3 Simple Ways to Turn Your Website Archive into Profitable Books and eBooks

3 Simple Ways to Turn Your Website Archive into Profitable Books and eBooks

Reader Comments (51)

  1. To say this post brings BIG TIME clarity on how to be resourceful with your content, would be an understatement.

    We are actually writing a book right now, using the blog archive method – mixed with new content – and publishing teasers of the chapters to our audience on Facebook, as a way to solicit feedback. It’s been amazing.

    Thank you for the great information Joel.

  2. Thank you so much for these ideas! I’ve been kicking the book idea around for a while, and never even thought about pulling from my blog archives! Genius.

  3. Great post.

    I’ve recently published a short book on Amazon, but now I’m in the process of writing a much bigger one based on posts I’m going to write.

    I’m glad you brought it up. I think it’s a great deal for our readers as well as ourselves.

    • One of the advantages of doing it that way is you’ll get ongoing feedback from your readers about the book. This is incredibly valuable and one of the biggest missing elements in most book publishing. For many years publishers have issued books based on what they thought people wanted, and their track record isn’t that good. Blogging is a great tool for gauging how your content is intersecting with your audience.

      • Yeah, that’s a great benefit. I also think there are a few others for us, as publishers:

        1 – We can drive our books up the charts, which not only means we are selling to our audience but we make ourselves available to people searching through Amazon and such.

        2 – Amazon has a better conversion % than traditional eBooks.

        I think this is especially made possible because anyone can read Kindle books on their PC/Mac now by downloading the free Kindle reader. I personally much rather read Kindle books on my laptop than PDF books.

    • They are still in the archives, Wendy, especially since those posts have a lot of links associated with them. As long as you’re clear with your readers about that, there’s no reason to delete them.

  4. Sounds like it’s time for me to take a trip through memory lane. 😀

    Since I’m primarily a fiction writer, I think it’d be fun to mine my archives for my posts related to subject matter in my fiction. For example, in an upcoming series, one of my characters deals with depression. Since I struggled with depression of my own for years and worked hard to overcome it and build a life that makes me happy, it would tie in well with this character. I think my readers would also enjoy it, because they’ve expressed similar struggles in the comments throughout the years. This could be a lot of fun!

    Thanks Joel!

    • Great idea, Liz. Fiction writers face special challenges as bloggers, and a blog may not always be the best way to promote yourself as a fiction author. But lots of writers have found interesting and engaging ways to stimulate interest in their work. I’ve seen blogs written from a character’s point of view, for instance, or blog interviews with characters. Other authors use some of the “backstory” they develop to generate blog posts with content that won’t appear in the final book. Authors of historical fiction blog about the period their books are set in. It sounds like your readers are pretty engaged, so you must be doing something right!

      • I recently started up a second website as a sort of hub for the series I mentioned. I did a character interview and have plans to post extra content, so I’m glad to see that these are good practices!

        I typically blog about the writing process, life as an indie author, and reviews of other books (indie and otherwise), but before that I blogged about pretty much everything. Most of the people who read my blog are more like friends because I’ve had such long relationships with them, and I’ve tried to maintain that friendly attitude with new readers even though I’m now primarily a “professional” blogger. Most of my posts are how-to articles for other indies just getting started; I guess you could say my blogging mission statement is to reach out and help other people who want to pursue their dreams of being a writer but aren’t sure how to start. I’m kind of shy in person but I really love people.

        I have a background in online marketing, but it really is a different game when it comes to fiction (though I’ve definitely been able to apply a lot of what I learned over the years). I think the key is engagement, no matter what your niche is. I’m still figuring all the rest out. 😉

  5. Great post Joel and got me thinking. I have one eBook on Amazon already but it’s not all my own work. It’s the time taken to edit the content that keeps delaying things for me.

    • Joel, you have so much detailed “niche” knowledge that you could probably create a whole series of books rather than one big one. Even 10,000 word articles are selling on Kindle, as long as they are clearly described.

  6. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I wonder if I have enough followers of my blog to warrant a book. Maybe a small ebook. But then in turn, wouldn’t it promote my blog? Especially if I offer it for free, like content marketers advocate? With all the options, it’s hard to figure out what avenue to take. Maybe it’s all just trial and error to see what’ll work for me.

  7. You make excellent and timely points! Yesterday, I listened to a teleseminar from Writer’s Digest and the topic was “blog your book.” I like the idea that it could work for fiction writers because I’m interested in writing fiction in addition to non-fiction. Creating a blog from a character’s POV sounds like a lot of fun, and it could be an interesting project. I like how Elizabeth is tying her own experience to her character. This is another way to show your authenticity and engage readers.

    It’s time for me to join the revolution. Which blog to choose from? I could go with my personal development blog I want to relaunch or start with my teen/parent coaching blog I also want to relaunch. I could always create ‘free’ reports and give those away as gifts for those who sign up on my “relaunch” page. Then again, I could start with one of my fiction/YA stories I’m outlining. Or the TV pilot I wrote. Hmm…

    • Amandah, there are techniques for both fiction and nonfiction that you can use. Nina Amir, the author of the new title “How to Blog Your Book” (Writer’s Digest Books) has lots of ideas on this topic, too, you might want to check it out.

  8. Self publishing is not ego, it is the book! Do not sell yourself short, anyone can knock out a book, but not a good book!

  9. What a lot of people don’t realize, is that the actual production of a book, whether print or digital, is actually the easiest part. Once you’ve got the text figured out, there are plenty of reasonable options including hiring a freelancer or two for the layout. Also, I always suggest to be very careful of the pay to publish/POD/”self publishing companies that are out there and generally come up first when searching about publishing. That’s not the same as true self or independent publishing and it’s very important for both control and your bottom line to understand the differences.

    • Great point, Cheryl. These days there’s no reason that anyone who can run a blog can’t publish their own books. For the specialist work there are lots of people available including editors, cover designers and interior layout people looking for work. In general, “subsidy” publishers (the ones that do all the aggressive advertising) are probably the worst bet.

  10. Joel,

    Thanks for this excellent advice.

    Writing blog posts with the intention of compiling them into a book is so sensible. I stumbled upon this idea a few years ago when I noticed one day that I had generated over 100 blog posts and thought, “Hm-m-m, I have a book here.”

    Since a book hadn’t been my original intent, I had to select the posts that would work, create a table of contents, and add some new content to blend it all together. There was no way I was going to go to print, however, without an editor, proofreader and graphic artist.

    These services are lots more plentiful and affordable now than they once were, so there’s no reason to risk going it alone, especially editing and formatting. The goal is to turn out a well-written and professional product that can hold its own against other respected books on the market. Trying to do it all yourself could well do you in.

    • Flora, many successful self-publishers have taken the same route. One way to really stand out from the huge wave of self-published titles is to make sure your book is as professional as possible, that it can really stand toe to toe with books from big traditional publishers. Good luck!

  11. The reverse process can also apply – I once did a job for a guy who wanted his ebook split into a blog series. Interesting job; still not sure how well the end result has paid off for him, though!

  12. Hey Joel,

    this is a great article. A resource people considering this might want to check out is leanpub (http://leanpub.com) they will automatically create an ebook for you from your blog at the click of a button. I think you can specify date ranges as well to limit the content you want to use but they told me they can’t filter by category yet but are working on it.

    I’ve probably not taken the best route with this but have tried to combine blogging and book writing – I was already writing a book and decided to create it into a blog at http://lessonsfromthecity.com – the thinking being that if I’m going to write it in Word, I may as well write it in WordPress and ‘bring people along’ with me getting feedback as doing so. The problem is I’m not exactly leveraging my audience as it’s a brand new blog (I wanted to keep it ‘clean’ rather than take up ‘air time’ on my existing blog), so it has no links, rankings, SEO or audience – also because my process of writing is to write very sketchy first drafts then revisit, I’m putting sketchy material out there for all to see during the process.

    In any case it’s an interesting experiment. I do find it all very exciting how the publishing industry is changing.

    The idea of the marketing side scares me quite a lot. Even though I know for a fact that my material is good (as it’s based on high-end material that I have charged lots of money for via coaching) I’m not really into making a big song & dance about it and it seems that most successful self published authors are doing exactly that with ‘launches’ etc. Launches scare me a little.

    Probably all very normal and I’ll just have to get myself used to the idea when it comes to being nearly finished – or accept less sales 😉

    thanks again for a wonderful article,

    • Alan, as a Copyblogger reader you probably know this already, but some of the most effective marketing that authors do is the exact same kind of “content marketing” Brian and Sonia preach here—and it works. There’s absolutely no reason you have to do stuff that’s uncomfortable for you if you don’t want to. Communicating your passion for your subject with others who share your interest is the most basic form of marketing, and what author doesn’t want to do that?

  13. Hey, Joel. These are great ideas for bloggers who are aspiring authors. We’ve now published 3 books on Amazon, and it beats every other form of monetization we’d tried hands down.

    The first 2 books were written using option #3 – the hardest but best option. (And yes, you need an editor, no matter who you are.) The last one was written from scratch, but along the way we publicized the book in progress by writing short “voices of fear” essays on the website that were pointed and often funny. It did double the work of tuning people into what we were writing about confidence speaking up and then using each of those “voices” as a special section at the end of each chapter. It added some humor to a sometimes heavy subject.

    You can never start promoting your book soon enough, and this is a really powerful way of doing it.

  14. Thanks Joel – what a thought provoking article for a newbie to blogging. Have been aware that there could be more mileage to my posts than just for the blog – so will definitely bear all this in mind as I build my post numbers.

    • Here’s an idea, Sarah. Take some time and think about a book that people in your niche, category or genre would absolutely love to have available. Write out the table of contents. You see where I’m going with this? Create section headings for each chapter. You now have dozens of blog post topics that will, in the end, form the manuscript for that very book.

      • Sarah. This is perfect advice. If you want to add a twist…set a timer and force yourself to do this in a very short period of time. Try 3-4 minutes to do a 16-topic table of contents. Then, an unreasonably short time to create the chapter sections. What is does, is force you to ignore the left-hemisphere judgement that keeps you from just dumping out ideas. It frees the right-hemisphere to unload. You can always go back and clean up the list and re-arrange it, but the key is to get it all out there first! If you want a guided 37-minute exercise to do this, we’ve got one for free on my site. It’s a generic outline with 16 main topics (chapters) and 4 sub-topics or sections each. 64 topics in 37 minutes. All bloggable.

  15. Brilliant and thanks for sharing.

    I have been trying to get my head around how i can take my content and pull it together in to some sort of book, as much for my benefit as my potential readers. This is a new way of considering the content that I’ve already worked hard to produce…

    Perhaps this is the catalyst to get me writing properly!

  16. This is exactly what I’ve been doing with my new project VisuaLyrics. Every week I plan to release a comic book adaptation of famous poems and songs. I plan to do this for 26 weeks no matter what. If I manage to amass a reader base of over 1000+ subscribers within this timespan (6 months), it would not be far-fetched to consider releasing a printed anthology with the collected material.

    Does that sound like a plan? Do you suppose there will be an audience for this kind of thing? Will I reach it within 6 months?

    Only time will tell. Best I can do is do my very best every week!

  17. Great post Joel! It’s the exact message we’ve been telling people about our service. We’re ideally set up for Strategy #2. I know it’s a shameless plug, but we can get 1,000 to 1,500 words per week out of someone with a total time investment of an hour per month. And, they don’t have to write a word. Zero keyboard time. Like many propositions, it’s a savings of time vs. a savings of money. But, using a podcast as the content origination strategy is working for our clients. Our free outlining tool was developed by the late, best-selling author Keith Miller and taught to us several years ago. We converted it into a 37-minute video exercise. It will shake your book outline loose from the cobwebs in your head. Did I mention that the outline is free? I did. Even if you never use our services, you’ll be glad you have an outline for your new book.

    I love that you are encouraging bloggers to develop books. And the resources you’ve listed are outstanding.

  18. Wow! Joel, thanks for the wonderful information. I’m truly inspired. I never considered myself an author, but it puts a new light into all the hours and hard work I’ve exerted for each blog post. I will be coming back here often. Thank you!

    • Edith, it’s amazing that people who write so much–like bloggers–often don’t think of themselves as potential authors. In fact, that’s the whole reason I wrote this post. You’ve put in the work, why not “re-purpose” it and get all the benefits of having a published book?

  19. Yep! I was on Writer’s Digest’s May 16th webinar with Nina. Good stuff. I just need to choose a book project and go for it.

  20. Such a timely post for me since this was on my to do list for this summer! Thanks for the road map. It will make the job so much easier!

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