I like variety—so I love travelling, exploring and writing fiction and non-fiction on a daily basis.
Do you want to get your work out into the world and get paid for it?
Maybe you are spending your days writing articles, short stories, novels, or instruction manuals, or you have a great idea for a course that you think might be helpful and you want to put your work out into the world—and get paid—but don’t know where to start?
In the following article I detail how you can use established, pre-existing internet platforms to help you produce and sell your work, without stumping up vast wads of cash, and all the while letting them do most of the hard work.
In this article we're going to look at using pre-existing online platforms where you can sell digital and physical products that you can produce by harnessing the knowledge that you already have. Products such online courses, eBooks and paperbacks.
Why Use Pre-Existing Platforms?
It's pretty simple. The ‘heavy lifting’ has already been done for you. So rather than trying to set up your own website (to promote and sell your eBooks or courses or whatever) and having to do the whole thing from scratch, you can ‘piggyback’ on online platforms that already exist.
Why Should We Use Them?
Well, the platforms we are going to discuss are already proven systems. Most of them being 'on the go' for several years and as such they're well-established with a lot of traffic. So rather than trying to find our own traffic, and send it to your website, which is initially difficult – it is easier and simpler to utilise these existing platforms and place your products (online courses, eBooks etc.) on them.
Let’s have a look at some of the key platforms in detail.
The first platform we’ll is discuss is Fiverr. Fiverr is quite interesting because not only can we use it as a platform to sell our products, we can also use it as a platform to help build our products.
So what are the Pros of Fiverr?
Well it's often one of the 100 top visited websites in the US, so it gets a ton of traffic.
What Fiverr specialises in is ‘micro’ tasks, which Fiverr calls ‘gigs’. On Fiverr, you could do a small job, which might be something as simple as making a video of yourself dancing to someone's favourite tune or making up a song or a poem or anything. Fiverr can be quite wacky, but it's an interesting site and can be rewarding, as long as you don't spend too much time doing the jobs (gigs) that put up on Fiverr.
Fiverr was founded way back in 2009 and it's got a very diverse range of ‘gigs’ or jobs on the website. And although it's called Fiverr because its ‘gigs’ start at $5, you can actually buy/sell gigs up to $500 at present, depending on your ‘ranking’ on the platform.
There are 2 million plus services on Fiverr, so it's quite a range.
How to Make the Most of Fiverr
What are the downsides? Well Fiverr starts at $5 a gig, which isn't a lot of money if you're selling things on Fiverr. There is an automated rating level that helps you move up through the ranks on Fiverr, and as you do that you can start charging more and sell multiples of ‘gigs’ to your customers.
So how does it work?
Well, as a contributor, you would submit ‘gigs’ to Fiverr, jobs that you can do and they will start off at $5.
To make the most of Fiverr, and assuming you don’t literally want to dance to someone else’s tune, it is best to stick to quick ‘gigs’ that don’t take too long to complete (after all you are only being paid $5 per gig initially) so it is best to produce PDF reports or eBooks that you can sell on Fiverr, which, once they are written can be offered on Fiverr. They only need to be written once, and when someone orders one, you simply send it to them via the Fiverr system, which should take less than a minute and then you get paid.
2. Online Teaching With Skillshare
Okay let’s talk about online courses, and we'll use the Skillshare platform as our example. Skillshare is one of the main online course teaching platforms on the internet, but there are many others, including the other big player: Udemy.
So, what is Skillshare and what does it do? Skillshare is an online teaching platform which offers a massive diversity short courses to the general public - anything from ‘water colour painting’ to ‘bird watching’, and everything in between – whatever ‘it’ is, there is probably a Skillshare course for it.
As a ‘teacher’ on Skillshare, you have ‘royalties’ paid into a PayPal account. So you would need a PayPal account already in place to set up an account with Skillshare and start promoting your courses on the platform – this makes it very easy to monitor your sales on the platform.
I would personally take this with a ‘pinch of salt’, but Skillshare claims that a teacher can earn about $3,500 per year, but this of course, is an average. Some teachers will earn more and some will earn less depending on the popularity of the subjects being taught and how well they are promoted.
Skillshare offers a straightforward setup. You would need to sign up for an account and then you could start uploading your course(s), which would generally comprise of videos, onto the platform.
Earning With Skillshare
Skillshare uses a subscription business model, which means that their students pay a monthly or annual fee for ‘premium’ membership to the platform, this allows them unlimited access to the entire catalogue of courses on Skillshare.
When it comes to getting paid, Skillshare compensates their teachers in two ways: Either through ‘royalties’, which are based on the number of premium minutes watched by your students in your classes every month, or by a ‘premium’ referral. A premium referral is when a new student signs up (through a special link) for a premium membership with Skillshare, for this you earn about $10 for every new student sign up. The other added advantage of a premium referral is that when a new student signs up for Skillshare, they usually get a month or two free access to all the courses on the platform – so everybody wins. This is a way to promote your courses that makes it very easy for students to get access to your courses by simply promoting Skillshare.
Skillshare, and similar platforms, are a good way of getting into the online course arena where the platforms themselves do most of the hard work.
3. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
Our next platform is Amazon KDP or Kindle Direct Publishing.
This is a great platform because Amazon, as we all know, is one of the largest online sellers in the US and, indeed, the world. They have global distribution, so you can get to a lot of customers with this platform.
With Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, you can publish eBooks to Amazon, which will then be put onto the Amazon marketplace and make them available worldwide.
You can publish both eBooks and paperback books with Amazon.
Publishing eBooks on KDP
Let’s discuss eBooks first.
Currently on Amazon you can make up to 70% profit from sales on eBooks, depending on the price of your eBook, and obviously, you have a massive base of Kindle owners to sell to; but not only Kindle owners, many people read Amazon eBooks on a variety of devices apart from Kindles.
Amazon is a buyer's market, and unlike people searching for stuff on YouTube or on Google, when people come to Amazon, they are usually looking to buy something. They might browse, but generally they are looking to buy.
You also get good support and statistics from Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and because it's free to publish your work, it doesn't cost you anything to upload your eBook to Amazon and start selling. Another good thing is that you control the pricing, so you can decide how much you want to sell your book for and basically how much you want to make on that book.
On the negative side, Amazon likes to keep control so you really have no idea who is buying your books. This means you cannot directly promote any of your other work to Amazon buyers, and so customers continue to buy via Amazon rather than directly buying from you.
Promoting Your eBooks With KDP
They've also launched a few schemes over the last few years which have divided the community of eBook makers, one of them being Kindle Select. Some of these schemes basically lock you into exclusivity of using Amazon. So rather than using other platforms which also sell Kindle books, you have to go only with Amazon for a set period. At the time of writing this, that set period is three months. There are some advantages to this, however, because you can do promotions (such as price promotions or free book giveaways) for your books using Kindle Select.
Although Amazon is an enormous marketplace for books, you still have to do self-promotion to get your books moving and to spread the word about your books that are on the Amazon marketplace.
So how does Amazon KDP work? It's fairly simple. You need to upload a text file of your eBook to Amazon in the correct format. This has been simplified over the last few years, so it's not quite as difficult as it used to be. You then need to upload a cover of your book, once approved you can then go on to promote your book.
Paperback Publishing With KDP
Okay, let's talk about paperback publishing. Up until recent years we would normally have used a platform called CreateSpace (or similar online software) to produce paperbacks, but it wasn't a very user friendly interface and CreateSpace has recently been bought by Amazon and is now part of the KDP suite of programs to produce not only eBooks, but also paperbacks.
KDP paperback publishing has several pros and only a few cons.
Like eBooks, publishing your paperback through Amazon gives you global reach, so you've got the biggest online publisher in the world on your side. It also makes publishing your paperback a lot easier than it used to be. Particularly if you've already published an eBook, as you can have a paperback version published pretty quickly just based on your eBook - you just click on the option to make a paperback and follow the instructions and you will soon have a paperback version to compliment your eBook version. A fairly easy process.
It's also ‘print on demand’, which means your new paperback book isn’t printed until someone actually orders it, which means no upfront printing costs. Amazon also provides a lot of free design tools which are easy to use and can make your paperback books look great.
Publishing Your Paperback and Getting Paid
At present you can earn up to 60% royalties on the list price that you set, minus the printing costs of the book. So whilst you're not getting full royalties, it's far better than actually printing the book yourself and hoping it sells. Amazon does all hard work when it comes to paperback publishing. So it leaves you to just deal with getting your products out there and marketing them.
You will need to make sure that you've formatted/edited the book correctly and it’s suitable for printing, so it will look okay. I suggest that once you've uploaded an eBook version to Amazon and then you have reformatted it into a paperback version, you then order a physical copy to check it for errors.
Whether you put an eBook or a paperback on Amazon you would still have to do a lot of promotion on your own. There are certain promotion tools in Amazon, but at the end of the day it's probably best if you promote your books independently as well as using the tools that Amazon offers.
Although there are many other internet platforms that allow you to promote your work out in the world and get paid, the above platforms perform and pay consistently. If you have come across any other reliable platforms please feel free to mention them in the comments.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Jerry Cornelius
Jerry Cornelius (author) on February 22, 2020:
Thanks Liz, much appreciated!
Liz Westwood from UK on February 21, 2020:
This is a great guide to online platforms. You give writers inspiration and encouragement with this article.