with Only 200 Words
- To Become a World-Class Writer, Get Used to Becoming Ridiculously Vulnerable
- The “Everything Is Content” Mindset Will Change How You See the World