How My Friend Made $400K From Selling an Insanely Simple eBook

The exact steps he took to benefit from focusing on one product

Tim Denning
Nov 20 · 9 min read
Photo by Jonas Leupe on Unsplash

I have mentioned a few times how a friend of mine made $400K USD from selling an insanely simple eBook. Quite a few people have asked me how, so I wanted to share the exact steps he took, given I once was curious myself.

While I didn’t decide to sell an eBook, my friend did inspire me to write a free eBook which has been downloaded more than 40,000 times.

The book that inspired my friend’s eBook was called “Crush It,” and it led him to share how he started his own blog and the basic tools he used to market it.


Flow States in an Exotic Location

My friend didn’t have the time to write an eBook. He was like me and always wrote short blog posts. The idea of creating an eBook was always there, but he never did it.

While holidaying in an exotic location (I think it was Bali, but I can’t remember and it doesn’t matter) there was a power outage. My friend was without power and had nowhere to be. This seemingly tragic event for a blogger gave him the time and excuse to sit down and write his eBook.

Over the course of a few days, he started writing his eBook thanks to the power outage and didn’t stop. The exotic location, combined with the flow states it produced, pushed through the resistance for him to get started.

Once the book was written, he proofread it, got a cover done for a few bucks online, and posted it on his WordPress blog.

He didn’t believe for a second that his eBook was good. I was one of the early readers of his eBook. While it didn’t change my life or anything like that, it had one subtle thing going for it: It was helpful and gave a novice all the steps.

Ready? Let’s go. Here’s what he did to make $400K from that book.


Set a Decent Price Tag

The price tag of this eBook was $19.95 USD, which was high compared to many of the other eBooks that bloggers were selling for a few dollars as a lead magnet (essentially a cheap purchase that leads to an upsell).

Twenty dollars for an eBook is about the same amount you’d pay for a decent book written by a famous author like Tim Ferriss. (He was no Tim Ferris, but he didn’t let that belief stop him from charging as they do.)

By setting a decent price, he was able to earn his way to $400K a lot faster than most bloggers in his niche.


Believed in Himself

Part of the reason he made $400K from a simple eBook is that my friend believed in himself. After the success of his book, he later went on to charge up to $1,500 per hour for coaching. This was his belief again that separated him from your typical blogger, like me.

He wrote his eBook without any ego or without telling everybody he was better than them. The book was humble, insightful, and useful.

What he believed about his talent was that he could teach people, not that he was special or better than them.

People who can teach something useful online have the opportunity to make $400K as he did.


Acted Like an Expert

There were no “I think” or words of doubt in his eBook.

He demonstrated he was the expert and used evidence from his own blog to back up his point of view. At the time, he wasn’t a well-known blogger but that didn’t stop him from feeling as though he was an expert.

We’re all experts in something even if we’re not the Bill Gates of computers. You don’t have to be a household name to be an expert and write an eBook that makes $400K.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Spoke From Experience

It wasn’t just the steps that he gave amateur readers like me. He inspired you by talking from his experience. It was his thoughts and feelings that connected you to what it was going to be like to go through the process of starting a blog.

eBooks that do well speak from experience and share a few stories to help prepare the reader for what it’s going to be like.


Kept It Short

You might be thinking his eBook was long and took years to write. It didn’t.

The book took a few days to write and a couple of hours to read. It wasn’t a marathon read, and it’s length made it attractive. The price tag of your eBook and the value it brings has nothing to do with its length, only it’s usefulness.


Sent It to His Mailing List

The first step he took was to send the eBook to his mailing list. A few people bought it, and then the people who enjoyed it shared it organically to their friends.

There wasn’t some fancy marketing campaign or agency led social media promotion for his book. His marketing strategy was simple like his eBook and that’s all it needed. The eBook’s usefulness was his marketing angle, not the size of his email list or his marketing prowess.


Made It Inspiring

The eBook was about the dry subject of setting up a blog, and he made it inspiring. No matter what topic you write about, adding a touch of inspiration leads people to action, and it’s that action that makes an eBook valuable.

How he told people to set up a blog was pretty standard — but the fact he got you to actually take action was remarkable. He’s the reason that I became a blogger. Inspiration might sound stupid or shallow, but we all need a bit when it comes to being moved to take action.


Disclosed All the Steps

All the steps were included, including screenshots. He didn’t leave anything out of his eBook or hide bonus information in an upsell.

You can’t trick people with only giving them half the story. If you’re going to make six-figures from an eBook, you better be damn well prepared to give all of the steps and back them up with detail.

My friend’s eBook was literally a guide to setting up a blog and getting started. Without the guide, you’d be stuck searching Google and following opinions from people who have never done it or have made a life out of being a commentator rather than a doer.

People will tell you what you can’t do; they’ll rarely tell you what you can do.


Made It a Feature on the Homepage of His Blog

One of the places my friend’s eBook was most visible was on his blog’s homepage. When you went to his WordPress blog, on the righthand sidebar, at the very top, was a link to his eBook.

If you liked his blog, you couldn’t miss his eBook. The people who found his eBook on the homepage, like me, made up the bulk of the $400K in earnings.


Promoted It on Podcasts

As a blogger, he was often invited to do podcast interviews. The rodeo of podcast interviews is mostly unpaid, so my friend came up with a brilliant strategy: He would do the podcast interview and give up his time as long as he could have a link to his eBook in the podcast show notes.

This tiny little request led to people who had never read his blog to find his eBook and buy it to learn about what he had to teach.


Accepted PayPal

There are endless ways to receive money online that will waste your time and make you overthink the process.

The straightforward idea my friend had was to choose one payment method that the most number of people around the world were likely to have access to. Instead of introducing the complexity of having a shopping cart with a merchant facility, he decided just to accept PayPal.

This decision was another reason he was able to make $400K. He made it easy for people to pay him through a method they were used to and gave them the protection that PayPal offers.

This way of accepting money is not the cheapest, but it did allow him to reach more people, which was far more important.


Wrote Evergreen Content

The eBook my friend wrote was timeless.

You could have read it a few years ago or read it today, and it’s still relevant, minus a few of the software plugins being out of date.

When you write an eBook, if you make it evergreen (meaning it’s hard to tell when it’s written and always relevant), you can keep earning money from it for years to come. Last time I checked, this eBook made $400K.

It’s highly likely it’s still making money years later because of how it’s written. (Homework for Tim: find out how much the eBook has now made.)


Created a Path to More

Despite the $400K the eBook earned, what it did (that made even more money) was to give my friend clients for his coaching business.

The people who read his eBook reached out to him and started conversations. Some of those conversations led to coaching sessions of $1,000+ per hour. It’s impossible to track how many hours of coaching came from the eBook, although it would have to be more than the $400K.

Having an eBook gives you a conversation starter that can fuel your business and give you clients. Or you can just make the money from the eBook and walk away — that’s fine too!


Understood It Took Time

His eBook wasn’t an overnight success. It took time. The $400K took a couple of years to accumulate, and he allowed it to compound further by investing some of the money in his own development.

He paid world leaders for coaching and attended events like A-Fest These investments led him to expand his network and find ways to partner with like-minded people — thus making the $400K grow further.


Didn’t Monetize Every Channel

One of the reasons the eBook earned as much as it did was that his audience had many other free channels they could access his work through.

The temptation is to monetize everything, and that will only cause you to severely limit your reach.

What works well is to have a couple of channels you earn money from so that you can give people a break and let them have something for free. It’s through your free resources that people find you and any eBooks you have written.

If all you do is charge people, they may never get to come into contact with your work.

People read my friend’s free blog posts, and a percentage of those decided to go further with their learning and spent the $19.95 on his eBook.


Gave Some of the Proceeds Away

Making $400K is nice. What my friend taught me through his eBook, which I still use today, is to give away some of the proceeds.

Some of the money he raised was used towards charitable projects and giving back to the people that supported him. Keeping all that money for yourself can make you forget the gift you’ve been given.

When you get what you want, help others get what they want.

That’s how you derive an empowering meaning from making that much money from a short, insanely simple eBook.


Never Took It Down

A well-written, evergreen eBook doesn’t ever have to be taken down. My friend resisted the urge to keep writing a new eBook and left his original one up for many years.

There were other projects, but his eBook always stayed live and hummed away in the background.

Resisting the temptation to take down his eBook was one of the reasons it made $400K. The eBook had time to simmer like a good stew and build momentum and flavor.


Here’s What I Hoped You Learned

  • Be useful
  • Patience is key
  • Inspire people
  • Help other people in the process
  • Everyone starts by being inspired by another person

That’s how anyone can make $400K from an insanely simple eBook.

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

Tim Denning

Written by

Aussie Viral Blogger - Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship. www.timdenning.net

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade