1. OP isn't as bad a designer as he thinks. The goal isn't a beautiful page so much as "no trust destroying indicators" like weird fonts, bad formatting etc. Good Job!
2. OP could probably double their sales by offering the first chapter for free with email signup on the landing page and then offering a time-limited discount as part of an email sequence.
3. We (in the dev space) have a weird view of these sorts of things as we make relatively so much in salary. But $400/mo is a decent car payment, another way to thinking about this is that OP wrote himself a free car.
4. OP could have taken all this knowledge applied it in his job, etc. but by making this very public and consumable objective proof of his knowledge he's put a solid milestone in his career path. I've friends that have done similar and then picked up six figure consulting gigs, lucrative job offers, etc.
All around, I just want to say nicely done and that I would love to see more developers do similar.
For point 2) yes that's something I could have tried, I see a lot of people doing this so I guess it works.
About point 3) I know that for SF folks making 150-200k / year, $400/month is like pocket change. Just keep in mind that in other countries, like France (I'm French) and many other European countries, a Junior dev is making 30-40k€ on average, and Senior around 45-55k€ (1)
My co-author and I figured out that a positive feedback loop is key. In addition to our API Design Book at http://theapidesignbook.com/ my co-author and I have a weekly newsletter at http://bit.ly/apiWeekly then he followed the consulting route using those for lead generation while I did some classes for Lynda/LinkedIn Learning: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/instructors/keith-casey and in both cases, we refer back to the book and the newsletter. Then in my day job at Okta, I talk about the same topics and occasionally refer to our stuff among other things as "for more information."
Most of it is free, a few things are paid, but everything builds and complements each other.
No matter where anyone finds us, the threads lead to the other things. This allows people to understand the basics of APIs, learn some advanced topics, and generally stay up to date on the space as a whole.
They all seem much happier.
1. Try raising prices by 50% for a month, see if your actual unit sales decrease.
2. Record a video for each chapter and then offer that at a (much) higher price point. $250+ - combine all this together and I bet you could crack $1k/mo.
Thanks for sharing. For technical topics, I think reading is much faster and reliable because readers can skim and also copy code. I'm curious why it might be effective to produce a video and price it higher?
Could you give an example of what kind of a font would be a "trust destroying indicator" ? Maybe comic sans I guess, but I have a feeling you mean something more subtle.
What are the percentage of people that would make the the first chapter in and fail to convert - vs the people that would have bought then likewise never finished?
Because I have the entire book online, people are much more likely to reference and point other people to it because it's a complete useful web resource. If, say, someone on Reddit asks about learning some architectural pattern, it's natural for someone to say "Oh, check out this book here." It's less likely they would say, "Oh, check out this page which just describes a book that you have to buy to actually answer your question."
So my book is much higher profile than it would otherwise be. A lot more people are discovering my book and coming into the funnel. The fact that they can read the whole thing without paying probably means a smaller fraction of people buy it, but the increase in the total number outweighs that.
Also, giving it away for free gives people a lot of gratitude towards me and that in turn can cause some to buy it. It feels less transactional to them because they don't have to. In fact, I've had a lot of people email me saying they had already read the entire book online but bought a print version just to show thanks.
Second, I also made what I consider very good money (for a side-project) from an ebook using a markdown-based approach. All I will say is that I broke six figures in USD and/or Euros.
Third, I happened to use LeanPub to publish incrementally, and that worked very well for me.
Fourth, yes you can charge real money for a technical e-book. I think I have consistently asked for around $30.00, although the interface allowed people to pay less.
I always allowed people to read the book online for free, and people still paid. Did they pay out of a sense of fairness? Did they pay for the convenience of reading an offline copy in iBooks, Kindle, and/or PDF? You be the judge.
Many, many people paid more than the minimum. I have now dropped the minimum to zero, and I still get people paying me more than $20.00.
Lastly, I didn’t get into writing for the money, but I started charging because:
1. People take words more seriously when they cost money. It’s true. It shouldn’t be true, but it’s true.
2. I take writing my words more seriously when I set a goal of asking people for money.
Combining 1 and 2, I felt that whenI set out to charge money for writing a book, I would write a better book. Whether people paid me or not, writing a better book would be better for me, so I couldn’t lose.
Those of you seeking to write for money may have different goals. But those two things drove my decision to charge and to change a non-trivial amount of money.
If you had told me that by charging less, I would make more revenue, I still might not have charged less, because I wanted to force myself psychologically to write a book worth $30.
Seems fine if I load it in Firefox.
The workaround that I've found is that you first load twitter.com and then paste+go the actual tweet link in that same tab.
For OP's case:
> Market Vertical = Technology
> Niche / Market Vertical Subset = Webscrapping
Interesting how each world places its own connotations on words, and if you don't speak the "language" -- even though we're all speaking English! -- miscommunication is guaranteed.
Is there something that I should really be doing while I’m writing the book? And not after?
But our pricing is WAY lower ($0-$16).
Do people really pay $29-$69 for an ebook? Wonder if author tried other pricing to see if it can increase sales.
Our biggest jump was once we moved to "pay as you like".
PS. Made ~$20K over 3 years.
PSS. If anyone has any suggestions on how to promote eBooks, would love to know
I tested all the prices between $9-$99 and I found these three tiers approach to be the most effective.
To be honest, this was a very difficult subject for me, here was my thinking process:
- How much does a physical tech book costs --> I checked the best sellers on Amazon and saw $25-$35
- Since I was selling an eBook, I was thinking that I should AT LEAST divide this price by 2.
- Not only that, but I "only" had 3 years of experience, so I should again apply another discount.
So I launched at $9...!
Then I learned about pricing strategies, value-based pricing and all. I did some experiments, increasing the price every month, and I was completely shocked to see that the conversion rate was still the same.
Hope it will help.
En tout cas merci pour les chiffres et les plateformes utilisées, c'est motivant. J'ai en effet un projet à moyen terme (non technique) qui avance pas à pas mais des fois je me dis que ça ne fonctionnera pas...
"I indeed have a medium term (non technical) project which is moving forward one step at a time but sometimes I tell myself it won't work..."
The only way to know is to try your best. At least you won't have doubts about whether it could have worked and you'll undoubtedly learn something.
Depending on where you live, $400 could be a good amount. OP could be living in another country where this kind of money could be very interesting.
- He actually needs to do it for regular job or pure interest, so the time is already lost. This way, you kill 2 flies with single shot
- Hosting and other stuff can be done for $0 nowdays
What I learnt here (not really, just improved current understanding) is that people suck at deduction and resort to simplistic observations that have no roots in reality.
so yes, this is totally worth it as a side project.
It’s not just about the money as I said in the tweet! It’s about being (a little bit) paid for doing something I like (writing)
probably web scraping, along with SEO, is one of the most shameless niches in tech and is crammed with people with nearly zero tech skills and are only for the money. Maybe for your case you just happened to love web scraping, but this niche itself is the lowest of low. Thankfully Cloudflare and the low barrier to entry/increase of supply make sure that no one can make much more than he should (which is $0 imho).
Creating a technical book about a specific subject is a great way to advertise yourself as a freelancer/consultant as well.