How My eBook Got Over 1,000 Downloads In Less Than One Week

February 10, 2015 Sujan Patel

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Back at the end of 2014, my friend Rob Wormley and I decided to write a book that gave away all the secret strategies and tactics we’ve used to help hundreds of companies (including the one we both work for now) to boost web traffic, connect with more leads, and ultimately increase revenue.

After we officially launched the book in mid-January, we weren’t surprised when we started hearing good things from people who had downloaded the book—after all, it’s over 100 pages of actionable strategies, recommended tools, case studies, examples, and additional resources.

What we weren’t expecting, however, was that it would be downloaded over 1,000 times within the first week!

That being said, it’s been a few weeks since we launched 100 Days of Growth, and Rob and I have finally had the time to break down our launch strategy piece by piece in order to figure out what it was that we did right.

Based on our evaluation, we’ve outlined the top 10 steps we took that had the biggest impact on our overall success in hopes that others can replicate the process.

Here are the 10 steps we used to get over 1,000 downloads in less than a week:

Step 1: Choose the right topic

One of the most important steps you need to take when it comes to developing any piece of content is to choose the right topic. When we decided to write a book back in December, we knew we had to write something that focused on a topic that:

  1. People would actually find interesting and valuable
  2. Had SEO value
  3. Was easily promotable

After performing keyword research, talking to some of our friends in the marketing industry, and engaging with people we didn’t know on Slack, Quora, and Twitter, we ultimately decided to write a book that offered actionable growth hacking tips for startups.

Step 2: Build and launch your landing page ASAP

Once we had the topic and after we created a basic outline for the book, we built and launched the landing page that we would ultimately use to launch and sell our eBook. Taking this step was one of the best decisions we made. Although it was tempting to wait until the book was written and everything was perfectly polished to start promoting the book, we knew that in order to successfully launch, we had to start building buzz about the book ahead of time. Some might question the idea of creating a landing page for a book that hasn’t even been written yet, but we found that it was a great way to build credibility with people. Instead of simply telling them about a great growth hacking book we were planning on launching, we sent them to a landing page that gave them more information about the book.

Step 3: Create a pre-order offer

When we published the landing page, we decided to also make it possible for people to pre-order the book. Our goal was to get as many orders as we could leading up to the actual launch of the book. In the end, this step accomplished a few things for us:

  1. It showed us that there were enough people who were interested in buying the book (which made it easier to justify spending the time and resources needed to actually produce it)
  2. It boosted our credibility even further
  3. It gave us the opportunity to encourage people to buy the book ahead of time (we created a pre-launch offer that allowed people to buy the book for ⅓ of the price if they ordered before we launched)

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Step 4: Leverage existing relationships

Once we had our landing page up and our pre-order offer was live, we started reaching out to everyone we knew and asked them to help us promote the book. This involved:

  • Emailing
  • Texting
  • Calling people over the phone
  • Tweeting at them
  • Sending them messages on Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Talking to them in person, when possible

Taking this step helped us get the initial traction we needed in order to take the next step.

Step 5: Establish new partner relationships

The next step we took was to establish new partner relationships. To successfully launch our eBook, we knew we needed to get help from people we didn’t know—people who could help connect us with audiences we didn’t have direct access to. Thankfully, we had enough buzz thanks to the friends we had reached out to in Step #4 in order to feel confident enough to start reaching out to people we didn’t know for help. We established new partner relationships by authentically engaging with people in Slack communities, on Twitter, in Quora discussions, and by cold-emailing them. To our surprise, a lot of people—people we had never interacted with or met before—were more than happy to help us. All we had to do was ask.

Step 6: Write promotion-driven content

As mentioned in Step #1, our goal was to decide on a topic and write an eBook that we could actually promote. To make this possible, we decided to fill our eBook with promotion-driven content. What this meant specifically was that we ended up mentioning or linking to over 500+ companies, tools, case studies, and blog posts in our eBook. Each tip in the book includes 2-3 real-world examples of use, 2-3 recommended tools, and 2-3 additional resources. We did this for two reasons:

  1. To pack as much value into our eBook as possible
  2. So that we could reach out to every single person mentioned in the book and ask them to share it once we launched

Step 7: Give away a free sample

In addition to creating a way for people to pre-order the book, we also created a way for them to download preview chapters when they visited the landing page. We found that this was an essential part of building further credibility and pushing people to actually buy the book. Since we planned on selling the book for $27 once it launched, we wanted people to know with certainty that they were getting more than enough value for their money. We started by offering two free chapters right away, then when we had more of the book written, we bumped it all the way up to 27 free chapters.  

Step 8: Authentically participate in strategic online communities

In the weeks leading up to the launch of our book, we spent a lot of time authentically participating in online communities. Specifically, we spent time engaging with people on:

  • Twitter
  • Slack Chats
  • Quora
  • LinkedIn
  • Product Hunt
  • Growth Hackers

Taking the time to talk to people helped us complete Step #5, and it also helped us strengthen our reputations as industry experts.

Step 9: Share everywhere

In the final week leading up to launch, we shared and wrote about the book wherever we could. We wanted to ramp up buzz as much as possible and let people know that the book (and more importantly, the growth strategies) would be available to them in a matter of days. We shared on our social media profiles, in our blogs, in our email signatures, in our bios, and everywhere else we could think of.

We also sent copies to a handful of people ahead of time and asked for feedback on the book. The strategy in doing this was to be able to get honest feedback on the book from a few select people in order to make final tweaks to the book prior to our official launch.

Step 10: Go all-in on launch day

When the launch day finally arrived, we went all in. We sent messages, emails, and texts to everyone we knew and everyone we had developed relationships with along the way and asked them to help give the book one final push.

In the end, with the help of everyone we reached out to, we were able to see over 1,000 downloads within the first week.

Final thoughts

Amazingly, we only spent a total of $29 producing the book. That being said, it took us about 50 hours to write the eBook, and 5-10 hours of tinkering the Instapage landing page.

The biggest lesson we learned from the entire experience is that people are willing to help you if you’re willing to take the time to ask. Rob and I definitely could not have successfully launched our book on our own. The help we got from others was an essential part of our ultimate success.

What questions do you have for me? Ask me in the comments section below!

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About the Author

Sujan Patel

Sujan Patel is the VP of Marketing at When I Work and founder of ContentMarketer.io. He's helped companies like Mint, TurboTax, Salesforce, and others land more customers, make more money, and grow their businesses. As the Founder and former CEO of Single Grain, he grew his business from a bootstrapped consulting startup to a multi-million dollar digital marketing agency.

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