Joanna Wiebe is an amazingly awesome copywriter. But what impresses me the most about her is not her copywriting. But her marketing skills. Particularly of interest is how she:
- Found a way to out sell other copywriting books (answer 5)
- Listened to her audience and broke her product down into 4 parts
- And then used a smart bundling strategy to increase revenue (answers 1 & 2)
In 5 questions, Joanna reveals some amazing details about how she launched her ebooks, sold about 5,000 bundles of all 4 ebooks (20,000 copies in total), and what mistakes she made that you can avoid.
1. Most people hesitate launching 1 ebook. You launched 4 ebooks together! How did that come about?
Joanna: Honestly, it didn’t really occur to me to hesitate. I’m a bit impetuous that way, I guess. When it comes to writing, well, I have a decent amount of confidence in my skills as a writer. I can’t do anything else — I can’t swim, I nearly flunked stats in university, and I’m scared of heights, public speaking, spiders, the works! — but I can write.
But more than that, the reason I wrote my ebooks in the first place was because the Hacker News community encouraged me to. See, way back in 2010, I saw a post on Hacker News from a great guy named Shereef Bishay, who was looking for some copywriting assistance. I did some free work for him — to help him, not because I believe you should give your services away — and he told the whole HN community. My inbox was suddenly flooded with requests for help, a few of which I was able to take on. Those who didn’t ask for help encouraged me to write an ebook. My hubby agreed that I should.
So, 8 months later, I produced a 200+ page volume… and then broke that into 4 ebooks.
When it came time to launch the books, I just sort of decided to one day. They were ready. So I wrote a blog post, posted it to Hacker News, it got upvoted quickly and stayed on the first page for ~1 day… and people started buying my books. I thought only a few people would buy. But then 100s bought in the first 24 hours alone. To use a cliche, the rest is history.
2. You sell each individual ebook for $17.99. And you also bundle all the 4 ebooks and sell it for $48.96. Can you talk a bit about your bundling strategy?
Joanna: When I first split the 200+ page version into 4 ebooks, I did so because my beta readers said the 200-pager was overwhelming. Nobody wanted to become a copywriter; they just wanted to be able to successfully hack their website copy. Made sense. So I broke the book into 4 areas people should focus on most: 1) developing messages, 2) formatting for the web, 3) headlines and 4) calls to action.
I currently list the 4 books individually for $17.99 each.
The bundle is valued at $72 – but I always give people who choose the bundle a deal. Right now, they can save $23 off the total price by buying the bundle on my site.
Now, to be clear, I’m also conversion-focused copywriter. So I don’t make any web moves without being strategic about those moves.
The bundle was a strategic move. I know people make decisions in context. I know that it’s somewhat hard to make a decision when you have to choose among 4 individual books… and the mind likes to group things… so the mind will group the 4 individual books together against the 1 bundle, giving the mind just two options to choose between: the pain of selecting the right individual book, or the ease of selecting the discounted bundle. Ease wins every time.
The result of this bundling strategy? I sell about 1 individual book for every 300 bundles I sell.
No matter what promo I run on my site — or industry friends like Ben Hunt run through my site — the bundle sells way better than the individual books.
3. Could you share your experiences about selling your ebooks on other marketplace websites like AppSumo and MightyDeals?
I’m lucky to offer a product that solves a real problem for a lot of small businesses / startups. They all need copywriting help, but most of them are bootstrapping their business, so they can’t afford to hire a copywriter. (A copywriter is generally seen as a luxury, not a necessity.) That’s a problem for businesses. My solution is for them to read any of my 4 books… and focus on what they need to when they need to (i.e., need to write a headline right now? refer to that book right now).
The deals you see on my books on AppSumo and MightyDeals are always very good. I want to get my books into the hands of lots of people —- volume is more important to me, frankly, than selling less and making more money on each. So I like to offer around 50% off the retail price, for the ongoing deals. When the deal is featured, I give dramatic discounts —- you’ll sometimes see the bundle on sale for as little as $17 (but, I admit, that’s rare!).
If a small business has a need for my ebooks, and they can get them for an amazing deal, it’s hard for them not to buy. So I make quite a lot of sales. Not everyone does, though. I’ve read about people listing their courses on a deal site only to sell ~100 copies. Hardly seems worth it. I’ve sold 1000s of bundles on these sites — so it’s worth it for me.
AppSumo approached me after my success on Hacker News. I’d already approached MightyDeals by that point. Unfortunately, I made a newbie mistake and listed on MightyDeals around the same time that AppSumo was launching my deal, without even thinking about the conflict. So both sites were going to have my deal on at once —- which neither of them liked very much. We worked it out, though, and all was well.
For my product, selling on AppSumo and MightyDeals is a great strategy.
4. You offer a cheatsheet on headlines for free – in exchange for a tweet. How has this Twitter marketing strategy worked out for you?
Joanna: Ugh, it hasn’t worked at all for me! I actually can’t stand it now and feel like it was a total rookie move for me to ask my visitors to pay with a tweet. I mean, if a client were to tell me they were going to force people to spread the word about them before they’d even earned their trust, I’d try to talk ‘em out of it! And yet I made that mistake myself.
I keep meaning to take that pay-with-a-tweet thing down. Once my fifth book is out (planned for May 1), I’ll take the time to locate the URL, go in and remove that silly button.
5. Can you share one big lesson – that would be beneficial to other folks who want to launch their own ebook?
Joanna: Two things:
- Never think of your non-fiction ebook as a book, or you’ll never finish it. Think of it as an information product. That is all it is. When you strip away the aura and intimidation of “writing a book”, you can start to loosen up a bit. Write the way you want to. Include stuff you love and delete stuff you don’t care about. Make it your own. Pack it full of amazing info — without worrying if the paragraph and sentence structures would please the great writers in history. When I realized this, it was a major mental breakthrough for me.
- Always think of how you’ll market your product before you create your product. There’s a recent story about someone writing an ebook on chihuahuas because “chihuahua” is, like, the most-searched phrase of all time. The book sold like hotcakes. The lesson: make sure there’s 1) a market for your product, 2) a demand for your product, and 3) an easy way to get traffic to learn about your product. All three of those count. There’s a market for web design, and there’s a demand for web design products… but getting traffic to such a product would be insanely tough ‘cos there’s so much competition! Focusing on a niche can help a lot in this department. I wrote a copywriting ebook — for which there’s market, demand, but insane competition — and decided to target it at a niche: tech startups. If you can think about how you’ll market the product before you start creating it, selling it shouldn’t be that difficult.
- Breakup and then bundle your products. This is an excellent strategy to increase the perceived value of your product. And increase your sales volume.
- Special deals websites can be very lucrative to increase your sales in a short time frame.
- Don’t force folks to promote you without knowing you.
- Niche your product to beat the competition.
Three things you’ve got to do if you love Joanna’s smarts:
- Subscribe to Joanna’s CopyHackers newsletter
- Buy her copywriting books at a 45% discount on Appsumo.
- Get an exclusive coupon code for Joanna’s 5th book, coming out on 1st May.
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