Writing a free report is one of those things most of us intend on doing, but very few get around to actually doing it.
That was the case for me for a long time. And if you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re in the same boat.
And that’s okay! It’s not your fault!
Things come up. Life happens. We find more urgent and pressing things that come up every day, and the seemingly easy task of just ‘whipping up a short report’ takes the back seat over and over.
So right now, I’m going to share with you 3 different ways of actually getting it done!
Number 1: PLR
PLR stands for Private Label Rights.
It’s when you purchase pre-written (or recorded) material, with the license to edit and reuse it as you see fit.
For example, if you purchased a pack of PLR articles on Dog Training, it means you’re allowed to slap those articles directly onto your blog, and claim them as your own.
However, I highly recommend rewriting them (or paying someone else to do it). For a couple of reasons:
1) It can be tough finding good quality PLR in a lot of niches… to be honest, most of it is crap that’s written poorly. But that doesn’t mean you can’t extract some great ideas out of it.
2) It’s great to be unique. Not just for the search engines, but for the sake of any visitors who may have read that same content elsewhere (after a different marketer slapped that same PLR content up on their site without editing it).
Number 2: DIY
When I struggle to find time to do the things I know need doing, I’ll often employ this trick…
I’ll hire a cheap (but not disgusting) hotel room for a night.
Then I’d get there at check-in time with my laptop, a few snacks, and a pack of energy drinks (back before I quit them!).
I’d then lock myself in the room for the next 18 hours, put on some music, and get to work.
No Facebook, no Twitter, no texting or phone calls. Just focus.
You’ll be amazed at what you can get done in that time.
Number 3: Outsource [Mini Case Study]
I know what some of you are thinking…
“Outsourcing something like this is too expensive”
Well I’m here to tell you, it’s surprisingly affordable for most, if you know what to look for.
I recently outsourced a free report to Upwork.com, and honestly, the results blew me away.
I started by creating a listing for the writing of the book itself.
1500 words, with a budget of $50, and ended up with over 30 high-quality applicants after filtering out the “undesirables”.
As you can see, it wasn’t the most detailed project description (free template available at the end of this post).
It simply outlined what I was after, and the preferred tone/personality the writer should display.
I’d typed up a list of the 7 chapters/topics I wanted (which took all of 2 minutes), and simply handed that over to the selected freelancer when I awarded the job.
48 hours later, I had my report back, and was ready to move on to the next step – Getting a cover created.
For the cover, I actually posted a job looking for a part-time Graphic Designer, because I knew I’d have more work coming up.
In this case, I ended up finding a talented guy in India, who worked for $4/hr.
I asked him to design the 2D cover for my book, and he said he’d charge 5 hours ($20 total), and give me 6 variations to choose from.
This is the one I chose:
Not bad for $20!
1500 Word Book – $50
2D Book Cover – $20
Total – $70
Now all there was left to do was get a 3D cover created. And for this, I actually used Photoshop, along with a copy of Cover Action Pro.Cover Action Pro (CAP) is a set of ‘actions’ that run inside photoshop… essentially a macro script, which rapidly performs a set of actions while you sip your coffee. Or wine. I’m not here to judge ?
A copy of CAP will set you back about $97… which I know is steep, but you only pay it once, and have a whole bunch of 3D covers to choose from.
(I purchased my copy years ago, back when I thought I wanted to be a graphic designer, and compete with guys who charge $4/hr…. who I now hire for my own jobs.)
If $97 is too steep, not a problem. Just post a job on Upwork for $5, hand someone your 2D cover, and you’ll probably get it back within a few hours!
Here’s how mine looked after running a CAP action for less than 15 seconds:
Once again, not bad!
So now I’ve got my 2D cover, 3D cover…
…and my Word doc, which is currently UGLY and unformatted.
I mean, it’s ‘okay’… but we don’t want ‘okay’.
We want WOW!
So, I did what any obsessive perfectionist marketer would do in this situation.
I fired up Adobe InDesign, and here’s the final result:
I’ll be honest, it’s not the easiest software to use…
But if you can get the hang of the basics, you’ll be making some amazing PDF documents in no time, and it SERIOUSLY puts MS Word to shame.
And if you don’t want to fluff about doing it yourself… Upwork.com is the answer once again.
I’d say $10 would be plenty to get someone to convert your doc into an attractive PDF you’d be proud of.
And to make it even easier, I’m giving you my personal InDesign book template below, which you can either use yourself, or pass to your designer.
So, in summary, I managed to get away with spending only $70 on this entire project.
I did some basic housekeeping myself, but I didn’t write a single word, and the only real “Graphic Design” thing I did was click the GO button in Photoshop.
Which means, if you follow along with what I’ve done, you should easily be able to get it done for under $100, without lifting too many fingers ?
Good luck, and I hope this has really helped motivate you into taking action!
Update: After completing this project, I decided to do another one on an almost identical topic, while seeing if I could get the price even lower… Just out of curiosity.
I ended up spending $35 on the book, and $20 on the graphics – $55 total!
It’s also worth noting… although these projects were cheap, the quality of writing was not sacrificed at all. Both writers (one from the USA and one from the UK) did an outstanding job!