What to Do When Asked to Donate Homeschool Products

Being generous is noble and right. So don’t be afraid to donate your products, services, and subscriptions when people ask. But do it with intent!

Sadly, there are a few bad apples out there who purposely invent sob stories to manipulate homeschool publishers into donating materials—which they turn around and sell for a profit. (I know. Tacky, right? It’s hard to believe there are such lowlifes out there.) Although you could play sleuth and verify the situations of every person who asks, you have better things to do! Decide how to handle these requests, and then stick to your script each time.
What to Do When Asked to Donate Homeschool Products

Sometimes Donate Without Strings Attached

Resolve right now to use your business to benefit others! That may mean you support a particular charity with your profits, contribute products to a specific entity on a regular basis, or simply have a budget line item for a certain amount of donated products each year.

  • For example, I know one homeschool publisher that supports several Compassion children as a company.
  • Other companies regularly donate cash to The Home School Foundation. Then when freebie seekers come knocking, they refer them to that particular organization which vets the recipients of the donations. (You are running a business. You have better things to do that researching the backgrounds of the people who are asking for handouts.)

Sometimes you just know. You read the email or answer the call, and something inside you knows it’s the right thing to do. Do it! Being generous is always right. However you choose to be generous, you can trust that the intangible rewards will come back to you! When you donate like this, it’s without expectation of receiving anything beyond that awesome feeling of satisfaction.

But if you have nagging doubts and feel unsure about how to handle these requests, it’s good to have a plan so that when someone approaches you—seeking a no-strings-attached donation—you know exactly how to handle it. It’s your policy, and it’s easy to simply apply the policy instead of having to decide each time.

Usually Donate With Strings Attached

There’s nothing wrong with donating and getting something in return, though!

A Personal Donation

If the person asking for a donation is a homeschool parent who is simply seeking curriculum to use with her own kids, here are a few ideas. If the person balks at these small requests, there’s probably something fishy about their request.

  • Offer a steep discount or offer to send the product free if they will pay for shipping. If someone is willing to pay even a small portion, they tend to value it more.
  • Ask for a testimonial or review. This can be submitted in your online store, on Amazon or other retailer, or simply emailed back to you. (Remind them the focus should be on the product not that they got it for free. You don’t want their review to multiply your requests for more freebies.)
  • Ask them to share about the program on social media, so their family and friends may see it. Simply snapping a photo and sharing to Facebook or Instagram is worth something to your business! (Again, the emphasis is on the product itself and not a thank you for getting it free.)
  • Ask them to share it in a Facebook group, a local homeschool co-op meeting, or on a local homeschool forum or email chain. While you may not have a way to verify this, it still puts the idea in their head that they can give back by promoting you within their sphere of influence.

A Blog or Online Event Donation

A blogger who is asking for a donation is going to be far more savvy in terms of social media. She should approach you with a clear idea of what you will get out of offering a donation. If she doesn’t offer any details, then ask! And even when she answers, realize that you can negotiate. Each event is different, but here are some things you can request or ask about:

  • Will I get a link on a permanent landing page?
  • May I give you a tracking link to measure the traffic you send?
  • Can I submit a piece of evergreen content?
  • Can I get a CSV of the entrants (to add to my own mailing list)?
  • Can I submit follow up content to be sent to entrants via email?
  • What kind of traffic does your site get?
  • How many people typically enter your giveaways?
  • Where will the giveaway be featured: email, social media, etc.?
  • How many other companies are featured and will I get solo promotion or will I always be listed among a group of others?
  • Are any of my main competitors included in the project? If I sign on, will you agree not to include them?

Obviously, the larger (higher traffic/subscriber/follower numbers) and more long-lasting (evergreen content on websites) the reach of the event, the more willing you will be to participate. If an event is really amazing, you may be expected to pay to participate. That is valid if you are getting a lot in return, so remember to ask probing questions and negotiate!

An In-person Entity or Event Donation

For a real-life event or organization, it can be harder to track your return on investment, but again, a seasoned event organizer will have some kind of perk to offer you. Ask for anything concrete that helps you see your donation in action—photographs, web archives of emails sent to group members, online event descriptions, etc. Many times the event organizers are volunteers who are brand new to anything of the sort, and while they are willing to make the donation worth your while, they aren’t savvy about what they should offer. So you may need to coach them a bit. If you don’t have the time to spend back and forth on these kinds of emails (or a marketing manager to delegate the task), then you can politely decline. It’s okay to say no. Do not feel any guilt.

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100 Opt-In Offers to Build Your Email List for Homeschool Marketing

Email is still the most direct way to communicate to your audience and the one method that you have the most control over. Even if you have a huge list already, you don’t want it to grow stagnant. It’s natural that people will stop homeschooling, graduate their high schoolers, unsubscribe, or stop reading your emails. If your list seems dead, then it’s time to purge all addresses for people who haven’t opened an email in 9-12 months.

Meanwhile, you should be constantly adding new emails to your list. But to do that, you need a hook. Here are bland, uninspiring invitations that we see all over the web:

  • Get our free newsletter!
  • Sign up to receive updates.
  • Get our monthly emails.

Why should someone sign up to read your news, your updates? People care about themselves and their problems. So make your emails about them not about you. Couch your offer in terms of how the subscriber will benefit as a result of signing up. A great hook is an opt-in offer.

The visitor opts in to your list in exchange for something you give them immediately.

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For opt-in offers to work, they need to be valuable and visual. Don’t skimp on your offer. Make it something that your reader will be eager to jump through a small hoop for. Make sure that it is both lovely and useful so that your new subscriber doesn’t immediately unsubscribe in disgust.

When presenting the opt-in offer, be sure to use visuals to portray it. Hopefully, the item itself is attractive enough that you can use the cover or a thumbnail of it to entice sign ups. If not, make some icon or graphic to represent it visually. Yes, use words, but also use something visual so that the reader immediately has a sense of what you are offering without even activating the word part of the brain. Emphasize the benefit of the free item and be sure that the recipient understands that opting in means you will be following up with additional, equally valuable emails.

What to Offer

Take a clue from what your audience has already told you.

  • What questions does your audience ask on Facebook or in forums?
  • What does your audience complain about?
  • What are your most popular website pages/posts?
  • What are your most popular pins on Pinterest?

Or you can always ask! Send out an email or post something on social media to get feedback. Don’t say, “We want to make an opt-in offer. Help us decide.” No. Ask an open ended question like these:

  • Homeschooling would be a breeze if only ___.
  • I’d love it if a genie could swoop down and ______ for my homeschool today.
  • The toughest part about homeschooling is ____.
  • Share your greatest victory with us today! What have you conquered in your homeschool?

Then listen. Your audience will tell you exactly what they struggle with and what they most value. Then find a way to provide answers for their problems through your opt-in offer.

More than likely you can repurpose something you already have. If not, hire someone to make it.

Besides the actual ideas and wording, you need to have an attractive layout/format. And be sure to brand your freebie so that every time the recipient uses it, she sees your brand name and knows where it came from.

Make your offer prominent on your homepage and your blog posts. Use a welcome mat, a hello bar, a pop out/over/up, a subtle gif, a bright button, etc. to grab your visitor’s attention.

Switch It Up

Your opt-in offer needs to change at least quarterly, so this isn’t a one time process. You need to be in a constant cycle of generating content and switching it out on your site to attract new users and to reward your existing subscribers/members. Just as you have an editorial calendar for your blog and social media sharing, you need a plan for your opt-in offers. You can recycle through them, though. And once you have a large enough collection, you can give subscribers access to an entire vault of resources.

You can also bundle smaller resources for more punch. For example, combine a printable book log with a few annotated, grade level reading lists and a list of discussion questions for literature to create a high quality reading resource.

Plan your year of opt-ins with an eye to variety and appealing to a wide variety of moms (or a particular type if that is your preference) — seasonal freebies, freebies for moms of preschoolers, freebies for moms of teens, etc.

Opt-In Offers Especially for Homeschool Marketing

  1. an MP3 recording of a workshop
  2. a video recording of a workshop (with any handouts)
  3. an editable record keeping template
  4. a printable checklist
  5. a free trial or limited time subscription
  6. a free back issue of a magazine
  7. a regional field trip guide
  8. a how to get started guide (PDF)
  9. a series of emails with inspirational quotes
  10. printable posters with inspirational quotes
  11. desktop wallpapers or phone backgrounds with helpful tips or motivational quotes
  12. a list of rainy day or sick day activities
  13. a massive, annotated booklist
  14. an online course
  15. an instructional video
  16. a webinar replay
  17. a live, online webinar or workshop
  18. notebooking pages
  19. lapbook
  20. worksheets
  21. a list of recommended YouTube channels or television programs and how to watch them
  22. a video recording of a roundtable discussion
  23. printables for organizing a homeschool
  24. monthly activity calendars (math problem of the day, prompt of the day, science activity of the day, research question of the day)
  25. scavenger hunts (nature, geography, grammar)
  26. an annotated list of recommended websites or apps
  27. a 30 minute consultation or coaching call
  28. a questionnaire for self-evaluation
  29. a list of life-skills for kids, divided by ages
  30. a list of etiquette or social skills for kids
  31. a list of age appropriate chores
  32. a printable chore chart
  33. a learning styles inventory
  34. a teaching philosophy quiz or guide
  35. a unit study with printables, book list, and teaching ideas
  36. a science experiment tutorial with step by step photos (or video)
  37. coloring pages
  38. a list of something to memorize (poetry, quotes, continents and oceans, etc.)
  39. a printable game board, card game, spinner, or dice
  40. printable flashcards
  41. printable papercraft template
  42. printable math manipulatives
  43. printable graphic organizers
  44. cookbook or recipe cards with homeschool lunch ideas
  45. a goal tracker — either digital or printable
  46. printable labels or binder covers
  47. a series of emails helping the reader through a problem (reluctant reader, ADHD, lazy student)
  48. a list of character qualities
  49. a printable list of positive words/phrases of praise
  50. a literature guide for a classic novel
  51. a guided meditation or prayer journal
  52. a white paper with statistics about homeschooling
  53. a weekly or monthly meal plan with recipes and shopping list
  54. access to a private support group (such as a Facebook group)
  55. printable list of brain breaks
  56. printable list of PE activities
  57. a guide to homeschool budgeting with printable finance tracker
  58. printable stickers for a personal planner
  59. unit study planning template
  60. free printables for imaginative play (such as grocery store, post office, or library)
  61. 4 year high school planner with state requirements
  62. transcript generator
  63. high school diploma template
  64. lesson plans
  65. step by step video tutorial for organizing homeschool materials
  66. guides to learning styles with suggested activities
  67. guides to teaching styles with pros and cons
  68. book lists for the homeschool parent (inspiration, practical how tos, homeschooling special needs, homeschooling high school, etc.)
  69. access to an entire library of online magazines, MP3 files, and printables
  70. a list of stores that offer homeschool discounts and how to get them
  71. a homeschool student ID template or generator
  72. homeschool portfolio checklist
  73. guide to homeschool laws in your state with checklist
  74. a massive list of volunteering opportunities or RAK (random acts of kindness)
  75. a list of websites that will mail kids free brochures, maps, and posters
  76. a guide for starting a homeschool co-op
  77. semester outline, lesson plans, and printables for a homeschool co-op class
  78. a guide to starting a homeschool book club, LEGO club, or other topic
  79. fun April Fool’s jokes or pranks
  80. holiday countdown ideas with daily activities and printables
  81. family discussion starters or “Would you rather…” questions
  82. bulletin board or wall decor ideas with printable templates
  83. a guide to dealing with professionals (therapists, counselors, social workers, doctors) as a homeschooler
  84. directions for making different kinds of timelines, a breakfast board, or a mini-office
  85. a list of preschool skills for kindergarten readiness
  86. a list of dyslexia symptoms (or other special needs)
  87. high school graduation party ideas, etiquette, and ceremony suggestions
  88. high school graduation timeline or checklist
  89. a list of discussion questions for literature or art
  90. schedules and lesson plans for composer or artist study
  91. a list of live webcams at zoos
  92. printable file folder game
  93. copywork or handwriting practice
  94. annotated list of historical movies or documentaries, arranged chronologically
  95. a guide to high school AP, CLEP, and dual credit
  96. a guide to a gap year for homeschoolers
  97. a guide to college admissions for homeschoolers
  98. book logs
  99. a project guide, for example a salt dough map kit with a recipe, printable maps and location flags, step by step photo directions, and insider tips.
  100. a recipe book of crafty projects (paper mache, salt dough, oobleck, finger paint, etc.)

Get The Printable Chart

Get a printable version of this list by submitting the form below. See what we did there? We just offered you something of value in exchange for email! That’s an opt-in offer.

After you submit your email address in the form below, you will immediately receive an email with a download link to the PDF and also be subscribed for additional marketing advice for the homeschool niche. (You may unsubscribe at any time, of course.)


100 Opt-In Offers to Build Your Email List for Homeschool Marketing

Exactly What to Post on Instagram: A Month of Posts for the Homeschool Niche

First you accept that you need to get an Instagram account. So you grab a handle that is consistent with all your other social accounts and fill out your profile. Bravo!

And then you realize you have to post consistently every day. Gulp. Getting the account was the easy part. Feeding the social media monster can feel like an impossible chore. Similar to laundry and dishes, it never ends.

Your best strategy for dealing with this perpetually revolving door of social media content is having a plan — an Instagram editorial calendar. 

Exactly What to Post on Instagram: A Month of Posts for the Homeschool Niche

Here is a suggested schedule of 31 posts to carry you through any month of the year. Feel free to rearrange the posts as best suits your needs. To get a printable version of this list plus suggested links for calls to action, scroll to the bottom of this post.

A Month of Instagram Posts for the Homeschool Niche

  1. post a meme made of a quote taken from a blog post or article on your site
  2. repost customer generated image (credit owner in caption and tag)
  3. share a sale or discount
  4. post a meme of a question based on a blog post or article from your site
  5. repost customer generated image (credit owner in caption and tag)
  6. post a photo of your catalog
  7. snap a staged photo of your product in use and with props
  8. repost customer generated image (credit owner in caption and tag)
  9. post a meme made of an inspiring quote about teaching or parenting
  10. post a photo from a convention or conference
  11. repost customer generated image (credit owner in caption and tag)
  12. post a meme made of a quote taken from a blog post or article on your site
  13. snap a staged photo of your product in use and with props
  14. repost customer generated image (credit owner in caption and tag)
  15. share your opt-in offer
  16. post a behind the scenes photo from your warehouse
  17. repost customer generated image (credit owner in caption and tag)
  18. post a meme of a question based on a blog post or article from your site
  19. promote a new product release or post a teaser for an upcoming product release
  20. repost customer generated image (credit owner in caption and tag)
  21. snap a staged photo of your product in use and with props
  22. post a behind the scenes photo from your office/headquarters
  23. repost customer generated image (credit owner in caption and tag)
  24. share a sale or discount
  25. post a meme made of a quote taken from a blog post or article on your site
  26. repost customer generated image (credit owner in caption and tag)
  27. promote a product update
  28. advertise your affiliate program
  29. repost customer generated image (credit owner in caption and tag)
  30. snap a staged photo of your product in use and with props
  31. post a meme of a question based on a blog post or article from your site

The Power of Reposting Customer Images

In my proposed schedule, I planned for a customer repost every third day or 10 each month.

When you repost photos from your customers, you get a break from creating content! You simply have to find the content your customers are already sharing. Find this content by searching hashtags and monitoring mentions in your notifications (under the ♥ tab). Many users will not tag you on the image but will mention you in the caption with your @handle. Others will use your brand name as a hashtag, so be sure to monitor that hashtag and variants of it daily.

When you repost customer images, you train them to post about you! If their account is public, 99% of the time, they are thrilled to have their images reposted. Of course, you want to provide both a tag on the image and an @handle mention in the caption area to give them full credit. Reposting customer content is a virtual high five that builds even more customer loyalty.

Staging Product Images

There are a few ways to handle product images. You can use your catalog style images — formal with white/no backgrounds. Or you can make the images on Instagram more personal by using photos you snap with your cellphone. Most of the images on Instagram are taken with mobile phones, so informal shots look more natural in the Instagram stream.

Add school supplies like markers, maps, globes, pens, notebooks, colored paper, and scissors to give your image more authenticity. Or put your product next to a cup of coffee, a cupcake, or a piece of chocolate! Those feel-good extras provide emotional warmth that your followers will be drawn to.

Repeating Posts

Some posts need to be repeated periodically. You are always gaining new followers, and none of your followers are going to see everything you post. As long as you have plenty of intervening content, don’t be afraid to repeat the same post as often as monthly. For example, your catalog and your current opt-in offer are two posts that can be recycled.

Adding Links & Call to Action

If you are using a tool that allows you to add a link in your bio or profile (linkinprofile or Later, for example), then be sure to add a relevant link and call to action for every post you share. It can be as simple as these sentences:

  • Click the link in our Instagram profile to see XYZ PRODUCT.
  • Click the link in our Instagram profile to see more tips on our blog.
  • Click the link in our Instagram profile to request your own catalog.
  • Click the link in our Instagram profile to see our YEAR convention schedule.

The printable chart with these 31 post ideas includes specific places to link each one.

Note, if you pay Instagram to promote a post, there is an option to add a specific call to action and custom link which both appear directly under the image.

Posting More Than Once Per Day

Once you have once per day under your belt, you can move up to posting twice per day. Certain times of the year may produce lots of customer generated images of your products, and you may want to post more often. In that case you can share one of your own images plus one or more customer post each day. Or you may decide to post once a day but post two or three times a day only on the days of the week with the highest views (as indicated in your Instagram analytics). As long as you are posting consistently with no long dry spells, you can modify your schedule and experiment with what works.

With a plan in place for your content, you will be able to enjoy Instagram, especially the interacting with homeschool parents and loyal customers.

Get The Printable Chart

To get this list of Instagram posts in a convenient printable format, simply submit your email address in the form below. You will immediately receive an email with a download link to the PDF and also be subscribed for additional marketing advice for the homeschool niche. (You may unsubscribe at any time, of course.)
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Instagram editorial calendar • a month of Instagram posts for the homeschool niche