How Offering a ‘Gift with Purchase’ Can Grow Your Freelance Writing Business By Patty Harder

I’m a sucker for a free gift with purchase. In fact, I wait to buy my favorite Lancome or Estee Lauder beauty products until it’s bonus time. And I usually stock up on things like socks when the buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) specials come along. For freelance writers, this proven marketing tactic is a great way to get new clients – or revitalize an existing client relationship that’s gone cold.

To use the gift with purchase concept to boost your business, your bonus offer must have perceived value. But that doesn’t mean you should spend a lot of time or money fulfilling that offer. In fact, you should structure your bonus so it’s easy and cost effective to deliver to multiple clients. This might mean writing a special report or guide once and using it over and over again, or offering an additional writing service that can quickly be completed using existing research.

Not sure what your free gift with purchase should be? Here are a few ideas for three common freelance writing professions:

Business-to-Business Copywriting

  • Buy three press release writing services and get one free

  • Free “quote sheet” with every case study project (just go through the case study and transcript and pull the various quotes into a second document)

  • Complimentary guide, such as how to write better Web site copy, 5 ways to use a white paper to generate leads or how to create an in-house style guide, with any new project over $300 (this tactic works best when trying to secure new clients)

Consumer-Focused Writing

  • Free 150 word product review when you’re hired to write an 800+ word magazine feature (this offer may appeal to editors with space to fill, deadlines to meet and fewer dollars to spend on freelance writing services )

  • Buy five blog posts and get the sixth post free

  • Purchase any resume writing service and get a cover letter template free (this is a fantastic offer that can position you above the competition)

Information Product Producers

  • Free special report with any information product purchase

  • Purchase any printed book and receive the e-book version free (this bonus has high perceived value, is easy to deliver and fulfills the buyer’s need for instant gratification)

  • Complimentary workbook in PDF format with the purchase of an educational Webinar

Bonus offers work best when there’s a specific time limit placed on them. Avoid using generalized statements like, “for a limited time only.” Instead, an actual expiration date will compel interested clients or prospects to act sooner rather than later.

Positioning Your Offer

Although I’ve been referring to this marketing tactic as a free gift with purchase, depending on the type of writing you do, this may not be the best way to promote your bonus. Consider your audience before crafting an offer. While a consumer may jump on a BOGO special, a VP of marketing for a Fortune 500 company won’t be impressed. In short, position your offer in a professional manner that speaks the language of your particular prospect.

My work is primarily business-to-business marketing writing, so when I offer an incentive, I’ll usually include it as a line item on a proposal. For example:

Quote sheet that includes pull quotes from the case study, as well as additional quotes pulled from the interview transcript. Delivered in Word format and organized by topic, this document is a great resource to distribute to your entire marketing and sales team. (A $150 value.)

When I put this offer on a proposal, I make sure to add a specific expiration date, like “This proposal is good for 30 days.” I once had a client exceed my 30-day limit on a case study proposal with this exact bonus offer. When I brought this to his attention, I was able to negotiate additional work by honoring the quote sheet bonus even though the offer had expired.

Freelance writers that wish to stay competitive in the changing economic climate need to find creative ways to secure new clients and to hold on to existing customers. The free gift with purchase concept adds value to your products or services without taxing your limited time and money resources.

Patty Harder is a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant in the Seattle area. Although she earns her living writing business-to-business marketing copy, she has recently launched a blog designed to help other freelance writers build their businesses. To learn more, visit Patty welcomes your comments through her blog or via e-mail at