2 Easy Ways To Offer Giveaways On Your Blog

One of my blog-related goals this year was to figure out a simple way to offer readers and/or subscribers a free gift via a system I wouldn’t have to manage directly. I’m happy to report that I found two – one requires an email address, the other offers a free download to all. Either can be used to give away sample chapters, tutorials, freebies of all kinds. I’ll explain how both work in this post.

Add a download link to any website page or post
The simplest way to offer a free giveaway is to add a download link to any website page or post. Drawback: You won’t be building your mailing list. Benefit: More people will probably take you up on the offer. This might be a great way to find new readers: try offering a free short story or interview .pdf. Here’s how:

  • Create a new post, or access the page where you want to add the downloadable file.
  • Upload the .pdf to your media library.
  • Insert the .pdf OR an alternate image into your post or page. Note: you can also create a .jpg image from your .pdf file and link the .pdf to it.
  • Go to the .pdf’s media library upload page. Highlight and copy the file’s URL. If you use an image in your post or page, add a caption that says, “click on the image to download.”
  • Back in your post or page, link the .pdf file’s URL to the verbiage or image you inserted. (Open in a new window!)

Use MailChimp’s opt-in process to offer a free download
My move to MailChimp provided an easy-peasy way to thank each new subscriber with a free download, and best of all I can do this using my free account. If you use MailChimp as your blog’s email subscriber tool (and this is just one more reason why you should) you’re going to love this.

When a subscriber opts-in to receive your blog posts, it’s pretty cool to offer a welcome gift, and it may also serve as an added incentive to subscribe. Like most bulk email vendors, MailChimp doesn’t allow you to send an attachment to any email, but they do let you upload a file to their servers that new subscribers can access and download. All you need to do is create a link to the file in your “final welcome” email, and MailChimp will take care of the rest.

Since my Twitter posts are fairly popular, I’ve opted to gift new subscribers with my Twitter Tip Sheet in. pdf format. I used InDesign to create my tip sheet, but you can use Word and export the document to .pdf.

Note: Per MailChimp: “We will host .pdfs, html documents, word documents, text files, vcards, images, and music files < 10mb.  Avoid .exe or .dmg file types.”

How to ENABLE MailChimp’s final “welcome” email to new subscribers:

  • Access your MailChimp dashboard, go to your Lists page, and click on the List you want.
  • Click on Signup forms in the top menu, then choose the General forms option.
  • In the “Forms and response emails” drop down menu, select the final “welcome” email (last entry under the first heading, “Subscribe”).
  • In the next screen, be sure the box next to “Send a final welcome email” is checked.

Now you’re on the Build It tab and ready to add a link to your gift in your final “welcome” email:

  • Scroll down and click inside the red dashed lines of the sample email template to access the edit tool.
  • Add your text. Highlight a word or phrase and click on the link tool in the menu bar to link your gift file.
  • You’ll be prompted to browse for the file and upload it to the MailChimp servers using this sequence: Insert/Edit link > Choose “File” from the drop-down menu > Click on “Browse for a file” > Click upload > Click Save now.

Test your work
To test the email and verify that your file is downloadable, you must go through the opt-in process yourself – that means subscribe to your blog. You can do this on your website, or use the link to your signup form provided on your MailChimp dashboard (Go to your Forms Page, Click on General Forms, then Click the Share it tab (far right mid-page above editor).

NOW, you need to place a message on your blog announcing your freebie. I use the WordPress “Notification Bar” plugin (scroll to the top of the page to see it), but you can simply add your text to a text widget. Here’s the message that appears at the top of my website: “Subscribe to my blog and get a FREE “Twitter Tips” sheet! Enter your email address here:”

Readers, do you have any suggestions about other options for offering a free giveaway? Please leave a comment and share!

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and never miss my weekly posts! (Your email address will NOT be sold, shared, or rented – that’s a promise.)

18 Responses to 2 Easy Ways To Offer Giveaways On Your Blog

  1. elaine pinkerton coleman August 12, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Amazingly, you once again tuned in on the very area I’m working on e.g. giving away freebies. Just got into using Mail Chimp (thanks to YOU, Twitter mentor for the technically challenged of us). Still benefiting from your happiness essay. Mainly, I would just like to say THANK YOU!

    • Molly Greene August 12, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

      lol! Elaine, please keep in mind that I am also technically challenged, I’m just sharing what I learn as I go along. Thank you so much for your lovely comment!

  2. Anne R. Allen August 12, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    I didn’t know you could do that with MailChimp. Great idea. I just started with them and haven’t learned all the ropes. Fantastic tips.

    • Molly Greene August 12, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

      Yaaay! Anne, I just figured it out last week. We’re learning together!

  3. Bette A. Stevens August 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    THANKS, MOLLY! I’ve shared your great post… Bette

    • Molly Greene August 12, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

      Thank you so much Bette!

  4. Jodi @ Heal Now and Forever August 13, 2013 at 2:51 am #

    Hey, you finally have your name in the tweet! Yay! I just went through a process of updating my opt in and sign in forms. (I have had a free ebook for years, I just wanted to give them some more pizazz.) I saw a great one when someone wrote “best of’s” linking to their best articles and videos on their thank you email to squeeze some extra traffic. So I tried it, too. Mailchimp is hard to navigate these sign in features. First, what you call the top menu is labeled “stats”. Who would look there for sign in forms? I had to chat them to find it. Also, the way each form is labeled does give you clarity of what it is. For example, if you have your own embedded sign in form on your blog, you don’t need the first two. And the final thank you, I think, is excessive. I just put a new embedded sign in form at the end of each blog post, so let’s see if it makes a difference! xo

    • Molly Greene August 13, 2013 at 7:08 am #

      Hey Jodi! The final “welcome” email was the only one MailChimp specifically said could include a link – are you saying we can include a link to download a freebie in an earlier MailChimp confirmation email?

  5. Thad James August 20, 2013 at 7:47 am #

    Thanks for another great article. Offering “freebies” or “bonus material” is a great way to build new readers and loyalty among current readers. There are a lot of email services out there but Mail Chimp is one of the best. I get a fair amount of email newsletters and the ones from Mail Chimp are easy to access and navigate. Regardless, keep those readers happy with more content!!!

    • Molly Greene August 20, 2013 at 8:43 am #

      Hey Thad! I love MailChimp and I agree, it’s an author’s best friend as far as email delivery – and a great way to deliver bonus material, as you said!

  6. Steve November 27, 2013 at 4:37 am #

    I was working on a free ebook giveaway for a customer website and I was looking to integrate it with mailchimp and give a free ebook, though you helped me to get it done easily.. Thanks

    • Molly Greene November 27, 2013 at 8:23 am #

      Thank you, Steve! So happy it helped.

  7. Zafar Iqbal December 7, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    Hi Molly,
    I was in search of some free resources to deliver the free ebooks but as you rightly said without building a list it is useless so I was reluctant to start with the first method that you have mentioned on top. With this post you solved my problem and I already had MailChimp free account so I tried as per your instruction above and with the plugin named ‘MailChimp List Subscribe Form” in the sidebar and it worked like charm. Thanks for sharing. Great help.

  8. Zafar Iqbal December 9, 2013 at 3:30 am #

    Great post. User friendly instruction. I use to wonder but now I know how to use this feature in Mailchimp.
    Thanks for sharing.

  9. Sheana Ochoa January 11, 2014 at 7:36 pm #


    Great article as always:) I have a question. Is it a good or bad idea to run book giveaways both on your site and on Goodreads simultaneously?

    • Molly Greene January 12, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

      Hi Sheana! I’ve never done a Goodreads giveaway but I can’t see why it would be a bad thing to do both at once – but I’m not your best go-to resource for book promotion, as I’m still trying to find my way with that. Good luck!

  10. Raegyn January 26, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    Thanks Molly! I’m a ways from having my first book out there, but am consistently looking for tips to foster awareness, promote and market. This is a great option to look forward to when the time comes!

    • Molly Greene January 26, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

      thanks, Raegyn, and best to you with your book!