Note: Thanks to Angie for her comment requesting clarification about Monday’s post — Using a Free Report to Build Your Blog’s Readership. I started to just answer her in the comments section, but the comments don’t go out to the RSS feeds, so I decided this was important information and perhaps others had the same question so I wrote a new post.
When creating a free report, which is really just a mini-ebook, consider your blog’s audience. Think: Problem – Solution. What problems does your audience have? What information can you give them to solve it?
Here’s a quick list of suggestions just to give you an idea — just plug in your blog’s topic and start brainstorming:
If you blog about Travel — Audience Problem: Getting through Airport Security without a Hitch. Solution: A quick how-to and what-to/what-not-to pack report or list. I actually saw a “how-to-pack-a-suitcase” video on YouTube once. You can use a free video for your gift, it doesn’t have to be a report per se. Try to include some information of value that isn’t easily accessed through a Google search. Make your information “special” so readers will want to trade their email address for it.
If you blog about Health — Audience Problem: It’s a New Year. I have to get healthy, but where do I start? Solution: Because many have lifestyle changes on their minds during the month of January, perhaps you could create a list of easy-to-make changes that aren’t too drastic to make, and therefore increase the success of those who have resolved to live healthier in 2010. Maybe a collection of 10 days of 20-minute healthy meals as a prelude to a cookbook for sale.
If you blog about parenting teenagers — Audience problem: My son or daughter is talking about where to go to college. Now what? Solution: A college-prep for parents report would be very useful. A checklist of what a student will need/not need for their dorm room, or tips for filling out the FAFSA, or even some advice/encouragement for parents who are unsure of their role in their student’s life, now that their baby is perched on the edge of the nest, ready to jump into adulthood. Trust me, an entire book could be written on how to prepare financially, physically, and emotionally for your kids going to college, so your free report could be comprised of a few excerpts from the book’s content.
For me, my audience’s main problem is: I either (a) want to start a blog or (b) I have a blog, and I want my blog to be the best it can possibly be. I want to rule my niche! Solution: The Blogger’s Checklist is a compilation of everything I could think of that a blogger would need to create a beyond-the-basics blog, and I am offering it as a free report. I am working on (and will hopefully soon be finished with!) The Ultimate Guide to Blogging Well, which will provide in-depth details about the items listed in my free report.
The key is to make your report professional and useful. When my readers open The Blogger’s Checklist, I want them to be excited that they’ve received such a quality product for no cost. Then when my eBook is released for sale, they will know they’re going to get an information-packed, useful tool to help them develop a better blog.
The free report is a pre-cursor to the actual for-sale product. Some even offer a portion of the actual product as the free report. For instance, I have a number of friends who are novelists, and some of them offer the first chapter of their new releases in exchange for a reader’s name and email address. This is how they build their email newsletter lists.
I hope this helps explain the free report’s purpose and content.