Developing an e-book to distribute to clients and prospects is one way to build credibility for your practice and to position yourself as a subject matter expert, says Richard Heft, president of Ext. Marketing Inc. in Toronto.

"Done right — meaning well-written and professionally designed — [e-books] can go a long way in positioning you as someone who is well-suited to discuss important topics," Heft adds.

Here are three tips for developing an e-book:

1. Draw from previous content
Tackling an e-book project doesn't mean you need to start from scratch.

Typically, someone who intends to write an e-book has already been exercising his or her creative muscles by developing blog content, newsletters, infographics or white papers, Heft says.

If you've been publishing blog posts on home ownership over the past year, for example, you can create an e-book on the topic by compiling relevant blog posts and writing a strong introduction.

"Don't assume the people you're sending your e-book to are reading your blog or your newsletters," Heft says. Repurposing content for an e-book is not unusual.

Creating an e-book also presents an opportunity to expand on previous blog posts by adding new insights and case studies, Heft says.

"You want to keep your individual ideas within the book short, punchy and to-the-point," Heft says, "as e-books are really good when they can convey your ideas quickly."

2. Avoid the hard sell
Although you would want to encourage your audience to get in touch with you after reading your e-book, you should not aggressively push a sale, Heft says.

"Make it less product-specific and more informative," he says.

Instead, take the opportunity to add value for current and prospective clients by offering valuable information they can use.

If you don't have a specific topic in mind that you want to expound on, Heft says, you can always create an e-book that answers frequently asked questions.

3. Distribute widely
Once you have put the time and energy into creating an e-book, you will want to ensure it reaches as wide an audience as possible.

A good way to start is by creating a home for your e-book on your website, and promoting it across your newsletters and social-media channels.

An additional way to remind colleagues and clients of your e-book, Heft says, is to include a link to your e-book in your email signature.

And despite the "electronic" part of an e-book, there's no rule that says your content has to be read exclusively online, Heft says. You can print a few copies to hand out at events or client meetings.

Adds Heft: "It's a great product to leave behind at prospect meetings."

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