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How to Boost your Income and Popularity by Giving Stuff Away

Posted By Darren Rowse 19th of July 2010 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

A Guest Post by Johnny B Truant.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re blogging to make money, or to express yourself. So why would you ever give something away? If you’re in this as a business, giving stuff away without charging for it seems counterintuitive. If you’re just out there writing for the sake of writing, then what you want are readers… and how is giving stuff away going to get more eyes on your blog?

The answer is that what goes around comes around. What you give comes back to you. What you sow is what you reap, and all of that. It’s not just platitudes. It works.

I was thinking about this because I’m in the middle of a promotion where I’m setting up self-hosted WordPress blogs for free. (In fact, if you want one, click over and go get one.) This isn’t an experiment. It’s the third time I’ve done it. I continue to do it because each time I do, my statistics go way up, my RSS readership grows, my Twitter followers grow, and I meet a bunch of new people who may end up being customers later. And thanks to the fact that I’m an affiliate for website hosting (which my free blog setup folks would have to buy regardless), I make money too.

All of my best tips come down to giving things away.

  • Want to grow your mailing list? Write a great report or e-book — and then instead of charging for it, give it away to people who sign up for your list.
  • Want to reach a new audience? Write a really good blog post, ideally one that is immediately actionable for people who read it. Reveal your best tip or tips in that post. Then, give it to someone else as a guest post rather than running it on your site.
  • Want more referrals? Give a greater percentage of sales to your affiliates. I’m not quite gutsy enough to do this myself, but Dave Navarro told me once publicly that he gave affiliates 100% of the sale price on a certain product and then paid the transaction fees (which would normally come from the sale price) out of his own pocket. He “lost” money on his own product, but built a list in his shopping cart of people who liked his stuff well enough to buy it — a list he could promote to later.
  • Want more goodwill, better Karma, or more raving fans? Then do something for charity. Twice that I know of, Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz.com has rallied her audience to raise money for a cause. The first time, she raised relocation expenses for a female reader who needed to get out of a physically abusive relationship. The second time, she raised over $12,000 for Cambodia — enough to build a school. The benefit to her? Tons and tons and tons of “good feelings” out in the blogosphere about her, which converted casual fans into die-hards.

I could keep going. There are tons of ways for any blogger at any level to increase either business or readership by trying the experiment of temporarily swapping “what can I get out of this?” thinking for “what can I give that people would really want and love?” thinking.

The really cool thing is that if you plan a little in advance, there’s usually a way that you can benefit too. If you’re smart, “giving it away” can get you a lot more than you’re probably getting right now.

Give it a shot. And if you’ve done it, let’s hear how it worked out in the comments!

P.S: If you’re still trying to figure out how to get your start in blogging in order to try this stuff? Well, now’s the time because I think I mentioned I know a guy who’s doing a mutually beneficial free blog setup promotion right now.

Johnny B. Truant blogs at JohnnyBTruant.com and is one of the two guys behind The Charlie and Johnny Jam Sessions.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. So true Johnny, so true!
    Great post! :)

  2. Excellent post Johnny. I love the message. All too often we want to take take take instead of give. And giving it away for FREE is not an easy thing. I do think people appreciate this. It touches people’s hearts and with the economy being the way it is, it touches people’s pocket books as well.

    Karma is the key like you said. I really do feel that what you put into life is what you get out. This is what I needed to read today. Inspiring and uplifting. It really does make you feel good. :)

    Have fun installing 10,000 blogs. lol

  3. I somehow built my business by doing strategic freebies. For two years, while i recovered from that pesky anxiety disorder, I spent my time just helping people. I didn’t give anything away other than my time and skills.

    And now i’m at this crazy weird place where I still don’t know exactly what I do, but I’m earning a full time income. I’m getting referrals and shout outs from the big names and really have a lot of influence online.

    And it still hasn’t sunk in just how being my normal helpful self is actually good for business.

    (erg if I’m one of the first to comment – and am up when theres a new PB post – it must be late. Ack)

  4. It’s a pain writing a report, may be I’m just too lazy, but if there is something that could show us how to create a report that just so easy with clicks of mouse then I believe it will be great.
    I always thought of writing a free report, but sometime, I feel like posting it on my blog, It’s kind the hard for me because I always like to share good stuff rather then they signing in.
    Well, I will try and write again, hopefully my mind don’t put me back to my blog, or else it’s another waste again.

  5. Thanks, JBT! Great insight. Dave is one gutsy guy. Great timing for me.

  6. Thanks for the awesome tips Darren,
    You’re absolutely right. I definitely know that I’m guilty of saving my best posts for my own site haha.

    But you’ve got some awesome points, so I’ll try being less “selfish” lol


  7. Hi Johnny

    Thanks for the post. I have been trying to build my list and your post came in time!

  8. Hey Johny,

    Nice Post man. List building is something that no blogger should miss. You’re really doing awesome work.
    Thanks for sharing this great Post. Great work Johny.


  9. I like what you are saying about Guest posts… I am just venturing into the world of guest posts and this is a great insight… I would love to know more tips about guest posting…

  10. I too hope to do more guest posting once I get a little more free time. You’ve given me some other ideas to ponder . . . thanks for the post!

  11. Wow, giving away 100% of the price to the referer is quite an idea. Never thought about it because it reaaally sounds counterintuitive, but now I come to think of it it’s not that bad. The future return seems much more beneficial.

  12. Hi Johnny,
    I appreciate the fact that with your free self hosting blog set up offer you are helping people but also putting a value on your own service by requiring people to use your affiliate link to the host. To me as Stephen Covey says” that’s Win-Win’ and a great way to do business.

    I offer a free eWorkbook on reducing stress and increasing success for new subscribers and I get great feedback from this idea.

    Continued Success to you,


  13. Hi Johnny – It’s so true that you have to give before you get. The service you’re offering in return for the affiliate commission on the hosting is a smart idea.

    It took me ages to move from blogspot to WordPress ‘cos I had no idea how to set everything up and I bet there’s plenty of potential bloggers in the same position.

  14. This is kind of like the Golden Rule! I like it. It’s so counter-intuitive that most people don’t want to do it, but it really seems like it is beneficial for everyone involved! Great stuff.

  15. It works wonders. This technique can be applied to most business types in some form, and usually succeeds.

  16. I run fun little contests on my blog and give away $2.50 magnets or novelty toys. It’s crazy. Those posts are some of my most popular. Something about bragging because you won keeps people coming back, and it barely costs me the price of a cup of coffee.

  17. A pleasant day to you Johnny!

    Thank you for this informational post on setting up a site, which is for beginners.

    It also remind other experts to simply update themselves to the trend now. :)

    SO i am giving away a free comment to you, too!

    Keep it up,

  18. People absolutely love free stuff and it can definitely turn into a lot of money if you now how to market right

  19. hey Johnny,
    “but i dislike giving away anything for free”. :(

    that was me a year ago. I can totally relate to how prospective your business would be online if you could abolish the selfish attitude of giving away values for free.

    I have come to realize the importance of doing so and just like you, i began to let loose and give out. Of course, freebies in itself have to have a certain level of value in it. Free doesn’t mean giving away non-sense. If so, there is no point in giving out.

    My stats soar and so did my prospect. Readers acknowledge my genuine value and information that I am really here to provide, not hard selling.


  20. Absolutely agree. Giving away something for free can benefit you greatly online.

    Infact the way to build a list is by giving away something of value for free.


  21. Giving more to your readers will boost your popularity. In first stages it is necessary to focus on quality and provide valuable information and stuffs to your readers.
    So to build your identity, then boosting income is easy.

  22. Hi Darren,

    I’ve wrote a post and linked this post…


  23. I’ve often thought about giving stuff away but apart from a free ebook I’ve always been stuck on what else to offer.

  24. So true; it works all the times. Nice tips for the one who is trying to build his list.
    I agree with #Tech Maish, everybody knows that once you’ve provided quality services to someone, it boosts your popularity because this person is going to propagate the information: word of mouth and you win.

  25. I think before we starts to give things away for free, I suppose we need to plan ahead. It’s actually a big step because after all the effort and time, giving things away just like that is a bit worried. Yup, worried things might not turn out what we expected. I think we have to take our chances and be prepared.

  26. This stuff is really counterintuitive – especially at the beginning, when you’re just trying to get your feet under you. But just remember, doing business online is often heavily reliant on trust (my business certainly is) and often it’s a good thing if people really like you. Most of my clients come to me instead of running to search Google simply because they’ve gotten to like me.

    And it’s like Jade says… if you’re helpful and giving, people do tend to end up liking you. And helping YOU down the road.

  27. Firefly sb says: 07/20/2010 at 4:02 am

    I think giving away freebies creates a sense of loyalty and commitment on the part of the receiver. I can see the benefits of this concept.

  28. This rule is golden and works very well with Internet marketing. I often give away scaled down versions of e-books when email marketing in order to get people interested and take it from there. Not only does it generate buzz, traffic and a customer relationship, but it also helps me determine who is really going to be interested in my products I am selling and who is not. This saves time by not marketing to people who are not going to buy.

  29. This rule is golden and works very well with Internet marketing. I often give away scaled down versions of e-books when email marketing in order to get people interested and take it from there. Not only does it generate buzz, traffic and a customer relationship, but it also helps me determine who is really going to be interested in my products I am selling and who is not. This saves time by not marketing to people who are not going to buy.

  30. Giving away something is one of the best ways to grow a list. An ebook is a great idea and so is something like an Amazon gift card. Pretty easy to as well!

  31. Thanks Johnny for your insight. You are right. When we give something, actually we get many things back for our self.

  32. I totally agree!! I have two websites running. One is almost 3 years old and another one is not even 8 months old. However, I started giving SAP Portal themes free on my new site. Within a month I got more than 50 subscribers. I know the number is nothing compared to what you biggies have got, but for me it’s an achievement. So I have tested what Johnny has written here.


  33. I tried giving free sample files ( adobe fireworks png source files ) to my blog each week , there’s some traffic but I hope with my frequent giving, more people will visit my blog =)

  34. Thanks for the great advice. You should always give without the expectation of something in return.

  35. Hey Darren

    This article was really good. I believe this site has really helped me a lot and have enjoyed it.

  36. I’ve been experimenting with prize raffles on my site to boost traffic and sales to my site with great success. One some of my sites I have 1 new raffle once per week. I have a viral script installed. The way to earn raffle tickets is by referring others. I have a default raffle site. Each week I rotate the raffle sponsor. The raffle sponsors are my various websites or even affiliate offers.

  37. I enjoy giving things away, there’s no point charging for all of your e-books, I like to think of freebies or even cheaper things on your sites as a taster to the rest of your products.


  38. This is a great idea. I’ve made enough for a cup of coffee…when that goes up to a few more cups I will do this.

  39. Using an article directory can be an excellent way to push traffic to your site. I realize that writing articles is somewhat tiring, it certainly worth the time in which you spend working.

  40. Yes, everybody wants a quick income in blogging, but sometimes they do not realize by incorporating many of the ads in blogging.

  41. thanks for good post
    I admit I feel has not written a good article on my blog. but never mind I still have to keep learning.

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