List Building: The Pros And Cons Of Using Freebies As Bait

free incentive for building email list

I must admit that I learned about list building really the hard way than anything else with blogging. Building email lists is a tricky process.

Believe me, although there are lots of “email marketing rules” they don’t work always! They just don’t.

That’s why not everyone succeeds with email marketing. I’m not being pessimistic here – but lets face the truth.

The problem is there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to email marketing and list building. Every blog is different in terms of niche, voice, authority and audience/readership.

So it becomes really different with every blog when it comes to a list building strategy. One of the most important things that I want to focus on this blog post is this:

Using a freebie to encourage blog visitors to subscribe to newsletter/join the list.

Now this is a very debatable question, not everyone likes the concept of offering a freebie and not everyone hates it either; as I just said every blogger has different plans with their blogging business.

Why is this a debatable question? What is the problem with offering a freebie? Or not offering one? Let’s break it down.

Offering a freebie as an incentive to subscribe

I do this on my blog (as of now) and I know many of my blogging pals and A-listers doing the same, for instance Copyblogger does this too. They offer a free email course as an incentive to join their list.

The biggest problem with offering a freebie is that it attracts crowd. And, there is a very good chance that a large portion of this “crowd” could only be interested in your “freebie”. Of course there’s nothing wrong with them being that way!

As a result, most people get attracted by the freebie, subscribe to your list, download the freebie and unsubscribe right away. Or if it is an e-course or something which cannot be downloaded on one go, they’ll just wait until all of it is delivered and then they might subscribe.

I know, this is a crude part of the story. And I hear you saying “if your emails are good enough, they’ll stay”. But believe me, there’s still a good percentage of people who don’t care how good your emails are. All they want is the freebie! And then they don’t want their inbox to be perturbed.

But that’s just a portion of them; not too big to ruin any list building strategy. But big enough to cause some minor defects in the crystal.

Not offering a freebie

I see a lot of blogs don’t offer anything to subscribe. All they say is “Subscribe to get free updates”. That’s it? That’s it!

But they’re not out of business. They’re indeed doing great and most of them are A-listers who don’t bother to make an enticing offer to make you subscribe.

Now this is where I stopped to think. Should a newbie blogger continue to offer freebie as an incentive to boost their subscription rate in the beginning? And then once things pick up momentum and the blog is establish, can he or she cut off the freebie to join their list?

I’ve asked some the experts and here is their opinion –

Danny Iny from Firepole Marketing.com

The most obvious “pro” is that if you offer something for free, more people will want to sign up than if you don’t. Which is great, right? But actually, there’s an even better reason to give something away for free, and that is to show subscribers what you’re really about, start building a relationship with them, and move in the direction of an eventual transaction. That’s the real benefit of the freebie, if you use it properly.

On the “con” side, there’s the issue that the better your freebie, the more “content hoarders” you’ll get signing up – people who collect every bit of free content that they can, but hardly read any of it, don’t come back to your site, and complain when you send them email. That’s just par for the course, but still pretty annoying.

My advice to new bloggers would be to hold off on the freebie for a little while, because it’s only going to work if they’re giving away something that people really want. In other words, if you slap together a quick “7 secrets” e-book, it isn’t going to impress anybody, or do anything for your business. So start by writing on your blog, and others, and see what people respond to, and what issues they’re facing. Then create your freebie. Something they’ll want.

Kristi from Kikolani.com

I think that having a large mailing list can definitely be lucrative, and using freebies to entice people to subscribe is a great way to build your list.  The upside is obviously getting a lot more subscribers than you would without the freebie.  The downside is that people might sign up for the freebie, but never pay attention to the emails.  I was notorious for doing this – I would subscribe, download the freebie, then filter all of the emails.  So essentially, you might end up paying for subscribers on your mailing list that may not really be reading your emails.  Of course, you may also get a lot of people who will read your emails through the use of the freebie which would make it a worthwhile trade off.

Brankica from BlogLikeAStar.com

I had a freebie until recently and it is a great way to get more subscribers, but in the long run, I think it is better not to have one. I removed mine a few weeks ago and experienced only a slight drop in new subscription numbers. However, the open rates are up because people are genuinely interested in the information I am sending out and not just the freebie. A lot of times, people will download the freebie, never open it and never open another email of yours. So I would vote for no freebie because it will keep those are not really interested in your newsletter away.

Ileane from Basic Blog Tips

I started building an email list recently and I had to ask myself this question – Should I create a freebie as bait in order to get people to sign up? Personally I rarely sign up for email lists, and when I do end up getting freebies (mostly ebooks) it seems that I never have time to go back and read them. So I decided against it for my own list. What’s really important to me, and my subscribers find this out right away, is that I offer people something that they won’t find on my blog. First of all, my subscribers get to ask me an open-ended question – they can ask me anything they want advice on, from soup to nuts. This way people are less intimated and they don’t need to leave an “off topic” comment on a blog post. I respond to them one-on-one and they get my personal attention in a confidential atmosphere. I’ve already had some wonderful exchanges with a few of my readers and I can tell you that it goes a long way towards building a relationship and a connection that’s much more memorable and engaging than you can imagine. I also make sure my subscribers get access to exclusive content that is created just for them based on the questions and discussions we have. This is working out great so far and I don’t feel the need to create an ebook in order to build my list. If it sounds good to you, you can sign up for tips from Ms. Ileane here.

On to you….

I’d like to hear your opinion on this. What do you think about offering freebies for subscription? Is it good or bad? Do you offer freebies to build your list? Why or Why not?

Please share your views in the comments.

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  • http://www.BetterBloggingWays.com/ Shamelle

    This is an interesting topic you bring up here and I you make some very good points.
    My thoughts..
    * Giving stuff away for FREE should be strategic
    I don’t hide the fact that I dislike freebies. I feel that if I have worked hard and produced something of quality and value I should be paid. However, its like giving a excerpt of a book for free I guess. Give a sneak peak, and keep them wanting more..

    * Giving free information doesn’t mean you make yourself unnecessary.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      “Giving free information doesn’t mean you make yourself unnecessary.” – Well said Shamelle :)

      • Neha patel

        hi Jane Sheeba, i really a big fan of yours. I vote for no freebie because, as mentioned, most people signing up will only want the freebie so you’ll find that your rate of genuine subscribers who are interested are exactly the same had you not had the freebie.

  • Aidy

    Great responses from Ilene, Brankica, Kristi, and Danny. It is almost to an ‘endemic’ reference, that many sites offer freebies in exchange for subscriptions. I fell for a few and each free ‘ebook’ simply regurgitate the same information. I believe if a site offers readers anything of value–readers will return.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      That’s right Aidy. But it also depends upon the niche. For instance if your niche is too competitive you can always get valuable information from a handful of blog and it is hard to stand out. A freebie in this case will help you give the necessary push, especially when you’re just starting out!

  • Bjorn

    I have not started building any list yet, and was just planning to start building using a special freebie.
    After reading the article I am not so sure if I will include a freebie increase the signups..
    An alternative to use the freebie for signups can also be a “tweet to get” option.
    The freebie I have is not e-book, but some useful feed recourses I also use for myself.
    By offering a “tweet to get” option, the freebie hunter might choose that, while the readers can get the newsletter and the freebie as a bonus?

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Wow, this sounds like a great idea Bjorn! Thanks for sharing this.

  • Pradosh

    I agree freebies can make lot of mailer lists.
    but it takes lot of time and experience to write book and giving them for free is hard decision.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Pradosh, I agree. But writing a freebie book will train you to write in a more organized manner and also will lay foundation for writing a premium book later on. It is in general a good practice.

      • http://www.intellectsoft.co.uk/ John

        Your comments lead to the idea that free books should be just like a draft to the possible paid one. But it should not be so…

  • http://www.aha-now.com Harleena Singh

    Interesting post Jane!

    I think offering freebies is surely a good way to attract people to your blog, provided they are valuable and worth the while, or they can even tend to take people away from your blog.

    I guess people giving away freebies should give it a serious thought and offer something worthwhile to the readers or subscribers, so that they hang on or look forward to more productive resources from you.

    That’s a good reminder for me to get started with doing something based on these same lines- thanks for sharing :)

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Harleena, yup that’s true. A freebie can make or break your future relationship with your visitors.

      At the same time, if as a blogger, you take the time aside to seriously think about what freebie will perfectly fit your audience and then put your heart and soul on creating it, it should be a hit!

  • http://www.lindastacy.com/plr Linda Stacy

    I have to be highly motivated to subscribe to a list these days (I don’t make the time to read the emails), and a free ebook is rarely the incentive I need. Plus I think my email address is quite valuable (and so is yours :) ), so I’m pretty picky about who I’ll give it to.

    I like Ileane’s approach of giving her subscribers something extra on an ongoing basis. Having that kind of access to an expert would be a valuable incentive for me to subscribe.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Linda I totally agree that an email address is so valuable. Its like giving access to someone to your living room. And with the overwhelming “call to actions” on all blogs to subscribe I can understand that!

  • http://www.foodintolerancesymptoms.co.uk/ LouisC

    I vote for no freebie because, as mentioned, most people signing up will only want the freebie so you’ll find that your rate of geniune subscribers who are interested are exactly the same had you not had the freebie.

    One way to make freebies work however, is doing a weekly free tips email showing you how to ‘do it yourself’ but purposely make your topic sound incredibly difficult and at the end encourage them to use your product/service instead as it’s an easier option ;)

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Sounds like a great idea Louis. But we should handle the weekly emails with caution. If its always a sneak peek and at the end a strong call to action, the unsub rate might inflate.

  • Jeevanjacobjohn

    I can’t really tell you much about this, because I haven’t played much with it.

    Back when I was blogging with my old, I never had a list (And when I started one towards the end of it, I didn’t put much effort into it).

    I agree with what Danny and others said. Offering a freebie can certainly lure unwanted people to your list – My personal opinion would be to send the freebie a few days after they sign up to your list – or divide your freebie into different ones – for instance: If you have an eBook, divide up the chapters, send them as emails or PDFs and add more to them.

    List building through freebies is a great way if you just want to build a list (most people want to go beyond that and make money through their list). In that case, it is better not to offer a freebie and make your list really targeted.

    Anyways, thanks for the post, Jane!

    Jeevan Jacob John

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Jeevan yes, people who are not interested in the actual newsletter but only on the freebie can populate your list (and make you pay for it) with a freebie. A free e-course spread out in different days/weeks duration is something I’m thinking about instead of an instant download.

  • http://www.jackiepurnell.com Jackie

    Hi Jane

    Great topic and I agree list building is definately not a one size fits all animal.

    I’m of the opinion that offering freebies just brings out the freebie seekers, which, over the long term doesn’t add much in the way of value to your list. It actually costs you to have those dead names on your list as you’re paying more to your provider.

    I recently deleted all the subscribers out of my lists that hadn’t opened an email from me in the last 6 months. Result = a much cleaner more engaged and cost effective list.

    As for the freebies. Yes you should absolutely reward your subscribers, but I don’t think dangling a carrot up front is the best option.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Jackie, the motivation for this post also came to me after I did a short clean up last month. Since I’m paying for numbers I should be very careful with whom I carry along. If its dead weight, I should first stop collecting it :) I’m seriously thinking of changing my approach with the freebie.

  • James

    I use freebies a lot. I have one for my email list, and a separate one for those who sign up to my free membership site. Each one is a different list, and have a different goal.

    I agree with Danny, it all depends on how you use it. if you just throw something out there just to get a subscriber, it isn’t worth it. However, if it is put together intentionally to lead people into buying a product, you will get more benefit.
    Any list you build will have its downfalls. not everyone will stay subscribed, no matter what you do. However, by incentivising the list, you reach more people, and have a greater chance to build influence within your niche.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      James, sure throwing away something merely to gain subscribers is not only a bad practice but will also show up soon. It is necessary that the freebie is of good quality as well as in tune with what you are talking at the blog or what will you be talking to them in the future emails. Thanks for sharing your views.

  • Sofia

    I think by means of this freebie the expansion of blogging and gain an additional ideas when it comes to social media.. This is an evolution to the part of blogging society….

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Sure it is, Sofia. Freebies sometimes emerge as a mere necessity to withstand competition and in such cases they don’t work out so well.

  • Petty

    Well, there is no harm in trying if you have so many free stuff to be give away! :) But seriously I would because those free stuffs are your promotional strategies. Also, no one would say no to free stuffs. :)

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Petty that’s right. Freebies always are welcomed by most people.

  • Rosemary Jayne

    I’ve recently created a newsletter on my blog and I’m probably going to offer a free e-course to those who sign up, with a PDF of everything at the end to download. I quite like the idea of giving something away for free as it can show people what they would get if they pay for something from you. Of course, I have no paid or free products yet (they’re in the works), but I know that I’ve bought products from people after getting their freebies and realising how good it is.
    As James said every list building method has it’s downfalls and there are always people who will unsubscribe, but there are people who will “tweet to download” and then instantly delete the tweet too.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Well said Rosemary. There are always “leechers” with everything. You can’t stop them.

  • http://www.hacktik.com/how-to-buy-pre-book-aakashubislate-tablet-pc.html/ Maninder

    Nice one. You have rightly pointed out that it is no one-size-fits-all stuff and there will be varying experiences on that. Well, I myself have never done that coz as you have also mentioned that people do subscribe for a while to get the free stuff and then unsubscribe. Even if people don’t unsubscribe, you can not assume they are actually reading what ever you are sending out coz there may be many who actually do a subscribe from an email id created specially for such purposes. They never ever use that email for any other purpose. so that saves them from taking that extra step of unsubscribing coz they anyways are not bothered about what is being delivered on that email id.

    • http://www.hacktik.com/walkie-talkie-app-voxer-iphones-androids-download-review.html/ Maninder

      By the way, Jane & All,
      Could you please share approximate what %age of people actually unsubscribe after receiving the freebies. Just wanted to know what would be the RoI on such activities.

      • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

        Maninder, I guess we must be gathering that info while collecting emails, right (the age). I’m collecting only email ids, so can’t really pin point!

  • http://www.buysellwp.com/ Amanda

    You are definitely right about saying that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, because all of us have our own not the same business and different goals that we’d like to achieve. So this means that not everything that suits the majority of people will suit one particular person.Thanks a lot for sharing

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Sure everyone and every business is different, so we need to find a strategy that fits us. Thanks for stopping by Amanda.

  • miriamspia

    Despite having worked as a professional writer for years now – mainly through online contracts, I still feel really ‘new’. I don’t know why, I guess maybe its because I hadn’t planned for it to be ‘working online’ so much as it has turned out to be, or if its just that I wasn’t the kid in the classroom who helped the teacher figure out how to run the new technology. I found this helpful, but now am aware that people need to be able to subscribe to my blog…the Uranian Fiction websites seem to offer this option but the Word Press and LinkedIn and Angie’s Diary ones don’t seem to offer it. I don’t understand why and why not at this point.

    Thank you for permitting me to comment.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Hi Miriam, you need to identify your customers, get out there and convert them into prospects. You need to funnel them through subscribing to your list. That’s how it works!

      • Miriam Pia

        I am looking for readers, who are buyers and also people willing and able to pay writers on contract and literary agent/s to represent my work and big publishing houses. How do I find them…I’ve done more than nothing, but far from everything that can be done.

        • PRO BLOGGING

          I think first you have a power full blog,and have a good alexa ranking then you will get invition from writter

          • Miriam Pia

            Thank you for the reply. Presently, there are 2 websites and 5 locations where people can read my blog. After doing a little work for you and reading some of your newsletters I professionalized my web hosting, so there are 2 websites for Uranian Fiction. Naturally, my profile is out there as well, and the publishers’ websites are also advertising or at least presenting An Adventure in Indianapolis to the public.

  • http://www.ramblingsofawahm.com/guest-posting-best-way-to-promote-blog/ Allie

    Jane,

    I am with Brankica. I have a crappy freebie (if you are reading this and not on my email list, ignore what I just said). Like I said, my freebie is not stellar. I am almost positive nobody signs up to get it. I think they sign up to hear more from me, which is better right? They are more genuine and stick around.

    I am seriously thinking of getting rid of my freebie and just link to it here and there or something. Heck, I should make it a post or 2. (Humm?)

    I think, like your blog, the incentive should be that your email list is getting more great content. And also some insider tips or bargains. People like that.

    ~Allie

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Allie, I so much agree with you (don’t worry about the crappy freebie lol). I’m seriously thinking about offering some sort of a free service to my subscribers instead of offering just an ebook. But that will also take some time and commitment on my part, coz for instance, say if I’m sick for a week or two or if I’ve got to go on a conference for a while, I wouldn’t be able to do it consistently.

      If I make a promise to offer a service for my subscribers I should be able to keep my promise. This is what is seriously going on in my mind!

  • http://allthingspondered.com David

    Hi Jane,
    I do offer a freebie of one of my ebooks on gum disease and I do accumulate subscribers that way. It is interesting because some of them become buyers but the vast majority do not.

    And I have also experienced the angry subscriber too. It is really strange when you give someone something of great value that can save them lots of money and potentially save them the cost of expensive dental treatments and they still send angry emails to you. – Very strange indeed.

    But I do get a lot more signups by offering something for free or even an information series. The other kind of sign up box – where it just says ‘get updates’ doesn’t seem to work as well.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Indeed David, freebies work for some and for some others simply the “get update” box works. Its not very surprising though :)

  • http://experimentincome.com Ramy Khuffash

    Hmmmmmm. This is a tough one. I guess like with everything, testing is the best way to find out.

    For an auto-responder course kinda thing, I don’t think a freebie is required. The “course” should be enticing enough. I’m only just starting to experiment with email marketing so this has given me more to think about.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Ramy autoresponder courses are something great indeed coz, you’re offering a freebie but not an instantly downloadable one so that people sign up, download and unsubscribe. At the same time an ecourse will also continue to deliver value to your subscribers helping you also to connect with them on a regular basis, without you needing to be actually doing it.

  • http://www.wpwebhost.com/ Ricardus

    Another cons of giving freebies is that, once you do it, people will come and look for more.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      That’s true as well Ricardus.

  • Mark

    Freebies could be very beneficial, but sometimes they could form an issue. The problem of freebies is that you can’t make them targeted to all of your readers. To solve this, i’ve seen some bloggers who offer a different freebie for each section/category of their blogs. Building email lists is becoming harder everyday, especially for people who are just starting out. However, i have nothing against offering a really valuable freebie and see what that leads to. I think what’s more important is doing split tests of 2 separate lists (one where subscribers were offered the freebie, and other that just offered updates), and see which list converts better so you can decide upon those findings. Thanks for the insights Jane.

    M Mark

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      That’s a wonderful idea, Mark. Indeed its so true that we can’t design a freebie that fits everyone. But I’m sure that if you’re not designing a freebie for YOUR audience, it will immediately show up with poor optin rates.

  • Shafi

    Nice Post on link building strategy. Offering free stuffs will build your subscriber list hugely. Maintaining good relationship will open a way to premium subscribers.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Shafi offering free stuff will help us go for numbers. But if after that, we manage to establish a very good relationship with our subscribers, we can turn them to real customers or fans.

  • Kundan

    I think if you are able to provide unique and highly valuable information on your blog, there is no need to offer any freebies for building your list. The most targeted audience loves the information on your blog, they don’t care whether you’re giving away some freebies or not. Thanks for sharing a nice post.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      That’s right Kundan. But freebies still work for gathering large numbers. Numbers Vs Quality is the question here – and if freebies only cause a cluttered list, we should absolutely find another way around!

  • Melissa

    I also think that freebies can be quite effective and can bring many results

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      That’s right Melissa. Freebies work.

  • Hamid

    I think freebees will be effecting lets try it…

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Sure give them a try with your list building efforts Hamid.

  • http://www.pcmastero.com Amit Sharma

    I would prefer to give freebies for some link building, but don’t want to be a doormat either. I mean to say, do give freebies but in a limit. :)

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Amit I second that!

  • http://www.favouritehobbies.com Mohideen

    Freebies are mostly welcome by all better we can work out with this strategy

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      That’s right Mohideen, freebie is attractive. But I’m not sure how it pays the blogger in the long run, in terms of quality leads.

  • Dennis

    I agree in giving away a freebie. It has to be something of value. Free online course is good it keeps your name in front of them for a long period of time. Instant download not as good and to easy to come by. A freebie of value is like an ice breaker it gets you into their inbox. Is’nt that the goal?

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Hey Dennis that’s right! The problem with offering freebies though, is that the icebreaker works fine; but a lot of them are just interested in the freebie, they sooner unsubscribe – that’s a potential loss!

  • Janus

    I think in general giving away freebie can be good for your subscription rate if it offers highly targeted content that people really want to read or solves a problem in a better and quicker way.

    It’s true that people may eventually unsubscribe after they get the freebie but that’s just part of the game.

    A-list bloggers can do it without a freebie because they can afford to focus on the quality or responsiveness of their list.

    For new bloggers, I agree with Danny Iny’s advice to hold off on the freebie until you understand more about what people really want.

    Right now I’m focusing on creating more useful content, see what problems people are facing. Then may be I’ll create a freebie just to get attention and gain momentum.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Janus, very well put. Usually it is very wise to understand the need of our audience and then create a freebie. We can run polls on our blog or get feedback in social media so that we know exactly what our readers want.

  • Beth

    I’ve received freebies that really helped me a lot. Though there are some that only wasted my time. Like for example, an ebook that I found interesting at first then it turned out to be a total crap material for me. I know that paid stuffs are much reliable than the free ones, but the point is, how could you encourage others to buy your paid products if you will offer crap stuffs for free?

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Great point Beth. And here comes one more vital feature of the freebie. It not only entices people to join your list, but if you can prove yourself to be an authority on the topic via your freebie, it is easy to sell your premium product or service!

  • Ayesha

    This post is quite informative. It gives us very helpful ideas. Although there are many email marketing rules which don’t work always. Freebies are important in list building. The above post clears my concept.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Glad to know that Ayesha!

  • http://www.techblazes.com Naser

    I don’t support offering Freebies for subscription as it looks like readers are subscribing only for freebies and not for your content.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Naser that’s a good view point. But you know, that’s part of the game!

  • http://www.webmaisterpro.com Carl

    If I can call it this way, building list with freebies is the evergreen. For sure there are pros and cons, but probably this is one of the easiest ways to do it, but I think it pretty much depends on the website niche, so option is not always the best one.

  • silikatines plytos

    I think freebees will be effecting lets try it…

  • http://www.howtostartbloggingtips.com/ Veer Modi

    Hi Jane, Great article. List building strategy is very interesting topic. Offer freebie or not is a good subject to debate. As per my view, Giving a freebie is best thing to build an email list. But one should also consider that quality of freebies affects bloggers image. One should not offer a copy paste content or useless content. According to me, best option is write the best ebooks like yours “Problogging Action Plan” and “Guest Blogging Champion” and offer a short summary of these books as a freebie. This will fulfill both aspects, one it will helps us to build an email list and also gives intro to our premium ebooks which helps to increase sales. Thanks Jane for these great opinions of yours and experts.

  • http://internetdreams.com/ Samuel

    I couldn’t tell you about all the niches, but from my experience for relationship and money making niches the freebies are a must in order to encourage subscription. In my split test without the freebies the subscription rates were dismal like most people complain on IM forums about their subscription rates, but with freebies I saw the rate jump to 10 fold on good days. As long as your presentation doesn’t look too cheap and scammy, offering freebies will definitely result in higher subscription rates.

  • Jon

    Obviously the topic of ‘list building’ and ‘email marketing’ is subjective with wide ranging and differing points of view.

    I tend to agree with the last para of Danny’s input. Some IM tutors still teach building dozens of micro-niche sites on the ‘set and forget’ strategy whilst others are now advocating building authority sites.

    Blogs are possibly more personal than an affiliate website that promotes a specific product or range of products so what works there probably depends more upon the primary topic of the blog and the author’s purpose for the blog.

    At the end of the day it’s the quality of the list rather than its size that really matters and more importantly the relationship you build with your list. Too many marketers, especially in the IM niche forget that vital point.

    I personally have a separate gmail account dedicated to signing up to lists. 95% of those get filtered to auto-delete within a few weeks.

    Emails that simply say “You must see this (affiliate link)” or “You’d be a fool not to click this (affiliate link)” and similar crap hardly fits the “relationship building” model.

  • http://ultimatedomainmanager.com Ruan

    Hi Jane!

    I just recently launched my new site and yes, I too make use of a freebie in the form of a FREE email course on Complete Domain Management. I have put a lot of time and energy into the course and I do believe it’s a way for me to show my subscribers exactly what kind of value they can expect from me.

    My goal is that my freebies, although they are free, have no less value than my paid resources. I believe that giving value to build credibility and trust that shapes a good business relationship is what will make it all worthwhile. I am definitely with Danny on this one as readers will discover from the start what I’m about and hopefully appreciate the time and effort I’ve put into creating the freebie that they might even decide to stick around.

    Another good example is that with my upcoming eBook that I’ve been working on for months as you know, I have a competition running at the moment for people to win one of 10 copies before it even gets released and for that you don’t even have to be on my list! Just so you know, the book will sell for $27 and although 50% of all sales goes to charity, giving away 10 copies for FREE will hopefully show that I am very much for “giving before receiving”.

    Even if they do decide later on to come back for more, that’s okay as I will create other free courses and products they will be able to use. If they stick around, even if it’s for free stuff by intention, that simply means I have a chance to share something with them at some point that may just stick with them more than a freebie would.

    Thanks for bringing up this idea; great work! :)

  • http://sentientwebdesign.com Brian.S

    It is ironic that the form I just filled in to post this comment offered me 2 free ebooks. Ironic in as much as the free give away model works and undeniable increases sign up rates and can even generate out right conversions.

    However in answer to the question posed, its a case of course for horses. If your blogging to network, trend, distribute information or create a brand. Well then you do not want to give me information privately you want me to love it, share it, discuss it and interact on your pages.

    If your looking for sign ups to grow a list, create conversions, up sales or sales platforms you want me signed up and receiving. Both models serve their purpose and if your quality, really quality you will win out using either. So its really a question of employing the right model to fulfil your needs.
    Thanks for a good post, which was interesting enough to warrant replying too.
    Brian

  • Naveen

    Offering freebies is a good way to bring up people attention on to our E mail lists, but that depends on how satisfied they are.

    If volume of people unsubscribe from the freebie, we need to change and test it what really satisfies them.

    I too agree people subscribe the lists for getting freebies, if the freebies not satisfies them or if they download freebies, they unsubscribe from mailing list in order to avoid loads of E mails or strings attached behind freebies.

    So we need to know how target people by split tests as Mark said.

    Thanks to the wonderful post.

  • Abhishek

    Jane, really liked the topic of this post and the way views are presented. I agree offering or not offering freebies can be a tricky task. I really liked the opinions and experiences you mentioned of different bloggers but personally I agree 100% with what Danny Iny says.

  • http://www.tailoredleadershipinitiatives.com.au/what-we-do/executive-coaching/ richa

    Hey Jane

    Thanks for sharing this informative post. I agree that there can be no one formula that fits all when it comes to email marketing. List building can be a tricky thing. Giving freebies can be a good way but one needs to be careful with that. Everything has its pros and cons and it depends on an individual with wants he wants to go. Getting subscribers should not be the criteria, the criteria should be to get valuable subscribers.

  • Joy

    The post is very helpful for new bloggers as it clarifies the pros & cons of using freebies. Now I would know how to make use of this strategy effectively. Thanks.

  • Fred Owusu

    Hey Jane, great write up and response’s. On my blog I give away a free but the freebie entice them to use the tool I am using. My niche is network marketing(mlm). Most marketers struggle with getting their own leads so I actually call them if they put a number and if not I email them with my autoresponder. Yeah right though, most people will subscribe to a list to get the freebie and then unsubscribe afterward. We just gotta keep trying different things to see which get more optins.

  • http://homestudiogeeks.com Craig

    I used to offer a free song download as an “ethical bribe” to get subscribers for my band. But, as you mention, a lot of people just grabbed the song and then unsubscribed. What I do now (in a different niche) is to offer a 10 part e-course, delivered over 10 days via autoresponder in Aweber. In those 10 days I’m able to build the beginnings of a solid relationship with the subscriber by giving away great content and encouraging them to get involved. I still find that about 95% of the people never buy anything, but that’s OK. I can live with a 5% conversion rate!

  • http://www.technobulb.com Jacob

    Good article… The idea of a freebie sounds good to me, but considering my niche is tech-tricks, i cannot write an ebook. What other freebies can be given?

  • http://www.bloggersmakemoney.com Wade

    If you haven’t built a list yet, then you need to. List building is one of the most important things that you can do money-wise on a website. This way you don’t have to rely on internet traffic to make money.

  • Jack Braglia

    well I’m starting a new blog that ONLY offers free stuff. should get lots of natural inbound links if I’m lucky

  • http://www.techblazes.com Naser

    This can make a good debate. In my two years of blogging journey, I never used any incentive or freebie to attract readers. I exactly don’t know whether this step is good or bad for my blog. What about your subscribers Jane? Do you notice any fluctuations?

  • http://www.noypigeeks.com/ Adam Parnala

    When I held a giveaway of an android phone, my Facebook and Twitter subscribers shoot up very high because people want to get the phone. After the contest, I still see some people liking my FB page and Twitter so I guess it is a good deal because it builds a little hype and then more followers follow. One thing I forgot during the duration is to have them subscribe to my mailing list. Too bad.

  • http://www.tailoredleadershipinitiatives.com.au/what-we-do/executive-coaching/ Emilia

    Ever since I have started blogging, it has been a struggle for me to build my network of followers, at times they trickle in, at times, the list remains stagnant. This is without offering freebies. But then when I started offering freebies, I got a good number of people to join my list only to realize that those who really stay to read and still support the site are those who have joined without the freebie. So now, I have decided to turn things around a bit and give out freebies to the loyal subscribers and not the one-time-big-time freebie claimers. At the end of the day, you have to reward those who support you! Free stuff will always be good especially if it benefits both the giver and the receiver. Just my 2 cents. :)

  • Don

    You know what, there really are different kinds of people in our growing blog universe. Some dwell in the weaving of words in our pages for the fun, information, or the stories we have to tell. Some, unfortunately are just in it for whatever we have to give that is more than the important or useful information in our pages. In my opinion, I think it’s always nice to be a blessing to everyone. Give out good information, give readers a little extra with whatever freebie you can offer, then you’ll see that you’ll reach your potential market who will be your loyalists in the long run.

  • http://jessiepeter.blogspot.in/2012/08/phuket-villas.html Jessie

    I am facing problems bring visitors to my blog even after trying to write best content possible. I think providing a tool or app as a freebie can help me to create a list of interested visitors.

  • Steven Wheater

    I had the same concerns about using a freebie to build a list, that people would unsubscribe straight after. However I have found that it is a great way to get your list built and there are a good percentage of people who stick around.

  • Son Nguyen

    I think, we can offering freebies for subcription! Why? Because the subcription will make profit later and the more subscription we have the more value we send out every day!

  • Jane Floors

    Hey,

    To attract people to our blogs,offering freebies is a good idea.It will surely increase the traffic of our blog.

    Thanks,
    Jane Floors

  • alexstruass

    Hello,
    Thanks to offer the subscribe of freebies to link building info. And that link building 101 hyperlink in the above post is very useful points maintained. I hope which is very helpful to me.

  • Rajkumar Jonnala

    Hi Jane,

    Wonderful post, well its truth that all the visitors will arrive at our blog for something special they want and offering them a different thing which they can’t find any where would encourage visitors to visit our blog.

  • http://www.utonsite.com jonam

    i have seen freebies doing wonders to a blog,,i normally run a freebie contest or give freebie after writing my foundation articles to get some blogosphere visibility

  • Tran Le

    In some ways freebies help we know it. Very interesting article that you’ve posted. Found the views to be quite informative and intriguing. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.HubertsVoice.com Hubert Williams

    Jane, I feel that the information you send out, not just this email, is valuable. I read most of it. The thing about offering freebies is that sometimes they get in the way. Take today, for instance. As I was reading your post, the pop-up offering the free book showed up. I am already a subscriber. I could not get around until I filled in the info again for the responder to tell me what I already knew, that I am already subscribed. I know because I am reading the email.That was annoying and I almost clicked away. There could at least be a choice that says “Already Subscribed” if the pop-up keeps popping up. Others might click away and stay away.

    • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane Sheeba

      Thanks for the head up Hubert. It is not supposed to show up for already subscribed persons and also if you close once it should not appear again for 5 days. Let me check it! Thanks once again!

  • sakshi

    i know that it is hard to write by own and give for free without taking any money. but it may be a very good way to start a very successful business. am i right?

  • http://www.contus.com/mobile-application-development.php Maria Lynette

    Good article Jane!!! I suppose offering freebies is doubtlessly a great approach to pull in individuals to your site, gave they are significant and worth the while, or they can even have a tendency to take individuals far from your web journal.