The truth about selling e-books on the internet!

by Albert Z

If you've surfed the internet for a while lately, you might have noticed the incredible amount of hype generated around e-books, information products, resale rights and similar stuff. Indeed, it is a popular subject since it promises a way to generate passive income, like real estate or wall-street shares, with a minimal amount of effort.

Truth is, many internet marketers are now using all this hype to their own interest, by selling poor-quality informational products at very high prices, or promising blatantly ridiculous incomes: don't get caught in the marketing trap!!

I'm Albert Z. and I've been selling e-books for a while on the internet: I own the site Culture-Books and can tell you a couple of REAL things about selling e-books online!!

What you might have been taught up to now is that:

  • selling e-books requires no effort
  • you can make very high incomes every month (> 2000$/month)
  • selling e-books requires no skills
  • there is no investment to be made
  • it works on autopilot

Now, check those statements with the truth:

  • selling e-books requires some months for setting up your activity
  • you will make low incomes (100s), unless you write yourself a very good piece of text, which is time-consuming
  • selling e-books requires designing skills, copywriting skills (for most of your sales), a sense of marketing and lots of organization 
  • indeed it does work on autopilot! but if you want to increase your activity over time you will HAVE to devote some time to it!
  • you will need a website, hosting, and provided you don't spend any money on designing, seo tools etc, initial goods for selling, you will end up spending about 50-100$, provided you're a savvy money-saver! 

As you can see, selling e-books is not very different from any other real-life activity: it requires work and skills, lots of time (at least initially) and a little bit of overhead to set up everything!! But it does indeed have some advantages:

  • overhead costs are very low if compared with other activities
  • once set up, it requires very little maintenance time
  • it's fun (which is very important ;) ), watch the style of an e-book store here , doesn't it look fun? 
  • it earns quite good money for the low amount of effort required 

So, how do you go about selling ebooks?? There are mainly 3 ways: eBay, ClickBank, or your own website. The route I chose was eBay + personal website, because they are sinergic (they help each other): having a site makes it so much easier to upload your images, to have a professional look etc; plus you get webspace and you can just send out emails with a link for downloading your product (instead of attaching your product with the mail, which incurs in many problems with spam filters or filled email boxes!!). eBay on the other hand brings good free, relevant traffic on your site and gives you some extra exposure which may never hurt. It's common to offer a product for 1.50$ on ebay, but selling it for 1.30$ on your site. This is a legal and intelligent way to "redirect" eBay watchers to your own site without spending a dime!! 

Bear in mind however that eBay and PayPal (your everyday staple when selling ebooks) charge pretty high "default" fees that will quickly cut your revenues on low-cost ebooks (for instance, if you sell a 1.50$ ebook on ebay with paypal, you might only get 0.50 revenue, which sucks big time!!) so you're better off selling products with a higher cost, in the range of 5-10$ (so even if you lose that 1$ in fees, you'll still keep a good % of your money)!

What are the tools you will need for your activity?? The ones I feel a MUST are:

  • an autoresponder (if you keep your pc on 24/7 you just really need Outlook Express with an autoreply filter set up, if you wish to turn off you pc then you need a cgi quality autoresponder: you find out more about both of them here), this is ESSENTIAL for the automation of your activity 
  • a domain and a host, I use godaddy for it's cheapness (3.96$ a month with 500mb space and 20gb bandwidth, enough for a small business)
  • an html editor (there are many free ones, just check on google!)
  • a free image editor (for the design of your site), i recommend the GIMP, an open source (free) software that rivals photoshop! 
  • a shopping cart system (i use osCommerce, but i've heard good rumors about zencart too!)

If you'd like to find out some software or information about internet businesses, drop by my site , I'll be glad to help!! Also if you're interested in exchanging opinions or partnering, I am always very friendly ;)

I hope this article was useful for you, have a nice day!! 

About the Author: Albert Z has been successfully selling e-books on both eBay and since 2004, he has experience in web designing, marketing, promoting and copywriting.

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