Sometime in December, I started experimenting with Instafreebie. If you haven’t heard about this site, it’s an ebook giveaway site where the reader gives up their email address in return for a free book of their choosing.
Authors in groups/forums had been singing Instafreebie’s praises, claiming that they were getting thousands of additional signups to their mailing lists. This got me intrigued, so I decided to investigate myself.
Since I wanted to keep the experiment pure, I opened a Mailchimp account specifically for Instafreebie subscribers. My organic subscribers (via my website/back of book) go to a different provider altogether.
I chose to use Mailchimp for this test because Instafreebie automatically sends subscribers straight to your MC list, and I figured, since it was free up to 2,000 subs, it would be a good way to test it.
I opened three lists in Mailchimp, for three different pen names.
- List 1 has 17 subs from three books I uploaded at the start of Feb (no promo yet).
- List 2 has got over 200 subs from two books. While I haven’t done promo for this list yet, it is due to go out on a cross-author promo for Valentines day, and some author’s have already started to share this page.
- List 3 has gained over 2,000 subs from three books. I’ve done two promo’s so far for this list, each gaining around 1k each promo.
I have two IF promo’s schedule for February – one for List 2 and one for List 3. I probably won’t promo List 1 pen name, so I can compare.
And yeah, I’ve already surpassed the free to 2,000 subs on MC, so now I’m paying. 😉 So much for a free ride.
How do you get subs from IF?
There are a few ways this works.
- Passive. If you don’t do any promo’s, (or only do limited promo’s such as Facebook/Twitter announcements), you’ll pick up a few subs. Mainly because when a reader downloads a book, they’ll get shown more books in that genre that they also might like. They find your books this way. This is how people are finding books from List 1 above.
- IF promo. Sometimes (this hasn’t happened to me) IF will reward seeing your efforts to promote your book and give you some extra love by announcing your book on their website or through their blog. I’ve heard this can garner THOUSANDS of subscribers. To increase your odds of getting a IF promo, you need to get their attention. Every time you promo include the tag #instafreebie. This not only alerts IF that you’re promoting your book, it can also help find readers who search for that specific tag when looking for something to read.
- Author cross promotions. This is what I’ve been doing. Find authors/promos in your genre through Facebook groups, forums, etc. Usually one author will ‘host’ the giveaway and set up a page that lists all the IF books in that promo. There are specific forums and groups just for this. IF has it’s own forum to find other authors, Kboards often has threads with authors running IF promos, or you can search Facebook for IF groups. Type your genre plus instafreebie or promotion etc into Facebook search to find them. Then, once the promo is live (generally a few days to a week) everyone shares with their list and/or social media.
Paid vs Free Author Cross Promo’s
While many cross promo opportunities are free, often you’ll come across IF promo’s that ask author’s to pay to play. Mostly it’s so the host/authors can boost visibility via Facebook ads. I’ve seen hosts asking from amounts from $5 up to $100.
From the two promo’s I did for List 3, one was free and one was $100. The $100 IF promo netted over 1000 subs. While I consider that successful, the free promo also netted around the same number, so be mindful of that.
What is engagement like?
Of course the big question is how engaged are these subscribers. As yet, I have not asked any of the lists to buy anything. That will happen later this month when I release a new book under List 3’s pen name and shoot them off a ‘buy my book’ email.
I did send a newsletter out to List 3 in January offering more free books to which I had a surprisingly great open and clickthrough rate. 70.6% opens, 45.9% clicks.
I’ve also heard promising results from other author’s that Instafreebie readers are highly engaged due to choosing to download books to read (as opposed to entering a competition to win, say, a gift card or something). They also report that IF subs do buy. I’m looking forward to testing that for myself.
Is it expensive?
IF have a free month trial like most services like this, then it’s $20 a month. There’s also a higher plan where you can have pen names, but to be honest, I only use the $20 plan even though I’m using it with three pen names.
You can choose which list they get sent to, so you can separate out names that way with the cheaper plan but it does mean that the names aren’t totally separate through like they would be with the higher plan, since you get one ‘author page’ that lists all your books. Most readers don’t go to this page though, they go to the single book pages, which only list which newsletter they are joining.
I really like it. For now.
I’m under no illusion that it will continue working great forever though. Eventually readers are going to tire of being on multiple author mailing lists, or there will be a point where there is diminishing returns.
But while it’s working, I’m going to keep using it.
P.S. I’ll keep you updated on sell through once I send the launch email to List 3.