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How “Free” Can Get You Paying Customers

Finding a following for your business can be tough, but it is so rewarding. There are so many new businesses popping up each day, especially online. Sometimes, it seems like you are screaming in a crowded room and no one can hear you. However, there is an interesting marketing idea that has had great success in the past few years—giving away information for free in order to attract new customers.

This might sound crazy, but it works. The idea is called a “freebie,” and the way it works is to give valuable information to your readers for free to build credibility and trust. Have you ever been given a free sample of something and then bought the product because you liked it so much? This idea is the digital equivalent. It’s also a great way to warm your customers up to your business before the launch of a new product or service for your business.

Developing the Idea

To get the most success with this technique, you can’t just give anything away, it has to have some kind of value to your ideal customers. First think about your topic of business. Is there some sort of special insight that you have in that field that would benefit your readers? Also, make sure that you have a good idea of who your ideal customers really are and what problems they are facing. If you have a specific launch coming up, think of some related topics that you could expand on that would prime your followers to the new product or service you intend to roll out.

The Format

Once you decide on what it is that you want to deliver, you must decide on how to deliver it. Here are the most common formats for freebies:

  • eBook
  • Webinar
  • Email Course
  • Printable


This is probably the most common freebie there is out there. An eBook is easy to put together and give away. If you are teaching your readers how to do something or want to give them detailed information, this might be your best bet. You can also make this a workbook that they can print out and use.


If you are not much of a writer or designer, a webinar might be the best medium to convey the information. Today, anyone can put together a webinar. There are many programs out there that allow you to do it for cheap or even free. The webinar can be a live event, or you could even record it and make it available at any time. A webinar freebie is great because it allows you to really connect with your followers by showing them who you are and what you are about. This is a great visual tool that will enable potential customers to get to know you. You are no longer just a business, but a person they can strongly relate to.

Email Course

If you want to give information out a little bit at a time and do not want to deal with the design involved in an eBook, this is a great option. An email course is a series of informational emails that a reader will get once they sign up for the course. Generally, a business will pick a topic to cover and discuss a new part of that topic each day for a period of time (usually a few days to a week). To do this, you need to pick an email subscription service, set up an account, and set up a series of automated emails to go out once someone signs up for the email course. It is pretty simple once you set it up, and can continue on without much maintenance. A great option if you want a simple way to send out information to your followers.


A printable is similar to the eBook workbook idea, but much simpler and shorter. This could be something like a worksheet that solves a problem they might have. Or if you have a graphic design business, maybe you give away a free printable design. This is an easy way to give a sample of your work.

How to Market Your Freebie

Once you have decided on the format and put the freebie together, you need to be able to market it. The best places to market are the general social media websites you probably already use (such as Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). When advertising on social media, it is super important to add a graphic to the post showing a piece of the freebie. Most people are visual, and getting a taste of the freebie will likely intrigue them to sign up for it.

In order to have the most success with this freebie, you need to set up an email list and require readers to sign up for your email list before they receive the product. Email lists are extremely successful in driving new business. If you do not have one, it is highly encouraged that you start one as soon as possible. Email lists are a great place to market your new products or services to an audience who is already primed to like your business (because they signed up for your list in the first place).

The freebie is a successful marketing tool for many reasons. First, it is a no risk way for potential customers to sample your work and get to know you. This creates credibility and trust. Combined with the email list, it is also a great way to grow your audience so that you have a group of people to send important business and launch information to. The best part about it is that it is free. Creating this freebie comes at no cost to you, and can generate new loyal customers. If you want to create a community and a following of people, try giving them something of value for free. Your followers will appreciate it, and be more likely to come back the next time you ask them to buy something.

Lauren Stotler
Staff writer: Lauren is a Human Resources professional who loves writing about everything business and budgeting in her free time. She has run several blogs of her own, the most current being My Simple & Happy – a site with budget friendly tips for millennial women. You can find her on her blog or at @Lauren_Stotler on Twitter.

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Find Your Way · Grow Your Business · Product Development · Sales

Staff writer: Lauren is a Human Resources professional who loves writing about everything business and budgeting in her free time. She has run several blogs of her own, the most current being My Simple & Happy – a site with budget friendly tips for millennial women. You can find her on her blog or at @Lauren_Stotler on Twitter.

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