Freelancers, Stop with the Freebies

Freelancers, Stop with the Freebies

Let me offer up a scenario:

John decides to go it alone as a freelancer. He writes up some content, puts it on his website, and builds an email list comprising friends and family.

To entice new followers, he offers up a freebie — all you have to do is hand over your email address and he’ll send you an e-book/printout/cheat sheet/something or other for FREE!

Then, once he has your email he can offer you other goodies, like his paid e-course on How to Build an Impressive Email List Using Freebies.


So, John does great, and Jane, impressed by his blogging prowess, follows his lead. She takes his e-course and soon she’s offering her own freebies and selling her own e-course on, you guessed it, How to Launch a Super Successful Blogging Career By Offering Free Stuff.

Shortly after that, Sally follows Jane’s lead. Then, Bill follows Sally’s lead, Kendra follows Bill’s lead, and so on and so forth.

Fast forward to what we have today: An entire industry of freelancers trying to make it big using the freebie/e-course model.

Now, let me say that I fully understand how we got here:

We all want the freedom to be our own boss.

  • We all want to make money doing what we love.

  • Freelance writing — regardless of the form it takes — is a way for many to combine the two.

  • But, freelance writing in and of itself does not always pay the bills.

  • John, Jane, Sally, and others have made a living by offering freebies and e-courses —which they say is easy-peasy — so if I do what they’re doing, I’ll be my own boss, do what I love, and make enough money to pay the bills.

It makes sense.


Readers are Fatigued

If you, like me, are now getting into the freelancing game, you’re going to have to compete with John, Jane, Sally, and every other freelancer out there if your plan is to offer freebies and courses.

And unless what you’re offering is so unique and new to the world that no one could possibly turn it down, odds are you’re not going to get many folks to buy into what you’re selling.


They’ve seen it all before. Hell, they’ve seen it, downloaded it, read it, tossed it, and then received more of it.

There are dozens upon dozens of freelancers out there right this minute offering the same information in slightly different font, and any wannabe freelancer worth her salt is going to be far too busy busting her ass writing and marketing her own work to read yet another e-book.

Worse yet…


Freelancers are Fatigued

I belong to a number of writer’s groups on Facebook and lately, I’ve seen the same question asked again and again:

  • “I need freebie ideas for my lifestyle blog. Any suggestions?”

  • “I run a finance site but have no idea what to offer as a freebie. Help!”

  • “What do you guys offer for freebies? I need to send something out to my Mom Blog followers, but I’m stuck.”

Typically, responses include suggestions on the type of downloadable e-book, e-course, or printout to offer.

But my suggestion? One that I’m sure is going to make every other freelancer recoil in horror?


Just don’t offer a freebie.

Seriously. It’s okay. If you’re maintaining a good site with quality content, your readers will still love you. You don’t have to offer them STUFF. I have dozens of free STUFF from various bloggers/writers/marketers, and I’ve read almost none of it because:

A) I’m too busy working on my own site and articles to read through every e-book sent my way, and

B) There’s a ton of free information already available on the Internet. Some of the best advice I’ve received is on Medium or available in Facebook groups, so I don’t see any need to take a paid course or download more STUFF.

The point is, if you’re entering the freelancing biz, DO NOT STRESS YOURSELF OUT OVER FREEBIES. If you have something you know you want to offer and you’re sure it will have an impact on your followers, great! Do it! I wish you loads of success!

But, if you can’t think of something to offer or the freebies you are offering aren’t really engaging new subscribers, then don’t offer them. Take some time to think it through.

Better yet…


Forge Your Own Path

The one single thing I’ve learned about freelancing is there are no rules in freelancing.

That’s why we all got into this in the first place, right? So we can be our own boss and do the work we want to do?

Well, if you’re only doing what John, Jane, and Sally are telling you to do, then you may as well have a boss. And if you’re forcing yourself to offer STUFF simply because that’s what others have done before you, then you’re not necessarily doing the work you want to do.

So, my freelancing friend, you do you. Break the mold. Let the others offer the freebies and you chart your own course.

I can’t wait to see where it leads!

A version of this post first appeared in The Startup

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