A Guest Post by Johnny B Truant.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re blogging to make money, or to express yourself. So why would you ever give something away? If you’re in this as a business, giving stuff away without charging for it seems counterintuitive. If you’re just out there writing for the sake of writing, then what you want are readers… and how is giving stuff away going to get more eyes on your blog?
The answer is that what goes around comes around. What you give comes back to you. What you sow is what you reap, and all of that. It’s not just platitudes. It works.
I was thinking about this because I’m in the middle of a promotion where I’m setting up self-hosted WordPress blogs for free. (In fact, if you want one, click over and go get one.) This isn’t an experiment. It’s the third time I’ve done it. I continue to do it because each time I do, my statistics go way up, my RSS readership grows, my Twitter followers grow, and I meet a bunch of new people who may end up being customers later. And thanks to the fact that I’m an affiliate for website hosting (which my free blog setup folks would have to buy regardless), I make money too.
All of my best tips come down to giving things away.
- Want to grow your mailing list? Write a great report or e-book — and then instead of charging for it, give it away to people who sign up for your list.
- Want to reach a new audience? Write a really good blog post, ideally one that is immediately actionable for people who read it. Reveal your best tip or tips in that post. Then, give it to someone else as a guest post rather than running it on your site.
- Want more referrals? Give a greater percentage of sales to your affiliates. I’m not quite gutsy enough to do this myself, but Dave Navarro told me once publicly that he gave affiliates 100% of the sale price on a certain product and then paid the transaction fees (which would normally come from the sale price) out of his own pocket. He “lost” money on his own product, but built a list in his shopping cart of people who liked his stuff well enough to buy it — a list he could promote to later.
- Want more goodwill, better Karma, or more raving fans? Then do something for charity. Twice that I know of, Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz.com has rallied her audience to raise money for a cause. The first time, she raised relocation expenses for a female reader who needed to get out of a physically abusive relationship. The second time, she raised over $12,000 for Cambodia — enough to build a school. The benefit to her? Tons and tons and tons of “good feelings” out in the blogosphere about her, which converted casual fans into die-hards.
I could keep going. There are tons of ways for any blogger at any level to increase either business or readership by trying the experiment of temporarily swapping “what can I get out of this?” thinking for “what can I give that people would really want and love?” thinking.
The really cool thing is that if you plan a little in advance, there’s usually a way that you can benefit too. If you’re smart, “giving it away” can get you a lot more than you’re probably getting right now.
Give it a shot. And if you’ve done it, let’s hear how it worked out in the comments!
P.S: If you’re still trying to figure out how to get your start in blogging in order to try this stuff? Well, now’s the time because I think I mentioned I know a guy who’s doing a mutually beneficial free blog setup promotion right now.