It’s my belief that design blogs (those blogs focused on graphic design and other categories like web development) are the pinnacle when it comes to discovering best practices in the areas of traffic, branding, and profit through the use of freebies.

The design blog community is absolutely saturated with websites but even a new-comer is able to make big moves through the use of freebies. Yes, other niches do use freebies as part of their marketing strategy but I haven’t seen it add up to the level of that done by design bloggers.

What I want to do with this post is to help you understand what they’re doing differently.

  • What freebies they’re making
  • How they’re getting them shared
  • Why they’re able to profit

These bloggers understand what the community desires and also use their skills and expertise to create movements within the industry.

The combination of these two things makes their approach very unique and well worth trying to understand and turn into best practices for your projects.

Let’s consider an example…

Chris Spooner has always been a big inspiration for me in terms of Web Development. I had been reading his blog, SpoonGraphics, and other works for some years before I ever started into Affiliate Marketing but once I did so many different items, strategies, and motivations just seemed to *click* in what he was doing with his work.

Let’s see many great examples we can find:

  • A link to a “freebies” section at the top
  • A link to a “premium” section at the top
  • A “resource bundle” upon sign up to the newsletter
  • Multiple listings of the “premium” access (that are designed very well)
  • Tons of actual freebies (some linked and others made by Chris)
  • Great internal linking

All of these are great elements that have made Chris a very reputable individual in the Web Dev world (and has – I’d imagine – earned him a good chunk of money from his online efforts).

What’s working for traffic and branding

It’s fairly obvious why Chris does so well (along with others that blog about these topics).


A. They are using their skills to create freebies for the community which helps create great rapport with other amateurs and professionals.

B. The work they do is often shared around, frequently, in the community through list posts and other round-ups which not only helps them gain links but also builds their online presence.

C. They understand Web Dev on the basic level so, because of clients, they already have knowledge of implementing elements like newsletters, forums, social media profiles, and more.

Just those three things (which isn’t even the entire picture) is enough to really make individuals like Chris create a very strong brand.

Of course the design blog community is getting slightly saturated but if you were to take a day or two to examine how deep the interconnectedness is of the big brands you would discover great strategies for working with the competition to create something massive.

How it’s turning into profit

Put on your Affiliate Marketing thinking cap and consider the following:

1. The authors will create freebies using premium tools that are required by other developers/designers to use which means they can include affiliate links.

2. Most freebies have creative licenses which is generally just a link back to them (and that you can’t sell the freebies or use them commercially, most of the time) which means they are gaining great search engine (and social) traction thus giving them higher traffic to pitch advertisers and more.

3. With enough support and branding some individuals have created premium sections (like Chris) that either sell premium downloadable or other opportunities like freelance work, consulting, access to forums, and more.

4. Generally everything comes full circle because the community and content creators work well with one another which means a lot of interlinking, recommendations, reviews, and more.

Basically – it creates the perfect ecosystem of value.

The take-away

So then what is the point of all this…

I want you to start thinking (and researching) how these design blogs are really taking advantage of freebies for building their brand, community, and business, and then apply those concepts (at least some of them) to one of your niche websites.

Really take advantage of round-ups, interviews, and other forms of interlinking and networking to connect with others in your niche. Create freebies that encourage people to see your work and put it into theirs. Consider creating something premium for those passionate.

Did this kick start any ideas for your Affiliate Marketing & website work?