Offering freebies or goodies on your author website is like giving out candy on Halloween: Hand out the full-size, popular candy in generous amounts, and visitors will keep coming to your door!
The same idea works for your author website. Hosting contests and offering free swag is a fantastic way to attract people to your digital door. Free goodies can help you build up your author mailing list (if people must subscribe to get their freebie), giving you direct access to more of your website visitors. And, let’s face it, gift-giving always generates good feelings between you and your audience.
But what can you give away that’s easy on the wallet and doesn’t require a huge commitment of your already scarce spare time? Start by answering these questions:
Who Is Your Audience?
Before you decide on a freebie to give away on your author website, it’s important to ask yourself: What brings a visitor to my website? What does that person value? What can I offer that my visitors might actually want?
Here’s an example: If you’ve written a book about raising purebred puppies, you wouldn’t offer knitting patterns for tea cozies as a freebie. Instead, you would want to offer swag that’s interesting to people who have dogs—like recipes for organic dog treats.
Once you’ve determined what will interest your visitors—that’s what you should give them!
What Are Your Abilities And Budget?
Some writers offer actual physical goodies to readers who sign up for their mailing lists. But the cost of physical promotional swag (as well as the cost of postage) can quickly wipe out your budget. Plus, the hours spent stuffing and addressing envelopes will definitely cut into the time you’ve set aside for writing.
To minimize cost and effort, most writers prefer to offer digital, online-only promotional items. If technology isn’t your strong suit, you may need to pay a professional to create your virtual giveaway item. But once it’s created, you’ll never have to pay for expenses like reprint costs when you run out!
A List Of Free Online Digital Giveaways
Here are some great ideas for free digital goodies that you can give away on your author website to encourage people to sign up for your mailing list, enter a promotional contest, or even help spread the word about your writing!
- A downloadable book, novella, or spin-off
- A printable calendar with images related to your writing
- A short story, mini poetry collection, or “secret” chapters of a book
- A character guide (great for sci-fi or series writers whose books have intricate worlds)
- A “how-to” based on something you’re good at doing—maybe writing a synopsis? Writing a love story? Or making origami swans?
- Access to a “secret” page on your website that features exclusive content
- A chance to win something (e.g.: one subscriber every month will be chosen to win an e-gift card to a retailer of choice, or a personal half-hour phone chat with you, or a free signed book, etc)
- An audio download of you (the author) reading your own work
- A video of you talking about your writing
- A freebie related to a theme of your book or writing (a character’s favorite recipes, a sewing pattern, a guide to the city featured in your work, etc)
- A screensaver download of something related to your writing (your book covers, perhaps?)
- Printable stationery featuring your cover art or your personal design
- Printable bookmarks
Remember: You don’t want to be the virtual equivalent of the house that gives away toothbrushes on Halloween. Whatever you offer should be something your audience really wants. The more they want your free digital giveaway, the more likely they’ll take the action you want them to take, whether it’s signing up for your mailing list or liking your Facebook page. A good freebie will show off your personality and generosity, and—like all those Halloween treats—help make sure that YOU get the reputation for having the best giveaways on the block.
Photo by Ludovic Hirlimann
QUESTION: Have you ever signed up for something in order to get a freebie?
From a client POV, 3 huge mistakes many site owners make:
1) Affiliate invasion, and/or too many emails. All things signed up for promise ‘No Spam’, yet when one signs up for a freebie, newsletter, etc., our inbox is assailed by bucket-loads of ads from desperate-sounding people we never heard of. Result, we just end up clicking ‘mark as spam’ because no one has time for that.
2) There are eBooks that they literally can’t give away. Miles of praise from people who may or may not exist, too long ‘about the author’ bios, using several pages for what one small paragraph could explain, and generally recycling/rewording what’s already been done.
3) Too many spelling and grammar mistakes. These 3 are especially prevalent in the self improvement area.
My personal Naughty List.^
Just wanted to say thanks, this post really helped me find a more efficient strategy for my partners website when it comes to lead generation. She was getting a lot of good traffic but not many leads, so we played around with some of your suggestions and now we’re getting 10+ leads a day!