Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Generating Passive Blog Income by Writing & Publishing One eBook Per Month

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One of my blogging goals for 2015 was to diversify my blog's income streams by creating paid products. Specifically, I wanted to generate more passive income streams by pushing myself to write and publish one eBook or paid printable per month.

Say what, crazy lady?!

Yes, in March 2015, I decided it was time to start selling my content and knowledge by creating eBooks and printables to sell on my blog. Especially after seeing the success of 99 Fine Motor Ideas (my first published book that I co-authored with some amazing blogging friends of mine), I knew it was time to try my hand at self-publishing myself. Another reason why I decided to challenge myself - or perhaps, exhaust myself - was due to the announcement of ad blockers coming to Apple mobile devices. With ad revenue potentially decreasing, I wanted to be prepared with other ways to earn income from my blog. I wanted to diversify my income sources. Just like I diversify my traffic sources.

It was a lot of hard work and I learned a ton!

And yes, the hard work is paying off because I am getting a regular passive income from writing and selling eBooks through my blog.

Why I published one eBook per month as a way to generative passive income from my blog from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links.

What Books and Products Did I Create?

March: How to Create a Custom Mobile Template on Blogger

An upcoming new SEO update from Google prompted me to write this how to guide for Blogger users. It was super easy to put together and was done in about 1.5 days. Since I used screenshots, no photo editing was required, which is always the slowest part of the whole self-publishing process for me. I knew it wouldn't be the next bestseller, but I have sold enough copies to make it worthwhile.

April: Weekly Autism Planner

This short eBook is more of a printable planner than an eBook and it is free, so not a passive income source really. However, I designed it as a subscriber freebie. The sole purpose of this product was to attract loyal readers. My subscription list exploded with the introduction of this planner, so it was totally worth the effort. I think it took me one or two days to create, mostly because I had to learn how to use Microsoft Publisher at the same time.

May: 35 Awesome Kinetic Sand Activities for Kids

This book is my pride and joy! I absolutely adore how it turned out. It was also my first time self-publishing on Kindle and in print using CreateSpace. Once I created my book's template in Microsoft Publisher, it was pretty quick to put together. I think it took about 4-5 weeks total to put together all three versions (print, eBook, and Kindle). I went in with a clear vision of creating a book that centered around one material (kinetic sand), used only two other additional materials, and would have three color photographs for each activity. So that's exactly how the book turned out. Sales started off slow, but I get a decent amount of sales every month, primarily from the print copies. I haven't sold many eBook versions.

PS: I do have an affiliate program for the eBook version! Contact me for more information.

June: The Hyperlexia Handbook

Another short and free eBook. Its purpose is to redirect readers, who are interested in learning more about hyperlexia, to the variety of my blog posts on the topic. So it's indirect passive income through increased ad revenue.

I also helped edit and format my friend Sarah's lovely book A Year of Educational Quiet Bins for eBook, Kindle, and print.

July: Pop! Squirt! Splash! and How to Self-Publish a Book {eBook + Workbook}

July was the busiest month because of a vacation planned for August, so I had to work my butt off in July to make sure I didn't miss any months! In June, I had pitched the idea of Pop! Squirt! Splash! to my blogging tribe. Twelve authors in total, it was a bit hectic at times to manage, but I did! Six weeks later, the book was available in eBook, Kindle, and Print versions. However, sales have been disappointing, but I think it's because of the timing. Summer was nearly over by the time it was released. I suspect it will do well in a few months time when warmer weather starts to return. I sure hope so because the book turned out GORGEOUS.

Meanwhile, I started putting together the How to Self-Publish a Book {eBook + Workbook}, mainly because my co-authors for Pop! Squirt! Splash! wanted tips on how to self-publish. So I documented the whole process and turned it into a workbook that will help others self-publish on their own. I wrote this book from start to finish in just three days. I pushed myself to do a three day challenge in order to get this eBook done. I don't recommend doing that again as it was tiring!

I also published some paid printables in July, including: All About Me Scrabble Math PackMath Themed Scrabble Math Pack, and Numbers (Big & Small) Scrabble Math Pack. It was a busy month!

August: No new titles published

We were away on vacation so I didn't publish anything new. However, I made up for it in July. And I also spent the beginning of August helping edit and format the book When Your Child Hates Handwriting for another blogging friend. I was also working on submitting all of my activities and photos for the second installment of 99 Fine Motor Ideas (which will hopefully be released in the next month or two).

September: No new titles published

Nothing new was published in September as I was having a hard time returning to my blogging rhythm after our vacation in August and the usual busyness that early fall brings.

October: No new titles published

Nothing new was published in October as  99 Fine Motor Ideas's follow up was originally tentatively planned for October. However, I started working on my next big project, which was going to make up for no new titles in September or October.

November: The 3 Day No Sew Quiet Book

Making quiet book patterns to sell has been on my to do list for an extremely long time. I finally sat down and just did it! I released three packs that could be bought individually or as a bundle. So it is technically three separate eBooks. See, I told you I made up for nothing new in September or October...

Anyway, making the patterns themselves was the easy part and I can make the patterns in about a day or two. However, to really sell the patterns, I had to actually make and assemble every single quiet book page idea in these packs. That is the time consuming part!

The hard work was definitely worth it though because these patterns sell like hot cakes! I still can't believe how well these are doing. They rivaled my ad income for December and I hardly promoted them!

There's also an affiliate program for these patterns. Again, contact me for more information.

December: The 3 Day No Sew Quiet Book - Christmas Pack

To follow up the success of the original quiet book patterns, I put together this Christmas pack in about four days or less. That includes assembling the physical quiet book itself! However, I ran into issues along the way (craft store had zero felt in stock, issues uploading to ejunkie, etc.) so it was released later than I had hoped. Sales were still great, but I imagine it will sell amazing in October-December 2016 as people whip up DIY gift ideas for their kids.

What Did I Learn Through this Process?

Obviously, I learned a lot about how to format books for different versions like Kindle and print. I also learned quickly about what does and does not sell well for my audience. Or, at least, I learned what sells without me actively promoting or without me creating a big fancy book launch party.

I also learned that I can make a whole lot of extra income by selling these eBooks and printables! So yes, I will be continuing this challenge of publishing one eBook or paid printable per month for 2016. 

Now that I have learned how to self-publish by myself, I need to start learning about how to better market my products. I didn't do any fancy book launches for any of the books nor did I actively promote them beyond the initial week launch. My goal for 2015 was simply to create the products. I figured that I could always figure out the marketing of those products afterwards. And I will. That's what I want to do in 2016. I want to figure out how to best sell my products now that I have the products available.

Tips for Bloggers Who Want to Do a Crazy Self-Publishing Challenge

I have had numerous people inquire about how I managed to pull this crazy goal off. So I'm going to share my tips on how to do it, in case you are courageous and brave enough to join me on the dark side.

1. Start by learning one book format first. The first book that I launched was solely an eBook. I was able to learn and (sort of) master how to create an eBook and sell it through ejunkie. Doing one format at a time is a good way to learn all the ins and outs about it so that follow up books will go more smoothly. Maybe you want to try a Kindle book first or a print book first? Just pick one format and try to learn as much as you can about it. Then as you write more books, you can explore other formats.

2. Pick a topic and just get it done! I am easily distracted so if I don't finish a project, then I likely will not return to finish it any time soon. That's why I find it best just to sit down and just write. Or photograph lots of projects or activities for the book in one day. Try a three day challenge (or not because it's crazy to do with small kids in the house - so go with a five or seven day challenge). Plan a weekend getaway so that you can just write without distractions.

3. Prepare to let other commitments slide. You might have to reduce the number of times that you post on your blog or ignore social media for a bit while you work on writing your book.

4. Ask for help. Hire a virtual assistant to take over your social media while you work on your book. Or hire someone to format or edit your book, like Sarah and Julie did with theirs. I did all the grunt work of formatting and they just simply had to upload and launch. Or ask for help on tasks such as editing, creating an index, designing a book cover, etc.

5. Go in with a plan. Be specific about your idea for the book. For example, when I was doing my kinetic sand book, I knew that I wanted three good quality photos for each activity in the book. Once I knew I had those three photos that I needed, I stopped taking photos. Less photos to filter through later.

6. Outline, outline, outline! This goes along with tip #5. Make sure you write an outline for the book and use it to help you accomplish it. In fact, this eBook and workbook should help you plan and outline your entire book from start to finish.

7. Change your schedule. I stayed up a lot of extra hours to get some of these projects done. I also woke up earlier to sneak in some writing and formatting before the kids would wake up. You may have to make some slight changes to your schedule as well.

8. Create strict deadlines for collaborative eBooks. Writing an eBook with a large group was an unique challenge. However, I found it went pretty smoothly because I set easy to manage and strict deadlines. Then I bugged the co-authors until they delivered what was due. Worked great! I'm also in the final stages of creating a blogging eCourse, that I'm creating with two other bloggers, which will cover this tip in much more detail.

Was it Worth It?

Yes. A million times yes.

The income that I am generating from my quiet book patterns alone is wonderful. It definitely makes up for all the lost hours of sleep over the past year. It won't be long before these eBooks and paid products are the main source of income from my blog. Especially once I figure out how to better market the products...

So what do you say...want to join me for the one eBook a month challenge for 2016?

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  1. This is something that I have been rolling around in my mind for so long but just keep putting it off or getting distracted. At the moment, I am still looking to get my writing mojo back after my very long Christmas break. I think, like you said, I just need to get in and get it done!

    1. I think that's the hardest part of juggling blogging with motherhood. It's so easy to get distracted by other things and then never actually finish writing a book. So yes, set aside some time and just get it done! Make it your priority for a few days and I bet you can get it all (or close to all) written.

  2. Love seeing how you're able to take your talents and put them into tangible things to provide for sale for others through ebooks. Such an inspiration to many Dyan. Setting my goals to publish more in 2016 too!

    1. Thank you, Kim! I can't wait to read your kids activities book when it is released. The cover is totally gorgeous! And I can't wait to see what else you publish in 2016!

  3. This is very motivating for me. I am in the edit stage of my first ebook. Created the cover yesterday. Now to start thinking about how I'm going to sell it on my blog. Did you have a good experience with ejunkie? They are on my list of options. I have 2-3 other ideas for ebooks and I think instead of going CRAZY withe one a month I will shoot for one a quarter. Still a huge undertaking in my homeschool, home business, blogging world! Blessings!

    1. Yes, I have had a good experience with ejunkie. I love that it allows for affiliates and coupon codes. However, I really do like the look of sendowl, which is similar in price and has lots of similar features. Might be worth looking at as well. Hope that helps!

  4. This is so inspiring! Thanks for sharing!

  5. This is so incredibly helpful! I am working with a few other bloggers to write our first ebook and this is a great resource!