This is a guest post written by Braden Drake, Founder of Creativepreneur Consulting.
My business is starting to take off, and, in part, this is due to my digital freebies. I’m a lawyer, and most of my business has stemmed from people I met via social media. When I tell my other lawyer friends that my primary business development tools are Instagram and email marketing with freebies, they look at me like I’m crazy.
Most attorneys, from my experience, hire a web developer to build a website with great SEO. Then, they pay a copywriter and marketer for regular blogs and paid advertising. That’s where they stop. I took a different approach, and it’s working. Keep reading to learn why and how I use digital freebies to make more money—and how you can too.
But First, Sales
Today’s modern marketing game is all about authenticity and transparency. Marketers often refer to the “know, like, and trust factor.” Clients want to work with people they know, like, and trust. How much does a billboard and print ad make someone know, like, and trust you? Likely, not much.
It’s the time intensive stuff that creates relationships. This is great news if you’re starting out with a low budget. Relationship-based marketing, in my experience, is the most effective and—it’s free.
How often have you gone to a networking event and collected a dozen business cards that eventually went to the trash? It’s the professionals that you see and talk to on a regular basis that become the best referral partners. Why? Because we know these people, and if we’re sending them business, we like them and trust them.
This seems obvious, but it wasn’t my first instinct. When I started my law firm, I thought that I could meet people once, give them my business card, and expect to get a phone call when they needed an attorney. Not so much.
Luckily, I have great small business friends who talked me into getting Instagram early on in my business—that was a little more than one year ago. It wasn’t until I started connecting with people on a regular basis that the requests for services started to roll in.
Have you ever heard of the rule of seven contacts? The premise is that, in sales, after you have seven contacts with a person, they’re more likely to buy from you. It’s a good rule of thumb to follow, but I think that everyone requires a different number of contacts before they’re ready to buy or before they’re a great referral source.
As such, I view a like or comment on Instagram like as a micro-contact. Once someone is regularly engaging with your content, you’re getting contacts every day and building relationships, you’re strengthening your know, like, and trust factors.
You may be thinking, What does this all have to do with digital freebies? In a word: Everything.
Providing great, free content that answers the burning questions of your ideal customer or client increases your trust factor. The key is connecting your digital freebie to an email list; once you get the person’s email, they become a member of your “warm audience.” This is someone who already expressed interest in your product or service.
You then email your list on a regular basis, creating more touches or contacts. As you tell them about yourself and provide more helpful information, the more they’re going to like and trust you. Eventually, if you play your cards right, that member of your “warm audience” may even become a fan and an advocate for your brand.
Keep Reading: 10 Creative Instagram Tools to Polish Your Posts
How to Create Your Digital Freebies
Since amping up my email list efforts in this way, I’ve seen an almost immediate, correlative increase in clients and revenue. I could spend more time theorizing on why this happened, but instead, I think I’ll give you some more concrete tips on what I’m doing and what you can do also.
I believe in full transparency, so I’m going to give you some of my personal statistics. I’m pretty new to this whole content marketing and freebie thing, so I’m not an expert, but I can give insights on what’s working for me.
I created my email list at the start of my business, but I didn’t really use it. Up until two months ago, I had 12 people on my list. In about six weeks, my email list has grown to about 150. In the online marketing world, 150 is considered a very small list, but I think about it this way:
I have 150, unique, human people with whom I can communicate with about my business on a weekly basis. So awesome! My goal is to grow my email list to 500 by the end of 2018, so that requires 100 new subscribers per month. I’m primarily going to do this by using the processes noted in the remainder of this blog.
First of all, if you want people other than mom to get on your list, you have to give them a great reason to sign-up. This is done through freebies. You can offer free webinars, audio files, spreadsheets—whatever your potential clients or customers would find more valuable—but the most common option is a simple digital document of some kind.
Right now, I have five freebies. Many of these freebies were an amalgamation of resources I had already written. I kind of Frankensteined them all together in one week before I launched my new website.
More: Frankenstein Your Content Together with Repurposing—find out how in Jessica’s Skillshare course!
One is a small business tax deduction guide for creatives. Another is a sales tax guide for creatives. You can check out both here. I have a download that provides seven payment provisions to plug into your client contract. The last two downloads are guides on independent contractor law and then trademark and copyright, and you can subscribe to get those two business guides here.
I tend to overthink things, so don’t feel like you need to have five freebies. As you go through the creation process, start with one—here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Figure out What Your Digital Freebie Will Be
It’s perfectly fine to start with one freebie or core lead magnet. To determine what type of freebie is best, survey your audience. Use a mix of phone calls, Instagram story questions, Facebook polls, and whatever other methods you can think of to survey your audience.
Editor’s note: If you already have blog content, check your analytics—what posts are already doing well with your audience? Use that as a clue to what topic would be best for your potential clients or customers.
I got the idea for one freebie when I was tagged by two different Facebook groups regarding questions on new independent contractor law. I was going to write a blog, but thought, “if a lot of people want this info, I should go all out and create an opt-in.”
Think about the questions you get asked all the time. Those would also likely be the basis for a great freebie. You can grow your list and save yourself time by sending people to that resource the next time you get the question. That shows a lot of value and more importantly, trust. Someone asks you a question and you have more than an answer; you have a whole guide already created.
Keep Reading: How to Do Audience Research and Analysis for Your Blog
Step 2: Link to It In Your Blog Posts
Once you have your freebie, go back and link to it in any relevant blog posts. For example, if I had a post on vehicle mileage deductions I’d go back to edit it and say something like, “If you want details on every deduction available to you, download my small biz tax deduction guide.” If you’ve already written related content, optimize it with your new freebie.
Step 3: Write a New Blog Post
Be sure to write a new blog post to promote your new freebie as well. It can just be an intro to your freebie or a post on a related topic that can be supplemented by your freebie.
For example, a friend of mine created an email opt-in that was a quiz to help you find your brand personality. She could write a blog post talking about the importance of a strong brand and include a prompt at the end like, “If don’t know where to start, take my quiz to determine your brand personality. From there, I’ll give you tips on brand voice and image to go with your custom results.”
Step 4: Create a Pop-Up
Create a pop-up on your website to promote your freebie as well. I used to hate pop ups on websites. Actually, I still do, but I put one on my website just last week. I can trace 15 new email subscribers to the pop-up. I also have it set-up to pop-up the first time someone visits my site, so it’s offering value without being annoying.
Step 5: Promote It On Social
There are many ways to promote a freebie. I post about a freebie twice each week on Instagram. Initially, that sounded like a lot. However, have you heard people say that, on average, only about 5 percent of your audience sees your post?
I find this to be pretty true, so I talk about my freebies often. You can also promote your freebies on Pinterest. I’m new to the Pinterest game, but was convinced to join after hearing some crazy stats. Check out some of those statistics at MarTech, including one that says Pinterest is the second largest driver of traffic from social media sites, Facebook comes in first.
Keep Reading: 10 Ways to Promote Your New Blog Post
Step 6: Promote it Directly
I’m in several Facebook groups. If someone has a question that my freebie can answer, I tell them to download it. I also speak to many groups on small biz law and tax. I always tell those audiences about my freebies.
How Digital Freebies = More Money
As I said earlier, I’ve seen an uptick in clients since using my freebies to grow my email list. I do this by putting a soft sell in each of my emails. Here’s how it works: typically, when someone gets a freebie they will get a welcome email. Then, a week later they get an email providing additional, useful information. At the end of that email, it may say something like “If you still have questions, feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to schedule a one-on-one consultation.”
It’s important to keep strategy in mind and be very deliberate with your opt-ins. My goal is to have a killer tax season. Therefore, I want to grow my email list as much as I can this fall with potential clients and people who need tax help.
During tax season, I offer tiers of service. I have “DIY Tax Parties” where I help walk small groups of people through their tax returns. Tickets are only $35. Alternatively, I do full-service tax preparation services.
Right now, I’m using my email list and digital freebies to give great tax tips and grow my “like, know, and trust factor.” By tax season, the hope is that my subscribers will be happy and eager to hear about how I can help them file their tax returns. Ideally, you’ll also have a product or service before you create a freebie, so the freebie ultimately leads them to that product or service.
Use these tips to make more money and grow your audience—regardless of your industry. If I can get people engaged on topics as boring (to most) as contracts and taxes, you can totally do it too.