Interview with Mike Essex of Koozai – The Art of Giving Away Free Stuff

By On July 27, 2012 • Inbound Marketing Strategies Comments (1)

mike essex3 Days after the super post from 8 SEO Experts in the Philippines, here we are again blessed with a 1 on 1 interview with Mike Essex, the Online Marketing Manager at Koozai – A leading UK SEO Company, the author of “Free Stuffs Everyday“.

One of the best guy in link building, specially on brand advocacy of giving away free stuffs – So let’s roll!

1. How are you Mike? How is your SEO career? 

I’m doing well thanks Jayson and I think now is a great time to be in the SEO industry. Two years ago I didn’t know anyone in the SEO industry and hadn’t talked to anyone else who did SEO. I then joined Koozai and everything changed. 

I was surrounded by lots of great SEO’s and through Twitter and attending conferences I made lots of friends for life. It really helped prove that this is a friendly and growing industry and despite the amount of people who try to label online marketing as a bad industry, they couldn’t be more mistaken.

For one great example of how the community works well together, I asked people to spread the word about my book on the 27th July as part of a challenge to reach the Amazon top 100. Within an hour of asking, 20 people said they would help and now people from over the world have given their time to help. You can too, visit -

2. How did you started your book Free Stuffs Everyday?

I started a blog several years ago which has one rule; anything people sent me I would review. It soon took on a life of its own and I’d received over 400 products to keep. During this time I learnt a ton on how companies can grow their brands by giving away freebies and how customers can get freebies by working with brands. Free Stuff Everyday is a summary of everything I learnt in that time and how it can be applied for customers and brands. 

3. What is your first giveaway that became successful? And something that you can be proud of and tell everybody “we give away this and it turned into this_____”

I once convinced over 20 brands to send me products for Christmas, which allowed me to get my entire Christmas for free. That included a Christmas tree, food, a hamper and some companies even sent their products wrapped up so I could give them as presents. Alongside featuring the products on my site the story was featured in media around the world and is by far the most successful piece of PR to come from the site. 

4. Have you ever had a situation wherein you felt you can’t give away something? Share your most significant struggle on giveaways.

When people think of “freebies” they often think about physical products, but there’s so much more you can give away. For example we write for the Koozai blog, create external guest blog posts, help journalists with stories and film videos for Koozai TV. All of which requires a big time investment and a commitment internally for us to share what we do with people outside the company. Despite that we have a very open policy, and almost everything we discuss in the team we will share on our website or in presentations. 

It should be a struggle, and yet the more we share with the community, the more we want to share, and the more we invest internally in doing so. Koozai TV for example, being one recent large investment we have made to help us share more information with the online marketing community. 

In terms of the most complicated physical product, one of our clients lets people get 30 day free trials of their industrial lasers. It helps prove the product to people, and shows even Business 2 Business companies with high tech products can use freebies. 

5. How do you convince people (business owners) to give-away stuffs for free? And make it become an integral part of their marketing campaign or link building perhaps.

If it’s for a client I usually ask them if they have any spare products, or ex display samples that they could give away. To prove this to the client I use an ROI model that looks at the cost of creating a product, and then the profit on a product. For example if it costs £2 to make a product, and they make £1 profit on each one, then they only need to sell two of the product as a result of the giveaway in order to break even. Of course the added links, and brand exposure further add to the equation.

Generally though, most brands are already keen on the idea. It’s no secret that brands want people to become brand advocates and help spread the message about their products for them. Freebies are the best way to do this. 

6. Give a freebie today, share 3 link building tactics that you believe most link builders overlook and often forgot when building links.

It’s hard to find tips people miss (as there’s so many great link builders out there) but here are three that I always try and push:

1 – Get real reviews of your products: Contact bloggers, the media and customers and ask them to review your product. Provide them with a sample in order to do so and ask for a link back.

2 – Fight for your industry: Write blog posts helping your industry and fighting against the things that you feel are wrong. This type of post gets a lot of share.

3 – Make friends with journalists: Follow journalists on a separate Twitter list and converse with them on a regular basis to build up long term trust so when they need a source they instinctively think of you. (You can read more on the psychology of this approach at

7. How do you see SEO and link building 5 years from now? (I asked this question on my previous interviews with PointBlankSEO, Rand Fishkin, KaiserTheSage and Benj Arriola – just intrigued on how link building experts like you foresee the future of our industry.)

Anyone who puts the time in to networking and building relationships with influential bloggers and the media now will have a substantial advantage in five years’ time. Rather than having to start each project from scratch the more relationships you build now, the more of them you will have in place for the future. It takes time at the start but, is well worth it long term. 
The other reason relationship building is vitally important is the likely rise to power of author rank. It’s likely that links will be given power based on the author rank of people who write for each website. So a link from a website with strong authors will be worth more than one from a small blog with an author who is unpopular. It will also be far easier for brands (big and small) to rank, and to be seen as a brand you will need good quality links from strong authors. 

8. Where can people find you? 

You can find the vast majority of my blog posts at Koozai, or watch my video guides at Koozai TV. I’m on Twitter as @Koozai_mike, and you can find out more about my book, “Free Stuff Everyday” at my blog.

Thank you Mike Essex ;)
If you had a great time reading this post, you can submit it on and vote it up or just simply join the conversation by leaving a comment below 


Jayson Bagio is the lead strategist of SEOteky. A digital marketing team from Manila, Ph who specializes in content marketing and link building. Get in touch with him using the contact form on the side or by visiting the about page. You can also follow him on twitter & google+.

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One Response to Interview with Mike Essex of Koozai – The Art of Giving Away Free Stuff

  1. Paddy says:

    Great interview. He’s made a big success of himself. SEO is so tricky.

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