Give Away Free Things to Get Traffic and Sales

Give Away Free Things to Get Traffic and Sales

When I started in internet marketing, that's what we called in back in the olden days, I was all about getting paid. And 5 internet years is equal to about 2 dog years which comes out to about 7 human years. So, I got it right, 5 years ago was the olden days. Now when I hear the term "internet marketing", I do get a creepy vibe, like I just opened my self up for spam and autosurfing sites that were built with 90's design, 8 colors and a table.

And I did fall for that crap for a while. I also tried to sell everything. I wrote an ebook and I would set a price tag. That link was to a book I wrote to be viral. And it still is, five to six years later. I wrote software and made it shareware and sold it. But I gradually caught on.

I write useful software, but not necessarily the best you can find. I had to get a job done. No downloadable software was available or the software that was cost too much. So I wrote my own and then decided that all that work needed a price tag.

The first software I tried to sell was software I wrote to find hot items on Ebay, before Ebay did it themselves or had RSS feeds. I wrote a scraper. It was a bitch too. Ebay switched their pages around every month or so and I would have to update it. At the same time, I had customers who had already purchased the software.

The software would sort the listings by bids whether you searched or browsed. Then it would take the titles of the top bid auctions and analyze keyword density across all of them. I figured most people search title only and those auctions with the top bids also had the most common keywords they used to find the product they were looking for.

But it was clunky. Never being one to waste time on useless "Hello World" exercises, I taught myself to write the code by actually writing the code and reading as I went. There was a lot of things I could have learned.

Eventually I took the product off the market and slowly backed away. Customers are a pain. And if you write software, customers are even a bigger pain. They can break things and find bugs where you never thought. And then, they don't even know how to tell you what they did.

It was a few years before I wrote more software. This time it calculated KEI for keywords and analyzed Adwords competition. And this time it was free.

I had learned something. There are few things that people buy when they are "internet marketers". They buy ebooks. They buy software. They buy advertising. They buy hosting. And the list can continue for a little while. I learned you don't have to sell every one of these things to every person who hit my site.

I learned that if I picked one to give away free, I would have a better shot at selling the other things on the list. And if I was the only one giving away the free thing and everyone else was selling, I would have a lot of people coming for my software, even if it was below par. As long as it did the job. Free has power.

I am currently working on an inventory database in Filemaker. Not just any inventory database. One that does everything for an ecommerce type site. Inventory, invoices, P.O's, sales reports, and a direct connection to a remote osCommerce installation. The closest commercially available software is $6000. I know. I didn't want to write this thing, so I looked for what could be bought. That wasn't even the biggest price tag. That one was closer to $30,000.

These people are really proud of their work and when I am done, I am going to piss them off. I think. That's a lot of money. No, it's more interesting to piss high dollar developers off. I will give it away and if I could find a Mac person will Filemaker Advanced 9, I could even give away a Mac version. It's not done yet, but it's close.

Now I just have to figure out how appreciative a user would be of free software like this and add in some affiliate links. Of course, giving it away should be pretty good link bait to boot. Not crazy link bait, because not everyone wants to own an ecommerce site. But I know those that do wouldn't mind saving a few thousand dollars.

Stephan Miller

Written by

Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

Twitter | Github | LinkedIn