Are FREE Online Information Offers really FREE

Recently, I guess because of how busy I am, I've noticed that sites I already subscribe to start their message (in the subject box) with a statement about a FREE report or e-book, or other tool.

Since I'm always on the outlook for information I can use in my writing and work, I do take the time to click on the links. Well, I'll admit, I am led to a FREE report from the site owner that I subscribe to, or to a probable affiliate of theirs, but it's always at the cost of my name and email address through their opt-in box.

And, they usually lead off by saying because I'm (the subscriber) so important to them they want to share this information.

I've written a bit about this before, as to the value of subscribing to hundreds of different sites for information, but lately it seems sites I value for their information and integrity are doing the same thing. To tell you the truth, I'm getting a little tired of it. Tell me upfront it's a link to subscribing to yet another site - then at least I know what I'm heading to. And, tell me the cost - if it's a product or service for hundreds of dollars, I can't afford it and won't waste my time clicking on the link. But, marketers aren't concerned about wasting the time of those who won't be interested, their aiming at the few who will be.

Granted, some of the information you're led to may be of value and worth giving your email address for, but some is not. And, with the endless subscription information that most of us get daily in our email box, do we want to add any more?

But, this isn't even as bad; the ones that are worse are the emails that give you a page of copy leading you to another site with 5 more pages of "bells and whistles," and testimonials of how great this particular product or service is. You search to somewhere near the end (and really have to search) to find the cost of the product you-absolutely-must have, only to find it's out of your price-range.

I find internet marketers are becoming somewhat like the traditional marketing of -in-your-face and invasive marketing such as telemarketers, television and radio commercials, and infomercials.

How about telling me in a sentence or two, just like a pitch, what your product is and how it might benefit me . . . then tell me the cost. Okay even if it takes two or three short paragraphs to get all the perks mentioned. Do marketers really think 5 pages of fluff will make me pay for their product or service.

And, I do understand that copywriters make a great deal of money on this type of content, but in today's overburdening information stream, and only 24 hours in the day am I the only one who feels this way?

Sorry, I know this isn't of much value to you writers out there, but I just had to vent today.


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Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter-for-hire, Freelance writer, and Reviewer


Darcía Helle said...

Karen, I absolutely agree with your rant. I've gotten a bunch of those emails you described that lead me to 5 pages of fluff before announcing some scam. Why would I pay an enormous fee for information from someone who claims to be an expert, yet I have not heard of? Do you get the ones that offer a "free" video session of some sort (tips for promoting, marketing, raising your Google standing, etc.)? The catch is, in order to view the videos, you have to subscribe to something that will then send you endless amounts of sales pitches and spam. Free should be free, with no catches. The sad part is that now I find myself deleting everything, which means I am no doubt missing out on honest, valuable information.

Karen Cioffi said...


I get those all the time - and I often just delete marketing emails also.

The problem is that most of these marketers are affiliate marketers and the name of the game is to get clicks to their affiliate links.

And, definitely, if a marketer or author states they are offering something for free they should state upfront:

1. Whether it's from you or your affiliate.
2. If the recipient has to subscribe to another site to get the info.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a marketing subscription book on etiquette. HMMMM

Kari Wolfe said...

I kinda think it depends. And I don't always subscribe just because I get a "free ebook." I want to know what the ebook is and what it's about before I do anything. That's a biggie.

It's not the free books that drive me crazy--it's the ones that cost you money. Will I buy a book from someone I've never heard of? Well, yeah. But I need to be convinced--and NOT though a sales page--first.

There are all sorts of people out there. And they all want your money. Sometimes it's difficult to discern what will help you and what won't. I've bought a few books--spent a pretty penny on them too--and I'm done with that whole thing. The books I bought were useful and very well done--I researched them through their websites, checked out their blogs, whatnot.

The thing is: popular bloggers who are talking to beginning bloggers are telling them that to get a mailing list started, offer a free ebook. It works because we all love free stuff.

It would just be nice to see something truly DIFFERENT.

Karen Cioffi said...

It's not the author, or even marketer selling his/her own products or services that is the problem. Their free offers to get your email address is legitimate. It's an effective way of getting a list going.

It's the affiliate marketers who sends you all over the place--always to a landing page that you have to subscribe to in order to get the freebie.

I've also spent a pretty penny on e-books and programs. I've stopped that.

The one thing I've learned is that there are no magic bullets, no sure-fire ways to make money. It takes research, hard work, and perseverance.

Nancy Famolari said...

I have to admit. Marketing on the internet is getting almost as bad as the telemarketers that call you at meal times!

Good post,


Karen Cioffi said...

Hey, Nancy,

LOL Every now and then I have to let some steam off.

Janet Ann Collins said...

In my opinion the kind of marketing you're talking about is just plain dishonest and I'd never do business with any person or business that I know does it.

Karen Cioffi said...

Ditto that Janet!

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