Many self-published authors can create a strong and dependable cash flow stream by selling their eBooks from the own web site. I sell my eBooks from my web site/blog using ClickBank as the payment processor and the results have been very good. My web site/blog has now become my second largest source of book sales behind Amazon. The purpose of this blog article is to provide a list of pros and cons of selling your own eBooks from your own web site with ClickBank as your payment processor based on my own experiences of having done it for a few years.
Here are the Pros of selling your own eBooks from your own web site using ClickBank as the payment processor:
1. Top reason, the money! Every eBook you sell from your web site is nearly 100% profit to you, with a small payment to the payment processing company (ClickBank in my case). Amazon Kindle Direct doesn’t get to keep 65%. Barnes and Nobles doesn’t get to keep 50%. The print-on-demand company doesn’t get any of the loot either. The money is all mine, mine, mine! Downloadable information products such as eBooks are perhaps the most profitable thing that can be sold on the Internet. Every part of the sale can be completely automated and the overhead is negligible.
2. The payments from ClickBank are weekly. Everyone else pays monthly. The payments are electronically deposited and I’m happy to get them every week.
3. ClickBank payments are sent out much more promptly than any of my other sources of online sales. For example, Amazon Kindle Direct pays out at the end of the second month after sales are made. Lightning Source pays out at the end of the third month after any print-on-demand hardcopy sales are made. ClickBank pays out three weeks after sales are made.
4. ClickBank combined with my web site expands my global sales much wider than Amazon does. At least a third of the eBooks I sell from my web site are sold outside of the US. You can take a look at the customer testimonials of one of my books to get an idea of how wide-spread sales can be from your own web site: http://excelmasterseries.com/ClickBank/Students/Student_Excel_Master.php None of the well-known online book stores seem to have a strong presence outside of the US. My own Amazon eBook sales from outside the US are a small fraction of my US-based Amazon sales. My ClickBank sales come from every corner in the world.
5. ClickBank can handle credit card or PayPal payments in just about any currency and from any location. I don’t deal with any aspects of payment processing for sales from my own web site. ClickBank has been a very satisfactory, cheap, turn-key, multi-national payment processing solution.
6. Second top reason – ClickBank sends me contact information (name, email address, and location) of every customer who makes a sale from my web site as soon as the sale is made. This is HUGE! Every time I make a sale from my web site, I email that customer a personal note thanking them for the sale. I also try to mention something nice and interesting about where the customers lives. These emails are usually sent out within a few hours of each sale. The customers are delighted to get a surprise personal email from the eBook’s author right after the sale is made. I have been able to create a quite a few very close relationships with my customers that all started with that one follow-up email. I also have a large email list of every customer whoever purchased from my web site. Is any of that possible when selling eBooks through an online book store? Nope. Amazon and B&N aren’t about to give up their customer lists.
7. When I sell my eBooks from my own web site, I can sell in any format. Amazon Kindle eBooks are all .mobi. B&N (and most other online book stores) sell .ePub eBooks. Several online book stores, such as the Google book store, provide downloads in the .pdf format. If you purchase any eBook from my web site, you get all three types of downloads at no extra charge.
8. When you sell from your own web site, you can include extra bonuses with each purchase as an extra incentive to make the purchase. If you click on this link once again: http://excelmasterseries.com/ClickBank/Students/Student_Excel_Master.php and scroll down the page a bit, you’ll see the extra bonus e-manual that I provide each customer. Certainly this extra bonus e-manual was the right nudge that turned at least a few fence-sitters into customers. To my knowledge, Amazon does not provide authors with the ability to offer bonus eBooks. That might be an effective sales tool for Amazon.
9. Selling eBooks on your web site through ClickBank allows you to create a very personal download page. When a customer’s payment is successfully processed, ClickBank directs the customer back to a download page that is on your web site. Your download page provides you with all kinds of great opportunities, such as upselling and writing a personal message to the customer. You have nothing of the kind going on with Amazon.
10. Unlike Amazon browsers, your web site visitors will not be shown eBooks that compete with yours. I’ve always wondered how Amazon customers who were just about to buy one of my books changed their mind at the last second as a result of being shown something else by Amazon?
There are more Pros that could be added to the list, but we should also discuss the Cons as well. I have found selling my eBooks from my own web site through ClickBank to be overall very worthwhile, but every good thing has downside.
Here are the Cons of selling your own eBooks from you own web site:
1. Your web site sale cannibalize your Amazon sales. The more units that one of your books sells on Amazon, the higher Amazon will rank that book in its search engine. The higher your book come up during Amazon searches, the more you will sell. Instead of making a sale on my web site, I could direct interested prospects to the Amazon sales page of the same eBook. If I did that, I certainly would have higher Amazon sales right now. Selling my eBooks from my web site no doubt has reduced my Amazon sales. How much, I’ll never know.
2. It’s a LOT of work put together an effective selling web site. I put my whole site together myself: http://excelmasterseries.com/ but I bet I would have saved myself an enormous amount of work if had I simply used a template available for such a web site. You need to have pretty good graphic design skills and along with solid HTML, CSS, and PHP knowledge to do it yourself. You could hire someone to do it for you, but that’s not cheap.
3. If your works are nonfiction, you’ll need a blog, I believe. Nonfiction writers need to establish themselves as experts in their field and blogs are a perfect tool to quickly do this. Blogs are excellent traffic builders. Google loves a site with a blog because blogs normally provide up-to-date, relevant information on a topic. You can place a sales form right in your blog, as I do in mine here: http://blog.excelmasterseries.com/ In case you are interested, the Excel Master Series blog is a Blogger blog and the blog that you are now reading is a WordPress blog, just so you can see the differences. The downside of a blog – It is also a LOT of work to regularly write good articles. Before you begin a blog, you’ll need to make sure that you have a passion for the topic and won’t run out of material after 10 articles. You can install analytics (I use Google Analytics) into your blog to find out how many of your sales are coming directly from blog visitors. You will probably find you blog to be an excellent source of direct eBook sales, but, once again, it’s a LOT of work to maintain a blog.
4. Sales from your site are totally dependant upon the traffic to the site. You need to become a good Internet marketer to generate that traffic. Becoming a competent Internet marketer is a long road filled with countless fruitless, frustrating dead ends. I can’t tell you how many “sure things” that I’ve tried which didn’t move the traffic needle even a blip. It’s hard to predict what will work and what won’t. Sometimes only one out of five things you’ll try will bring more traffic. I haven’t hit a get-rich-quick speed bump yet in my pursuit of Internet marketing wealth. I know I’m a lot better at it than I was a few years ago, but each step forward usually came after a couple steps back. Generating substantial Internet traffic to your site is a long-term proposition involving a LOT of work.
So, there you have it. The Pros and Cons of selling eBooks from your own web site, based on my experiences of doing so. At the end of the day, selling my eBooks from my own site has been a profitable and worthwhile endeavor, but not the easiest thing I’ve ever done.