As a small business owner, you are going to have some primary way to make money or else you won’t be doing business for very long. You may also provide secondary products or services that go naturally alongside these offerings to help increase your revenues, such as selling batteries in an electronics store or beverages at a bakery.
But there’s a good chance that there is one asset you’re forgetting about—one that you already own, you’ve probably never considered before, and you’re currently giving away for free.
I’m talking about your content: that website copy, those blog posts, articles, even sales brochures. You already own it, so why not leverage it for profit?
The Power of a Well-Executed Ebook
As a consumer, I have personally opted to receive communications from a few companies. Several of them send out the occasional notice about a brand new e-book or report (either for sale or for free) that they have developed. I’ve downloaded many of the free ones and even purchased a few. I have to admit that I think fondly of those companies that put together quality, targeted information for me to use. When I need to do business in their industries, they’re the first places I look.
Now you may think this does not apply to your business. After all, you may not be a writer, and you may have no idea how to go about making an ebook. But don’t let these tiny details hold you back (and they truly are tiny). You may be closer to putting together a really useful ebook than you realize.
Think about it: you’re an expert in your field—that’s why your customers choose you over other your competitors, right? You have the knowledge and experience to speak with authority about what you know, and that’s no small something.
Here are some steps to you can take to leverage the content you are already producing:
1. Take a look at your range of content. Let’s say you’re a business incorporation company that offers corporation, LLC, and assumed name filings. You may also offer different types of businesses: limited partnerships, professional corporations, nonprofit organizations.
You probably have at least one webpage—perhaps several—on each type of business filing you offer. You’ve probably touched on some of the key differences between them; you may have copy addressing taxation, liability, and so on.
If it helps, print it all out so you can put the pages in stacks and really get a sense of what kind of information you’re sitting on. You might surprise yourself with how much content you have to work with!
2. Draw some connections and see what relates. Now that you’ve collected all of your information, see what makes sense. Do you have enough material to assemble a 10-page document outlining corporate taxes? A 15-page document on liability protection? Perhaps even a 50-page document comparing and contrasting each of these areas for each type of business?
Coming up with a 50-page document from scratch may seem a bit overwhelming. But, don’t forget you’ve got so much information already at your disposal. You can essentially reassemble, reword, and rewrite your way to producing a useful, industry-specific guide within a relatively short amount of time. If you are taking your content from a blog, there are even plugins, such as this one, that can help you pull all the information together and format it.
3. Put some polish on it. Yes, the 342-page novel on your Kindle is an e-book. But I’m talking about several pages in a PDF download, with a classy cover, a catchy title ( “How to Decide Which Type of Business Is Right For You”?), and simple formatting.
Of course, image goes a long way, and you want this e-book to benefit your business. If you don’t trust your writing skills, then ask around in your network and see if anyone can recommend a good freelance copy editor so you can be sure you’re putting your best language forward.
4. Use your new e-book to boost your business. Now that you have an informative, useful e-book that can enhance your business’s professional appearance, what will you do with it?
One obvious option is to sell the PDF as a download, or perhaps use it to add value to a higher-tiered service package. You might also decide to us your e-book as an incentive to get interested potential customers to sign up for your mailing list.
In the business incorporation company example, you might offer an e-book designed to help potential customers decide what type of business to start. Now that the customer is pretty sure what they need, sending a well-timed reminder of (or discount for) those very services stands an excellent chance of bringing in appreciative customers.
For Sale or For Free: E-Books Enhance Your Company’s Image
Trusted sources of information are hard to find. By setting yourself up as an industry leader, an authority in your field, your customers will be confident in going to you for your particular experience and knowledge—while you have the opportunity to make some passive income on the side.
Sarah Kolb-Williams is Senior Content Editor for Click&Inc and enjoys writing about small business and intellectual property.