Choosing a topic is just a starting point, but it’s also the point where many people start to give up.
The real problem isn’t choosing a topic. The problem is the way in which we go about asking the questions that will lead us to the topic of choice. When we ask the generic questions like “what am I passionate about?”, we end up drawing a blank. Why? Because these types of questions are extremely broad and that makes them difficult to answer. Hard to believe, right? Try this little experiment:
a. Come up with five things that are white in color and list below:
b. Now, try to come up with five things you keep in a refrigerator that are white in color:
Was one question harder for you to answer than the other? If you’re like most people, coming up with 5 things that you keep in your refrigerator was much easier than answering the broader question beforehand. The reason is that you gave your mind context (i.e. five white things in the refrigerator). When we add context to questions, they become easier to answer.
The same logic applies to choosing a topic for your eBook. On the next page, you’ll find some practical tips to help you narrow your thinking!
1. Do you find your family, friends, or neighbors constantly asking for your advice about a particular topic?
Example: James works as a business consultant during the day, but has a knack for fixing things that break around the house.
Whenever someone mentions that they are having a problem around the house, James offers to explain an easy and cost effective way to handle the problem without calling expensive repair services.
As he gained some notoriety as the “fix-it guru,” it occurred to James that there are some common problems which happen to almost all home owners. Instead of answering the same questions over and over again, James decided to start a DIY Home Repair Blog where he posted detailed instructions to fix common household problems. When neighbors and
friends ask for advice, James mentions they can find detailed instructions on his blog.
After a few months, James had a following. He decided to write his first eBook, How to Remodel and Update Your Kitchen for Under $1,000.
The eBook was a huge success because it addressed issues his readers were having within a market he understood.
2. What would you do if you didn’t have to think about money? What do you do now for free that other people charge money for?
It’s the age old question guidance counselors have been asking high school and undergraduate students for decades. Often referred to as the Million Dollarquestion, it asks: what would you do right now if you had a million dollars and you could do anything you want? Fortunately, we are
going to narrow the scope down to a more practical question that doesn’t elicit visions of a Ferrari or cocktails on an exotic beach somewhere.
You probably don’t realize this right now, but you almost certainly do something everyday for free that other people charge money to do.
Don’t believe us? An easy, but less obvious example is a stay-at-home mother. Yep, that’s right. Fostering a learning environment, dealing with temper tantrums, curing a fever, or the ‘oh my gosh, what is that in your diaper?’ routine that any stay-at-home mother handles day-to-day. And guess what? There are thousands of people in the business of operating daycare centers who charge a lot of money to handle all those questions for other mothers.
Could you be a resource for Mom’s dealing with those problems on the weekends when the baby isn’t at day care? Absolutely.
3. Have you ever conquered a fear of some kind?
It’s more than likely that there are others who have the same fear and are looking to overcome it like you did. Tell your story! You’ll provide valuable information because you can honestly speak from experience.
4. Are you curious about some particular topic and intrigued enough to learn a new skill or body of knowledge?
Most people don’t give up learning after school is over. Life would be too boring. Plenty of individuals are looking to learn about a new topic or become proficient in a new skill, but don’t know where to start. Document the steps you took (or are taking) as a resource for those who are just starting out. This is an incredibly useful tool for people who are looking to begin something new.
5. What makes you different from everyone else?
Have you tried something completely out of the ordinary? Do you view the world from a different angle than most? Controversy isn’t a bad thing. Use your unique viewpoint to shed a different light on an old topic. People are always intrigued by different opinions. As Mark Twain always said “whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
Caution: don’t go against the grain simply to stir up controversy. You end up looking inauthentic and people don’t respond well to those who seem less than genuine. It’s better to be yourself than to try to be something else.
Once you have a list of potential topics, it’s a good idea to do a little bit of research.
Up Next: Research Your Topic in 30 Minutes or Less
Want more? Go download our FREE guide to learn how to research your topic in 30 minutes or less, how to avoid the #1 eBook killer, and marketing strategies to help you succeed with your eBook!