What is Low Content Publishing… Is it a legit business opportunity, or just a bunch of hype that will get phased out?
I got first got really into low content publishing back in October 2019, via the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing Platform, (known as KDP).
It’s been quite a roller coaster of a ride but something I am continuing to benefit from…….. Even in these uncertain times during 2020!
Yes, even in April 2020, I managed to make over $1000 with this side hustle… So, what’s it all about?
Low Content Publishing Briefly Explained:
Low content books may include the following types of item…
- Activity books,
- Colouring books,
- Log books,
- Blank recipe books,
- Guided journals,
- Blank journals…….. and so on.
Sometimes people also distinguish between LOW and NO content… Some low content books would be classed as books with no content in them at all.
No content would include products such as… lined notebooks, journals or sketchbooks.
When I first started, I purely relied on creating no content. I just uploaded lined notebooks with unique cover designs ……and that’s it.
I would recommend this for beginners because, it’s a good way to learn the basics.
A little later on, I started creating low-content. This included products such as different types of planners/log books and niche guided journals.
This is when I started seeing some books start making a lot of sales.
Today, a majority of my sales are coming from one particular niche and one of my books often accounts to close of half of my sales.
The frustrating thing is, I have created MUCH better books since this best seller!
But because the best seller has sold so much and has a lot of reviews… it continues to outsell and outrank my better books.
I’m hoping eventually some of my better ones will overtake it and start becoming the bigger seller, but this will take time.
At this point, I have just over 300 books live – But it’s only a small fraction of these that account for a majority of my sales.
Many people think you need to upload thousands of books to see any success, but this is not the case.
Being more concerned with quality, keyword research and niche research can ensure you’re successful with less books published.
Identify which books are doing well over time and simply do more of that!
What’s Merch By Amazon?
Merch is another platform by Amazon – where I first learnt all about print on demand.
This platform allows you to upload designs on to clothing items for sale on Amazon.
Primarily, this is t-shirts, but you can now upload designs on other items too, (like hoodies/long sleeved tops etc).
When you make a sale, Amazon prints & ships your item for you and you earn a commission per sale.
There was tonnes of opportunity on this platform when it first started and people were making serious money, with some very simple designs.
However, as the platform grew, so did the competition and I personally found it harder and harder to make consistent sales.
I got a little bored with it to be honest too and I got lazy… I was frustrated by my limited design ability.
ANYWAY…. I heard somewhere on YouTube, that people doing Merch could upload their designs on to simple notebooks and sell them on Amazon KDP.
I then started seeing people publish impressive income reports, showing they’d made many thousands of dollars in a month, just from selling plain lined notebooks.
It seemed too good to be true to me… Especially as it seemed that most people would only make $1-2 per sale.
I didn’t have high hopes, but I decided to figure out how to create a simple lined notebook interior.
I then added some of my Merch By Amazon designs to book covers that I created in CANVA.
At first, I only uploaded around 6 books. I just left them and forgot about it for a while.
But one day, I logged into my KDP dashboard to see that I’d made a couple of sales.
I’d been doing pretty badly on Merch and yet, I had hundreds of designs live on there, so this seemed different.
I decided to upload some more.
Meanwhile….. So did everyone else.
What happened was that, over the short space of several months, many more people also caught on to this opportunity.
There was also shady advice from internet marketers that suggested using multiple upload tools and flooding the KDP platform with terrible, bad quality books.
By bad quality I mean, the designs look terrible and there will often be multiple uploads of an identical book – with minor changes to the design or title.
I’m no designer, but over the years, I’ve definitely improved to a point where I can create something that looks relatively decent.
KDP Started Having Issues:
Over time, KDP started to increase the time it took to publish your books… it started to take weeks to publish.
People started speculating that new rules would soon come into place, that would put an end to these multiple uploads spamming the system.
Not only were the good quality low content books losing visibility because of these spammers – but so were other categories of books.
In addition to the vast amount of uploads, many low content books were also ending up in categories where they didn’t belong.
This caused a lot of publishers to get frustrated by the situation.
There was lots of fear and dread being thrown around and people felt that a change was imminent.
But then another change happened that overshadowed everything else on the planet.
Yes …. you know……. That little thing beginning with C.
I can’t write the name, as apparently some bloggers are penalised by Google for mentioning it!
In any case, suddenly – Merch was shut down in the US during this time… no more T-shirts were going to be printed for the foreseeable future.
The Amazon associates commission rates were slashed, making many affiliate marketers lose a vast amount of their incomes overnight.
The US Amazon also cut back on anything other than essential items, shipping times went right up.
I noticed many of my books had a lot less visibility, or were harder to find on the US platform.
Thankfully for me, I made many of my sales in the UK and that appeared less effected…… Although shipping went up from 1-2 days, to 6 days!!!!
My royalties in April went down to 50% what they were in March, (which was my best month to date, with over $2000).
But still…. Over $1000 in April, with all this going on!?!? I am both grateful and happy to have achieved that.
You can also see a screenshot of my March earnings below.
There was a massive spike of sales mid month….. I’m not sure why this happened whatsoever, but I made almost $400 in a day.
Towards the end of March, sales started to dwindle down and I thought April would continue on this trend, but thankfully it picked up and I still had a decent month.
Is KDP Going To Change Too?
Amazon Merch is temporarily closed, but hopefully this will be restored in future.
The Amazon Associates program has made drastic changes to its commission rates.
Is KDP next? Will new rules come into play that effect everyone…. Or just the people who are abusing the system?
I have no idea and I’m trying not to worry about something I have no control over.
However, I am going to PLAN for this eventuality, by trying to diversify my income further.
Right now, I earn from my website, (affiliate marketing & advertising via Mediavine), self-publishing, (via KDP) and a tiny amount from Merch, (but this is not running in the US right now).
I’m already looking for my next side hustle and hopefully I will be writing more about that in future!
I’m also thinking about starting another website, largely based on KDP and Print on Demand – because I’d love to talk more about this…. I may even venture into YouTube!
What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
Pin Me For Later? 🙂
My Top KDP Resources….
YouTube really helped me to get into self-publishing, but it took quite a lot of searching around to find some things that were really beneficial.
Here are some channels that helped me most of all…
- Rachel Harrison Sund – she has had amazing success with KDP and her instructions are so easy to follow, she is a brilliant communicator. Find her channel here.
- Katharyne Shelton – I absolutely love their Facebook group, you can also find them on YouTube and I purchased tangent templates which I use in some way for every book I upload. I don’t have a traditional design program yet and just use Tangent Templates & Canva in combination.
- Chris Raydog – has some really useful videos. Some of his niche videos gave me some valuable ideas for creating new books.
- Shashwat Ashiya – has some really decent advice when it comes to things like keyword research & niche research, he even has advice about getting into Ads. Great content & I watch everything he uploads.
- The HomeBoss – I love Nurias YouTube channel and the calm and engaging way that she explains everything. All the content is so easy to follow and she also has a brilliant Facebook group, where I tend to hang out the most these days.
- Rob Cubbon – I enjoy Robs videos and blog posts and it was thanks to him that I actually ever got my first notebook up! I discovered this by taking his free course on how to create notebooks.
update – I’ve also started YouTube myself.
There are many other great people talking about KDP, but these are just some of the resources that have resonated the most with me.
The KDP platform has become a lot more saturated over this last year and I imagine that will continue.
But even when it does, some people are doing amazingly well with Amazon Ads and that’s something I will certainly be learning in future too.
If you have any other questions, drop me a comment below! 🙂