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Giving stuff away for free seems like a no-brainer to get traffic and hopefully conversions. The million dollar question is – what should you give away? I ask this question of small businesses and startups that do not have a significant marketing budget to give away insanely cool prizes like Vacation Stays at a Sandals Resort that would make a big splash.
Here’s one answer: Expertise
You have probably heard that one before and just like everything else it takes time and effort – but that’s precisely why it becomes valuable to others. Want proof? Our in-house Rockstar designer/ developer, Caleb Jacob released a FREE CSS3 Slider download this past Saturday at 2am. He put it out there because he wanted to give back to a community that has taught him a lot since he started on his career path i.e with pure intentions. At the moment (I am writing this post 3 days later), the page has had well over 15,000 unique visitors and over 4,000 tweets. Of course, he is over the moon that his work was appreciated and that it is being passed around. But it also raises some important questions about what he did right.
Here are some things to consider
Pick the right community – You want to release your content to the most passionate community you can find. This may seem obvious until you consider how fragmented the internet really is. In the case of the slider, the community that made most sense was Forrst.com, which is an invitation-only online community for designers and developers. The fact that you need to be invited to join is a pretty good indication that there are passionate and active members in that community. Find your equivalent and you will find a group of people that are actually care about the same things you do.
Design – You know the best reason to make sure you have a great design on whatever you put out there? So that people share. Think about it – would you send your friends something that looked like it was built in the 90’s? Somehow there is an instant loss of credibility, even if the information is really awesome. Even if you don’t have the in-house expertise, you can always use tools like Unbounce to build great looking pages to distribute your content. Caleb used his natural talent and experience to create an uncluttered page, using Calvin and Hobbes pictures at slider content. Seriously, who doesn’t love them!
Make it easy to share – There is nothing like sending your friends or followers something they may find useful – that plays a big part in social sharing. Plus it’s FREE so everybody wins. Don’t forget to include a Google Plus button.
In the end, it doesn’t matter whether you run a company in a boring industry or one with a vibrant community. People love sharing good content that is packaged well –and thanks to Caleb, we got a chance to test out our theories. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas for freebies, check out this great blog post by Mike Essex on SEOMoz – 99 Ways to Build Links By Giving Stuff Away.