A downloadable PDF for your small business website is an easy way to reuse existing blog content and build trust with potential customers.

As a service provider—whether you remodel homes or do people’s taxes—you have a lot of knowledge that may not always get shared with customers and clients. That knowledge is what makes you so good at what you do, and an ebook is the perfect way to package it. Not only does a branded ebook help build authority and trust with your customers, but it can be used to drive high-quality leads into your sales funnel.

While those benefits are enough to consider testing the waters with this type of content, you may still be wondering if it’s worth your while. Here are five more reasons to produce your first lead-driving ebook.

1. You May Already Have the Content

An ebook is a great way to repurpose your blog content. If you’ve been publishing for a year or longer, you likely have a backlog of old articles that aren’t getting much attention. Use those as the foundation for your ebook, greatly reducing vast majority of the work of creating an ebook—the writing.

The process of finding blog posts to use will also help you determine a topic. Head to your analytics tool (Google Analytics or otherwise) to see which blog posts have done best over the past year. For example, if the titles below represented a contractor’s top blog posts, the theme you might note is: inexpensive remodeling ideas.

  • 5 DIY Ideas for Your New Backyard
  • How to Renovate Your Kitchen on a Budget
  • Free Apps to Manage Your Renovation Project
  • 10 Bedroom Looks You Can Get for $100 or Less

With your topic ready, you just have to create a compelling title. Save time and effort by using this guide, 21 Helpful Ebook Ideas, with templates that you can simply drop your topic into. Finally, spend an hour scouring your blog for more related articles that you can pick apart and put back together as a completed resource.

2. You Can Make it Clickable

A lead-driving ebook is usually hosted on your website as a PDF. As such, you can include links within the text of the ebook, allowing you to drive traffic to the web pages you care about most, like more resources, interactive tools, blog posts or landing pages.

It’s important to remember, however, that your ebook should serve as a valuable resource, not an advertisement. If it feels too sales-y, those who downloaded may be less interested in talking with you or a salesperson when you make that follow-up call.

Include more resource-focused links than those that sell to the reader. Any link that falls into the latter category can be included with your CTA at the end of the ebook.

3. It Boosts Your SEO on High-Value Topics

Your ebook needs to live on its own landing page on your website, where you can have a lead-capture form along with a description of the ebook. When optimized properly, your ebook, and the landing page it’s on, can rank in search engines for the keywords that are most important for your business.

For example, the previously mentioned contracting business might want to rank for local search terms like: "Renovation Permit Guide for Burlington, Vermont.” While blog posts allow you to rank for these terms, an ebook can provide the same value and help you target local leads.

If you want the ebook itself to rank within Google (not just the landing page), you need to follow a few specific search engine optimization (SEO) guidelines:

  • Use your SEO keyword in the PDF file name, with hyphens separating the words.
  • Link to the PDF itself, not just the landing page, in various blog posts and resources throughout your site. You can bury it in old blog posts while you’re trying to use it to drive leads to avoid giving it away for free.
  • Link to pages on your website, as we discussed above: blog posts, resources, landing pages, etc.

That’s not all—there are 10 important tips for making your PDF SEO-friendly, and you’ll find the full set of guidelines at Search Engine Journal.

4. It Takes Minimal Budget

While many lead-driving tactics are expensive, creating an ebook costs little to no money to produce. Your main expense will be the time spent creating it. Otherwise, you can create your ebook for free in Google Slides (check out this tutorial from Webascender) or in Google Docs—all you have to do is "Save as PDF.”

If you have a small amount of budget to play with, use it wisely. If content is where you struggle, or have lack of support, find a freelance writer on a site like UpWork who can do it quickly and effectively. Otherwise, design is the next most important piece. If you get it wrong, you could miss out on leads.

"If you want people to download the ebook, then its design needs to entice the prospect to do so. It has to look professional, set the story of your ebook, and reflect your brand,” said Sarah Quinn of Hubspot. Why? "It’s the first thing your audience will see, so the design has to instantly attract them.”

This doesn’t mean it needs to be "fancy” or expensive; it just needs to accurately represent your brand and the topic in a visually appealing way. This design should flow through the rest of the ebook, keeping it consistent from page one through to the end.

5. It Has a Fast Turnaround Time

The ease of producing an ebook is also why it’s perfect for busy business owners. You can create an ebook in one day. This is especially true if your blog content is already thorough and needs minimal editing.

"Each of your chosen articles is going to form the basis of a chapter in your new ebook. Your blog posts will be subsections. Combine those subsections on a similar topic into the same section. Finally, put like sections into chapters. Then, all you need to do is write a few sentences to make the transitions smooth,” advised Andrew Tate, contributor for AdEspresso.

Now that you know the value of producing a lead-generating ebook, you can see the importance of setting aside one day, or even one afternoon, to create your first one. Consider what topics will provide your business and potential customers the most value, and get started—once you take the first step, the rest is easy.

By Jessica Thiefels, Honest Body Fitness - October 31, 2017

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