Bob Baker's Full-Time Author Blog

How to Create Freebie Content to Build Your Mailing List

Last month on the Mequoda Daily blog, they answered the question:

How do you create those complimentary products you give away in exchange for an email address?

Great topic. First, I assume you already know that one of your greatest marketing assets is an opt-in list of people who are interested in the topics you write about and publish books on. So you should be actively building your list at all times.

You DO know that. Right?

But these days, you need to give people a compelling reason to submit their name and email address. You almost have to bribe them. And that's where the free giveaway can be very effective.

What's the best way to create a freebie without giving away the entire book?

Here are two good ideas from Mequoda:
  • Create an ebook using content from your existing blog. You have so much content on your web site that no one may get to read unless you package it together. Three or four blog posts on mobile publishing might turn into an ebook called "Mobile Publishing Secrets."

  • Summarize some of your book's content. With this method, you might take a theme from your book and offer a stripped-down treatment of the topic.
Other ideas:
  • Simply create a PDF file of the introduction and first chapter or two of your book. If the content grabs them, readers will want to know (and buy) more.

  • Record your live talks and workshops. Make the audio or video recordings available as free downloads.

  • Have a friend interview you on the topic of your book. Record it and have someone transcribe the interview. Turn the audio or the text (or both) into a freebie to build your list.

  • Do you have a glossary of terms in your book? Or an appendix of helpful resources? Make them available.
There are many more ways to create your giveaway content. But this initial list should get you started.

Whatever you do, make sure you are creating incentives for people to sign up for your email list. It's a powerful book promotion asset.


P.S. Below is MY incentive to get on my mailing list :-)

How One Writer Increased Email Signups by 300%

There's no debate about this. Building a mailing list of people interested in what you do is crucial to your success as an author.

And these days, simply putting a signup form on your web site isn't the best solution. You must create incentives for people to submit their name and email address. Those incentives can include free sample chapters, audio interviews, checklists, etc.

Or you can get really creative and do what blogger Jim Kukral does: He sings "Happy Birthday" to his subscribers.

Here's the text from his email signup page ...
Please consider joining my private email update list.

BONUS! If you trust me enough to give me your day and month of birth, I'll personally sing happy birthday to you on my ukulele on your birthday on video! How can you beat that deal?
Now that's cool.

I have a feeling every subscriber gets the same generic music video clip, delivered by autoresponder email. But that doesn't make it any less special. I'm sure his readers appreciate the semi-personalized touch, delivered on their special day.

So ... what could you do to inspire more email signups and create an even stronger bond with your readers?


Advice for Self-Promoting Authors

Over on O'Reilly Media's Tools of Change for Publishing blog, the question was posed:

What do you think authors should do to promote themselves online? How much should publishers get involved?

Here's how I answered the question in a comment post:
I'm a full-time self-published author (and proud of it) who has been making good use of the Internet for more than 13 years. So I'm a little biased in my response :-)

The proactive self-promoting author has the best chance of success. If you go the traditional publishing route, by all means, use the resources that your house has to offer. But don't count on them to create your career for you.

To make the best use of the Internet, know that you need more than a good web site. You need a Web Presence. So think seriously about setting up profiles on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Squidoo, Blogger and/or Wordpress, and more.

And make sure you purposefully funnel people from all these sites back to your home base on the Web: your personal author site.

The Internet has been very good to me. Let it be your publishing friend too.