Using Free Ebooks To Promote Your Blog or Business

Using Free Ebooks To Promote Your Blog or Business

As many of you know, last week, I launched a new online business. Developing this business has allowed me to experiment with some new direct marketing techniques which I have only recently learned about. One specific example is releasing a free ebook in order to promote your blog or business.

John Chow, Jane May, and Mitch Harper all do this. All are also successful bloggers and entrepreneurs. Obviously, there has to be serious benefits to using a free ebook to promote your blog and business.

Increasing Conversions

There are many ways to encourage people to take action towards a desired task. One of the most common is giving away something for free in exchange for people signing up for an email list (free newsletter). People who are signing up for your email list are referred to as “opt-ins.”

Recently, my business, Unique Blog Designs, distributed a free ebook. Why did UBD give away a free ebook?

The Advantage of an Ebook

An ebook is a unique way to distribute information. Unlike a blog entry, which is available to everyone, an ebook is essentially exclusive information depending on the terms of its distribution. In our case, the ebook is only available to those who sign up for our email list.

5 Simple Tips To Improve Your BlogThe ebook that UBD launched was titled, “5 Simple Tips To Improve Your Blog.” Like I said, we released the ebook to encourage people to sign up for our email list. I will talk about the advantages of an email list another time, but the point is that the free ebook is a means to an end and an opportunity to show your customers that you offer valuable information.

Of course, it’s best if the ebook you are releasing contains highly useful and applicable information. If that is true, then you are showing potential customers that they can associate “quality” and “usefulness” with your brand.

Time To Produce an Ebook

Many people think that writing an ebook is a time consuming process. That doesn’t have to be true. The free ebook UBD released is only 8 pages, but contains highly applicable information that new bloggers can use to improve their blogs. That ebook only took around 2 hours to write. It is well worth the investment in time considering it will certainly increase our opt-in rate.

Not only that, but giving away something for free has a lot of power. It shows your potential clients that you are willing to go above and beyond the normal expectations of doing business. This in of itself makes releasing the free ebook a worthwhile investment.

Increase Conversions

The fact is that by giving something away for free, you are increasing the conversion rate (number of opt-ins) for an email list. Mitch Harper of Interspire even says “every blog should have an accompanying ebook.” If Mitch says that, it’s good enough for me.

If you are interested in receiving the free ebook, “5 Simple Tips To Improve Your Blog,” then visit Unique Blog Designs and sign up for the newsletter.

Powerful Posts – August 27, 2007

Powerful Posts - August 27, 2007

Create Business Growth – Find 2 to10 Extra Hours Per Week With One Simple Action
Christine writes a great article about how to be more productive using some techniques from the 4-Hour Workweek.

Pro Blog Design – Weekly Wrap-up: Why Redesign A Blog?
Michael writes about why blog redesign is all the rage now. Hint: two major blogger redesigns helped.

Alex Shalman – Never Lose A Great Idea Again
Alex talks about how to never lose a great idea again.

ViperChill Marketing – ViperChill Video No.1 ~ Introduction
Glenn’s first stab at video podcasting. Nice work, buddy!

CashQuests – Find Money By Creating A Screenshot Of Your Site
Kumiko gives us a make money online opportunity by leveraging our shorter posts.

Writing For and By Coaches – Blogging for Coaches
Great article about how blogging has helped this author.

Untwisted Vortex – Confessions of a Blogaholic
RT Talks about being addicted to blogging.

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Powerful Post Award - August 27, 2007

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Does Blog Design Really Matter? (Video by Yaro Starak)

Yaro Starak just posted a great video addressing the question of, “Does blog design really matter?” Yaro echos a lot of the same sentiments I have been expressing about the importance of a unique blog design.

In the video, Yaro says:

Blog design matters. Having a unique design is better than using a theme that someone else uses or using the default theme from WordPress, but with the disclaimer that most people will tell you – that it’s not the most critical aspect of your blog.

Yaro later repeats that:

…investing in a unique blog design is a good thing to do because it presents your blog in a really professional light, it makes you stand out from the crowd, and it can make the difference between converting someone from just passerby into a regular reader or subscriber. If your content is great and your blog design appears to be really well done, people generally look at you as someone who is in the blogging business seriously so they are more likely to come back and read your blog.

Great video, Yaro!

The Aftermath

The Aftermath

It’s been a few days since the release of the new John Chow theme and Unique Blog Designs. I don’t think I’ve gone to sleep anytime before 6 a.m. for the past week — 18-hour days have become the norm for me while I have been working to finish John’s theme, launch UBD, and maintain my current stream of work. As it took a full week for me to design, code, and edit John’s theme, the days were very long indeed.

Like any big change, the unveiling of John’s new theme has been met with mixed reviews. Lots of people love it, whereas others think it is too “top-heavy” or “in your face.”

While the new theme does take up more screen real estate, it has become clear that blog designs are moving towards wider layouts. ProBlogger‘s new theme is just as wide. It is of interest to note that almost every client who has contacted Unique Blog Designs has requested a “wider layout.”

What does this mean for people still running 1024×768 resolution? John Chow says, “It’s time to get a larger monitor.” While I don’t necessarily think that everyone should have to buy a larger monitor to read these wider blogs, it has become clear that blog designs will ONLY be getting wider.

I wanted to take this time to address some of the questions people have been asking about the new layout and where blog design appears to be heading.

Are Wider Blog Layouts All the Rage?

Obviously, you can fit more information into a wider layout. You can also use a wider layout to include material in the header and footer that normally you would have only been able to fit in the sidebar.

I think that part of the problem of traditional-width blogs is that there has been too much stuff in the sidebars. If we are putting new elements/widgets/sections onto our blogs, we are doing so because we want these elements to receive more attention.

The fact is that sidebars have become more cluttered with ads, links, widgets, plugins, the kitchen sink, etc. In order to maximize the exposure of elements that we want to receive attention, it makes sense to relocate these elements to the header.

If we put certain elements in the header, such as a newsletter signup box, it is guaranteed that they will receive more exposure than if placed in the sidebar. One personal example is when I first launched my newsletter signup, I had placed it in the sidebar. After a week and a half, I had received 15 or so emails — not very many for how much traffic I receive. However, when I relocated my newsletter signup to the header, I received 15 more that same day.

While some people may say that my and John’s headers are too cluttered, they accomplish the goal of redirecting attention to those elements we deem important. On the theme’s first day, John received over 200 email sign-ups. Do you think he would have received that many had the newsletter signup been placed in the sidebar? I would be willing to bet no.

Bigger Footers

A lot of people have remarked that John’s new footer is their favorite element of the blog. It is obviously different from other footers in that it has a “designer-feel” that emphasizes particular elements. One might ask, “Why the larger footers?”

chow footer

As readers scroll to the very bottom of a page or single post, we can now expose them to another group of elements that we may have not wanted to place in the sidebar for various reasons.

For example, John Chow decided to place his MyBlogLog widget in the footer now. One commentator asked why not put it back in the sidebar? Well, every decision we have made about placement has been conceived with conversion in mind. Kumiko from CashQuests hit the nail on the head when explaining why the MBL widget is better off in the footer: “Mybloglog widgets don’t make money. And they send your traffic to other people’s sites.”

Balancing User Experience with Advertising

Many people have said there are too many advertisements on John’s site now. The fact is that John Chow’s blog is devoted to “making money online.” He clearly stated that the reason he changed his blog theme was to increase his earnings. Just like Problogger, implementing 125×125 square boxes was seen as the best way to enhance revenue. While it may be too much advertising for some, let’s not forget why we visit to make money online.

The more money that John Chow’s blog makes, the more popular it becomes. How do we define popularity? I think RSS count is a good measure. While traffic may have not necessarily risen over the past few months for John, his RSS feed count has increased dramatically.

There have a number of interesting articles written about John Chow’s new theme and Unique Blog Designs:

John Cow – Make More Money With Your Theme – Bowser

Philippine Webmaster Forum – John Chow gets a Facelift

Web Business Blog – My Thoughts on John Chow Redesign

Net Business Blog – John Chow Has A New Blog Design

Blogging Tips – John Chow Takes His Blog To The Next Level

Blogging Experiment – 5 Benefits of a Blog Redesign

Crenk – John Chow dot com with the New Design