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Episode 107: How To Create eBooks To Diversify Your Income With Kelly McNelis

In episode 107 we talk with Kelly McNelis of eBooksPro about the ins and outs of creating eBooks and why it’s valuable today.

We cover how creating ebooks is a way to create a lucrative passive income stream, why you shouldn’t wait until you become an expert and how to approach pricing and marketing.

Listen on the player below or on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.


Guest Details

Connect with eBooksPro
Website | Facebook

Bio
Kelly is the self-professed crockpot addict and mom of five behind The Family Freezer.com. Over the past six years, Kelly has self-published more than 20 eBooks that have together generated almost one million dollars in sales. When Kelly’s husband, Andy, realized Kelly’s blogging was becoming a major source of income for their family, he left his full-time job to work with her full-time. That was five years ago and the rest is history. Kelly and Andy have grown their blog to focus on passive income strategies, like eBooks, that allow them to make as much money as possible while spending more time with their family and less time working. In 2019, Kelly and Andy created a second business to help other bloggers do the same called eBooks Pro.

Takeaways

  • Don’t wait until you’re an expert to start a project.
  • The best topic for an ebook is the one that your audience wants you to write. Go to your Google analytics and see what your top posts are. Narrow down the topics and find the commonalities. 
  • Research your competition. Start by looking at what exists on Amazon. Find out where there’s room for you to sell and not have a lot of competition.
  • Length of an ebook should only be as long as it takes to sufficiently cover what your audience needs. Don’t make it one page longer. 
  • Pricing – value your work so it’s worth your time and energy and that you are proud of. 
  • Ask your audience about their #1 issue is in regards to THIS topic (that you’re about to launch)? Take this feedback to create questions and answers that you can use during your marketing campaign/emails. 
  • You want there to be an urgency to purchase your product along with pre-determined days to have a sale price, bonuses available, or that this product is on sale only once a year.
  • If you are doing something “extra” in your launch for buyers, do it on day 1 or 2. Reward your audience for responding to your offer and stick to those days exclusively, not let them be bummed they didn’t wait until later in the week. 
  • Create an ad or banner for your site and let your audience know they can buy from you any time once the launch period is over. 
  • Selling your ebook – streamline with plugins like Woo Commerce or Shopify and then the ebook is delivered immediately after checkout, there’s no manual process.

Resources Mentioned

The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

Launch by Jeff Walker

eBooks Pro

Looking to jump into a new business venture?

Learn to lean into your intuition and experience to guide you as you begin a new season. Find the next thing that will fill you up by listening to Karista Bennett in episode #135.


Transcript

Click for full text.

Intro:

Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, where food bloggers come to get their fill of the latest tips, tricks, and insights into the world of food blogging. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll provide you with the tools you need to add value to your blog. And we’ll also ensure you’re taking care of yourself, because food blogging is a demanding job. Now, please welcome your host, Megan Porta.

Megan Porta:

Food bloggers. Don’t forget to check out the food blogging forum style community that we started over at forum.eatblogtalk.com. Finally, there is one place that we can all convene and talk and that isn’t scattered all over Facebook. Here are the things that I am loving about it. It is free. It also allows for categorized discussions on all food blogging topics, and there’s a category for sharing successes, AKA self promotion. So no more holding back about discussing your big wins and things that you’re promoting. Also, everything is in one single spot. So no hopping around from group to group, and there’s an amazing opportunity to network and really get to know your fellow food bloggers in a single place. So come join the discussions that are going on over at forum.eatblogtalk.com. And I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Don’t forget. Forum.eat blogtalk.com.

Megan Porta:

Okay. Food bloggers. Have you heard of Flodesk, the new big email marketing rage? This is an amazing new option for managing your email subscriber list. It is super easy to use and it comes with gorgeous, intuitive drag and drop templates. And Flodesk does not charge based on number of subscribers. So your monthly rate will stay the same from month to month. Everyone pays $38 a month or use my affiliate link to get 50% off and pay only $19 a month. You guys, this is a fraction of the price of other email service providers, and you’ll be blown away by the beautiful and intuitive templates waiting for you inside. Visit eatblogtalk.com/resources to grab your link. Flodesk, the stunning new option for email marketing.

Megan Porta:

What’s up food bloggers. Welcome to Eat Blog Talk. The podcast made for you, food bloggers, seeking value for your businesses and your lives. Today, I will be having a chat with Kelly McNelis from eBookspro.com and also the familyfreezer.com. And we are going to talk about creating eBooks. Kelly is a self professed crockpot addict and mam of five behind the familyfreezer.com. Over the past six years, Kelly has self published more than 20 eBooks that have together generated almost $1 million in sales. When Kelly’s husband, Andy, realized Kelly’s blogging business becoming a major source of income for their family, he left his full time job to work with her full time. That was five years ago and the rest is history. Kelly and Andy have grown their blog to focus on passive income strategies like eBooks that allow them to make as much money as possible while spending more time with their family and less time working. In 2019, Kelly and Andy created a second business to help bloggers do the same called eBooks pro. And we will talk a little bit more about that later, but Kelly, I’m so excited to get your insights on eBooks, but first give us a fun fact about yourself.

Kelly McNelis:

Oh, thanks, Megan. I love how you summed all that up. That feels like totally me. I think my fun fact is a little bit in my bio, which is that I have five kids. It’s so funny because to me, I have kids, but when people meet me or they talk about me to other people that is like the number one, that’s their thing. It’s like, Oh, you know that like crazy lady at the pool.

Megan Porta:

Well, five is a lot. I mean, that’s a lot of kids and what are their age ranges.

Kelly McNelis:

Okay. So they’re all about two years apart. And so right now they are 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2.

Megan Porta:

Wow. Okay. So you gave yourself a little bit of time between each. So I feel like that’s manageable. You know, like if we’re five and under, I’d be like, okay, maybe be a little bit crazy, but I think that’s fun. Right? That makes you fun.

Kelly McNelis:

You don’t think I’m totally crazy. Right?

Megan Porta:

Totally crazy. No, but I’m sure you have your hands full, but it’s like different, different issues from a 10 to a two year old. It’s like, you’re managing totally different things, but that’s really fun. Thank you for sharing that. So Kelly, let’s dive into this. I listened to your episode over the weekend from the Golddigger podcast about eBooks, the same topic. I was so inspired by your story and also your success with eBooks and also just kind of your mindset. Like you’re very upfront and just transparent about this. You want to work less, so you have more time with your family. And I think some people are a little bit afraid to say that, but I am with you. I want to work hard so that I can work less. I know you get that. I just loved your story. So I would love if you started by talking us through your story with blogging and also how you got into creating eBooks as a part of your business.

Kelly McNelis:

All right. So I think like a lot of bloggers, your journey can evolve and change over time. Your blog can become a different type of business than what you thought it would be. When I started back in 2011, I had two young children. I had just my second daughter. I remember going out, I had had, was work, still working full time then, I was working for the government. I remember going out to dinner with my husband. We went to this local pizza place and I said, I want to start my own business. Like I don’t want to go back to my full time job after maternity leave. I want to start my own thing. I had this idea about helping other moms like me who are just kind of juggling everything. I thought it would be more healthy mindset with some healthy living as well. Just things that I was really passionate about myself. He said, well, you know you need a blog. My reaction was like, no way.

Megan Porta:

No, I don’t.

Kelly McNelis:

Who would want to hear about me? Or what would I have to say that would be interesting? I decided, okay, let’s give this a shot. That would be a way to help other women and help them for free and in the long run Andy was absolutely right, because I had other ideas about coaching other women and helping them with other services. What they really loved was the blog. So he was right. Okay. Andy…

Megan Porta:

Nice work, Andy.

Kelly McNelis:

Okay. So they loved the blog and I was sharing different things about healthy living recipes and also tips about just staying balanced. My background was in psychology. I actually went to grad school for psychology and…

Megan Porta:

Oh, interesting.

Kelly McNelis:

Yeah. So I got my masters and PhD in psychology and I thought that that would really interest other people, but they just said, give me more of your recipes. I just want these really easy approachable recipes. There were mostly 10 ingredients or less, they could be made in the crock pot. When I started like freezing them ahead of time, I would assemble like five at a time. I would take a Saturday afternoon when my two girls were napping and I would quickly assemble the ingredients raw in these freezer bags. I would freeze them. Then during the week I would put them in my crockpot and have this like healthy, fresh homemade meal, that I cooked for the first time. I just found that other people needed that too. They needed the shortcut and they were easy. They were healthy. Ended up saving money in the long run. So, around that time, I ended up reading the book the four hour workweek by Tim Ferriss.

Megan Porta:

Yes. It’s a great one.

Kelly McNelis:

I really leaned into this idea of how do I work. Life is about more than work. You need to work, you need money, you need to survive, but your life can be so much more than the end, for me, it is. So if you think about your work and like what’s working, what’s generating money and how can I do more of that and how can I cut like absolutely everything. I mean, Tim, that book inspired me to delete email from my phone. I would only check email maybe once a day or every other day on my computer. I mean really getting down to essentials of only the time, like even posting on social media less, like I made this conscious decision of, I don’t want to work 24/7. That’s not going to bring me happiness in my life. It’s just making me stressed out because I’m trying to take care of my kids.

Megan Porta:

Yeah.

Kelly McNelis:

I mean, so I leaned into that and started writing eBooks. It was like a long and a long road from there. I mean, I didn’t know what I was doing at all, like at all at first.

Megan Porta:

So yeah. How did you dive into your first ebook? So after you read The 4-Hour Work Week, which I love, love that book. I love the whole concept of it so much. So I’m with you on that. So you just decided, okay, I’m going to do more of what can make me money so that I can work less and enjoy my loved ones. So how did you launch into that first ebook not knowing anything?

Kelly McNelis:

So I knew that what people loved the most were those quick and easy freezer to crockpot recipes. I had the idea, I would put together 10 recipes, 10 new recipes that could be assembled that way. I packaged them into this PDF. Like I wrote it in Microsoft Word. I had nutritional info. I had a grocery list. I had these cute little freezer labels that I designed. I had it in Microsoft Word, I exported it as a PDF. I designed a hideous cover. I don’t know how anyone let me do that. Like, why did you let do that? But I designed it myself in Photoshop. I should have just used a photo of the food, but I didn’t. I created like this text icon thing.

Megan Porta:

Oh, that’s so funny. Isn’t it like the things you do when you first start out and you look back and you’re like, Whoa, what was I thinking?

Kelly McNelis:

I mean, it’s mortifying, but also, you know, you can’t wait, you can’t wait. First of all, you can’t wait until you become an expert.

Megan Porta:

Right. I love that. Yes.

Kelly McNelis:

You’ll never become an expert. You’ll never get there if you don’t learn, you don’t grow. Really it was about the recipes. It wasn’t about like the cover. I don’t think people bought it because of the cover anyway. So I packaged them into this PDF and I was, I remember being so excited about it. I put all this time into creating the recipes because I really obsess over my recipes. That’s probably why people have liked them over the years that, I’m saying, if you make these, if you spend this time, freezing them, they’re going to be delicious. You’re going to love them. You’re not going to have flops. So I remember I put it for sale on my website. I used the PayPal button. I’m not very tech savvy. So at the time I did this PayPal button and just waited for all these sales to roll. And in reality, it was like crickets, like nothing.

Megan Porta:

Where is everyone?

Kelly McNelis:

I mean, I literally sold 12 copies the entire first year that I was selling. They were like to my mom and dad, or brother, my friends, I don’t know. So this was not an overnight success. I didn’t know what I was doing, obviously. So what happened, what made the difference is it like fast forward and the next year I think we had sold, I don’t even know how many thousand copies of that same ebook. So what I had done and I had launched also the following year, I wrote a new ebook and I launched it. I remember I had like a five day sale and ended up making $10,000 in a week or something, which like blew my mind, like was epic, like so surprising to me, but what made the difference wasn’t the ebook. It wasn’t that all of a sudden this new one was beautiful and had a beautiful cover. It was the same thing. Like it was a new ebook, new recipes and slightly better cover. But what was different is how I was selling it. I had learned how to actually market something, how to have a dedicated, like sale or a launch period. Maybe we’ll end up going into that in more detail. That was what really made all the difference. You can have a great book and have it not sell because you’re maybe just not selling it the right way.

Megan Porta:

Yeah. Because I think we all, we’re all creators, a lot of food bloggers, you know, we thrive on creating. So we create something, we just put it out and we expect it to boom, be successful. That’s not how it works. So a year and you sold 12 copies and then you actually put some thought into how to market it and how to present it to your audience. Oh my goodness, you made so much money when you put a little forethought into it. So yeah. What a great story, Kelly. Oh my goodness. I just think, I mean, putting that first ebook together, I loved your words about, you can’t wait until you become an expert, like your cover, you look back and you’re like, what, what was I thinking? But if you wait until you’re the perfect cover designer, it’s never going to happen. Right? You’ve just got to do it. If you want to create an ebook or fill in the blank, if you want to start a blog or whatever it is, you absolutely have to just do it.

Kelly McNelis:

I agree. Yeah.

Megan Porta:

So I love that. I love your story and thank you for talking us through that. So let’s dig into actually figuring out how to create an ebook. I didn’t tell you this, but I did create an ebook many years ago. Don’t search for it. It’s kind of embarrassing, but it was like, I didn’t put any thought into it. I just, you know, I just threw some content together and I didn’t have an audience in mind. It was, it’s really kind of embarrassing. I did the same thing. I put it up and literally, like, I think my parents bought a copy. My mother-in-law bought a copy and a few friends, and that’s pretty much it. And it’s just been sitting in Amazon. But I do want to create an ebook the right way. So I want you to talk us through that. So the first thing I think is selecting a topic. How do we do this?

Kelly McNelis:

All right. So the best topic is the one that your audience wants you to write. It is way easier to sell something when your audience wants to buy it. So what that means is like, sometimes people make it too complicated or they want to be super creative or innovative, in reality, their audience is saying, no, we want those really simple crockpot recipes. Just give us those. If you launch that, I will buy it. So, what I recommend is kind of a process of gathering information about what your audience really loves about you and wants from you. So that, that is the topic of your ebook. This is something, it is going to surprise you. I mean, I remember in, let’s say like 2016, we were in a process of releasing a lot of new eBooks. My husband and I had made this list of topics for the next one. They were all freezer recipes, but there was a freezer to grill, a freezer to oven, a crockpot soup, a Mexican soup and, or no Mexican and maybe Italian, different themes of these freezer, recipes. Andy and I had made a bet at the time. We had both picked what we thought was going to be the winner. Then we sent this in an email to our email subscribers and said, Hey, help us choose the topic of our next ebook. We really want to help you the best way we can. We want to create the recipes that you love, cast your vote. We sent this out and we both were wrong.

Megan Porta:

Oh, no. Interesting.

Kelly McNelis:

I mean, neither of us won. The one that actually won at the time, I think it was freezer to oven recipes. This is what people voted for it. So you can bet the next book I wrote was freezer to oven recipes. I just find that, that happens to me all the time. I continue to survey. That’s maybe like the psychologist side of me. It’s like, I continue to survey my followers, asking them questions. What do you want? What are your questions? What do you love most? And then use that information to move forward. I just think that that has made all the difference. It’s so much easier to sell something when people want it. So.

Megan Porta:

Instead of just guessing, right? I love that you both had totally different thoughts on what was going to be the most popular and neither one of you were, right. So you literally just straight up ask your audience. I am going to create an ebook. What do you prefer? So you’re totally transparent about it.

Kelly McNelis:

Yes. The only thing is you have to give them options. So anytime you ask someone for information or feedback, you want to make it as easy as possible. For people to give you feedback, don’t just make it open-ended. They’re not going to do the work for you. You do the work. So I would start, if you’re a food blogger, I would be looking at your Google Analytics and say, what are my top blog posts? I mean, start there. Because you have information from your followers, from the people who like you. I would be looking, if I needed to, to like narrow down the topics that I was even going to poll my audience. Because I mean, the ones that I was polling, they were all very similar. They were these easy freezer recipes. It maybe was like the flavors or the cooking method that changed. So I would be starting with, if you need to narrow down, start with looking at those Google Analytics to even see what are my top blog posts. That’s like a great source of information to see what people love about you.

Megan Porta:

I think that’s such great advice. And there is a lot of information just sitting inside of our Google Analytics, right? I mean, search for like the past six to 12 months and just look and study what those top ones are. I did that very thing after listening to your other episode that I was mentioning earlier. So I made a list of my top 20 most popular posts and I studied it and I came up with a few, you know, themes that I see. Mine are kind of all over the place. So I have, I don’t know what my themes are l,ike kind of weird. I don’t know what that says about me as a blogger, but I think that’s a great place to start Kelly. And then, okay. So once you come up with a few ideas, where do you go from there? Do you take maybe like five ideas and send them out? How many do you narrow down?

Kelly McNelis:

Do you want to tell me, what do you want to tell me what your actual theme ideas are?

Megan Porta:

Yeah. Okay. So my top posts are a lot of, it’s kind of a combination of comfort food, like easy comfort food and also party food. So I have like chili, meatloaf, Crock-Pot Mac and cheese, goulash, instant pot cake. And then I have some sauces. I have my Arby’s sauce, taco sauce, ginger sauce, easy chili, Crock-Pot Ruben dip, hot ham and cheese sandwiches. Butterbeer and then some like salads, like a veggie salad, pasta salad, antipasto skewers. So that’s kind of like my top tier. So I came up with, um, so six ingredients or less party food. Then I also came up with sideline holiday or party cooking. So things you can cook on the side, like in your crockpot or your instant pot while you’re doing other things in the kitchen. And then like maybe finger foods for parties, ground beef recipes, homemade sauces, or comfort food for parties. So that’s what I came up with for my main themes.

Kelly McNelis:

Okay. So you have six ingredients or less, you have finger foods. I’m trying to drill down more on the like commonalities. Side dishes. What about, are there other similarities, with like cooking methods?

Megan Porta:

In my top tier, I don’t have a lot of Instant Pot, but I do use my Instant Pot a lot, but it’s not in that top. I have like maybe two recipes that are Instant Pot so I can eliminate that. Crockpot, I mean, I do like crockpot dips, party food, that is finger food, or I don’t know, see it’s like kind of all over the place for me. Make ahead party food. That’s another idea. Like things you can make ahead of time, like the day ahead, that you could serve the next day at the party.

Kelly McNelis:

So if you were going to narrow them down to three, it definitely seems like I see a theme of party food or holiday is let’s say, I’m trying to think of like, if we narrow this down even to three general ideas. So one would be like a cookbook that has recipes for parties or for party food. I see these separate ideas too. Like you could do six ingredients or less. Or finger foods.

Megan Porta:

Oh, I see what you’re saying. Okay. Six ingredients or less, finger foods. Homemade sauces are really popular for me or like things that you can do on the side that are not being cooked in the oven or on the stove top, is a big one. I just love that idea of like sideline cooking, like getting things done out of the way. That’s one of my themes that I like to do for holidays. So like the sideline cooking. So are you saying like lump those, like do separate eBooks and lump them together as like a party food bundle or something?

Kelly McNelis:

Yeah. So I’m thinking if you were going to narrow down everything that you’ve said, and I was going to come up with a couple of different ideas that you could then research further or poll your audience. If I was going to try and condense what you’ve said, I would think one is party food recipes, no matter what these sound like recipes, it sounds like a cookbook, which is pretty common for food bloggers. So let’s say one is party food. Another one would maybe be homemade sauces. And the third would maybe be this side dish idea.

Megan Porta:

Okay. Then put that together in a single book?

Kelly McNelis:

No, those are three different books.

Megan Porta:

Okay. Gotcha. Okay.

Kelly McNelis:

I mean, based on what you’ve told me, it sounds like any of those could be a successful book. It sounds like those are topics that you’re passionate about. You’re excited about and your audience is interested in them, that they’ve shown that those posts are popular.

Megan Porta:

Okay. I like that. So I maybe take those ideas, poll my audience, see what they say. Maybe include a few more in there just to see. I mean, how many is too many to poll?

Kelly McNelis:

I would say five would maybe be the most. I mean, I would love it even if you took those three, so you have more, you can add more. I might even include another step where let’s say you take those three. I might go on Amazon or go online and see like what books exist with those already. So, you might find, I don’t know, I’m not as familiar with like your different ideas because mine are all crockpot, but I’ve researched, let’s say like chicken crockpot was really popular. I researched that and I found there were a ton of books about chicken crockpot and they were all like $2.99 Amazon books. I thought, well, there’s a lot of competition there. I don’t think I want to write that book. I had an idea about these prep sessions, where I spend an hour making a bunch of meals that are frozen raw and then cooked. So I researched that and I was like, Oh, there’s no competition here. Like I love this. This is, could be a real winner. So, I would maybe take these three, go on Amazon or go online and look at what book, what other books are. Look at the prices, look at what is unique to the way you would write it. So maybe your homemade sauces, are your sauces different from the other types of sauces in those books? Because that is what set you apart. That’s why someone want to buy your book besides the fact that they maybe already know you and love you. What really stands out about your recipes in particular and the same thing with the side dishes. Then ideally it’d be even better to like narrow down. If could narrow it down to two. I mean, that’s a great, I love polling people with two choices. You could go on Facebook and say, Hey, I need your help. I have two ideas for a brand new cookbook, ebook and need help picking a winner. Can you help me out? You would just say here are the ideas; A is this party food recipes, six ingredients or less, their finger foods, whatever. B or your number two are these homemade sauces. There, this is what makes them really unique. What do you think? Which one should I write first? And I have a feeling that you’re probably going to have like an overwhelming vote for one of those. You might think they’re going to be tied or something and they’re not. I would just whatever they pick, do it. And maybe eventually you ended up writing all these books or you ended up writing step books or who knows. But the best book to write first is the one that everyone’s voting for at that time.

Megan Porta:

That’s really interesting. Okay. So you’ve given me a lot of food for thought. I love it. I like that you mentioned too, just researching your competition a little bit, just to make sure there’s not like a saturation of something that you are thinking about doing. And if there is, you can take a turn and spin it a little bit like you did. Okay. So if you land on a topic, you poll your audience, you land on a topic. How do you go about putting the book together? So first of all, how do you outline the book and approximately how many recipes do you put in?

Kelly McNelis:

All right. So, a lot of people will ask me about the length of ebook. What’s the ideal length. I think the answer to that is like, it only needs to be long enough to like sufficiently cover the topic, like sufficiently tell your readers everything they to know about that specific topic. So that when they finish reading your ebook, they’re going to have everything they need to, that they need to, to make party food recipes. Or they’re going to teach your reader how to quickly assemble five Crock-Pot freezer meals in an hour. And once you give them that information, your ebook is done. So I have some eBooks that have seven recipes each. One ebook may only have seven recipes and may be 30 pages long because there’s seven recipes. There’s some frequently asked questions and tips. There’s a shopping list, so that people have what they need to quickly assemble these in one hour. So there’s a full shopping list and there’s printable freezer meal labels and photos. So that’s a 30 page ebook. I then have another ebook. I have one that’s over a hundred pages long, that’s more of a how to, so how to make these freezer meals. That is way more text-based and just really giving people the ins and outs, money saving tips, the tools you need, the proper handling, what’s safe, every information you need about ingredients, everything, and that, they need more information so that needs to be a longer book. That’s one hundred pages. Now I can tell you, both of these books are sold for $9.99, so there’s no difference in price. So if you can finish your book, if it’s recipes it maybe shorter, it maybe 10 recipes, some people are great at putting recipes together and they have 150 recipes. It’s totally up to like having a vision for what this ebook is going to deliver to the reader. I don’t think it needs to be any more than that. I think there’s beauty in simplicity and the people are looking for less. They’re looking for things that take them less time and less energy to understand and consume. So yeah, I guess I would say, keep it simple. Does that answer your question?

Megan Porta:

Yes. So fulfill the topics vision and whatever that means for the topic. Yeah. Like I love that you have two completely different books covering different issues and there, you know, you need to dive into different things for each and they’re unique, but you’re selling them for the same price. So I guess yeah, just kind of diving into what your topic needs and fulfilling that, and then you should be good.

Kelly McNelis:

I mean, if you need a little more information on what’s in the book, I mean, it depends on your topic, but eBooks are like, I think of them as very similar to any other book that you read. So there’s a cover, there’s maybe a title page, copyright page. You can do a dedication if you want about the author, table of contents, body, conclusion. I would just kind of, even if you’re looking for a general outline, you could just follow that, that people probably anytime they use to write like your book in general and then apply it to your topic.

Megan Porta:

Perfect. Okay. So where do you put this together. Do you go to Microsoft word and just write it all out first or how do you do that?

Kelly McNelis:

I think that’s the easiest way. Now I probably start in Google docs, but Microsoft word is totally fine. If you use Microsoft word, you can write an ebook. It’s that simple. You just go into Microsoft Word, you type up all the recipes and then you export it as a PDF. That’s how we ended up selling all of our eBooks as PDF files on our website. Then you can, let’s say the cover is a separate file. We would save that as a PDF and then merge the cover PDF and the body ebook PDF. Just merge them on like a free online PDF merger.

Megan Porta:

Do you put your photos directly into the word document? So you put your photos in and then you just save as PDF. Is that right?

Kelly McNelis:

It depends now. So we know that our customers often want to print the recipes. So I keep that in mind when I’m writing my eBooks. I do include photos. I mean, people love food photos. They want to see a picture of the finished meal, especially mine are freezer recipes. They want to see it cooked. What I do is not right or wrong, but I have all my photos toward the beginning of the ebook. I might have like four photos on one page and there’s a little one in the corner. Number two, number three, number four. And then that way they can see what the recipe looks like, but the photo isn’t on the recipes page. So if they want to print seven recipes or more, they’re not using all the ink to also do the photo. But I mean, that’s totally up to you. You can absolutely can include photos on each page if you want to, or just like, depending on whether you think they want to print it or not. I’m always thinking about that. Even the fact that it’s written in word, I’m having one inch margins with the idea that it’s going to be this really printer friendly PDF document that anyone could print if they wanted to.

Megan Porta:

Yeah. That’s a good thing to keep in mind because people do still like to print out recipes and you have to kind of keep that at the forefront of your mind because you don’t want them using all of their ink, but could you do like a photo on one page? And then on the opposing page, you could do the recipe there. But I like what you did with putting it all at the beginning and then you just kind of label it so people can reference it. Right. So they can go back and see like, Oh, this is what the chicken looks like. Whatever.

Kelly McNelis:

Yeah. I think it depends. It totally makes sense. If someone was just going to print one recipe, you could, I love your idea and just have the photo on the opposite page. I’m thinking more like if someone needs to print all seven and the shopping list, then they’re just printing pages five through 20 or something. I love that. Yeah. To have the photo on one page, that’s a really, really creative idea. I like that.

Megan Porta:

So you mentioned price a little bit. You mentioned the price of your eBooks. What is in your opinion, a great price for an ebook where you’ve covered your topic thoroughly. You feel like you’ve added value. Do have a price that you don’t go below?

Kelly McNelis:

Yes. A quick story. I told you that in 2016, we were launching all these new eBooks. This was when we really focused on writing eBooks. We had these visions of creating bundles of eBooks so that not only would someone buy one ebook, it’s like, well, why not get two for this higher price? So we were building this whole, like strategically building a whole collection. Each time I finished an ebook, we would release it, launch it to our email list and be like, it’s here! Buy now! Save for one week only. I just like was like looking through all the stats and stuff. So when we launched, we launched this one book in 2016, it was in the summer. It was all of these freezer to skillet meals. They were frozen raw and then dump in a skillet, cooked in 15 minutes or less. We launched this to our email list. I had spent months writing these recipes; they are great recipes, really proud of them. We launched them. We sold a thousand copies, which was like, I mean, amazing. Like I’m looking back. Wow. I can’t believe I did that. They must’ve really wanted these, I guess I surveyed them at the time. So we had sold a thousand of them and only made $2,698 because we were only charging like the books I think were $2.99 and they had a coupon code for the first week or something to kind of motivated them to buy. At the time, I’m sure I was very encouraged by that. It was like amazing. And of course, like over $2,500 on eBooks, like that’s, that’s great. I don’t want to say that it’s not, but if we would have priced a little bit higher, like a year later, we were probably charging $9.99 for a book and we would have made over $10,000 on that book. I don’t think that raising the price, we were so hesitant to charge more and value our work a little bit more. It took us a long time to feel more comfortable, charging more money. But I have absolutely found, like people are willing to pay $9.99 for an ebook. So I feel like, to me, it’s worth to put your time and energy to create something you’re proud of and that you feel really delivers value to your readers. I don’t think $9.99 is too much to ask and I’ve had great success selling them for at least that amount. Now our number one seller is a bundle of books that we sell for 29, ooh, $29.97, I think. So, people pay that no problem. They now buy the $30 bundle over anything else. So don’t be afraid to ask for more money. If your ebook is worth more than that, if you’re writing an ebook that you think is worth $50 or more, than I would say, charge that, like, don’t be afraid to price higher. I wouldn’t under price only because it’s just not, I don’t think it’s not worth your time.

Megan Porta:

Yeah. I mean a couple dollars. I think you’re right. People are willing to pay $10 for all of the effort that goes into your work. And I think if your audience truly values your work and they probably do, $10 is not too much to ask. But yeah. Kind of devastating, right? To have like a couple dollars turn into a couple thousand when it could be so much more. And like you said, it’s like, that was probably great at the time. And you were super happy about it, but to think, Oh, we could have made $10,000. So just putting a little bit extra value on your work. I love that advice. So you mentioned about, um, a little bit earlier about having kind of a strategy in place and not just like putting your ebook on your website and crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. Can you walk us through how you do that? Do you put hype to your ebook a little bit ahead of time? So people know it’s coming, get them excited about it? What do you do?

Kelly McNelis:

Yeah. So when I first really started focusing on like launching an ebook or putting this emphasis on the marketing, I had read the book Launch by Jeff Walker. So I would absolutely recommend that book. If no one there, if someone hasn’t read it or is interested in learning more about that, because I started, that’s where I first learned about this idea and we’ve continued to like grow and adapt it over the years, but can do the same thing where if you’re launching something new, you have weeks building up to that where you are building anticipation for the ebook. So you’re talking about it. You’re like my long awaited ebook is finally coming or I’m almost done with it. I can’t wait for you to see how good it is. So you’re talking about it and you’re giving away, like give away your best free stuff. Like if there are things people really love about you, you’re also, this is through email, but you could do it on social media as well. But you would say like, Hey guys, I’m so excited. My new ebook is almost finished, ready for sale. You’re going to love it. Like today I just wanted to share this recipe with you. I tried it last week and loved it for dinner. Include the recipe right there in the email or whatever. So that you’re also building rapport with your audience. You’re giving them away like some free stuff too. And they might be thinking, Hey, if she’s giving all this stuff for free, the paid content must be good. So you’re building rapport. You are building anticipation. I often will even do a survey then, where I’m asking people, I’ll say, what is your number one question about my ebook? I might link them to a survey. I use survey monkey.com, but I’ll link them to a survey that says like, Hey, I’m so excited. My new ebook is almost finished, ready to launch. It’s going to have all of these easy, healthy freezer recipes. You can assemble them in one afternoon and be set with these healthy meals for months. Before I let it launch. I just want to make sure I included everything. Can you please help me out? What is your number one question about these easy and healthy recipes? So you’re asking that and what you’re really finding out is like, everybody’s objections. Like what would keep them from buying your book? So they’re saying, do they actually taste good? Like, are they healthy? Are they all mushy? How long do they need to cook? Or is it really safe to freeze raw meat and vegetables in the same freezer bag or whatever. So they’re saying that. That way too, when you’re ready to launch your ebook, you’re going to have an FAQ email and maybe it will be on the sales page too where you have these questions. Do your recipes actually tastes good? Are they really healthy? How long do they need to cook? So you’re addressing those concerns like up front head on, and then people are buying because they’re like, Oh yeah, that was my question. All right.

Megan Porta:

Absolutely. That’s smart. That is a great strategy. You’re taking the exact issues and you’re turning them into like a page of ease. Like, let me ease your concerns and put you at ease so that you are going to buy this ebook. And then yeah, when your question is answered, then absolutely like $10. You got it. Let’s do it.

Kelly McNelis:

Yeah. I mean, that’s the plan. Yeah.

Megan Porta:

That’s really smart. So, okay. You do that. You get people to buy and then how do you go about like dealing with the promotion after? I mean, do you just kind of like, I don’t know, how does that work? You have a launch day and then you just kind of let it fly from there or what do you do after launch day?

Kelly McNelis:

So I would pick, you want to have like a certain number of days for your launch. Let’s say seven days. It could be five days. It could be seven days, maybe 10. I think seven’s pretty good. So then you would plan. These are the days when there’s some kind of urgency to buy this new ebook. There’s either a sale price. There are exclusive bonuses. We had one ebook, we only launch it once, you can only buy it once a year and you can buy a during a one week time period. And if you don’t buy it, you have to wait till next year to get it because we don’t sell it. We don’t sell it during the year so that there’s no sale price, but that’s the urgency. So there’s something that’s like, what makes me buy it now? And so you have it for like a week. You have some reason they need to buy it then. And then, throughout the week you have planned how you’re going to promote it. So at this point we send an email every single day. Some days we send two emails. We just, we go like all in, cause we’re giving away free stuff the rest of the year. We’re giving away free blog posts and I’m sending freebies via email and whatever. So when I launch something, it’s like, guess what? I’m just going to sell it to you. And it’s amazing. I really think you should buy it and you won’t be disappointed.

Megan Porta:

Yeah. So do you take a series of emails? So you take like one email a day for seven days or five to seven days, and then you just kind of try to ease their minds, answer their questions. Do you offer like sales as the week goes on? So like more sale as the week goes on or do you recommend just doing one sale price and settling on that?

Kelly McNelis:

I would do one. So there’s at least one sale price. There’s one thing that lasts the entire week. Either a sale price, it could be a coupon code. It could be the like bonuses that aren’t available anywhere else. Or, like I said, maybe the ebook is only available for a limited time. There’s something that’s the whole week. So especially that last, that you’re going to get a lot of sales your first day and your last day. So the last day you’re gonna be like, last call. This is it. This is what you’re going to get today only. And then tomorrow you’re going to be emailing me because you’re sad. Sell something for a full week. If you want to do something extra, I like to do that during the first, like one to two days. You might have this extra exclusive bonus. You want to get people to buy it early. So, and reward them. I mean, how much it would stink if someone bought early the, who was immediately like, yes, I want this. And then, later in the week they could have gotten something better. It’s like, what?!

Megan Porta:

Yeah. That’s no, that’s a really good point. Like, wait a second.

Kelly McNelis:

Yeah. Reward them right away.

Megan Porta:

Because that would train them to do the same for your next launch. They’d be like, well, she gave a really good discount on the last day. So I’m going to wait. So don’t do that.

Kelly McNelis:

No, don’t wait. You want people to buy first and there I’ve done all kinds of things to buy for. I’ll I’ll say, um, I’ll often like, I might have a sale. Every January. We have a huge sale. It’s New Year’s, everyone wants to eat healthy and they’re want to try something new. So we have a huge sale. We have sale prices on everything, and then I’ll send an email that’s like PS. there’s no rush. But I created a coupon code for the first thousand people who make a purchase or the first 500 people who make a purchase. Use coupon code healthy20 to save an extra 20%. This email is going out to over a hundred thousand people. So if you know you want to make a purchase don’t delay. And that would be the extra incentive to buy day one. Or there might be some coupon codes left day two that people like, another incentive, I’ve done, I’ve even done like Amazon gift cards. I’ve done. If people join our men, we have a membership site, I’ve done a $10 Amazon gift card. There’s like enough profit on our membership site that I could do a $10 Amazon gift card to the first 200 people or the first 500 people who make a purchase or something. I just deliver those to their email address. So you can get creative with extras to buy early.

Megan Porta:

That’s great. Okay. So once you’ve gone through the launch, do you keep promoting the book? I mean, obviously if you’re doing like a one, once a year deal, you do it once a year, but what if not, what if you’re doing, you know, just like launching for a week and then just setting it free. Do you come back to it often to give it more attention? Or how do you treat that?

Kelly McNelis:

You could probably do, like, I think you could launch it like twice a year, so maybe it would be a sale. It wouldn’t be a new ebook, but it would be your same existing ebook on sale. So I think you could do a really serious, heavy launch the way I talked about through email, where you’re really hitting people up hard for the same product. I think you could do it maybe twice a year. You do want to sell it year round. I mean, you want to make money. These launches, you’re going to make a lot of money. I mean, there could be a difference. You could make tens of thousands on a launch and then have another month, like we might have May, which is like crickets for crockpot recipes or like June. Then you’re making so much less, but it doesn’t matter because you know, that back to school is coming or the following January is coming. So you have these months that are really like your money makers. So you can focus on them. Your launches are definitely your biggest, but then year round. I’m always thinking, okay, someone lands on my blog, they find me on Pinterest. They land on a recipe, when they’re in that recipe. Do they know I have any book? Because if they like that recipe, I want them to know they could get more. So I have a banner at the top of my website that says like, all my best recipes for one low price or my best selling recipe ebook or something for one low price. So that will be one way they could find it. Or I recommend that people create their own ads. I mean bloggers have tons of ads on their site. Why not create an image for your ebook? It’s a JPEG and you put it in your blog post and you have a link to your sales page so that when someone lands on a recipe, maybe your most popular posts, those 10 most popular posts or the posts related to your ebook topic, I would definitely recommend that then there’s an image there with a title of your ebook and they’re like, Oh yeah, I’m gonna buy that while I’m here.

Megan Porta:

Hmm. That’s really great advice. So keep it up on Amazon. Obviously you’re not going to take it off. Launch twice a year and then promote within blog posts, even on your sidebar, somewhere where people can see it when they visit your site. So that’s all really great ways to promote it. Okay. So let’s talk through some common questions. You already addressed one kind of like how long your ebook should be, consider your topic. And then, you know, it’s going to vary depending on the, your topic. How much should you charge? We talked about that, you know, you feel like $10 is probably a baseline for you, but just kind of feel that out. I have a question. Can you repurpose content from your blog? Or is that a no no?

Kelly McNelis:

Okay. I love this. And the answer is kind of just the depends because I have, Oh, I have a couple of stories about this. So once there was a time when my husband and I had this idea, we’re going to create like a best of the blog ebook. We’re going to get our best, most popular blog recipes. We’re going to put them together in an ebook. We had, it was, I think we were going to sell it for $19.99 and we decided to launch it for 50% off. It was only going to be $9.99. Great deal. And I had sent an email to people who have bought other eBooks from us. We felt like this was another sell for them. They were going to love it. It was going to be great. And in reality, that was a total flop. We sold 40 copies. We had, I had emailed like a thousand of our most like dedicated customers. We sold 40 copies, made $400 and we’re like, forget that. So then,

Megan Porta:

Oh, interesting.

Kelly McNelis:

Yeah. So then the next year we ended up doing totally new content and we launched that same audience and we sold, I know like at least double, not many, copies. We had made like six times as much money. Like you definitely need something or some reason that entices people to buy, it doesn’t have to be all new content. I have written books that have some recipes that are on my blog, but there’s always new exclusive recipes that can’t be found anywhere else. There’s some kind of bonus or it could even be the way the recipes are compiled. So I was walking you through the process of how to find your bestselling ebook topic. My husband actually created this like worksheet that people can fill out that like narrows it down. Start with your blog posts, narrow it down, research on Amazon, poll your audience. We created this freebie for our eBooks pro business. If anyone wants it, they can download it for free on eBookspro.com. I did when I wrote that, I actually filled it out as an example. I used our own data and like everything from our food blogs, a familyfreezer. I came up with my final, like answer at the bottom of this was an ebook where I put together all of those freezer prep sessions that I had ever shared on the blog. So every time I said, I spent an hour on Saturday while my daughters were napping prepping the meals here are the recipes and shopping lists and freezer labels. That was what I ended up with, which I had never put in an ebook before. I had only done like a new set of recipes that you could do. Not 400 pages of recipes and shopping lists and labels like one after the other, all in one place, one ebook. So since that, I was like, well, this is my method. This is my worksheet. This is what the people want. So we did try putting that together. And I was just looking at the stats of that and we, we, so we launched that and we ended up selling 1600 copies for like $600 or something. So that’s kind of contradictory. I’m telling them that case I was able to sell it even though it was old content. But I think in that case, it’s like the ease of all that content being in one place. That every single one of those prep sessions is available on my blog somewhere. But my husband spent over a month digging and putting together the PDF and like, nobody could do that. Instead you could buy a $9.99 and have like this, it really is valuable. Think it’s worth way more than $9.99 for them to get, buy. So.

Megan Porta:

Yeah, no, that’s a good point. So if maybe things are scattered around a little bit and would take people hours to find recipes on a seam, a similar theme or something that just sort of require a lot of time from them putting it together to make things easier, you could promote it that way or market it that way. So that’s a good point. So you feel like at least some of the content should be new, but maybe taking some trusty old favorites from your blog isn’t a bad idea. As long as you do have a little bit of new content.

Kelly McNelis:

Yeah. And I mean maybe that maybe the new content is nutritional info for every recipe or maybe it is some kind of shopping list or some kind of printable. We’ve done a freezer inventory sheet. I’ve done the freezer mail labels. So maybe getting creative with, even if you have some old content, there are things you’re adding that are new to the ebook that aren’t available on the blog.

Megan Porta:

Or maybe even different elements of the recipe. So if you’re making a recipe with like a homemade sauce, for example, you could provide the recipe for the sauce or, you know, just adding something extra to make an extra valuable. Okay, Kelly, you’ve given us so much information. I kind of feel a little bit selfish because I’m going to take all of this information and I’m going to develop a plan, but I just really appreciate all of this. Are there any other common questions you get that you feel like we can answer? So we’ve talked about book length, cost, new versus old. I feel like there’s something I’m missing that I wanted to ask.

Kelly McNelis:

I think the only other thing that people ask me is about like how to actually sell it. So I do sell them on my site and you can do that with a simple PayPal button. We have the WooCommerce plugin for WordPress. You could do something like that. It’s a little more detailed with setting it up. Shopify is really popular. So I would probably do Shopify if I was creating it today to sell it. But regardless, like if you’re selling it on your site, you’re keeping basically all the profit and the ebook is automatically delivered via email when someone checks out. So it’s totally hands off. I think that’s like the biggest thing with eBooks is that the amount of money you make, isn’t tied to the number of hours that you work. Like that gets back to what draws me to them, why I love them and why I want to teach other people about them because I’m able to spend time with my family. Andy and I worked together like last summer, we were walking down to our neighborhood pool every day. We were taking our kids swimming every day and still selling ebooks. We would come home and eat something in the crockpot and we were selling eBooks and we would go to bed at night and we’re still selling them. So it’s kind of like, you can make so much money and your business can scale without requiring anything else from you. So really kind of automating it and making it hands-off.

Megan Porta:

That’s very strategic, and smart, especially if you are looking to not work as much because as you know, food bloggers can literally work around the clock and get nowhere during certain seasons. So I think this is such a smart way to go. And I love that you guys have really dug into this. So last thing I just want to hear about your eBooks Pro I know you guys recently started this as a way to help walk people through the process. Can you talk to us just a little bit about that?

Kelly McNelis:

Yeah. eBooks Pro kind of became the spinoff business that I wish had existed in 2011 or 2012. When I wrote my first ebook, when I wanted somebody to teach me how to put it together and how to sell it. So we finally were like, okay, we’ll just create the business ourselves. So the business aspect of like making money, we ended up creating two courses and they’re both short. One is like a 45 minute self-paced course about writing your first ebook. Then the second one is it only takes two hours, self-paced course with how to market your ebook, really walking people through that prelaunch and the launch and giving all the examples of how we word everything, how we do everything. So we have these two courses that we sell and put on year round and put on sale throughout the year. But I feel like the biggest part of the business is just sharing everything we’ve learned. I mean, we have a free email list and I can’t tell you like how many emails I’ve written. We’ve really focused on nurturing that business. Just sharing as much information we can. We have like weekly emails when someone signs up, there’s already months of like free emails that they’ll get over weeks, just answering the common questions and sharing, like I did this launch and it was a flop and here’s what I learned and kind of encouraging them and saying like, what are your questions? Email me? I really checked my email on my computer, not on my phone, but I really didcheck my email. I like respond to everyone who writes about like questions and try and help them however I can. So it’s become kind of like a passion project that is really exciting. I just feel like if anyone’s listening and they’re thinking about it, it’s like, just do it, write an ebook, you can do it. If I can do it, you can do it. And yeah, it’s really that simple.

Megan Porta:

And you said this line earlier in our conversation, you can’t wait until you become an expert because then you will never, ever start. So just do it. I believe that about everything in business and life. If you want to do something, you’ve got to do it. You can’t be perfect. So Kelly, thank you so much for sharing all of this extremely valuable information. I just really appreciate your time today and sharing all of your insights. So thanks for being here.

Kelly McNelis:

Thanks Megan. I’m really excited about it. I’m happy to talk to you.

Megan Porta:

Thank you so much. So before you go, do you have a favorite quote or words of inspiration to share with food bloggers?

Kelly McNelis:

I would say what’s inspiring me right now. Business wise, I just listened to a podcast How I Built This, but it was an episode with the people who started Sweet Green, the salad company. They asked them at the end, how are you dealing with this like, COVID-19 pandemic. How are you dealing with this crisis? How are you working to change your business? They said, when we sat down to talk about how to change or how to pivot, instead of thinking about that, we said, if we created this business today, what would it look like? Not changing it, but almost like reevaluating the entire thing. That really inspired me because I think I’ve been blogging for a really long time. I’m always making incremental changes or adding things, or like, Oh, maybe I need this tab or maybe I need this search feature or something. But to think about it as if I was starting today. What would it look like? Or like what’s needed or where is the demand right now? How can I address that? So that’s like, I think business wise, that’s my inspiration. It’s gonna take me months. I mean, I like told Andy, I heard this, we need a whole new website. We need to change, our whole business model has to change. We even talked about changing the format of our blog posts and stuff. So that’s like my business inspiration and my personal inspiration maybe ties in with eBooks, which is more about like, we have this one short, precious life and it’s like, what are you going to do with it? What’s most important to you? What do you care most about? And then like living that today, like that’s why Andy quit his job and like joined me to work full time. So it’s like, this is it. Like let’s live our best lives today. And yes, we’re at home and we have five small children and we’re homeschooling, but I’m not going to wait. I’m not gonna wait til next year to be happy or I’m not gonna wait until I can go to Target again to find joy. Life is so short. So I’m going to choose to create my life and love my life where I am and like right now.

Megan Porta:

Oh my gosh. That’s so great. And inspiring. Thank you so much, Kelly, for sharing that. So I’m going to put together a show notes page for you and everything we’ve talked about today. And if anyone wants to go look at those, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/eBookspro. So I think we all know this Kelly, but just reiterate where my listeners can find you online. 

Kelly McNelis:

I would say go to eBookspro.com, sign up for my newsletter so I can start sending you all those freebies and they can even respond and I’ll answer any questions they have lingering. And if they need the crockpot recipes, go to the familyfreezer.com.

Megan Porta:

Awesome. Thank you again so much for being here, Kelly, and thank you for listening today, Food bloggers. I will see you next time.

Intro:

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Megan
Megan

Megan started her food blog Pip and Ebby in 2010 and food blogging has been her full-time career since 2013. Her passion for blogging has grown into an intense desire to help fellow food bloggers find the information, insight, and community they need in order to find success.

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