Discover more from Michael’s Newsletter
How to Boost Your Newsletter’s Growth With Free E-Book Giveaways
A growth tactic that every single newsletter operator should try
I’m offering a 10% referral bonus (up to $1,000) if you refer someone who needs a ChatGPT app built to All-In Consulting.
Have them mention your name, and I’ll reach out when the deal closes.
So I crossed 4,000 subscribers on this newsletter recently.
And along the way, I discovered a newsletter growth hack involving free product giveaways.
With this tactic, you offer a free gift, usually a PDF or e-book, as an incentive for readers to sign up for your newsletter.
Then you announce on social media that you’re doing a free giveaway and have people like, comment, and/or retweet to participate.
This part is important as other people engaging with the post helps with spreading the word on your giveaway.
For those who comment, DM them with a link to a landing page where they can input their email address in exchange for the download.
For me, I lead them to a Gumroad page to download the item, except I put the 100% discount code in my welcome email at the bottom.
And then if they pasted it in during checkout, they’d get the free download!
I tried this tactic twice, once in March 2023, and once in June 2023.
It generated 201 e-book downloads, with the vast majority of them being net new subscribers.
Furthermore, exactly 100 people commented on both posts on LinkedIn and Twitter collectively, so I know that at least half of the e-book downloads were incremental because of the social media push.
For the rest of the downloads, it was likely people either finding out about it on my Substack landing page, or at the bottom of my Medium/Hashnode articles where I advertise a download if they subscribe like this.
Now that I’ve run this playbook twice, I believe that all newsletter operators should try a free giveaway as a growth tactic.
So in today’s article, I’ll discuss:
how I found about this tactic
example giveaways other newsletters have tried
and advice on how to execute your own giveaway
What Inspired This Newsletter Giveaway
I got this idea back in March when I first saw Michael Houck, founder of Launch House turned full-time newsletter operator, run several successful giveaways on Twitter, all of which followed the same format:
He created an email collection page through Carrd
He compiled a list of bookmarked threads over the years into an Airtable and put it behind the email collection page on Carrd
Then he tweeted about it and asked people to like, comment, follow, AND reshare for the post
And the results were pretty stunning, reaching almost 1m+ impressions across all 3 shares.
You can see one example below.
Seeing his success made me notice just how many other people are running these types of giveaways on social media, including Bradley Jacobs, Alex Xu, and more.
And not only that, they seemed to be running these newsletter giveaways regularly - as often as once a month in some cases!
It didn’t seem too difficult to execute one of these giveaways, so I decided to give it a try myself.
Here’s how I did it in under 1 week.
How I Built My Giveaway
My priority when trying this was launching the giveaway as quickly as possible.
So I repurposed as much of my existing content into a new format so I didn’t have to build anything new.
I eventually settled on offering a free e-book on writing as I had already created a course about Medium as well as written about newsletter growth in several articles before.
I created a Google Doc with some of the most common questions on writing I got, repurposed my scripts from the courses and articles, and exported it as a PDF in two days.
Then I spent one day creating the landing page on Gumroad using Canva to design the images.
The fourth day, I wrote the copy, added the 100% discount code on Gumroad to my welcome email, and made the announcement on social media.
In total, it took me about 1 week from start to finish for my first e-book launch, although the number of people who commented on the thread continued trickling in for the next two weeks.
I now believe that all newsletters should offer their subscribers something for free just to build goodwill and drive growth.
Although there are many different ways of executing a free-giveaway, there are three main principles to keep in mind when you launch yours.
How to Execute on a Free Giveaway
The first principle is to avoid building a new product from scratch.
Instead, I recommend trying to repurpose your past work to shorten the time to launch.
And the good news is that you’re likely sitting on a treasure trove of free giveaway products already.
Do you have any existing documents, PDF’s, templates, slides decks, courses, e-books, etc. that your readers might already find valuable?
Do you have any notes or curated lists you can share?
Can you turn past existing content you’ve created into a separate product?
And if you don’t have any valuable files already, you can always take your existing content and turn it into a new format and distribute that as the giveaway instead.
For example, Alex Xu does this with his 158 page system design guide that is just a list of all his past tweets and posts about System Design.
It’s also what Nicolas Cole does with his free e-book that is repurposed advice from his Twitter, books, and cohort classes.
Your giveaway doesn’t have to be a complicated project, and by not building something from scratch, you can execute on the giveaway launch even faster.
Giveaways are not one-time events
The second principle is that giveaways are not one time events. You can rerun them over and over again.
In fact, in both giveaways I ran, I used the EXACT same post copy, and the same product, and both still drove incremental signups.
The reality is that most people don’t remember content the way you remember it.
Most of your followers likely didn’t even see the giveaway the first time you ran it, as people take breaks and cycle through media platforms.
Even if they did see it, it doesn’t mean they necessarily remember it.
And all of your newest followers since the last giveaway definitely didn’t see it.
So don’t be afraid to continue running the same giveaway every so often to convert new followers you have into email subscribers as well.
It can provide a much needed spike to your newsletter growth.
And if you feel it gets old, you can always reuse the same giveaway template, but sub out the product for another digital product instead.
Where to Advertise it
Lastly, don’t forget to try and advertise these giveaways anywhere you post your content. Some places people often advertise e-books include:
Their author bylines
At the bottom of their articles
On their newsletter landing page
Letting your readers know about this gift may be the last bit you need to tip readers over the edge to subscribing to your newsletter!
E-book tests are so quick and easy to run that every newsletter operator should try to do one.
By focusing on:
not building anything new for your newsletter giveaway
advertising it anywhere you’d normally advertise your newsletter
and running these frequently
the giveaway could make a meaningful difference in your newsletters’ growth.
Whenever you're ready, there are 2 ways I can help you:
“Beginner’s Guide to Medium in 75 minutes” - where I break down my entire writing process and show you how to grow your Medium following.
“How to Be an Engineer Influencer” - where I teach W-2 employees how to diversify their income streams by building an audience on social media.
Connect with me on social media here.