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Trade Secrets and How To Protect Them

Trade secrets and other intellectual property (IP) are critical to a company’s success. Protecting IP can be challenging, especially in an increasingly digital age. While there are numerous legal mechanisms and regulations to protect IP, digital piracy remains a pressing issue. Digital Rights Management (DRM) software is a very effective tool to protect digital media such as novels, textbooks, and other works. This post examines ways to protect digital IP and how DRM solutions can aid those efforts.

Secret AdobeStock 54511984

(Source: Adobe)

What Are Trade Secret/Intellectual Property Laws?

We can define “trade secrets” very broadly. A trade secret is any confidential or proprietary business information that can provide a competitive advantage. That might be a chemical formula, a manufacturing process, sales methods, advertising strategies, and so on. Unauthorized access to and use of this information is considered a violation of trade secrets and may be deemed unfair competition.

Trade secrets are protected by Intellectual Property laws, which serve to incentivize inventors and protect their intellectual property from infringement or theft. If intellectual property is infringed upon or stolen, the owner of that intellectual property can file a lawsuit in federal court. There are a number of remedies if the lawsuit is successful. The court may issue an injunction to prevent further infringement and can issue substantial fines and impose damages to recover lost revenue and deter further infringement.

Intellectual Property AdobeStock 68804860

(Source: Adobe)

How Do Those Laws Differ From Patents, Copyrights, And Other Content Protections?

Intellectual property laws are one way to protect creative works, but there are other terms we should consider: patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Let’s examine each of these in more detail:

Patents: A right granted by the government that excludes others from making, using, or selling an invention. Patents are valid for 20 years from the date approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO issues patents for “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.”

Copyrights: A form of intellectual property protection available for original works of authorship. Those works can include literary works, paintings, software, films, and live performances. A copyright grants the owner the exclusive right to publish, reproduce, perform, or distribute that creative work. Copyrights typically last as long as the lifetime of the owner, plus 70 years. The owner can permanently or temporarily transfer ownership to other parties. To ensure full protection, copyrights should be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Trademarks: A trademark can be a word, phrase, symbol, or design identifying the origin of the goods of one party relative to other parties. Some examples include logos, brand names, and slogans. Unlike patents or copyrights, trademarks do not expire after a set number of years. A similar concept is a Service Mark, which applies to services rather than goods. In theory, a trademark can last forever as long as the owner continues to use it in the marketplace. In addition, trademarks don’t even need to be registered, though there are benefits to doing so. Registering a trademark with the USPTO notifies the public of the registrant’s claim to the trademark and creates a legal presumption of nationwide ownership.

Justice AdobeStock 62203512

(Source: Adobe)

Legal Protections For Trade Secrets

There are also a number of legal mechanisms to protect trade secrets. The most common are non-disclosure agreements and non-compete agreements. The differences between these two legal mechanisms are examined below:

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA): An NDA is a legally enforceable contract that creates a confidential relationship between two parties—the party that possesses a trade secret, and the party to whom that secret is disclosed. NDA’s protect sensitive information and can protect patent rights, as public disclosure of an invention can void those rights. A broad range of information can be covered under an NDA, such as customer lists, R&D results, and other sensitive data. An effective NDA includes definitions of confidential information, obligations from involved parties, and the time period in which the NDA is in effect.

Non-Compete Clauses (NCC): A contract between an employer and an employee, where the employee agrees not to enter into competition with the employer after being terminated. An NCC typically prevents that employee from entering into markets where the employer competes or joining direct competitors. Employers use NCC’s for a variety of reasons. NCC’s prevent employees from revealing confidential information to competitors, who would be particularly positioned to exploit that information. Specific information is necessary for an NCC to be binding: an effective date, purpose of the agreement, key definitions (duration and type of work), and compensation. The terms and duration of NCC’s can vary, and some states may not even enforce these contracts.

What is DRM And How Does it Work?

DRM, or Digital Rights Management, involves various methods of protecting digital files from piracy, theft, or unauthorized access. In the publishing industry, DRM protection for e-books normally takes the form of password, watermark, and encryption-based solutions in order to protect against piracy. The level of e-book protection a publisher needs depends on the type of document being published, the intended audience, and the specific distribution channel. There are a number of specialized tools such as Adobe DRM that provide greater protection. Here are three of the most commonly used DRM solutions:

Password Protection

We can use a number of applications such as Adobe Acrobat or Preview (the Mac alternative) to password-protect PDFs and e-publications. However, these solutions offer no flexibility in terms of what users can access; they either have the password to access the whole file, or they don’t. This solution can deter unauthorized access, but the encryption is less than industry standard. Acrobat or Preview encryption can be easily removed, often for free, using different online software tools. In addition, a more sophisticated hacker can use a brute force attack, which involves testing thousands of password combinations until the password is discovered. A cell phone or other electronic device may have safeguards to prevent or slow this kind of penetration attempt, but publishing applications typically are less sophisticated.

Watermarking Or “Social DRM”

Social DRM can take many forms but typically involves imprinting files with a visible (or maybe invisible) watermark containing the reader’s personal information. Digital watermarking for e-books discourages unauthorized sharing, as a file containing the reader’s name or other information can be easily tracked and attributed.

Industry-Standard DRM Protection

Industry-Standard DRM protection offers secure encryption and the flexibility to control what users can and cannot do with our PDFs and e-publications. These security solutions need to be continuously updated and refined in order to provide the highest level of protection. Hackers and other actors are always trying to devise new ways to beat our encryption, which is why we need to work just as hard to stay one step ahead. Adobe DRM solutions are updated constantly to provide the best possible protection for e-books and other digital publications.

Hacker AdobeStock 107212183

(Source: Adobe)

How Piracy Affects Authors

Piracy prevention for e-books is especially challenging. According to one study, almost 17% of online books have been pirated. Some authors have tried to combat the trend by appealing directly to readers. American author Maggie Stiefvater, who wrote the Shiver and Raven Cycle series, did just that. After her publisher decided to cut the print run of the next book in her series by half, she pleaded with fans to stop pirating her work and making it more difficult to make a living as an author. She even released a portion of her new book, The Raven King, to highlight the issue. Stiefvater had seen numerous forums where fans shared pirated PDF’s of her books. The PDF of the Raven King was merely the first four chapters and a message explaining how piracy harms her and other writers. After the message was released, the new book sold out within two days.

How Piracy Affects Publishers

Research suggests that illegal downloads of e-books cost publishers over $300 million each year. Part of that trend appears to be driven by the growth of digital titles, but other factors are also important. The growing prevalence of tablets and e-readers has made e-books more attractive than in recent years, further underscoring the need for better piracy prevention tools. Publishers are aware of the problem and are taking action. In 2017, Cengage, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson Education reached an agreement with distributors to enforce a new set of Anti-Counterfeit Best Practices. Those three publishers are also engaged in preventing piracy of traditional books. The same year, those publishers sued bookstore operator Follett for its alleged failure to stop selling pirated versions of their books. Follett later settled and agreed to meet the Anti-Counterfeit Best Practices guidelines.

Conclusion

Digital piracy hurts everyone, from content creators to publishers and other distributors. Legal protections in place were created before the digital era and regulators have been slow to react to digital piracy. EditionGuard DRM solutions are on the cutting edge of IP security software to preserve literary works and prevent piracy. Piracy is incredibly costly for content creators and investing in the right software is the best way to protect intellectual property.

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How To Sell an E-Book – Get Published in 7 Easy Steps

In the not-so-distant past, self-publishing carried a negative connotation. Printing a book was an act of vanity reserved for authors of sufficient funds and insufficient talent, unable to attract the attention of an established publisher. In the last ten years, all that has changed.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Indie Author Business Plan: A Step-By-Step Outline

business plan

Successful indie authors have one thing in common: they realize that they are not only writers, they are also business owners, marketers, salespeople and much more.

The reality is that authors can no longer be solely writers. If you aren’t willing to wear the other hats mentioned above, you will struggle to find success. Sure, you could try to hire people to help, but that gets expensive quickly. For the sake of this post let’s assume that you are like most indie authors and money is tight. Hiring a full-team to run your author business is out of the question.

Why Do You Need A Business Plan?

Without a plan most authors get lost. Business does not come natural to us. When you create a business plan it is like having a map. If you do find yourself lost you can always refer back to it to get back on track.

Business plans help you avoid procrastination, focus on what really matters, avoid spending too much money and most importantly, sell more books.

Below we will discuss an 8-step indie author business plan. This business plan will be much like the business plan used by the largest businesses in the world. Don’t worry, I will make sure to explain each step and how to apply it to your specific situation as an author.

The Indie Author Business Plan

business plan

1. Finalize Your Book Topic (Product)

Every business starts with a product idea. As an author your product will be your book. If you already have books available for purchase, you will want to create separate business plans for each book (unless they are part of a series).

It is important to not move past this step until you know what you will be writing about. Once you do have a topic idea, you will be ready to move on to step 2.

2. Write Down Goals and Deadlines

With your book topic in mind, it is time to set specific goals and deadlines. Goals might include: writing every day, hitting a specific word count or even selling 1,000 copies. Goals are good, but they are rarely achieved without deadlines.

Creating realistic deadlines are crucial. You will not write your entire book in a month. Having this type of deadline will stress you out and isn’t helpful. Your deadlines should include: when you will complete your first draft, when you will begin marketing your book, when your book will be complete and when you will achieve your sales goal.

I cannot tell you what goals or deadlines to set, but I can tell you that this step can make and break your success. Take time to creating motivating goals and procrastination killing deadlines.

3. Create A Competitive Analysis

business plan

Do you know who the top selling indie authors are in your genre? How did they become so successful? What channels do they use to market and sell their books? Who is their target audience?

These are all questions you need to be able to answer when creating your competitive analysis. The point of this step is to understand who your competition is, while also learning from their successes and/or failures.

There are millions of authors in the world, so you will have to narrow down your competition significantly if you want to be able to analyze them. Look for the 10-15 authors that you share the most in common with (same genre, similar topic, shared target audience, etc).

Now study what has helped them succeed and take notes. You will want to use this information to help shape your strategy moving forward.

4. Create A Marketing Plan

The competitive analysis is a major component of your marketing plan. If you plan on selling a large quantity of books, you will need to master the basics of marketing. In my experience marketing is where most authors fail.

It is important to start thinking about your marketing plan as early as possible. In fact, one could argue that you should consider a marketing plan even before you begin writing your book.

Doing so will ensure there is an audience for the book you are writing. Many authors are surprised to realize that once they finish a book there isn’t actually a large enough audience interested in what they wrote about. Talk about a bummer. Let’s avoid this by creating a marketing plan early on.

So what should you include in your marketing plan? Here are a few components it must include:

  • Target customer: age, gender, location, interests, etc.
  • Marketing channels: social media, blog, in person events, etc.
  • Pricing strategy: how much will you sell your paperback, hardcover and eBook for?
  • Special offers: will you offer discounts or give away the first few chapters for free?

Your marketing plan can include several other component, but it must answer the following question: how will you make sure your target customer knows about your book and is able to purchase it?

5. List Required Outside Help

Hiring professionals to help with different parts of the book creation process is critical for success. Whether it is an editor, cover designer or reviewer, you will need to spend some money on professional help if you plan to offer a high quality book.

The easiest way to decide what to spend money on is to make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Once you have this list you will want to hire professionals to help in your weakness areas. Quality professional help does not have to be expensive.

At a minimum you will want to hire an editor. Don’t try to write and edit your own book; this rarely ends well.

6. Identify Financing Needs

indie author business plan

Many of the steps above cost money. Marketing your book will cost money. Hiring professional help will cost money. Simply allocating time towards writing your book costs money since you will not be earning money during those long hours.

The point of this step is to identify how much money you will need. Business owners have to nail this part of the business plan since running out of cash is the number one reason businesses fail. You are now a business owner so you must think like one.

You should be excited about this step because it will save you money. When you plan ahead of time you are less likely to overspend. Be honest about your budget and then allocate your spending accordingly.

7. Create A Strategic Sales Plan

The final step before we put together the formal business plan is to create a strategic sales plan. This plan will answer the following question: how will I sell my book to interested customers.

As an author this is an important question since there are so many options. Will you sell your book on Amazon? Will it be available as a paperback and a hardcover? What about an eBook? Maybe you want to offer it only as an eBook. Will you sell your book directly from your website?

The great thing about being a modern author is the plethora of sales options. Technology has made it easier than even for indie authors to sell their books. The only problem with options is you can’t choose them all.

Your competitive analysis and marketing plan should help you decide how to effectively sell your book. Worry less about your personal opinion and more about how your target audience buys and consumes books. Make it as easy as possible for people to find out about your book and buy it.

8. Create A Formal Business Plan

At last we are ready to write the formal business plan. Up until this point you have been compiling each section step-by-step and probably have a jumbled mess of notes.

It is now time to simplify what you have come up with into a short, concise business plan. Keeping your formal business plan shorter than 8 pages should be the goal. Any longer and you will be less likely to refer to it on a regular basis.

Congratulations! You have successfully created a business plan that any indie author would be proud of. Now it is time to write your book and follow your business plan as closely as possible. Doing so will ensure you work effectively and reach your goals.

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How We Use eBooks To Grow Our Email List and Make Money

email list

At EditionGuard we use eBooks to not only educate our audience, but also to grow our email list and make money. We truly believe that every business should be creating eBooks and in this post you will see why.

Why Should Businesses Create eBooks?

  1. Establishes credibility
  2. Generates qualified leads
  3. Easier than ever to publish and sell
  4. Proven strategy to grow email list

While the first three benefits listed above are important, let’s focus on the last benefit. Growing an email list is crucial for all businesses, especially online businesses.

If your business has a website, you most likely have a blog. In fact most businesses would consider a blog a no-brainer. After all, without a blog you are very limited in your ability to educate your audience, generate traffic and increase your search ranking.

Most blogs offer a subscription option that requires an email. This option increases repeat readers, but also helps businesses grow their email list.

Why is an email list so important? Here are a few of the many benefits:

  1. Provides a direct line of communication between you and potential customers
  2. Email list can be used for targeting advertisements
  3. Almost all people check their email daily
  4. Website visitors rarely return after their first visit unless you give them a reason to

Is your business actively building an email list? If not you should start now. Offering a blog subscription option is a great start, but let’s look at an even more effective strategy.

How We Use eBooks To Grow Your Email List

Think of an eBook as a lead magnet. When you create an eBook covering a topic many people are interested in, they will be willing to give you their email address in order to read it. Unlike a blog post, eBooks are sent as a digital file that can be downloaded. Naturally, email is the easiest way to send this file.

This means every person that reads your eBook will provide their email. Even the best blog in the world would be lucky get emails from 10% of their readers, which is what makes eBooks so powerful.

At EditionGuard we offer an eBook to every person that reads one of our blog posts. There are several tools available to do this, we prefer to use SumoMe. SumoMe is packed with features, including one called a Welcome Mat.

Below is an example of a Welcome Mat we currently have on our blog:

email list

 

In comparison to our blog newsletter, this Welcome Mat generates 5x as many email signups per week.

The best part is that this eBook was not difficult to create. It contains 10 chapters and is about the length of 6-8 of our regular blog posts. Creating the eBook and getting a professional cover made took less than two week from start to end. Not a bad investment for the return we are getting.

How You Can Use eBooks To Grow Your Business’s Email List

Ready to create an eBook for your business? Below are the simple steps you should follow to create an intriguing eBook in 2 weeks or less:

  1. Find the 10 most popular posts on your blog
  1. Identify the common theme amongst these posts
  1. Use this common theme to create an in-depth eBook
  1. Decide on a title for your eBook
  1. Hire a professional to create a few cover designs (websites like Fiverr and Upwork have cheap deals)
  1. Finalize your eBook and set up a Welcome Mat or landing page
  1. Use SumoMe to collect emails and automatically build your list
  1. Use a service like MailChimp to engage your email list with new content regularly

It really is that easy! So, the only question is: why don’t you get started now?

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EditionLink vs EditionMark vs Adobe DRM: Choosing The Right eBook Fulfillment Option

eBook fulfillment

When you use EditionGuard to protect and fulfill your eBooks, you will have three different fulfillment options: Adobe DRM, EditionMark and EditionLink. Deciding which fulfillment option is right for you and your customers can be difficult.

Below you can see that all of our pricing plans come with EditionMark and EditionLink, while Adobe DRM protection is a premium option (1 and 2 book pricing plans not pictured):

editionguard pricing

In this post we will discuss the three options and who should be using each. If you are not already using EditionGuard, you can get started with your free trial here.

Each EditionGuard Fulfilment Option Explained

EditionLink Fulfillment

When you choose the EditonLink fulfillment options your eBooks will be sent to the purchaser in the form of a link that will expire on a date of your choosing. Your eBook can be downloaded in ePub, MOBI or PDF format, meaning it will be compatible with all devices.

EditionLink does not offer active or passive protection against piracy, but the ease of use for both seller and purchaser is a major advantage.

EditionMark Fulfillment

In addition to the EditionLink expiry features, EditionMark fulfilled books will contain a visible watermark. This watermark will display personal information for the specific buyer of the eBook.

This passive form of protection will deter illegal sharing, while still providing extreme compatibility across devices. EditionGuard automatically collects the personal information that is displayed in the watermark, so EditionMark fulfillment requires no additional work for you.

Adobe DRM Fulfillment

The final fulfillment option is Adobe DRM protected eBooks. Adobe DRM protected eBooks can only be opened using Adobe Digital Editions software. This software limits access to only one account, make it nearly impossible for your eBooks to be illegally shared.

Adobe DRM fulfillment therefore offers active protection against eBook piracy. Another benefit of Adobe DRM fulfillment is the ability to offer eBook rentals. Since readers will have to use Adobe Digital Editions, you will be able to set an expiration date for their access. This is perfect for book rentals.

There are two types of Adobe DRM fulfillment available within EditionGuard:

  • Legacy: This protection scheme is older, but offers greater compatibility across devices that support Adobe Digital Editions (ePub and PDF files only)
  • Hardened: This is Adobe’s newer protection scheme, which offers greater protection with less backwards compatibility (ePub and PDF files only)

Which eBook Fulfilment Option Is Best For You?

Now that you are familiar with each eBook fulfillment option available within EditionGuard, let’s discuss how to decide which option is right for you.

Who EditionLink Is Best For

The EditionLink fulfillment option is best for those who are concerned less about protecting their eBooks from piracy and more about compatibility and ease-of-use. EditionLink is all about simplicity. Your eBook will be sent as a raw file, which gives your readers the freedom to read your book in any way they choose.

Studies have shown that in most cases eBook piracy does not affect eBook sales, therefore not having active or passive protection in place may not be a big issue. One scenario in which EditionLink fulfillment isn’t a good idea is within close-knit communities, such as schools.

The final reason to consider EditionLink is affordability. EditionLink fulfillment is available for all of our pricing plans, including our Nano and Micro plans, which we created to provide an affordable options for authors and businesses with only 1 or 2 books (see below):

eBook fulfillment

Who EditionMark Is Best For

If you like the idea of EditionLink but are concerned about the lack of piracy protection in place, EditionMark may be a better option for you. The added watermark gives many authors and businesses confidence that their eBooks are safe.

Since the personal information displayed in the watermark is collected automatically, there is no added effort required. The biggest question when deciding between EditionLink and EditionMark is what do your readers prefer? While many readers will not mind having watermarks within their eBooks, some might. Keep this in mind when deciding if EditionMark is the right choice for you.

Who Adobe DRM Is Best For

Adobe DRM offers the greatest protection against piracy and should be used by those whose first priority is protecting their eBooks. A few examples of Adobe DRM users that we currently have are: large resellers, high value eBooks (textbooks, medical research, etc.) and eBooks required to be protected by law.

Remember the example mentioned above about the school? Adobe DRM would be the perfect option for that scenario for a couple of reasons.

First, students would not be able to illegally share the eBook since it would be tied to a specific Adobe Digital Editions account. Second, the seller could offer a rental option as well, which is very popular amongst students.

Some of the drawbacks of Adobe DRM include a lack of compatibility across devices and technical support required. Since Adobe DRM requires specific software for access, people using Adobe DRM fulfillment should expect to deal with some customer support related issues. While these issues are generally just clarifying with a purchaser how to use Adobe Digital Editions, it is worth mentioning.

Final Thoughts

With the recent addition of EditionLink and EditionMark, we are very excited to provide several fulfillment options. Doing so allows our customers to tailor a solution that is ideal for them and their readers. Above we discussed each fulfillment option, as well as who each plan is best for.

Now it is your turn to decide for yourself. Take advantage of our 30-day free trial to test out each of the fulfillment options and figure out which one will help you sell more eBooks.

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7 Reasons Why Self-Publishing Is The Right Choice For Authors

why self-publishing

The self-publishing vs traditional publishing debate is something all authors have at some point in their career. After all, both options have benefits.

At EditionGuard, we support primarily self-published authors and have had the opportunity over the years to learn why authors decide to pursue the self-publishing route.

In this post we will discuss 7 reasons why self-publishing may be the right choice for you. Keep in mind that you are not forced to choose only self-publishing or traditional publishing forever. Here are 7 reasons why we think you should give self-publishing a shot.

1. Full Control Over Your Story

One of the biggest advantages to self-publishing is complete control. When you pursue the traditional publishing route, you are signing over the rights to your book. This means that you will have far less control over the storyline.

If you like to have creative control over your book, self-publishing is the right choice. You will get to choose your own editor and decide what edits to actually make. When a publisher’s editor makes changes, you are often stuck with them.

When you self-publish you will also get to control your book cover design and pricing. As an author, you should know how important these two elements are to your chances of success.

2. Work On Your Own Timeline

why self-publishing

Self-published authors often release multiple books per year. This is possible thanks to the ability to control your own timeline.

If you choose to go the traditional publishing route, you need to have serious patience. By the time you find an agent, secure a publisher and go through the entire process of getting your book published, the grey hairs may have already set it.

Being able to publish books faster as a self-published author isn’t the only benefit. What if you have a full-time job and can’t write for hours every day? As a self-published author this is ok too! The bottom line is you will have complete control over how fast you write, how often you write and when you publish your book. For many authors this is too good to pass up.

3. Greater Profit Margin

There are several reasons why self-publishing can lead to more profit for an author. For example, self-publishers are business owners. When you form your business you will be able to write off several expenses, such as: a portion of your home cost, writing and marketing expenses and costs for transportation and travel. These tax havens can result in some serious savings.

The second reason self-publishing can lead to more profit is because you will be able to control your expenses. Self-publishing does not have to be expensive. If you are smart about what you spend money on, chances are you can keep your expenses much lower than you may think. Lower expenses mean you will break even quickly.

4. Marketing Is Your Responsibility Regardless

Authors often make the mistake of thinking that securing a traditional publisher means they will have an army of marketers promoting their book. While a publishing house may help with PR, you will ultimately be responsible for marketing your book.

Since you will have to market your book either way, this should not be a deterrent from going the self-publishing route.

5. Bookstore Sales Aren’t As Important

In the past, one of the main advantages to traditional publishing was the ability to get your book stocked in bookstores. Today, less than 1% of all books are found in bookstores.

As a self-published author, you have many different ways to sell your book to your customers. You can use distributors like Amazon, offer digital copies and even sell your book directly from your website with services like EditionGuard.

The multitude of affordable distribution options now available to self-published authors is one of the reasons self-publishing has gained so much popularity in the last five to ten years.

6. It Can Lead To Traditional Publishing Opportunities

If you have your mind set on pursuing the traditional publishing route, that is ok. You may still want to consider self-publishing for the time being as it can lead to traditional publishing opportunities.

When you first query an agent and begin trying to pursue the traditional publishing route, it can be very difficult. You will need to have a proven marketing plan and be able to show a publisher why they should take a chance on you.

Much like a job interview, experience really helps. By self-publishing a book or two prior to pursuing traditional publishing, you will have a resume to help improve your chances of landing a publishing deal.

7. The Time Is Right

why self-publishing

The final reason why authors should consider self-publishing is that there has never been a better time to be a self-published author. It is easier and cheaper than ever to distribute books on your own, professional author services are more accessible and affordable than ever and you will be joining a revolution of authors that like yourself have chosen to pursue self-publishing.

The time is now. Don’t wait another day to get started. If you truly want to be an author, start writing. Self-publishing your first book won’t be nearly as hard as you think. You can do it!

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How To Market Your eCommerce Store On A Budget

ecommerce store

Running an ecommerce store on a limited budget can be frustrating. Afterall, if you had a large budget surely you would sell more.

This is a misconception far too many people fall for. Having a larger budget doesn’t necessarily mean you will have more success.

Take for example, Dr. Bob Wagstaff, the creator of the Orabrush tongue cleaner. After spending $40,000 on an infomercial that converted into less than 150 order, he decided to give YouTube a try.

He spent $500 to create a video that currently has over 27,000,000 views. You read that right, over 27 million views!

Smaller budget, larger results. In this post we will discuss how you can market your ecommerce store on a budget. Since EditionGuard helps authors sell eBooks, we will use eBooks as the example product.

No Traffic. No Business.

ecommerce store

Let’s imagine two bookstores. The first bookstore averages only 30 visitors per day. The second bookstore averages 1,000 visitors per day. Which book store do you think sells more books?

It may seem obvious that the second bookstore will sell much more books. Afterall, the amount of traffic at their store is much higher than the first store. However, when it comes to ecommerce stores this same scenario isn’t always as obvious.

It doesn’t really matter what you are selling, if you can’t figure out how to attract traffic to your ecommerce store you will struggle to sell anything.

If you don’t have a large budget, let’s be honest few authors do, then you will need to identify cost effective ways to increase traffic to your store.

A few options are:

  • Social media marketing
  • Guest blogging
  • Promotional giveaways
  • Community building
  • Content marketing
  • Influencer marketing

We will now focus on the last three options listed: community building, content marketing and influencer marketing.

Build A Community First

ecommerce store

One of the most affordable ways to market your eCommerce store is to build a community around your brand. Doing so will give potential customers an emotional attachment to your products that they may not have with your competitors.

There are many ways to build a community, including: Facebook Groups and a company blog.

The reason community building is so important for ecommerce stores is that it gives you access to repeat customers. Having customers that consistently buy from your store is crucial for success. Otherwise you will have to rely on spending money to constantly acquire new customers.

So, what would a community look like? Let’s take a look at an example of community building for an eCommerce store selling books. For this example we will look at how to create a community using a Facebook Group.

Step 1: eCommerce Store Creates A Book Related Facebook Group

Step 2: eCommerce Store Begins Creating Content To Attract People To Their Facebook Group

Step 3: eCommerce Store Begins Engaging With Members and Forming Relationships

Step 4: eCommerce Store Learns From Community and Begins Understanding Their Wants Needs

Step 5: eCommerce Store Creates An Offering Based on What They Learn

Step 6: eCommerce Store Begins Offering What Audience Needs and Sales Increase

Now this is a very high-level look at community building, but the goal is simple: if an ecommerce store can build a community of people who trust them and their product(s), then they will be able to increase sales. Marketing your ecCommerce store via community building is affordable and highly effective.

Content Marketing Is Affordable
ecommerce store

We already discussed the importance of driving traffic to your ecommerce store. Content marketing, even when done on a small budget, is a very effective way to drive traffic.

Having a smaller budget isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to content marketing. In fact, most content marketing campaigns that have driven viral traffic required very little capital investment.

If you have a small budget, you will need to invest more of your personal time. If you are serious about increasing your sales, this shouldn’t be a problem. Neil Patel wrote a fantastic blog post discussing how to you succeed at content marketing with a small budget.

There are two approaches to content marketing:

  1. Drive Long Term Traffic
  2. Short-Term Traffic Boost

If you want to drive long term traffic to your ecommerce store, you will want to create evergreen content. Evergreen content simply means content that does not become outdated quickly. Examples of this type of content include:

  • How To Blog Posts
  • Training Programs
  • Explainer Videos

Keep in mind that the goal of evergreen content is to create several pieces of content that you can rely on to drive traffic for years. Don’t expect this type of content to “go viral” and drive large amounts of traffic to your store immediately.

If your goal is immediate traffic, you will need to create a different type of content. This content will be less focused on longevity and more focused on immediate popularity. Examples of this type of content include:

  • Industry News
  • Unique Ways To Use Your Product
  • Case Studies

Social media, blogs and most of the web is fueled by content. If you can create content that will entertain, inform or attract your target audience, your ecommerce sales will increase. And remember, it doesn’t have to cost you anything other than your time.

Influencers Will Help You

ecommerce store

It doesn’t matter if you are selling books, skateboards, or anything else, there are always people within your niche that have extreme influence over the market as a whole. For example, if you were selling books, having a famous author like Stephen King help to promote your ecommerce store would be a game-changer.

Now it is very unlikely that a small ecommerce store would be able to get the support of Stephen King, but there are plenty of lesser known individuals that still have major influence.

Despite what many people might think, influencers are willing to help if you make the process easy and beneficial for them. When it comes to influencer marketing, it is crucial to remember that there is a big difference between popularity and influence.

You may find someone on social media with 100,000 followers that has far less influence than someone with 1,500. If you can identify influencers within your niche, you will be able to ask them for help.

So, how exactly will an influencer help you increase your traffic and sales?. Let’s look at an example:

eClincher, a social media management SaaS provider, created a blog post that involved over 20 of the top influencers in the digital marketing industry. The post included predictions for the upcoming year from these influencers. Simple enough, right?

The results were over 1,000 shares on social media and a massive increase in new customer signups. Since many of the influencers in the post shared it with their followers, it became a massive success.

The best part? The post was completely free!

Final Thoughts

If you don’t have a large budget to market your ecommerce store, that is ok. In fact, having a smaller budget may help you to become more creative and find greater success.

The most important thing when it comes to increasing your sales is to increase the traffic to your store. You can do this by building a community, creating killer content and leveraging influencers’ audiences.

These certainly aren’t the only ways to market an ecommerce store, so now it is your turn. Let us know unique ways you have marketed your ecommerce store in the comment section below!

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7 Reasons Why Every Business Should Create eBooks

business ebook

Attention all business owners. You should be producing eBooks regularly as part of your content marketing strategy. If you aren’t, you are missing out on a massive business opportunity. Let me explain.

Over the last five years smartphone sales have soared. So have tablet and ereader sales. This makes eBooks easier than ever to consume.

Despite this trend, many businesses still aren’t creating eBooks. You understand the importance of blogging. And certainly the importance of social media too. So why is it that so many businesses seem to be blind to the the many benefits of creating an eBook.

In this post we will discuss 7 reasons why every business should create eBooks.

1. eBooks Attract Targeted Leads

Creating eBooks should be an integral part of your content marketing strategy. The objective of content marketing is simple: attract people who would be interested in buying what you are offering.

An eBook is a great way to attract targeted leads than can eventually be converted into paying customers. To attract targeted leads via your eBooks, follow these steps:

  • Identify a target audience
  • Brainstorm topics they would be interested in
  • Create an eBook involving one or more of those topics
  • Promote your eBook to your target audience
  • Require an email in exchange for your eBook (more on this in a second)

The market is flooded with blog posts. Creating an eBook is an easy way to lower competition and access a whole new pool of potential leads. Skim through your most popular blog posts and you will find the topics that your audience is most interested in.

2. eBooks Grow Your Email List

No online business can have sustainable, long-term growth without an email list. If your business relies heavily on the internet, you should be focused on consistently growing your email list.

ebooks

Even if your business isn’t online, an email list gives you direct access to people interested in buying what you are offering. Every business owner loves the sound of that. That is the sound of money.

eBooks are hands down the best way to grow your email list. When you offer an eBook, you should always require an email address in order to gain access. This type of requirement is called “gated content” and will help you quickly grow your email list.

Since eBooks bought from your website will be delivered via email, asking for an email address in exchange for your free, or even paid, eBook is natural. Growing your email list via eBooks is much easier than via blog post subscription.

3. Ebooks Establish Authority

Every business owner knows how hard it is to actually get people to pay for whatever they are offering. Thanks to the internet, customers now have more options than ever. So, what will make them decide to pay you and not one of your competitors?

The answer is simple: you must establish your business as an industry authority.

When you become an industry authority, potential buyers begin to associate your brand with the entire category. They trust your business and are much more likely to buy what you are offering. When you become an authority in your industry, price even becomes less of a deciding factor.

A great example of this is GoPro. There are plenty of other options in the action camera market, but GoPro completely dominates it. Their cameras aren’t the cheapest. Their cameras aren’t necessarily better from a technical standpoint either.

ebooks

The reason GoPro has had so much success is that they have positioned themselves as the authority in their industry. They were able to do this by creating content to educate, entertain, and engage their market. People trust GoPro and are willing to pay a premium for the peace of mind that comes with that trust.

Your business can use eBooks to position your brand as the expert in your industry. If you can successfully gain the trust of your market, your sales will go through the roof.

4. eBooks Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing has become the largest marketing trend in the past 5 years. If you aren’t aware of exactly what content marketing is, let me explain.

Forty years ago businesses like Coca Cola controlled the entire marketing process. They would hire large, Mad Men style, marketing firms that would devise large scale marketing campaigns that would then run via radio, newspaper, television, etc.

ebooks

For the most part, these ads were how people learned about what to buy. This gave the large companies quite the advantage.

Then came the internet and everything changed. People now gather information about products and businesses on their own. We can go to Google and simply search for anything we need to know.

Content marketing takes advantage of this new trend. When businesses create content that potential buyers will be interested in, they increase their odds of being seen. That is why most businesses are active and blog on social media.

The problem with both of these methods is people expect small, consumable content. A 25,000 word blog post is overwhelming and most people won’t read it.

eBooks allow businesses to cover specific topics in extreme detail.

If your content marketing strategy is lacking depth, creating eBooks is the best way to fix this. Your target audience will consume longer content if it is in the form of an eBook that they can download and read when they have time.

Again, look through your most popular blog content to date and decide which topics your audience would benefit from a more in-depth look at.

5. Creating and Distributing an eBook Is Easy

Does your business have a blog? If so, you have more than enough technical skills to create and distribute an eBook. Here is what you will need to do:

  • Type your content and format it as a PDF or ePub file
  • Create a book cover: Check out Canva for easy book cover design
  • Use a tool like EditionGuard for effortless distribution

Creating an eBook is easy. Distributing an eBook is even easier. Seriously, what are you waiting for?

6. eBooks Can Make You Money Directly

If you create an eBook that is valuable enough, people will pay you for it. Let me say that again. People will pay you for your eBook if it is valuable enough.

Imagine having an alternate stream of income for your business thanks to your eBook sales. Now it is very unlikely that you will sell thousands of copies of your eBook, but an eBook is one of the few marketing activities that can directly earn you money.

Experiment with charging for one of your eBooks to see if people are willing to pay for it. Just keep in mind that people won’t be willing to pay unless you give them a reason to. It is time for you to think like an author!

7. eBook Consumption Is Rapidly Increasing

eBook consumption is at an all time high. Over 50% of Americans own a dedicated ereader device and even more are consuming eBooks via computer, cell phone, etc.

This means your next paying customer most likely reads eBooks.

I will leave you with this question: When your target audience needs information on a specific topic, do you want them to discover and consume your eBook or one of your competitor’s eBooks?

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EditionGuard Social DRM vs Adobe DRM: Which Is Best For You?

editionguard social drm vs adobe drm

Digital Right Management (DRM) protects eBooks from illegal piracy by using active and/or passive protection methods. If you are new to EditionGuard or are considering changing your eBook protection settings, you may be curious to know the differences between our Social DRM solution and Adobe’s DRM scheme.

Active DRM protection works by encrypting your books and requiring specific software to access it. This specific software verifies your rights to the eBook. If you were to share the eBook, no one else would be able to access it unless you provided them with your specific account information.

Passive DRM protection works by including visible and/or invisible information within the eBook that makes it easy to identify who the eBook belongs to. This information is generally called at watermark and includes personal information such as: name, email and phone number. Readers are much less likely to share their book with strangers if their personal information is embedded within.

EditionGuard DRM uses passive protection, while Adobe DRM uses active protection. Deciding which type of protection is best depends on your specific needs. Below we will discuss the pros and cons of each type of DRM protection.

EditionGuard Social DRM

editionguard social DRM

Pros:

  • Compatibility: The main benefit of EditionGuard Social DRM is complete compatibility. Your eBooks will be available to be read of nearly every device and application, including Kindle and iBooks. Using Social DRM makes it much easier for your potential customers to read your book.
  • Ease of Use: No technical knowledge or software is required to sell or purchase an eBook protected by EditionGuard DRM. If you are a seller, all you have to do is select Social DRM as your protection method and let our tool do the rest. When someone buys your book, all they will have to do is open it on their preferred device and begin reading.
  • No Download Fee: Many DRM solutions charge a download fee every time someone purchases your eBook. This fee can range from $0.20-$1.00. With EditionGuard Social DRM you will never have to pay a download fee. That means your monthly price will remain fixed regardless how many books you sell.

Cons:

  • Shareable Amongst Friends: Since personal information is the main deterrent to sharing, Social DRM protected eBooks can easily be shared amongst friends. This, however, is not any different than print books which are often shared amongst friends anyways
  • Marketing Responsibility: Since you will be selling your eBooks from your website or eCommerce store, you will be responsible for marketing your books.

Adobe DRM
adobe digital rights management

Pros:

  • Greater Security: Social DRM provides adequate protection for many use cases, but it can’t beat the level of security offered by Adobe DRM. If you are only worried about security, Adobe DRM is the best choice.
  • Trusted Scheme: Companies such as Google and Barnes & Noble rely on Adobe DRM to protect their eBooks. This means your eBooks will have enterprise level security.
  • Customizeable: With Adobe DRM’s active protection, your business can rent books for a certain period of time and cancel access at any time. Since the eBooks require Adobe Digital Editions to be read, you can always have control over who can read your eBooks and for how long.

Cons:

  • Limited Compatibility: One of the main downsides to Adobe DRM protection is lack of compatibility with devices and eReader applications. Adobe DRM protected books will not be able to open on a Kindle or via iBooks, which eliminates much of the eBook market.
  • Download Fees: If you choose Adobe DRM protection you will have to pay a download fee every time someone purchases your eBook. Depending on your pricing plan, this fee ranges from $0.30-$0.50. If you plan to sell a high volume of eBooks, this download fee will make Adobe DRM much more expensive than EditionGuard Social DRM.
  • Multi-step Fulfillment Process: When someone buys your Adobe DRM protected eBook, they will have to go through several steps to access it. First and foremost they need to have an Adobe ID. Once they create their free Adobe ID, they will need to download Adobe Digital Editions. Once they have logged into Adobe Digital Editions with their Adobe ID, they will be able to access their books. This is a one-time process, but it can cause technical support issues for sellers. If you aren’t willing to provide support for your buyers, EditionGuard Social DRM is the better choice.
  • Marketing Responsibility: Since you will be selling your eBooks from your website or eCommerce store, you will be responsible for marketing your books.
  • Price: Our Adobe DRM supported pricing plans start at $120 per month which is much more than the $24 per month starting price for our Social DRM only plans. If you are most concerned about price, Social DRM is a better option.

At EditionGuard we believe it is important for our customers to have options when it comes to DRM types, as well as pricing plans. Choosing the right plan and DRM type can make all the difference when it comes to your ability to sell eBooks and make money. If you are unsure which DRM type you should use or would like to chat with us about how EditionGuard works, contact us using the chat widget in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

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Introducing EditionGuard Social DRM: A New Way To Protect and Sell eBooks

EditionGuard Social DRM

For the last couple of years EditionGuard has relied on Adobe Digital Rights Management to protect our customers eBooks. Though Adobe’s solution is ideal for some of our customers, that was not the case for all.

After countless discussions with our current customers, as well as non-customers, we decided to create a Social DRM solution to provide another option and more flexibility.

We are happy to announce support for Social DRM for all EditionGuard users! This is a major step for our company and we look forward to hearing about how it helps your businesses moving forward.

What Is EditionGuard Social DRM?

EditionGuard Social DRM technology provides protection by embedding visible and/or invisible watermarks into the eBooks you sell. The visible watermark will display the personal information of the buyer, such as: name, email and phone number.

EditionGuard Social DRM

You will have the option to embed this visible watermark at the beginning of your eBook, the end and/or randomly throughout the eBook.

5 Benefits of EditionGuard Social DRM

  1. Implementing EditionGuard Social DRM requires very little setup time.
  2. You will no longer have to pay a download fee every time your eBooks are purchased.
  3. Removing Adobe DRM protection means your eBooks will now be compatible with all devices (seriously, every device).
  4. Your buyers can read your eBooks with the software of their choice.
  5. Your buyers will be able to download and begin reading their eBook instantaneously.

Introducing Two New Plans For Social DRM Only Users

EditionGuard Social DRM and Adobe DRM are very different, so we recognized the need to create new pricing plans tailored towards our users who plan to use EditionGuard Social DRM only. After speaking with many of our amazing customers, as well as people that showed interest in our Social DRM offering, we decided to create two new plans.

The two new plans will be called Nano and Micro and will consist of EditionGuard Social DRM only protection and will be supported by our turnkey integrations. Though all other plans will have the option to use Social DRM, these dedicated plans will not have the option for Adobe DRM protection.

Remember the download fees you used to have to pay for Adobe DRM protection? Those are a thing of the past with our Social DRM offering! That means no matter how much you sell, your monthly price stays fixed.

editionguard social drm pricing

How To Get Started With EditionGuard Social DRM

If you are a current user, all you will have to do is change your protection settings within the EditionGuard tool. Since your customers have to include personal information to download your eBooks, there is no work required on your end at all.

For new EditionGuard users, you can start a 30-day free trial and decide which of our five pricing plans is the best fit for you. If you have any questions, you can contact us by clicking on the red chat widget in the bottom right corner of our website.

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