Case Study: Nick Loper Builds Brand Authority With E-books

Case Study: Nick Loper Builds Brand Authority With E-books

the side hustle pathNick Loper is the author of seven e-books. The most successful of these to date is “Work Smarter“. Loper said the book has sold at least 2,000 copies since its release, but he was most excited about his first royalty check three years ago in the amount of $47.43.

“At first, it was an authority play,” he said on publishing his first book. “I didn’t expect to sell many copies, but I thought it would boost the authority of a site I had.”

When the light bulb came on, he decided to write and publish a book that would complement what he was writing on his blog.

“If I write the book, I thought, people will know what I’m talking about. The surprising thing was, people could go to the site, click on a link, and buy the book, but almost nobody bought it through the website. They were buying it through Amazon.”

How Nick Loper Became a Side Hustler

Nick Loper Side Hustle NationLoper started his website Side Hustle Nation in 2011 because he had a passion for helping people set themselves free from their jobs and earning additional income on the side. But he didn’t have a book to sell. When someone brought that to his attention, he fixed it. To date, he’s published three books in the series. The first one is titled “The Side Hustle Path“. The follow-ups are Volume 2 and Volume 3.

“It’s very much a portfolio business,” he said. “It’s rare to have one hit that sustains you. ‘Work Smarter’ did well on the launch, but it’s been slow and steady ever since. The portfolio approach keeps it spinning. Each new title is another chance to be discovered in an Amazon or Google search.”

Loper admits he isn’t doing anything extraordinary. Each book is repurposed content from his Side Hustle podcast. But the books help him expand his reach.

He immediately offered the first book as a permafree title then shortly published his second in the series. He offers the second book in the series as a free giveaway within the first book if people sign up for his e-mail list. He’s got a different offer in Volume 2 in case people enter the series on that book.

“It hasn’t been amazing,” he said. “It’s driven only 300 signups so far.”

But the books have only been out for four months (as of this writing). So far, he’s seen the first book downloaded about 9,000 times and the second book has sold about 100 units. He’s got a 3% sign-up rate on his e-mail list through the first book’s offer on Volume 2.

Why (and How) Does He Publish on Amazon?

It’s rare to have one hit that sustains you. The portfolio approach keeps it spinning. Each new title is another chance to be discovered in an Amazon or Google search.

Loper chose to publish on Amazon because that’s where the readers are. He didn’t have an audience on his website to speak of so he decided to leverage Amazon’s marketing machine, but he is considering moving to his own platform at some point in the future. He’s also sold books through Fiverr.

To keep costs of production low, Loper does his own book covers in PowerPoint. He also does most of his own editing, but he did hire an editor for the first book.

“It was money well spent,” he said. He managed to find someone on Elance who was just starting to build his portfolio, so the rate was attractive. “He also helped with the formatting.”

Loper keeps the publishing process simple. He’s published books from Word directly to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, but he’s also used a software called Calibre.

“Where Calibre has been helpful is, you download the file, save it as filtered HTML, then generate a .mobi (a file format readable by Kindle devices).”

Loper says that process is much easier.

How Loper Launches New E-book Titles

The Side Hustle Path by Nick LoperLoper doesn’t do anything fancy. He relies a lot on social media. He reaches out to the hustlers he features in his e-books and asks them to help promote his titles. He shares the launch on Facebook and sends an e-mail blast to his list of subscribers. Finally, he notifies his students on Udemy about new launches. Between his e-mail list and Udemy, he’s got a reach of roughly 12,000.

While he has tried some of the free promotion sites, like Buck Books, and Facebook Kindle book groups, he doesn’t have very good tracking and analytics for judging success.

“You get better results in groups where you are more engaged and with relevant subject matter, like on LinkedIn,” he said. “I have yet to be approved by BookBub.”

One of the most frustrating things for Loper was working with Amazon to get the first Side Hustle book to permafree.

“I waited a couple of weeks and notified them to get them to price match the book worldwide. I uploaded it to Smashwords and iBooks and went back and forth with Amazon’s author support to get it matched. Finally, they price matched it to the Barnes & Noble link.”

Loper says the value in self-publishing e-books is not the money, but the personal branding.

“I look at the royalties as gravy,” he said. “For me it’s a brand building exercise, an authority building exercise, and a creative outlet.”

Nick Loper’s books and initial release dates include:

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Buy Nick Loper’s books at Amazon

Nick Loper's books

Allen Taylor
Allen Taylor
Allen Taylor is a freelance writer, content strategist, and award-winning journalist. He is the author of "E-book Publishing: Create Your Own Brand of Digital Books," available in the Kindle, ePub, iBooks, and PDF formats.

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