Free as a Biz Strategy

Do you offer any freebies to build your business? I sure do!

I’ve built my business on giving away vast quantities of information–but through that, selling both information and brainpower as an author and speaker, and as a consultant and copywriter. Google loves my sites because of the thousands of articles (about 2/3 written by other people). People on discussion lists hire me because of the quality of free information I provide. I get exposure for my books by strategically giving away copies here and there, and subscribers to my newsletters through participating in launch-bonus programs. I actually got a book contract with a major publisher because I contributed an essay, for free, to one of its authors’ books.

And let’s face it. Even though I do get paid for writing my books, the amount of content I include far outweighs the price, and on a per-hour basis, is not the most bean-counter-effective use of my time. But the books give me credibility in the media…inexpensive gifts of great value that I can use strategically…at least some income stream…tons of “street cred”…something to sell when I speak… and assorted other non-monetary advantages.

The point is to do it strategically. To be totally transparent, I am posting here figuring that at least a few people reading this will pop over to to access some of the free content, sign up for the newsletter, maybe buy a book or two, and consider me when they need marketing consulting or copywriting.

Also, when I give information for free, I often mine material I’ve already created, so the labor factor is low. This article started as a response on a LinkedIn discussion group; now I’ve tweaked and repurposed it as the featured article in this month’s Monthly Frugal Marketing Tips newsletter.

Which doesn’t mean every time I do a giveaway, I’m expecting an immediate return. I think of it as a karmic thing. But it’s been the dominant factor in successfully marketing my business since 1996.

See more great advice in Shel’s award-winning marketing books. Click here to learn about them.

Green and Profitable marketing consultant/columnist Shel Horowitz is the primary author (with Jay Conrad Levinson) of Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet. He is also the Founder of the International Association of Earth-Conscious Marketers.