At age 11, I dreamed of being an editor at a major magazine. I even put together my first publication, Teen Scene Magazine, using colored construction paper, yarn, and in-depth feature interviews with ... my dad.
Flash forward to today. I've swapped my colored construction paper and yarn with InDesign. And I've replaced my dad (his thoughts, not him as a caring parent) with marketing influencers. And week after week, I get the joy of publishing ebooks.
But ebook creation can be overwhelming. Not only do you need to write the content, but you also need to design and format your content into a professional-looking document that people will be eager to download. And with lead generation as the top goal for content marketing this year, according to eMarketer, ebooks will be essential.
In this post, I'll go through the ins and outs of how to create an ebook by ... well ... creating an ebook. Worried about your lacking design skills? Fret not -- we even have five pre-designed ebook templates -- in both PowerPoint and InDesign -- for you to download and use. Let's get going!
First Things First: Select a Sales-Worthy Topic
Remember: The goal of your ebook is to generate leads for your sales team, so pick a topic that will help a prospect travel from a download of your ebook to a conversation with your sales team.
In listening to sales and customer calls here at HubSpot, I've learned that ebook creation is a huge obstacle for our audience. If I can provide resources to make ebook creation easier, I'm focusing on the right topic for opening up a sales conversation.
For this blog post, I'm going to use the PowerPoint version of template two from our free collection of five free ebook templates. Through each section of this post, I'll provide a side-by-side of the template slide and how I customized it.
Below, you'll see my customized cover with my sales-worthy topic. If you need help with title creation, check out this blog post.
Introduction: Outline Your Ebook Content
Your introduction should be an effective opener for your content. In this case, we're discussing the actual copy of your ebook.
Many folks you may talk to about ebook creation will say that oftentimes, an ebook is a series of blog posts stitched together. While I agree you should treat each chapter like a blog post, each chapter needs to flow fluidly from one to the other.
The best way to outline your ebook is by thinking of it as a crash course on the sales-worthy topic you selected. In my example of creating an ebook, I know I need to cover how to:
- Write effective copy
- Design an ebook in PowerPoint
- Optimize ebooks for lead gen and promotion
While my example has quite a few chapters, keep in mind that your ebook does not need to be lengthy. I have one golden rule for ebook length: Write what is needed to effectively educate your audience on your selected topic. If that requires five pages, great! If that requires 30 pages, so be it. Just don't waste words thinking you need to write a long ebook.
With that, let's move on to the actual copy you're writing.
Chapter 1: Write Effective Ebook Copy
Instead of trying to use sophisticated language to convey a point, write simply and clearly. That’s the most effective way of educating readers and helping them understand the new material you’re providing.
This should also hold true for all your other marketing efforts, such as email marketing, call-to-action creation, and landing page production. “Clarity trumps persuasion,” as Dr. Flint McGlaughlin of MECLABS often likes to say.
Want to make sure you're keeping your ebook exciting for readers? Here are some key areas to keep in mind:
- Use KEYWORDS in the title that emphasize the value of your offer. Examples include adjectives like “amazing,” “awesome,” or “ultimate.”
- Keep your format CONSISTENT so that you create a mental model for readers and enhance their understanding of the material.
- When appropriate, make use of FORMATTING, like bold, italics, and font size changes, to draw people’s eyes to your most important content.
Chapter 2: Design an Ebook in PowerPoint
You'll notice that we only have one "chapter page" in the template (slide three). To create additional chapter pages, or any pages really, simply go to Edit --> Duplicate. This will duplicate your slide and allow you to drag it to its proper place in your ebook in the "slides" section of PowerPoint. You can then customize it for any subsequent chapters.
Designing an ebook is primarily about content structure. One way to make this easy for creating (and for consuming) is to split a chapter into sections.
Section 1: Use the Right Colors
While we wish the free ebook templates we're providing magically matched your brand colors, we realize they likely don't. To learn how to add your brand's colors to PowerPoint, check out this blog post. That way, you can customize the color scheme in our templates to match your brand!
Section 2: Employ Visuals
Images and graphics in ebooks are hard to get right. The key to making them fit well is to think of them as an inseparable part of your writing. Whether you add them during or after you’ve finished preparing your ebook’s text-based content, your visuals should highlight an important point you’re making or deconstruct the meaning of a concept in an easy-to-understand way.
Images shouldn’t just be there to make the ebook easy on the eyes. Rather, they should be used to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material you’re covering. If you need help gathering visuals, we have three sets of free stock photos to help along the way:
Section 3: Highlight Quotes or Stats
Another way to enhance your ebook is by highlighting quotes or stats within your design. Just be sure the quote or stat you're using genuinely adds value to the content. In the words of our CMO, Mike Volpe, “Always provide value. Value builds trust. Once you have that trust, you have the ability to do some selling.”
Whether you're emphasizing a quote or adding a visual, it's important to ensure you're keeping all your content within the same borders. If your copy is consistently 1-inch indented on your page from both the left and right side, keep your designed elements aligned along the same peripherals.
Chapter 3: Optimize Ebooks for Lead Gen and PromotionNow that your content is written and designed, it's time to optimize your content for lead generation and promotion! Here are the steps to follow.
Step 1: Place Calls-to-Action in Your Ebooks
Think about how you got here -- you clicked on a call-to-action in an email, on a social media update or somewhere else. A call-to-action is a link or visual object that entices the visitor to click and arrive on a page that will get them further engaged with your company.
For instance, a call-to-action can lead to another offer, your annual conference, or even a product page. To hyperlink the calls-to-action in your ebook (or any image or text in your ebook) to your destination URL, simply go to Insert --> Hyperlink.
We even designed 50 customizable calls-to-action in PowerPoint you can download and use in your ebooks. You can grab them here.
Now we don't have a dedicated CTA template slide in the PowerPoint for you to customize ... but it's still simple! All you have to do is duplicate slide four (the Header/Subheader slide) and customize copy or add images as needed. You can also go to Insert --> New Slide and work from there.
Step 2: Create a Dedicated Landing Page for Your Ebook
Your ebook should be available on a landing page on your site. This is a webpage that describes your offer and provides a form with contact information that visitors need to fill out in order to access your ebook.
For instance, you went through this landing page to access this template.
Step 3: Begin Promotion
Once your landing page is all set, you can use that destination URL to promote your ebook across your marketing channels. Here are five ways you can do so:
- Advertise your new ebook on your website. For example, feature a link to your offer’s landing page on your Resources page or even homepage.
- Promote your ebook through your blog. For instance, consider publishing an excerpt of your ebook as a blog post. Or write a separate blog article on the same topic as your ebook and link to it at the end of your piece to encourage readers to keep learning.
- Send a segmented email to those in your community who have indicated an interest in receiving offers from your company.
- Leverage paid advertising and co-marketing partnerships that will help you promote your ebook to a new audience.
- Publish social media updates with a link to your ebook. You can also increase social shares by creating social media share buttons within your ebook, such as the ones at the bottom right of this ebook. Here’s a blog post that shows how to hyperlink them.
Step 4: Track Ebook's Success
After your content is launched and promoted across your marketing channels, you’ll need to have marketing analytics in place that measure the success of your ebooks.
For instance, having landing page analytics that give you insight into how many people downloaded your ebook or show how many of those downloaders converted into opportunities and customers for your business. Feel free to learn more through HubSpot's landing pages tool.
Conclusion: Launch Your Ebook With HubSpot's Free Templates
Conclude your ebook with a next-step call-to-action. In other words, provide readers with the natural next step in their journey with your business. Ideally, this means moving them further down your marketing funnel.
In our example, once someone has learned what goes into building a quality ebook, they could use a free resource to actually start creating one! Therefore, we'll now send our readers to the free ebook templates we've mentioned to you throughout this post.
And with that, we've built an ebook, folks! You can check out the packaged version of the example I built through this post here:
Do you have any tips for making ebook creation easier? Share them in the comments!