With the ebook market bursting at the seams it does feel that the standard passive income advice is to ‘knock out an ebook and get it onto Amazon’. But the truth is there’s no such thing as a perfect passive income product and nothing (and certainly not an ebook) can be just ‘knocked out’.

Both ebooks and ecourses can take a considerable amount of time and effort (not to mention blood and tears!).

Let me tell you my book and ebook publishing story.

In 2008 my very first ‘proper’ book (ie not self-published) The Holistic Beauty Book was published by Green Books. Phew I thought, I’m now a published author – let the money start rolling in.

Ha. Ha. Ha. Nothing is THAT simple.

The fact is that my £12.95 book (with matching ebook on Kindle) took 4 long years of hard work and gave me just £1000 a year in royalties (I get 12% of the sale price).

Bear in mind that the publishers take the biggest cut because they take all the financial risk plus they have a massive sales team who market your book constantly. My book is still in all the mainstream high-street bookshops and there was a lot of press and TV exposure for the first 2 years.

4 years, 33,000 words, 2 extra stone in weight and no sleep for the last 2 months leading up to deadline. And I get £1000 a year.


Compare this to when I launched my first ecourse.

The ecourse had roughly the same amount of words, took less time to write (because I mined my book for a lot of it) and because it sold for £250 it became an instant 4 figure income for me.

As I become more proficient at writing ecourses, I stumbled across this truth: Less Is More.

Teaching a skill is best done in small bite sized chunks using plenty of multimedia. Therefore each module of an ecourse need only be a short video and short worksheet.

It gradually dawned on me that ecourses actually contain LESS word count than a book and for good reason. We read books to… read. But we buy ecourses to learn and learning doesn’t usually take place by reading but by doing actionable steps. Actions are best taught via video and worksheets.

Let’s compare

eBook eCourse
Huge word count (200-300 pages for average book) Low word count. Quick to make videos and PDFs
Usually sells for low cost. Physical books = $10-$20 and ebooks for Kindle are anything from $1-$6 PDF ebooks on websites are often $10-$20 The sky is the limit with pricing. Quick ecourses are often between $47-$147 with more indepth courses going for several hundred pounds/dollars. It’s not uncommon to see ecourses at $250-$500
Profit margin can vary as Amazon take a cut. Self-hosted ebooks can be 100% profit Usually all profit unless you decide to host through a 3rd party site like Udemy. Most ecourses are self-hosted though.
A full sized book/ebook of 20k-30k words can take a very long time to write – many months. A video based ecourse with worksheets can take just days or weeks.
You need to sell in high-volume to earn a full-time wage, this means lots more marketing. Ranking in Amazon can take a LOT of effort. You only need a few sales each month to make a full-time income, less marketing is needed.

There are obviously exceptions

Ebook whizkids that make 6 figure incomes from ebooks do exist but they are in short supply and you have to be super-dedicated to earn that kind of cash from a low-cost product like an ebook.

But if you just compare the amount of actual ‘stuff’ (content) to income – ecourses are the clear winner. You can sell them for TONS more money and they can take less effort to make.

To me ecourses are the best choice by far for anyone starting out to make passive income streams. They embody my personally philosophy of High-Income, Less Effort – which is really what passive income is all about.

After all what is the point of launching a product if you then have to spend 10 hours a day marketing it.

Ebooks = work harder.

Ecourses = work smarter

xoxo Star

Ps Check out my awesome Ecourse Bootcamp program! 10 in-depth modules, 20 tech tutorials and a whole stack of extras. Check it out>>

15 replies
  1. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Great thoughts and so true – unless you are like me and plan 70 videos for one course plus everything typed up as well in pdfs plus more plus.. am I good engouh yet? .. no, better make some more. Or, even better: plan on what to make. To the tiniest detail. And then replan.
    At least realization is the first step to recovery, right?

    • Star Khechara
      Star Khechara says:

      haha! This is how I built ecourses way back in the day. I quickly learned my lesson. Not only do bite-sized lessons and smaller courses help your learners more but the sell more AND you do LESS WORK. Talk about ‘Winfinity’ 😀

  2. Liz
    Liz says:

    Really gritty and succinctly put points about e-book vs e-course merits. I am just getting my 50-yr-old mind around a completely new direction, starting with mind-mapping what my (inner / hidden? ) talents / expertise might be! Let alone getting to working out if they might resonate with and be of value to others. I came across you two years ago Star via the skincare programme but put all training on the back burner as kid and elderly parents gave me no time to think, regroup and start afresh. I am rediscovering you, now in your new life, and so glad I am! Much food for thought, and hopefully action on your free give-away blog tips, but hoping to dive into your course too. Just one small query re Camtasia: why not use CamStudio, which seems to be open source and free? It seems to be ace for all one’s video needs.

    • starkhechara
      starkhechara says:

      Starting a new project is always a challenge but FUN! You will definitely have things of value to offer others, we all do 🙂 Regarding Camstudio I found it had literally about 1% of the functionality that Camtasia has so t’s just not suitable for my needs at all, I was a happy to upgrade to Camtasia and y god it works like a dream. I recommended Cam Studio to a friend recently who couldn’t afford Camtasia and it filled her computer with spammy adverts so she wasn’t impressed. Oops!

      • Liz
        Liz says:

        Thanks Star for the encouragement and for the tips about the various Cams. Noted. Will splurge on the Camtasia instead then as don’t want computer blockage. ATD – as per your other post, important re quality of AV delivery. Tnx.

  3. Sarah Lou
    Sarah Lou says:

    Reality bites hard sometimes doesn’t it. Thanks for the transparency my ebook has done similar figures. Another issue for me is that the ebook dates quicker than the course as well so another reason to look to making the switch. I’m also just starting out with camtasia and love it.

    The only thing I would say is it is different for fiction ebooks. They are much more evergreen and can sell for years.

    Thanks Star food for thought.

    • starkhechara
      starkhechara says:

      Ah yes Sarah Lou – it’s a bit different for fiction for sure! A good point about the content dating too. You can keep updating a course but it’s a bit harder to pull a book off the shelves then re-write and re-sell.

  4. Amy Tucker
    Amy Tucker says:

    Star, this has been a really interesting insight. I am just at the start of my blogging venture…but with plans in the future to do a PDF style e-book. It hadn’t occurred to me about the possibility of doing an e-course, but am going to bear this in mind as I put my business model together. Definite food for thought 🙂

  5. Joanna
    Joanna says:

    Totally agree. E-courses are the way to go in terms of income. The book is good though, in terms of having a calling card. There is something about having a book on Amazon that gives you extra credibility

    • starkhechara
      starkhechara says:

      Absolutely! I see my books as an awesome business card and something to help build my expert reputation. I don’t see them as my main income though – that’s where the ecourses really shine 🙂

  6. Cat
    Cat says:

    Hey Star I’ve already signed up for your ecourse entrpreneurs course. Cant wait!
    I’m already at the start of making videos but wondered what do you recommend free, or otherwise, for recording, sound, editing etc I know you’ll probably cover this in the course but I’d love to have a bash before that module appears so I can refine it by then. Thanks

    • starkhechara
      starkhechara says:

      Hi Cat, to be honest I keep it fairly basic. I like to move a lot so lugging loads of equipment isn’t something I want to do. For ‘talking head’ videos I use my HD webcam by Logitech and often don’t edit at all – I just send it out. For screencast tutorials I use Camtasia which isn’t cheap but they do a free trial. I also use Camtasia to edit stuff If it needs editing too. I bought a set of cheapie studio lights from Amazon and I’ll be buying some interesting backdrops soon too. But really that’s it. Before Camtasia I used to use free Windows Movie Maker to edit.


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