How to create a free e-book download for your newsletter & website

The bottom line:  

You now have more opportunities than ever to communicate with your client.

There’s email, social media, your website, your blog, etc. – the list is pretty long. But there may be another avenue of communication you haven’t considered before – ebooks.

Email marketing can be a highly successful (and effective) form of marketing for your photography business.

It allows you to connect with your target audience directly.

But like most marketing, you must be putting out highly informative & relevant information.

Your audience has a very specific interest or pain-point that you can solve.  This will most likely be similar to the service you offer.

For example:  a bride is scouring the internet for tips to plan her wedding.  Pregnant moms are searching for tips on how to plan their first newborn photo session.  You get the idea.  Now be the solution.

All you have to do is put it in the form of an e-book download!

If you haven’t considered writing one for your clients before, it can be a really great idea: you can use it to deliver basic information about what it’s like to work with you, your prices, suggestions for what to wear, FAQ’s, or you could even narrow it down to something super specific like how to prep a newborn for their session, etc.

The possibilities are literally endless. The good news is it allows you to communicate with your clients. The better news is that it gives a gift to your readers, and who won’t like that?!  Win-Win.

Creating & sending a free opt-in ebook is easier than you think, and here is how.

 

1. Brainstorm

What exactly do you want to tell your clients? Do you want to help them pick out outfits for what to wear, or suggest vendors that you like, or explain your pricing and products, etc.? Or maybe you want to write a whole ebook just about helping them figure out what to wear, sort of like a style guide?

Like we already mentioned, the possibilities really are endless. If you’re having trouble deciding, think instead about what you think would help out your ideal client the most. For seniors, that might be a style guide, for families, that might be tips on things to bring to the session to make sure it goes smoothly (like snacks and a change of clothes), and so on.

Once you have your idea, make a list of everything you want to get across to your clients in your ebook. For the purposes of this post, we’re just going to assume you want to write a general ‘this is what it’s like to work with me!’ type of ebook. For a book like that, you might have some of the following topics:

– What to expect for your session/what it’s like working with me
– What to wear
– How to prepare for your session/wedding
– Suggested vendors (especially good for weddings or themed sessions)
– Suggested display arrangements for your house
– Packages and pricing
– Timeline of how it works
– Session/wedding day timeline example
– FAQ’s

Of course this is just an example list of contents, you can always have more things, less things, completely different things, etc. The important part is that you jot down everything you want to tell your client in your info packet ebook.

 

2. Outline

Next, order all of your topics the way you’d want to put them in your ebook, and jot down short bullet points of everything you’d like to cover in each section.

So if we’re working with the same example, it could be:

 

SECTION 1

  • What to expect
    • Super laid back, relaxed
    • No posing, capturing moments and not poses
    • Most likely outdoors unless bad weather
    • Capturing you being you

 

SECTION 2

  • What to wear
    • Bright, fun colors
    • Bring 2 different outfits (extra for kids in case they get dirty)
    • suggested outfit combos

 

SECTION 3

  • How to prepare for your session
    • Make sure you eat ahead of time
    • How to prepare for your session
    • Clean your face of any makeup if possible (if they’re getting make-up done in-house or something)
    • Good night’s rest
    • Lay out/pack your outfits and your extra outfits
    • Pack a snack for kids

 

SECTION 4

  • Timeline for day of the session
    • Arrive at 12:30
    • HMUA 12:30-1
    • Session from 1-2
    • Pack up and clean up/get changed 2-2:30
    • 2:30 leave studio
  • Overall timeline
    • Day 1 – Session Day
    • Day 3 – in-person viewing and ordering
    • Day 30: prints received by photographer
    • Day 35: prints shipped/delivered to client

 

SECTION 5

  • Suggested vendors
    • Flowers:
    • Dresses:
    • Family outfits:
    • Reception Hall:
    • Cake:
    • Props:

 

SECTION 6

  • Pricing and packages
    • A la carte
    • 8×10: $$
    • 5×7: $$
    • 10-page album: $$

 

SECTION 7

  • Suggested layouts for displaying images in-home
    • Living room Option 1
    • Living room Option 2
    • Kitchen
    • Bedroom
    • Children’s Room

 

SECTION 8

  • FAQ’s
    • (will be different for each photography business)

 

3. Writing

This will be one of the more time-intensive parts of the process. But that’s ok; if you break it up into manageable pieces, it’ll be a lot less overwhelming. I won’t write out all the parts of the example I used above because that would be like creating the ebook itself, which is above and beyond the scope of this post.

 

4. Design

Now that you have your content laid out, it’s time to design the actual ebook.

There’s a couple ways you could do this. If you have a background in design, this would probably be pretty easy for you and you might decide to just hash it all out in InDesign.

If you don’t, there’s other options for you.

First things first, you can build your own.  If you’re deciding to build it on your own, you can use Canva to design the cover (which is really great to continuing brand consistency. You may even be able to use it to design the whole thing too, go crazy! Hell, we did, and the products we created with Canva turned out great (you can see them here and here).  

Purchase ebook templates. You can actually purchase ebook templates online that you can just drop your content into. Super nice and convenient, and if you’re not super great at design, this is a good option.

Fiverr. This site let’s you find designers for a flat rate starting at $5 (hence the name ‘fiverr). There’s tons of ebook designers and designs on the site, so this is another great option of where to find an ebook design. You can just find someone to design the cover for you, or you can find someone who will design the whole ebook for you. It’s up to you, your abilities, and your budget.

Hire a designer. The last option is hiring a designer to design it for you. This will most likely be the more expensive option, but you’re most likely to get it to look and feel exactly the way you want.

There’s no right option of which is best; it’s completely up to you and what you want to do. I personally think that for just a quick freebie, finding and purchasing an ebook template is the way to go, but the downside of that being you may be limited on how many alterations you can make to the template and thus, how well-branded it may or may not be. So for all intents and purposes of this post, we’re going to lean towards that option. It’ll probably come to you in the form of an InDesign file or Photoshop file.

 

5. Creation

Now that you have your template, it’s time to drop in your content (don’t forget a contact page with your contact info, picture, and short bio!). Once you’re done and have everything where it belongs, create your table of contents.  

 

6. Revisions

A lot of our readers won’t like this, but grammar and spelling are important. Yes, even for photographers. Yes, even though your photography is the bomb-diggity and you’re a photographer and not a professional writer. You should have done a round of spell-check before you dropped your content into the ebook, but if not, it’s time to do it now for sure. It’s also a good time to have a trusted friend read over the book and catch any spelling or grammar mistakes the computer missed, and to check it over to make sure it’s easy to understand.  

 

7. The Final Edit

Once you get it back, time to make any final changes and finish it off. Export it to pdf format and voila! You’re almost there!  

 

8. Delivery

Now that you have the book….how do you get it to your potential clients? There’s a few options depending on when you want to send it to your clients. If you send it to them only after they’ve booked with you, you can just email them a Dropbox link to the pdf. Simple and easy. However, if you’re using the ebook to help grow your newsletter list or want to make it available to anyone who visits your website, you’ll need another option.  

 

CRMs.

A customer relationship management (CRM) system allows you to have what’s called autoresponders.

Ok, I know you’re freaking out, just sit back, breathe, and let me explain. If you have a newsletter signup on your website, chances are you’re using a free version (many photographers I know use a free service) of a CRM - maybe something like MailChimp. There’s nothing wrong with that, and for basic newsletter communications it’s perfect.

But if you want to be able to send someone a free ebook for signing up to be on your list, you’ll need to have the option to create what’s called an autoresponder. Most free versions of CRM’s don’t have an autoresponder feature, but many paid versions do (and many are pretty cheap, as low as $20/month). It’s a pretty straight-forward function: as soon as someone signs up for your list, the CRM automatically responds to them with a link to download their ebook.

There’s tons of different CRM’s out there, but for a smaller email list I’d consider using MialChimp, Aweber, or GetResponse. They’re the best price for what the average photography studio needs it to do, and their user interfaces are pretty easy to figure out overall. Plus, they’re very widely-used platforms, so there’s tons of free help online if you’re ever having issues.

 

Website link.

You could also create a link to your ebook on your website that allows visitors to read it right on your site. Services like Issuu allow you to do just that. It even allows you to use and publish the pdf you already created - you don’t even have to create it from scratch on their website. And you can do it for free. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

 

Publish it.

You can also always go old school and actually get physical prints of your book. The advantages of doing it this way is that you can bring it to trade shows and hand out to people, and then they can give it to their friends when they’re done, etc. (Though you may have to change up a few things in your design to meet a printer’s specifications, so keep that in mind if you choose this option.)

For the purposes of this example, we’re going to assume that you want to use the CRM option. And we’re doing this for a couple reasons. First, it helps you grow your email newsletter list. This is good, because you have an already-assembled audience of people who are interested in you and your services (otherwise they wouldn’t sign up, right?) that you can market to when you want to do something like have a sale or need to fill your portrait sessions for the month.

Second, it’s available to everyone. This is good because it helps build trust between you and your potential clients, and won’t be just exclusive to people who have already decided to trust you and have already booked you. The more they trust you, the more helpful they are, the more likely they are to pick you when it comes time to make the decision as to which photographer they’ll hire.

That’s pretty much the last step! Let’s see how it breaks down time-wise:  

 

THE SCHEDULE

Month 1:
Monday, February 1st: 8am-9am – Brainstorming session!
Tuesday, February 2nd: 8am-9am – Outline time!
Wednesday, February 3rd: 8am-9am – Writing Section 1
Wednesday, February 10th: 8am-9am – Writing Section 2
Wednesday, February 17th: 8am-9am – Writing Section 3
Wednesday, February 24th: 8am-9am – Writing Section 4

Month 2:
Wednesday, March 2nd: 8am-9am – Writing Section 5
Wednesday, March 9th: 8am-9am – Writing Section 6
Wednesday, March 16th: 8am-9am – Writing Section 7
Wednesday, March 23rd: 8am-9am – Writing Section 8
Wednesday, March 30th: 8am-9am – Writing Section 9

Month 3:
Monday, April 4th: 8am-10am – Researching and purchasing ebook template
Tuesday, April 5th: 8am-10am – Adding content to ebook template
Wednesday, April 6th: 8am-10am – Adding content to ebook template (don’t forget the Table of Contents and your About Me page!)
Thursday, April 7th: 8am-9am – Create well-branded cover page in Canva and then send it off to a friend for proof-reading. (Give them a week or two to do it; long enough that they have time to do it but short enough that they won’t forget about it)
Monday, April 11th: 8am-9am – Research CRM’s
Tuesday, April 12th: 8am-9am – Research CRM’s, and choose a CRM
Monday, April 18th: 8am-9am – Use help docs of the CRM of your choice to set up your email autoresponder sequence
Tuesday, April 19th: 8am-9am – Use help docs of the CRM of your choice to set up your email autoresponder sequence
Wednesday, April 20th: 8am-9am – Use help docs of the CRM of your choice to set up your email autoresponder sequence (if needed)
Monday, April 25th: Receive ebook back from friend (yay!)
Tuesday, April 26th: 8am-10am – Final Edit!
Wednesday, April 27th: 8am-9am – Upload your pdf ebook to Dropbox and add the Dropbox link to your email sequence you set up, and install newsletter signup form on your website (there should be tutorials on how to do this from whichever CRM company you go through).
Thursday, April 28th: CELEBRATE! YOU DID IT!!!!!!

And again, this looks really rough laid out on a blog post like this, but laying it out in a planner and on a calendar really helps you visualize your goal from start to finish.  

 

How Did We Make Sure This Was an Attainable Goal?

Going back to our post about How To Keep Your New Year's Resolution, you'll see that we met all of our criteria for setting a goal and sticking with it.

1. We wrote them down. You couldn't see us actually do this part because we had to communicate with you digitally, but that's where it started.

2. We broke it down. We took our big goal, which was writing an ebook, and broke it into smaller, manageable pieces such as outline creation, research, writing, etc.

3. Make a timeline with deadlines. We also laid out when we wanted to do each of those smaller tasks to make sure we got the ebook done in a reasonable amount of time.

4. We approached our goals one at a time. Notice that we didn't work on any of our other New Year's goals during this time; we kept it to one goal at a time to make sure we didn't overwhelm ourselves.

5. We made it quantifiable. Our goal had a distinct end-point: if we were making an ebook for our clients, we would know that we achieved our goal based on when our ebook was done and ready for delivery to our clients.  

Woohoo!

There’s a lot to digest in this post, but take it one step at a time. If you need more time or less time on any given task, adjust as needed! This is just a breakdown of how I would approach something like this.

The important part is that you plan it out, set aside the time to do it, and actually do it. That’s part of the reason why I suggested doing everything first thing in the morning; you’ll be less likely to put it off to do something else as your regular daily schedule and to-do list inevitably gets thrown off.

And don’t forget - if there’s anything you can’t figure out, Google, Google, Google.

Google is your best friend when you want to try something new. There’s so much free information out there, as well as help and support provided by any of the companies you choose to purchase products or services from.  




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