5 Reasons Every Small Business in the World Should Write an EBook

by Marcus Sheridan

small-business-ebookThat’s right, you should have an eBook. And no, you’re not the exception. What, did you say you were an auto mechanic? Yes, your company needs an eBook. I’m sorry, did you say you were a roofer? Yep, you too, you need an eBook. So you’re a professional lion trainer…..Wow, you really need an eBook.

A lot of people out there in the world of business think eBooks are some weird thing found on the internet that only teaches other weird people how to make more money online.

Although this statement may partially be true, it’s far from the reality. And that’s what this post is all about. It’s time to shed a little light on this thing called small business and eBooks.

My Story

3 years ago I wrote an eBook for the swimming pool industry (Other than teaching people how to kick butt on the web, I’m also a pool guy. I know, kinda strange ;-) ). The eBook was entitled ‘How to Buy a Fiberglass Pool the Right Way, at the Right Price, from the Right Company’. When I wrote the book, I really only had two main reasons: There was a huge need and I saw an opportunity to make a decent supplemental income off of said need.

But little did I know that such an eBook would initiate a major change in my life and in my business. And as time went on, I came to understand more and more the incredible benefits that any business can attain simply by taking the time to achieve such a work.  So let’s talk about these benefits and then maybe some of you average Joe business owners out there (like me) will add one more goal to your freshly prepared 2011 aspirations:

5 Small Business Benefits to Writing an eBook

1. Your Company Doctrine

That’s right, your company needs its own doctrine. What do you believe? What methods do you adhere to with your product or services? For example, in my swimming pool eBook, I stated that it was a moral imperative that a fiberglass pool was back-filled with stone/gravel instead of sand. At the time, this was not a construction technique that was heavily practiced around the country. But because of the influence of the eBook, as well as our company blog, it is now the majority. In fact, I’ve had pool builders from various parts of North America call me over these past few years and tell me how a customer had bought my book and required the builder to use gravel instead of sand. Pretty powerful, don’t you think?

So don’t be afraid to come up with your company’s doctrine. What is the gospel according to YOU? By so doing, your eBook will set standards for greatness and also act as a compass for you and other businesses in your niche.

2. Forced Cognition

I’ve talked about this concept before but I’ll never grow tired of it. Here’s how it works: The more you think and write about something the better you’ll get at explaining it to others. For example, I write about sales and marketing all the time. Do you think it’s hard for me to talk to a client or give a seminar on this stuff? Heck no, it’s a piece of cake, but that’s only because of constant thought regarding the subject matter.

3. Become the Authority

Would you like to be an authority in your field? If not, then I dare say something is wrong and you need to choose a subject/profession you care more about. Since writing my eBook and writing so much about fiberglass swimming pools, I’ve essentially become the consumer voice of the industry. This year alone I was asked to fly around the country to consult with homeowners that had read my eBook and wanted to pay me to oversee their pool installation. I was also called by lawyers on various occasions to give ‘expert’ testimony on the subject. I could go on and on about this one but just ask yourself this: How many of your competitors have written an eBook that teaches consumers about your product? In almost every industry, the answer is less than 1%. Think that might make an impression?

4. Knowledge Equals Trust and Sales

Before I go out to a customer’s house to sell them a swimming pool, guess what they’re required to do? Yep, that’s right, they have to read my eBook. By so doing, they will become more informed on fiberglass swimming pools and options than 99% of pool shoppers in the world.

But not only will the potential customer now be very informed, but they’ll also know my stance on everything. They’ll have invested their time to read my teachings, and because of it, they’ll feel informed and prepared. Once they’ve reached this point and read the book, what do you think happens to closing rates? That’s right, they go way, way up.

I call this process of required reading Assignment Selling, and it has literally changed my life as a sales and marketing professional.

5. You Now Have a Ton of Killer Content

Guess how many swimming pool articles my eBook made? If you guessed ‘a lot’, you’re right. There is nothing easier than taking a large eBook and turning it into 25 blog posts, or taking 25 blog posts and turning them into an eBook.

But the key here is content. No matter what your business is, you must accept the reality of content production. You’ve got to embrace and become passionate about giving great information to your consumer base. Once you get this, your life as a business owner will get much, much easier.

So there you have it folks, 5 reasons to get on your horse and start that eBook that’s just waiting to leave your brain and find its place on paper. Oh, and one final thing—No, the eBook does not have to be that long. Anything more than 10 pages is pretty dang awesome in my book, so don’t let length hold you back. Get ‘er done!! :-)

What did I miss? What benefits would you add? And by the way, if you’ve already written an eBook, take a minute to introduce it to all the readers on here. Go ahead, free game; a little self-promotion never hurt anyone ;-)

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Pavithra December 29, 2010 at

Great post Marcus. Thanks for the share.

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Marcus Sheridan December 30, 2010 at

Thanks Pavithra! :-)

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Jk December 29, 2010 at

Marcus – this was great! You didn’t miss a thing. But there’s one thing that I’d like to add: you don’t have to have a business to make the ebook happen. You can simply write about a subject matter that you have expertise in. My main point of income comes from my corporate job – but I don’t feel limited in a way that I can’t write an ebook.. So, even within my non-traditional means, I have a chunk of knowledge that can be of serious value to others. Even outside of business – things such as street smarts, dealing with people, the art of negotiating, being a dad, etc. – I’m not an expert in all of these areas of course, but those are just some ideas.

Moving back on point, I think it’s absolutely critical for a small business to take advantage of the 5 benefits you listed above. You shared your direct experience in your concentration that hopefully motivates others to give it a go. There’s nothing to loose, because as you said – even 10 pages can produce a solid amount of content – positioning one closer to the benefits listed.

What a wealth of knowledge! I took a lot from this. After reading, I quickly identified a few topics that I *MUST* created an ebook for. And of course – I’m working on the physical one as well (in fact I’d like to speak to you about your past experiences with publishing).
A few more days until the ball drops!
My friend – enjoy the rest of the week.
.-= Jk´s last blog ..The ONE-TEN Formula- Exceeding Expectations =-.

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Christina Crowe December 29, 2010 at

That’s actually a great idea, JK.

While you may not have a business and may not be part of a company, you still can write an ebook about a subject matter that you’re passionate about and position yourself as an expert.

Later, if you ever do decide to start a business, you’ll have that boost of credibility and authority that will do nothing but help you and your endeavors.

Christina
.-= Christina Crowe´s last blog ..Stuck on Your Next Blog Post Idea Change it Up with 14 Blog Post Formats =-.

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Marcus Sheridan December 29, 2010 at

There you go again JK, leaving awesome comments like you do and getting me fired up in the process ;-)

You are spot-on though. You don’t need to be a business owner (per se) to enjoy the fruits of writing and publishing your own eBook. In fact, doing so allows the ‘intrapreneur’ (great employee) to become his/her own ‘entrepreneur’ (biz owner).

I’d love to discuss JK. It’s about time we Skype up anyway. Will be in touch bud.

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rob white December 29, 2010 at

Hi Marcus,
I love your clarity and simplicity… there is a genius to it. There is really nothing to lose and everything to gain. My ebook series has been a tremendous help in building more content and establishing expertise. One unintended benefit was that the process led to the premise of my next book. Based on my ebook writing I am now honing and developing a brand new process that will be polished into a book and later used in seminars and workshops.

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Marcus Sheridan December 29, 2010 at

Appreciate very much your kind words Rob, especially coming from an excellent writer like yourself.

I’ve seen your eBook and you’ve done quite well with it, and I love the idea of ‘building off’ of the book as a transition to your next.

But tell us, what’s the next eBook about?

Thanks for commenting Rob, much obliged my friend.

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Christina Crowe December 29, 2010 at

LOL! I LOVE the introduction – lion trainer?? Hell, I would buy an ebook from someone with that profession!

I agree with the benefits creating an ebook has on one’s business, especially considering that only 1% of companies have their own ebook. I’m all for standing out from the crowd, and that is definitely standing out.

And, besides – the extra residual income can’t hurt. If the ebook doesn’t help your business overly much (which I sincerely doubt it wouldn’t), you can always use that extra money to put back into your business – more advertising campaigns, for example.

Christina
.-= Christina Crowe´s last blog ..Stuck on Your Next Blog Post Idea Change it Up with 14 Blog Post Formats =-.

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Marcus Sheridan December 29, 2010 at

Ha Christina, I got a smile out of that one too! :-)

Money can be a great benefit. My eBook hasn’t been HUGE in direct sales, but in indirect sales (from the stuff listed above) it has crushed-it.

For general knowledge, my first year the eBook made about $750, the next about $1500, and the next about $2000. Is this a lot of money? No, not really, but it only took about 20 hours to write and I’ve spent very little time or money on it since. So if you do the math, that ain’t too bad. And as I’ve said before, the sales keep going up each year because the need for its content will never go away. Plus, in my field, I can always update its content so it’s up to date. Very cool.

Oh, and I didn’t mention that I offer a ‘consulting’ in the eBook as well, which has made quite a bit of loose change on its own.

Anyway, whether it sells much or not, the key thing for everyone to understand is that It’s worth it.

By the way Christina, you just wrote a great eBook so you need to give it a plug girl!

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Christina Crowe December 31, 2010 at

That’s pretty good Marcus. And to think that your ebook will continuously make you residual income year after year because it will be in constant demand.

As for my own, I still need to fix up and clarify a few things in it before I think about advertising. :) I’ve been getting some really good feedback from those who have read it, so that has helped sprout even more topics to include in the actual book itself.

To be honest, I think it could be a bit more lengthy – 74 pages, though a lot, can still be increased and added to. That’s why I’ve only been advertising it on the blog – I wanted to get reader feedback first before I made the ebook public, public. After I add to it and expand on some topics, I’m going to try to maybe even turn it into a real book – though that probably won’t happen until months down the road.

It’s a start anyway! :)

Christina
.-= Christina Crowe´s last blog ..Ask Me Anything You Want for the New Year =-.

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Danielle December 29, 2010 at

yey I am not the last one to to leave a comment
that was great dad were did you get to be so good at this but I think I know her name its danielle hahaha I love you dad you are the best

DJ

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Marcus Sheridan December 29, 2010 at

It’s official, you’re a goof ball little lady. ;-)

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Jk December 29, 2010 at

You can’t beat that Marcus…The Sales Kitten chiming in showing the king of the sales jungle love. I’ve noticed her before on before, but didn’t notice the gravatar until now! Great stuff!
.-= Jk´s last blog ..The ONE-TEN Formula- Exceeding Expectations =-.

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Paul Castain December 29, 2010 at

Another awesome post Marcus!

Some additional benefits:

It gives ammunition to your army of brand evangelists to share and pass along to their network

Its respectful of the fact that most b2b purchases begin online. We can try to deny the statistics, fight the statistics or we can leverage the new landscape by feeding valuable content.

An E-Book can also guide someone gently by the hand back to other ways of getting to know you and your company better. I leverage this on the last page of all my E-Books with a page called “Cool Next Steps” On that page I include a link for them to sign up for sales tips via my blog, a link to I-Tunes with all my Sales Playbook Podcasts, a link to my Linkedin group, A follow me on Linkedin and Twitter and even remind them that if they found value, to please forward the E-Book

One final point, I really believe in having a resting place for your content. On my website, I created a “Free Stuff From Uncle Paul” button. It makes all this cool content easy to find and download.

Respectfully,
Paul Castain
.-= Paul Castain´s last blog ..A New Year With The “Old” You! =-.

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Marcus Sheridan December 29, 2010 at

Ahh yes, what a pleasure it is to have Uncle P’, my favorite sales writer, stop by and leave a comment. Thrilled to have you Paul, and wow did you make some great points here man. :-)

-Ammunition for the Brand Army…..Yes!
-Get to know us better…….Yes!
-Killer ‘Calls to action’ at the end…..Yes!

Great points P’. You’ve given away more info and eBook stuff than maybe anyone I’ve seen out there, so I know you’ve seen the fruits of these labors.

Keep up the great work my friend, and thanks again for stopping in. :-)

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Keith Davis December 29, 2010 at

Hi Marcus
I hate starting a comment with great post, but this is a great post.
You’ve given us 5 reasons to get going on that eBook but you’ve given us much more than that… motivation!

Your writing style is dripping with passion and enthusiasm and I think that some of it has dripped on me.

Like the idea of putting together 25 blog posts to produce your first eBook.

Thanks for the info and thanks for the motivation.
.-= Keith Davis´s last blog ..Look for the Shining Eyes =-.

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Marcus Sheridan December 30, 2010 at

I’ll take ‘great post’ any day Keith ;-)

I really appreciate your kind words though. If I ain’t got passion, I ain’t got much …

You’ve got the content for an eBook though, and personally I’d love to get yours, as you know how passionate I am about your subject matter.

Best to you in 2011 Keith!!

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Keith Davis December 30, 2010 at

Thanks Marcus

Just signed up to your Feedburner email update.

I look forward to your 2011 posts.
.-= Keith Davis´s last blog ..Look for the Shining Eyes =-.

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Dia December 29, 2010 at

Hi Marcus,

Very nice post my friend. Exactly writing an ebook in my opinion is a MUST for any small business as they help solve a specific need that people want. Some people believe that they are not capable of writing an ebook because they are not “professionals” or don’t have PHDs, but this is not true. I once heard, (not sure of the credibility of this) that if the individual reads 3 books about a certain subject, then he is among the top 5% of people in the world who know about this subject. I’m sure many have read over 3 books about a topic that they like, especially if it is their business, so writing an ebook is doable for everyone, especially for small business owners.

I was inspired by your previous post, especially about the fact that you wrote one of your ebooks over Christmas holiday and I have been spending the past few days working on my third ebook ;) Thanks for sharing my friend :)
.-= Dia´s last blog ..How to control your life =-.

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Marcus Sheridan December 30, 2010 at

That was a great stat you mentioned Dia— 3 books=expert.

No doubt, a PHD ain’t necessary, just a desire to help others. With the right intentions, readers will appreciate the book and its contents.

Excited to see you were inspired by my last post Dia, and even more excited to see you next eBook. Can’t wait to give it a look.

As always, appreciate your comments buddy.

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Stuart December 30, 2010 at

Wow, I must admit you got me hooked on e-books Marcus! I’ve heard of e-books before but I didn’t fully appreciate the power of them until I heard about Pat Flynn’s success with his architectural e-book, which got him a lot of money.

It’s amazing how much success you can gain with an e-book, I believe that anyone who knows anything about anything can benefit from the opportunities. Thanks for sharing Marcus :-)

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Marcus Sheridan December 30, 2010 at

Yeah, that Pat Flynn is something else. Love that guy’s blog….

So glad you’re considering an eBook Stuart. Remember, the benefits you’ll get from it beyond just $$$ are endless.

Hope to see you produce one down the road and continued excellence my friend!!

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Patricia@lavenderuses December 30, 2010 at

Hi Marcus

This is so on topic for me and you have given such great information from your own experience :-)

One of my attainable goals for 2011 is to write an ebook in my chosen small niche. Have been asked by several of my regular readers about this, so decided now that I have been seriously blogging for awhile now and have written quite a few articles that my readers seem to find helpful; will do it.

Initially, I didn’t think I would have enough information to write an ebook to sell. However, the more I research, write and publish posts, the more I realise I do know a fair bit about my topics and from my readers’ comments most of the time, more than them lol

Also, I am starting to get requests for topics to blog about and lots of questions too, so I know there is some interest so thanks Marcus for a really informative post. I really enjoyed it.

Patricia Perth Australia
.-= Patricia@lavenderuses´s last blog ..At Lavenderuses Safety First Means… =-.

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Marcus Sheridan December 30, 2010 at

Patricia, one of my all time favorite bloggers, so kind of you stop by and leave a comment! :-)

Knowing your niche, if you produced an eBook I think it would do HUGE things for you, especially considering in your case it’s a perfect way to get more people on your mailing list, therefore enabling you to email specials, sales, discounts, announcements, etc to your customer list.

Also, many people, when they see you give them value for ‘free’, are going to become a loyal fan and feel very, very inclined to buy from you in the future.

Thanks for your thoughts here Patricia, it’s really incredible what you’re doing over there on your site. Awesome, really awesome.

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Matt December 30, 2010 at

This gives me a lot of motivation to get my 1st eBook out.

It’s something I’ve been planning for a while that I just need to sit down and ship.
.-= Matt´s last blog ..No More Bullshit Design In 2011 =-.

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Marcus Sheridan December 30, 2010 at

Awesome Matt. What’s the theme going to be man? Good luck man!

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Jens P. Berget December 30, 2010 at

The problem with creating ebooks is that most people I’ve talked to think that an ebook has to be 50 pages or so (they think of it as a book). But as soon as they realize that it can be 10 pages, they might think of it as something they can manage.

I certainly agree with you. Writing an ebook should be among the first three things we should do (and building a list of subscribers). I believe that we should all write at least one ebook every year. It’s not that hard (just keep a deadline).

I have only written two myself, but I’ve received a lot of attention from my readers for both, and I’ve received a fairly large list of subscribers to my newsletter (because I give away both my ebooks for free).

The thing is, we should all find a way to turn our passion into an ebook. You’ve done an awesome job at it, and right now, all I can think of is I want a pool (although it’s minus 20 degrees Celsius outside) :)
.-= Jens P. Berget´s last blog ..No Christmas Gift to Charity =-.

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Marcus Sheridan December 30, 2010 at

You are right Jens. Many people do think they need to be very long when in reality they do not. In fact, they just need value. That’s it. Size is irrelevant.

Also, I like how you’ve given your ebooks away for free. Shows your ‘big picture’ mentality and I’m sure you’ve experience the results of such giving.

Oh, and good luck with the pool ;-)

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paul wolfe January 16, 2011 at

Marcus,

Surfed over from your ‘Iron Man’ guest post at Men With Pens. Loved the video clip in that post, very cool.

As one of the comments said writing an eBook often scares the bejesus out of most people – another way of creating an eBook is reverse engineering something you mentioned at the end of your article about unbundling your eBook and turning it into blog posts.

An alternate way would be to write a number of quality blog posts and then bundle those together to from the eBook. For most people who are not like us freaks who find nothing more appealing than sitting down every day and writing for several hours, it’s probably an easier way to create an eBook.

There’s form too, Darren Rowse of ProBlogger wrote posts on the topic of How To Improve Your Blog in 30 Days and then bundled those posts into an eBook.

And if I remember correctly Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome also bundled a series of blog posts into his ‘EBooks the Smart Way’ eBook.

Hopefully that will help your readers who don’t face too much resistance at the thought of writing 10 or 15 blog posts, but who would balk at writing a 40 page eBook.

Paul

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Keith Davis January 16, 2011 at

Thanks for the info and the links Paul.
Much appreciated.

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Marcus Sheridan January 16, 2011 at

Good points Paul and I really should have looked at it from both sides above. What you’re describing here works. I’ve seen it multiple times work for me in some of my other businesses. Like you said, the idea of mashing 10-15 blog posts is WAY less intimidating for some folks who just can’t possibly muster the gusto to popout at a little eBook. Darren and Pat have both done an excellent job of explaining the process.

Really appreciate you coming over from Men w Pens Paul and hope we chat again sir. :-)

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paul wolfe January 17, 2011 at

Marcus

We will chat again – I meant to leave a comment on the Men With Pens article you guest posted, but I got sidetracked by coming back here and reading through some of your posts here.

I’ll go there later today and leave a comment too….I know that sort of thing helps.

Paul

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Tobias May 4, 2013 at

Hi Marcus,

Awesome post. I found you because I watched your interview on contentverve.com. Really happy I found your site as I searched for some inspiration to grow the content production. We actually have a free ebook on “How To Design Killer PowerPoint Presentations” (in the business of presentation design :)). Download it here: http://free.24slides.com/ebook-presentation-design/

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