Monday, April 7, 2014

On Blogging: What to Give Away

I'm like most people. I like getting presents. Some of the best presents are little things that I don't have to do much to receive. I am more likely to come back to a website/blog if I'm going to get something from my visit and most people feel the same. Giving away things on your blog is great for bringing people to your website/blog... except what to give away? Luckily I've read a lot of blogs and visited a lot of websites so I can show you the options that are out there now! Both writers and illustrators should be able to find information here to help improve their blog.

Chances are if you blog you are already giving out something for free and that something is information. I love book blogs and websites that will give me information on a book, author/illustrator, art/writing tips, process information, and finished artwork. These are all things that people generally have on their blog and I feel they should be included when talking about giving things away on your blog. These are all great and if you do a few of them you will have a solid blog, but what if you want to do more? Let's focus on the big things first and then go to the smaller things.

In order to do this post correctly I will give you examples of individuals who give away things for free. I want to start with the big things. By big things I mean things that take more than a week to create. These are things that you put your blood sweat and tears into making. You might only have one of these on your blog because they are so labor intensive. There are ways to monetize your blog from these, but I don't have the time to list them all in this post.

1. Novels/Books One of the ultimates in labour intensity. Novels take a few months to many years to write and it may seem like a mistake to give these away. If your book is good you could more easily get signed with a publisher for your next book. You might also get more fans. This is certainly not for the faint of heart! Ksenia Anske gives out her ebooks here for free. (You can also choose to support her by donating or buying the eBooks/paperback books). Amy Good's "Rooted" is also free. 

2Partial Books: This could range from anything from the first few chapters of your novel, or the first book in a multi book series. Dani Jones gives away a digital version of her graphic novel "My Sister the Freak" On her webpage along with other cool downloads. 

3. Interactive Webpages I can't say that I know of many of these. They are more difficult to set up, but are a lot of fun! I do know that Tiffany Stone has a wonderfully interactive page with some little games you can play. 

4. Podcasts These are a lot of work, but oh so much fun to listen to. The following are my favorite audio podcasts. Escape from Illustration Island is my ultimate favorite hosted by Keven Cross and Joshua Kemble. Chris Oatley's Podcast is great. Now Chris is working with Paper Wings Podcast and is no longer creating new podcasts. Thomas James' podcast is the first podcast I listened to, but unfortunately he's not doing anymore for "Illustration Age" or "Escape From Illustration Island". The information of Thomas' podcasts are still great information.

Now for some of the smaller things you might want to give away on your blog. It might not be a small task making these, but people will be encouraged to visit your blog time and time again to download, print, view these cool things! 

1. Short Stories and Poems These are things that might not require a download, but people love to read. They might take you a few minutes to several hours to write. Bisky Scribbles has a couple of short stories on her website.

2. Colouring Pages Who doesn't love a good colouring page? You can see my colouring pages here. Elizabeth O. Dulemba gave me the idea for my current colouring page format. She also has a widget for people to share her colouring pages on other blogs. Also don't forget to visit Wendy Martin's page!

3. Activity Sheets Oodles of fun for kids and adults alike. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Evelyn B. Christensen here. She has new puzzles every week on her webpage with a link to more. You will never get bored visiting her site. Chieu Ann Urban and Jean Reidy both have a lot of great activities on their sites.

4. Videos It's one thing to blog about something. It's a whole different ball of wax to make videos instead of a blog post. For the Illustrators may I introduce William R. Palacio and for the writers Amber from the Mile Long Bookshelf Christina Farley and Amy Good (yes again!).

5. Paper Dolls Okay, maybe this fits under the category of "Activity Sheets" but I love the idea of it so much I'm putting it here. I was only able to ever do one of these and I wish I could give you tons of examples of these. It took me a lot of time to get the clothes to fit on the characters. It hasn't put me off completely, but if you do this know it's a lot of work to get your clothes to fit your models! You can see my paper dolls here.

6. Contests/Giveaways/Events These usually come with a lot of prizes. They are not easy to set up, but they are lots of fun for the participants. Julie Hedlund has the biggest event I know with the "12 x 12". Shannon Abercrombie does "100 days of Summer" and "Start the Year Off Write". Other great events include Tara Lazar's PiBiIdMoMeg Miller's ReViMo, Angie Karcher's RhyPiBoMo, and Becky Fyfe's Chapter Book Challenge. A great site for general giveaways is Cherie Colyer's blog

Other Ideas: I do not have links to these other ideas but maybe something here will spark your interest. If you aren't the artist make sure you have the rights to distribute these for free.

1. Original Video Games/Book Apps

2. Wallpaper

3. Calendars/To-Do Lists


5. Artwork to Print

6. Colouring/Activity Books

7. Web Comics Dani Jones has a few of these on her site.

There are as many things you can give out on your blog as the sea is wide. I can't possibly fit them all into this post, but I hope I gave enough examples for people to develop their own ideas. If you think of any more, or more examples of such websites please post them in the comments below!

Thank you so much to Jacqueline Bryant Campbell's whose question inspired this post!


  1. Whenever I have an author on my blog, I try to host a giveaway to go w/the theme of the book. My next one is with R.R. Russell, and her series is about unicorns, and I found some really cute buttons on Etsy w/unicorns on them. I love doing it, as half the fun is hunting down just the right thing for the budget that I set for myself. Though if there's one thing I don't enjoy, it's after the giveaway is over, and I have to go to the post office... ;)

  2. Great post, Dani! I have been wondering about this as well, you have certainly given me so ideas, thanks!

  3. What a great list, Dani! You're right. I love prizes and it does draw me to blogs that I may have never known about.