How does Instafreebie work? (And how to make it work for YOU)

So, what is Instafreebie?

Instafreebie (here) is a site that gives e-books away free to anyone who wants them. That sounds nice for readers, but not great for authors . . . except that the giveaway comes with a sweet little wrinkle.

Because, in order to collect their free ebook, readers have to give the author their email address.

Here, for example, is what an Instafreebie giveaway page looks like. There’s a book cover. A “come and get it” headline. And a really easy sign-up form.

instafreebie-page(Just click the image to go straight to the page itself.)

So actually, Instafreebie isn’t really a way of giving away books – it’s a way to give away books in exchange for an email address.

And since presumably no one downloads a British-set crime novel (like my one above) unless they are actually interested in reading British-set crime novels, the email addresses that you can hope to collect are from the exact reader group you are seeking to target.

Expert tip: When you set up your giveaway page, you’ll be asked whether you want to force readers to sign up to your email list, or whether you’re OK making it optional. You’ll get more readers overall if you make it optional – but you’ll get fewer email addresses. So you DO want to require people to give you that email address. It’s what you’re here to do.


How does anyone find your giveaway page?

People will come to your giveaway page in one of two ways.

  1. You’ll have directed them there, via your blog, your social media activity, and all the rest
  2. Instafreebie will highlight new and interesting giveaways using its own very considerable resources (it’s had millions of downloads from its site already – and the firm only started in 2014.)

And who does Instafreebie choose to highlight? Answer: it will choose those authors who are most active in promoting their work. So the more you do, the more they’ll do for you. It’s win-win.

Expert tip: if you’re active on social media, use @instafreebie or #Instafreebie in your Tweets. And, if you’re doing other good things, just drop them a short summary email so they can see what you’re up to. Don’t let your good work go unnoticed. You don’t need to badger them, though. Stay professional, not needy!


Why the book for email exchange is good (even for Lazy Authors)

We started off by asking “How does Instafreebie work?”

How NOT to use your mailing list

How NOT to use your mailing list

And we now know the answer. You and IF between you promote your giveaway page. The reader gets a book. You get an email address.

But what next? You don’t want to spam or abuse the trust of that reader – and you wouldn’t make money even if you did.

So the question is: how do you – honestly and honourably – make money from your ability to make direct contact with that reader?

Well, even if you’re almost totally passive, you might make some money. So let’s say, you do as follows:

  • Reader downloads book from Instafreebie
  • You get their email address
  • You do nothing straight away, but . . .
  • When your next book comes out, you email everyone on your list – including those Instafreebie readers – to say, “my new book is here, come and get it”

That strategy is VERY low effort, but it can still be rewarding in three ways:

  1. Your IF readers may love the free book and go out and seek your other work on Amazon
  2. Your IF readers may buy your new book when you come to launch it
  3. The added weight of those IF readers will help boost your salesrank on launch, and that higher salesrank will mean higher overall visibility on Amazon, which means more eyeballs looking at your book, which means higher sales.

So that’s how IF can work for you, even if you’re very lazy and disorganised. And, OK, you’re lazy like me, but you don’t have to be disorganised, right? So let’s look at a more active strategy.

Expert tip: Read the next section. Do what it tells you!


Why the book for email exchange is brilliant (for Lazy But Cunning authors)

The trouble with the Lazy Strategy is simple.

The Lazy but Cunning Strategy running at full blast.

The Lazy but Cunning Strategy running at full blast.

People float around the internet all the time. They click buttons, collect free stuff, add themselves to random mailing lists.

Which is fine. But where’s the bond? The relationship? The loyalty?

Answer: it’s probably not there. People will literally forget where they got the book and will quite likely forget your name as well.

Easy come, easy go. That’s the problem you have to overcome.

So don’t just use Instafreebie to give away your books. Use your mailing list to cement the bond. You want to turn a user/download experience into a proper reader/author one.

So how do you do that?

And how do you do it easily? (Because, though we’re cunning, we do like an easy life.)

OK. So we replace our Lazy Strategy above with the following Cunning Strategy:

  • Reader downloads book from Instafreebie
  • You get their email address, and . . .
  • Immediately, send out an email welcoming that reader. Say, ‘You just downloaded a book from Instafreebie. I’m so happy that you did. Here’s a little bit of blurb to tell you about the book. I really hope you enjoy it. Oh, and watch out for another email from me tomorrow, because I’ve got another free gift for you, and you’re going to love it.’
  • Then, the next day, you send out an email with another freebie – it doesn’t have to be more than a short story – and you say, ‘Here’s your next free gift. And here’s a little bit of text about me, the author. Oh, and I’ve got one more gift for you, so keep watching that inbox.’
  • Then, a little bit later (I leave it two days), you send an email which says, ‘Look, buddy, you’ve had two freebies from me. I hope you loved them. Now here is a free chunk of a full length novel, #1 in the series. If you read that chunk and enjoy it, it’s available to buy on Amazon.’ [And the book should be available at an attractive price, probably no more than $2.99 for that first book.]

The beauty of this approach is multi-dimensional:

  1. It’s good for cunning but lazy authors: You automate those emails via an ‘Autoresponder’ on your email service. If you use Mailchimp, then just click the “Automation” tab, and set up a new workflow. It’s pretty straightforward – I’m hardly Mr Tech, and I find it easy.
  2. We build that bond. We turn that here-today-gone-tomorrow user/download relationship into the start of a true reader/author one
  3. We actually put the book we want them to buy into their hands. If they read a third of that full-length novel and love it, they’re not going to resent the three bucks that enables them to complete the journey. And if they get that far – well, hell, you’d expect that reader to be a great prospect for the rest of the series too. And then of course,
  4. You get committed readers standing by to support your next launch. The advantages of the mailing list driven launch are still available, as before – only with this strategy, you should expect better conversion rates, because you’ve done so much more to nurture your bond with the reader.

Expert tip: Want to see the Cunning Strategy in action? Just get yourself a copy of The Night Beat and read the emails that come your way. It’s a beautiful technique and the whole thing took me just a morning to set up.


How to get even more from Instafreebie: the Cunning-but-Social Strategy in action

So far, so good.

But so far, our strategy has been quite solitary. We haven’t teamed up with anyone. We haven’t developed any real synergies from joint action.

So, in fact, we’re going to ditch the Cunning-but-Solo strategy in favour of the Cunning-but-Social one. The idea here is that you team up with a group of authors in your genre to co-promote a whole slate of books. Readers will home in on the ones that best fit their particular taste (so your readers will be well-targeted) and because they may donwload several books from the range on offer, you’ll also increase your downloads well beyond what you could achieve for yourself.

Here is one example of a social giveaway, delivered via Instafreebie:

Instafreebie graphicExpert tip: Click the image to see the actual webpage in action. Each of those book covers links through to an IF giveaway page . . . and in my opinion, the book on the far right of the second row looks very interesting indeed. You might want to get hold of that.

The other reason why social giveaways work so well is that Instafreebie itself loves them. It’ll heavily promote those group giveaways, because they offer to much to their own readers . . . and that means that the total traffic to those pages can be absolutely huge. Of course you want to make sure, as before, that IF knows about the giveaway – but if they know about it, and assuming participating authors are reasonably active, the results should be huge.

Expert tip: Don’t know other authors in your genre? Don’t worry. Just search the Instafreebie forums to find a group to join. If your book looks half sensible, they’ll be delighted to have you.


What does Instafreebie cost and is it worth it?

IF currently offers three pricing bands as follows:

IF-pricingYou definitely want to pay the $20 a month here: that’s the plan that integrates all those lovely downloads with your mailing list. If you don’t get those emails, this whole strategy is pretty silly. (Not quite valueless, but c’mon. Twenty bucks a month? C’mon.)

And, unless you writer under a lot of pen names, you probably don’t want to pay the $50.

So, that’s what it costs. Question is: do the results give you twenty bucks’ worth of value?

And, here let me report the experience of JN Chaney, who compares her experience with Facebook advertising with her experience on Instafreebie:

  • My Facebook budget for that ad was $23 per day yielding an average of 49 subscribers per day at an average CPL [Cost per Lead] of $0.51.
  • Instafreebie is $20 per month yielding an average of 84 subscribers per day at a CPL of $.0076! Not even joking. It could have been 129 per day had I figured out that I need to require an email address to download. [See expert tip above – you do need to force readers to give you that email address.]

So is it worth it? Hell, yeah. It’s worth it as long as:

  • your book is good enough to grip and retain readers
  • you have some short freebies to give away
  • your book cover is strong enough to attract interest
  • you are willing to pay $20 a month
  • you have a morning or so to spare, clipping all these parts together.

How Instafreebie works – what to do next

What next? Well, three things.

Number one, hop over to Instafreebie and sign up.

Number two. Create your giveaway page. (A process that’s so spectacularly simple you don’t need me to talk you through it.)

And number three – you could do me a favour and jump over to my group giveaway page here and fill your boots with crime, noir and thriller freebies that you’ll love. That book, The Night Beat, looks unbelievably interesting, by the way.


Instafreebie’s 5 Golden Rules

And we’re never ones to let you leave before we’ve stuffed you to the max with good things. So here’s Ashley Durrer, the Director of Business Development at Instafreebie, with her own 5 golden rules for success. Over to you, Ashley . . .

~~ Ashley Durrer presents ~~
The 5 Golden Rules of Instafreebie

Ashley Durrer, Director of Business Development, Instafreebie.

Ashley Durrer, Director of Business Development, Instafreebie.


(1) Do you already have some fans? Make them your biggest.
I love learning how different authors approach engaging fans. Once you have subscribers, it’s so important to show them how much you value them. Respond to each reader email personally. Think about how you would feel if your friends forgot about you. The same feeling can be applied here. So take advantage of “The Lazy but Cunning Strategy”: Remember your fans, reward them, and make them feel special. In the future, you can surprise them again with short stories, or novellas about one of your characters.

(2) Link Instafreebie to your website or blog.
Link your Instafreebie Author page to your website or blog for a more engaging landing page, where readers can sign up to your mailing list. Now you can share all your active, public giveaways with a single link, including book descriptions, bio, social media, and more with readers. It’s important to us that you are able to communicate with readers.

(3) The Big Secret: Make your giveaway campaign “Shareable”.
The big secret at Instafreebie is that we fully believe in reciprocity. You share and we share. If you check the “shareable” checkbox when making a giveaway campaign, we will connect your campaign with the right readers. The more you connect with, the more we accelerate your work.

(4) Take care of the reader. Relationships matter!
Sometimes readers receive too many emails or requests to buy work. Maybe they receive too many emails in general. A good rule of thumb for emailing readers: maximum of one email a week to readers. These activities will help reduce spam reports and high unsubscribes.

(5) Make unsubscribing easy and focus on readers who stay.
No one likes being tattled on, reported, or blamed for spammy content. We also know that we can’t please everyone in the world. Let’s all do our best, and give everyone the opportunity to easily unsubscribe. If you aren’t a right fit, that’s okay. It’s better to have the right readers instead of more of the wrong readers. You can make it easy for them to move on, and get back to the people who really care about you.


That’s it from Ashley and that’s it from me. But what about you? Have you used Instafreebie? What was your experience? Do you have any tips or advice to share? And would you like to zip over here to get a copy of THE NIGHT BEAT. It looks good, y’know . . .

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