Offering Free eBooks on Your Website: Is It Worth the Hassle? by Jessie Clemence
Let us be honest about the writing life for just a moment. It’s a lot of work. And most of us are squeezing this effort between other kinds of work—jobs that pay the bills and family responsibilities, for example.
Many of us are reluctant to squeeze extra projects into the crannies of time we steal for writing, but the general wisdom of the hour insists that creating free eBooks and other giveaways on our websites is the best way to bring in new readers, or– more importantly– new subscribers to our email lists.
They’re probably not wrong.
Everyone loves to get something for free, especially if that thing is high quality. And if you can find the time to write a free eBook well and then go through the multitude of little technical details required to make it available on your website, it might be perfect for you.
It doesn’t even have to be an entire book. Some writers get great results from something as simple as a Top 10 List, a free printable with a great quote, or directions for a project. If it relates to their website and readers want it, many writers have found huge success by offering something for free.
It is crucial, however, that the freebie be of direct value to the reader. They are far too busy and have an inbox that’s already stuffed to the gills. They aren’t going to bother with this giveaway unless they think, “Yes! This is exactly what will help my life!”
So if you’re considering offering something like this on your site, it’s probably not beneficial to wonder if it’s worth your time. It’s probably more beneficial to ask, “What can I offer that will be extremely helpful to my reader? Why do they come to my site in the first place?”
The answer to that might be an eBook. Or it might be a list of Bible verses for times of grief, a list of books you’ve found helpful, or a month’s worth of devotionals. If you don’t know what would directly benefit your audience, ask them! See what kind of responses you get. Then closely examine your most popular blog posts to see what kind of topics get the most response. This should give you a good start.
You might not come up with a clear answer, though. I didn’t, and I forged ahead anyway with my great ideas. I even paid a wonderful editor to ensure my freebies were the best they could be.
They fell flat. The only people who signed up to get the eBooks were the people who already knew my work. I’m not sorry I wrote them, because I eventually added them to the Kindle Direct Program. I now make a little (teensy-tiny) bit of money from them each month. But I would have fared better if I’d taken more time to determine exactly what a prospective reader would find most beneficial to his or her own life, then worked hard to offer that instead.
What do you think? Have you offered a freebie on your website, and what kind of response did you get?
Jessie Clemence has been writing for seven years and blogging for four. She’s the author of two books: If I Plug My Ears, God Can’t Tell Me What to Do, and There’s a Green Plastic Monkey in My Purse. Through the books and the blog she encourages readers to a living, active faith with her slightly wackadoodle sense of humor and sarcasm. She also shamelessly exaggerates whenever she can, simply because she can’t help herself. You can find her at jessieclemence.com.