How to Write an eBook That Goes Viral and Gets You Tons of Traffic

How to Write an eBook That Goes Viral and Gets You Tons of Traffic

Note from Jon: Sometimes, it’s nice to throw all the principles and strategies and other ephemeral gobbledygook out the window and look at a good old-fashioned case study of what’s working in the trenches right now. That’s exactly what this post is. Enjoy, and be sure to grab a copy of Danny’s new free report, the Naked Marketing Manifesto. :-)

Reports, e-books, manifestos.

If you’ve been blogging for long, you’ve probably toyed with the idea of writing one. Not because you enjoy the idea of writing a 10-20 page document, necessarily, but because the benefits are undeniable.

Like traffic, for example.

And links.

And authority.

Maybe you can even pick up a few thousand subscribers while you’re at it, transforming them over time into raving fans of your blog.

It’s a reasonable dream. Snoop around the web, and you’ll find dozens of stories where bloggers had free reports go viral, bringing them an avalanche of traffic.

So why haven’t you done it already?

Well… you’re scared, right? Reports and e-books are a dime a dozen these days, and you’re probably wondering if yours will be different enough to stand out from the crowd.

So you procrastinate. You change your mind about the topic. You write a few pages and never come back to finish.

Sound familiar?

Well, consider this a friendly kick in the rear. In this post, I’ll show you what it takes to create an e-book, report, or manifesto that gets you all the traffic you can handle, and then some…

The Problem: A Glut of Awesome and Familiar

Let’s start by stating the obvious:

There’s a huge amount of really great free content already out there, and it comes in all shapes and sizes. There are e-books and reports like Jon’s Headline Hacks, video courses like our free “Get More Cash” series, email trainings like William Cowie’s Drop Dead Money principles, and even entire books given away for free, like my own Engagement from Scratch!

Which is great, but it also creates a HUGE problem for new bloggers trying to get attention.

The problem isn’t that there’s lots of awesome stuff out there. Awesome stuff is like Jello — there’s always room for more. 😉

The real problem is everybody uses the same marketing formula. It goes something like this:

  1. Write an e-book, or create some kind of other free giveaway.
  2. Create a landing page where people have to opt-in to get it.
  3. Drive some traffic to the page through whatever means you can (as a member of Jon’s first Guestblogging class, guest posting is obviously one of my favorites).

This probably sounds familiar, because it works well enough, and it’s been done thousands and thousands of times. Honestly, it’s getting a little tired.

Sure, you can still get results from it, but if that’s all you do, the odds of your report going viral are pretty small. People have just seen it too many times.

If you want to stand out, you have to do something new.

And that’s scary. You wonder:

What could you possibly do no one has ever seen before? What if you go too far and offend people? What if you try something totally off the wall, and nobody gets it?

Well, here’s my opinion:

Suck it up, and Dare to be Different

Yes, it’s scary. No question about it.

Some of what you’ll try will flop. That’s life, especially when you’re playing with game-changing innovation.

That’s certainly what happened to me when I launched Engagement from Scratch!:

  • I ran the pre-launch engagement contest on American Thanksgiving, when everyone was away from their computers (I’m Canadian, and didn’t realize when most of my readers would be celebrating).
  • I totally bungled the launch trailer video and was only able to half save it at the last minute.
  • I put time and energy into a number of different promotions that turned out to be a waste of time.

But you know what?

Despite all of those blunders, the book was a phenomenal success, with 872 downloads on the first day, and over 8,000 more since the launch.

That’s a great story, for sure, but it’s not the story of this post. Engagement from Scratch! is old news, and if I were to just report what I did well last time, then this post would be more of the same.

So instead, I’m going to tell you about what I’m trying today…

Daring to be Different with Naked Marketing

Yep, that’s right — today. Right now.

I’m launching my brand spanking new Naked Marketing Manifesto to the world, and I intend for this manifesto to become the go-to starting point for anyone who needs to really understand marketing.

Yes, it’s that awesome. 😉

And in order to launch it properly, I’m going to be doing a whole bunch of things differently from the way these sorts of launches are usually done, and differently from what I did with Engagement from Scratch!, too.

That’s what this post is about. I’m going to lay down all of the things that I’m doing to launch this manifesto, because these are new, untested, cool ideas I’m confident will produce spectacular results, and I want you to have the opportunity to watch it happen, as it happens, and learn from.

So here we go — everything I’m doing to launch the Naked Marketing Manifesto…

First, Make it AWESOME!

The first thing I did to launch this manifesto is make it AWESOME.

Here’s why:

If I see another piece-of-crap, word-document-saved-as-PDF, 7-useless-tips-you-already-knew kind of e-book, I’m going to scream, and I’m pretty sure you will, too.

So I made the manifesto awesome and different. Here’s how:

  • An awesome cover and internal design (click here to see what it looks like).
  • The layout of the internal pages: small square pages and large print, designed to read on a computer screen.
  • The writing, which is engaging, easy, and fun to read.
  • The content, which is in-depth and very thorough, complete with sidebars for extra content, heuristics that readers can apply, and a checklist at the end.
  • Tweetable content, so you can click on a line that you like and tweet it out.

This manifesto took me months to put together, and it was totally worth it, because no matter how innovative or interesting your marketing is, without something awesome to offer people, it all goes to waste.

Speaking of the offer…

A Different Kind of Offer: No Opt-In Required

It’s common practice to trade your latest and greatest bit of awesomeness for somebody’s name and email address, and for good reason — email is the best tool you’ll find to connect with your readers, and, as they say, the money is in the list.

But I wanted to do things differently, and get the word spread even faster.

So I made the manifesto free, with no opt-in required.

Or rather, almost free; in order to get it, you need to either tweet about it or share it on Facebook (I’m doing this using Pay With a Tweet, but another service that you could look at is ViperChill’s Cloud:Flood; both are free). Hopefully, that’ll help it spread further and faster.

But of course, I still want people to opt-in, so I’ve got a special bonus offer inside the manifesto (and on the manifesto download page).

Here’s how people can get the bonus…

List.ly and Crowd-Sourced Awesomeness

Ordinarily, I’d send people to a landing page to opt in for the bonuses — that’s what I did with Engagement from Scratch!, and with my How to Build a Blog book (co-authored with Sean Platt).

But with Naked Marketing, I’m trying something different.

On the bottom of every page in the manifesto, it says “Free Naked Marketing awesomeness at list.ly/go/naked”, and the instructions to get the bonuses say:

  1. Browse over to list.ly/go/naked
  2. Give a “like” to Naked Marketing Insiders (first item on the list!)

If you click “like” on that first item, an opt-in box will pop up so that you can get the bonuses.

And the rest of the list?

It’s full of content created by my friends and students, relating to the manifesto (I offered them a review copy if they wanted to participate, so this was all created in advance).

Every time someone visits the list.ly list, it’ll show up at the top of the highly trafficked list.ly homepage, and everyone will be encouraged to “like” which ever list items they like best. Hopefully, the list contributors will want to send people to vote for their items, and everybody wins — more traffic for them, and more traffic and exposure for me, too.

So, what is this bonus, exactly?

Well, I won’t spill all the beans, but I’ll tell you part of it…

Naked Marketing Audits of Real Live Businesses

As part of the promotion of the manifesto, I’m going to do Naked Marketing Audits of real live businesses. It’ll basically be a cross between an interview and a consulting session taking a good, hard look at what the target business is doing well and what they could be doing better.

These are valuable because they’re real live examples of how to use the Naked Marketing framework, and it’s a great way to get ideas of new cool things to try in your own business.

The format is a Skype video interview that’ll be cleaned and prettied up, maybe with some live on-camera video or slides thrown in. It’ll go live on the blog or site of the business being audited, and they’ll point all of their readers to check it out (great brand-building for them, and great exposure for me).

And as *part* of the bonus for readers of the manifesto (there’s more, of course), they’ll be notified whenever a new audit goes live, so they can check it out (great value for the reader, and great exposure for the business being audited).

That’s not all I’m doing to promote the manifesto, either…

Videos: The Naked Truth about Marketing

Back in February, I got on camera and filmed 37 video answers to marketing and business questions asked by my readers.

For the Naked Marketing launch, I decided to do it again, only bigger and better. So a few weeks ago, I asked my readers to share with me any questions that they’d like answered about marketing, and promised to make them a personalized video answering their question.

Several dozen people responded, and in the middle of June, I’m going to spend a full week posting almost 50 videos on my blog, and on YouTube.

It’ll take me several days (or more!) to produce all these videos, but I think it’ll be worth it; personalized answers to the most burning questions facing my readers, lots of content that people can share with their friends, and lots of video material for YouTube to find as well.

And whereas the 37 videos were all on one post, these videos will each get their own post (thanks to my friend and YouTube wizard Paul Wolfe for the advice on how to do this), so that adds a ton of high-quality, searchable content to Firepole Marketing.

Some of this will Bomb, but I’m not worried!

No, I don’t know for sure that everything I’ve described is the smartest thing that I can do, and just like with Engagement from Scratch!, I know that some things aren’t going to work out nearly as well as I planned;

  • Maybe people won’t like the content or presentation as much as I think they will.
  • Maybe the Pay With a Tweet thing won’t get as much traction as I want it to.
  • Maybe the crowd-sourced list won’t get as much traffic as I’m hoping, and won’t offset the extra step for opting in.
  • Maybe I’ll end up launching something on another holiday. Note: That actually happened again — turns out Monday was Memorial Day. Sigh. I’ve got to get an American calendar. :S
  • Maybe people won’t like the audits, or I won’t find businesses who want to be audited.
  • Maybe the videos won’t get my play-time, and YouTube won’t serve them up in searches.
  • All of these things could happen, and odds are that at least one or two of them will happen.

And that’s fine — I’ll just tweak, adjust, and make it better.

But the flip side of the risk is the reward, and odds are that at least some of these things will work like gangbusters.

The point is, you don’t have breakthrough success just doing what’s been proven and validated to death. All that stuff is great, but use it as a starting point, and then think about what you can do differently and better to really stand out and be amazing.

Want to find out how it works?

If you want to see the rest unfold as it happens, then go get the manifesto, and “like” the first item on the list to join the Insiders Club.

That way, you’ll see it all happen, live, up close, and personal. My hope is it’ll inspire you.

Because listen…

Sure, free reports are a dime a dozen, but that doesn’t mean yours has to be. There are dozens of launch strategies no one has ever tried before, and while some of them might flop, some of them will work too, maybe even better than you could ever imagined.

In the end, that’s what marketing is about: trying stuff and seeing what works.

Even so-called “marketing geniuses” don’t bat 1,000. They just try lots of different strategies, all based on proven marketing principles, and then measure the results. If it works, they keep doing it over and over and over again until it stops working.

Anybody can do that.

Yes, even you.

Danny Iny (@DannyIny) is the co-founder of Firepole Marketing, the “Freddy Krueger of Blogging”, and the co-author (with Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark, and many others) of Engagement from Scratch! (available on Amazon, or as a free download). The latest and greatest thing you can get from him (for free, of course) is his Naked Marketing Manifesto, about marketing that really works!

How to Write an eBook That Goes Viral and Gets You Tons of Traffic by