Recently, I learned a handful of techniques from Brian Clark that brought me some pretty intriguing results.
234% more site memberships.
62% more unique visitors.
100% more paying clients.
How much did I pay Brian to teach me how to do this? Not a dime. I got everything I needed out of a free report.
Let me tell you how I did it.
Where I started
I operate an online community for Sedona Method users. (Sedona Method is a technique to release unwanted emotions and keep them from making you miserable.)
I learned from surveys and feedback that the majority of my audience was new to the Sedona Method and wanted a definitive but practical guide to the basics.
I was spending a huge amount of time responding to e-mails from many different people who were all asking essentially the same questions. Not surprisingly, it just so happened that they were questions about the basics.
Having just recently read Brian’s free report Authority Rules, I took what I’d learned and created an eBook and supplemental audio program that had seven key characteristics. (I’ll let you know more about those below.)
My readers were thrilled.
But that turned out to be just the beginning.
As a direct result of publishing these two pieces of content, I saw incredible improvements in my website immediately. I gathered data from the 30 days following the eBook launch and compared that data to the 80 days prior. Here are the improvements I saw in that short amount of time:
- 234% increase in site memberships
- 100% increase in paying clients
- 48% increase in total site visits
- 62% increase in unique visitors
- 92% increase in visits per day
- 12% increase in referring sites
- 113% increase in search engine traffic
- 10% decrease in bounce rate
This chart shows the trend of memberships on my website. The green shaded area represents the 80 days prior to my eBook launch.
Oh, and did I mention that I was spending a lot of money on AdWords ads early on but stopped purchasing them 15 days before the launch?
No guest posts, no commenting campaign, no Google ads. The bulk of this success was a result of providing a “no-opt-in” download that saw some great retweeting on Twitter.
I call this kind of content reciprocating content. You can give it away for free and it gives right back to you.
When you create reciprocating content, everyone wins — including you. Your audience gets what they want, and you get what you want.
This ain’t your ordinary free content
You’re probably familiar with the “one-way street” nature of traditional free content. You work tirelessly to create a real gem, pouring everything you’ve got into it. Your readers get a lot of benefit from it, but at best you get a brief spike of traffic, some comments, and a link or two.
Basically, it’s a huge amount of work that doesn’t leverage well for you — especially if you are a newcomer like I am. Over time, if you repeat the process enough, you will eventually see more stable and consistent returns that creep their way down to your bottom line. But that can be an exhausting and disconcerting path.
Reciprocating content differs from traditional free content in that it benefits your audience and you at the same time. Additionally, you see the benefits quickly and they keep on coming. And the best part is that all you have to do is find opportunities that are already here.
So what makes content “reciprocating content”?
The seven key characteristics of reciprocating content
None of the characteristics listed below should be unfamiliar to you. It’s not uncommon to incorporate one or two of these into any given piece.
But the secret formula of reciprocating content is the combination of all seven. That’s how you turn your content into a well-oiled machine that gets right down to business.
1) Reciprocating content provides incredible value to your audience
This should go without saying, since our primary purpose is to provide incredible value to our audience. However, all you have to do is read around to find that there is a whole lot of content out there that provides little to no practical value to the reader.
Reciprocating content does not just provide “good,” “nice,” or “theoretical” value. Reciprocating content can stand on its own, because it provides real-world value that your audience can put to use right now. It’s the kind of value people expect to pay for.
2) Reciprocating content solves a common concern for your audience
When you get to know your audience well, you’re able to learn about their most common concerns. Your reciprocating content should solve one of these concerns.
To clarify, reciprocating content does not just address the concern; it solves the concern for your audience.
3) Reciprocating content solves a pressing concern for you
Is it possible to solve a major concern of your audience and solve a major concern of your own at the same time?
All it takes is a little analysis to find out how you can create the win-win.
4) Reciprocating content builds trust and establishes your authority
You already know this, but authority rules. Trust isn’t to be scoffed at either.
You’re an authority on something, and your reciprocating content establishes and demonstrates this. It also builds trust and rapport at the same time.
5) Reciprocating content is delivered in the format(s) that your audience prefers
Believe it or not, the format that you deliver your content in can make a significant difference in how useful it is for your audience. Reciprocating content is highly effective in part because it’s delivered in your audience’s preferred format, be it text, audio, or video.
Don’t know what their preferred format is? Ask them!
6) Reciprocating content stays genuine and authentic to who you are
The last thing you want to do is win over a huge, avid audience with your reciprocating content only to disappoint them when they discover it wasn’t really you.
Reciprocating content is authentic to you. Because of this, it does a great job of qualifying your audience. They know what to expect when they come to you for more.
7) Reciprocating content does not contain a sales pitch
Your reciprocating content does all of the above without asking your audience to buy anything. It provides the experience of a dynamite solution with a zero pressure approach. It makes your audience think there is such a thing as a free lunch.
That’s a powerful combination, and one that can actually increase your revenue later.
Strategizing your reciprocating content
Creating reciprocating content is not difficult. Opportunities already exist, you just need to see them.
- What are the most common concerns of your audience? (Surveying comes in handy here. You also want to pay close attention to questions and blog comments, and tune in to the Twitter conversation on your topic.) Take a moment to write these concerns down on paper. For me, the answers to this came from reader surveys.
- What are your own most pressing concerns? Take a moment and write some down on paper. One of my most pressing concerns was the amount of time I was spending answering the same questions over and over again.
- Look at both sides and notice opportunities where you can help your audience while simultaneously helping yourself (in other words, killing two birds with one stone).
- Figure out what kind of content would benefit both sides. Make sure it exhibits the seven characteristics of reciprocating content mentioned above.
- Publish it and get the word out!
Work smarter, not harder
It’s not hard to create reciprocating content, it just takes a little big-picture awareness and some connecting of the dots.
So the next time you’re about to put your blood, sweat, and tears into your work, take a second to step outside the box. Create reciprocating content to become more efficient, deliver more value, and cut down on waste.
Reader Comments (36)
Rob Mangiafico says
Great post Craig! I think the strategy of seeing the same questions over and over lead right into a perfect ebook. Have it be authoritative, yet refrain from trying to sell, and people will gobble up the resource and hopefully turn to you for their business needs.
Rob – LexiConn
How I took it - Kenneth says
Awesome post, but would you say you need to have an already established base of readers to do this? I mean, I think you would have to be pretty lucky to get this effect with a new site, especially with hardly any marketing at all.
Doesn’t matter how great you’re content is, if no one can find it!
Drew Strojny says
Excellent post Craig. I would argue any content you give away that has *real value* for your audience will end up being returned to you and then some. Unfortunately (or fortunately), providing *real value* is not as easy as it looks.
Sonia Simone says
Kenneth, I’d say this is one of the better ways to get and grow a base of readers.
You do need to have some people who are paying attention to you to get the word of mouth ball rolling. But you can make a strategy like this work when you’re still quite small, and that’s the smartest time to do it, IMO. Remember that it keeps working as long as you have the content available. As new people find it, they spread the word and things keep growing. I did exactly that on the Remarkable Communication blog–I had a free marketing e-course to offer before I even started the blog. It’s been extremely helpful in getting the word out.
Craig | BloomVerse says
Actually, no. You do not need an established reader base. I’m living proof of that. 🙂
The thing I have noticed is that when you provide a standout piece of content, word spreads fast. Twitter is your best friend for this type of thing, as it was mine.
If you simply post it on your site and leave it at that, progress will be slower. Put a bit of effort into getting the word out and you’ll be VERY surprised at what happens!
Actually, it’s not at all difficult to do if you are listening to the concerns of your audience. I cannot emphasize enough the value of surveying. Also, you can extrapolate so much from correspondence with your audience (blog comments, e-mail, or otherwise). It’s just a matter of putting the pieces together.
But the answers are definitely there as to what to do and how to do it.
Thanks for the comments guys!
InternetHow Blog says
Very nice tips about creating good reciprocating content. However, “No guest posts, no commenting campaign, no Google ads”, I think guest posting should be excluded. For instance providing a reciprocating content on a blog such as this one would provide a lot of benefits.
Craig | BloomVerse says
I agree. My intent with what you quoted was not to state those things should be avoided. I was actually stating that I hadn’t done any of those things in that time period in order to drive traffic.
Ultimately, the point I was making was that the growth I outlined was attributed to the content release. Add those other strategies on top and you’ve got that much more going for you!
janice | Sharing the Journey says
I really enjoyed this; it was well written, useful and sound.
Great article. May I recommend making your registration page a little more user friendly? I think simplifying this would greatly improve your conversions. Just something to test!
Hypotheek Deventer says
Good advise comes cheap these days. That`s a no money well spent.
Now all we need is something to sell
Oleg Mokhov says
Deliver insanely useful value that helps the user and you in an effective way, and you’ll enjoy creating more, make better stuff, and spend less time doing it.
Have the value benefit the user and yourself, and you’ll enjoy creating more as well as having a more passionate and valuable product.
Be effective, not just productive–focus only on what’s important, the 20% that gives 80% results–and you’ll get your results easier and faster (hope the link to an article I wrote isn’t spammy – I just thought it’s relevant to the topic).
Thanks for sharing your results from changing the way you delivered your value. Solid proof that what Brian said in his great report works.
I’ll have to more consciously incorporate these 7 characteristics now,
Fakhrul Alam- Make Money Online Blog says
Thanks for sharing your story with us and I learned my mistake from this article.
I knew I sensed a touch of a coaching influence in there. It gets you all excited and then you’re like… wait so, what do I do now?
Speaking of which, I was thinking of taking an NLP course near my work. Anyone know anything about that?
Lexi Rodrigo says
Awesome results, Craig! May I ask: how did you promote your ebook?
Thanks in advance!
Teen Blogger says
Providing worthwhile content to your readers will mostly end up being a great product and will sell very fast. If your readers are a buying niche it would make the process easier
Great information. My challenge is it seems I’m always giving away information and not generating enough financial return.
On another note: I noticed you are using WordPress – I have just started to play around with the online version (wordpress.com). I imagine you are using the software, do you mind if I ask who your host is?
Another great article here guys. It’s awesome to see people put your advice into action. Copyblogger is giving me a really great framework for creating a community site.
I saw someone in comments mention WordPress too. I’m using it and it’s awesome! So easy to use.
Keep up the great work.
Josh Hanagarne says
Craig, glad to see you here! Phenomenal results, and well-deserved. I was sure you were going to say, “And it all fell together when Josh linked to my ebook”:)
The guest post you did for me is currently my 4th most popular post. It’s because you know what you’re doing and you’re doing it for the right reasons.
Congratulations. Hopefully your next post here will be about the same thing, but a 468% increase.
Tom McKay says
I’m confused. You said it was “no opt-in,” but your website now requires name, email addy, etc. to get the free goodies. Have you changed your approach? If so, why?
Tito philips, Jnr. says
I read the report by brian -“Authority Rules” and i must confess i did learn a great deal from it and was thrilled he gave it away for free ..lol.
But then, reading this post made me see more value in what Brian had to say, i am a newbie in the ‘blogosphere’ and certainly will apply this strategies in my online publishing efforts …Craig, i do hope i surpass your results then, lol.
Great post, thanks for sharing!
Craig | BloomVerse says
Thank you for the suggestion.
“What do I do now?”
You can get started by following the steps in the “strategizing your reciprocating content” section. Determine a common concern of your audience and solve it. Solve one of your own in the process.
The bulk of the promotion *I* did was getting the word out on Twitter. Word of mouth was much more effective than what I did myself though.
One of my strategies on Twitter? I asked a couple of people that I had been conversing with off and on if they’d do me a favor and retweet a download link for my eBook. They were kind enough to oblige and helped get the word out in a major way! They had exponentially greater numbers of followers than I.
Yes, as I mentioned in the post, a lot of free content does not leverage well. That is why I suggest running it through the checklist to make sure it has the 7 characteristics I mentioned.
My host is Siteground btw.
The World’s Strongest Librarian is in the house! 🙂
Thanks Josh, that’s awesome news about the post! I can’t thank you enough for that opportunity, I met a lot of great peeps with that post.
At the beginning of the post in the “Where I started” section I have no opt-in (direct) download links for both the eBook and the audio program. I’ve also provided them many other places.
My site has always required opt-in, but most new registrants on my site had previously downloaded the eBook from one of the direct links and decided to join afterwards.
I hope you surpass my results too! Let us know how it goes!
Thanks everyone, I’m enjoying the discussion!
Yves Roy says
I started my blog with some advice from Mitch Joel in his book Six pixels of separation and in his blog he did reference your blog to find good hint to have success with my blog.
I like the way you explain how to work and specially the fact that is simple and base on really good value of life. I will come back to give you some feedback later to let you know results.
Great post! Inspiring others to follow. Thanks.
Great step by step, here’s how to do it post Craig.
Not much is better than a Before-After-After testimonial post like this.
David Turnbull says
This was exactly what I’ve been working on, so it’s great to get some added advice and motivation. 🙂
Andee Sellman, One Sherpa says
Thanks for the great post.
I’m in the middle of converting a paper back book into an e-book and this post has encouraged me to keep going
Ghazal Alvi says
I call reciprocating content as the winning content.
It is so true – reciprocating content is provides incredible value, solves a common concern for your audience. And the best part is that it builds trust and establishes your authority.
Thanks for sharing.
Craig | BloomVerse says
Thanks guys, glad to hear from folks who are finding motivation from this. Trust me when I say that it really does pay off.
If you would like to speak with me further about what I did or what you can do for your own particular scenario, feel free to e-mail me at craig AT bloomverse.com. I’m happy to help as best I can.
Shane Arthur says
Since Copyblogger stresses the importance of analogy, simile and metaphor, it’s a perfect match that a weight metaphor can sum up the Sedona method so well, and you are guest posting here.
Suffolk Wedding Photographer says
Great article Craig. However one things bugs me and it’s something my business mentor has suggested to me as well. You suggest simply asking your audience what they want.
But what if you have a steady flow of traffic that rarely participates?
Maybe it’s just that blogs in the UK don’t yet get the same interaction as the US. People rarely vote on my polls, which are supposed to get people engaged with the content. Guess my concern is – if response is low that will put others off commenting also.
Does it really matter if no one responds to an open question?
Perhaps I should just bite the bullet and ask the brides what they want…
PatB Wedding Photography
Craig | BloomVerse says
@Suffolk Wedding Photographer
Pat, first off, beautiful photography on your site!
Secondly, you’ve brought up a good point in your comment. Sometimes it takes some trial and error to find the best way to interface with your audience and get their feedback in return.
One big rule of thumb is this: if a particular method you are using isn’t working, try something else. Many times, it’s not that people are ignoring you or unwilling to give feedback. In a lot of cases they just have too many other distractions or don’t see what’s in it for them.
“What’s in it for me?” is a huge factor that everyone is thinking about all the time. Incentives drive action.
That being said, distractions are abound on the net. If the end goal of a particular page is to drive some sort of action, the call to action needs to jump in the reader’s lap. If they have too many other things pulling at their attention, they’re not likely to do what you’d like them to.
I ask questions from folks on my mailing list, and I do it often. I can tailor a single e-mail to one particular question and get a lot of feedbcak in return. So the majority of the feedback I get comes from e-mail interaction and coaching clients. But if you don’t have a list and rely on your site to collect feedback, experiment with different ways to capture the attention of your audience and get their feedback. It is well worth it because their feedback can be used to create more value for them in return.
Keep trucking along and best of luck!
Agreed. There’s no sense in keeping worthwhile content under lock and key.
More specifically, I really love the ideas behind #2 & 3 — content that’s helpful and not self-serving goes along way. #6 & 7 are also huge. I think a down-to-earth, real tone and total honesty are crucial to the success of any social media tactic.
The only thing I get hung up on is the idea of value. Anymore, “value” seems to be such a buzzword that it’s losing efficacy. Furthermore, the concept of value is all relative — how can you be sure what you think is valuable to your audience, really is? Although I suppose a true connection to your readers might provide insight there…
Anyway, great stuff! Thanks for all the tips, Craig.
If you’re looking for more help getting your social media strategy off the ground, this post might help, too: http://www.garfieldgroup.com/10-tips-for-getting-started-in-b2b-social-media/labs Good luck!
Jeff Ramos says
This is great. I’m actually working on a project that does all of the above.
Cheers for getting this message out there!
Web Marketing Tips says
You should come to the court of Brian bit early. That could save you good money …
Now share those revenue with Brian or with us … 😀
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