When I sat down to write my own ebook for ManiWriMo, I was somewhat petrified. I’d been thinking of doing an ebook for a while — I had a whole outline written and everything — but when it came to actually writing the darn thing, I had no idea where to begin. This was going to be my first paid product, so the pressure was on.
Then a wise friend asked, after hearing my ebook idea, “You’ve already covered a lot of this stuff on your blog, haven’t you?”
If you have a blog, you have tons of ebook fodder.
If you’re feeling that blank screen paralysis yourself, don’t forget that you’ve probably already written tons of stuff that would work great in an ebook. Here are some easy ways to mine what you’ve already written for your blog and turn it into a kickass ebook:
1. Expand on Your Most Popular Posts
The posts that really got an audience reaction on your blog are a great indication of the topics and angles people are excited to read about. So why not use those posts as the foundation for your ebook?
You can find your top posts by checking your stats through WordPress or Google Analytics, or by installing a “top posts” or “popular posts” plug-in. Seeing which posts generated the most comments or got the most social shares is another great way to hone down to the ones that struck a nerve with your audience.
When it comes to assembling these posts, there are a couple different approaches you can take. If you write about a random assortment of stuff and want to give readers a sampling of everything, one approach is to put all your top posts into a “best of” compilation. (For example, check out blogger Abby Heugel’s ebooks Abby Has Issues and Abby Still Has Issues.)
This plan gives people an introduction to what you’re all about. If they’ve discovered your stuff and love it, they can get the book to read some of the great posts they’re missing in your archives. A “best of” ebook is also a fun gift your most diehard fans can share with friends and family to help spread the word about your awesomeness.
Or, if your blog is more of a narrative of your personal journey, you can use posts that highlight key moments and turning points in your journey and turn them into a cohesive story.
Since my blog is part narrative and part resource, my ebook is going to be the same. For the past three years, I’ve been covering my journey to start a side hustle and turn it into a business big enough to let me quit my day job. (Spoiler alert: I succeeded!) I’m pulling a combination of posts that explain what I learned from this process (the resource bit), as well as posts that capture how my journey went down and what it was like going through the different stages (the story bit).
2. Expand on Posts from a Certain Category
Let’s say you’re a personal finance blogger, and you’d like to put out an ebook that focuses on paying down debt. Just go into the handy little “category” menu on your blog and pull up all posts filed under “paying down debt”. (If your categories are kind of broad, using tags can help narrow things further.)
Some posts you pull will be more relevant than others, but unless a post is a real clunker (it’s okay; we’ve all written them), cut and paste each post into a big, messy Word document. Then revise, revise, revise.
You’ll see a lot of repetition, as well as areas that can be massively expanded upon to turn a little post into a whole chapter. But there, in the midst of all those words, is the framework for your ebook.
If you notice any holes as you go along, make a note to fill that info in after you’ve gotten everything else in order. You should get all your already-written thoughts in shape first so you don’t wind up unnecessarily duplicating work. (Plus, sometimes you look back at old posts and think, “I love the way I phrased that!” Don’t miss out on those gems from your past self!)
3. Conduct Market Research on Your Readers
If you’re not sure which of your topics you should turn into an ebook — or if you’ve got your topic chosen, but want to make sure you nail it — it’s always a wise idea to poll your readers for feedback.
In addition to built-in content, your blog gives you a built-in audience for an ebook. Use it! Your readers can point out things you might be totally missing. And what author wouldn’t love to be able to market test their book concept on its ideal audience before even writing it?
SurveyMonkey makes polling your readers easy, free of charge, and customizable. I created a survey for my ebook to learn what topics people were most interested in and what issues they were coming across in their own side hustles, to make sure I created a resource that was as useful as it could possibly be. And my readers delivered! I expanded my outline considerably after the survey to make room for some great new sections I hadn’t thought of in my original brainstorm.
What Are You Waiting For?
Utilize the words you’ve already written (and the audience you already have) to help you find your perfect topic and write the crap out of it.
Will that blank screen still be petrifying? Absolutely. But you’ll be able to get over it. I promise.