Lately I’ve been wrestling with a decision as to what my next passive income project should be: Should I write another ebook or start another brand new website?
Both opportunities present some benefits as well as challenges. I’ve always wanted to be an author and well-respected figure associated with personal finance, and so having yet another ebook in my portfolio can help me with this.
But then creating websites is something that has, without a doubt, put money back into my pocket month after month. I’ve been able to do this with some degree of success, and so to add yet another one to my collection would only increase my chances for success even more.
Believe me … if I had the time, I would probably take them both on.
But I probably don’t have to tell you – time is a pretty scarce asset. And the last thing I want to do is invest a whole lot of time on something that doesn’t payout well in the end.
With that said, here are my arguments for and against both projects.
Writing a New Ebook
Earlier this year, I finally became an official author on the Amazon Kindle digital bookstore.
Writing ebooks was something that I’ve read a lot about throughout the years as being a very lucrative passive income opportunity, with the potential to make tens of thousands of dollars every month! Just check out this one here.
All that for writing a few 50-100 page books? Sign me up!
And so I did – not once, but twice this year with the release of Save Better and Save More, Earn More.
Writing ebooks for profit was not really my only motivation. My true intentions actually go back a lot further.
I cannot tell you enough how much books have helped me on my journey to financial freedom.
Ever since my early 20’s, I’ve found a lot of great enthusiasm and motivation from reading the success stories of people who’ve “made it” and the wisdom they’ve shared through printed word (or digital now … I guess).
As a matter of fact, part of the motivation for starting My Money Design all those years ago was that I hoped it would lead to some sort of book deal eventually. How great would it be to walk into a book store and see my name on the side of a book or two with my name on it up on the shelves for future savers to learn from?
But the times they are a changin’ (to quote Bob Dylan) …
With the advent of ebooks, now ANYONE can write an ebook. This is both a good and bad thing.
It was a good thing because a person like myself who has quite a bit of knowledge about personal finance and retirement planning can bypass big-time publishers and put a quality book out there that I truly believe will help people, and I can do it with literally no obstacles in my way.
The bad thing – every hack from every part of the world can scrape together some words that they found off the internet and Frankenstein them into a meatless 20 page book with a fancy book cover and 100 fake positive Amazon reviews.
I speak from experience … I cannot tell you how many simply-awful ebooks I’ve downloaded from Amazon that weren’t even worth the keystroke it took to down load it. One of them was so bad I had this review to write afterwards …
And that’s exactly the problem.
With all those garbage ebooks out there, my two books have unfortunately been lost in an over-crowded marketplace and are getting maybe one download per month if I’m lucky. To date, I think I’ve made probably less than $100 total from my ebook sales.
So much for passive income!
Don’t Give Up!
NOW, in fairness, I attribute part of my failure thus far to the fact that I only have two books out there. If you follow anything by Steve Scott or other ebook authors, they have often said that you don’t get rich writing one book, you get rich from offering a whole portfolio of ebooks.
Perhaps I’m giving up too early! If I was up to 5 or even 10 ebooks, maybe I would start to see some of this mystical revenue actually roll in.
But before I launch into writing yet another one, I have to objectively ask myself: Is it worth it? Writing is a fun process. But it’s not very fulfilling if no one ever reads your work. AND its especially a punch to the face if you made $0 in return for your efforts.
And that brings me to my next point …
Creating a New Website
Anyone who has read my monthly income reports knows that I’ve had some positive success with building websites.
Though I’m no Pat Flynn, I have been able to create some regular affiliate revenue, get on the first page of Google for my main target keyword, rank some more articles for a few select supporting keywords, and attract an audience.
I attribute a lot of this success to the fact that I used each of my niche websites as a training grounds and opportunity to experimentation. I’ve been able to find out what content ranks well, which ones don’t, what SEO tactics to try, who to listen to, who’s full of it, and so on.
The Itch to Try Something New:
Like I mentioned in my last Niche Website update, I’m starting to reach a point where I’m not sure how to mature some of my websites any further beyond the point where they are already. This is mostly due to some fundamental mistakes I made in the beginning as far as site structure, content, keyword selection, and so on. If it wasn’t such an overhaul, I’d love to go back and re-write almost every post on a few of the sites using the knowledge I know today.
SO … why not then start a brand new site? Something that encompasses all the lessons learned to date.
And what better way to do this then to use all the content and material I was going to write anyways IF I choose to write an ebook?
With a website, I have a lot more confidence that people will actually be able to find my material, read it, appreciate it, and learn something useful.
And on the business side of things, I’m very confident a new website could generate a few hundred extra dollars per month (just like most of my other websites have done for me thus far).
The only issue with starting a new website is that much like the whole ebook thing websites are becoming a crowded space as well.
It used to be a lot easier to rank for certain keywords, but not so much anyone. For practically every phrase you can think, you pretty much have major competition from the likes of Forbes, CNN, and dozens of other high authority websites that are just dominating all the major high traffic words.
Why is that? Because Google is starting to favor these ultra high corporate websites more and more with every algorithm update. (… probably nothing to do with advertising relationships …)
So while I have had some success with ranking pages, I have to ask myself: How long will my tricks continue to work? How long until home-made websites like the kind you and I make are things of the past and rubbed out by major corporate content generation machines?
What to Do?
So there you can see my dilemma.
I could possibly continue to perpetuate my fantasy of being a personal finance author and continue to expand my portfolio of ebooks. By having more ebooks to offer, I might actually turn a new leaf and start seeing more sales.
Or they could continue to fall flat, generate absolutely no revenue at all, and never be read by anyone ever.
On the other hand, I could create yet another website. I’ve had some success in this area that I’m sure I could recreate in this new project. But with the way Google has been transforming and favoring major corporate websites, I might have more challenges ahead of me than I realize.
Readers – What project would you take on – Writing a new ebook or creating a new website?
Featured image courtesy of nerovlvo | Flickr
Richard @ Frugality Magazine says
Personally I’ve wrestled with similar questions this year. I spent much of the first three months of this year writing (and outsourcing) a number of Kindle books before doing the whole “promotion” thing. I managed to get plenty of free downloads during my promos, and sales continued on for some time. Now though I, like you, see just a handful of sales each month. For me that’s an awful lot of time invested for very little return.
On the other hand I’ve taken one of my websites from around 100 visitors a day to over 1,000 in 2015, and seen considerably more traction, engagement and (quite frankly) income. So, for me, it’s websites all the way.
I have a few “old” blogs that I set up years ago but have stopped updating some years ago. They still have decent content and some decent links, so my goal over the next few months is to “re-invigorate” these – bringing them up to date with modern themes, plenty more content and so on. I hope to apply the strategies that have worked so well on that one site, to a load of others that I own.
Oh, and building up websites is a lot more enjoyable for me than writing an ebook because you get to see that constant “feedback” of traffic, social shares and comments going up. The contrast is writing an ebook, which can take weeks or even months, without really knowing for sure if what you’re doing is going to produce any results.
Whatever you choose – best of luck! 🙂
Thanks Richard. Although I wish you had found more success with your ebooks, it is comforting to hear of someone else who experienced the same high effort / low return that I did. After reading so many blogs where people claim to be killing it with ebooks, I was beginning to wonder if there was something seriously wrong with me.
I’m in agreement that blogs are a lot more rapid with the feedback. For me, that satisfaction of knowing I’m helping people is also worth quite a bit for me. It empowers the effort and keeps me wanting to keep on generating more.
EL @ MoneyWatch101 says
If it were me, I would create the new website in late 2015 and early 2016. The passive income opportunity is greater and you will get the itch off your back for 6 months at least. Then in the 2nd half of 2016, I would concentrate on the next book, even though it doesn’t bring in $$ it seems like your dream is writing books. Solves both problems.
You may have read my mind! Good thought strategy. Without giving away too much, one of the scenarios I had considered was writing the content, putting it on the website, and seeing which posts get the most reaction. Then I could turn the most popular posts into books (with expanded and bonus content of course).
I say do the website.
You’ve done better with them in the past, both artistically and financially. And while it’s harder to rank for keywords now, it’s not impossible. Even my blog is getting more and more traffic from the search engines than from link referrals such as commenting or guest posts.
Plus, you can constantly add new content to a website. That can eventually become the basis for another ebook! Or maybe more than one. By creating a site, you may be laying down the foundation for a portfolio of ebooks using already monetized content..
I’m sure you’ll find a way to keep your sites doing well in the rankings. You’d have to do it with ebooks anyway, promoting them and hoping that Amazon takes notice pushed your work to the top of their search list.
That’s my take on it, at least.
ARB–Angry Retail Banker
P.S. I think your CommentLuv feature is down. It rarely works for me.
Thanks ARB. I do think the searchable aspect of content on the web vs content in ebooks does give websites a more distinct advantage. But that’s not to say you couldn’t eventually re-purpose the blog content as ebooks later on.
I’ll have to check on what’s going on with Comment Luv! Those crazy plugins …
Comment Luv seems to be working okay. Try it again and see if you still get any issues.
Okay, works this time. I’ll let you know if that changes.
Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says
You should do creating a new website MMD because it is easier than making a new book. And, I know you could do both but I think it would be more worthy if it is a website. Good luck MMD.
Thanks Jayson for the vote.