Easy ways to turn blog posts into eBooks
There’s more to content marketing than having a well curated blog. Many marketers, however, stop at this point – with 53 per cent saying blogging is their top content marketing priority.
While a blog can do a lot for your business – from helping you generate leads to boosting your ranking in search – you need to push content further if you want to see significant, long-term results. That’s where high-value content like eBooks come in.
Publishing an eBook can be overwhelming, particularly if it’s your first one. Fortunately, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel completely. Here’s an easy guide to turning existing blog posts into a winning eBook.
What is an eBook and why should I publish one?
Before we get too far along, let’s explain what we mean by eBook.
Simply put, an eBook is a piece of long-form, high-value content about a particular facet of your business or industry. Aptly named, eBooks resemble a printed book, in that they include text, images, chapters or sections and a table of contents.
Ebooks tend to be a soft-sell, with the primary objective of helping your brand establish expert status. That doesn’t mean they can’t lead to conversion – simply that delivering relevant, valuable information needs to be the top priority. Plus, eBooks are usually a gated asset, helping you generate leads with each download.
Unlike blog posts and other content, eBooks are that much more in-depth, giving you the chance to show what you need and exercise your brand voice as an industry leader. Because eBooks are longer, they can also cover a range of topics.
High-value content doesn’t need to be original content
Longer, meatier, higher-value – sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Fortunately, you don’t need to start from scratch. Many publishers rely on existing content, such as blog posts, to create eBooks.
Repurposing content like this is a great way to save time and resources – not only because you have existing material, but because you’ll be more likely to choose the right topic as well. By selecting subject matter based on popular blog posts, you can be more confident that your eBook will also perform well.
If you’re thinking, ‘but isn’t that cheating a bit?’, allow us to explain further.
Your eBook won’t be a compilation of all the blogs you’ve published around a given topic. This would be copy and pasting, not repurposing. When repurposed correctly, an eBook will include all this information and more. Copy will be padded by images, diagrams, tables, infographics and other features that make it worth downloading.
Further, eBooks are a dramatically different way for readers to consume information – even if that information is all quite similar to what they could find in your blog archives. Because you’ve picked out the most relevant insights and put them in one place that is cohesive and well-written, you’ve actually saved visitors a great deal of time.
— SocialBoost (@socialboostclub) April 2, 2018
Step-by-step guide to turning blog posts into an eBook
Ready to get started? Here’s how to go from a collection of blog posts to a comprehensive eBook in eight steps.
Step 1. Narrow in on your topic
Unless you have psychic powers, knowing how well a piece of content will perform can be tricky. That’s one of the key reasons it pays to repurpose – you can decide what to write about based on topics that have already fared well.
Use old analytics reports and examine common themes. Which blog posts seem to generate the most traffic? Which are most commonly shared on social media? Decide what the goal of your eBook will be and pick the topic most likely to get you there.
It’s also a good idea to test the waters once you have your topic in mind. Say, for example, you’re a home finance company thinking about writing an eBook on two different (but related) topics: low doc loans and getting a mortgage when you’re self employed. Write a blog post that touches on both topics and see how it fares. Is it well received? Does it get much engagement? Is your target audience picking it up? Answering these questions can help confirm whether or not your topic is the most suitable.
— Joust (@joustnow) August 10, 2016
Step 2. Collect all relevant content
While you can gain inspiration for your eBook from one or two blog posts, you’ll still have a great deal of content creation and original work ahead of you. That’s why if you’re trying to create your eBook relatively quickly and easily, you should go with a topic that you already have a lot of content around.
This can be blog posts, whitepapers, infographics, landing pages – anything. The whole point is to minimise the amount of new copy you have to write and images you need to find.
If you’ve been using tags on your blogs all along, you’ll be one step ahead of the game. Visit your archives and peruse blog categories to find related content you can use in your eBook.
For example Australasian vehicle hire company East Coast Car Rentals has their blog sorted by the cities they service, making it easy to find helpful content on each. Writing an ‘Ultimate guide to Melbourne’ eBook? Clicking on the Melbourne tag will easily bring up articles worth including, such as:
- 4 of the best day trips out of Melbourne,
- 3 new Melbourne restaurants you must try in 2018, and
- 7 quirky facts you didn’t know about Melbourne.
Step 3. Organise your ebook
With plenty of content in front of you, it’s time to find a way to turn it into a readable, organised document. At this phase, you’re essentially creating your table of contents – the main chapters of your eBook.
Revisit the blog posts you’ve compiled. Do any common themes stand out? Examine your blog headlines as well as the sub-headers within the articles. You may decide to make a blog post into its own chapter or combine various sections from different articles.
Let’s revisit the ‘Ultimate guide to Melbourne’ example. Say, for example, you have the following headlines in front of you:
- Best cafes in Melbourne’s northern suburbs,
- 3 exciting new restaurants in Melbourne,
- How to get around in Melbourne’s CBD,
- 5 of Melbourne’s best bars and nightclubs on Chapel Street,
- 4 art exhibits you need to see in Melbourne this summer,
- Your guide to Melbourne’s public transport update,
- Melbourne’s best museums and galleries.
How many ways could you organise these titles into eBook chapters? You could group into categories such as bars and restaurants, arts and culture and transport or arrange the entire book by suburbs – plugging information from each article in throughout.
Step 4. Make sure content is up-to-date
Depending on how long ago the articles were published, you may need to go in and ensure all information is up-to-date. After all, the primary purpose of an eBook is to educate and inform. If your content is outdated or inaccurate, you’ll have the opposite effect in terms of improving brand reputation.
This is particularly true if you’re writing about a topic that regularly changes. An eBook on the property market in Sydney, for example, could really only use brand new articles as information changes so regularly.
If content is lacking in primary sourcing and high-value information, it’s also a good idea to go in and see where you can fill in any holes with strong research and compelling statistics.
Seen the doomsday press about Sydney property? Understanding each micro market is key to good property decisions. Those who’ve bought low risk property can feel comfortable with their choices. Free eBook https://t.co/AVJnipAQTe pic.twitter.com/1G9WWGzYEA
— Veronica Morgan (@veronicakmorgan) January 9, 2018
Step 5. 10x and add value
In addition to checking that your information is up-to-date, you should also ensure that it’s packed with valuable content and standout features.
This doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel with custom graphics – although they don’t hurt. Making your eBook that much more popular, likeable and shareable than the competition’s can be as simple as adding anything from a bulleted list to rich media and social embeds.
At this phase, you want to ask ‘how can I make this piece of high-value content that much more valuable?’. A great way to do so is to include ‘bonus features’ other eBooks haven’t. In that ‘Ultimate Guide to Melbourne,’ for example, why not include a map of Melbourne’s train system in the back?
Step 6. Revise and edit for accuracy and clarity
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: repurposing content does not equal copy and paste. If you’ve simply chucked a bunch of blog posts together and called them an eBook, you’ve not only been lazy but also ripped off your readers in a way.
That’s why now is the time to put on your author’s hat and make sure your eBook reads well for consistency, clarity and accuracy. If it’s been a while since you’ve edited and revised yoru work, keep the following in mind:
- Remove time references, such as ‘today’ or ‘last year’.
- Add transitions – it shouldn’t be obvious that you’ve repurposed blog content.
- Check for spelling and grammar mistakes as well as dead links. .
- Is tone and style consistent? If blogs were written by multiple authors, this is definitely worth addressing.
- Remove irrelevant information that may have been useful in the original blog post but not the eBook.
After you’ve pored over the piece yourself, be sure to have at least two other people do the same.
Step 7. Design and finishing touches
In an eBook, form should follow function, which is why it’s so important that your content is formatted correctly with the right amount of white space, images, infographics and borders.
In general, keep it simple, clean and attractive. The main focus should be on your copy, so ensure that design features are aesthetically pleasing but not overwhelming. It’s also important to keep design and style consistent, otherwise your reader will find the experience jarring.
Step 8. Publish and amplify
You’re nearly at the finish line! Now it’s time to publish your eBook and spread the word.
There are multiples ways to do so. You can:
- Save your work as a PDF and upload the file to your WordPress media section. Readers will be able to click on the permalink for your eBook and the PDF will open in your site.
- Email the eBook directly to your readers by creating an opt-in form where readers can sign up for your newsletter and in doing so, also receive a copy of the eBook.
- Store your eBook on Google Drive. Use the share link and connect the eBook to other content, including social media.
- Sell the content on your site or through Amazon, iTunes or another online publishing store.
It’s also a good idea to create a landing page with the eBook information as well as the opt-in form. Get even more downloads with a custom graphic you can place in the sidebar of your website.
Best practices for eBooks
Want to ensure your first eBook is polished and professional? Here are some tips:
- Headlines should be short, simple and engaging.
- Ensure graphics and text are readable across various screen sizes, including mobile devices and tablets.
- People love lists, tips and how-to pieces.
- Include third-party sources and outbound links.
- Ask influencers to help share your eBook across social media.
- In general, focus on shareable content.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help – it’s a great idea to co-author your eBook with an industry expert.
- Promote snippets from your eBook across social media.
- Think about a magazine you’d read and try to mimic this in tone, style and formatting.
- Read similar eBooks before writing your own.