How to choose a fantastic eBook topic (that your audience loves)

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I don’t have a statistic. But I do know countless eBooks fail to achieve their objective. Maybe it’s 79%. That feels about right. All that time and money for little return. If you’re in marketing, you’ll know what I mean.

So, why do some eBooks go viral while others flop? Good question. I believe it’s down to three things: having the right topic, creating it effectively, and promoting it well.

This article should help you with the first of those: having the right topic. Because, without that, you’re onto a non-starter, however pretty and well-written it is.

Let’s dive in.


Create what your audience needs

Always create your commercial eBook with a specific audience in mind. Because that’s the point, isn’t it? You want your audience to read it and feel something positive towards you. Even do something.

So, that’s what YOU want.

Also, consider what your audience wants.

It usually falls into one of two buckets:

  1. They want to solve a problem and gain some skills
  2. They want to understand something better in their bid to solve a problem

It’s all about helping them overcome something. And by doing so, they might move further along your sales funnel (and feel more positive towards you).

So, to have a fantastic eBook topic, you must understand your target audience. Ask yourself (and your team) questions like these:

  • What problems, frustrations, or challenges do they have that you could help with?
  • What questions do they ask before purchasing?
  • What do they misunderstand (or not understand?)

Of course, when you don’t know the answer, that’s a cue to understand your audience better.

This article might help you: How to know your customers better (and why it matters)


Brainstorm your ideas

So, you know them. Now pull every possible eBook idea together. And remember those two buckets.

You can find ideas everywhere. For example, collate questions from your sales calls. Look around social media to see what your target audience is talking about. And work out what’s trending as a topic right now. Time on Google or keyword research helps here. Can you identify where they get stuck in the buying process? Because that’s a great place to stage an eBook.

While you never want to copy your competitors, it helps to see what they’re up to. Could you tackle a topic differently? Or in more depth? Maybe there’s a gap you could fill?

It’s a good idea to review your past content. Especially social media posts and shorter blogs. What got traction with your audience? What ideas could you develop into an eBook?

Should you have a team, involve them. That might include your sales team or customer success team too. Gather everyone’s ideas into one place. And think about the knowledge you have between you (or have access to).

Eventually, you should have a healthy list of ideas for your eBook. Don’t worry if some look a bit lame, you’re going to assess them next.


Assess your ideas thoroughly

Now you can get critical. After all, you’re looking for a fantastic eBook topic, not a mediocre one. And that starts with knowing your target audience will find it valuable.

First, consider each idea against the two buckets: Does it solve a problem and give them new skills? Does it help them understand something better relating to their problem?

Occasionally, you might discover a third ‘bucket’ specific to your product. If you’re confident your idea would help your target audience and be worth 20 minutes of their time, great, give it a tick.

Here are further questions to help you assess your eBook ideas:

Would your audience understand the knowledge you’d provide, or would it go over their heads?

Where would the eBook idea sit in your sales funnel? If you focus on content pillars, would it serve one?

Is it an evergreen topic? These deliver the best return on investment as you can use them for months, sometimes years. Use trending topics carefully. Some may be short-lived.

Is the idea ‘samey’? Could you make it different or take a fresh angle?

What does Google think? See whether keywords around the topic command decent search. That tells you people want information on the topic. But avoid being a bland “me too” if it’s already covered extensively (unless you could create something better or more specific).


Test your best ideas

Many businesses skip this stage, but it’s crucial when you’re looking to create an effective eBook. It’s also simple.

Will your target audience welcome your proposed eBook topic?

If you’ve already created shorter-form content around the topic (and had a good reaction) gather analytics to back up your idea. That might be social media engagement or web traffic to a blog.

If your topic idea is brand new, consider creating a post or an article first. Should that prove interesting to those you want to help, you have a stronger case for an eBook.

Another simple way to gauge potential is to ask your audience. Chat with customers and see if your topic would have helped them before purchasing. Or ask prospective customers themselves: “We’re thinking about creating an eBook to help people like you tackle this problem. Would you want to read it?”


Choose “the one” and get started

By now, you should have a final shortlist of eBook ideas. Which will you focus on? Of course, if you have several great ideas, you could create them all in time. So, pick the one you’re most enthusiastic about right now and get started.

Do you have the time and resources to do this in-house? It’s easy to bite off more than you can chew. Many businesses rely on long-form content writers and graphic designers. This keeps your eBook project moving forward when you’re too busy. It’s a smart move.

As I said at the start of this article, choosing a great topic is the first step in having a fantastic eBook. The next step is creating it effectively. I’m thinking about things like structure, tone of voice, messaging, and branding. This demands a further article and it’s on my list.

In the meantime, I’m always happy to chat about ideas for eBooks. Do book a brief call with me should you want to tell me about yours.