This post is by Mike Yasieniuk.
Giving away something for free can be hard. You’ve worked hard to create what you have, so if you give it away for free, how are you supposed to make money?
This was exactly my mentality, until I learned the value of free.
In the blogging world, two of the most common goals people strive for are larger lists and more website traffic. These two things, as well as conversion are what will help you generate more revenue with your website. Now, one of the best ways to build your lists as well as increase your website traffic is to give stuff away for free.
There are many ways you can give stuff away for free that can help you achieve your online goals and in this post I’ll show you exactly how to do it.
How to Use Free for Your Benefit
I run a blog called bestpsdfreebies.com. Giving away stuff for free is what we do. Most of the posts on our website contain a free resource for someone to download. But, there are a few different ways you can use freebies to grow your audience online. Let’s dive into each of them individually.
Posting Freebies on your Blog
The simplest way to give something away is to create the freebie, write a post about it and include a download link at the bottom. When doing this, it is important to outline the benefits this free item might have to someone if they download it.
Freebie posts can often be your most shared posts on your blog. When people get something for free, they tend to share the resource with their friends.
Sharing your freebie posts on your social media streams such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ will help your freebie posts gain more exposure. It also doesn’t hurt to ask your friends to share it with their lists as well.
One of the world’s best WordPress designers (in my opinion), Orman Clark, built his career by giving away free web design resources. Orman built a large following on his blog PremiumPixels.com and used that audience to help him launch his WordPress career. He now sells thousands of themes a month on ThemeForest.net, but continues to release free design files on his blog.
Create Freebies to Release on Popular Blogs
Many large blogs accept guest posts. Design, write, or create a free product, then approach large blogs in your niche to give this free resource away on their blog. This is a great tactic to help put yourself in front of an audience you might not have gotten a chance to otherwise.
Giving away free resources for others to share with their audience is an effective way to build relationships within your niche.
Make sure when you write the guest post it includes information about you and your blog. Most bloggers will allow you to at least have an “About the Author” section at the bottom of the blog post and give you credit in the article itself.
This type of guest post works well because top bloggers understand the value of free and will use this to improve their own site. If you are having trouble landing a guest post like this, make sure to read 17 Steps to Guarantee a Successful Guest Posting Campaign.
By being persistent, I was able to land “Freebie” guest posts on many of the top web design blogs including WebDesignerDepot.com, Vandelay Design Blog, Six Revisions and Hongkiat.com. Each one of these freebie guest posts brought in an additional 400-1000 visitors to our website within the first couple days of launching. This new traffic also resulted in significant increases in our email and social media lists.
Free Version of a Premium Product
If you sell a product or service, have you ever considered creating a free version of it, or giving away part of it for free? You see this happen with mobile apps and in the book world.
Most successful iPhone and Android apps have a free version. Everyone downloads the free version first, and if it is what they were looking for or addictive enough, they buy the full version of the app.
When an author writes a new book, you can often visit their website and download a free chapter of the book to see if you will like it before you buy it. To be completely honest, I never heard of Gary Vaynerchuk until he released his book Crush It! When I landed on the website for the Crush It book, there was a link where I was able to read the first chapter. After I did, I was hooked and needed to buy the book immediately.
I have also used this approach with our WordPress themes. When we launch a new theme for sale, we often release the Photoshop design files as a freebie on our website. This helps us garner attention for our premium product.
Using this tactic is an excellent way to entice people to purchase what you have to sell. It lets them purchase or view a simplified version of your full product to make sure they like it first and often times if it is what they are looking for, they will make the purchase. You can also make people enter their email address before they get the free version.
You can use free stuff to entice people to join your email list, like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter, etc.
If you like our Facebook page, we give you one of our premium design items for free. Sign up to our email list and we have another exclusive freebie for you. Both these methods have helped us grow our lists rapidly.
This method is a common one that many top bloggers practice. I’m sure almost everyone has seen an email opt-in form that says something like “Sign up now and get our free e-book”. Even here on Think Traffic, they entice you to sign up to their email list to get a Free Traffic Toolkit. And according to the Behind the New Think Traffic Design post, their opt-in forms are working quite well.
One of the best articles I’ve read about this topic is by Peep Laja of ConversionXL called Lead Magnets: Email List Building on Steroids. This is a thorough manuscript on how to build your email list.
If what you are giving away is valuable to your audience, this method will work really well for you. Free reports, e-books or design files are all good ways to get people signed up to your list.
Download with a Tweet or a Like
Shortly after we launched our website, we had a design file we created that we were going to give away, but it was so good that we were having a hard time do so. Then we came across this website that let us create a button where someone would only get our download link if they sent out a tweet about the product or liked it on Facebook. This is a free service you can find at Pay With a Tweet.
That was the start of our Pay With a Tweet Friday series. Now, when we have something that seems too ridiculous to give away for free, we make someone tweet or like it before they download it. This helps spread the word about our give away.
Our most popular Pay with a Tweet Friday item has now generated almost 700 tweets and over 500 Facebook likes. You can check it out here.
Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing has recently released his Naked Marketing Manifesto, a 42 page guide to marketing, and you need to Tweet before you can download it. From reading other blog posts about him discussing this method, I know it is working out quite well for him.
Where to Begin
Now before you go off and start releasing freebies to the world, you need to understand there are different kinds of free.
First, there is free stuff that is crap and there is free stuff that is valuable. I’m sure you have guessed it already, but giving away free stuff that has more value will help you see better results. Raise your hand if you would rather win a notepad than a car?
I’m not saying you need to give a car away to see results, but I do want to stress that if what you are giving away isn’t going to excite anyone, or have value for them, they might not even take it. So spend some time figuring out what your target market would be interested in before you create your first freebie.
Why Does Free Work?
Giving something away can be a powerful tool for you to help grow your business. Gary Vaynerchuk, Danny Iny, Think Traffic and Orman Clark are all great examples of people who have grown their business by giving something away for free.
To wrap up, I want to highlight why free works for any niche and why I suggest you try it out for yourself.
Everyone in the world loves free stuff. I don’t know anyone who would rather pay for something than get it for nothing.
When people get something for free, they tell their friends about it.
People write blog posts about free stuff. Many sites post list articles about free items. Our second best traffic referral source is from an article on another blog that contained a link to one of our freebies.
It makes you feel good inside to do give something away for nothing.
Now It’s Your Turn
If you are already giving stuff away for free to help build your business or your lists, let me know what is working for you. On the flip side, if you haven’t tried giving something away, pick one of the methods above that you think will work for your audience and then come back and post in the comments below about how it turned out for you.