Gaining Newsletter Subscribers With Instafreebie

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig 

I’ve been using InstaFreebie since July of last year, but my use was limited to a convenient method of distributing free ebooks to readers or reviewers (and having InstaFreebie’s support to assist readers with any problems).

A short while afterward, I started using InstaFreebie as part of organized multi-author giveaways (there was an author assistant for a group of cozy writers who set it up).  I was in a couple of those and my mailing list grew to the point where I needed to get a paid account with MailChimp.

After reading numerous posts on how InstaFreebie was helpful, long-term, for growing a newsletter list, I decided to alter my approach on the account. I’m not one of those who likes to send out lots of emails to my newsletter list, so I decided to use InstaFreebie as more of a discovery tool. (And I’d like to note that I’m not affiliated with InstaFreebie in any way.)

I started their 30-day free trial, integrated InstaFreebie to my MailChimp list (they provide directions on how to do this).  Then I promptly forgot about it.

Despite forgetting about it, I was steadily making gains to my list.  I logged into InstaFreebie shortly before the end of my free trial for a totally different reason (to send a free book to a reader who was having technical issues with my newsletter signup) and discovered to my surprise that I had gained 82 new subscribers without having promoted the giveaway whatsoever. Or even remembering that I had a giveaway to begin with.

Pros that I found:

Crossover between series.  I deliberately picked a book from my quilting mystery series since I wanted to grow the crossover from my Myrtle series to my quilting series. Previously I’d noticed readers were loyal to my Myrtle series and reluctant to try something new. I’ll do the same for my Myrtle series next.

Better than running ads. Advertising on Facebook is complex and, for best results, requires lots of checkins and tweaking. Here I just left a giveaway completely open and gained new subscribers daily.

My unsubscribes and bounces were low.  I had no unsubscribes, even though I happened to have a release come out during the free trial period and sent an email out regarding it.

I didn’t have to bug anyone on my list. Writers frequently fuss at me over this one, but I simply hate sending newsletters. I really, really do. I try to limit sending newsletters to my releases (which are several times a year).

All of the above findings were great. However! This is not the best way to utilize InstaFreebie.  The site is more likely to feature you/your giveaways if they see you’re tagging them on social media, for instance.  As I will do when I tweet this post. And those multi-author giveaways/cross promotions can result in hundreds of additional names on your list instead of daily small gains. But for the purposes of this post and any other reluctant newsletter-senders, I’d like to point out that we can use InstaFreebie completely passively, too. Is this a best practice? No. Does it still work? It has for me so far.


If you want to use InstaFreebie as I originally did (as a tool to distribute free books to readers and reviewers…with support), you could just use the free plan.

If you’re wanting to use the site to increase the number of your newsletter subscribers, you will need a paid plan.  I’d recommend trying it for 30 days free and see what you think. Then you can upgrade or pass.

Here are the details of the various pricing plans available.  Right now, I’m on the plus plan, but I have a reminder on my calendar to check back and see if the subscriber numbers are worth it.

How do you gain newsletter subscribers? Have you tried InstaFreebie?

Using InstaFreebie to Gain Newsletter Subscribers: Click To Tweet

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26 thoughts on “Gaining Newsletter Subscribers With Instafreebie

  1. A really interesting post, Elizabeth. Thank you so much for sharing. I am in the midst of setting up a website and starting a mailing list, so this is immensely beneficial and useful. I hope life is being kind. Wishing you continued success. Thanks again.

    1. Nicola–Hope the mailing list goes well! You’ll grow your list quickly if you join with other writers in your genre (I think there are InstaFreebie forums to find such writers) to form a group giveaway in exchange for mailing list subscriptions. Or, you could take my approach and do very little with the site and see how it goes for you (it’s a ‘cancel any time’ type of service).

    1. Mason–I think it is for a lot of us. It helps if we can do it sort of in the background… if we have a signup link in our email signature or if we have a signup form in the sidebar of our blog/site, etc.

  2. Wow, Elizabeth. Thank you and I’m definitely going to look into this.

    Last month I was part of a multi-author giveaway as well. The list we got back was over 3000. Because I don’t want to pay for subscribers who don’t want to hear from me, I was pretty ruthless about culling my list: I uploaded the subscribers in three batches, sent those batches newsletters, and if they hadn’t opened the campaign within 24 hours I unsubscribed them. I ended up with about 1100 subscribers altogether. While it could be disappointing to lose 2000+ subscribers, the list I have now has a 78% open rate and a 29% click rate. Next time I won’t cull so quickly–but anyone on this list who doesn’t click through any of the five campaigns they receive will be unsubscribed as well (my schedule is once per month).

    1. Deb–I can totally understand that. I think, despite my good open rates, it might be a good idea for me to do much the same thing. It does irk me to pay for sending newsletters on MailChimp, but I’m doing the ‘pay each time you send it’ plan since I only send 2-3 a year. Definitely writing that cost off on my taxes this year!

      Good reminder for me to take a look at those subscribers again.

      1. I’m wondering about Pay as You Go vs. the monthly subscription rate as well. The next time I do a multi-author giveaway I will get into paid territory, but sending monthly to that many subscribers might be more money than the standard rate. Then again a number of my indie friends love MailerLite…decisions!

  3. When I had a newsletter, it went out once a month, never more. I didn’t want to bug subscribers either.

    This service coupled with one multi-author giveaway could potentially double and triple someone’s subscribers.

  4. This is so helpful, Elizabeth! I have to admit, I never heard of Instafreebie before, but it sounds very useful, and a very effective tool when you use it right. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thanks for this great post! I have an account with Book Funnel (which is the same thing as Instafreebie). I haven’t taken advantage of it more than using it in giveaways yet. So far, the way I’ve gained the most followers is through group giveaways.

    1. Christine–That’s definitely the *best* way to get new subscribers, in terms of numbers. I like that there’s also a more passive way of getting subscribers, even when we’re not part of a group giveaway. Hope it will work well for you!

  6. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I started with InstaFreebie over a year ago, and I’ve had some great experiences with them. I think you’re right – it’s best to use their paid plans, which let those who download your book opt into your newsletter. I’ve gained a lot of subscribers this way. And one more really important benefit related to group promos: InstaFreebie’s model fulfills MailChimp’s opt-in requirements – and I’ve found that many group promos these days don’t!!

    The biggest success I’ve had started with a multi-author promo. My book got a lot of hits, so InstaFreebie decided to feature it on their “See It First” Monday romance promo email. That really helped.

    I’m planning to do another push with them in June for an episodic series I’ve started. I’m curious to see how it works for this new idea!!

    1. Good point! I’ve heard other writers saying they’ve had trouble with MailChimp subscriber opt-ins with other methods.

      The multi-author promo is definitely the quickest way to grow your list, no question.

      Episodic series…sounds interesting! Are you using Kindle Serials, Radish, Wattpad?

      1. As a reader, I don’t love serials/cliffhangers, so I’m trying something a little different.

        I’m writing a romance in four episodes (10-20K), each in a different city and with its own discreet plot and external conflicts. However, the series has an overarching story arc and internal conflicts that develop and play out over time. I want to hook readers emotionally, not just with a twist at the end. Have you seen the six-part series The Night Manager (from the John LaCarre novel)? That’s what I wanted to do!

        But this turns out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be. Romance has a lot of “musts,” all of which I need to fit in.

        In terms of a marketing plan, I was just going to send it to my subscriber list + some romance lists. It’s going up on KU, so I can’t put it anywhere else. But I’ll definitely check out these other options you mentioned – never heard of Radish!

        1. Great idea! I loved The Night Manager and watched it a couple of times. Hope it works out great for you. If it’s romantic suspense, maybe not quite as many musts? But I know romance is a lot like mystery–readers have their expectations!

          Radish is getting attention right now because they just raised $3 million:

          More about Radish: . You could apply to write for them here:

  7. Hi Elizabeth – thanks for this … a very interesting read, and some excellent comments with your replies – all grist to the ‘helpful mill’! The Episodic idea is an interesting thought too … great read – thank you … cheers Hilary

  8. Hi Elizabeth, thanks for the post I’ve not heard of Instafreebie. Definitely will check them out. I’m gearing up to do a lot of stuff soon and an email newsletter is one of them. And worthy of a Tweet!

    Stephen Tremp

  9. I have been organizing group promos using Instafreebie since last summer. In my automation sequence, I send out an email once a week for a couple months. Then, the readers get my monthly newsletter. My open and click rates are slightly less than my organic sign-ups but still much better than other giveaways. I’m really happy with the service.

    1. That’s great and does fall into what I was thinking…that these readers aren’t just in it for the free book.

      I got a MailChimp report yesterday and saw that I upped my subscribers by 17 in the past week…again by doing absolutely nothing. Not sure how long this wonderfulness will last, but I’m appreciating it!

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