One of the biggest complaints that we hear from novice Internet marketers is that they can't compete with others in their niche because they "have no list."
One of the solutions frequently offered is to suggest that they stop whining, and start building a list. Somewhat more productive advice is to suggest that they join one of the free list-building giveaways as a starting point.
Naturally, that brings us to the question of "are free list-building giveaways" worth the trouble?"
Do they work?
Do they produce quality subscribers?
My personal answer is, "It depends."
If you do it the way that 90% of people entering those free giveaways do it, then I think that you're hurting yourself more than you're helping. I DO offer free items in select free giveaways. Just one of my several autoresponder accounts with ProfitAutomation.com is rapidly approaching a verifiable 200,000 subscribers. Many of these subscribers did join my list(s) as a result of free giveaways.
So, why did I answer with "it depends" then?
First of all, you need to realize that contributing a gift during one of these free giveaways is just the first step in a long relationship-building process. Far too many people blow it right from the start. They offer a free "gift" in these events that they'd be insulted if someone offered to them. They violated "Rule #1".
Whatever you offer in one of these free giveaways, or any gift that you offer to your customers for that matter, should be something nice enough that you COULD sell it if you chose to.
Starting a relationship off by offering someone JUNK, as a bribe to get them onto your list, leaves them with a bad first impression of doing business with you. Offering an ANCIENT product that you have resale rights to (along with 10,000 others), or that you purchased on Ebay for 99 cents, is plain short-sighted.
To give you an idea of the quality of gift that I think that you should offer, the most recent one that I contributed was a free ebook entitled, " How To Keep Digital Product Thieves From Robbing You Blind." I wrote this ebook from scratch, consulting with several computer security and website experts in the process, and then GAVE it away as an subscriber bonus. That was an ebook that I researched, wrote, collaborated on, and had some nice graphics designed for... all so that I could give it away.
The second thing to consider is the quality of the giveaway itself.
You need to get involved in events where the organizers cares enough to really monitor the quality of the gifts contributed.
You do not want to be associated with a free list-building giveaway that "feels desperate or amateurish."
You also need to make sure that the organizer of the giveaway REQUIRES joint venture partners (gift contributors) to all promote the event. Ideally, those who are discovered not promoting the event, usually by the fact that they have made NO referrals, should be purged from the database of those eligible to receive subscribers fairly early in the giveaway's timeline.
I've witnessed countless free giveaways where the majority of contributors merely contributed an outdated product and then did absolutely NO promotion. They planned on getting a free ride. A promotion with lot of people doing that can, at best, have only mediocre results.
Participating in free list-building giveaways CAN jump-start your list-building. I know numerous online marketers who've built lists into the thousands... and even tens of thousands with most of their early list members being from free giveaways.
It does work. It can build you a targeted, responsive list if you offer the right gifts, and if you select the right giveaways. If you join the wrong ones, contribute JUNK, and then wait for others to do all of the work, you're in for a big disappointment. In these type of events you do get exactly what you give.
Willie Crawford has been teaching list-building and website traffic generation since late-1996. His ebook, ""How I Boosted My Ezine Sign-Up Rate By 5200 MORE Subscribers Per Month - Virtually Overnight - And You Can Too," considered a classic by many, is available at: