This guest post is by Tom Ross of Blogs.FanExtra.
Today I’m going to talk about one of the most effective ways to market yourself and your website. It’s also a hugely effective way to build relationships within your niche.
And it’s very simple: offer amazing freebies to top bloggers in your niche.
Now this may sound like a no-brainer, but let’s take a look at just why it’s so effective and so underused.
This article is actually based on a real life example of a website owner named Michael I dealt with recently. I’d never spoken with Michael before, but he approached me to release a free UI kit on my website. I’ll get to the story of Michael and the strategy that he has inspired, but it will show you exactly how to market yourself like crazy through the power of freebies. This is really powerful stuff and can help you effectively launch a new site (or explode an existing site).
The principles of why freebies work
Freebies are popular, there’s no denying it. They’re also an awesome way to give your site exposure. Let’s look at why this is:
People love getting stuff for free
Whilst guest posting can be a bit hit-or-miss with being accepted by top blogs, freebies are something that almost all top bloggers will be happy to accept.
I receive daily emails from people asking to guest post at my blogs PSD.FanExtra and Blogs.FanExtra. I end up disregarding most of them. This isn’t to be a bad guy, but because most people need to learn how to Write an Effective Guest Posting Application. It’s far rarer that I’ll get someone emailing me a high quality freebie that I can instantly release on my site.
If the freebie is quality, unique and something I know my readers will love, then there’s no reason why I wouldn’t accept it gladly.
The entire point is that in the past I’ve paid for this type of resource. A great resource that’s offered for free will benefit my audience, and benefit me as I won’t be paying for it.
Freebies are viral by nature
Freebies are always pretty viral by nature. If you submit a traditional guest post there’s a good chance that it won’t perform well on social media and won’t generate a ton of traffic or exposure for you.
Freebies typically have a greater chance of going viral, as let’s face it—everyone loves a good freebie!
The two rules for getting maximum exposure are:
- The bigger the blog, the bigger their audience, and the more exposure for you.
- The better your freebie, the more value it gives people, and the more shareable it is.
The freebie strategy
I mentioned Michael at the start of this post. Michael runs a site called Best PSD Freebies and decided to market it by offering free UI kits to blogs in the design niche.
I first saw Michael’s work over at Web Designer Depot, a large design blog. He had offered a simple, but attractive UI kit to release on their site. Let’s look at some of the benefits of this:
- Michael’s work has reached 85,000 subscribers through the site.
- His site received over 1000 visitors on the day the UI kit was released, and continues to attract traffic daily from the post.
Now let’s look at how you can use this technique to drive serious traffic to your site and build a name for yourself very quickly within your niche.
1. Work out what you’re good at
Identify what you’re good at. If like Michael you’re in the design niche, release a quality design freebie. If you’re in a different niche, then release something that’s relevant for your audience.
The key is that your freebie should be free for your to create—something that takes time and effort, but no monetary outlay from you.
2. Actually create something
Create a freebie, but don’t stop there. First of all, ensure that it’s the absolute best quality you can produce. You want to create a freebie that is premium quality. The kind of thing people regularly pay for.
Then, don’t just create one freebie. Aim for around 20. If each freebie takes two hours of hard work to produce, then that’s 40 hours work total. If you spread this over two weeks, that’s almost three hours extra work each day. It will be tough going, but stick with it.
3. Approach top blogs in your niche
Now that you’ve prepared your 20 freebies, start approaching the top blogs in your niche.
Freebies typically have a very high acceptance rate, as you’re giving the blogger something that’s valuable for nothing.
If you approach the top 40-50 blogs in your niche you should almost certainly find 20 that will be willing to publish your freebie.
4. Remember to promote yourself
Whilst you’re giving your freebie away for nothing, of course you want to be sure to include a link back to your site to reward yourself for all your hard work. This is standard practice for any blog in any niche.
Craft some text to accompany the freebie post, being sure to mention your website and link back to it. This serves the double purpose of effectively writing a post for the top blogger, saving them time and effort, and ensuring that the people in the blogger’s audience who like your work know where to go for more—your site.
5. Coordinate release dates
This is where you get a little more clever, and where the true power of this strategy lies!
If you remember the SOPA Blackout campaign then you’ll recall how thousands of sites “blacked out” their websites for a single day, obscuring their content in protest to the harmful government legislation that was being proposed to censor the internet.
This protest was so incredibly effective not because a lot of websites were being blacked out, but because they were all being black out at the same time. If the thousands of websites were sporadically blacking out over the course of months it would have had way less impact. It’s the fact that for 24 hours millions of web users were frustrated and angry at not being able to access many of their favorite websites.
This is the strategy we’re going to use to get you maximum attention.
Speak with the blog owners who have accepted your freebies. Rather than pushing to have them published as soon as possible, arrange a slightly later date, one that all of the blog owners can meet. If this is a month or two down the line then that’s fine, as long as all of the blogs can release your freebie on that day.
6. Preparing for the flood
Now that you’ve organized the launch of all 20 freebies on all 20 top blogs in your niche, you have to wait for the release day.
However, rather than sit and twiddle your thumbs, you need to start preparing your website for the flood of new traffic.
A great idea is to add a large welcome area to your site offering a mega-freebie of some sort. This should be of the same high standard of quality as the freebies that you have released to the top blogs, but much larger, and therefore more valuable. Add an email optin form to the site, ensuring that visitors must enter their email in order to access the mega-freebie pack.
7. Release day (Who is this guy?)
The day finally approaches when all of the UI kits are released. The response is phenomenal. Being featured on even one of these top blogs would result in a traffic spike. Being featured on all 20 within 24 hours results in a traffic mountain!
Michael received over 1000 visitors from his freebie release at Web Designer Depot. They are one of the larger blogs in the design niche, but certainly not the largest. Let’s say that out of the 20 top blogs you might get around 500 visitors each. That’s 10,000 visitors in just 24 hours—a huge amount for your new site!
Far more beneficial than this traffic though is the reputation that you will achieve.
In a single day you will have dominated your niche, being feature on almost every top blog. Millions of blog readers worldwide are seeing your freebies being posted on their favorite sites. Your freebies are showing as the most recent content in people’s feed readers for 20 of their favorite blogs! Many readers are not just downloading one of your freebies, but 10, 15, or 20 of them! In a single day you have become “the freebie guy or gal” in your niche, and a lot of people are suddenly talking about you and wondering who you are and where you’ve come from.
8. At your site…
Your own site preparation should have also worked wonders for you. Not only will you receive a flood of traffic to your fledgling website, but you should have converted that traffic really well. Every person who has clicked through to your website has clearly shown an interest in your freebies. The first thing they saw when visiting your site was your mega-freebie. Your conversion rate should be very high, so from 10,000 new visitors you’re looking at a lot of email sign ups.
If you convert just 10% of these visitors then that’s 1000 email sign ups in just 24 hours—a very solid base from which you can market your new site.
9. Rinse and repeat
Now that you’ve seen the success of this strategy it’s natural that you’ll want to repeat it. You have already established relationships with these top bloggers, so it will be easier to pitch them a future freebie.
Of course, you won’t want to repeat this the very next week, but in a couple of months you can look forward to another huge traffic spike.
Next time, perhaps release 30 freebies. Spend two months creating 30 freebie packs that are bigger and even more awesome than your initial 20.
10. The effort pays off
After a few months of really hard work and networking, your efforts are paying off. You have built up a super responsive email list of thousands and now attract decent traffic to your website.
Your personal brand as “the freebie guy” also ensures that you’re the go-to guy in your niche for freebies, and you’re regarded as a community expert.
If down the road you decide to release a super-huge premium product, then you can bet it will sell well. After all your contributions to your niche and the reputation you have build up, many people will be happy to help you out by purchasing your product. At the very least, they will be far more likely to buy from you than some new kid on the block who is clearly out to make a quick buck.
The thing is, you’re ultimately in this to make money and be successful too. However, you were just far more marketing savvy about it and helped a whole lot of people along the way. You were also willing to lay the groundwork and put in the effort.
Ah, the power of freebies!
Here are some important points to consider when you’re implementing this strategy:
- You can offer freebies in most blog niches at no cost to yourself. All it takes is a little creativity and taking the time to identify your skillsets.
- In this post I gave the example of the design niche. It’s clearly effective in this niche (as proven by Michael), but to be honest there are way less competitive niches where your freebies will have even more of an impact.
- Even if you can’t produce a freebie yourself, it may be worth outsourcing the work. This strategy has far more potential than traditional banner advertising and is likely cheaper.
- Remember to approach top bloggers in your niche in a polite, professional manner. It helps if you provide a post that is ready to publish, rather than just offering your stand-alone freebie.
- Ensure that your site offers great content. There’s no point driving a load of traffic if you have nothing left to offer people. Think about gathering those emails and achieving high conversions!
Have you ever used freebies to promote your blog? Tell us how you did it in the comments.
Tom Ross is a blogger, entrepreneur and designer. He has built up a blog network that has attracted over 7 million visitors. His latest network site Blogs.FanExtra discusses in depth, practical blogging strategies. No fluff, no vague or generic tips, just quality, applicable blogging tactics. Check out the free 7 day blogging course teaching the exact strategies Tom used to grow his network.