Publishing DIY eBooks teaches us everything from cleaning to crafts to cooking.

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Sarah Mcallister, CEO and Founder of GoCleanPro, trained her company’s cleaning staff, who had no previous experience, and figured if she could turn them into pros, she could teach anyone how to clean.

Sarah Beau / Handout

When the world stopped and we were on our own, it didn’t take long to realize that many of us were lacking in some basic skills. We didn’t know how to cook or clean our own kitchens. The bathroom was a mess. And we were officially out of fresh underwear. It was clear that much had been taken for granted – and just as many home economics lessons had not been learned. Fortunately, the free market has stepped in to lend a hand, with new ways to show people how to tinker.

“I knew people were overwhelmed and needed to make things easier for them,” says Sarah McAllister, managing director and founder of Calgary-based household cleaning company GoCleanCo. So she decided to do something. She had trained her company’s cleaning staff, who had no previous experience, and figured if she could turn them into pros, she could teach anyone how to clean. And that’s exactly what she did, with her 10 page downloadable e-book The Army Cleanup Manual.

From knitting and kneading to photography and illustration, PDFs, eBooks, and other downloadable guides are growing in popularity. Selling DIY digital downloads is becoming the modern way to unleash your creative and entrepreneurial passions. On Etsy, manufacturers sell digital downloads of 3D printable face mask designs, knitting patterns, and gift sets. No middleman, no shipping, no waiting.

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McAllister’s team has grown from five to 25 women.

Sarah Beau Creative Inc./Document

For McAllister, her 1.5 million #cleaningarmy Instagram followers turned to the in-depth cleaning tips she had given for free (using the bleach features prominently), so they uploaded her e- book rich in mass information.

“The manual has supported our cleaning business in a way I couldn’t have dreamed of,” McAllister says of his digital windfall. “We went from five to a team of 25 women. That number includes six full-time employees just to support textbook sales.

Cookbook author Julie Van Rosendaal noted the tremendous success of her fellow Calgarian and set out to create her own online offering. The author of 11 previous cookbooks, Van Rosendaal launched a digital download ahead of the Christmas holidays, called It’s trendy to be square, who featuring nostalgic treat recipes such as Hello Dollies and Browned Butter Blondies.

“I had been thinking about the different ways to connect and share recipes with people, and the potential of doing it digitally,” says Van Rosendaal. It usually takes several years to bring a cookbook to market, but with digital downloads it can take a few weeks. “I thought it was a worthwhile experience – it would only cost me time. “

While she believes digital downloads lack the cachet of the printed book, Van Rosendaal’s $ 5 PDF payments translate to a lot more money per purchase than she would receive with an offer. traditional book. It has sold nearly 400 copies to date and is preparing to release its next, dedicated to brunch.

Inspired by both McAllister and Van Rosendaal, I too decided to jump on the pandemic train of PDF. I had the recipes – all I needed was a team. I got three friends together to handle the art direction, food styling and photography, and another pal to design the 47-page electronic cookbook, titled 21 delicious recipes for 2021. So far, we’ve sold around 150 copies at $ 10 apiece.

Painters, knitters, artisans and creatives of all kinds have also embarked on the action of e-commerce. Pixie Faire, a US-based company with online models for doll clothes, has downloaded over 3.3 million digital models, including an 1860s doll dress ($ 8.99). Elsewhere on the web, you can buy guides for all kinds of textile crafts, from traditional, downloadable Fair Isle knitting patterns to step-by-step floral embroidery guides.

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Knitter turned author Kate Atherley.

Gale Zucker / Document

Toronto knitter Kate Atherley is the author of the new Custom hats e-book ($ 20). “The last time I self-published a book, I ended up with a living room full, plus a lot of complicated tasks – including managing inventory and expensive shipping,” she says.

Atherley, editor of Knitty.com and author of several books on knitting, knows knitting enthusiasts well and says they like having a digital option. “It’s a reference they can keep with them, with lots of tabs open on their iPad in their knitting bag. It’s actually more convenient than having a bunch of traditional books for reference.

She notes that eBooks no longer feel like secondary to their print counterparts – and there’s the relative ease of execution, too. When Atherley and his editor decided it was ready to publish, they clicked the Save PDF button to Custom hats, and it was done.

“Because we had the e-commerce site set up in preparation, we were ready to launch it within hours,” says Atherley. “It hasn’t sold as many copies as some of my physical books, because having a book in a store is always a very powerful marketing element. “

That said, the cost of marketing a digital book is a lot cheaper, so from a revenue perspective, she’s doing just as well while having sold fewer copies – just like other creatives and entrepreneurs. also selling DIY downloadables online.

McAllister’s cleaning manual has proven to be so popular, in fact, that his company recently started offering spiral-bound hard copies. “People always wanted to hold a physical book in their hands, but we really threw the dice in a draw. It was a scary investment, ”she says.

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They sold their first run in just 23 minutes – and their second in 45. While the pandemic has brought demand for anything digital, printing may not be dead after all.

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