How To Start Your Self-Publishing Business Online

Today I'd like to help you get started selling your self-published products online.

I'll give you a series of "Do it now" suggestions to help you take your first steps — and start making sales!

Plus, by the time you're done reading this issue, you'll have the knowledge — and all the skills necessary — to begin selling your self-published products through the Internet … Knowing full well you'll be able to reach customers cost-effectively, and for the biggest "out of the gates" profits.

Why your self-publishing biz should start online

"Oh, but Roy," you say, "I don't know how to build websites! I can barely use Microsoft Word — and you want me to start selling things … ONLINE?!"

"Yes, yes, yes … YES!"

Don't worry. This is something you can do, without much hassle — and even without hiring a webmaster.

Plus, selling online has huge advantages when creating your spare-time self-publishing business. Advantages that far outweigh the small learning curve you'll have to overcome.

  • Advantages like affordability — you can have a website online and begin testing a new self-publishing concept for 1/10th the cost of a small offline test.
  • And speed — you can put a website online today and be making sales tonight, whereas offline it could be weeks before your first orders start to come in.
  • And ease — once you get going online, you'll find coordinating an online effort means you following a simple set of directions, where offline you're managing print shops and mailing houses and advertising sales reps and a number of other people, all with their fingers in your pie.

It just makes sense to start your self-publishing business online (and it can mean more profits in your pocket).

Even companies and individuals who've had serious success marketing published products offline are doing their publishing online today:

  • This is how veteran copywriter and direct-mail expert Bob Bly launches every new product under his CTC Publishing label.
  • AWAI may still use some offline media to attract new customers to their core products — but when they want a profitable launch of a new product, the promotion goes out online.
  • My self-publishing projects are run exclusively online, because the niches I target are impossible to target profitably offline (yet a single niche can bring in a couple thousand dollars per year … mostly hands-off by selling through my website).

Here's how to start selling online, with no web development experience

Listen, tools exist now which make it incredibly easy to start selling your product on your very own website.

If you can write a simple letter in Microsoft Word — plus occasionally copy and paste — you can create an entire website that sells your self-published products through the Internet.

Once you're started online and know you have an offer that works, you can revisit offline marketing to drive more traffic to your website. But for now, let's focus on getting your self-publishing business online and beginning to make sales and profits.

I'll use my "hockey skills building system" self-publishing idea to illustrate …

The 1-2-3 roadmap to begin making sales online

Okay, so I've decided I'll sell my "hockey skills building system" through a website. I've put together two front-end products, and am planning my back-end products, too. But I haven't yet put up my website.

What do I need to do to make it happen? Well, there's three main steps …

  • Buy a domain name & hosting
  • Accept payments
  • Start publishing

Step 1: Buy a domain name & hosting

In most cases, you can do both of these at the same time.

If you're a website-building newbie, go to SiteBuildIt at and register for their service. For $299 per year, you get a complete suite of software that will not only help you build your website — it will help you with your entire approach to building your website, modeling your site on websites which work.

Included in the package are both the domain name (the online address of your website) and hosting (actually storing and serving up the content) — plus SiteBuildIt even helps you pick a domain name which makes people want to visit your site!

So, I go online and register to begin creating my website. I see is already taken, so I go with I use their tools and begin putting up the different pages on my website, including my home page and product pages, and realize …

I can't sell my products yet because I can't accept payments!

Well, that's the reason for the next step …

Step 2: Accept payments

There are a number of options for accepting payments online — and many of them can get confusing. Here's a short list of some of the easiest-to-use options for a spare-time self-publishing business.

  • Clickbank ( — For under $50 up-front, plus a small fee per transaction, you get the entire infrastructure to start selling digital products over the Internet (that's downloadable e-books, video, software, etc.). This includes the ability to accept credit cards and PayPal. Plus, you get immediate access to a network of over 100,000 affiliates who will promote your product for you in exchange for a percentage of sales.
  • PayPal ( — This is a no-up-front-fee option for accepting both credit cards and the balance many people keep in their PayPal account. The downside is it doesn't manage digital product delivery for you, so if you're selling a downloadable product, the onus is on you to give the customer instructions on how to download the product, once you receive their order confirmation. It does integrate well with the various shipping services though, so if you have something to ship, PayPal's interface works great.
  • 1ShoppingCart ( — This is one of the most commonly used shopping cart services by online entrepreneurs. From $34 to $99 per month, it comes in a bit more expensive than other options. However, you get a complete system for accepting and managing orders — including digital product delivery, integration with the shipping services, and accepting a whole host of payment options.

For my site, I realize most of what I plan to sell initially is downloadable products. So, I go ahead and register at Clickbank to begin selling my products — at least until I see if the profits are there to support a more advanced payment and shopping cart system.

It's easy to do. Once I register and submit my product information, I'm given a piece of web code. I simply copy and paste this into my website to include an "Add to Cart" button for my products. (Each of the services I mentioned include equally simple copy and paste instructions to begin selling through your website.)

Now I can accept payments through my website …

Voilà — I'm about done! But, I want to ensure continued success, so I'm going to follow this last step …

Step 3: Start publishing

Once you have your basic website up, and the infrastructure in place, it's easy to think "I'm done — now I'm just going to see how many sales I make."

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, you're just getting started. Next comes the fun part.

You get to start building out a promotional infrastructure around your products.

In addition to your product descriptions and sales letters, you can write a newsletter or articles about the benefits your product provides, and the problems it solves. You can put those articles on your website, or submit them to article sites (article banks) online.

Building content that helps your prospect find a solution to their problems positions you as an authority — both to your website visitors, and to the search engines and other sites that will send traffic your way.

This content also can be fun to write, and will help move the prospect closer and closer to placing an order for your products.

So for my self-publishing site, I've done some brainstorming and think I could start by adding weekly Skill-Building Tips to my site, as well as writing a few articles around how doing a little extra work to hone your skills can help you win your next game.

Each of these can link back to my product, and serve as a good lead-in for someone to decide to buy my product through my website.

Now that you have the steps … It's time to "Just do it!"

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: October 20, 2009

4 Responses to “How To Start Your Self-Publishing Business Online”

  1. Roy, I am really enjoying this current series on online publishing from learning how to choose keywords to conducting research and testing. In this issue you mention different sites on hosting and one in particular is SiteBuildIt site. Obviously AWAI has an agreement with this site because Nick Usborne uses it in his website systems, which is fine but is it just me or is the site unaccessible. I have tried to access SiteBuildIt and the SiteSell sites from different search engines with no such luck or success.


  2. Recommending SiteBuildIt (SBI) was good - how about assessing IMC's "Bebiz"



  3. Thanks for the article. I know that many have had success with SiteBuildIt, although my personal experience was a nightmare, and it took me many months/multiple requests to get unsubscribed. The article could have been more balanced by offering some other options for Step 1. Many people get started with a blog these days, and WordPress is fantastic. Also, the online world is very competitive, and many people are having success with offline marketing, despite the extra cost. Thanks!


  4. I often read your posts but rarely comment, I just wanted to say thank you for what you do.
    Great post! I look forward to reading more of your writing in the future.

    Guest (Alliedinfoline)

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