The Free Value-Add Giveaway

This post is about offering something free to visitors who subscribe to your email marketing list.

If you’ve been hanging out on the web for a bit, chances are you’ve visited a website that offers something to download for free. But before you get your thing-y, you must provide your name & email address.

Open For Business

Many people believe that once their website is built, their customers will come. Like putting up a huge banner on a storefront that says, “OPEN FOR BUSINESS.”

Then we sit around, watching our phones, inboxes and wonder… where all my perfect customers?

It gets quiet and stays quiet.

And so we, really me (I’ll cut the crap, cough it up and admit that all the we’s are really me’s) begin re-reading and re-writing web copy, install Google Analytics so we I can see exactly what is not happening down at our my electronic storefront and since we’re I was busy being busy—doing business-related stuff—it felt like work.

Busy work. Not busy-getting-paid work. Sigh.

Now leaving Corporate America, welcome to Oz

This is when it dawned on me that I wasn’t in Experian Kansas any longer.

I wasn’t building huge e-commerce web sites where the audience was captive.

Meaning, most of the bill-paying population needed/wanted their credit report, at some point in their adult lives.

Back in Kansas, people were basically signing on, clicking buy and boom! Transaction. Conversion. Ding Ding! Dollar signs. Like millions of them. And the product itself (at the time) only cost something like $12.95.

How did they do that? Or rather, how do I do that?

Understanding your business

Here’s the thing… before I went running down the path of “how do I do that?,” I really needed to understand the kind of business I had.

Because I’m not selling credit reports here. Neither are you.

Most entrepreneurs are selling something else, but it’s not a widget or gadget that needs to be manufactured and shipped. And it’s often something whose results can’t easily be measured, with analytics and facts.

In terms of what an entrepreneur is selling, there is a before and after. There is something to measure. It’s just not going to easily fall out in black & white on your computer screen by doing a S.W.O.T. analysis.

Knowing what you’re selling as an entrepreneur is super important. What it is, who it’s for, how it helps.

Knowing what you’re selling helps you speak it clearly. And clarity is resonation.

Resonation (with words) is like goose bumps, without the actual goose bumps.

It grabs your attention.

And when you can write this way, you’ll have all the business your heart can hold. I think it’s important to mention the heart here because I believe everyone can learn to write and connect in this authentic way.

Since we all have hearts. 🙂

Understanding what exactly you sell

Sound bite Shaman Isabel Parlett was one of the first people I remember experiencing this level of resonation while reading her web content.

When I discovered her, I had recently slung together the first few words to describe myself & what I offered to the world. I could feel that my message needed polishing & refinement. There was a way to make things clearer, for my clients and for me too!

And Isabel promised to help me find the words to rock the world. And she also helped me understand that the kind of business I had was not like Experian at all.

Entrepreneurs online today sell the realization of a dream. If you are any kind of coach or consultant (or solopreneur), you sell transformation.

Which is not a credit report with a captive audience. Which is why figuring out how to apply what Experian was doing, so I could do it, wasn’t really the best approach.

In order to get your inbox/phone to blow up with requests to be transformed or realize a personal or professional dream, it really takes establishing a few critical things before someone is ready to do that kind of work with you.

Trust. Expertise. A clear definition of what they can expect to get working with you.

And the most frequently overlooked element in the beginning, and a biggie, is learning to clearly identify and write about the transformation-seekers problem(s). What’s stuck for them? And how can you freely give or demonstrate the type of value you can add to their life or business or that helps them realize a dream?

Transformation has a much longer sales cycle. Not visit, click, buy, ka-ching!

Learning this difference was huge for me and my business. And how I wrote everything, from that point forward, was affected.

Helping your customers understand your value offerings

How does an entrepreneur build trust & demonstrate her expertise? With a free value-add giveaway. It’s for helping transformation-seekers or your perfect customers, cross that “transformation services” chasm—that one between Visit and Buy.

It’s for helping your perfect customers get a feeling for the work that you do, in a very low-risk way.

It’s for building your brand and establishing your expertise.

It’s a place for putting their problems or challenges down in writing (so they can see themselves) and for you to help them solve them.

Part of the process when you create a web presence will involve building a marketing list. Your community of perfect customers.

The most common method we see online is to install a widget in your sidebar that captures a name and email address.

And to further the interest in becoming a member of your community, there’s the familiar offer of a free pdf download. A taste before you buy.

I’ve had some great experience with creating lists and offering freebies in this way. At one point, there were up to three free pdf downloads I offered, and nearly everyday, someone downloaded one (or all three).

In essence, if you create your freebie… they will come.

A couple of questions to get you started thinking about creating your own freebie:

  • What is already right under your nose that you take for granted or think is silly or not good enough? I’m flashing a neon sign at it right now. It says “Look Here.”
  • Coaches & consultants are often teachers also. We present our ideas to others & help implement them. If it’s easier to talk/teach, consider offering a teleclass & record it. 60-minutes will do ya. Then transcribe the recording.
  • If you already have a blog, write a blog post series on something specific about your subject of expertise. This is also called a List Post and is one of the best strategies for getting your ebook written, one post at a time. And it’s how my own ebook Web Presence Essentials began.

Is this you?

“I have no idea where to begin with creating my freebie. None!”

“I have a few ideas, but haven’t really finalized them.”

“I’ve got my freebie written and ready to go, I just need help getting it integrated into my web presence & delivered to my community (via my email marketing list).

“I want to understand what tools you used, get help using my own tools so I can begin/finish writing my own ebook.”

Then it sounds like you may be ready for some WordPress & online business consulting with me »

“I want a web presence so I can have a place to put my stuff: freebies, ebooks & otherwise.”

I’d suggest checking out my new ebook & my custom web presencing package »

“My web presence is a mess Mynde. I need your expert help with evaluating everything I’ve been up to and/or how to do it better or shift into a new direction.”

You’re probably ready for a Strategic Website Review » (coming soon!)


The List Post

A list post. It’s just what it sounds like. A blog post with a list in it. Think table of contents. The kind with hyperlinks.

Your table of contents. With a list of blog article topics or a series of posts. Written on a specific topic, within your domain of special knowledge. Your gifts or talent. Whatever you plan on sharing with the world.

When I first created a blog, I was asked to answer one simple question. And do it in the form of a blog post.

It’s one of the top struggles I see women challenged with when they’re getting ready to launch a web presence.

What to write about. Basically, where to start. Where to begin. Because we know so much about what we know.

So here it is, that question to help you focus & pick a place to start.

What are the top three questions you’re asked or answer frequently about what you do?

For me, it looked like this.

What do I do? I’m a web designer. I create web sites.

What are the 3 most important things someone needs to create a web site? Well, you can’t have a website without these three things: 1) a domain name, 2) web hosting & 3) content (words & other stuff to put onto the web pages.)

Blog post #1: What is a domain name & 7 tips for choosing one
Blog post #2: What is web hosting & why do I need it?
Blog post #3: Content Creation

And this was how “3 Essentials for Creating A Website” (or a title something like it) was born. A free PDF download that visitors received when they subscribed to my email list.

After these first three post topics were answered & published, I simply kept adding on to the List Post.

Using my client’s questions during their webification process, I’d choose a topic and write about it.

What did your last client bring forward as their personal challenge or obstacle? How did you help them with it?

One client question or challenge. Answered in written form. Once a week.

dominos: one after anotherOver time, this small series of just 3 posts became this List Post. Which eventually became my ebook Web Presence Essentials.

Well the foundation for it. Once I decided to take it from List Post to ebook, it took on a life of its own.

I became more focused on creating it. And how I’d feel when I got it done. And then, like a band of wild horses, the book literally wrote itself.

I talk about the importance of telling “your A+ story” or feeling into your desired outcome in Chapter 1 (another free download). Seeing things go the way you want them to before doing any work at all. And how this is vital to the creation process because experience has taught me it is the deciding factor for getting launched. Or writing a book. Getting any form of dream-to-reality to manifest.

It worked for me. I’ve seen it work for my clients. It’s how I wrote the ebook every woman should read if she’s thinking about creating an authentic & soulful web presence.

Aweber vs. Feedburner, Reloaded

A couple of weeks ago, I finally installed an Aweber form on my website. I’ve been using Feedburner to deliver my posts by email since I launched msquared in the summer of 2009.

Basically, Feedburner is perfect when you are just starting out. And, it’s free. It helps you start building your own list by offering your web visitors a way to receive your blog posts by email.

But at some point, your biz starts growing, and you’ll want more control of how and when the people on your list receive your posts. You might even want to email them directly, going around your blog, if you will. A more personal approach that I see a lot of other successful bloggers using. Not only do you receive their blog post updates, but you occasionally receive another kind of message (email announcement or newsletter or some special offer) that is never published publicly on their blog. Did ya get all that?

For this type of control, choosing what you’ll say to your subscribers and when it will go out, you’ll need Aweber. And, it’s not free.

I talk about a lot of this in more detail in my original post Aweber vs. Feedburner.

But here’s the big deal. Converting.

At some point, when you do decide to switch over from Feedburner to Aweber, there are a few strategies to consider. And you need to be strategic, because anytime you change services in your business, there is potential for drop-off. Or subscribers just not taking the invitation to join you at your new service digs.

One strategy is to convert to Aweber (create a list and install the web form on your website somewhere) and notify your Feedburner subscribers via blog post. Simply tell everyone what’s up. You are in the middle of transition. PLEASE go sign up again. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, or you’ll miss out. Something like that. You write the post, press publish, cross your fingers and hope that you start to see all your Feedburner subscribers magically begin subscribing to your Aweber list.

The other strategy is export/import. You can actually download an export file of your Feedburner subscribers and then upload the list at Aweber explaining that your subscriber info was obtained in the “fair & decent” way, which is to say, the subscriber confirmed they requested to be on your list. You’ve done this a thousand times yourself, right? The whole, “quick, go look in your inbox now for the confirmation email and click the link.”

But the problem is, Aweber is going to re-confirm your subscriber. It’s their policy. So you’ve got to communicate to your list and say, “I’m switching service providers. You’ll receive an email from Aweber asking you to confirm you’d like to stay on my list.” And then do the same thing from above; cross & hope.

Most business owners report unhappily ever after’s here. And that there is a loss (some would say any loss is significant, it’s your people!) in their total number of subscribers when they make such a conversion. And so the advice is, don’t let your Feedburner list get too big before you decide to convert to Aweber.

Why I converted & the strategy I chose.

I don’t have that many subscribers (yet). More than some, less than others. So it’s a good time for me to consider the switch, if I plan to use one of the two options above. By the way, I do keep track of the total numbers of subscribers I have each month (a tip I got from Charlie Gilkey about measuring Key Performance Indicators in your business).

Ultimately though, I fell in with that group of biz owners who want finer control and the potential of reaching out to my tribe without using a blog post.

And I decided that I wouldn’t stop using Feedburner at all and avoid attrition completely. I designed my Aweber email to look (as close to) Feedburner’s email as possible so that while I’m using both services, the emails will look like they came from the same place. Obviously, I removed from my website, the Feedburner email subscription and replaced it with my Aweber form, preventing any new visitors from subscribing via the old Feedburner email feed.

So now the biggest issue I face is not attrition, but my list receiving duplicate emails. Here’s what happens: when an existing Feedburner subscriber opts-in to my Aweber list, they’ll get both the Feedburner email and my Aweber “look-a-like” email. Ooops! Seriously though, I keep all my peeps and may confuse and/or irritate, at most, a few too (which is the less riskier of my two options.)

So this next part of the post is for the You’s that have subscribed to my blog by email in the past:

Dearest all my Feedburner Subscribers,

Thank you muchly for asking me to come straight to your inbox. I’m honored. And will do my best to help you & your inbox feel expanded and optimystical at least once week.

If you’ve recently opted-in at my website using my Aweber form, you might want to consider unsubscribing from your Feedburner email the next time you receive it. Otherwise, yes, you will be getting two emails from me. And I’d really prefer you stay with Aweber, but don’t want to interrupt you receiving me in your inbox by asking you to opt-in again or pulling the plug quite yet on Feedburner before you do.

I appreciate you hanging out with me on my blog and that you’ve allowed me to come hang out in your inbox.

If you decide not to subscribe using Aweber, that’s ok. You’ll still get my posts by email via Feedburner. But you’ll miss out (ok, no pressure, but it’s true, you will!) on any special communications I might make outside the public platform of my blog.

If you’ve got questions or would just like to pick my brains a bit more to understand it all, please email me.

With loads of gratitude,


So what say you? A better conversion strategy… or just my optimystical perspective? I hope both!

Thanks for reading. And if you have any questions about Feedburner or Aweber and which one is right for you right now in your web business, let’s chat.