It’s strange but true. Many successful online writers rely on one crucial element for the success of their online writing careers: distribution of free reports or e-books. Indeed, some writers say that the most effective way to develop an online business is by writing and giving away free reports.

This may seem counter-intuitive until you consider the five benefits of giving away free reports.

1. Incentive to subscribe to your opt in mailing list:
Most of the visitors to your website or blog may leave your site and never return again. The only way to persuade them to join your opt in e-mail list is by offering them something of value such as a free report or e-book that is likely to be of interest to them.

Once your website visitors opt in by giving their names and e-mail addresses, you can send them regular e-mail messages containing more information as well as special offers of your products or services. The best way to build an internet business is by growing your e-mail list and gaining the trust of your subscribers. In addition, since you are in touch with your e-mail members through e-mail, it does not cost you any money.

2. Back-end sales through embedded affiliate links:
A simple way to make money from your report is to include affiliate links to all the related products and services in the report. Whenever any reader clicks on any affiliate link and buys the product, you earn a commission. Though you have given it away for free, you can earn a good income from sales generated through the affiliate links in your report.

3. Viral spread of your report:
One way to encourage viral spread of your report is by including free distribution rights so that your readers can distribute your report to their subscribers and friends. However, you must clearly state the terms for redistribution. For example, your report cannot be sold or changed in any way. This is important if you have embedded affiliate links in your report. If your report contains useful information, your readers will be happy to share it with others. Leading internet entrepreneurs regularly distribute free reports and e-books and gain thousands of new prospects.

4. Sample of more valuable back-end products:
Your report can be part of a larger product such as an e-book that you want to sell. You can distribute a free report containing a sample chapter with links to a sales page where readers can buy your e-book, if they find the content in the report helpful.

5. Easy and quick to produce and simple and free to distribute:
Online reports usually range from 5 to 30 pages so you can easily write a report within a few days. Since your report is free, you can set up a simple system for distributing them to your prospects on your website. You are also spared the bother of setting up a system to accept payment. Your report can be downloaded instantly worldwide, usually as a PDF file, and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

More people are likely to download your report since it is free. However, you must take care to ensure that the content in your free report is useful, well-written and free from errors. If your report is poorly written, you will lose the trust of your readers because they will judge you by the quality of your report. So always ensure that your work is top-quality, even if you are giving it away for free.

In conclusion, writing and distributing a free report is the first step in attracting people to your website and can result in more subscribers to your e-mail list, more clicks on your affiliate links, and more sales of your e-books.

11 January 2012

Rohi Shetty is a medical doctor, Vipassana meditator, writer, editor, translator and blogger. His short stories and articles have been published online and in print.

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