Written by Tom Ewer on 24 March 2014
Whether you're an established web designer who's been working for several years or you're fresh out of university and raring to get started in your design career, the idea of writing an e-book probably hasn't crossed your mind. After all, you're a web designer, not a writer -- why on earth would you want to write a book?
Well there are several reasons, which we'll cover in a minute, but first to dispel the notion that books are written only by "writers". If you browse through the non-fiction section of Amazon or your local bookshop, you'll find that most books are written by experts in the field -- diet books are written by doctors and dieticians, science books are written by scientists and books about education are written by teachers.
Most of these people would identify most strongly with their chosen profession and not as a "writer" as such. Anyone can write a book if they are sufficiently interested in or knowledgeable in the subject matter. Some people are more skilled at writing than others but that's nothing that a skilled editor can't fix.
So why write an e-book?
1. To Demonstrate Your Expertise
In the same way that writing a regular blog or submitting guest posts to other web design blogs, writing a book will help to raise you up a level of respect in the world of web design. In fact, writing a book is usually considered to be way more impressive than blogging, as so few people actually do it. The skill level required isn't really any greater -- it's just a case of writing more and organising your thoughts in a logical way.
By producing an e-book (or even better, a series of e-books), you help to position yourself as an authority and demonstrate your in-depth knowledge and passion in the area of web design. This makes you a much more attractive prospect to a potential client.
2. To Give Away as a Freebie
It's important for any online business to collect details of prospective clients in a subscription list. This provides a useful way of staying in touch with current and previous clients, keeping your name in the mind of those who are considering your service and tempting in new clients with special deals and offers.
It's not always easy to get people to give up their email addresses, but if you can incentivize it with something like an e-book, you're much more likely to get readers to sign up.
Most people think an e-book is something that you write to sell as a product and while you can indeed choose this model, you may well find that giving it away for free gets you more in the long run.
3. To Widen Your Reach
When you publish an e-book, particularly if you distribute it through several different channels, you reach people who may never have found you through your website.
This can be an excellent way to find new channels that doesn't rely on SEO tricks or becoming a social media mogul. Simply write a great e-book and give it away for free, trying to spread it as far as you can. You might distribute it via the Amazon Kindle program, offer it as a freebie to other bloggers, upload it to free book websites or include it in bundled e-book packages.
Make sure that there are plenty of references back to you and your website in the book and you're almost guaranteed to get a bit of extra traffic. Plus, it's highly targeted traffic -- if they're interested enough in what you have to say in your book, they're much more likely to become paying clients.
What to Write About?
Lots of people know the benefits that an e-book can bring to their business but never get around to writing one because they can never get past the hurdle of deciding what to write about.
Let's be clear -- writing a zombie/vampire love story or a detailed guide to stamp collecting is not going to do your business much good. You need to stay on topic, but also try to think outside the box a little.
Always keep your clients in mind and think about how you can solve their problems. You don't want to write a book about how to make a website necessarily (that's your job, after all!) but use web design as an angle to cover all sorts of issues related to business.
Just to get you started, here are some ideas for e-books that would work well for supporting a web design business:
- How to improve the conversion rate of your website
- Optimising your website for social media marketing
- SEO for business websites
- How to choose a web designer
- Questions to ask your web designer
E-books (particularly free e-books) don't have to be long. Often, short and sweet gets the message across much better than a longwinded tome of hundreds of pages, so don't shy away from simple ideas. A good rule of thumb is that if an idea is too long to be a blog post, it will make a good e-book.
Write, Publish, Repeat
Only a very tiny percentage of web designers are in on the e-book game so if you can make sure you're one of the few, you'll be giving yourself a huge advantage.
Writing a book is something that many people say they'd like to do but keep putting off for years and years and never quite get around to it. Don't be one of those people -- choose an idea and get writing. We're in a golden age of online publishing where there really are no barriers to entry.
If you're successful with one e-book, don't stop there. The more you write, the more business you'll attract. You may find you've even started up another passive income stream and end up with an e-book business on the side.