Any designer must constantly be marketing themselves and their services for a steady flow of work, but marketing in itself can be time consuming; only taking away from a work day. To combat this issue, we as web professionals must become smart business people as well, which of course comes with smart marketing techniques. The more efficient a marketing strategy, the more work that comes to a designer.
In this post we’re going to discuss just one form of marketing used by web designers: ‘freebie marketing.’ Freebie marketing is when a designer will give away a number of freebies, or works done for free given out to the community, and in return, will gain exposure to clients and paid work. In this post, we’ll discuss the pros and cons, and why it can be a good idea for your business and marketing strategy.
Pro Bono vs. Giving Out Freebies
One (sometimes controversial) marketing method most designers swear by when just starting out is doing pro bono work. Pro bono work is donating one’s talents to a good cause for free, such as setting up a website for a church, with only the ability to host the work in one’s portfolio in return. It can be for a good cause, one can gain experience and a new portfolio piece, and best of all: word of mouth marketing starts to set in.
This is a great method for marketing, and if you’re going to do free work, it might as well have at least those benefits. So what’s the difference in benefits when it comes to this type of work, versus creating free work for not a client, but for the community? There are two drawbacks for sure: to gain popularity, the freebie must be of quality, and therefore will take time to create. Also, where’s the word of mouth marketing?
Giving out freebie work such as icons, WordPress themes, or templates may not generate genuine, highly-effective word of mouth from a client, but it can gain a lot more attention with moderately effective attention from others in the field, heightening your reputation, and spreading your work to more people. Person-to-person word of mouth can only go so far, but putting freebies out on large marketplaces can generate much more traffic.
Do Freebie Marketing the Right Way
Giving out free work to the general community has is deficits, with the biggest one probably being how much time it can take out of a designers work day. However, some of the biggest benefits include a steady marketing strategy (give out something once, it keeps working for you in the future), a higher reputation, and a good heart (it may not be charity work, but you’ll still be adding back to the design community).
However, in order to take advantage of this great marketing method, there are a few things that are essential when going about freebie marketing:
- Always provide quality work. Give 110%, even though you’re doing it for free. Not only is it nice to provide your best work for others, good work spreads fast. You’re brand, name and portfolio link will spread among the Internet faster, helping you be found easier.
- Make your freebie focused around your niche. If you create WordPress themes for a living, don’t send out an icon set. If you make it relevant to what you do for a living, relevant clients and colleagues will find you.
- Get feedback from the community before an official release. The community will be using it, so get their opinions with a small forum post. If it needs improvement, you know where to improve now before wasting your time marketing it like crazy.
- Market it like crazy. Post the release of your new freebie, whether it is a WordPress theme, icon set, script, or PSD template, and post it anywhere you can think of: your blog, social media, forums, etc. Also contact a few bigger blogs to see if it’s of quality for them. Blogs love posting quality freebies because it draws attention to their blog, just as it will draw attention to you.
- Take comments graciously. After releasing your freebie, talk back to the community when you hear compliments, thank you’s, or even criticisms. Get involved in the conversation. Learn for the next freebie release!
Giving away things for free is probably one of the most effective methods of marketing I’ve come across, even though one is working for nothing up front. Work for nothing at first, and the rewards will surely come. Without sustainable marketing strategies, this type of marketing being an example, no web professional can keep up with marketing and work. Discovering ways to let your work speak for you lets you concentrate later on real, paid, and fun work.
Hello, my name is Kayla Knight, and I am a web designer and developer based in Iowa, Usa. I focus on user-centric, beautiful, simple, and functional web design. You can check out my portfolio here: KaylaKnight.com.