How the trials and triumphs of a certain boy wizard defined your childhood?
The best knots for the right jobs and how to tie them?
Your favorite historical figure and how they made the world a better place?
When tasked with writing an e-book, your company should be able to easily go on and on about a certain topic. But that’s just the first step. E-books will ideally be front and center on your website and entice casual viewers and sales leads alike to read your asset and learn more about your company.
Here are the five steps to help you write, design, and promote your e-book.
What Is an E-book?
An e-book is a highly illustrated, easy-to-read primer on a specific topic. Sometimes synonymous with an e-guide, think of a great e-book as educational and instructional. It can be a short e-book (five pages) or long (50 pages), but by the end, the target readers should come away with the same thought: “Wow, this company really knows its stuff.”
Original research is an excellent way to add legitimacy to your points. And it doesn’t have to be an involved process. Omnibus research gets results quickly, is relatively inexpensive, and accurately captures the voice of the people. For your e-book though, don’t weigh it down with too many statistics. Limit it to your three most impactful numbers. Whitepapers are better suited to summarizing reports and any extensive research effort as you generally have a higher word count to play with in whitepapers.
1. Picking a Topic
An e-book is a prime opportunity to demonstrate your company’s expertise on a niche subject. Additionally, it’s a chance to spread your unique viewpoint on the subject and subtly insert why your company is the best in the business; however, don’t talk too much about your services or customer stories. Those topics are better suited for case studies or video testimonials.
Your company should write about what they know best, but consider the SEO value of a topic before diving in. If internet searchers aren’t looking for the topic your company is passionate about, explore tangential subjects. Or if the keyword difficulty is high or your competitor has already written a detailed guide about the topic (and wrote about it well), pivot your idea to focus on a different angle.
Consider the illustrate-ability of your chosen topic. The better the topic lends itself to illustrations, diagrams, and graphs, the more engaging the final product will be. Stock photography is fine, but it can lack personality. Custom graphics are a great way to ensure cohesion and emphasize your brand with your own brand colors and illustration style.
2. Choosing an Audience
Once you’ve picked your topic, you must determine the audience you’re writing for. On the surface, it’s an easy question: You’re writing for prospective customers. However, where is your customer in their buying journey? A top-of-the-funnel e-book should cover completely different points than a bottom-of-the-funnel. For example, if you’re a cybersecurity company, a top-of-the-funnel e-book could be about “What Is a Firewall?” It could cover the definition, what it does, and why others should consider investing in one. A bottom-of-the-funnel e-book about firewalls would be less broad and could focus on “The Firewall Qualities That Keep Your Information Safe.”
Your target reader will also determine the tone of your e-book. Top of the funnel will be very approachable. Bottom of the funnel may require more statistics and hard facts to inspire an e-book sale.
3. Writing and Illustrating
Creative and writing departments, unite! The writing process and illustrating stage of an e-book should be a highly collaborative process between the designer(s) and writer(s). Neither the text nor the illustrations should seem like an afterthought to the other. Allow plenty of time for consultation and for several drafts.
A great exercise for the copy portion of the e-book is for the writer to compose their first draft with the limited word count on the periphery of their priorities. This way, the e-book writer can get all their ideas out and explained thoroughly. When the draft is complete, here comes the editor to slash it to pieces. It’s not as violent as it sounds. Every writer needs an editor! An editor can determine where to trim to ensure pages strike the right balance between written and illustrated content. It’s easier for an editor to subtract than to add. Ultimately, content should be as succinct and approachable as possible.
Since it’ll (hopefully) be downloaded hundreds (or thousands!) of times, make sure that messaging is on brand and reflects your company’s stance, brand, and voice. This includes consistency with company colors, logos, writing style logistics (title capitalization, comma usage, etc.). An outsider should be able to pick out your distinct style from a crowd.
4. E-book Publishing
After everyone has given the e-book the green light, it’s time to publish!
We don’t recommend publishing e-books only as a PDF. PDFs lack various meta data fields, meaning that search engines won’t rank them optimally. There are various web-based technologies that let you publish an e-book as a webpage, maintaining the formatting, and even have a page-flipping feature. That is a more SEO-savvy way to publish your e-book.
5. Marketing Your E-book
A few days before your e-book is scheduled to publish, tease your new publication on your social media channels. You can reformat your custom graphics into social cards to add visual interest to your posts. Also, add a banner to your homepage for the few weeks following its launch to announce that you have an asset ready to download. Anyone who follows you or keeps up with your company news should be well aware that you have a new e-book to check out.
One way to get your beautiful e-book creation out into the world and support your sales efforts is to create a landing page that requires potential readers to input their name. Your marketing team can then funnel these form fills directly into your email marketing pipeline.
Content’s Circle of Life
Now that your e-book is live and the immediate hubbub around it has died down doesn’t mean you should forget about it. In any relevant blog post, link to it and repurpose its graphics. (Bonus: Inline media boosts a blog post’s SEO value.)
Publishing any piece of online content – small or large – is an exercise in follow-up. Every six months or so, reread your e-book to ensure the content is still fresh and accurate. If the content has gone stale, consider updating and republishing it, or relegate it to your archives and replace it with something new.