If you are thinking about starting a blog or online business or are in your first year, you are likely immersed in all things list building. In our little part of the universe that most certainly means creating some irresistible freebies. I’ve got some time-saving tips for you.

Here’s an index of what this blog post will cover below:

Have you created your first successful freebie yet?

I think there are basically two basic types of new online content creator personality types: 1) Those who research a lot (over-research cough*cough*) and then start to cautiously implement and 2) those who just start implementing as soon as possible and correct mistakes later.

I fall into the type #1 category.

So when it came time for me to think about freebies for my new blog, I thoroughly researched strategies, examples, trends and success stories. I purchased (too many) courses. I mulled over and tried all the things until I discovered my passion and sweet spot and matching freebies. I had already done tons of research and connected with my audience naturally before I created my first one – and it was a success.

I know plenty of new bloggers or solopreneurs who fall into the type #2 category. They take just one course and start implementing right away. They make mistakes and fix them as they go along. Fail fast, as they say.

The important thing is to take action.

I excitedly left corporate in 2009 to freelance (writer/journalist) full time. I kept learning and growing and added social media consulting and coaching to my services offerings. I never had a desire to “build a list” or create a freebie as as I started developing a client base naturally from referrals, those who found me online, or people I had met personally through corporate or through low-key in-person networking AKA just showing up at local meet-ups. People would find out about my skills and ask me if I could help them. Super passive way of getting clients lol.

I should have started building a list a long time ago. How many times have you heard this?

If there’s one thing every single one of my mentors has in common, it’s that no matter how successful they are now, every single one of them say they wish they had started building a list sooner.

My friends and followers in social as well as my clients repeatedly asked me if they could sign up to my nonexistent “list” or if I offered any specific services or packages, but I was too busy working for one to three big clients to even think about what I was really passionate about. I also had expertise in several areas and could not pick just one. Can you identify?

Now that I am finally starting my own blog to help other new bloggers or female entrepreneurs, I have created a total of three freebies and I’ve been happy with the results of all three. It gives you confidence to create even just one successful freebie and that’s good because once you do, freebie and content creation in general gets easier.

I don’t think you have to stress over creating your first few freebies at all but I do think you need to take a professional approach and follow some basic, tried-and-true foundational steps, which I’m going to share with you now.

Of course, I’m going to add in my own little twists.

First, my A’s to some of the most common Q’s about freebies:

Q.What is a freebie?

A freebie is a gift or resource such as a worksheet, checklist or free video training you offer someone in exchange for their email address. Readers opt in to your email list to receive the freebie, which is also known as an opt in or lead magnet.

Q. Why do I need to create giveaways when the information I provide is of great value (good enough to pay for)?

1. Freebies create goodwill.

Think about all the times you’ve downloaded free content you were excited about. As a new female entrepreneur, it’s your chance to launch your blog or business with a spirit of generosity. You as the leader of your community can set a tone of helpfulness and integrity right from the start. I don’t know about you but if I suspect someone is in it just for the money, I’ll not patronize their blog or business. Period.

Creating a vibe of goodwill helps foster that know, like and trust factor. That’s more important than ever because the blogging community is ever-growing and at the same time becoming more closely knit in that we are much more likely than ever to get to know each other personally through our private Facebook groups, Insta and YouTube communities and through Pinterest and are much more likely to meet in person at some point than when I first became really involved in social media in 2009 when I joined Twitter.

2. It’s expected.

People are spoiled now. Everyone loves to share free stuff with friends and followers. If you set up shop or even just an educational blog without offering some cool freebies, you are not only passing up a huge opportunity to build trust with readers, this might also cause some to think you are not professional or serious about your business.

During my 10 years of working full time as a freelance writer and/or in social media in various coaching/consulting roles, I was so busy working for clients that I didn’t really have a need to create freebies. Now that I’m starting this new creative and marketing blog, I’m excited about digging in and coming up with more cool freebies that will inspire and guide my community of like-minded female entrepreneurs.

3. A good freebie positions you as an expert.

When you offer people a helpful freebie, you give them a taste of more to come – – – and your readers will be much more likely to later purchase your paid products or hire you for services or spread a good word about you. They get to experience on a deeper level the quality of your content and hopefully receive a quick win. Think of Costco or Sephora samples.

I have to admit as an award-winning corporate writer and freelance journalist who painstakingly broke into every dream best-in-class media company (Chicago Tribune, MTV, HGTV, Weight Watchers, Self to name a few), it took me a long time to figure out why I had to spend so much time creating well-researched, on-trend, worthy-of-charging-for content and give it away for free when I needed to put food on the table. I also saw a lot of fluff out there with a price tag on it.

The answer for me is blogging is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s a long game where you’d better be passionate about your topic or you’re likely going to burn out quickly. If you’re genuine and committed and like the idea of connecting with and supporting members of your community, it can, however, be rewarding from the get-go.

How to get started building a list from scratch

  • Decide on a niche or broad topic
  • Figure out your target market or avatar or in our world of nice female entrepreneurs, figure out who are the humans or potential new friends you want to help, i.e., moms of little kids, students, ladies who dream to leave corporate and start their own business, empty nesters, home-schooling moms, puppy owners, the list is endless. I had a hard time with this because those avatar exercises always made me feel like I was drawing up a fake person. Yuck. I just decided to think of a few different people I see in my Facebook groups as well as a handful of clients and social friends when I create content. So far that is working for me just find. Remember, when you are first starting a new blog or business, you have a lot of leeway and can experiment more. More tips on this later.
  • Purchase a domain name. If you struggle with this, just get your own name as I did – sheristrykowski.com (10 years ago lol). I’ve noticed that more and more known bloggers are switching from a cute or cool established blog name to their own name. Three super successful examples of female entrepreneurs who went with their own name from the beginning: Ali Brown, Marie Forleo and Amy Porterfield (three of my early mentors).
  • Choose your platform.

For me, WordPress.org is the way to go (as opposed to WordPress.com where they host for free). If you want to be taken seriously as a business owner, go with the free WordPress software from the start, get your own domain name and pay for hosting. I recommend Siteground, where you can get started with an amazing, fast, secure hosting plan for $3.95 per month. Siteground support is lightning fast and so good. Just ask them to install WordPress for you and go get a cup of coffee or tea and they’ll let you know when it’s done.

I see a lot of people in my Facebook groups struggling with setting up their websites and blogs and going crazy switching hosting companies and platforms (WordPress, Wix, Kajabi, Squarespace, Divi, Elementor, Beaver Builder, Genesis, etc.) as they can’t get their online structure right. There are too many technical and design issues.

I feel like saying “Just go with this simple start-up cocktail: WordPress, Siteground and my secret sauce beautiful theme solution: Bluchic themes.” This trifecta solved all the issues and finally allowed me to get Theme Peace so I could move forward.

Yeah, WordPress can get sticky sometimes (reality check: every platform can) but my little start-up cocktail not only streamlined everything, it make it fun and exciting to create my brand identity.

How to craft endless freebie ideas

  • Facebook groups. See what your peers are struggling with. Answer their questions.
  • Pinterest searches.
  • Survey your list, even if it’s small.
  • Talk to people in person at industry meetings, meet-ups, etc.
  • Check out forums.

The key is to think of your freebie as an quick win solution to a very specific problem. Deliver it in small, bite-size pieces.

List of 18 easy and good freebie ideas

  • Printables
  • Checklists
  • Cheatsheets
  • Short videos
  • Stock photos
  • Quotes
  • Workbooks
  • Ebooks (make it short & sweet)
  • Free consults
  • Challenge
  • Template
  • Audio transcript of your blog post
  • Infographic
  • Recipe collection
  • Weekly menu/shopping plan
  • Trackers
  • Graphics
  • Coupons

The last thing you need to know about creating your first freebies

  • Just get started. Don’t waste months or even years setting up your blog or website, which is what I did. Well for me, it was ok because I wanted to (was obsessed with studying) study different things night and day such as blogging, paper and digital planning and productivity, course development, design and freebies and I wanted to really find my passion. I changed my branding and themes so many times. But I was basically working full time for a main social client for eight years who I thought I was going to partner with so I could afford to explore. That did not work out . . . and now I’m so glad it didn’t because I discovered what I really absolutely love to do. More about that later.
  • Do your homework. Design a short & sweet . . . or simple solution to one of your  target audience’s burning questions and get it out there and test it as soon as possible.
  • Let me know if you have any questions or if you have any suggestions on what I can cover in my next few blog posts that will help you most!

Would you like to see my latest freebie for you?


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