How to Get the Most out of Your Free Content

You might be surprised to learn that giving stuff away free can actually make you gain rather than lose money. Generosity is an investment in the future of your blog and your business – it can genuinely help you gain visibility online, build your authority and attract more customers. People love freebies.

Be generous with your content

  1. Always require the visitor’s email address. In exchange for giving away your high-value content free, always require the visitor to submit their email so you can build your list of potential customers. It’s a fair exchange. The easiest way to do this is with a service like LeadPages.
  2. Keep quality high. Just because you are offering something free doesn’t mean you can cut corners. In order for a giveaway to have the best impact on your audience, you need to make sure that that audience is impressed with the quality. If people are impressed with your content and your customer service, they’ll will be more likely to (a) tell others, (b) return to your site, and (c) buy your commercial products in future. Putting out poor free content is a waste of time; it doesn’t build meaningful relationships and does nothing for your reputation.
  3. Choose a compelling piece of content. Don’t give away stuff that nobody would want. Look through your archives, or your drafts, and find a piece you’re particularly proud of, whether because of how good it is or how well it has resonated with your audience in the past. This is going to be your product that you would be re-purposing.
  4. Edit, tweak, polish. Once you choose your piece, it’s time to make it your best one yet. Apply all the knowledge and experience you’ve gained since it was created and make sure it is reflected in the piece. Treat this piece as though it were a commercial product. You should be able to say, “I could charge for this even though it’s free”.
         Hire a designer on Upwork to produce a professional layout and cover for your report. This adds to the perceived value of the freebie and helps boost your credibility. There is also a greater chance it will be downloaded, picked up by other sites and shared. (In an ideal world, visitors will come to your site and submit their email in exchange for downloading your content. However, it’s likely your content will also be freely shared despite your best efforts, so make sure promote your site and other posts and products in your freebie).
  5. Try it out on a sample of your audience. Once it’s ready for public consumption, you should test the piece on a small segment of your audience. It can either be your family and friends, or you can host a “pre-giveaway” on your website, e.g. “The first ten people to sign up will be provided with a free sample of my upcoming eBook!” Use the feedback received from them to add any other tweaks to the piece.
  6. Make a specific action plan:
    a) Host events at which you give stuff away. If you sell books, make sure to give away as many as you can at signings and lectures or seminars. If your content is digital, give people free demos before they purchase full versions. If you host webinars or workshops, give away free guides and transcripts at webinars. Adda Birnir of Skillcrush hosts free webinars on a weekly basis and offers a free guide to jobs in tech or coding to each attendee.
    b) Take advantage of your social media. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other social media platforms are great sources for potential members of your audience. Introduce yourself and offer them free stuff upon subscription.
    c) Ask for endorsements. If you’ve got a substantial amount of goodwill under your belt, don’t hesitate to ask your influencers and partners for endorsements. Ask them to share your giveaway on their website or their social media platforms and make sure to thank them all afterwards.
    d) Keep creating new content. The new target audience members you’ve gained as a result of a giveaway will need a reason to stick around, i.e. fresh content. Be consistent, and make your content as useful and as relevant as possible.
  7. Free content is an investment. The more content you give away, the greater your returns. While you will inevitably get some freeloaders who’ll never buy anything, chances are that they’ll spread the word on social media, thereby increasing your visibility. See free content as an investment in your business and you will never worry about giving away too much. Great content builds trust, authority, and credibility which translate into a larger following and more sales.
  8. Track the content performance. Get feedback from everyone who has downloaded your free content. Ask for feedback on how you can improve. Take into account all constructive suggestions and incorporate them into a future giveaway or paid product. Also, check download numbers to see how appealing your freebie is to your prospective audience. (If you’re using an email  marketing service like Aweber, it can keep track of download numbers and performance stats for you).

Takeaway points.

  1. Always require the visitor to submit their email before they can download your free content
  2. Don’t be afraid to be generous. Free content is an investment in your business.
  3. If you’re not sure what to create, ask your audience what they’re struggling with.

Action steps.

  1. Browse through your old posts to choose a piece for your next giveaway. Choose a piece you or your audience think is particularly useful. Turn that content into your giveaway – tweaking and polishing as necessary. Make sure the end result is good enough to charge for, even though you won’t.
  2. Create a link on your landing page to your giveaways so that it’s clearly visible. You will need to subscribe to a service like LeadPages to build your landing page.
  3. Create your first landing page and free offer.

Photo credit: JwvanEck via / CC BY-NC 2.0

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