Self-publishing avenues offer small businesses affordable alternatives to producing materials instead of going through a print shop. These options often include higher quality, provide commerce management, and fulfillment for your products, but how do you get started, and what should you expect?
The best tip I can give you for getting started on your project is to figure out who your target audience is. One of the major advantages of self-publishing is the ability to customize your content to your audience, and giving you the option of establishing multiple versions of your content if you would like to focus on specific groups based on location, company, etc. You can also update your content any time you learn more about your audience, or if you just need to bring the information current.
In many cases, you may already know the answer as your business fills a very specific niche, or you are producing internal materials. However, if that is not the case, you should consider who you are trying to market your materials to. What age bracket are they, what demographics do they belong to, and any other pertinent information. Some of this may seem obvious, but one of the hardest parts of self-publishing can be finding your audience, and if you don’t figure it out, you may find that the materials aren’t delivering at your expectations. .
Once you have figured out who your audience is, you need to determine the best way to deliver your materials to them. Self-Publishing offers a variety of options in this area, from direct sales (you purchase copies for yourself and resell them on your website or in person), online sales (many self-publishing sites give you features like “buy now buttons”, and direct linking to online ordering so that your users can buy the product online), and digital sales (downloadable PDFs or other formats that users can purchase). Figuring out the delivery method for your materials is an integral aspect of self-publishing, and depends on your business and your needs. For some small businesses it may make sense to have all of their materials sold out of their business, while others might find it easier to be completely online. Most are best served by a combination of all of the methods.
Once your materials are prepared and uploaded to a self-publishing website, or sent in to a self-publishing provider, the next step will be letting your audience know that the materials are available. Again, this will depend on who your audience is and how you are planning to distribute the materials, but communication is key. Some excellent methods to use are announcements on your website, sending out a targeted e-mail to your customers (of course, you should always observe the CAN-SPAM Act), and if you have a physical business, signs announcing the product’s availability.
Of course, this aspect is often much easier to manage if your focus is driven primarily towards internal materials like training manuals, but can also apply to materials you aren’t selling like brochures for new products. People want to know about new offerings, and are a lot more likely to pick up your brochure if you let them know it’s readily available. Too often I’ve seen businesses put brochures and similar materials in hard to access areas or haven’t drawn attention to the fact that they’re free (or if they are charging for it, made it look like it’s free). In short, you need to communicate the intent of your materials to your customer so they know exactly what to expect and to get them interested. If you can get them excited about your materials, even better!