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14 Comments

Why do you think Steph Smith's ebook is working out so well?

I love seeing an indie hacker do well. 😇

One that stands out currently is @stephsmith's recent Doing Content Right ebook.

You can view some of her product updates on her IH Product page.

She also posts updates on Twitter.

Why do you think it has worked out so well?

  1. 12

    Let's start with the most obvious: she knows what she is talking about. She's built a huge following in relatively short time, so she's speaking from experience, not just theory.

    1. 2

      I might add, I haven't started it yet, but a friend of mine after reading a few first pages sais she started to think her entire project over again. So there are some great actionable insights in the book :)

  2. 8

    Feels a bit meta to be commenting on the success of my own product, but I'm going to anyway. 😅

    There's no way to know for sure, but I think the main driver of success was this: I spent an inordinate amount of time considering why someone would not buy the product and tried to address all of those things within the landing page and the product itself.

    More detail behind that strategy:
    1. ADDRESSING CONCERNS: People are jaded from all of the bad ebooks out there. Even the term ebook has a slightly negative connotation. In fact, the combination of an ebook and it being about content is like a double whammy. I addressed this notion very directly on the homepage, by saying the following, "I founded my blog on the principles that there isn't enough quality content out there. If you're worried that this will be another sh**ty ebook and don't find it's worth your money when it drops, I will happily process a refund for you." I also added the table of contents so that people would know exactly what they were going to get.

    2. STRUCTURED FOR ENGAGEMENT: Even if you create a great ebook, the challenge still becomes getting people to actually read it and engage with it. I knew there was a high possibility that some people would buy and not actually use it, so I added weekly live sessions, structured the book like a textbook instead of a novel (actually encouraged people to skip sections), and filled the book with exercises. See here for more details.

    3. FOCUSING ON QUALITY: The final, but equally important "strategy" was actually making the book really good. So good that people would want to talk about it. People would want to be affiliates for it. People would want to buy it for their friends and colleagues (this has already started to happen). Since launching, I have hardly tweeted about the book myself, but just retweeted what other people have to say. And I haven't promoted it on any channels outside of Twitter (I haven't even sent it to my email list yet! 😅) I talk about the power law in the book, but it's the concept that attention is not linear with respect to creative products. In this case, people enjoying the book are actually in most part doing the promotion for me. This would not be true, had the product been average or even slightly above average.

    All of this is to say that while I did have a sizeable Twitter audience to generate the traction and I experimented with a lot of things (people seem to love the tiered pricing), the most important thing I did was think long and hard about what would stop this book from being a success and do everything I could to make that not true.

  3. 5

    Few reasons:

    1. Credibility - Unlike other "gurus" who just share tips to grow an audience / write content, without having many followers or success stories themselves, Steph actually knows what she is doing and has the results to back it (400k page views, her job at The Hustle)
    2. Content Density & Relevance - In an age where people creating content, people are looking for ways to write and distribute it. Having a clear table of contents and a high page count displays increases likelihood of any of the topics appealing to different users.
    3. Unique format - Steph is also doing live sessions to discuss the book, which gives readers a chance to ask questions and be a part of a community.

    Why did I buy her book?

    She gave a free session on SEO to a community I'm in (Newsletter Geeks) and I found the content enriching and insightful. I thought, "If her free content is so good, imagine how valuable her paid content will be?" And I was definitely not disappointed.

    I also wanted to support female makers - it's so rare that females publish something on Gumroad so wanted to get behind that (most launches I've seen are by guys)

    So her giving free talks like that, building her personal brand and credibility does drive purchases. I've read most of it and will likely be reading it multiple times in the next few months. It's that valuable.

  4. 3

    honestly, i bought it to support her.

    i'm not sure when i'll jump into it, but, i'm glad it's working!

  5. 3

    There're involved some factors here:

    • She got a bunch of followers on Twitter (+8k).
    • With that amount of followers is easier to spread your product.
    • Posting updates is a great way to remember your followers what are you doing.
    • It seems her book covers a lot of different topics, just in one book.
    • Good monetization tiers, that converts in more sales.

    Right now I started a pre-order on my ebook about rocket launch your Twitter account.

    For sure I will make product updates on IH and also on Twitter!

  6. 2

    Everything Steph has ever put out has been quality.

    I've been following her for a couple of years now, and have not once been disappointed. Because of this, I trust her and the brand she's building and also, I want to support an individual with such high standards.

    For this reason, she could probably sell 'A Guide to Jumping off Bridges' and I'd purchase.

    1. 1

      Thanks so much, Madi! 💛

  7. 2

    I think it comes down mostly to 2 things: credibity and engaged audience

  8. 2

    I would guess that the main factor is she seems to know her audience really well. I don't think I've ever preordered anything before this book. But I came across it somewhere, and just from taking a quick look at the table of contents, preordered immediately.

    I didn't know who Steph was before this, but there was enough proof on the page that made her seem credible. More importantly, the TOC had listings for nearly everything I've struggled with with content. If I were to sit down and make a list of everything that I wanted to know about content marketing and didn't understand, it would look a lot like the TOC here.

  9. 2

    I hadn't heard of this before, but just going through the contents page, she highlights so many things that I struggle with. It's great copy, she clearly seems like somebody who is very competent in her field and I can see why people would resonate with that (and I think I'm actually going to purchase!).

    The other undeniable fact must be that she has a large following on Twitter which I imagine would help a lot with getting the initial traction/traffic for a project like this.

    Thanks for the heads up @rosiesherry :)

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