Making Money With Ebooks and Courses

Andrey Novoselov Andrey Novoselov
Reading time:  12  min.

Today, people prefer to download ebooks and buy online courses instead of going to the library  or paying high educational fees. So, sharing your experience is becoming easier than ever before. You just need to put what you know on paper and sell it on the internet. In this article, we’ll provide you with a detailed guide on how to write ebooks or online courses for money.

Making money with ebooks and courses

Understanding Ebooks and E-learning Courses

The internet has revolutionized the education sphere, so now you don’t need to pay obscene amounts of money to acquire the necessary skills and get knowledge. A desire to start learning and a good internet connection will suffice. Among various types of educational material, e-books and courses are very popular, so they might be a perfect source of income if you are thinking of generating money online. In this article, you’ll learn how to make money by publishing your own material, and we’ll start by diving into the nature of electronic books and online courses.


Today, ebooks are becoming more and more popular due to their very convenient format for downloading and opening on any electronic device. Don’t think that to write one, you have to be a Chekhov or Shakespeare. Now, people tend to read more about everyday issues and prefer down-to-earth advice that can change their lives for the better, so it is quite easy to start earning on ebooks. Thus, you can cover almost any topic you are familiar with whether it’s a how-to guide, a novel, a science fiction book or any other type of content you like. You can find out more about today’s most popular book genres on Amazon, all you have to do is check out the bestseller lists and see what kind of material attracts your audience the most.

One of the biggest advantages of publishing an ebook is that you can do it whenever you want, you don’t have to wait for your publisher and editor to set your timeframe. Actually, the whole process will be under your control – from choosing a topic to write about to marketing processes and selling the book.

Here is an inspirational example of how much you can earn by selling ebooks online: One of the Amazon Kindle authors Hugh Howey earns over $150,000 every month for selling about 25,000 copies of his last book. Naturally, the revenue depends on how high you estimate your book value and what price you set, but the income potential is enormous!

Online Courses

Basically, an online course is a form of distance learning, when you can access the materials when and where you want. In contrast to ebooks, online courses are well-structured, contain theoretical and practical material, and in the end, you’ll be given a certificate of completion.

Do you think that you have to be an expert in order to build an online course? In fact, to make one, you simply need to know a little more than average. Your topic doesn’t have to be highly specific, it might be anything from gardening to photography, from physics to personal growth.

Today, there are many platforms like Udemy or SkillShare where you can sell your course to a large audience from all over the world. Also, it is quite easy to build a course, because all the necessary tools are available online. You don’t have to make a new website specifically for selling your course: Just place it on your blog, website or a social media page. Most likely, you’ll continue creating new material because you will be inspired by the success of your first course.

On the other hand, to be a success, your course should contain useful, high-quality and diverse materials, including different types of content: texts, videos, images and more. Also, you need to make a unique course to attract an audience and not violate the rules of other writers, so the easiest path is to write about something you know from personal experience. Then, your material will be easy to read and absolutely unique. Finally, you’ll need to set a reasonable price for your course to show its value and not scare off potential customers.

Picking a Topic and Creating Content

Picking a topic and creating content

To begin with, you’ll need to choose a topic to write about. It can be anything you know about, from cars to modeling, from astrology to gardening. The only key to creating successful material is to know what you write about, and deliver it in the best possible way. Also, the content doesn’t have to be long or too complex. Some ebooks on Amazon Kindle only contain 30 pages including the introduction and conclusion. Isn’t that a perfect start to your future writing career?

Writing From Scratch

This is the best way to create a unique and successful content and not violate the copyrights of any author. Original content always attracts attention. However, writing from scratch requires a lot of self-discipline and diligence, because you’ll need to structure the material well and create everything yourself. Naturally, it is an opportunity to apply creative skills and show your talent and expertise. Also, while writing, you might want to change your plan, and it will be totally normal, the only thing is to get the job done. The key to success is to write every day, even if you can deliver only a small volume of text. It is much better than writing every once in a while for many hours in a row. Consider setting up a schedule and designing a plan of your work with a certain deadline for each step, otherwise it may be hard to control the process.

Turning Your Blog Materials Into a Book

If you already have a blog or a personal website filled with articles and posts, writing a book or creating a course might be incredibly easy for you, because all you need is to accumulate the content you’ve previously created into one and add new details. Many bloggers practice this approach to generate additional income, because their audience is likely to buy new material if they like the previous works of the blogger. The key is to implement a good structure, add new interesting information or dive into one specific topic.

One such example is Matt Kepnes also known as Nomadic Matt. The guy has a great travel blog and several guides on traveling, blogging, teaching English and more. Have a look at this website to find inspiration and turn your posts into a book as well!

Repurpose the Book With the Expired Copyright

Another option is to find a book available to the public with an expired copyright and repurpose it, which means taking the existing content and turning it into a new book. How is it possible? There are works that you can use to your advantage without asking for permission from its creator, and they are called “public domain books.” Normally, the copyright expires after a specific period of time, and then the book becomes available for public use. For example, materials written between 1920 and 1980 have 95 years of copyright protection.

Therefore, this is an opportunity to find a book that has an expired copyright and work on it to produce the most relevant content for today’s readers. One example of where you can find such books is Project Gutenberg.

Hire a Copywriter

If you have an idea of what to write about but don’t have enough time or skills, you can hire a professional copywriter. In fact, it is a very common thing in the publishing industry. Such copywriters are called ghost writers, because despite a great work they do, readers don’t get familiarized with their personality and will never hear their names. You can hire a professional on a freelance platform like UpWork or Fiverr.

Marketing Your Product

Marketing your product

Once the book has been written, you’ll need to apply your marketing skills to reach out to the audience. However interesting, captivating and original your work might be, it won’t get enough attention without applying special techniques. There are many people who might be genuinely interested in your book, so you’ll need to get the word out at this stage. And the best way to promote your product is to combine the strategies using social media, different forums and offering a free chapter of your book. However, only promoting your book once won’t be enough so you’ll need to put in the hours on a constant basis.

Sharing on Social Media

It’s no big secret social networks are the most popular way to spread information these days. You can take advantage of this easy approach and advertise your product on your social media pages. Make a small post briefly describing the book or course and place a backlink to the page where people will be able to purchase it.

There are many networks that can help you get the word out: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and more. To reach out to the maximum number of people, you should have many followers or publish your ad post in a related group where it will be seen by people who are actually interested in the topic.

However, mentioning your product one time is not enough. You’ll need to get some buzz going. To do so, think of the ways to attract the attention of the public. You might like the idea of offering a lottery and awarding one of your followers with the book, or simply ask your friends to share the news on their personal profile.

Using Forums

Another way of promoting a product is joining multiple topic-related forums. In fact, forums are one of the best methods to communicate with other people online and get a professional opinion, so mentioning your book on one of these forums will definitely attract attention.

To find the most relevant platforms, Google the specific niche of your expertise and add “+forum.” This will give you the list of forums related to your product. Otherwise, you can take advantage of search engines designed to find forums, and one example is Boardreader. Then, pick a few forums and register an account on each one of them. Prior to spreading the word about your product, pump the accounts by communicating with other forum members, leaving comments to popular threads, asking questions and staying active in general.

Offering a Free Chapter

Also, you can share a free chapter of your book on social media and other platforms. If people enjoy reading it, they are more likely to purchase the whole book later.

Offering a free chapter is a very popular technique practiced by many new authors who want to attract attention to themselves. Many marketing teams noted that free sample chapters increased their sales. This technique was first tested back in 1977 by marketing gurus Martha Rogers and Don Peppers who offered their subscribers a free chapter of their new book which boosted the sales later on.

Today, the market works in the same way. One of the contemporary authors in the field of marketing, Robbin Zeff, expressed her belief that this technique had improved the overall number of downloads. So, use these studies to your advantage and increase your audience by providing it with a free chapter of your work.

Offering a Free Copy in Exchange for Reviews

People tend to choose books with a bigger number of reviews, so another thing that you can do is to establish contact with reviewers and give them a free copy of your book in exchange for a review on their part. Then, when people will be looking through the list of available books and they stumble upon yours, the more reviews it will have, the more likely readers will be to buy it.

In order to do this, you’ll need to search for special book discovery sites and other platforms where readers leave reviews, and then find top reviewers. Check what genre of books they seem to be interested in, and if it correlates with your topic, you can offer them to review your book as well. Or you can filter the books by the genre and then find reviewers. Normally, people like this are truly passionate about reading, and they are able to form a constructive evaluation of your book which will not only attract other readers but also might help you avoid some writing mistakes in future.

Publishing a First Book Permafree

This is a good strategy for those writers who plan on making a whole series of books, so giving away the first one for free will be a nice marketing technique to attract readers and provide incentive to follow up on your works in future. Many authors tend to give their first work in exchange for subscribing to their newsletter, thus accumulating an audience for future promotions.

In any case, you’ll need to promote your book even if you are giving the first part for free. There are many useful resources to introduces readers to your works such as BookBub, Amazon Kindle or simply social networks. It depends on whether you want to attract a wider audience or a narrow circle of readers.

Choosing a Marketplace

To give readers access to your work, you’ll need to make it publicly available. There are many options starting from uploading it on your personal website to cooperating with one of special sites. The choice is all yours, just think of the benefits and disadvantages of every alternative. With Amazon Kindle or any other platform of the same scope, you’ll reach out to many people but also have to share your revenue. If you publish the product on a smaller website, you are more likely to get to the top 100 authors, but there will definitely be fewer readers. Finally, you can simply present your book on your personal website, but then implementing marketing strategies is a must.

Selling On Your Website

To get 100% of sales revenue, you’ll need to publish the book or course on your website. This is a good option as long as you have a big audience and can integrate a shopping cart or PayPal. After making a purchase, readers will get a download link to your book. The whole process is fully automated and doesn’t require any specific skills, so you’ll just have to check on it every once in a while. Naturally, you’ll have full control over the process of sales, get the information about your readers and build a community.

If this is your first book and you doubt that many of your readers will purchase it, consider uploading the product onto one of related platforms like Amazon Kindle or Payhip, for instance, depending on what audience you need to access and how big of a percentage of revenue you are ready to share with your publisher.

Selling on Amazon Kindle

Uploading your book onto Amazon Kindle implies sharing revenue on sales with the platform, but at the same time you’ll access a much wider audience than you’d have by publishing your book solely on your personal website.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing is one of the easiest ways to make money selling ebooks and reaching out to readers from all over the world. According to its statistics, over 90 million Americans actively use the website to search for the latest books. And, you don’t have to be someone famous and have the support of a big publishing house, because self-published books constitute almost 40% of ebook sales on Amazon Kindle.

The good thing is that the publishing process if free of charge and takes only five minutes, and your book will be uploaded to Amazon Kindle stores within the next 24 to 48 hours. This platform will withhold up to 30% of your revenue, but it doesn’t dictate the price, so you’ll be able to set it yourself. Here, you can find more on how to sell ebooks with Amazon Kindle.

If you don’t feel like sharing your product on Amazon Kindle, here is a list of other platforms for publishing an ebook.

Making Your Product a Bestseller

Choosing a marketplace

To make the best of your first book or course, you’ll need to deliver only high-quality information and present it in such a way so that readers will take pleasure in reading your texts. After the first readers get your work, the word will get out, and it will largely depend on how much effort you’ve put into the product. It isn’t that complicated, just follow a few simple rules.

Deliver only high-quality and informative content

This is a keystone to writing a bestselling book. Do thorough research on your topic, find the most relevant information, share your personal experience and provide facts and numbers to inspire confidence in your readers. Some authors make the mistake of choosing a trendy topic solely for the reason of its popularity and then they end up writing a mediocre book, because they don’t have a deep understanding of the subject. So, it is recommended to cover subjects you are familiar with to deliver useful information. However, if you feel passionate about any particular theme, but don’t have enough knowledge, consider hiring an expert that will help you compose an informative product. Anyway, you’ll be able to make money writing ebooks only in case you deliver a good product, which is not too hard.

Make Your Text Easily Readable

Despite a great practical use your book or course might bring to readers, it won’t be popular unless you write in an easy-to-read manner. To avoid this mistake, try to use terminology only when necessary, and explain every word your reader might know. Traditionally, texts with examples, analogies and figures of speech are easily perceptible in spite of the complexity of the subject. Look up to the average reader who might not have basic knowledge in your field of expertise. Thus, if people enjoy your first book, they are likely to buy the next one.

Double-Check the Information and Proofread the Text

This is a very important rule, because readers tend to not trust the texts they find mistakes in. Whether you write in your native language or not, it is crucial to give your material to a proofreader afterward. Naturally, it implies additional costs, but it also minimizes potential errors. Also, despite how well you know the topic, it’s recommended to check on every fact you mention, because it might become outdated, and you wouldn’t want your readers to find out, so it’s better to check it yourself in advance.

Choose the Perfect Cover and Layout

Another well-known fact is that people do judge a book by its cover at first. Take advantage of it and choose the perfect cover for your work. It should attract attention, be visually pleasing and reflect the content and ideas of your book in the best way possible, singing a clear message to the readers.

  1. First, meet the expectations of your genre. A science related book or a how-to manual appeals to a reader’s brain, while fiction books touch hearts. Take advantage of this fact and choose the cover according to what you want the readers to feel: reliability of your material or its creativity and soulfulness. Also, don’t forget that the design should correspond to your title.
  2. Second, you can find inspiration on one of numerous book stores online, for instance, Amazon or Pinterest. Filter the books by genre and check what covers the books on your topic tend to have. Such research doesn’t imply any plagiarism, on the contrary, it is the perfect way to get a general understanding of the market and provide your product with the best cover and design. Speaking of which, it is important to create a layout which will help readers read the text. It is common to use different  font sizes to highlight the most important facts you want people to remember.

The easiest way to provide your book or course with a nice design is to hire a graphic designer, but if you want to do everything yourself, here is a very detailed guide.

How to Make the Most of Your Ebook and Online Course

The presence of the internet has made education more easily accessible than ever before. Millions of writers and readers take advantage of this and discover the world of ebooks and online courses. You can do it too and turn your expertise into a material that will bring you online income and an audience.

In order to make money with ebooks, you’ll need to put some skin in the game by creating quality material and delivering it in the best manner. The next step after writing the content is to choose the right layout and design for it, which you can do with the help of a professional designer, and then you’ll need to publish your book and apply your marketing skills to reach out to a wider audience.

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