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Why Nobody Cares about Your Free Product

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Creating a free product to give away is a great technique for getting people on your mailing list so you can actually sell them products in the future. Monetization, FTW. Most commonly, bloggers give away ebooks. I’m sure you’ve seen it on blogs before – sign up and get a free copy of “How to Make your Life Perfect.” Or whatever.

So you’ve created a free product. You signed up for Aweber or another list-managing service. You tweeted and emailed and otherwise promoted your product. Fantastic.

And then, crickets. Sure, a few of your friends signed up to get your ebook, and maybe even one or two readers took a chance and subscribed to your making list. But all in all, no one cares about the free product you gave out.

Why not? After all, it is free. Shouldn’t people be lining up at your door, breaking down the door even, to get a copy? People love free stuff! So why doesn’t anyone care about your product?

  • Your product was pointless for your market.

You didn’t solve a problem or help your readers any way with the product you created. Or, you do solve a problem, but it isn’t right for the experience level of your community. If your ebook is too advanced or too 101-level for your target market, it doesn’t matter how well-written it is.

  • Your title was vague.

I once wrote a free ebook called The Rule of Three: How to Reach Salary Goals as a Freelance Writer. Initially, I simply called the ebook The Rule of Three. While this makes perfect sense if you actually read the ebook, it doesn’t tell the reader much about what they’re getting if they download it. If I could go back and do it over with that ebook, I would name my product something better from the start, but the subtitle does get the job done.

  • The information can be easily found on your website.

If you have the information available and they don’t have to sign up for a mailing list to get it, why would they sign up in the first place? People download a free product because they can’t get it elsewhere online. If you’re just repackaging something easily available on your own site or commonly available on someone else’s site, they’ll pass. It’s too much effort to sign up for the product. You can repurpose content, but if the benefit is that all of the information is collected in one place, then don’t also collect it in one place on a single page of your site.

  • The benefit doesn’t justify the costs.

Your product might be free, but there is a “cost” – signing up for your mailing list. Some people just aren’t interested in getting a billion emails a day from you. If you’re not having luck getting people to download a free product in exchange for a daily newsletter, change the frequency of your emails to weekly or even monthly and make sure they know that unsubscribing is easy.

  • Another similar free ebook is available from someone else.

Before you start working on a project do your research. If another person in your niche is releasing a free ebook – or even a paid ebook or print book, releasing one of your own that covers the same topic isn’t going to be as interesting to the community. You can certainly write your own spin on things, but it’s much harder to launch something so similar.


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