• Another great article!

    I have always been against freebies for the reasons you stated. I don’t think they help a business a bit, unless the business has a good plan laid out, with realistic expectations.

    Every time I have given away stuff, people have come to me for more. As a result, the only freebie you will get from me if you sign up for my newsletter is a short extract from my latest eBook. I’m all about helping others, but what good will I be the day I can’t feed my body anymore?

  • This is the excellent Article Freebie or No Freebie – What’s Best? This Is Useful to Us
    I Like This thanks for sharing this dude………

  • Awww! That does my heart good. You mean people aren’t just falling all over you with compliments all the time? I can’t imagine why!!

  • Oh my pleasure. Hey, the whole reason I found you (and decided to cover your awesome Facebook page on my blog – http://www.yourwishmarketing.com/2011/12/15/facebook-page-tips-building-your-contact-list/) was because so few people have done such a smart thing with their Facebook landing page.

    What entrepreneurial mom doesn’t need a survival kit? And then you continue to add value with a regular newsletter that is friendly, helpful and not pushy. So ahem. About that “no downloads” message…. it just needs to be done right, like Solo Mompreneur!

    • You’re a keeper, Jayna!

      Thanks for the compliment and your kind words. The post you crafted to feature my Facebook fan page is one of my proudest and most cherished moments. 🙂

      Bloggers rock the net!

  • Super interesting thoughts, and great discussion, Melanie. I’ve always been a believer in creating a free white paper or report to offer readers, but you make some great points.

    I’ve recently started building my list with a free download, and I also develop materials for business owners who want some content to offer their clients. But what I want to share is my perspective from the other side – that of a pathological downloader. :^)

    From the experience of one who loves to download other people’s freebies (and no I never lurk under a secret email address – but that’s a humdinger!), I will tell you that some of the free reports I’ve received have given me an excellent opportunity to get to know the author better. Even if for some reason I don’t manage to read the report, the fact that it enticed me to sign up for a newsletter means I get to read more from that business owner over time (leading to potential collaboration, referral partnerships and more), an opportunity that would have been missed if I had just stopped by their blog or Facebook page and left without a trace.

    Out of this process I get some really nice, very tasteful newsletters from people I then begin to trust because their educational material is very high quality. By contrast, I also end up with newsletters from people who promote something AT me several times per week and in exasperation I unsubscribe.

    This process helps me to separate the wheat from the chaff!


    • Let the festivities begin — Jayna is here! (I refuse to start a party without you). 😉

      This is golden …

      ” … what I want to share is my perspective from the other side – that of a pathological downloader.”

      Let’s just say there’s a MAMMOTH membership in the downloaders club. I signed up to become a member about four years ago. Got a fantastic collection of goodies on my hard drive — half of which I haven’t had the time to read yet … and probably never will. May as well be honest here.

      I will admit, though …

      There are a few freebies that rise above the rest — gems I’ve downloaded I find myself going back to, time and time again.

      Totally agree with you here. It’s one of those “six of one, half dozen of the other” scenarios …

      ” Out of this process I get some really nice, very tasteful newsletters from people I then begin to trust because their educational material is very high quality. By contrast, I also end up with newsletters from people who promote something AT me several times per week and in exasperation I unsubscribe.”

      Thanks a heap for dropping in to join the conversation! 🙂

  • Really good points, Patricia, and well taken!

    You’ve covered a lot of vital territory in your commentary on freebies.

    1.) Follow up is critical
    2.) Monetizing matters
    3.) Purpose of your freebie is important
    4.) Targeted opt ins are the focus and the goal

    I’d guess you’re a seasoned marketer! 😉

    Thanks for your transparency about having both good and not-so-good frebbie offer experiences.

    So let’s leave it at this …

    To each his own. It’s a personal choice whether to use a freebie as a list building tool … or not. There’s every possibility you could have very positive results and grow a list of highly targeted subscribers. Yay! And there’s an equal chance of having dismal results.

    Nice to meet you and please return again soon! 🙂

  • Having used freebies both well and not well over the years, it all depends. If you have it monetized, you can do well with it. If you don’t, you probably won’t. It can also depend on where your traffic comes from. Are they just freebie seekers – or are they targeted for the market you are looking to serve?

    And then the freebie itself makes a difference. What DOES it do – does it educate your market? Does it begin to “presell” them on your services? HOw do you follow up – do you email on a regular basis, or is that an infrequent event?

    It’s a mistake to just dismiss the strategy offhand with out taking the time to fully diagnose things. A good freebie is part of a well thought out marketing strategy, and can be very lucrative – if it’s used right.

  • Thanks for swinging by and sharing your thoughts, Kim — glad to have you here!

    Let me be crystal clear on something important …

    Sometimes a freebie offer works out great for list building … and sometimes it’s a sheer disaster. It’s one of those issues you’re going to see a strong argument coming from both sides of the fence.

    There are online marketers and fellow bloggers out there who will take me down to the mat and swear a freebie offer is the ONLY way to go. All I can say is “good for them”. If something is working and you’re experiencing the positive results you’re looking for, them you’d be a fool not to do it.

    In my case (and it’s sounding like in your case, too), having a list of freebie chasers who DON’T OPEN emails is futile. Hence, the “risk” in offering something great for free as an enticement for people to give over their email addresses to you.

    And it costs money every month to maintain a contact management system. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can’t see the need to pay for housing a group of non-responsive, uninterested subscribers. I’m not really fond of business expenditures with NO ROI. Feels like I’m lighting dollar bills on fire every month just to watch them burn. 🙁

    Thanks again for the visit, Kim, and I hope you’ll knock on my door again soon!

    • I totally understand what you are saying Melaine and I agree if it is working then by all means keep using the free offer but if not change your plan. ~Kim

      • Thanks for jumping back into the conversation, Kim — glad you got my drift.

        I’m not here to badmouth freebies — I’m here to let people know they don’t always fit the bill or do the trick.

        Have a wonderful week!

  • What a great post Melanie as your article really got me to thinking. I currently have a Free offer on my website but I may be taking it down as I too have had people signup and never open anything else from me again. I really want people who are truly interested in what I have to offer. I am sharing this post with others. Thanks ~Kim

  • I really like this post, Melanie. I do not have any freebies on my blog. I have thought about it and will continue to consider it but, so far, I have believed that the free value that I provide (on my blog and fan page) is my freebie!

    • You go girl!

      I believe, wholeheartedly, Lauren, the value you provide your audience through the top notch content you produce and the engagement with your fans is ENOUGH of a freebie! 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts — come back soon!

  • OMG, Mel I needed to read this seriously! Do you know why I haven’t put an opt-in form on my site yet (okay, at least one of the reasons)???????

    Because I hadn’t developed a freebie yet!!!

    Well, you have officially put my rear into gear (ooh, I rhymed) with this one so I can hurry up and start building my list like I should have a loooooong time ago. I guess I got caught up in the “you need to offer a freebie to build a list fast” hype…

    So I thank you so very much for making so much sense here on the topic of list building. 🙂


    • Can you feel me reaching out and giving you a GREAT BIG hug, Kesha?!

      I’m tickled pink you’re here! Really elated to the max this post was helpful to you. 🙂

      I stressed and strained (and developed more than one migraine headache) years ago over creating my doggone freebie offer. No kidding and no exaggeration, it was a hell of a lot of work and I felt exhausted once I finished.

      And guess what?!
      Like Ameena Falchetto says — “Freebies aren’t necessary”.

      Forget the freebie, Kesha! Put your mind at ease, knock that pain-in-the-butt chore OFF your to-do list, and put your feet up and relax.

      There’s a much better, simpler, more effective …

      And FUN way to build your list! 😉


    • Yes, forget the freebie … just put a MASSIVE email capture and promise great content … easy. Yes, the list *might* grow more slowly but you’ll also get less unsubscribes – quality over quantity – something people seem to forget online.

  • With over 50 free videos at the My Business Start Up site following a recommendation by Don Crowther I am starting to question the value of freebies. Also having blogged for over a year now I am acutely aware that my work comes from contact rather than my writing. I am definitely relooking at what I give away

    • You’re on a roll NOW, Roberta!

      This jumped off the page …

      ” … I am acutely aware that my work comes from contact rather than my writing”

      And you’re definitely not alone here …

      ” … I am starting to question the value of freebies”

      When I had a mentor years ago, one of the things she stressed was creating a dynamite freebie to offer my target audience. I still respect her very much but through my not-so-great experience with freebies, I wish I had not followed her advice. Live and learn, right?

      Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your experience with freebies — appreciate your comment!

  • Hi Melanie

    My philosophy: I want people on my list that are action takers, curious by nature and believe enough in the value of my content that will subscribe without being bribed or cajoled to be there.

    I even have this statment in my opt-in – “no bribery, blackmail or corruption…just good shit” I think it gives people a good idea of where I stand…although I may reword, think it frightens some people lol

    Interesting to note, I did do the freebie thing in the early days…(yes I too was brainwashed by the guru’s) and did get opt-ins galore, but at least 98% never opened another email from me. Freebie chasers, nothing more.

    I have since deleted all the people in my lists that have not opened an email from me in the last 6 months. After all the numbers don’t mean diddly, its community and conversion that matter.

    As a result my open rates are now showing whats really happening with my list. Averaging anywhere north of 55% opens on my fortnightly emails. 🙂 🙂

    Do I believe there is a place for free. Absolutely! My content is free, I include links to free downloads, & my subscribers get the benefit of free goodies on a regular basis.

    Freebies for Email exchanges may swell your numbers…but I’ve yet to be convinced that it brings you customers.

    Great discussion and interesting to see others points of view. Thanks for starting the conversation Mel 🙂

    • You’ve concocted a luscious soup, Jackie, and I love all the ingredients — they complement one another and sit pleasantly on my palate. 🙂

      Your personal adventure with offering a freebie as an opt in could pass for my story’s identical twin: ” … at least 98% never opened another email from me. Freebie chasers, nothing more.” I’ve been entertaining the freebie chasers for years. 😉

      Really wrapped my heart and head around this …

      “After all, the numbers don’t mean diddly, its community and conversion that matter.”

      Thank you SO much for jumping in here and adding true value to this post!


  • Hey Melanie,

    I am confused!

    There are so many blogs telling us that we should have something to offer to the reader so that they subscribe, come by and read our blog. Others are saying that no freebie!

    I believe no freebie personally. If you like to read my blog then you read it anyhow; without conditions of being offered something for free. When I do work and come up with a book, then I might want to get paid for it..right?

    Free works only when like say, if I have an e book to offer then just to kick off sales, I might give free books to the first three subscribers or so on. But having free stuff on your blog always… doesn’t really make sense always.

    Feel free to beat the crap out of me if you think I am wrong! 🙂

    • No sticks and stones needed here, Hajra. LOL!

      Actually, your thinking is very clear. You’re not confused, after all. 😉

      In your case, I think a really cool idea is to put a “subscribe to my posts” box directly beneath your posts.

      Building a list that way makes good sense.

      Click Ameena’s name in my post and take a look at what she’s got below her blog posts. You can’t miss it — it’s shocking pink! *Grin*

      And then re-read Ileane’s comment here. You’re already giving your readers tons of awesome free stuff.

      What more could they possibly want from you?! 🙂

      • Yes, I have read her posts and seen the shocking pink things! 🙂

        I totally loved the discussion going on over there! Like Ileane said, there are so many free e books lying in my system. and I haven’t flipped through! Maybe I need to compile them up and make a “Free e book of e books… all in one place.. subscribe to my blog and get all of them at one place” 😉 Hmmm… idea! 🙂

        • Love your sense of humor, Hajra — don’t EVER lose it. 😉

          And if you think you’re the only one with a STOCKPILE of unread freebie stuff sitting on your hard drive …

          Think again.

          I’ve got a truck load of ebooks I can add to your pile when you’re ready to toss them all together and give them away as a fine grouping of ___ (you can fill in the blank). LOL!

          • LOL! that was no joke… I was serious 😉

            Or better, we can combine both our collections of free ebooks, put them together and sell them for 5 dollars each! The reason we give is that we are saving them the trouble of being to each blog individually..saves time, money and energy and one click and they have it all! 🙂 Then we can split the sales! 🙂 Man, both of us sound like sleazy marketers… I hope some sleazy marketer isn’t listening!

          • There’s just ONE crucial “snag” in your plan, Hajra.

            The majority of free ebooks have a little caveat stating …


            And if you do …
            Well, that would be really sleazy and would get you into BIG trouble in a big fat hurry!

  • Hi Melanie,

    You do have some food for thought here! I know that as a consumer there have been plenty of times that I have opted in to someone’s list and never looked at their freebie because I wanted to be on their list. On the other end, I have opted in just for the freebie and had no interest in the emails.

    I’m going to find out how this works from the blogging end because I just created a new freebie for my opt-in. Before I had a generic (one size fits all, not shooting for a narrow target market) freebie that didn’t get a lot of opt-ins but those who signed up tended to stick around. Now I’m getting a lot more opt-ins with my targeted opt-in, I’ll see what the opt-out rate does!


    • You’re on to something noteworthy here, Stacy!

      Good for you. I can plainly see you’ve got your thinking cap on. 🙂

      ” … a generic (one size fits all, not shooting for a narrow target market) freebie” (Won’t work — Futile endeavor)

      ” … I’m getting a lot more opt-ins with my targeted opt-in” (You’re heading in the right direction — continue to test and check)

      Love your candor! …

      ” … never looked at their freebie” — ” … opted in just for the freebie and had no interest in the emails”

      Your transparency has confirmed the fact people WILL get on lists with intentions other than becoming a customer or client. Thanks for being open and honest with us — much appreciated.

      Hence …
      Counting on a freebie offer to create a list of prospective buyers can be a big crap shoot.

      So happy you joined in the conversation!

  • I like the way you think 🙂 I have been struggling with this same issue internally, I don’t offer anything for free in order to sign up for my newsletter. I always tell my customers that it is more important to focus your attention on customers that are interested in your services rather than worry about collecting followers. If your followers aren’t interested in what you have to say there is no point.

    Quality rather than quantity is where I try to focus my energy.

    • “Quality rather than quantity is where I try to focus my energy.”
      I’ll go with that Angela.

    • Thanks for dropping in, Keith, to let us know you share Angela’s viewpoint — ME, too!

      Angela, it’s great to meet you and I hope you’ll take the opportunity to give Ameena’s post a read. I believe you’ll find a LOT of value in what she’s sharing. 🙂

      Here’s the #1 thing to consider (in my opinion — and in my experience over the past four years) about using a freebie offer to grow your list and build your biz:

      If you pour your heart and soul into creating a fabulous freebie (ebook, short report, recorded teleseminar, podcast, video series … whatever it may be) …

      And then you hand it over, freely, to anyone who wants to opt in …

      The chances are really great you’ll attract lots and lots of those lovely hardcore freebie seekers (who won’t purchase anything from you … ever) …

      And you’ll end up with a list of people who DON’T fit your target audience — you’ll be marketing to brick walls.

      Hence, sharing your awesomeness and your expertise at No Cost is RISKY.

      Trust me, people will want to argue with me about this issue, debate it, and defend the use of freebies as a means to grow a list of subscribers. And that’s fine. As long as their freebie offer is working for them, I say keep on keepin’ on.

      My experience has been otherwise … and I know I’m not alone in my thinking.

      Thanks for the visit — hope you’ll return again soon!

      • “…..you’ll be marketing to brick walls. ”

        Great title for a post Mel.
        So glad I thought of it. LOL

        Receiving your reply makes commenting a pleasure.

        • Hey Keith

          Receiving your comments makes “blogging” a pleasure.

          If there was an award for the coolest and most engaging commenter …

          You’d get my vote. 🙂

          I’ll start working on that post. LOL!

  • Melanie –

    I really love this article….it made me think and go an analyze my own list. The one thing I would say I noticed is that offering free webinars are a GREAT way to generate massive clients. In the last 4 years, I have filled my training events doing webinars. What question you did raise for me was maybe I am not charging enough for my training. SMILE

    Thanks for getting me to really think about what is effective in my business.


    • Sabrina — thanks for adorning this post with your presence!

      And you’re right …
      You need to take a long, hard look at your pricing.

      No matter the economic climate …

      Charge what you’re worth!!

      Glad you knocked on my door today — come back again soon.

  • Hi Melanie,

    You know my thoughts on this! Really delighted that I made you realise that freebies aren’t necessary – the way I see it is my posts, my videos, my tweets, and newsletter updates are all given away for free – surely that’s enough?

    Keep rocking!

    • BINGO!!

      You’re spot on, Ameena, and I’m grateful to God for landing on your blog recently. 🙂

      In my estimation, this is the ultimate GOLDEN nugget …

      ” … my posts, my videos, my tweets, and newsletter updates are all given away for free – surely that’s enough?”

      Yes …
      That’s more than enough. 😉

      Many thanks for chiming in here — You Rock!

  • Freebies work for me. One way to tell if you are attracting buyers is by attaching the OTO (one-time-offer) to your freebie. If they grab the freebie and the paid OTO, you got a buyer. Imagine that!

    • Love the way that brain of yours works, Martha!

      And your method of “testing” to see if you’ve got a buyer on your list or not is perfect. The OTO should do the trick.

      Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • I believe it depends on the ‘freebie’….if it is something that is going to introduce your audience to what they can expect from you, then I say an initial freebie is warranted. But if you just slap up a 5 page report that really doesn’t offer value to your new visitor, then for sure they won’t get past your first autoresponder email!

    I have been doing really well with my ‘freebie’ on my site (upper right corner). I recently added a tab to my fan page with the same Free ebook — and my Fans increased by 22 within 3 days. I had 7 people sign up for the ebook and one fan signed up and PAID for a one hour session.

    I also think ‘freebies’ are a great intro to a product launch. I learned that little tid bit from Connie Green. Make it all about the free info you are going to share that people are saying where do I sign up, along with saying it is a ‘thank you’ gift for signing up or purchasing my XYZ product.

    So you are right Melanie – it can be good and it can be bad. It goes back to always testing your market to see what happens. And then test again!! lol

    This is a really good topic and discussion and was glad that it caught my eye!!

    • Thanks, Lynn, for sharing your thoughts!

      ” … it can be good and it can be bad. It goes back to always testing your market to see what happens. And then test again!!”

      You just said a BIG mouthful.

      Good point …
      “I also think ‘freebies’ are a great intro to a product launch.” (As long as you have a list of “buyers” … and NOT a list of freebie seekers) 😉

  • Hi Melanie,

    This is an interesting post –

    Particularly since anyone who is building a list is giving away something free –

    I think freebies are one of the quickest and best ways for newbies to build their list quickly – I’ll always be an advocate for “giving away something for free.”

    Having said that, you’re right – many people you will get on your list will be just a freebie seeker and never buy anything from you – oh well –

    Newbies need people on a list to get in the habit of mailing to – for practice if anything.

    Then of course once they create a product, they’ll start a new buyers list, or two, or three!

    Great post!

    • Hey Christine!

      Interesting point you’re making …

      Newbies needing list building “practice” and then creating new “buyers” lists down the line.

      We always hear, “The money is in your list”, right?

      It’s true!

      But the key is “how” you’re building your list. Believe it or not, there are effective ways to grow your list without using freebies.

      Thanks for swinging by!

      • But almost everywhere I go; everyone is using it… even If I subscribe because I like their blog and want to keep up with the updates; I get an email saying that I can download the free ebook! People just need to start believing in their content and their blogs. Things and inbox’s shall be more sorted out that way!

        • Thanks for furthering the conversation, Hajra.

          If someone really enjoys your posts and then opts in to receive updates via email …

          First of all, that’s a very positive sign!

          Secondly, I think it’s a nice gesture to include a freebie on your “thank you for subscribing” page. As a matter of fact, I think that’s one of the most appropriate places to offer your new readers a complimentary gift — short report, tip sheet, recorded webinar, etc.

  • Hello Melanie,

    I believe in freebies. Maybe that should be a song? Letting people get a taste of who you are is part of drip marketing, and I love it. I wouldn’t give it all away, but I am more than happy to share.

    People buy from people they like, know and trust.
    If they never buy then, they are not my clients, and that is fine too.

    • Hi Jennifer — nice to meet you.

      Freebies can be both good and bad.
      It all depends on the type of audience you’re attracting (an issue that could encompass an entire post!)

      Being happy to share is great … just be careful your prospects don’t come to expect FAR MORE “sharing” than “promoting”. If you offer something for sale and people start opting out of your list, that’s a big clue as to their mindset.

      “If they never buy then, they are not my clients, and that is fine too.”

      I guess it all boils down to how many “non-spending” clients you want to share your expertise with and build a relationship with. It’s definitely a personal choice.

      If you’re okay with having 100’s of people on your list that never intend to become a client or customer … will never spend a dime with you … then my only question is …

      What’s your intention for building a list?

      Thanks for joining the conversation!

  • Hi Melanie, I just started building my email list this month (I know can you believe it), but I don’t offer a freebie. First of all I don’t have one. My whole blog is free not to mention my YouTube channel and my podcasts, so if you want another freebie, can’t help ya! LOL
    All jokes aside, I have tons of freebies (mostly ebooks) that I never even look at so what’s the point? I’m scratching my head to figure out what I can do for my subscribers that would be really unique, but I won’t use it as bait to get more opt-ins.

    • Now you’re talkin’ turkey, Ileane!

      I LOVE this …

      “My whole blog is free not to mention my YouTube channel and my podcasts, so if you want another freebie, can’t help ya! ”

      My sentiments, exactly. 😉

      The word, “bait’, is a good one to use in regards to this topic. When you know your stuff and you consistently offer your target audience valuable content …

      There’s no need to bait them. They should already be hooked. 🙂

      Thanks for dropping in!

      • Ileane, loving your comment girl! You and Mel both have really schooled me with this one! 🙂


        • Isn’t Ileane a sweetheart, Kesha? And she’s one smart cookie, too. (The two of you must be related) 😉

          Ileane’s commentary nailed it to the wall and sealed the door shut! 🙂

  • Hi Mel
    “Not cool. You’re in business — not the “giveaway” business.”
    Agree totally.

    There is also the point that if something is cheap, it appeals to the cheap end of the market.
    If something is expensive, it appeals to the luxury end of the market.
    QED if something is free….

    Certainly applies to ladies perfume.. and possibly to gentlemen’s perfume, but best not go there.

    As regards my own thoughts on monetary value:
    Many years ago I embarked on a strict regime of abstinence and cold showers, which eventually lifted me onto a plane where money and possessions no longer held any attraction.

    I’m still working on women and drink.

    • Hi Keith

      You’re speedy! Just pinned up this post moments ago. Thanks for sharing your insights.

      You’re spot on with this …

      ” … if something is cheap, it appeals to the cheap end of the market.
      If something is expensive, it appeals to the luxury end of the market.”

      There’s nothing wrong with being an informed consumer and looking for the best deals — it’s almost foolish not to shop around for a bargain in today’s economy. Promoting a special discount once in a while is good business practice.

      But giving away the goods? Doesn’t work!

      “I’m still working on women and drink.” LOL! I’m NO help to you there. 😉