Why and How You Should Give Out an eBook (and more stuff) On Your Blog

How do you market your writing?

Social media? Blog posts? Emails?

Free eBooks and Other Content For Your Subscribers

Photo Credit: adamr / freedigitalphotos.net

Building an email list is the most direct way to market a book or other product.

Having thousands of Twitter followers and Facebook likes is wonderful, but it doesn’t have the direct marketing strength that email marketing provides.

With emails, you connect directly to readers and provide sales content in a form that people actually desire.

93% of people online prefer brand interaction through email (60 Second Marketer) not social media. Yup, most people would rather be sold something through email than Facebook or Twitter. It makes sense too, considering most people typically share fun stuff like photos, quotes and articles via social media.

Wonderful. But how do you turn that email list from zero subscribers to hundreds or thousands?

An email is personal information, so you cannot expect people to fork over that information without providing something of value. What is the easiest way to acquire an email from someone? By offering FREE, exclusive content in exchange for their email.

There are several pieces of content that work great for writers looking to accumulate more emails, and in turn, create loyal followers who might buy something from you in the future.

A short manifesto

I provide this to my subscribers. Since I decided to give out this manifesto, my email list has increased by over 1000 subscribers in just under three months.

Choose a topic you are passionate about and share your opinion on it. Regardless of whether people agree with you or not, it will spark conversation. There are two really cool things about a manifesto – it shouldn’t take long to write and it provides value to readers, while remaining artistic.

A video

I also share my video series on email marketing for writers when people sign up for my list. Another great example of a free video series can be found at socialmediaexaminer.com, where they offer a social marketing video tutorial. As a writer, think about doing an interview, creating a tutorial on something you are knowledgeable in or even an exclusive book trailer. One author once asked me how she could create a video if she wrote children’s arts and crafts books.

I told her to pick one of her favorite crafts and film a step-by-step tutorial. If you are a fiction writer, film an inspirational talk on how you went through your publishing journey or an interview on how you came to write your book. However, the strongest videos always help out the reader. It may not relate directly to your book, but provide a video that highlights some techniques you used to become more successful. Think about your reader first, not just marketing your writing all the time.

A preview

I would typically recommend this as a additional piece, included with another giveaway for beginner authors who don’t currently have a following. Provide a preview of something you plan on selling in the future. If you have a compilation of short stories, poems, a novel or novelette, give people a taste of your writing prowess with a few free chapters.

An email course

One of my favorite email courses for writers can be found for free at Make A Living Writing. Carol has an autoresponder setup through Mailchimp, where once someone signs up for her email list, it will then send out 20 email lessons on weekly intervals.

With writers, there are a wide range of options for setting up an email course, such as a fiction series that sends out every week (similar to a TV sitcom) or a course on your own niche that people might find valuable. The best thing about an autoresponder is that you set it up once and the emails send on their own.

Email updates

The fourth and final giveaway that should always be passed on to subscribers is valuable emails. Newsletters with fun facts, freebies, giveaways and advice are always helpful. You can also send out blog updates whenever you publish something new to your site.

So how do you send out an automated email that sends your subscribers a free giveaway?

Disclaimer: There are several options that you can use to set up a sign-up form and email list. I recommend Mailchimp and do all my tutorials with Mailchimp for several reasons. You can checkout those reasons here, but in short, Mailchimp offers superior customization and it is free until you reach 2000 subscribers, which is nice for writers just getting started.

In order to setup your Mailchimp account, create a form for your blog and manage your list you can view my free video series on email marketing for writers. Once you have that all setup you can move on to the following steps to automate a free giveaway that sends out whenever someone subscribes.

Create something of value

Spend a few days making something that you can give out to other people. Like I covered earlier think about your reader and put together an informational eBook, a preview to your novel or an autoresponder email course. To start out, let’s say you want to include a link to a video, PDF preview, full eBook or manifesto.

Upload your content

Navigate to the backend of your website. For WordPress users this is going to look like this: myexamplewebsite.com/wp-admin. When you get logged into your dashboard, click on the media tab on the left. If you still need to setup your own WordPress blog, checkout how to do so in 10 minutes.

Media Tab


At the top, click “Add New”

Add new button


You can then click “Select Files” in order to find the file you have already created on your computer.

Select Files

Navigate to your file and double-click to upload it onto your website.

Once the file is uploaded you can click on “Edit”

Edit button

On this detailed file page you should highlight the “File URL” and then copy the URL. This URL is where your file is now located. In order to share your file with everyone it must be hosted somewhere online, so people can redirect to it. In short, people cannot see something that is just sitting on your desktop.

File URL

Create your automated email

After that, we are done working in WordPress. You can now navigate to Mailchimp and login to your account.

Click “Lists” on the top of your Mailchimp dashboard.

Mailchimp lists

On the left-hand side, click on the “Design Signup Forms” button and select the list you would like to give something to.

Design Sign Up Forms

On the left side of the page there is a “Forms & Response Emails” drop down field.

Forms and Response Emails

Select the “Confirmation Thank You Page” option.

In order to design all these emails you can checkout my email design video here, but right now we just want to get a link in the email that leads your subscribers to the free content.

The “Confirmation Thank You Page” email is the second to last email that your subscriber will receive. It confirms that they are successfully enrolled and thanks them for enrolling. However, we can change this default text to include a link to your eBook or other giveaway.

Scroll over the body text area in the email and click on the “Edit” button in the upper right hand corner.

Email text Edit Button

You can then type in whatever welcome text you want to provide. (Feel free to use my text above as a starter.)

In order to link your giveaway. Type in your desired text. For example, I have “Click Here To Get Your Free Copy Of The Landlocked Traveling Writer”.

Highlight whatever text you want people to click on.

Highlight the text

Click on the “Link” button at the top of your email editor.

hyperlink button

Then paste in the link that we copied from your WordPress dashboard before. You might have to go back and copy it again if it was overridden.

Paste hyperlink

Click Insert and now you will be able to see a link that will leads to your giveaway. After this, click “Save Now” and “Save and Exit” on the upper right hand side of your Mailchimp screen. Now whoever subscribes to your email list will receive your free giveaway!

Some extra tips

  • You might have noticed that I also include a free video series in my welcome email. Feel free to link as much content as you want. I would try not to go overboard, but if you have an extra video, eBook or old blog post that you want to get more exposure, link them up!
  • If you have a video on Youtube, Vimeo or some other video website, it is already hosted online somewhere, so you can skip over the “Upload your content” section and put a link to the YouTube or Vimeo page.
  • Autoresponders for email courses or a series of automated emails require a paid Mailchimp account and require a little more customization not covered in this tutorial.

Do you have any experience giving out freebies to your subscribers? If not, do you have any questions on why giving out your content can be helpful for selling your work in the future?

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About Joe Warnimont

I am a writer, marketing expert and adventure seeker. I help people write, market their writing, live truthfully and embrace their lives through creativity. You can find me riding my bike around the streets of Chicago. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.


  1. I really like this idea and it’s something I want to move forward with to make my blog even better than it is but I’m struggling with the what I should give my readers? As my blog is primarily concerned with making great gardens with what ever space they have available and or/ growing more fruit and veg in the space they have, should this then be a manifesto, or a guide book or what? That is what I am stuck on. I think maybe it’s easier to apply to blogs that are concerned with fitness, writing, finance or other areas that really can make big impacts quite quickly to people’s lives but gardening? This is the struggle I have at the moment.

    • As a beginning gardener myself, I would download and read a little paper, (call it a free download, or a free eBbook) on “How to get started gardening in a small space” or “How to garden on a budget”. Those are lousy titles, but you get the idea? It would just be a PDF that would encourage me that I COULD be a gardener, even if I’d never succeeded as a gardener before. Then I’d be subscribed to your blog, you’d have my email address and we’d both win! I laugh that you think it’s “easier” for some other field. This is the field you are PASSIONATE enough to blog about. You have a MESSAGE people will find valuable. Go for it!

      • Good question Sophie, and thanks for the response Susan, those are great ideas! I’m not a gardener myself, but as you can see, Susan would be interested in an eBook for getting started in a particular niche of gardening. Like Susan said, I would call it an eBook or guide and pick a small area that you are passionate about that would provide value to someone just getting started with gardening. “Gardening on a budget” or “gardening in small spaces” are great ideas. A book I read in high school comes to mind “$30 Film School”, when I was into making my own movies. It caught my attention because I was a poor high school kid and wanted to quickly learn how to make movies. “Get Started With Gardening With Only $30 or $50 or $100” might get people’s attention. (Not sure how expensive it is to actually garden.)

        A few other topics off the top of my head: gardening indoors, gardening in a dorm room (or apartment) or gardening for the city dweller. Like I said I’m no gardener, but taking your overarching blog theme and narrowing it down to a specific niche makes it more digestible and easier for you to create. Call it a beginner’s guide or eBook and create a short pdf (maybe 1000-10,000 words) and give it away!

        • Thank you so much, both of you. Great ideas. I hadn’t even thought of before now. It is most certainly a passion, but just wasn’t sure how it could be marketed – especially to those non-gardeners. Thanks ever so much, I really appreciate it.

  2. Thanks for following my blog; I really appreciate it!

  3. This is so valuable to me right now! I’m doing your video course on email marketing. This is taking my on-line presence to a new level.

  4. Thanks for finding my blog. I have read one of your posts and know I am an instant follower! Now if I can only find a time management blog to apply all these great ideas, I will be set. Looking forward to more great informative posts!

  5. Enjoyed your article – thanks!
    Where’s you WordPress “like” button? πŸ˜‰

    • Oh, oops!!!!!!! I inserted the wrong paste in my website … I was sitting there wondering why a verse was showing up under my comment. Oops. Sorry about that! Feel free to delete my previous comment!

      I enjoyed your post and was wondering where you WordPress “like” button is … guess I shouldn’t have been distracted!

  6. Hey nice post. Marketing/social networking etc etc is a weak point of mine and this post was really helpful and encouraging~

    Now time to mosey through the rest of your stuff cause I think I saw a line about how your personal life conflicts with your creative writing? Whew- tell me about it!

    Thanks for following my blog by the way πŸ™‚

  7. Great article! Thanks for the information. I also wanted to stop by and say thanks for following my blog! I hope I write interesting articles for you!

  8. I enjoyed reading this great article. Thanks for the information. I also just wanted to stop by and say thank you for following my blog! I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  9. Looks like you’ve got some good stuff going on here! Congrats! Thanks for checking out my blog, Stories on the Way Home. I hope you’ll come back real soon!

  10. Brindley Hallam Dennis says:

    Some really interesting ideas here. BHD

  11. Thank you for following my blog.
    I recommended yours to my students who write a little, but lack some guidance.
    Best regards,
    Gordana πŸ™‚

  12. There’s some great info here, thanks! It’s been rather difficult to find the specifics I’m looking for, but I got most of what I wanted here πŸ™‚

  13. Some great tips here Joe