Free giveaways and items are a great way to drive traffic, but where do you begin?
First, consider your your target audience – what drives them? Do you have a skill you can share? Are you an extensive researcher? Do you enjoy giveaways? Figure out what you have to offer that no one else does – then capitalize on it by giving it away for free! Here are four ways you might not have considered to promote your blog with freebies.
1. Write or Record a Tutorial
This is perhaps one of these easiest things you can do to share information. Whether you’re a crafter, a programmer, a cook, or a literature teacher, you have something that no one else knows how to do. In 2004, I searched for weeks on how to import my blog from Expression Engine into WordPress but there simply was no information on how to do this. I figured it out on my own and when I was done, I put it all together and crafted a how-to blog post. It got hits for many years because it was the only entry that came up in search.
Nowadays, the best way to teach someone how to do something is with video. I’ve seen excellent videos on every thing from how to crack open an acorn squash to how to use the complicated new plugin I installed. Consider what tricky problem have you solved and then search it on Google. If the solutions you find are too difficult, unclear, lacks video, or does not address your target audience, this is your chance to solve that problem and get build-in search engine optimized traffic. You may want to search on Keyword Tools to make sure people are seeking it first. You can even start a YouTube channel around your topic, if it’s something you do on a regular basis.
2. Write an eBook
You may be wondering if people still download eBooks – and the answer is yes! I download them all the time. With the proliferation of readers and great software like Kindle, eBooks are fantastic freebies that can provide a lot of value for your readers. When I went gluten-free I used a free eBook as a guide to teach me what to eat and what to avoid. I still follow that blog because it gave me valuable information that was little known at the time.
Whether you’re writing an informational piece, a work of fiction, or a devotional, you must target the correct readers who would be interested in it. Keep in mind that not all of them will follow you, however, if your content meets any of these requirements, you can recruit a targeted following:
- No one has written a book on the topic before yet it is hot topic.
- No one has collected all these resources in one place.
- You have exclusive content from a source such as insider, a CEO, an employee, etc. on information they are allowed to share.
- Your audience has a list of similar questions that is too long to be answered on a single blog post.
Blogging with Amy has an excellent series of tutorials on How to Write an eBook. Once you have written your eBook, put a teaser from it on your blog. I also recommend capturing a blog email subscription with it as well.
You may be tempted to sell your first eBook, but I recommend against. There are tons of resources out there for free, and most people won’t pay you $1.99 for information they can get for free. The purpose here is to create a credible resource that establishes authority and builds trust. If it takes off, you can sell your next eBook!
3. Host a Webinar
This worked really great for me a few years back – back then I paid for it, but now you can use Google Hangout. That allows you (and a few others) to be on video and your audience to comment in text. This is a wonderful way to get a group together, teach a subject you know, interview a willing expert, or answer question you keep getting on a topic. The best part is that you get feedback from your audience. I have a few recommendations if you choosing this option:
- Write a script and an overview. If you’re teaching, you want write a script and a series of bullet points to go through while presenting. In fact, you can create a nice PDF handout from your presentation for your students.
- Practice your script. You want to flow through it, and you don’t want to get stuck on “ums” or other pauses. It’s a good idea to record yourself to see how it sounds, how your voice is modulated properly, and if your background is appropriate.
- For interviews, make sure you have a long list of questions. Sometimes, interviewees have shorter answers than expected and you can find yourself with too much “dead air” time.
- Ask questions. This best thing about this medium is that it’s interactive, so write good questions to excite and interest your audience, rather than boring “yes” and “no” questions.
- Run through a practice hangout. Technical difficulties happen all the time, but you can avoid many of them with a run through. Make sure you practice with any fellow speakers and at least 1 or 2 guests.
- Have a back up plan. Plan for the unthinkable: your ISP or WiFi goes down, you have a blackout, a storm hits, etc. Make a “rain date” for emergencies.
These are great to promote your blog but before you can really do effective giveaways, you’re going to need to have some reasonable standing with blog traffic. In my case, the first giveaway I ran was offered to me – and I’ve always done giveaways through an offer, rather than raffling off any of my services. After a while, the giveaways came in so frequently, that I was posting one every Monday for a while.
At one point my traffic was good enough to join a giveaway club. In these clubs, group giveaways of a high dollar value (e.g., an iPad giveaway) are posted on your blog in exchange for your link being an entry – usually it’s a social media link. They can definitely drive traffic, if you are interested in getting over a certain goal for Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook, however, remember these are unqualified leads, and if you are not consistently sharing high value giveaways, you may eventually lose that traffic in they are not interested in your niche.
Giveaways need to abide by certain laws. Most often, what you are running is a sweepstakes, which means the winner is picked at random, as opposed to a contest, where the winner is selected based on the best submission – for example, a cutest baby contest. There are lots of laws to run a legal contest in a particular country as well as local laws that can run restrictions. Two things I always make sure if I am managing a giveaway is that the winner must reside in the U.S. and he or she must be over 18 years of age. Another caveat is that you should not be compelling people to give you something of value (such as a Facebook like) in exchange for an entry – this is acceptable for an optional entry, but can’t be mandatory. If it’s optional, it’s a choice. If not, it’s is called “consideration” and it’s a really tricky area –and it’s done all the time, so much so that Facebook wrote its own rules about it. Review them carefully. I always use the free version of Rafflecopter for my giveaways, which is Facebook complaint. Read more about the law at “Blog Law – Is Your Giveaway Legal?” by attorney Sara F. Hawkins, and subscribe to her Blog Law series.
These are some of the top high profile ways to drive traffic to your blog with value free information or giveaways. If you’ve had difficulties or trouble with any of the above ideas, ask a question, and if you have any tips to add, we’d love to hear how you promoted your blog!
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