Advertising doesn’t build trust either, it actually destroys it. Consumers hate sales pitches. According to The Economists Group’s “Missing the Mark” report, “71% of readers say they were turned off by content that seems like a sales pitch.”
Whether you operate an offline business or a digital marketing agency (like we do at Bloominari), useful content is what determines whether or not it will drive traffic, acquire leads, get sales and grow revenue.
Before creating content for online users (i.e., your ideal customers), you have to consider that users will consume your content on various channels, applications, and devices.
So how do you ensure that your content format suits your audience? If you have a blog, for example, you might feel comfortable creating blog posts -- but is that what your audience cares about?
What topic is good for an ebook or blog post? How do you make that distinction?
To help you make the right decisions, we’ll answer a few questions to address this argument and to help you decide what content format (ebook or blog post) to create:
When to Write a Blog Post
1. Do you plan on building an audience/community?
When your ultimate goal is to build a community of loyal audience or customers, then you should create more blog posts. Because you’ll connect better with people. It’s a great way to ‘lead’ and ‘teach’ people.
Brian Clark, an author, and founder of Copyblogger Media built his active community through blogging (i.e., writing blog posts). Yes, his ebooks and hardcover books generate revenue, but the blog posts nurture the love that exists on his blog. That’s why he prioritizes blog posts on his platform:
That’s why most bestselling authors still have active blogs where they frequently create useful and interesting content to engage their readers.
For example, Seth Godin, a prolific author of more than 20 books create more blog posts than you can imagine.
Besides, creating valuable blog posts is a proven way to increase your leads, win more customers, and grow sales. According to HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Best Practices Report, “companies that blog consistently generates 67% more leads than companies that don’t.”
So if you want to be a part of a loyal community, you should consider creating more blog posts. Question answered!
2. Does the topic require a regular update?
If the topic you’re contemplating writing as an ebook or blog post is ever-changing, then you’d make more impact if you stick to a blog post. Because it’s a lot easier to update such content.
You can’t update an ebook easily. Once you put it out there and start getting it downloaded, how do you retrieve it from people, update it, and send it back to them?
That’s weird and impossible.
It’s quite easy to update an already published blog post if you’re a WordPress user. Simply log into your dashboard, edit the ‘post’ and click “update.” That’s all.
You can edit both date and time if you want.
If you’re a tech startup, for example, it’s obvious that you’ll be updating your product or service as technology advances.
Writing an ebook will be a waste of time because the information is bound to change in the future. Sure, there are topics that will do well in an ebook format, but not topics that change frequently.
3. Are you concerned about User Experience?
In basic terms, User Experience is the degree of satisfaction your website visitors derive from navigating your website pages and reading your content.
If they’re not happy, they’ll leave. If they spend more time on your website, it means they can become customers. Also, Google will reward your website with increased rankings if users spend more time on site.
User Experience (UX) is what boosts conversions.
79% of search users who don’t like what they see on your site will go back and search for another site.
So how do you enhance a user’s experience so that they can trust you enough to subscribe to your email list or buy your product?
The truth be told, you have the opportunity to optimize your blog to provide a deeper user experience especially when you invest in a custom design that’s suitable for the demographics you’re targeting.
Creating helpful blog posts and establishing user flow with heatmaps and funnels are effective means of serving your readers better. Delivering a great user experience with an ebook is quite difficult.
4. Do you want to take your audience on a journey?
I’ve seen online marketers who have successfully built a loyal audience that attends their live events, buys their products, religiously read and share their posts, and support them in every way possible.
That’s exactly what Steve Chou did. When his wife quit her job, she started documenting it on MyWifeQuitHerJob.com. His blog now reaches over a million active readers monthly and they earn 6 figure income from it.
Your ebook could take people on a journey (e.g., how you started your career or company and lessons learned), but it can’t provide satisfaction because you won’t be able to update the journey and still get them re-download and re-read the ebook.
There’s nothing to download in a blog post. You can write a series of posts to lead your audience on a path. Your site visitors would go from discovering your blog to instantly falling in love with it.
When to Write an Ebook
1. Do you want to build an email list?
As the saying goes, “The money is in the list.”
One of the hallmarks of a successful business is the number of qualified prospects and customers who are on their email list.
When it comes to deciding what content format to adopt, an ebook is best for building an email list. It’s pretty easy to convince a site user to opt-in in order to download your latest ebook or report.
It’s hard to convince site visitors to subscribe to your email list in exchange for a blog post. Yes, you could use content upgrade within your posts, but readers will still get the post in an ebook format.
Essentially, write a very helpful ebook if you want to build and increase your email subscribers.
2. Is it a broad topic?
If the topic in question is broad (e.g., marketing automation), then creating a comprehensive ebook would help you to address every aspect of the topic. Because you might need to write a 5,000 to 15,000 words to do justice to the topic.
Have you noticed that 99% of Industry reports are comprehensive and long? Hence, they’re written in the form of ebooks (PDFs) so that industry players can download it. An example is Adobe’s Digital Intelligence Briefing 2018.
Most people will not read such lengthy content in the form of a blog post. It’s tiresome and not advisable. They’ll prefer to download it and read later in PDF or any portable format.
3. Do you want to sell the content?
Ebooks are a source of revenue for most businesses. That’s why if increasing your revenue is critical, then you should write an ebook.
Self-published authors are becoming best sellers on the NYTimes list. John Locke sold $2 million worth of eBooks before landing a deal with Simon & Schuster.
If you think that’s out of reach, here’s another proof. Nathan Barry, prior to starting ConvertKit, made $12,000 in 24 hours from his ebook, “App Design Handbook.”
A blog post isn’t the right format to use because there are over 2 million new posts published daily. So it’s readily available (and free) on the web. I, personally, will not pay for your blog post.
You’re better of writing an ebook, since most people are used to buying ebooks on Amazon, ebook reading devices like the Kindle eReaders and Smartphones are also available these days.
4. Is the topic evergreen?
Contrast this to the “ever-changing” topics and you’ll agree with me that writing an ebook will be most-suitable for evergreen topics. Timeless topics.
Evergreen topics don’t change frequently or at all. Topics like how to start a business are never going to change.
That’s why an ebook on these and similar topics will continue to be popular just like evergreen songs that never goes away. On Amazon, for example, you see some ebooks that will remain timeless in the Parenting category.
You write it once and sell it over and over again. Or use the ebook to build an email list. There’s no need to update it.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write blog posts that require no regular update.
After all, you can build a passive income blog based off of a popular niche (e.g., parenting) that don’t change so often. When it comes to preference, an ebook will get you the best results.
5. Do you want to attract media attention?
A single mention on Mashable, Inc., FastCompany, New York Times and other online media outlets could send you thousands of traffic, hundreds of leads, and quickly skyrocket your authority in your industry.
Barry Eisler writes about Thrillers. Readers love his work and started sharing it. Not long after the initial buzz, Eisler attracted media attention and a renowned publisher offer him $500,000 for a new two-book deal.
Do you want such attention? If yes, then consider writing an ebook. Hardly will a blog post, no matter how useful and well-written will go viral. Yes, it happens but how many times have you successfully pulled it off?
If your ebook is really insightful and solves a particular problem, or challenges the status quo, you can attract the media if you give it away for free. Don’t charge for if you want to increase its chances of going viral.
So have you decided on what content format to channel your attention to? If you ask me, the best solution is what I call “blogging an ebook.”
It means to focus on both content formats. Instead of creating blog posts only or just ebooks, you should do both!
Regardless of the topic you want to write about, it must either fall into the blog post or ebook format. If you write an ebook, for example, you can pick out a few topics for your blog posts from within the content itself.
Before launching your ebook, you can write compelling blog posts to create awareness. It’s a win/win.