When we talk about marketing and sales funnels, we talk a lot about making an offer upfront to pull people into your funnel. The offer can come in many forms, including a webinar, a video tutorial, or an eBook. (If you need further examples, you can check out this previous blog post that looks at the different types of content you can offer in a sales funnel.)

The point of this free content offering is to generate leads. You are drawing people into your sales funnel so that you can create a point of contact. This content can help you build your email list and possibly develop a warm lead that will become a sale later in the sales journey.


Is creating an eBook really free?

While each of these pieces of content has its place, for this article, I want to look at the eBook. The problem with creating an eBook is that it is time-consuming.

Your time isn’t free. You’re also spending to have a cover designed, the book edited, and you might even be paying someone to format the text for eReaders. In other words, you’re spending capital, whether it’s actual money or time.


How do I make money off a free eBook?

Let me start by saying, do not make people pay through hidden fees such as a download fee or a delivery surcharge. If you charge even one cent to the customer, then you must be transparent.

The last thing you want to do is alienate a customer before they start trusting you.

However, there are other ways to get a customer to pay you without fees, surcharges, or taxes.


Use Kindle Direct

One of those ways is through Kindle Direct.

According to TCK Publishing, if you enroll the book in Amazon’s KDP Select program, Amazon Prime and Kindle Direct members will be able to read your book for free. Amazon pays you based on how many pages a person reads, so even if they only read one-third of the book, you’re still getting paid.

The downside of using Kindle Direct is that it’s entirely through Amazon. That means you’re not even getting paid in the form of an email address for your mailing list.

While Kindle Direct is a possibility, it’s probably one that you want to explore after your eBook has been on the market for a while.


Affiliate Marketing

A better way to make money off your eBook without charging customers is to insert affiliate marketing links into your book.

For example, if I were to write a book on digital marketing, I might join an affiliate program with the company that I use to manage my email lists. I would then use an affiliate link in my eBook and recommend the company to all my readers. For every reader that signs up with my affiliate link, I’m making a small cut of the sale.

The cool thing about affiliate marketing is that I don’t have to feel like a sleazy salesperson. I’m only recommending products that I use myself or that I believe in wholeheartedly.



You can also use your eBook to make a larger or different sale within your sales funnel.

For example, a person might sign on to receive my free eBook. Before they reach the checkout page, they are directed to a second page that offers add-ons. Something along the lines of, “If you like my digital marketing book, you may also be interested in my eLearning course on getting the most out of your email list.”

By upselling before the customer reaches the final checkout page, you may be able to make a sale off of that free eBook.

9 times out of 10, the customer won’t buy anything. However, that 10th time may make the entire process worth it in the long run.



Using an eBook as a lure into your sales funnel is a wonderful plan. When you do this, you’re laying the groundwork for a later sale. Your return on investment (ROI) is still there; it’s just a little further down the road.

However, if you use one of the steps above, you have the opportunity to make your eBook pay off almost immediately. Better yet, you’re not hurting that ROI down the road.

P.S. If you’re looking for a way to save time writing your eBook, look no further than your blog. To see all the things you can do with your old blog posts, check out this previous post on Intentionally Inspirational.


Written by Erika Towne