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Start a Low Content Publishing Side Hustle When You’ve Lost a Source of Income

Get started with this simple side hustle - publish journals, notebooks, and workbooks on Amazon!
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Get started publishing journals, notebooks, and workbooks on Amazon - a very simple side hustle!

The world has been completely changed with the recent news of Coronavirus. People are feeling a range of emotions – from doubt to fear to panic – and are experiencing serious “s#it hits the fan” scenarios.

Many of us are doing our best to protect ourselves, take care of others, stay positive, and get through this one day at a time. 

Something most of us are experiencing is schools and businesses closing their doors to help “flatten the curve.” 

Many are being sent home to work and will continue to be paid as usual. 

But what broke my heart was reading the posts from others who are saying they’ve been laid off or sent home without pay indefinitely…and they have NO idea what to do now.

What an incredibly scary situation.

And short of hiring all of these people to write content for me {I WISH!}, I CAN give people some ideas for working on a low content publishing side hustle that can bring in some extra money right now and doesn’t cost a cent to get started.

First Things First

What do I mean when I say “low content publishing?”

I’m basically talking about planners, workbooks, journals, and notebooks.

Here’s my at-a-glance chart to help you get an idea of what kind of books you can create and to get your creativity flowing:

This is not an exhaustive list but it’s pretty comprehensive.

When I say “low content books” I’m talking about books with very few words in them. Definitely less than 5,000 words, most likely less than 3,000 and sometimes less than 500 words.

There’s even a market for publishing blank lined notebooks with attractive covers.

Yes, I’m serious. 

Important to Note:

This is NOT a get rich quick side hustle.

This is a “work your tail off to create lots of high-quality products and make pretty good money” kind of side hustle.

You can see royalties {your money} come in right away but how much depends on many different factors.

Plus, Amazon pays out after 60 days.

So this isn’t “emergency income” but it can help BIG TIME and you just might find a new work-at-home career you love or be able to replace your day job income. 

How to Get Started Publishing Low Content Books as a Newbie

You’ll need an Amazon.com account to get started and you’ll use that email address/account to log into Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform {KDP}.

You’ll also need a document creation software.

I use and recommend PowerPoint but you can use Word, Google Docs, Google Slides, Affinity Publisher, Photoshop, Canva, PicMonkey…any program that a) lets you create lines, shapes, images and text and b) saves with a resolution of 300 dpi.

If you’re a PowerPoint user, this is the video I used to help me change my program’s resolution and my books have been accepted by KDP just fine. 

This is REALLY all you need before you get started publishing journals and notebooks as your new side hustle. 

What Types of Books Should I Create When I’m Starting Out?

This is probably THE hardest part of the business – choosing a niche to target. 

What’s a niche? 

Here’s my definition of a low content book niche: 

Type of Book + Who It’s For + Unique Slant or Purpose

Starting with this formula, you can just plug in the pieces and develop your niche.

So for example, let’s say we want to create a planner from scratch. This is the “type of book” part of our formula.

Now, who is it for?

Women? Students? Teachers? Kids?

This is where your research will come into play. You’ll learn to use a variety of sources to conduct your research: Amazon, search engines, social media, your friends and family…you get the idea.

Next, you’ll decide what the unique slant or purpose is for your book.

Again, you can let your research help you decide.

But you can ALSO decide what the slant/purpose of your book is based on your personal experience – maybe you just know what your people need!

Here’s some recommended reading to help you with choosing a niche for your book:

You can also do a search of this site at the top {or bottom on mobile devices} and learn more about researching niches.

My Best Tip for Choosing a Niche

Here’s my very best tip for choosing a niche: tap into what YOU know and love. 

Right now, you have the passion, experience, and know-how to create a resource that will help someone. 

So start there. 

  • What do you love?
  • What do you know how to do really well?
  • What kind of education do you have?
  • What have others paid you to help them do? 
  • What kind of problem can you solve for others?   **Hint: There is some REAL profit potential here!

The other side of this is tapping into what you don’t know and what you need help with.

Because if you need help or answers, others do, too. 

So what could you create for others by answering your own questions, solving your own problems, and meeting your own needs?

It’s Time to Create Your Interior! {Manuscript}

So now you have a KDP account ready to go and you’ve done some research or have an idea of what kind of book you want to create. 

Start by taking a look at other books on Amazon to see what features similar books have – make sure you look at books that are “independently published”, it’s these books that you’re really competing with.

You’ll find this information by clicking on a book and scrolling down to the product details or by using the DS Amazon Quick View extension for the Chrome browser.

Make a note of the sections that are included, the number of pages, whether or not they’re in color, what kinds of decorative elements they include, etc. 

Then plan YOUR book by deciding how you can create something better than what’s already being offered.

Make a list of what you’d like to include.

Let’s say we want to create a self-care workbook.  Looking on Amazon, I see that these are some of the elements these books have:

  • prompts
  • gratitude focus
  • meditative focus
  • mindfulness focus
  • exercises
  • activity suggestions
  • blank lined “note” pages
  • some full-color books with less than 100 pages
  • space for the user to fill in self-care ideas
  • timely – 5-minute, 30-day, 90-day, “a year of…” etc.

You get the idea.

Now you need to do your research, check out your competition, see what elements they’re using, create your own unique pages for your book, and make your book better than anything that’s already available {to the best of your ability.}

As I said before, I do all my stuff in PowerPoint but you use the software you like best or have access to. 

Creating interiors only uses these elements:

  • Lines
  • Shapes like boxes, circles, rounded rectangles, etc.
  • Text
  • Images/clipart

To make your designs fun and unique, I recommend investing in high-quality fonts {some are free, like these ones}, and clipart {paid and free.}

Add in your own creativity and motivation and that’s really all you need to create an awesome low content product.

Save your interior as a PDF and you’re ready to upload it to Amazon.

But before we do that, we need a cover that pulls in buyers!

Create an Attractive Cover that Gets the Click!

Once you have your interior, you’ll go to KDP and get your cover template, which you’ll open in your editing program OR you can use Amazon’s cover creator

I prefer the former.

Read: Watch me show how quickly you can create multiple covers for ONE interior.

Here are the elements of your cover:

  • Color or image{s}
  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Author Name

With just these 4 elements, you need to compel that potential buyer to click on YOUR book. 

If you’re not too confident in your design skills, you can outsource this part.

But if you just take a look on Amazon, you’ll see that even simple sells.

When you’re doing your research, pay attention to what YOU are drawn to. Then ask yourself:

  • What first caught your eye?
  • What do you like about the cover?
  • What compels YOU to want to click on that book?

Your answers will give you hints about what to do with your covers.

Choosing the Right Keywords and Creating a Compelling Book Description

It’s at this point you’ll begin uploading your book to your KDP dashboard. 

The first part is easy – you fill out the title, subtitle, and author name.

Then it comes to your keywords and description. 

If you’ve done your research, using keyword tools, you’ll probably already have a list of keywords to use. 

And let me put this into perspective: we include keywords that a) people are already using to search and b) will probably be used by people who are looking for what we are selling.

It’s as simple as that.

But keyword selection is a bit of an art and the only way to get good at it is to practice it. 

You can always go back in and change your keywords if you find better ones or want to see how others will perform.

And you can always publish a similar book with different keywords and compare your results.

As for the description, this does some heavy lifting, too.

Your description is more like a sales page. It needs to resonate with the buyer on an emotional level very quickly. It needs to convey what your book offers in a way that gets the buyer to say, “YES! I NEED this!”

But again, this is an art that’s learned by doing. 

Take a look at the descriptions of other books like yours and make a note – once again – of what resonates with YOU. What YOU like. What speaks to YOU. 

Take a look at bestsellers and try to figure out what it is about the cover, title, and description that make them hot sellers {keeping in mind that other factors play a role, like branding, audience size, email lists, and marketing.}

Wrapping Up

So that’s it! Your “getting started guide to publishing low content books when you’ve lost your job”…or income…or just want to make some extra money with a side hustle. 😊

If you’d like some support on your journey, come visit my Facebook page and join my Facebook group! We talk “low content publishing” and have fun doing it. 

I also create exclusive content for my list, so you might want to sign up. ⬇️

Please like, follow, and share!


  1. What an amazingly helpful post Julie. If I wasn’t already publishing low content books (thanks to you, my lovely), then this post would be giving me the motivation to give it a try.

    1. Aww, thank you so much, Elaine! That means a lot. 😊 I’m hoping this post gets out and helps even just one person.


  2. Thank you Julie for making this process simple and clear to understand. As a person who has been researching how to do this for a few months now, your explanation put the entire process in one place with easy to follow steps. Much appreciation and gratitude goes out to you 💜😊 Dr. Tonya

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