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Becoming a Teacher-Author Entrepreneur Step 17 - The Lure of Free Stuff!

In step 16, I discussed the importance of having freebies in your store for customers, why they need to be QUALITY free resources, and "Free for Feedback" threads. I also discussed the struggles with feedback - getting any, and how to respond. But there is another type of "Freebie" or two not to be overlooked - the lure of unexpected free stuff. I am talking about raffles, giveaways, and just plain, "here, give this a try" deals. Think about it. What could you do with an extra 100 followers? An extra 500 (no joke!) email address of people who WANT your resources? That's today's focus.

First, The WHY of the Giveaway

This should be an obvious answer. It builds followers and your customer base. Now, we are not talking about doing this for other Teacher-Author Entrepreneurs here, we are talking about the great number of teachers and home school parents and organizations that need our resources! You know, our targeted customer base!

Yes, I hear you. "What? You want me to give things away to the people who I want to BUY things from me?" YES! Think about it. Why did banks give away toasters in the past? Why do fast food chains give away cheap plastic toys? Why does the Chinese restaurant offer a free egg roll with the General Tso's Chicken? Do we NEED any of these? Well, the egg roll, sure, but the cheap plastic stuff? No. They do it because it works. It entices us to purchase other things that we may or may not need or want. The great thing with our niche is this - people actually need what we produce. The challenge is getting them to see that need.

So, do a few giveaways. Not necessarily in large numbers, although that can give huge results, but of significant number to generate optimism and interest.

Now, the WAY of the Giveaway

So, how do you do it? First, select a resource that holds value, that your target audience would appreciate, and that actually makes you money. If people are willing to pay for it, people are willing to participate for it! Set your parameters. How many are you willing to give away? If the number of giveaways is not the issue, how long will the offer be for? Remember, "Today only!" may be taken to mean for the next 24 hours! Your's is a digital marketplace, after all.

These can be done regardless of the sales platform you use. However, Michael De Main of TheWheelEdu and Gregg Williams of AmpedUpLearning both are by far and away the easiest to work with in setting these up. If you are using TpT, you will need to get emails from your customers in order to email them the resource, or tell them exactly when to visit your store to get the product for free. It can be done, but it's not as easy as what Gregg and Michael will both do. I simply email one of them a request for a special code, tell them what the code will be for, give them my start and end times for when the code must be used by, and they take care of it. For instance, visit ELA in Middle School on either of these sites this month, make a purchase, and input the code JUNE2020 at checkout, and you will get $2 (USD) off your ELA in Middle School purchase! Try it! I double dare you!

The Flash-Freebie

So, a real life example of how one of these can work. On June 12th, I took part in the BOOM! Learning (TM) Friday Flash Freebie with our Figurative Language Boom! Cards (TM). I posted a notice about it to our Amped Up Learning Contributors' Group. Gregg asked if he should share it, and I said, without asking who with, "Sure! Just tell them One Day Only!" Gregg thought I meant free through the ELA in Middle School AUL store! Well, we rolled with it. And I am so glad we did! By midnight that night, I had 83 accesses from Boom! Learning directly...and 243 from AUL! Of those 243, 240 were BRAND NEW CUSTOMERS! What was involved? Making sure Gregg was on board, and announcing it on Facebook! It went CRAZY from there!

The Raffle

We then did a raffle, our first since learning how from Cortney Gaynes, for the BOOM! Deck bundle we have. Two teachers received the Bundle, all participants received coupons for $5 off and a coupon code for $2 off the bundle was posted with the winner notification so anyone could purchase these. The codes for $2 and $5 had 36 hour shelf lives, meaning that people had to purchase within 36 hours to get the discount. A few more sales were made.

For the Raffle, we coordinated with Gregg again, and I ran posts (picked up by friends and fellow AUL contributors and re-posted to different groups and pages) on Facebook for 4 days prior to the drawing. To enter, participants had to go to our page on Facebook, and take a 2 question survey.  I then took the names of all the entrants, put them into a randomization app, and presto! There were my winners! I then Facebook messenger-ed them with their codes, and messaged the other participants with theirs. 

The "Hey, Teachers, I Need Your Help" Giveaway

We had already decided on what our next raffle would be - it's live now, in fact. We are raffling our Focus on Grammar - The Bundle of Bell Work for the Year (feel free to enter!). So, to gain a little interest, I took another of Cortney's ideas. I posted on 5 groups a request. I said that I would give the first 10 people to message me on Facebook a set of Focus on Grammar Part 1 - Weeks 1-6 for FREE. I only asked that they let me know what they think of it. Feedback. Where there any problems? Again, I set up a code with Gregg first. I think it took 30 minutes to give the 10 away, and I immediately posted that we were done, but to watch for the raffle. We have already gotten double the entries in 24 hours as we had for the entire first raffle. I also gave people the JUNE2020 code for those who missed the free opportunity, and sold a few of the Part 1 - and a Bundle. 

Why is this a big deal? Last June was Suzanne's and my first June as Teacher-Author Entrepreneurs, and we were only on TpT. June sales generally are sad anyway. June 2019 we made a total of $8. The bundle that we sold, even with the $2 off, QUADRUPLED last years June MONTHLY sales.

Making use of the New Traffic

Now, again, with TpT this is not as easy. TpT does a great job of protecting the buyers' privacy and contact information. However, unless the buyer also opts to follow you, you have no way of reaching out to him or her. It's the same with BOOM! Learning, but VERY different for both The Wheel and AUL. Whenever we make a sale on either of these sites, we are notified, and we receive the customer contact email. Why is this important? I can contact them with updates any time I need to. We will discuss these contact lists and emails in another post.

Final Thoughts for Today

So, if you are wondering how to increase your sales, how to drive customers to your store(s), and how to keep the Crickets of June quiet, try one of the freebies. You might just find IT WORKS. Also, if you would like to know how to increase your profit margin, contact Gregg at gregg@ampeduplearning.com or Michael at michael@thewheeledu.com to see how the personal touch changes things. Tell them Matthew and Suzanne sent you, and you want the good stuff...

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