An increasing number of web and graphic designers are turning to free resources in effort to promote their services and products. In an industry that can be highly competitive any means of standing out and gaining exposure can go a long way. The method of link building using freebies is being used by designers for promoting their services for clients, as well as for promoting their own products, such as WordPress themes and PSD files. In this post we’ll explore this topic by providing some tips for those who would like to try this method for themselves.
The freebie promotional method includes a great deal of flexibility, so it can be used by designers and developers in a number of different ways. As was already mentioned, freebies can be used to gain exposure in attempt to land more client work, create quality links back to your website, or to sell more files and resources. In addition, freebies can be distributed from your existing website or blog, from a website or blog owned by someone else, or you can set up a site specifically for distributing freebies. Utilizing link building with freebies is a great way to promote yourself and showcase your skills in your free giveaways.
Have a Plan
Giving away resources like PSD files, Photoshop brushes, vectors, icons, and textures is a great way to gain some exposure and subtly promote your other products and services, but in order to make it work you’ll need a plan. Do you want to use freebies in effort to land client work, or do you want to use freebies to promote premium resources that other designers can purchase?
You’ll also want to consider whether you want to release the freebies on you own existing website or blog, on sites or blogs own by others, or if you want to establish a site specifically for distributing the freebies. Creating a dedicated site will require the most time and effort and is probably only a good idea if you plan to spend considerable time on freebies going forward or to build up a large collection of free resources.
Whether your ultimate purpose is to find client work or sell premium resources to designers you should consider what freebies to release and how they relate to your products and services.
Focus on Quality Over Quantity
Although freebies aren’t going to directly earn money for you, it’s still in your best interest to invest the time and effort to makes sure the quality is high. Invest time in researching the websites that you are going to target to reach out to for your link building opportunities. Those who download the resources will likely judge the quality of your products and services based on the quality of your freebies, so if the website that is hosting your giveaway is of high quality, they will associated your products and site with that quality as well. If the free resources prove to be useful to them and you have other premium products available they will be more likely to consider making a purchase. If you’re a service provider, high-quality freebies will show potential clients the type of work that you are capable of producing for them.
Consider Using Freebies to Build a List
If you’re giving away resources to designers you may want to consider building a list while you’re at it. The list could be either a separate mailing list that you ask people to subscribe to in return for getting the free resources, or the list could be a subscription for updating people when new free and/or premium resources are available. Either way, the list will allow you to gain more exposure and reach more people on a repeat basis.
Popular Blogs Provide A Great Platform
There are hundreds of thousands of people out there who regularly read and subscribe to design blogs. The leading web and graphic design blogs have a huge reach, and some of them release freebies for their readers. If you have a high-quality resource that could be of use to readers it would provide a tremendous opportunity for exposure. In most cases you’ll get a link back to your own site and you may even get a brief author bio.
While it’s not an easy path to success, the exposure that comes from top design blogs can certainly send some visitors to your site and possibly result in new clients or product sales.
But Don’t Ignore Smaller Sites
Although the leading design blogs do present tremendous opportunities, smaller blogs shouldn’t be ignored. It will be easier to get your resources released at smaller blogs because they won’t have so many offers from other designers, and they still could have a significant and highly-targeted audience. Some smaller blogs have even developed very loyal and active followers, which may result in more downloads or more attention being paid to your freebies. These are great link building opportunities!
Brand Your Preview Images
When link building with freebies, it is a good practice to brand your preview images by using your own logo whenever possible. Most blog readers simply scan content and they may not notice the text that credits you with the freebie, but they’re likely to notice your logo on the image preview. Additionally, many blogs have their content scraped by other sites and if you include the branding on the preview image you will be getting exposure wherever that it is being scraped.
Brand Your File and Folder Names
In addition to branding your preview images it’s a good idea to brand your file and/or folder names. Most designers download a lot of freebies, and while those freebies may stay on their hard drive for a long time they might eventually forget who created them or where they were downloaded. If you include your name or your website’s name in the folder or file names it can serve as a reminder when they use the files.
What’s Your Experience?
If you have any tips from your own experience of using freebies for promotion, please share your thoughts in the comments.