Honestly, I was trying to hit two birds with one stone.  During my college years, we’d often get these writing assignments where we’d have to write papers (on a variety of topics) and turn them in for a grade.  What I was really trying to do in my free time was to develop side income streams on the internet– not pour my heart into papers about Tennessee Williams, etc.  Little did my professors know that I was doing both (turning in their assignment and making a side income online) with the same papers.

When I told one of my professors about the method for monetizing my college papers, he thought it was awesome!  He was the professor for my capstone course in business administration so I felt I had nothing to lose by revealing my little secret.  Who knows, he might now be monetizing his current student’s papers under a pen name.

Note: there’s nothing dishonest about this method– the papers being turned in to my professors were from my own brain– sweat, tears and all (I worked hard for those grades).  Also, the papers/eBooks that people (in the Amazon Kindle Marketplace) see what they’re buying– I’m upfront with the contents of the eBook– I’m just not telling them that it was a college paper before it became an eBook (because why would they even care?).

Overview

Practically anyone nowadays can be an author.  Simply produce a story in written-form (export in .doc or .pdf, etc) and publish it on Amazon’s KDP Network.  It’s free to try.  Amazon will take a cut of the profits once an eBook is sold, but that’s pretty standard.

The biggest challenge I faced was: what to write about and how to ensure that I deliver once I defined the scope for the project?

If you’re like me, I had a lot of eBook ideas when starting out.  I even started a lot of eBook projects, but I rarely finished the eBook projects (mostly due to scope creep, and, well, procrastination).  The *eureka moment happened when I realized that I could export the works that I was already being required to do for my college courses, and re-purpose them to be eBooks, ready to sell on Amazon’s Kindle Marketplace.

*Side-note: I was actually staying in Eureka, Missouri during this time.

Simply adding an eBook Cover, adding a description and tags (for the listing) for the “ebook” was enough to go into business as an author.  So that’s what happened.

Case Study: Five Page College Assignment Turns Into A Passive Income Stream

Don’t laugh at the pen name, man, it took a while to come up with that!

I’m not going to lie– it didn’t bring in a lot of money.  But, somebody thought it was interesting enough to buy it for $2.99.

This was one of my first experiments.  Looking back, there are several factors even within the listing itself that I could have improved upon:

  • The Cover (c’mon, really?  Yeah, that was me rushing to get an image added so I could “publish” the darn thing)
  • Listing Description
  • Tags/Categories Selection
  • Title
  • Call-to-Actions within the eBook itself (eg. driving traffic to an opt-in offer, etc)

The list goes on.

This idea can be easily implemented for all future college papers.  Who knows, you may even be in the market to learn about the impact of jazz and how it inspired an identity for African American Poetry?  Perhaps, you’d like to learn more about Google Alerts Essentials?  Joking aside, we’re talking about the ability to optimize your potential return while minimizing the risk of too much additional work to achieve the desired result.

Lessons Learned

  1. You never really know what people are willing to buy when it comes to Amazon Kindle Publishing.  You may have an idea, but you never really know until you try to produce it for the market.
  2. Amazon is the best in the world at conversion rate optimization and at suggesting similar products to people ready-to-buy.  They’re a good ally to have if you to help you test your experimental eBook launch.
  3. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of tackling the additional tasks to get your college paper to be re-purposed as an eBook, all of those tasks can be outsourced for less than $20 total through a marketplace, like, Fiverr.com.

How to Monetize Your College Papers

If you’re game, you can try to monetize your college papers, too.  First things first, though, you need to sign-up for an Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing Account, if you haven’t already.

Note: I would only start this process after you have submitted your assignment.  That way, it won’t matter that much if you change your master copy of the assignment/eBook.

  1. Sign-up for a Kindle Direct Publishing Account. (See Slide 1 below)
  2. Use the word processor of your choice (eg Google Docs) to update your assignment.  Add a title, eBook cover, etc.  Also, you will likely want to remove any mentions of your name, course, professor and other citations which aren’t absolutely necessary for your ebook. (See Slides 4 – 6 below
    1. FYI, I keep my Google Doc open while I start the publishing process, and then once I get to the section, “Kindle eBook Cover”, I click the “Launch Cover Creator” to create a eBook cover, and then when done, I paste the cover in my Google Doc.  From there, it’s ready to export and upload to Kindle Direct Publishing.)

  3. Export your document in pdf/doc format.  There is some debate for which format is better, but I choose pdf most of the time. (See Slide 6 below)
  4. Continue the registration process.  You’ll eventually get to the “Royalty and Pricing” section which allows for you to determine the cost of the eBook.  I usually opt for the 70% royalty for the eBooks that I produce, but you can choose 35% commission structure if you really want. (See Slide 7 below)
  5. From there, I just continue the registration process until it begins processing the eBook for the Kindle Marketplace.  Usually after 24 hours, you’ll be able to login to your account and see a “live” link for the eBook (showing that the eBook was approved and is now available in the Kindle Marketplace, ready to be sold! (See Slides 8 – 9 below).

Click here to see the Slides (full-screen).

Lead generation consultant who likes to share insights found while running online marketing experiments. In my free time, I like songwriting, working on web-based projects and learning to fly my drone.

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