How to Expand a Blog Post (or Series) into a Book
So, here we are, you and I . . . about to dive into: How do you turn a blog post series into a book? OR EVEN How do you turn a blog post into a book?
My friend, I do not have all the answers, and I’m sure there are multiple ways to go about it, but I can tell you what I’ve done in this situation in the hope that it helps.
When expanding on posts that already exist for free on the webs, I try to take a step back and look at the whole topic from the reader/customer perspective. This comes in the form of five questions you can ask yourself about your current post or series as well as five general idea-generating questions you can ask yourself to create an awesome chapter/content list for your book. You can download the worksheets below (just click on them) to help you work through and record your ideas from this post.
For the purposes of this post, let’s take for example a series you did on car maintenance for your “modern superwoman” blog. P.S. If it is a single post you are turning into a book, break it down into the main points/sections you made. Below, I assume it is a series, but you can change my list out for your post sections.
1st post: Changing a Tire
2nd post: Checking All Important Car Fluids
3rd post: Changing the Oil
4th post: Changing Your Air Filters
5th post: Adding Air to Your Tires
When it’s time to write the book Car Maintenance: Superwoman Style, you’d step back and review these:
Five Questions to Ask About Your Current Blog Post or Series
For each of the posts in your series (or points in your blog post) ask yourself:
1. Can I expand it with additional points?
For example: Your post on Checking All Important Car Fluids might have included transmission fluid, engine oil, brake fluid, steering fluid, and coolant. Awesome. But now that you’re creating a book out of it, you have room to expand. Can you possibly cover windshield wiper fluid now as well?
Homework: Use the accompanying worksheets to record any expansion you can do (on each post in your series) that will add value or present a more full picture of your topic.
2. Can I focus on a different aspect?
For example: Your post on Changing a Tire might have taken a wonderful and in-depth look at each step in the process, but could you maybe focus on which tires are less prone to go flat? Or what you should look for in a spare tire? Or checking your car to make sure you have a spare? Or where to get a premium tool kit for tire changes?
Homework: Use the worksheets to write down different viewpoints/aspects of each post or point you’ve already created.
3. Can I give more background information?
For example: You may have told us all about Changing the Oil, with high-res images and everything, but might we also be interested in the background of the different types of car oil and which types are best for certain cars? And with all your great instructions on Changing a Tire, might we still need you to clarify that if we’re changing our tire on the side of a highway, there are different sets of concerns we need to address? And yes, we can check our car fluids, but are there Three (Non-Fluid) Checks You Should Do Before You Drive Your Car Each Day?
Homework: Decide >> what are some additional background points you can make (or chapters you can create) that will help your audience? Are there possibly some things you’re assuming your audience knows that they might not know? Try to talk with someone who would be an ideal reader and figure out what background information they might appreciate. Write down your ideas on your worksheet in the appropriate section.
4. Can I make it apply to a segment of people?
For example: You told us all about Changing a Tire and Checking All Important Car Fluids, but were those just general tips or did they apply to those who live in severe cold temperatures? Are there different concerns for a certain segment of people? Those who drive in the cold or in extreme heat? Those traveling great distances vs. those who only drive a few miles at a time? Those who only use their car once per week or once per month?
Homework: Think about each type of person who might want or need your book. Is there content that doesn’t fit for them? More importantly, is there additional content that you can add and create a completely different and more amazing experience with?
5. Can I write the follow-up content?
For example: You did an amazing job educating us on Changing a Tire, but now that we’ve changed it, what can/should we do with the old one? Recycle it? Donate it? Make a tire swing out of it?
Homework: Think through each post in your series (or each point in your post) and ask yourself if you followed the point all the way through? Is there something that comes afterward that your audience will consider useful? I, for one, have no idea what to do with a tire after I change it, so if there’s a way to easily donate or recycle it, I’d love to know.
Use your worksheets to write down your expansion ideas. Then, use your worksheets as you contemplate:
Five Idea-Generating Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Topic
1. Why does my ideal reader want to learn about this topic in the first place?
Our car maintenance blogger should ask: Why would my ideal reader want to learn about car maintenance? Is it because she drives an older car and doesn’t ever want to be stranded on the side of the road? Is it because she’s finally purchased her dream car and wants to keep it pristine?
This might inspire some new chapter ideas:
Chapter Idea: Tips and Tricks for Both Old and New Vehicles
Chapter Idea: Preventative Maintenance: How to Upkeep Your Baby on the Regular
Chapter Idea: The Basic Tools Any Savvy Superwoman Should Have on Hand
Chapter Idea: The 10 Checks You Should Do Before a Road Trip
Homework: Ask yourself why your reader is interested in your topic. When you write down that answer (or those multiple answers), see if it inspires any topic/chapter ideas you don’t already have written down on your worksheets.
2. Where does my ideal audience member need to start?
Our car blogger should ask: With my blog post series I just jumped into changing a tire, but is that the beginning? Where does my reader need to begin their knowledge of car maintenance as a whole?
This might inspire some new chapter ideas:
Chapter Idea: The Parts of a Car and How They All Work Together
Chapter Idea: Knowing the Lights on Your Dashboard
Homework: When you knew nothing about this topic, what would have been most helpful to know? What order would you explain this in to someone in the seventh grade? To a young child? To someone who knew almost zero about the topic? To someone who has never heard of your topic before? Write your content ideas down in the correct column of your worksheet.
3. What are additional concerns my audience might have that I have had before, heard before, or can relate to?
Our car maintenance blogger should ask: What are the things I’ve been doing so long (or have known so long) that can be real roadblocks to someone encountering them for the first time? What questions and comments do I hear when hanging out (online or in real life) with my ideal readers or people like my ideal readers?
This might inspire some new chapter ideas:
Chapter Idea: When to Take Your Car In (and What to Look For in a Mechanic)
Chapter Idea: When to Sell or Give Away Your Car
Homework: Consider surveying your friends + readers, or simply thinking through past conversations or your own experiences to develop a list of additional concerns, thoughts, or needs that might be a good fit for your book. Add your ideas to your worksheet.
4. What additional resources will enhance my audience’s understanding of this topic?
Our car blogger should ask: Are there certain topics or sections that won’t work as simple text? Does any of this fit better as videos, links, worksheets, downloads, a list of tools/resources, etc.?
This may cause new ideas such as:
Resource Idea: (Video) How to Check Your Tire’s Air
Resource Idea: Links to all the best resources to estimate what your used car will sell for
Resource Idea: (Worksheet) Car Maintenance Checklist for Cars Over 10 Years Old
Homework: Review the ideas you’ve had thus far on your worksheets and figure out whether something other than text is necessary to convey your points effectively. Write down your ideas for additional resources or materials that can complement your book.
5. Which of these topics and ideas fit together as one book and which ones could be expanded on later or made into separate books?
Both you and our car blogger should ask: Is some of this too advanced for where my ideal audience is at? Will certain chapters overwhelm my audience? Can I create additional streams of income and more specialized content by breaking some of this into mini-books, workbooks, a class, or other content?
Homework: Pull out any ideas that you want to save for a later project and set them aside. Flip back to the first page of your worksheets and record all your final chapter/content ideas. Use this to make your official outline for your new book.
So yes, there are definitely ways to use blog post content, but make it more full and more useful as a book. I think you simply focus on developing the important things that you know will really make a difference for your audience, and then plan out your current book (and any follow-up books) to address the needs and immediate interests of your readers. If they are your primary motivation during the process, you’ll likely see great content ideas naturally form, and meh ideas naturally fade. So tell me good friend of the Internet, will you be creating a book or product out of some of your blog posts? Have you already done so? Do tell . . .
Photo (c): Jacqueline Miller