By Dan Kieran, co-founder and CEO of Unbound
For small business owners the internet provides wonderful opportunities to build a following and engage directly with fans. Yet, although growing a fanbase is much easier than it would have been in the past, we are now in an ‘age of free content’ which makes it much harder to earn money through creativity, except through ever more intrusive advertising.
However, content creators are much more interested in how to monetise quality content that their fans love than in bombarding them with advertising. One way to achieve this is by compiling your best content into a book. Book sales create an initial income stream while other connected content and offline experiences create secondary incomes.
Let me share my top tips for monetising your followers through publishing a book.
1) Pick subject you and your followers care about
Writing great content that your followers love is what you do, but when it comes to longer-form content like a book, you need to select a theme and perhaps even a story. Most content creators build their following by offering something that mainstream publications missed. So, a good place to start may be to ask what your followers get from you that they don’t get elsewhere.
You should also write something you genuinely care about. Not only will it be much easier to stay motivated, but it will also support your brand and engage your core audience. You could even consult them by running a poll, or having them crowdsource your book idea.
2) Use crowdfunding
If you have a large and engaged crowd of followers, then crowdfunding your book seems a no-brainer. Not only does crowdfunding allow you to retain complete creative control over your work, which will in-turn appeal to your followers, but it also gives you a chance to engage your audience throughout the publishing journey.
Crowdfunding also means you can sell additional experiences and merch during your campaign. For example, video games influencer, Dan Hardcastle, raised over £300k via crowdfunding for his book, Fuck Yeah, Video Games, on Unbound.
Eighty percent of this money, or around £250k, came from selling additional rewards ‒ such as unique experiences, exclusive illustrations and personalised videos.
3) Be creative with rewards
There’s a fairly simple rule to follow when offering rewards to followers: the more creative the offering, the greater the value. And make sure what you offer is authentic to who you are and what you create.
Never has this been so aptly demonstrated than with popular YouTube comedian, Stuart Ashen, when he offered a ‘box of mystery tat’ as part of his crowdfunding campaign for his book Attack of the Flickering Skeletons. He sold three boxes of tat at £250 a piece, each one containing unique objects his fans would recognise and value.
4) Engage your die-hard supporters
You’re always bound to have a select few avid supporters who will pay a significant premium for exclusive access to you or your ideas; something traditional publishing simply cannot capitalise on.
Dan Hardcastle created a reward level at £2,500, which allowed a supporter to choose the video game for an entire chapter of his book. Beyond the financial reward, it demonstrated the depths of his accessibility and creativity, which grabbed his followers’ attention.
Your die-hard supporters want the opportunity to have something unique. So what can you offer them that’s unique to you? Crucially, you don’t need to offer expensive objects. Just giving them privileged access will be much more valuable to them.
Plenty of people are building big follower bases and publishing is one of the industries with the potential to embrace this. It’s an incredible opportunity for people who have interesting things to say, and control of their content, to connect with a supporter base who wants to hear it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dan Kieran is the co-founder and CEO of Unbound, a crowdfunding publisher that combines data science and an award-winning publishing brand with an online marketplace. Readers pre-order books through pledging, Unbound publishes and sells them, giving authors a 50/50 profit split and access to an engaged community.
The publisher’s 200k users from 195 countries have pledged £7m+ to fund 436 books to-date, including bestsellers like Letters of Note and The Good Immigrant.
By predicting future trends, Unbound funds books more quickly and reaches instant, data-driven acquisition decisions.
Video Games influencer, Dan Hardcastle, raised over £300k for his book on Unbound: https://unbound.com/books/nerdcubed/
Stuart Ashen sold three boxes of ‘mystery tat’ at £250 a piece during his book’s crowdfunding campaign: https://unbound.com/books/moreashens/