Choosing Ebook Topics To Write About? Find Ideas In Blog Posts You’ve Already Written, Competitors’ Ebooks, And What Audiences Want To Have Solved
Do you know your unique expertise niche thoroughly? Do you know your target audiences well?
If you’ve done your homework, you should be sure you know your audiences’ pain-points, problems, or areas of perplexity or doubt. The first tenet in ebook planning is to take care and choose a topic that aligns with your target audience’s needs or pain-points.
Next, look at what you’ve already written – maybe blog posts, emails, comments on others’ blog posts, or even notes to yourself. There could be a spark somewhere in all that you’ve previously written, which can ignite your new ebook topic.
Further, if you spend a day searching Amazon for various books on a chosen topic, you will see the rich diversity of angles taken by different authors, all tackling the same subject. Use that as your inspiration to come up with a topic angle that you feel will resonate with audiences because they haven’t quite seen things that way before.
On this post, we, at Solohacks Academy, have given you ten smashing ideas to get started with ebook topics. Starting on that ebook you’ve always wanted to write could be the beginning of a journey you’ll learn and earn hugely from.
1. Look at your most popular blog post topics: see if they can extend into longer and meatier ebooks
Before you begin to think of writing and publishing ebooks, you may have started writing a lot of blog posts. Most online marketers start that way. If you have gone down this route, see if you can track the performance of your blog posts on Google Analytics to see which ones have been the most popular posts.
See if any of your blog posts have excited readers enough for them to leave comments. See if they have spent a lot of time on the blog post. You can do this with a heatmap tool like Hitsteps.
If you can identify your most-read blog posts, see if the topics are extendable into ebooks with at least ten to twelve sub-topics acting as chapters. Most blog posts will lend themselves to such topic extension, especially if you have written list posts, or posts with a lot of actionable steps. Each of the steps can be detailed with illustrations, examples, charts, data, or graphs.
Even if your popular blog posts were mostly about concepts rather than practical implementations, you could easily break the concept into a set of most-asked questions, each of which you can convert into a chapter. Why not check if you already have the basics of a great book in your blog?
2. Check out your competitors’ ebooks: try to outdo their bestsellers with updated, upgraded content
Doubtless you may have heard of Brian Dean’s famous “Skyscraper Technique”. Brian Dean, who is the last word on backlinks for SEO, created a concept to get your blog posts well-ranked on Google. He suggested that you should look at the No. #1 ranked post on Google for any topic and then outdo it by miles – you must create an updated, upgraded, 100X version of it, like you’re building a skyscraper next to a single-level house.
If you decide to beat the competition at its game by upping the level of the whole playing field, it will not only be easier to pick your topic and get started – but you’ll find that almost anything can be vastly improved by rewriting it with more substance and solidity.
You can apply the same tactic to writing your first ebook. Pick a topic that is a bestseller for your competitor. See what you can add to it to vastly improve the value of your ebook. Use the competitor’s framework, or break it apart and rebuild the whole book in your own way.
The competitor’s hard work will be the base from which you build a higher product. It’s so much easier, don’t you think, if you pick a topic where the competitor’s existing and highly popular ebook acts as your ladder to greater heights of success?
3. Listen to forum and group discussions online: pick problems that vex audiences that you can solve
There’s a wonderful pastime marketers online can engage in – and it’s called “social listening”. There are many tools that can aid you in this endeavor. Social listening is about lurking around niche forums or social media chats and groups to see what problems are most vexing your target audiences – these are the people you may want to buy and read your ebooks.
This kind of “silent snooping” can be highly valuable. You may notice that people are talking about things you never thought they’d be concerned about. The whole exercise can be very enlightening, especially if you are doing it for the first time.
When you get some key insights into what troubles your target audiences, it’s then easy to pick a topic for your ebook. The ebooks that sell the most are the ones that offer solutions to customer problems.
Most often, though, marketers write books about what they think are customer problems, instead of asking customers (or slyly listening to them airing their woes). Make sure your ebook topic solves a real problem that many people have – and doesn’t solve an imaginary problem that occurs to you as important.
4. Check out tools like BuzzSumo to find performing content: start with an ebook on a topic that’s trending
Buzzsumo is a goldmine of a tool for picking ebook topics. When you type in a keyword phrase into the tool, it will spit out a whole load of articles in order of the ones most popular on social media – the blog posts that are most retweeted, liked, commented on, and shared. In a jiffy, you’ll know if a particular topic related to your keyword is “going viral”.
While you check popularity, be careful to see where your target audience usually hangs out on the social media, so you check the popularity ratings on that social channel.
The smartest thing you can then do, if you spot the top five or six articles highlighted by Buzzsumo, is to see if there’s potential for an ebook on any of those topics. Read the blog posts and see if the authors have taken certain positions or slants that have made their articles so popular.
See if you can extend similar angles in your ebook, and add a lot more meat than is available in the article. Nothing like riding a wave that is already cresting!
5. See what you’re really good at in your niche area: pick a topic you know like the back of your hand
It doesn’t take a genius to know that you can’t write an ebook – or indeed, any book – on a topic you know very little about. If you are in a niche where there are large gaps in your knowledge, don’t take up an ebook topic that is in one of your weak areas. Pick topics where you know the depth and breadth of the whole topic – as they wise say, you must know your topic like the back of your hand.
Shallow knowledge will betray itself. Command over knowledge, on the other hand, will make you sound like you’re writing without killing yourself and making reading torturous for the reader.
If, after searching your own reservoir of knowledge, you feel inadequate to write a whole ebook on a chosen topic, make sure to give yourself enough time to “bone up” on the subject. You must read so much, that knowledge on the topic oozes out of your pores. Go through other books, blog posts, course curricula, and interviews of thought-leaders on the topic. Spend enough time reading until you feel you can write at least ten to twelve chapters on the topic with ease and speed, and without having to refer to sources every now and again.
One more thing to remember here: don’t confuse diffidence with inadequate knowledge. There are many marketers who balk at writing an ebook on a topic, thinking themselves to be still ignorant on the topic. But “feeling ignorant” is different from “being ignorant”, and you won’t know how much you really know till you begin. So make that start, and see how you get on.
6. Search Amazon Kindle for ebooks in topics related to your niche: spot gaps where there are no useful ebooks
Amazon Kindle is a great place to buy ebooks – or to shop for ideas for ebooks. I can’t count the number of times I have looked around Amazon for an ebook on a particular subject, only to find that no one has even written a book of the kind I want. Yes, you heard me right.
For every topic where there are thousands of similar-sounding ebooks, there are also huge pockets of “bookless topics”. The only problem is that you have to search hard for topics with a very thin collection of ebooks that match your niche. Searching takes time.
For starters, you can check if the keywords you have used for your search have been highly searched by others. Look for some idea of the demand for the topic. Then check if there are ebooks in topics that are synonyms of the keywords you used. For instance, you may have searched for “calories spent when exercising” and found very few books, but you mustn’t assume the topic is bare of books. Maybe if you’d searched for “fat-burning rate of different exercises” it may be chock-full of ebooks, some of them by renowned fitness trainers.
So, make sure you’ve used various versions of search terms to see if there’s really a market gap on a particular topic. Once you find a real gap, get your ebook in there as fast as possible, because the moment you spot the lucrativeness of the slot, you can be sure others will flock into the same space.
7. See if you have a set of old blog posts that can be compiled into a new ebook: remember to refresh content
This idea is a corollary to the earlier one where I suggested you look at your blog posts for ebook topic ideas. Here, instead of extending any one of your blog posts into an ebook, see if you have a collection of related blog posts that take various angles of a topic. Compile them as an ebook that presents a series of essays around a topic.
For example, I had various blog posts on different aspects of content marketing – how to do content marketing, how to connect blogging and social media, how to use Twitter for content marketing, how to make content more valuable, how to use content marketing for ecommerce sites, and so on. I pulled them all together into an ebook titled “How To Get More Bang For Your Buck From Content Marketing”.
One important thing to remember when you pull old blog posts together into an ebook is that you must check for content freshness. For instance, SEO has changed a lot in recent times. So have content marketing practices for different devices. So much evolution of technology happens online, often within short time spans, that your old blog posts may be seriously in need of review in the context of the current online realities.
So, before you just copy-and-paste old blog posts into a brand new ebook, make sure the content doesn’t show people you’ve done a uber-lazy book-writing job. Check especially to see that “dates and data” don’t betray your lack of mental application during the repurposing exercise.
8. Look for areas where your target audiences seek more self-improvement: self-help books fly off the shelves
If there is one type of ebook that is guaranteed to fly off your ecommerce store shelves, it’s self-help books. Nobody can resist a book on a topic like “How To Manage To Write On Your Off Days”, or “How to Polish Up Your Marketing Skills”, or “How To Get 24 Hours Of Work Done in Just 8 Hours”. Self-improvement is a bottomless need area.
No matter how many books people read on time management, clutter management, money management, mind management or habit management, they will be tempted to buy every new title on the same subjects hoping to find some easier shortcuts to greater success.
If you are trying to write your first ebook, you can’t go far wrong by choosing a self-improvement topic connected to your niche. The ideas people most like in self-improvement are: how to get more done in less time; how to get things done more easily; how to get greater success; and how to leap towards higher earnings.
All other attractions – like job satisfaction, or greater passion for work, or love of helping people – are somehow tied back to the same four ideas: greater success, via less work and time, done with greater ease, to see more money.
People like to believe their ideals are lofty and noble, but they cannot resist routing these noble ideals via the four basic material parameters of life: money, time, ease and success. So, see that your ebook has a new ring and some new ideas to contribute to the old time-tested formula that always works.
9. Pick a paragraph from a blog post and harvest the topics hidden in it: you’ll be surprised by what you get
I love this trick and I’m sure when you’ve heard about this method, you’ll love it too. It’s simple. Just take a paragraph connected to your niche – written by you or any other expert in your field. Here’s an example:
“Content marketing is a long-term strategy that focuses on building a strong relationship with your target audience by giving them high-quality content that is very relevant to them on a consistent basis. Eventually, when customers make a purchase decision, their loyalty already lies with you. They will purchase your product and prefer it over competitors’ options. In contrast to one-off advertising, content marketing shows that you actually care about your customers.”
Notice all the underlined parts. Each one of them can become an ebook topic, as follows:
- 12 Ways To Make Content Marketing a Long-Term Strategy
- Secrets To Building Strong Relationships With Your Target Audiences
- How To Write High-Quality Content That’s Relevant
- 12 Ways To Change The Way Customers Make Purchase Decisions
- One-Off Advertising vs. Content Marketing: What Works And When
Who says we are ever short of ebook topic ideas?
10. Find a topic in your niche where leading experts have a range of opinions: curate and compile into an ebook
Instead of looking at your own blog posts as inspiration-starters, how about picking about 25 passages from the blog posts of other noted authors and compiling them into a curated ebook?
People don’t always want to know only about your own feelings, opinions, and analysis of a topic. They may love reading a range of ideas from different authors on a common concept. It gives your ebook the flavor of a mini-webinar.
To make this idea work, you need to do two things. Take short, meaningful passages from the works of others and give them due credit for their work with links back to their original articles. Don’t pinch large passages. Also make sure to add your own two-bits to annotate their work, so that your ebook doesn’t look like it has nothing from you in it.
Add value to the curated articles by raising questions for readers to ponder about. Offer case studies that enhance the opinions of these other experts with real-life examples. Think of ways to make your curated compilation a cohesive and coherent ebook by making the title clear and crisp. Let people not be misled to think you’ve written the whole book. Find a way to say you’ve curated the “best from the rest”.
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of Knowledge Commerce solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
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