Before the Internet, there was a niche in mail-order marketing that involved selling books on how to get rich in mail order, the audience composed mainly of business-opportunity seekers.
The Internet has created an equivalent market of people who want to get rich on the Internet, and an equivalent niche: selling e-books on how to make money writing and selling e-books.
Most of these e-books are specifically on how to make money on the Internet and deal with aspects of selling information online. A few are on more general marketing and selling topics. A small minority deals with subjects outside of business and business opportunities, such as how to buy a home with no money down.
The e-book business model works as follows: You write an e-book on a topic of interest to potential buyers (Internet millionaire wannabes) and format it as a downloadable PDF file.
Next, you write a long, powerful sales letter to sell the e-book and post it as a microsite. Unlike conventional Web sites, which have a lot of buttons and clicking options, the only thing you can do on a microsite for a single e-book is read the sales copy and, if interested, order the product.
E-books are typically covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee. Though the product can’t be “returned,” anyone who says they are dissatisfied gets a refund.
Finally, you drive traffic to the e-book site through various promotional methods, including ads and articles in other people’s e-zines, announcements in your own e-zine, banner advertising, co-registrations, cost-per-acquisition deals, affiliate deals with other online marketers and sending e-mails to your house file (renting a traditional opt-in list typically does not work for e-book offers because of the high cost).
An affiliate deal involves arranging with another online marketer to sell your e-book to his audience in exchange for a cut of the revenue ranging from 30 percent to 50 percent.
“Affiliates are my most successful method of selling e-books,” says Joe Vitale, author of numerous e-books, including the best-selling “Hypnotic Writing” (www.hypnoticwriting.com). Vitale suggests searching the Internet for online marketers who sell other people’s products on their site.
“Recruiting people who buy your e-book and love it is the best way to get affiliates,” says Fred Gleek, an online information marketer (www.seminarexpert.com). Include a section in every e-book explaining how the buyer can become an affiliate and sell your e-book to his audience.
“With a new e-book, your own list represents the absolute best way to sell a whole lot of e-books really, really fast,” e-book author Jim Edwards says.
The model for this genre of “how to get rich online by selling e-books on how to write and sell e-books” is “eBook Secrets Exposed” (www.ebooksecretsexposed.com) by Edwards and David Garfinkel.
Edwards makes a handsome living writing and selling e-books; he has sold more than 5,000 copies of various e-book titles ranging from $29 to $49 over the past 12 months. Keep in mind that the manufacturing and shipping costs for e-books are zero, which is what makes them such an attractive, profitable information product.
“I have two e-books that each generate $10,000 to $12,000 gross each per month,” Edwards says. “Another does $3,000 per month in sales, and two others generate $1,200 per month each.”
What topics work best? “Topics that address an urgent need that the prospect is aware of, and that you can market to pre-formed Internet groups of prospects,” says Garfinkel, adding that e-books on marketing and big-ticket consumer items work well.
What won’t sell in the e-book marketplace? “Informative, even valuable, topics around which there is no pressing need most of the time,” Garfinkel says. He recently advised an online marketer not to proceed with a planned e-book for junior executives on how to sell their ideas to others. He couldn’t find an interested community on the Web of junior managers that have spent money on career-improving topics.
A caution to the buyer: Some e-books are quickly compiled, shoddily researched, recycled trash and a rip-off of their $19 or $29 selling price. Reason: The barriers to entry in e-book marketing are so low, anyone can do it. So the market is flooded with thin PDF documents written by amateurs hoping to make a quick book.
Your best bet if you want to buy and read marketing e-books: Buy from the proven authors mentioned in this article and other known experts in entrepreneurial online marketing.