If you have been using WordPress to blog for any extended period of time, you
probably definitely have heard that you need a “lead magnet” in order to get people to subscribe.
The most popular freebie to give away is thus an e-book, it’s practically free for you to create and requires less time than other full-fledged giveaways (such as software).
However, a lot of people do not cover (no pun intended) the oftentimes underrated effect that a brilliant e-book cover can have on your conversions, and the aspect that these covers play in other parts of your site (not just for the email opt-in).
So many people attempt to follow the good advice of offering an ebook, only to paste up an ugly looking cover that they spent 5 minutes on in Microsoft Paint, which may get a few downloads (and sign-ups), but that could be converting much better had they paid more attention to the aesthetics of the cover’s design.
And almost everyone ignore the potential use of e-covers for other aspects of their site, most notably for use on a “getting started” or “popular posts” style page, which nearly everyone tried to implement.
And so this post will address exactly these points; how you can create an e-cover that doesn’t suck, and does your e-book or guide justice for the content that is inside, and how you can use e-covers on your WordPress site for more than just email optins.
Creating E-Book Covers
When it comes to creating covers, I am simply going to group your options into two categories: Do It Yourself and Paying Someone Else. Simply put, these are your two main ways, and as you will see, you can even combine the two, such as paying a designer and then putting on the finishing touches yourself.
Most of these are going to fall into using programs on your hardrive, such as Photoshop, or other specialty programs made just for e-Cover creation, and using online tools, which usually entail you having to upload your design.
Designing Your Own E-Cover
From what I’ve seen, unless you are a master of a free program such as Gimp or the Aviary Editor, you really only have two options: using Photoshop, or using a software (either online or on your computer) that will create e-Book covers for you.
Generally speaking, with Photoshop, you will need a specific Photoshop “action” to generate the cover, and will need to have a pre-set design to import into Photoshop, so if you know your way around Photoshop (I will go into more detail later) than this is an excellent way to create stunning e-Book covers.
However, if you are fairly design inept like me, (I know the basics, but am far from skilled) this may be too much of a hassle to maintain an updated version of Photoshop, have numerous PS actions for e-Books, and have to design each new e-Book from scratch.
So if you want to know what I personally use, might I suggest the eBook Cover Generator, which will handle all aspects of your e-Book cover’s creation, and comes with preset designs that you can easily edit, so you don’t have to come up with new designs and you won’t be stuck with churning out duplicate covers for each e-Book.
A few of the reasons that I decided to try this software are because:
- It was made by the same company behind OptimizePress, who have been in this game for quite some time, and know what they are doing, so I was assured that the eBook Cover Generator would work as promised and I would have excellent support.
- Per e-Cover, it is the absolute cheapest option for cranking out lots of e-Covers for books, guides, and all sorts of other different packages (I will go over why this is going to be useful later).
- It doesn’t require any Photoshop knowledge. Lets face it, on the web, graphics matter, but if you are only interested in writing content, you are going to have to circumvent this somehow, and this program allows you to create beautiful covers with no technical knowledge.
e-Book Cover Creators Online
There are a number of quality online options for eBook cover generation, and all of them usually come at a fairly low cost, so if you are looking for single eCover or just want to test drive the process, you can try the online options with little (or sometimes zero) cost and risk.
By far my favorite option for online e-Book cover creation is the MyEcoverMaker site, which allows for a user to create or upload a design, convert it to an e-Book layout, and then download the final product for a onetime fee or a low monthly subscription.
I would highly advise against the monthly subscription, because in my opinion the value does not exceed the one time purchase value of something like the eBook Cover Generator by the OptimizePress folks, you’ll simply get a lot more value by paying the fee once, if you plan on staying in this game for the long term.
The best free option that I have found bar-none is the 3-D Box Maker, which although strangely titled, makes great looking hardback e-Covers for books, but again, you must have a complete design ready to go, and they put a small watermark at the bottom (but this can be easily removed, even in Microsoft Paint).
Using this exact resource, here’s a sample I made for you guys
eCover Design Outsourcing
If you are looking to have a design for a cover (and even the whole book) done for cheap, I would suggest checking out Fiverr.com, as e-Covers are one of the few things that you can get done well for only $5, although this can add up over time. One of my favorite gigs is from this seller, who will follow your instructions to a T, but remember, you get what you pay for, and for $5 this seller rarely (if ever) follows up for corrections or changes after the gig is complete.
For a bit more professional flair and service, I would recommend (of the many possible places) the Graphic Design section of ODesk, which is a site for freelancers. I say this because many graphic designers like to take one larger web based projects, such as full site designs, and for smaller projects I prefer to go to trusted sellers on sites made for people looking for smaller gigs.
Creating An E-Book Cover In Photoshop
One of the better acommpaniments to Photoshop that I’ve seen is the Killer eCover Scripts package. If Photoshop is your weapon of choice for eCovers, this the best way to make these things yourself. Just download the program and you can make as many as you need, and it’s really simple in case you are not an advanced user of PS.
Other than that, you will need individual actions for easy eCover creation, and many of these can be found for fairly cheap prices on Graphic River (link takes you to some of their e-Book offerings).
These actions are great for repeating the creation process of e-Book covers over and over, but they come with one downfall: since they are actions within Photoshop, generally speaking, you are going to have to design (or have designed) an eCover for every book that you would like to create.
That is, these actions only turn a pre-set design into an e-Book model, the two-dimensional design of the cover still needs to be provided by you.
If that is not an issue though, these actions are great, some of my favorites include:
- e-Book Mockup Design by WeGraphics
- 3-D Book Cover Action
- Hardback eCover Action
- “Design An eCover In Seconds” Action
- Artsy Book Cover Action
You will also find some other great actions and resources for this on graphic design related sites and blogs, but again, it takes a little Photoshop know-how to get started creating eCovers with this method.
Why You Need A Good Looking eCover
Now that we have gone over some of the numerous options to making your e-Cover look good, let’s go over a point I brought up earlier: a great looking e-Cover can be used for more than email opt-ins.
While your creativity and personal experience may lead you to other uses for good-looking eCovers not mentioned here, below I’d like to go over a few of the best ways that I have personally used (and seen) eCovers being used for reasons other than a blog’s opt-in form.
A “Best Of” Page Of Your Popular Posts
You may already feature a “popular posts” or “getting started” page on your blog, you know that they decrease your bounce rate and will increase conversions in the long term, but did you ever think of livening them up with some pretty eCover graphics?
Don’t get what I mean? Check this out: by far the best use of eCovers on a “popular posts” page that I’ve seen is this Viral Page on the ViperChill marketing blog.
Glen took the idea of a popular posts page and took it up a notch, and as you can see from his own tests on his blog and how this new page has affected comments & traffic, Glen states:
“I added a visual element to the page for people who are more stimulated by graphics. Not everyone likes to read text on a page, with many opting to look at a cover of something out of habit. I turned my top three posts into small magazine style graphics for this very reason, as you can see above.
I’ve noticed a clear increase on the number of comments this page has generated on older posts, so already know it’s working well in terms of directing visitors around the site.”
Keeping your older posts alive is a fundamental part of running a successful blog on WordPress, as older posts can often be filled with great content, but be lost to a lot of visitors because you published them long ago, perhaps when you had far fewer subscribers and readers than you do now.
So we know that a popular posts page is essential to keeping archived content alive, and now with Glen’s latest tests with graphics on his page, we can see how an eCover for your most popular posts can spur interest in even your oldest content and spruce up your page so that it looks more informative and professional than just a list of links.
Use eCovers For A “Series” Of Posts
Another opportunity that you might consider (especially if you have been blogging for a long time) is to use a great looking eCover to promote a “series” of posts that you have created: or posts that run with a continuous theme, that you publish on your blog regularly or on occasion. Promoting these type of posts can be easy by notifying readers with some of the more popular WordPress toolbars.
Some examples that you might have encountered include long posts on large subjects that must be split into sections, or posts that cover monthly updates, such as the popular “monthly income reports” as featured on many marketing blogs.
The reason an eCover is great for these kinds of posts is that you can easily spread your series with a single pretty graphic, rather than having 20 links to different posts, you can now place a eCover on your sidebar or footer and people can be directed to a landing page that contains links and descriptions of your entire series of posts.
Being one step ahead of the game as usual, Glen from ViperChill also engages in this strategy. You will see at the bottom of his site links to his free guides, each using an enticing eCover that just begs to be clicked on, revealing the information inside.
If you have worked that hard to put together a long string of posts or a very extensive guide for your readers, you should promote it with just as much effort: great content deserves a great cover, and a good looking eBook is much more enticing than a simple text link to your guide or series, and will result in more people reading it.
It also makes your work seem more “authoritative”: you are no longer showing readers a bunch of blog posts, you are showing them an official guide that is merely split up among your other posts, and an eCover unifies this content and piques the interest of those browsing your blog who are interested in reading long guides authored by you.
Use eCovers To Entice Sharing (Instead of Opt-Ins)
One last reason for you to have an enticing eCover for a guide or full fledged e-Book is to use them to entice users to share your site for a copy of the guide, instead of entering an email for an opt-in, thus spreading your presence on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, gaining your more eyes on your content.
There are a few premium plugins that can help you do this, a few of which you can add within WordPress itself, and while I will go over these, since we are on a roll with the ViperChill references, let’s go for the hat-trick by discussing the FREE way to get visitors to share your content with Glen’s site Cloud:Flood.
You simply upload a file to be shared (such as your e-Book or guide) and then you create a button that will say “Share To Get”, prompting interested visitors to share whatever link you wish (it could even be another site) in order to get your freebie content.
So what does this have to do with e-Covers? Again, a pretty looking e-Cover is enticing enough to get people to this page in the first place, so having one for this free guide with some subtext of something like: “Get My Free WordPress Guide For Free! All You Have To Do Is Send Out A Tweet!”
Highly clickable, and when the user then lands on your splash page for this guide, they are now primed to share it, and you have yet another option to place your e-Cover on this landing page in order to make the package more enticing: a professional looking cover, as we have discussed, adds instantly enticement and credibility to your work, as a great present should come with great looking wrapping.