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How to Choose a Compelling Topic for Your eBook

You’ve undoubtedly just finished reading my compelling last blog, “How To Use eBooks to Gain New Customers.” While I await my Pulitzer (okay, I won’t hold my breath), I thought we could explore the next logical question: what topic should you write about?

Take a few minutes to think about that. If something jumps into your head, write it down, thank your muse and consider yourself very lucky. Otherwise, try this exercise. If you had to tell the strangers next to you on a flight the most interesting point about your business, what would you say? That point is your starting point.

Whatever your eBook topic turns out to be, it should do two things: impress and inform. By impress I don’t necessarily mean incite to the point of envy (like flaunting an Hermes Birkin bag or cruising a new Tesla). I mean leave a favorable, lasting impression. Remember we learned last time “it’s better to give than receive.”

Barnstorming vs. Brainstorming

The word barnstorming comes from a time when stunt pilots put on spectacular shows in the sky literally storming close to barns to entertain farmers below. It was all daredevil dips and death-defying loop-de-loops. That’s not the kind of bravado you want to show when considering a topic for your company’s eBook. If the self-promotion is showing, the reader is going.

What you want to do is brainstorm with your staff, business partner or a content provider agency to identify what might interest the people who most interest you.

First, treat yourself to a little free association.

  • What do we know best?
  • What is our expertise?
  • What’s recent and relevant?
  • How can we educate the public?
  • What would our client’s like to learn?
  • What makes our business special?
  • What myths can we debunk?
  • What predictions can we make?
  • How can we simplify a complex subject?
  • Who will enjoy this eBook most?

Once you have some topics to toss around, go on to this next step.

5 Ways to Predict a Topic’s Popularity

Pre-determining the viability of an eBook topic ensures there is demand and maybe even a good chance to profit from it commercially.

1. Keyword Research

Research keywords or phrases that are searched for the most in your industry to gain insight into what people look for on the internet. You can tailor your topic toward these trends to bring it in line with demand.

2. eBook Bestsellers

Peruse the eBook bestseller lists on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If your topic is already selling on one of them, you definitely know there is a demand. Again, you can tweak to match or supplement topics already achieving interest.

3. Reader Reviews

Readers register their satisfaction and dissatisfaction through book reviews. Take advantage of this insight to amend topics covered in your own eBook. If comments indicate “just another hard-to-follow how-to with clip-art illustrations,” don’t bother producing a how-to with, you guessed it.

4. Industry Forums

Seach using “your topic + forum” to discover various platforms where you can follow discussions and deduce trends. Frequently asked questions and user replies show areas of opportunity for your own problem-solving eBook. Users in these discussions, blogs and forums will also be searching online for related topics like yours.

5. Bulletin Boards

Question-and-answer-type bulletin boards such as WikiAnswers provide a private online forum for discussions including challenges and changes people are experiencing related to your particular topic.

How To Spot Topic Potential

Google Trends shows the peaks in Internet searches and where they are coming from, providing “a unique real-time perspective on what people are currently interested in and curious about.” The data deals with aggregate groups and no individual is named. For example, heavy-volume searching of “private school vouchers” coming from Texas means the audience is parents of grade school children living in the Southwest. This information lets you hop on the bandwagon of interest if so desired.

Web traffic measurement services track visitors’ behavior and attributes. Search any URL including your own or the competition’s for details such as age range, education, gender, salary, interests and websites frequently visited. Type in the address of another website that covers your topic to see the type of people it attracts.

Onsite survey and questionnaire software unearths the truth, but to use this market research tool you’ll need your own website, blog or newsletter where you can enlist a group to offer their opinion. You can also survey your fans on Facebook or followers on Twitter. A one-page survey tends to get the most responses: over 5 questions and eyes glaze over.

Finally, using analytics will tell you which of your blog posts or social media messages have been liked this year. For instance, many clients ask about making a website video, so we merged a few blog posts into an eBook called “Lights, Camera, Traction: Why You Need a Website Video.”

Why do certain types of content become more successful than others? Are they more timely and relevant? What makes a message go mainstream and viral? Tour top industry sites and communities and tune into what’s being talked about. Expand those topics to create real eBook page turners.

Remember, the topic you choose must be one you know a whole lot about and one with at least some demand. For assistance with finding your topic or researching its viability, please feel free to contact our experts today.