How ONE eBook Grew My List by 800 Subscribers and Earned Over $3000

How NOT to Use a Free eBook to Grow Your Email List -- And what to do instead!

Your Typical eBook Story

These days, everybody and their aunt has a free ebook that they are offering as an “opt-in” to persuade visitors to join their list. Practically every blog you visit has a little pop-up or ad in the sidebar promoting such a lead magnet.

This makes it kind of hard to stand out, you know?

I’m not saying that an ebook is a bad thing to offer. Not at all. I’m sure many of these downloads are really quite valuable resources for their intended audiences, and yours might even be something extra special.

I’m just sayin' that with everybody offering a free ebook, people are really starting to ignore such offers. It doesn’t seem very “special” anymore.

Trying to use a free ebook to grow you list, but only getting a trickle of new subscribers? The ebook isn't your problem --- you just need a better strategy!

The Death of eBooks (Or Not)

Does this mean we should abandon the eBook and move on to free courses, free videos series, and free live events at Disneyland? Well, if you’ve got the resources you certainly could.

Or, you could simply rethink the ebook.

What if there was a different way you could promote your ebook (that might require a little more work) that would exponentially increase the results you get from it??

We’re talking same content and same format, but 10x+ the results.

Sound good?

Keep on reading…


Why eBooks DON’T Work

Complete Dependent on Website Traffic

When ebooks are promoted with pop-ups and ads, they are only reaching people who come to your site. That means that even if you have the most amazing, fantastic ebook EVER, if you only are getting 5 visitors on your site each month then you’ll only be able to get a max of 5 new subscribers.

In other words, unless you’ve got a crazy amount of traffic, those normal ways of promoting ebooks just won’t produce any crazy results.

Not Much of a Way to Reach New People

Not only do they only convert traffic you’re already getting, but they aren’t doing very much at all to bring new people in. Sure, a few people might see your promotional pin on Pinterest or your post on Facebook, but for the most part, the ebook will only be improving your conversion rates — not bringing new traffic.

Overdone & Ordinary

Finally, as mentioned above, people have simply become rather numb to free ebook offers. Anyone can write a few pages in a Word document, save it as a PDF and call it an ebook.

WHO KNOWS if it’s any good; WHO KNOWS if it’s worth giving up their email address for??

So: how do we overcome these problems and use an ebook to get crazy, crazy good results? Well, we just need to think outside the box a little. (Or, think outside the website, as the case may be.)

The Appeal of a PUBLISHED Book

Pretty much every blogger might be offering a free book, but you know what everyone isn’t doing? Publishing their own “real” book.

Even in today’s society, authors get a lot of prestige. “Wow, you’re an author?!” …you don’t know how many times I’m heard that.

While writing and publishing a book isn’t a whole lot more difficult than writing a book and offering it as a free PDF, the fact that you went to the extra work to do so says a lot about how much YOU care about it.

Also, once it’s actually published, people are able to leave public reviews on Amazon, Good Reads, etc. This adds a lot more social proof than just a random PDF offered on your own site.

Trying to use a free ebook to grow you list, but only getting a trickle of new subscribers? The ebook isn't your problem --- you just need a better strategy!Unique Opportunities

What does a published book have to do with your email opt-in form on your website?

This: you’ve been doing it backward.

At least, you’ve been doing it backward if you’ve been offering the ebook as the freebie behind your opt-in form.

Here’s what you can do instead:

  1. Publish your ebook
  2. Inside the ebook, offer a specific, free bonus at a certain landing page
  3. Use the “bonus” as the freebie behind the Opt-In form

Why is this better? Several reasons:

  1. You’re not devaluing your content
  2. You’re able to harness the unique opportunities available for published books (keep reading for more on this)
  3. Your leads come to you already warm

Published books are actually MUCH easier to promote — both on Amazon and on social media. This is because they have a much higher perceived value.

Think about it: If you post on Instagram, “Visit my website to download my free ebook,” a few people might take you up on it.

On the other hand, if you actually publish your ebook, you’re able to spend weeks building up hype about your new book that’s coming out. And, when it does come out, if it’s free for even one day, people are going to make it a real priority to go download it. Simply because of the higher perceived value.

Once you’ve got all those people downloading your ebook, the people who really resonate with your message (i.e. your ideal customers) will be the ones who follow through and actually join your email list.

Harness the Power of Amazon

Just like Google, Amazon is a search engine. However, in contrast to Google, there is MUCH less competition on Amazon.

Are there a million books on Amazon? Yes.

Is there a lot of competition on Amazon? Definitely

BUT, there are over a BILLION results on Google. That is over 1000x more competition.

So, if you want your ebook to stand out, where do you think you should market it? On Google, or on Amazon, where there’s 1000x less competition AND you get instant expert status?

Preeeetty much a no-brainer…

As icing on the cake, Amazon gives you several tools that allow you to promote your ebook listing in different ways, bumping it up to the first page of search results.

(Yes, you can pay for ads on Google, but most of us tend to ignore those ads. We aren’t so blind to the Amazon ones, simply because we don’t see them as much and they are always in different places.)

How to convert readers into subscribers (and future sales)

Okay, so you’re persuaded! You understand that you definitely should publish your ebook on Amazon.

But how exactly do you convert those readers into subscribers? Well, that’s actually the [super] easy part.

All you have to do is add one page into your book, right before the first chapter. That page simply tells readers that, as a “thank you gift” for purchasing the book, they get a free bonus.

Tell them where to go to get the bonus, and make sure you tell them exactly WHAT the bonus is and WHY they want it. (Don’t just say “free bonus!” Say “free bonus video training on how to teach your dog to dance.”)

The Results of My Self-Published eBook

My favorite part about all this? It’s not just theory! This is exactly what happened when I launched my first published book earlier this year.

I spent just one month writing the entire book, then got it ready to publish (edited, formatted, and got a cover designed for it). After several weeks of building up the pre-release hype, I launched “SORTED: Freedom through Structure” to an eager audience.

The results? Over 10,000 people downloaded my book in the first three days! (Since then, it’s gone on to get more than 15,000 sales.) That was WAY more than I ever expected!

Over 800 people joined my list over the following weeks — and I have to tell you, this is where I messed up. You know how I told you to be really specific about the free offer in your book? Well, I wasn’t. I basically just said, “Visit this link and opt-in for a bunch of great stuff!”

I’m sure if I’d been [a lot] clearer on the specific value readers could get I would have gotten even more new subscribers.

But, 800 subscribers is still a TON for one ebook — I’m definitely not complaining!

The subscribers weren’t my only gain. I also earned a few thousand dollars over the first two months after the book came out. Since then, I continue to earn a couple hundred dollars each month of passive income.

first successful book launch graphicAnd finally, obviously, I also gained so much credibility with my audience. Now they see me as an expert in the field (SORTED is all about how to organize your life and develop routines to keep it that way). They like and trust me, and THAT is probably the most valuable thing I gained by publishing my ebook.

Want to learn how to launch your own ebook with CRAZY results? Click here to download my free Book Launch Checklist that shows step-by-step exactly what you need to do to get tons of downloads with your very first self-published ebook!


How about you? Have you written an ebook? What’s your highest performing opt-in offer on your website? Let me know in the comments below!

Gillian Perkins

Hi, I’m Gillian! I’m a marketing strategist who helps online entrepreneurs 10X their sales with FB ads + sales funnels. I love combining tech, analytics, and psychology to create powerful marketing systems. When I’m not helping my clients scale their businesses, I’m spending time with my husband and two little boys, exploring new places, or seeking out choice espresso.