Give your Readership a Massive Boost!

I wrote a guest post for a blogger friend a while back, but I thought it was a good time to refresh that post for readers here. Following the new GDPR regulations I went through the process of reconfirming all my mailing list subscribers and was not surprised to see the number fall significantly. But that’s okay, because there are a number of ways you can build your email list under the new regulations. So today I offer you one potential source for new readers, Instafreebie.

Give your readership a massive boost with Instafreebie

Instafreebie logo steve boseley

As a relatively new author, I quickly learned the importance of having and building an email list. Having a direct line to a reader’s inbox gives me an opportunity not usually available through social media and other channels, and that is to start forming and building relationships with readers.

It took me a while to realise this, but when I started trying to build my list, I discovered how difficult it is.

I tried many things:

  • I offered a free story for an email address
  • I changed this free offer several times
  • I changed the look and feel of my website several times
  • I began blogging regularly
  • I learned new tricks from experts

As you will see from the graph below, my first 12 months of effort produced very few email list subscribers. This can be quite disheartening for new authors, and I think if I had not come across a particular piece of advice from Nicholas Rossis, I may very well have given up the idea of building a list of readers, assuming that was reserved for only the most successful authors.

Nicholas introduced me to the idea of list building events.

Through my research into these events I came across Instafreebie. Initially it seemed quite daunting and confusing, but it has turned out to be a quite productive exercise, one that I will be revisiting, post GDPR.


What is it? Instafreebie is a website offering free e-books in a variety of different file formats. Readers have to give an email address to get their free book. It used to be that authors would all be given the email address of anyone that downloaded their book, but now, following the change in data protection regulations, readers now can choose if they want you to have their address or not.

At a first glance, it would mean that you will get less emails than books downloaded, as not everyone will want to sign up to receive your newsletter. This is true, but the flip side is that any readers that choose to share their email address with you are more likely to be engaged readers, not just in it for the freebie.

How do people find your book? Potential readers can find your book in a number of ways:

  • You can direct them from your blog, social media, website, and other sources
  • Instafreebie regularly chooses to highlight new giveaways to its members
  • Through joint promotions with other authors (more on that later)

Pricing and features

Instafreebie accounts are available in 3 flavours:

  • All accounts come with fully customisable giveaways – choose how many books you wish to give away; choose start and finish dates for your giveaways; include optional DRM
  • Basic – free: you get unlimited giveaways and distribution of your free book; customer support to readers; one pen-name and author page.
  • Plus – $20 per month: all the benefits of basic plus email opt in option; Mailchimp integration if needed, downloadable CSV file (exportable list file) if not; track the success of your giveaway
  • Pro – $50 per month: all of the above plus personalised giveaway branding; up to 5 pen names and author pages

Which option is the best for you?

The free option does not allow you to collect any emails from your readers and so defeats the purpose of giving your book away on this website, in my opinion.

I would suggest the Plus option is the best as it offers a 30 day free trial. During your 30 day trial you can get involved with some group giveaways (more on that later) and see how effective it is for you.

How do I organise my giveaway?

When you sign up with Instafreebie, either for your free account or your 30 day free trial, you will be asked to upload the book you wish to make available to giveaway. This can be any of your books / stories / chapters, even the free ones, but who wants to download something that is already free elsewhere? Choose your book and upload it to the Instafreebie website along with a cover image.

Next, on your book page you will need to select new giveaway, at which point you will be able to customise your giveaway (see below). Once you have created this giveaway you will be presented with a link that will take you to the download page for your book and this is the link that you will need to give to your followers/readers, and it will take them to a page where they can claim your book.

Instafreebie Steve Boseley

How to make the best use of your 30 day free trial

You are not required to leave any credit card details for this free trial. The first thing you will need to do is exactly the same as for the free account: create account, upload book, create giveaway.

To make the best use of your 30 days, you should aim to get involved in one, preferably more, Instafreebie group giveaways. This will maximise the number of readers that will see the giveaway and so will increase the number of email addresses collected.

What are group giveaways?

You will be in a group with other authors who have books in a similar genre to your own. The giveaway will run for a predetermined length of time, anything from a week to a month or more. During this time all participating authors are asked to promote the giveaway to their own email list/social media followers/website. You do not share your email list with any of the other participating authors, nor they with you, but you will benefit from promotion of the giveaway to not just your own list or followers but the giveaway will also be promoted to all the followers of all the other participating  authors, plus Instafreebie’s own marketing efforts.  The potential to reach a large number of readers is huge. During my 30 day free trial I took part in 2 group promotions, the first had 84 authors, and the second had 53 authors. I sent out promotional material to my (tiny) email list, mentioned it on my blog, and sent tweets linking to the promotion page (see later).

How do I find group giveaways?

Instafreebie itself has a forum on which you can find many upcoming giveaways. The 2 giveaways that I have been involved with, I discovered via Facebook, where there are a number of groups dedicated to specific genres or giveaways in general. These are some of the ones I discovered:

How do I get involved?

Head to one of the Facebook pages I mentioned or do some searching on Facebook of your own, and you should see posts which talk about setting up giveaways. Simply find a giveaway in your genre and make contact with the giveaway organiser. All they will need from you is the link for the giveaway you created when you signed up for your account. Then the organiser will create a page (usually on his/her website) showing all the books that are being offered for that giveaway. Each book will take readers to the download page for that book, where they will enter their email address and download the book for free.  HERE is one of Instafreebie’s own group promotions that will give you an idea of what a typical group giveaway page will look like.

Do I need to do a lot of promotion?

The simple answer is no, although some giveaways do make stipulations that authors do get involved with promotion of the giveaway; however, it is in your best interest to promote the giveaway to your followers as much as possible. Instafreebie has a huge following, and they like to promote giveaways to their users. They do this by highlighting and promoting giveaways that are already promoted well by participating authors. The more a particular giveaway is promoted the higher the chance that Instafreebie will bring their considerable marketing powers to supporting that giveaway.

I recommend promoting the giveaway throughout its duration, and you can help Instafreebie know about your efforts by using #Instafreebie or @Instafreebie on your social media posts.

Is it effective?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my own efforts to build an email list had been largely unsuccessful over the past 12 months (at time of writing). Below is a graph from Mailchimp showing the change in my number of subscribers over the past 3 weeks.

Mailchimp from instafreebie

Not only has the number of subscribers dramatically increased, the audience is much more targeted than my original handful of followers that included some people I met through blogging, a few friends, and some family members. As mentioned above, with the new regulations, the followers will be more targeted still, as readers have to opt in to receiving communication with you. In the graph below you will see what impact that (pre GDPR) has had on conversion rates (how many people opened the initial emails and how many clicked a link). The points above February 19 are the rate that the original few people interacted with my emails. February 27th was the date of my first email to new Instafreebie followers and March 13th was the 2nd email, with almost 50% of subscribers clicking a link.

mailchimp open rate steve boseley

Won’t people just unsubscribe?

There will of course, be people that are here just for the free books, and those people may very well choose to unsubscribe after you send them your first email (this is no longer an issue, as the only email addresses you receive will be from people that want to hear from you). Writing and sending effective emails in a timely fashion to your subscribers is a blog post all by itself, and I will not be covering that here; however, as you can see from the numbers below the unsubscribe rate for my first giveaway is small and this is after I have sent 2 emails in the space of about 10 days including information on how to unsubscribe should they wish to do so and in fact, all email list software should have an unsubscribe option on the bottom of each newsletter you send.


Whilst I only have a relatively small sample size, and there is no guarantee that these 700 people will not unsubscribe tomorrow, I would have to say that my experiment with Instafreebie has been more successful than I could have imagined.

I can foresee me purchasing a month of Instafreebie in the future where I can coincide it with relevant giveaways and now following the huge losses I have taken post GDPR, this is something I will definitely be coming back to.

If you want a massive boost to your own readership, I recommend you giving Instafreebie a look.

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