Kelly McNelis is the wife, mother of five, and crockpot wiz behind The Family Freezer. Besides running AdThrive ads on her site, she has diversified her income by incorporating eBook publishing into her strategies. By focusing on marketing, she grew her eBook sales to over six figures each year, and now she shares all those details in her new course, eBook Marketing Made Easy.
We asked Kelly to share some insights with you on how she built this successful additional revenue stream!
How did you become an online content creator?
Like so many other bloggers, I took a long, random path to get here. My professional career began with grad school, when I spent an extra four years in school earning my PhD in psychology. Then I got a job doing research for the government, which was totally boring. I ended up taking long lunches, running errands during work hours, and really, dodging the work that I didn’t enjoy. I finally realized that I couldn’t settle for a job I didn’t love and pay someone to take care of my children, only to avoid the actual work.
My husband encouraged me to stay at home after our second daughter was born and start a blog where I could share my passions, like being a mom, working out, and cooking. That was the beginning of The Family Freezer. It was quickly apparent that my readers loved my recipes the most, so I kept sharing them.
When did you realize the potential your business held?
I always wanted to make money from my blog, but it took me YEARS to figure it out. I didn’t start making a significant amount of money until 2015, after I had been blogging three years. That was the year that I made a New Year’s Resolution to make a full-time income blogging and jumped into making it happen.
I blogged more than ever before, joined AdThrive, sold affiliate products, and threw myself into learning new marketing techniques that I could use to sell my eBooks. I remember creating an eBook “launch strategy” that I could use to release a new eBook that summer. The strategy focused on serving my audience first – before I ever asked them for a dollar.
I’m happy to report that my new eBook launch strategy paid off! I launched a new cookbook eBook and made over $7,000 in just THREE days! And my eBook sales didn’t stop there. I made $17K in eBook sales that month and over $150K in eBook sales that year! At that point, I realized my blog had bloomed into a successful business and my husband and I started talking seriously about him joining me full-time.
How did you get started building the additional revenue stream of eBook publishing?
In the beginning stages of blogging I had the brilliant idea to create a cookbook eBook since my recipe blog posts were so popular. I knew I wanted to make money blogging and selling my own eBook seemed like an easy way to do it. I spent a couple of months coming up with new recipes, writing the eBook, and setting up a simple sales page on my blog. Once it was completed, I sat back waiting for the sales to roll in.
Much to my surprise, I heard crickets. In fact, the entire first year that my eBook was for sale, I only sold 12 copies. TWELVE. And if we exclude copies bought by my parents and other people who I knew, I probably had two true customers.
I knew I had made a mistake somewhere, but the content of the eBook wasn’t it. I knew the recipes were good! People loved the recipes on my blog and were always asking for more. I realized marketing wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. The good news is that I made some changes and sold 282 copies over the following TWO months!
What changed? Not the recipes or the hideous cover that I designed myself. What changed was that I got intentional about selling my eBook.
I wrote blog posts highlighting its benefits and shared them in my email newsletter, along with a few other marketing tactics I learned. And that marketing plan is what made the sales actually start rolling in.
Where do you sell your eBooks?
We self-publish our eBooks and sell them on our own website. We love selling eBooks this way because we keep all of the profits and keep readers on our site.
What’s your top piece of advice about publishing a successful eBook?
Oh my gosh, it’s hard to narrow it down!
In terms of writing an eBook, I would say to make sure the topic of the eBook is right for your audience. You could do this by looking at your blog analytics to see which types of blog posts are most popular or by polling your followers to see which topics they’re most interested in reading. I know my audience really well, but they still continue to surprise me, so don’t assume you know what they want! It’s much easier to sell an eBook when your readers are already excited about your topic.
My advice about marketing an eBook is to get organized and follow a specific “launch” plan. We warm up our audience with lots of freebies and then do a hard sell for about a week. You don’t feel as bad about selling when you know it’s only for a limited amount of time.
What is one of the coolest things to come out of owning your own business and establishing multiple income streams?
My husband, Andy, and I have five kids and work together from home. We’ve worked really hard to establish passive income streams so we can make a decent income while only working part-time. That means we can spend less time working and more time with our kids and the other activities that add meaning to our lives.
We love this lifestyle so much that we never want it to end. Having a diversified income stream means that we have more security to continue this lifestyle for as long as we want.
Thank you for sharing, Kelly! We LOVE hearing our publishers’ stories and the cool ways they fuel their creative lifestyle— serving such an inspiring group of people each day is what drives our entire team.