Creating an eBook for your business doesn’t mean that you need to hire a designer … or that you have to learn how to become a designer yourself.
By using an eBook template, you can whip up a professional-looking design that your audience will want to read.
Whether you’re self-publishing for yourself or looking to increase email signups for your business, we’ll show you that anyone can make an eBook.
In fact, I learned how to self-publish my own eBooks and sold 10k+ paid copies globally via Amazon by using these tips and tricks.
Sounds good? Let’s get started. I’ll give you plenty of templates and eBook design tips that work for the Venngage editor–an online drag and drop design tool that’s free to use.
Here’s one eBook template:
Just so you know, some of our eBook templates are free and some require a small monthly fee to use. Upgrade to our Business Plan to access premium templates, 1-on-1 design consultations and more. Sign up is always free.
What’s in this post:
- What is an eBook?
- Why create an eBook for business?
- How to make an eBook
- How to design an eBook
- How to publish an eBook
Just want the templates? See all our eBook templates on one page.
What is an eBook?
“eBook” is short for “electronic book.” eBooks come in digital formats such as PDF, .mobi or .epub.
In this post, we’ll focus on PDF eBooks as they’re easiest to share, especially for getting leads (email signups).
eBooks have multiple pages and contain long-form text. They can be structured like traditional books with chapters and headings.
They can be mainly text based, or they can have lots of supporting graphs, photographs and charts so they look more like magazines, like this eBook template:
How long should an eBook be? They’re usually over 20 pages, though they can be shorter. It depends on how in-depth you want to go and how much time you have to spend.
For example, at Venngage, we recently produced an eBook called Everything You Need To Repurpose Content Visually and it is 24 pages. But, because it’s an eBook about visual content marketing, there are a lot more visuals than text.
We also made it into an eBook template, so you can customize our hard work for your own purposes:
What’s the difference between an eBook and a white paper?
Good question. A white paper is more like a report. It’s an in-depth look at a specific subject.
A white paper can come in the form of a case study, such as “A Study of Mental Health Issues and Their Impact on the Workplace.” It is usually about 5-15 pages long.
An eBook’s topic is usually broader and it’s usually about 20-200 pages long.
An eBook usually works as a “how to” guide that tries to teach the reader something, like this eBook template on How To Design Presentations to Captivate Your Online Audience:
Both white papers and eBooks are types of long-form content that can be used to generate leads–but their formats differ.
Why create an eBook for business?
You create an eBook for your business so you can give it away for free to get more email signups and increase the size of your business newsletter list.
Who should design and give away an eBook for business?
- Small businesses
- Established companies
In short, anyone who wants more email subscribers, which are more potential leads you can convert into paying customers or clients, should thinking about creating and giving away eBooks.
Read our section on eBook lead generation for tips on how to do this.
Growing businesses can also create eBooks as internal documents that can be shared with employees for them to refer back to.
For example, this brand style guide has a creative eBook design that playfully shows off the company’s branding requirements:
Picking a topic for your eBook
What should your eBook be about? You don’t need to start from scratch! Find out what your top-performing content is that you already have.
This should give you a very good idea about what topics are engaging your audience and what they want to know more about.
You can use a tool like Buzzsumo to see what blog content is getting the most social media engagement. For example, Venngage’s creative poster ideas blog post is doing very well:
This tells us that it would be a good idea to make an eBook about poster design.
Other hacks: use Google Analytics to see what blog posts are getting the most traffic.
Or check your social media analytics to see what Facebook posts, tweets, video, pins etc. are getting the most engagement.
How to make an eBook
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty stuff: actually making this beast of an eBook.
1. Decide if you want a landscape or portrait eBook
eBooks made in landscape mode (shorter and wider) are best when you want to include lots of graphics, like charts or photos. You can also fit in two columns of text, which keeps your lines from being too long (and harder to read).
Here’s an example of an eBook design in landscape mode:
Portrait mode (traditional 8.5 x 11 size) is also fine, especially if you want a more traditional “book” experience. Just make sure you’re using wide enough margins so your line length isn’t so long you’re exhausting your readers.
And since most of your readers will probably be reading your eBook on their computers, the lines can be very long if you’re not careful!\
2. Choose an eBook template
You’re probably thinking: am I setting up landscape or portrait mode in a Word document? In Google sheets? I am not a writer/designer, this sounds HARD.
This is why you should use an eBook template. A very nice, professional designer will have done all the hard work for you. You get to come in and change some text and be done with it.
A Google search of “eBook template” will yield a thousand-and-one options.
But, since we’re on the Venngage site here and we already have lots of amazing eBook templates for you, I’ll stick to talking about how you can use our tool. Which happens to be a drag and drop online editor that anyone–and I mean anyone–can use.
So you could customize this eBook template:
You can also use Venngage’s online book cover maker tool if you already have your content and just want to create an eye-catching cover.
How do you choose the right eBook template?
Pick the layout that works for you–whether you want more text or more visuals.
You don’t need to worry about if the template says it’s for a “brand style guide” or “content marketing strategy.” You can change all the words in the template.
For example, this eBook design could become 5 tips about anything, not just YouTube marketing:
It’s just a matter of changing the words, if you like the visual-heavy, modern, clean format.
Don’t worry about colors, either. The Venngage online editor makes it easy to add a completely different color palette with one click–no fiddling required.
And don’t worry about length. You can easily add new pages and copy existing pages, as you can see below:
But, do worry about layout. Because layout can be trickier to change.
How to design an eBook
This is the part where you get to pretend to be a designer, without doing very much work at all (or knowing anything about color theory).
Like I said before, if you’re nervous about shifting elements around, pick an eBook template where you like the layout already. That way you can just change the text and colors and perhaps some images and have done with it.
1. Use a branded color palette
Applying your brand colors to your eBook will instantly make it appear more professional.
Let’s take this brand style guide eBook, which boldly applies its three brand colors as the background to each page:
This is assuming you have a brand color palette. If you do, our Brand Kit tool will grab this palette from your website automatically. You can then apply it to any of our eBook templates with one click. Then click “Shuffle to try different color combinations, as you can see below:
If you don’t have a brand color palette, or don’t want one, that’s completely fine. We have custom color palettes you can test out with one click.
Or you can read our blog post about brand colors to help you decide what sort of palette would be best for your industry and the general “feel” of your business.
- A light or white background is best for readability’s sake.
- Body text should mostly be dark, though you can use accent colors (sparingly) for headlines or key words.
- Add a link color for any hyperlinks so they stand out.
- Don’t use more than 4 colors, max.
2. Pick fonts that showcase your brand
Again, perhaps you already have some brand fonts picked out.
If not, you can read our blog post on brand fonts to find free fonts and figure out what types of fonts gel best with your “brand personality.”
Above all, keep your fonts readable! The fonts in this eBook template are modern and stylish and extremely readable:
Nothing too strange or odd about the fonts in this eBook template. And the fonts also complement each other, because a designer chose them probably.
So go ahead and experiment with the fonts in your eBook, if you like. The Venngage editor has plenty of fonts pre-loaded (as well as pre-loaded “document” fonts that you can stick to).
There’s also a handy “Undo” button whenever you feel you’ve gotten too creative.
- Don’t use more than 3 fonts per eBook.
- Try using one font for the headlines and one for the body copy.
- When in doubt, stick to the template fonts.
- Stay away from handwritten or calligraphy-style fonts that no one can read.
- Different fonts have different personalities that should reflect your “brand personality.” Our primer on brand fonts will tell you everything you need to know about this.
3. Vary your layout
Endless walls of text will send your audience, with their 100 unread emails and constant Slack notifications, running for the hills.
Appeal to visual learners and those with short attention spans alike with a creative eBook design that takes full advantage of visuals, different sizes of text and fun layouts.
This eBook template uses stock images, charts, graphs, different header sizes, screenshots, icons and a two-column layout to pack a visually-appealing wallop:
- Use lists.
- Use images. Venngage lets you pick from thousands of free stock photos within the editor.
- Add captions to your images (people actually love reading them).
- Use icons and illustrations. Same deal: Venngage has an icon/illustration library with thousands of options.
- Try using icons in place of bullet points in your list.
- Use headlines: a title headline (H1), a subheader (H2) and smaller headings within that subheader as needed (H3).
Again, when in doubt, stick to the template. The template will never fail you. But, if you’re feeling creative, go for it.
4. Visualize data with charts
Charts. You may be comfortable with them, you may want to flee in panic.
But, charts can:
- Help draw the reader’s eye to key insights
- Make key insights more memorable.
- Help to validate certain claims.
- Improve comprehension of certain points.
So, if your eBook includes data, or even any numbers at all, you probably want to include a chart or two. They also help vary your layout (see above).
Thankfully, a chart isn’t just a line graph or bar chart. It can also look like this:
Pretty straightforward. Or how about the pie charts in this eBook template (also not intimidating):
If charts are starting to get you excited (I don’t blame you), check out our blog post on how to choose the best charts for your infographic, or any document.
5. Don’t forget your call to action (CTA)
The whole point of this eBook design process is to get new paying customers.
So, don’t forget to tell your readers, very specifically, what you want them to do once they’ve finished reading.
Your CTA could be:
- Buy a product.
- Email you for a free consultation.
- Sign up for a free trial.
- Subscribe to your podcast.
- Use this discount code/limited time offer.
Ways to add CTAs in your eBook:
- Include “key takeaway” sections on each page or the end of every chapter. End your takeaways by saying “Learn more about X” and include a link on “X” to one of your blog posts, landing pages etc.
- Add photos of your product that link to its product page.
- Add screenshots from one of your videos and link to the video.
- Add a CTA page at the end of your eBook.
This eBook template has a great example of a full-page CTA. It uses a stunning image and invites the reader to visit their website:
You could make the URL go to a dedicated landing page where the reader can request a free quote via email or get a time-limited discount code on a certain package. Or be directed to a promotional YouTube video.
Asking people to take an action more specific than “visit our website” is probably best, so that they become more invested in your product/service and you can move them further down the sales funnel towards being paying customers.
How to publish an eBook
Gone are the days when you needed to get an agent and a big-city publisher to get your book into the world.
You don’t even need to get your eBook printed and bound.
When you use the Venngage online editor, all you need to do is click “Download” and select “Interactive PDF.” This way, all your hyperlinks will be clickable in the final PDF.
Where can you publish your eBook?
1. On your blog
We made a dedicated blog post with key takeaways from our webinar design eBook.
Optimize your blog post for SEO with a high volume, low competition keyword (or as close as possible) so people can find your post via organic (non-paid) search.
If this sounds like Greek, let Brian Dean show you how to do it.
Add a button linking to a dedicated landing page where readers can download your eBook (AFTER they enter their email address). At Venngage, we use Leadpages to make landing pages that convert:
2. On guest blog posts
When we made an eBook with Hubspot on “How to Create Beautiful Infographics” we blogged about it on their site, which linked to an offer page that they put together:
Partnerships are a powerful way to reach new audiences for your eBook (and ultimately, your product/service). So definitely consider either creating the eBook with a partner, or publicizing it together–as long as you two are not direct competitors and offer complimentary products.