I spent 3 months writing a book, then posted it for free online.

I founded PeopleFish in 2016.

Since then, we've completed market research projects for more than 300 startups -- companies like SpaceX, AMS, Getaround, and P&G.

We've surveyed more than one million consumers in the process.

It's been a fun ride, and it's still ongoing!

Anyways, after four years of running PeopleFish, I decided to write a book about market research surveys for startups.

Now, I never intended this to be an actual, physical book. I don't think that's the right format for this kind of content. People want to look at this while sitting at their desk -- not while dozing by the pool.

It was only ever going to be an e-book -- something to entice visitors to my website to leave their email address, and something to prove my/our skills as survey market researchers.

So last summer, I got started. I wrote for ~30 minutes most evening from June to August, being very careful about my words, example, and images. By the time autumn rolled around, I had pretty much wrapped it up -- about 7K words, ten chapters, and several images/graphs.

Then, it hit me...

Why even make this an e-book? That's just another barrier between the content and the reader. Why not just post this online, all on one page? All for free? And include helpful links and videos along the way?

So that's what I did. I bought a URL. Copy, paste. Voila! Now I have a very strong piece of long-form content branded with my name sitting near the top of some of the most valuable keywords in my industry.

What made me do it this way, after working so hard on the content? In my mind, these were the benefits:

  1. Google loves detailed, long-form pieces like this. Given my name is on the website, this would boost my reputation as a leader in this space, and generate leads for my company.
  2. I can share this effortlessly -- even while on the phone. It impresses leads and clients that I've made so much available online for free, and it's easy for anyone to lookup and find.
  3. The URL is SEO-gold -- this is the exact phrase we try to own at PeopleFish, so why not buy that exact URL and point all links therein to me?

And here were the potential downsides:

  1. No $$ from e-book sales (but honestly, 10 good leads from this piece is worth thousands of dollars -- more than I'd ever expect to make selling this book).
  2. No emails given by making this email-required in order to view (but couldn't it be that as many, or more, people would reach out to me because of what they read, and not because they WANT to read it?).
  3. Letting competitors, or potential customers, see exactly how I/we do our work (but doesn't it build trust when you're open about your approach?)

The website is marketresearchforstartups.com, for those who are interested. It's relevant for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and startup founders launching something B2C.

But the larger point here is: Consider doing something like this yourself! There are plenty of well-known content creators who got their "start" with one strong, long-form piece of content that turned into SEO gold.

Believe it or not, you're the expert on something! Hone in on that subject, and spill your guts onto the page. You never know what could happen!

  1. 2

    First of all, bookmarked. This is an amazing resource. Although, I want to say that while this format works for you (since as you said the potential leads from this content is worth more than ebook sales), it may not work in other spaces where leads aren't as valuable where it may not be worthwhile putting so much effort into giving something for free (not even collecting emails).

    1. 1

      Yes, totally agree. Our typical client is paying anywhere from $2K-$4K per project. So one email can be quite valuable to us! The same may not be true of most other companies.

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