How Free Products Can Make You Money

Online publishing means that you give things away and it won’t cost you or your visitors an extra dime

Why are printers so cheap? Because printer manufacturers know that for the next two to three years, you’re going to subsidizing the cost by dishing out $50+ every time you run out of ink.

You have to think this way when you’re creating free products. In fact, be better than printer manufacturers. Once you buy a printer you’re pretty much locked in. If someone downloads your free white paper, they can take or leave the information. If they don’t like it, they don’t need to come back.

How free products can make you money

You’re making a good first impression. If you’re giving them valuable information, in an easily digestible manner, they’ll know the quality of your work and know that a paid product from you is going to be an even more valuable product.

You’re leaving room for an upsell. Any free product you give away should have a relate-able upsell. In the back of all your free special reports, you should have an ad for a paid product. Even better if you have an ad in the copy of the free report.

You’re building your list. Much like the printer and ink cartridge model, whether you’re offering a free special report or a free ride on the merry-go-round, you need to offer it in exchange for a visitor’s email address. This way you can maintain a relationship and offer them other products in the future that they might have interest in.

Download a FREE copy of 7 Ways to Monetize your Portal Audience, and discover how today's top publishers are generating revenue through memberships, events, clubs, sponsorships, and more.

One of the questions we’re asked most frequently is about how our Mequoda Daily website achieves such high conversion rates when all of the site’s content is free.

Virtually every word of the Mequoda Daily email editorial content is also available on our website without charge, yet we have an average email conversion rate (ECR) of 6.4 percent. (Email Conversion Rate is a calculation of the number of new email subscribers divided by the number of unique visitors.)

Free downloadable content is a juggernaut that drives website traffic, encourages incoming links, and fuels our exceptional conversion rates. And the quality of our incoming links is high, because they originate at the websites of our publishing industry colleagues and friendly competitors.

Giving away valuable free products ultimately result in more sales because you’re adding someone to your list, you’re giving them something to remember you by, and if you’ve done your job right, you’re expecting they’ll come back to pay you for something later on.


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