Free Reports Exposed!
Elijah James Logan
How often do you see those words as you surf the Internet looking for information? About a bazillion? Everybody seems to be offering a free report about almost any and every subject under the sun now days. The question is, why? Why should anybody go to all of the work, trouble and effort to produce a report that is not going to be sold but be given away for free?
Ah! You see the point in NOT to sell the free report and make a bushel basket full of money from the sales. The entire point of a ‘free report’ is to give people the report in exchange for their names and email addresses. Not that the report isn’t valuable... sometimes a report is and sometimes it’s just a bunch of hooey, but the names and email addresses of those who download these free reports are much more valuable than the report will ever be...even the good ones.
There are exactly two kinds of people who live and work on the Internet. There are those who are marketing gurus and those who are not. The latter number far exceeds the number of the former.
There are a few very, very, VERY savvy marketing gurus out there who know how to put together a ‘free’ report and market it so effectively that it takes on a life of its own and continues to produce the desired results (list building if you haven’t already guessed) for weeks, months or even years after the free report is released.
Free reports are used by many Internet marketers as incentives to encourage people to join a mailing list. That is so common that it has almost become ineffective. These free reports that are offered as incentives to join mailing lists probably contain as much useful information as the kind that are marketed by these marketing geniuses. They just aren’t as effective at producing the desired list building effect.
Let me give you an example:
Mike Filsaime’s “Death of Internet Marketing” is a prime one. “Death of Internet Marketing” was a free report that was launched with a lot of fanfare. Mr. Filsaime PAID $1 for every lead that was produced by his “Death of Internet Marketing”. Yes, that’s what I said...he PAID. Now, if you were an Internet marketer with a list and you received an offer to be paid one dollar for each time a member of your list downloaded a FREE report, wouldn’t you jump on the bandwagon? Of course you would...everybody would...heck, everybody DID!
Now Mike Filsaime has some pretty deep pockets to be sure...we don’t all have those kinds of resources but his strategy was absolutely brilliant. He already had a mailing list of over 300,000 and I wouldn’t even hazard a guess at the number of names and email addresses that are now on his list. Every marketer that had a list that was even remotely interested in the free report sent it out in their newsletters. Don’t even think about the numbers, it’s just too mind boggling.
Actually, Mike Filsaime’s “Death of Internet Marketing” free report contains some very good information. The scare tactics used weren’t very appealing but the information was good. It wasn’t world shaking and it wasn’t anything that was really new. It was a well put together report and it was very well written.
Here is another example:
Rich Schefren’s “Internet Business Manifesto” is another free report that was really well marketed. As a matter of fact, Rich actually marketed the daylights out of his Internet Business Manifesto” And, marketing genius that he is, he later released it in three segments. The last release was called, “Internet Business Manifesto: The Final Chapter”. How is THAT for marketing genius in action?
Rich Schefren’s “Internet Business Manifesto” free report is another example of how to market a free report to gain the maximum desired benefit from it. This report is also well written. It contains plenty of useful information for new Internet marketers, as well as, for some who are well seasoned but there really wasn’t any new, world shaking information in it. Still, it was very effective and the desired result was achieved. He built his list to astounding proportions.
The free report list building technique isn’t limited to Internet marketers. It spills over into brick and mortar marketing as well...or maybe that’s where it started. Who knows? The lines between Internet marketing and Brick and Mortar Marketing have become a bit blurred over the years.
If you don’t believe me, go in search of nothing but ‘free marketing reports’ using your favorite search engine. You’ll find free reports about all kinds of products and services. You will find free reports about marketing beverages, sports, music, B2B marketing and dozens of others. The point of these free reports is the same. The idea is to give valuable (?) information to a potential customer in exchange of his name and address or email address for the purpose of future marketing of products and services to him.
Free reports that are used to build opt-in lists, either of the cyber space or brick and mortar variety, must contain good information. The information does not have to be completely unique but it must be accurate and free reports must be well written... no poor grammar or misspelled words are allowed. The information needs to be presented to readers in a clear way, as well. Good reports whether they are free or paid for, must be helpful to those who read them. If data is included it needs to be fresh.
The whole point of a free report, however, is NOT the report. The report is only a means to and end as demonstrated by the real marketing geniuses of our times. Scare tactics are not very appetizing but they are effective. “The Death of Internet Marketing”? That’s enough to scare an Internet marketer out of 10-years growth...but it worked. The word, “manifesto” produced visions of serial killers but it was effective as well.
How To Write Your Own Free Report In60 Minutes Or Less
Free reports are big now days on the Internet. It’s a bandwagon that many Internet marketers are jumping on simply because it works.
People jump on the “Information Super Highway” that is the Internet because they want and/or need information about all kinds of things. People seek out free reports about subjects that will make them feel better, look better, become more proficient, or solve a problem for them. Reports can take many forms but no matter the form, a report is simply a writing that provides information about a specific subject.
Writing a report doesn’t have to be a time consuming task. A short report can be written in as little as one hour or less provided the writer has access to sufficient information on the subject and since the Internet really is the “Information Super Highway” information on almost any subject is readily available.
First, let’s discuss writing a free report from ‘scratch’.
The first thing that is required for a report is, of course, a topic.
The topic that you choose to write a report on should be one that is directly related to the topic of your website or of your free membership site. The people that you will give your free report to must be interested in getting the information that will be in the report.
Choose a general subject first and then narrow the general subject down to a specific point or two. In order to choose a great topic, you can listen to the members of your own free website or visit blogs and forums that relate to the products and services that you sell.
Once you have settled on a topic for your free report, the next step is to gather information that is related to that topic.
This is a very easily accomplished task. Use your favorite search engine and plug in key words to find information about your topic. Usually the problem is too much information rather than not enough. You are going to have to sift through and consolidate information but if you have narrowed your topic down far enough, it won’t be all that difficult.
The next step is to write an outline for your report.
You need organization and form. An outline supplies both. If you are trying to write a report within one hour, the best thing is to keep your main points to only three. Three well-discussed points are better than a half dozen that are only briefly touched upon. Once you have organized your research and written an outline, it will take you less than half an hour to type up a five or six page report.
The second way to produce a free report in under an hour is to download one that is already written from a PLR (Private Label Rights) site. There are many such sites that are available on the Internet. You will have to be a member of a PLR site to download reports from the site. Memberships in these sites are usually rather inexpensive and they provide you access to a lot of material that is almost ready for you to use.
You will still need to do a lot of rewriting on the reports that you download and if you download articles that you plan to consolidate into a report, you will need to make a good outline of your report so that the information will be presented in a logical sequence.
You can either download a report from a PLR site or several articles that contain the information that you want to include in your free report and combine the articles to make one longer report. All material that is downloaded from PLR sites should have at least some rewrite done before you use it on your own site, anyway.
Rewriting is easily and quickly done. There is even software that will accomplish part of the rewriting task for you but if you use this software, be sure that you carefully read it to check for grammatical errors and to make certain that the finished product actually makes sense.
Yet another way to create a report in an hour or less is to download articles from free content sites and then combine and rewrite the information that is in them. The articles that are on free sites must be rewritten extensively.
The purpose that the authors of those articles had for placing them on sites for free use is to get credit for having written them. These articles can be used as reference but they may not be reproduced word for word.
A word to the wise: Always check the accuracy of statistics or facts that are included in articles downloaded from free sites. You can use the basic ideas of these articles as well as the facts that are contained in them but you must NOT reproduce them without giving credit to the author... that is plagiarism and it is a crime.
Again... consolidating articles into a report requires that you make a good outline before you begin.
There is one more way that you can achieve getting a free report produced in an hour or less but in this case you won’t be the one doing the writing. You can hire yourself a good ghostwriter to write your free report for you. All you will need to do is to provide this ghostwriter with the subject and the material that you wish to have included in the report... not the actual material but the subject matter.
The entire process will take less than one hour of your time. You simply contact a ghostwriter (you can find one at http://www.writingandtranscriptionservices.com). There are many other ghostwriters that are available on the internet who are more than capable of producing any kind of report that you want.
The only thing you have to do after you order a report is, when you receive it, you read it and then you pay the ghostwriter. The report then belongs to you. You can list yourself as the author and do whatever you choose to do with it.
Placing Profit Centers In Your Free Report
Free reports are hot items today among Internet marketers. Most of the very savvy ones have discovered just how valuable a free report can be and how it can serve to help build those all-important opt-in lists. Free reports do help to build opt-in lists, that’s true, but they can serve other purposes as well.
A good free report is something that your average, garden-variety Internet surfer actually seeks out all by himself. You never have to beg people into taking free stuff. When a surfer is looking for information on any given topic, the first thing they usually look for are free reports on the subject. People do pay for information but only after they have gotten the free information first and are looking for more specific and detailed information. One thing that you can absolutely count on, though, is that people will download and read free reports if they are interested in the topic of the report. That’s a given.
So, the next question is how do you get the most mileage out of a free report? After all, that ‘free’ report is only free to the people who download it. It sure isn’t free for you, the marketer. You have spent time, effort and energy writing it yourself or you have paid a ghostwriter to write it for you so you need to get something back, right? Yes, you do need to get something back and that’s what we are going to talk about.
The first, and maybe the most important thing you get, is the name and email address of the person who downloads your free report. That is usually the main object of producing a free report, after all, but you benefits don’t have to stop there. There are other ways to profit.
In a free report, you can strategically place advertisements for your affiliate products or even for your own products. Now... the free report cannot be a blatant advertisement... hat is just not acceptable but that doesn’t mean that you can’t place links to products or services that you will make a profit on, does it?
You do need to use good judgment and possibly some restraint in placing links to products and services that you can profit from. Remember that the people who have downloaded your free report didn’t expect nor want to get yet another advertisement. They intended to get information and information should stay the main focus in your free report.
You can add links to products and services that you make a profit on but only within the context of the information being supplied to the reader. For example: if within your report you are discussing the importance of providing a dog house for a dog, you can include a link to a dog house product that you will make a profit on. What you can’t do is expound on the virtues of the dog house that you will make a profit on. In other words...you can’t advertise it.
Another way that you can make your free report even more valuable to you is to sell advertising space in it to other Internet marketers.
Paid advertising needs to look like paid advertising, however. It should not be disguised to look as though it is a product that you are specifically recommending in your free report. It really isn’t surprising that people expect to see advertisements. It’s true. You really expect to see advertising, don’t you? Others expect to see it as well and it will not aggravate those who download a free report if the advertisements look exactly like what they are...advertisements.
The amount you can charge for advertising space in a free report varies with the report and the size of the circulation it will achieve. A long report can generate a larger advertising charge than a short report. A report that will be downloaded thousands of times can bear a larger advertising charge than one that will only be downloaded a few hundred times.
Advertisements can be shown as sponsorships. Example: “This free report is sponsored by” just above the advertiser’s logo. This kind of advertising is less annoying to a reader and puts the advertiser in a better light than just an advertisement.
Remember, however, to hold your advertisements down to a very reasonable number... even if you list them as sponsorships. Too many advertisements make a free report appear to be nothing more than a cheesy way to slip advertising in disguised as something other than what it is...and people really hate that.
There is even one more way in which you can profit from a free report. You can provide a capture method so that you can collect the names and email addresses of those who have not yet downloaded your free report.
You can give your free report a viral quality.
For example: You can use a quiz in your free report and have the answers posted on your website. Quizzes are by nature viral and those who download your free report will be more likely to pass them along to their friends if there is a quiz included.
Each visitor to your website is a potential customer or, at the very least, a potential member of your opt-in list. Another way to give your free report a viral quality is to include coupons that provide dollars off on a product or service that would be of great value to those who download the report as well as to their friends, family and coworkers. People love coupons!
Each of these techniques to add to your opt-in list or increase your potential for profit from a free report by selling advertising space or strategically placing links to products and services that you profit from or by giving your free report a viral quality is worth your time and effort to investigate and put into action. Free reports are only free to those who download them...they are supposed to make money for you.
Distributing Your Free Reports & Beyond
We all know that no matter how great a product or service is if it isn’t actively marketed nobody is going to make any money. That is just the facts of marketing... all marketing. The old saying, “It pays to advertise” is alive and well in the market place. There are now and there always has been certain constraints placed on advertising and those constraints get more binding everyday.
There are some things that just aren’t done. It is absolutely illegal for example to send bulk marketing emails to people who have not expressly consented to receive them... that one is thanks to the CAN SPAM act of 2003.
But, what if you aren’t selling anything? What if you are giving something (a report) away for free? Do those same advertising constraints still apply?
Well... sort of.
If within your free report, there is even one link to a product or service that you will make a profit on if it is purchased or even one advertisement by another company for a product or service, then many of the same constraints could apply. It would be a fine line and not one that you should be comfortable getting too close to. The fines are stiff as are the penalties for violating the CAN SPAM act.
The fact that a report is free, however, does take some of the constraints off of marketing it. You aren’t selling anything...you are giving something away for free. If you are into marketing at all, you are more than likely already posting to blogs and forums that pertain to the products and services that you sell. These sites usually have strict rules that forbid posters from advertising their wares.
But... if you are giving something away for free, those advertising rules will not apply. You can post a link to a download of your free report and not be accused of posting advertising on most blogs and forum sites. The people who populate these sites are your very best prospective customers...and giving them a free report can’t hurt.
Another way to advertise your free report that would not be allowed for a product that was being sold is to post links to it on such sites as My Space or Yahoo Answers. Since the free report is not a product that is being sold, you are within your rights to post links to it on those sites.
It goes without saying that you should post a link to your free report on your own website of course, but it would also be worth your time to contact other website owners in your particular niche and offer to let them post links to the free report on their websites. You may be pleasantly surprised at how many take you up on the offer.
Reports themselves are usually too long to be placed on article bank sites. There is most often a limit of about 750 words and a report by nature will be longer than that. You can, however, take excerpts from the report, make articles out of them and submit them to article banks with a link to the full report. When you do this, don’t give the main points away, just use them as a tease to encourage people to click on the link and download the full report.
Reports can be submitted to E-Book banks as they are. Content is still king and website owners and E-zine publishers regularly use material that they download from E-Book banks and repositories to fill all of that beautiful empty space on websites and in E-zines.
You can contact marketers who have nice long lists and offer your free report to them directly. List owners always love to be able to offer something of value to their list members that is not only valuable but free as well. Contacting these list owners can’t prove to be a very effective way of distributing your free report to those who you most want to have it.
Do banner exchanges with websites that sell products and services that are related but not identical to the products and services that you sell. Your banner should be a link to your free report and the banner should say “FREE REPORT” and the name of the report.
Place advertisements for your free report in E-zines that have topics related to the subject of your report and the products and services that you sell. Readers might ignore an advertisement for a specific product or service but they very rarely ignore an offer for something for nothing. Advertising in E-zines is one of the most effective and cost effective methods of advertising available. Make use of it.
Now is one free report is good, just think how great a series of free reports could be! Once you have written articles and submitted them, the second and third parts of your report won’t require that effort or your time. You will have already laid the groundwork for subsequent parts of a report. The same thing is true for link exchanges. Those E-zine publishers and those related website owners will be almost required to use subsequent parts of your free report.
Dividing a very long report down to make three shorter reports will give you more bang for your buck as well as for your time. That is precisely what Rich Schefren did with his “Internet Business Manifesto” free report and it worked like a charm!
All of the above methods of distributing your free report are doable. They will all require some time, effort and energy from you but it will be time, effort and energy that has been well spent. Now, if you are fortunate enough to have been born rich, there is one more way that you can distribute your free report.
You can do what Mike Filsaime did with his free report called “Death of Internet Marketing”. He simply paid other marketers for distributing it for him. It has been reported that he paid out over $100,000 dollars in commissions. You can bet your bottom dollar that Mike made that money back in short order and a whole lot more to go with it!