This is a guest post by Joseph Hogue from Peer Finance 101 and My Work From Home Money who’s an expert on personal finance, entrepreneurship, passive income sources and Amazon self-publishing strategies. If you’ve ever asked questions like:
- Is self-publishing profitable?
- How much do self-published authors make on Amazon?
- Can I make a living self-publishing?
- How much can you make self-publishing on Amazon?
- Is it worth it to self-publishing online?
Then, you are in the right place! Joseph is going to break down the entire process of both writing and marketing your books. Without further ado, let’s hear what Joseph has to say about self-publishing and if there’s real money to be made from it.
Of the seven income sources I use, self-publishing is easily my favorite and the only one that comes close to passive income
I love how Aja has uses her blog to get freelance clients and turned it into a six-figure income. Freelancing is one of my favorite income sources and usually the one that pays the best for new bloggers.
Like most bloggers, I’ve diversified my income streams so a drop in one doesn’t seriously affect my financial situation. For example, income from sponsored posts tends to drop off during the summer just as affiliate income is picking up.
In all, I make money from seven different online streams.
Some of these ideas take more time to develop, like starting your own business, while others seem to cash flow immediately.
But most side hustle strategies are all about…well, the hustle.
You’ve got to keep hustling, or the money dries up.
My favorite ideas are always the ones you can set up and put on auto-pilot, the side hustles that work even when your hustle has moved on. We’re talking passive income here and one of my favorite side hustle sources.
What is Passive Income…and What Isn’t It?
OK, so the idea passive income is thrown around a lot on the net. From real estate investing to blogging and everything in between, everyone has their favorite passive income strategy.
From experience, most of those strategies aren’t really passive.
Blogging can become passive after you’ve spent years building up the search traffic to your site. Google will continue to send visitors to your blog but that traffic will start to slow if you don’t publish for a while. That’s to say nothing of the years and thousands of hours it can take to really build a blog up.
Real estate investing also isn’t as passive as the 3 am infomercials would have you believe. Unless you hire out property management, something that might not be available or affordable for new investors, you’re stuck with an endless list of tenant hassles and maintenance headaches while you build your real estate empire.
Of the seven income sources I make money on consistently, there is one that is almost completely passive. I made over $22,000 last year from this one source and did very little beyond the setup.
Best yet, this income source is a natural fit for bloggers.
I Could Write a Book about My Favorite Passive Income Source
I’m talking about self-publishing and before you think you can’t write a book, you’ve probably already written one in your notes, social media posts and blog articles.
Sites like Amazon and the Apple Store make it extremely easy to publish a book. It’s almost too easy! There are more than four million books available on Amazon Kindle and many of them aren’t well written. I guarantee if you can write a blog article, if you can write a letter to a friend, you can self-publish a book.
With a little planning and effort, you can publish one that makes money every month without any work on it after your launch.
I started self-publishing in March 2015, about six months after starting my blogs, and have published 10 books. I make each book available in digital form on Kindle, as a paperback version through CreateSpace and as an audiobook on Audible. Since Amazon owns all three of these companies, each format is available on one Amazon page to reach the widest audience possible.
I sold an average of 669 copies a month for sales of $22,290 in 2017.
Beyond a small advertising budget and social media sharing, that money was almost completely passive with a strategy I use that uses blogging as a natural tool for self-publishing.
How to Make Self-Publishing as Easy as Possible
Trying to write a book is where most would-be authors go wrong. They fire up the laptop, open a word processing tool and end up staring at a blank document for about five hours.
Breaking your book into manageable chunks will make it easier to finish and a natural fit for anyone with a blog.
But first, you need to decide what your book is about.
- Start with a hobby or a topic in which you have some experience. Your career field is usually an easy go-to because you’ve spent so much time and have the knowledge that makes you an expert.
- Search for five to ten books on Amazon within the topic and click through the free preview to the table of contents. What are the chapter ideas and the process the authors use to transform their readers? Scroll down to read reviews of the books. What did readers enjoy and what did they feel was lacking?
- People don’t buy information, they buy a transformation. What is the transformation you want to make in your readers and how will you get them there?
This should all give you a good idea of the main points that need to go in the book. Outline eight to ten chapter ideas as well as a few points to make in each chapter. Once that’s done, you’re ready to start writing your book.
- Plan on writing one chapter a week as a blog post. It doesn’t have to be Pulitzer prize material, just a good article on that one idea. Doing the chapters individually will help make each one engaging and thoughtful on its own.
- Promote each post as you would any other article. After a couple of months, put them all in a single document and revise so each flows to the next seamlessly. You can also add ideas to each chapter that you might not have thought of when writing it out.
- Not only does writing each chapter individually help keep you on schedule but it turns your blog into an easy marketing channel for the book. Once published, go back through each post to add a call out and link to your Amazon book page. By that time, each post is drawing targeted search traffic from Google and potential buyers for your book.
Editing and designing a cover for your book can be done with the help of a few friends but I’ve always held to the motto of, “Do what you do well and find other professionals to handle the rest.” You can get professional editing for less than a few hundred and a cover designed for even less. Even making just $100 per month on your book, you’ll cover these costs in less than six months.
Just a few more points will make your income source truly passive. The trick is getting the social proof that convinces potential readers to buy the book and keeping your books ranked on Amazon with a little advertising and organic sales each month.
- Aim for at least 10 reviews from friends and family during your book launch. Launch for $0.99 so you start off on the paid ranking scale instead of for free which has its own rankings. More is better with reviews, but it seems that double-digit hump is critical to building social proof that your book is worth buying.
- Set up Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) to advertise your book. You’ll pick keywords on which to advertise and a cost-per-click bid for each. Spending just $20 a month advertising each book is enough to drive 15 to 20 sold copies, or about $60 in sales. Not only is it a good investment but those sales help keep your books ranked and lead to more sales on Amazon.
- Add call-to-action paragraphs in other blog posts and add a clickable image of your book in the sidebar. Just a few sales from your blog each month is all you need to boost the book on Amazon for consistent sales.
Those 18 to 25 sales I get each month from AMS and my own blogs for each book are enough to drive about 65 total sales and hundreds of dollars. It doesn’t make me a self-publishing star but it’s a solid income I can count on every month and it takes almost no effort after the book launch.
I won’t tell you self-publishing is easy or requires absolutely no work. You still have to write an entertaining or informative book and there is some work to the process of publishing. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it and nobody would make any money. Put in a little time though to develop your process, making it as natural as possible into your existing blog, and it can be one of the most passive income sources you find.
Joseph Hogue worked as an equity analyst and an economist before realizing being rich is no substitute for being happy. He now runs five websites in the personal finance and crowdfunding niche, makes more money than he ever did at a 9-to-5 job and loves building his work from home business.
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