Have you seen these ads lately? “Get your free (whatever)… Just pay for shipping & handling. Very enticing isn’t it. Who doesn’t like to get free stuff? I know I do. But is it really free? Or is this just a new marketing technique to create revenue. Is it legit, or is it a scam? Free stuff, just pay shipping… Really??
So what do you consider a scam? Or is it just unethical? I believe it’s being used as an effective way to get unsuspecting people to give away their emails. My issue is what comes after that.
Let’s take a look at what’s behind these offers, then you can decide if it’s really free.
What Is A Free Plus Shipping Business?
This is a fairly new niche that make-money-online entrepreneurs are taking advantage of. It can be quite lucrative as long as your calculations are just right.
Basically, it’s an e-commerce store that sells products for $0 and only asks the customers to pay for the shipping fees. Personally, I’ve been seeing these offers from marketing “gurus” who are hoping to sell their services.
This is how it works in a nutshell… They make their money by inflating the shipping fees. This covers the cost of the product and shipping, plus makes a small profit.
Many businesses think this is a clever tactic to get people interested in their products or services. And customers like to think they’ve one-upped the system by getting something free!
So How Do You Set Up Only-Pay-Shipping Deals?
Because you’re relying on the shipping fees to generate profit, you need to find that perfect price point for what you want to offer. I believe most use books because these can be relatively cheap to produce.
But any product can be used. If you pick a cheaper product, say between $5-$10, the shipping cost you charge will still be reasonable in your customer’s eyes. If you choose a high-value product, your customer will most likely hesitate at a $50 shipping charge. The trick is sourcing out a higher value looking products at a low cost.
If you have a successful e-commerce store, multiple cheaper products can still add up to a decent profit margin. And I believe that’s only possible if you take advantage of dropshipping. That way you have no inventory or overhead costs to worry about.
Like any online business, you need to know how to set up marketing campaigns. Free traffic will take some time to accumulate, so using paid advertising is the quicker route.
Social media campaigns can offer you quick statistics so you can focus on what works and what doesn’t. If you’re new at this, it can be a steep learning curve.
Here Are Some Pros and Cons of Free Plus Shipping
- You have the benefit of using the word “FREE”, which usually excites customers
- Marketing through channels like Facebook can reach much larger audiences
- If you use dropshipping, you don’t have to worry about inventory
- It’s a great way to attract new customers
- You need to know your overall costs well make a profit
- This is a short-term strategy due to small profit margins (will not create a passive income)
- Customers will lose their trust in you if shipping costs are too high
- If you don’t use dropshipping, your upfront costs are higher
How Can I Make The Pay-Shipping-Only Model More Long Term?
If the customer buys onto a platform that requires its services for years to come, then yes, this can be viable for the long term.
For instance, I know of a hosting platform that uses their own websites, not WordPress. That means their customer needs to continue paying for the hosting services to run their online businesses. Many businesses will remain with them because it’s often too difficult to move their site elsewhere.
Another example is shown in the picture above. Many “gurus” are using this technique. They are offering enticing deals, in hopes of leading their customers to increasingly larger upsells.
In this case, the first ad you see is “Claim My Free Book”. That grabs the reader’s attention.
When the customer clicks on the button, he’s taken to another ad that says “Just Pay Shipping”. The seller increases the excitement by saying his book is worth $99.95, but for a limited time, you can get it for free.
Statistically, people won’t buy your product until they’ve seen it seven times. So you must develop an email campaign to keep presenting your customer with the benefits of your product.
Your initial emails might start out by offering pieces of valuable or actionable information. Then possibly follow up with a lower priced upsell to try it out.
As each consecutive email is sent, you use your strategy to persuade them to purchase your ultimate product. This is also known as a sales funnel.
If you have successfully targeted your audience, your product should be exactly what they’re looking for. In the case above, this seller is promoting his membership site and thousands of dollars worth of his masterclasses.
Why I Think Pay For Shipping Deals Are Unethical
You may be thinking… “but sales funnels are a good thing”. And I agree, they are. What I don’t like about the ‘pay for shipping’ model is its deceptiveness.
They are relying on the psychology of the word FREE. They know how people get excited when they’re offered something for free. But it’s not free, is it. The buyer is actually paying enough to make the “guru” a profit. To me, that’s just downright lying.
The video below (about free watches) describes how I feel about this…
The video shows you how these products are not as valuable as they are promoted to be. You’re better off buying from sites like DHgate yourself.
Books rarely offer what the customer thinks he paid for. Most of the time, they are just teasers, which talk about why you would need the seller’s product or service. That is, after all, their ultimate goal.
More importantly, they now have your name, address, email, and credit card number. You can be sure they’ll be using their full arsenal to try to persuade you to upgrade. And all this, after you just wanting your free book!
Have You Fallen For The Free Book Trap?
I call this a trap because it’s deceptive. The average Joe doesn’t realize their free product is actually not. There are ethical ways to build an income. And I sleep better at night knowing I’m not trying to deceive anyone.
My online business, Legitimate Affiliate Training, is helping people learn how they can earn an extra income to help them build financial security. And I promote an absolutely wonderful platform where you can learn how to do this, ethically!!
In all my years at Wealthy Affiliate, never have I heard Kyle or Carson talk about these “Free Plus Shipping” models. There are just so many better ways to earn an income.
If you would like to learn how to start your own business, with awesome training, powerful tools, and an active community, please read my thorough review by clicking the picture below.