The importance of building your email list is pretty well-established, and we’re all aware that you need at least one main opt-in incentive, if not regular content upgrades, to do it. So what exactly should you use as that opt-in freebie or content upgrade?
Let’s start with the basics:
What is an opt-in freebie?
Your opt-in freebie, also known as a lead magnet, is something you give your subscribers in return for their email address. You’ll probably have a dedicated page on your site, similar to any other squeeze page or sales page, promoting your opt-in freebie, but you’ll also mention it within some blog posts.
And what is a content upgrade?
A content upgrade is also something you give your subscribers in return for their email address. But a content upgrade is usually something you offer within a blog post that expands on or compliments the content in that particular post.
In short, all content upgrades are opt-in freebies, but not all opt-in freebies are content upgrades.
Do I need content upgrades on my blog?
Not necessarily, and if you offer them, you’ll have to have a system to deliver them. Some bloggers run different lists, or list segments, based on who opts in for what. But the easiest way is probably to set up a resource library to house your main opt-in gift and all your content upgrades (more on that later).
So what should you be offering your readers to lure them into subscribing for your email list?
Ten Great opt-in Freebies
A free ebook used to be an excellent opt-in freebie, then everyone started offering them, and now we all have way too many free ebooks (many of which we’ve never read) on our hard drive. An ebook can still be great freebie, but make sure it’s high quality and keep it super relevant and quite short. Addressing one specific issue that’s a real pain point for your audience works well.
Checklist or cheat sheet
If there’s a task or process that your audience need to do on a regular basis, you can make a simple one page checklist or cheat sheet that they can print, copy and use over and over again. This works well as a content upgrade as you can address something very specific that you mention within a blog post.
A multi-page workbook that helps your readers to achieve something important can be a great opt-in freebie. Here at The Savvy Solopreneur I offer a free workbook: Seven Steps to Clarity as a Solopreneur. You can also produce a simple one page worksheet as a content upgrade within a blog post.
This can be PDF with a list of resources that would be useful to your readers. These can be free resources, paid resources, or a mixture of both. You can even include your affiliate links within a resource list, if affiliate marketing is part of your business model.
A video or audio series
If you enjoy recording video or audio (I don’t) you can offer readers a free video tutorial, or a series of videos or MP3 recordings that cover a process or topic of interest to your audience.
An ecourse or challenge
It takes a little more work, but with a good autoresponder you can easily set up a course or challenge to be delivered by email over the next 5, 10, or 30 days. You can even buy in the content for this, in the form of PLR. I talk more about how to create an opt-in freebie using PLR content in this post.
A planner or calendar
You can produce a digital, printable, weekly or monthly planner or calendar aimed specifically at your target audience. This may be as simple taking a basic template and adding relevant quotes or tips specific to your niche.
You can also buy in planners that you can customize and use as a freebie. Coachglue have niche specific planners such as the blog content planner and the affiliate marketing planner that you can buy, customize and use as an opt-in freebie.
You can offer a free sample of a product you usually sell. This is a common tactic recently with stock photography sites such as Ivory Mix and CreateHer. They offer a package of free styled stock photography when you sign up for their newsletter. Sometimes they even send you a few free photos with every monthly newsletter.
Creative market is a great example of a site that sends out freebies regularly. In fact, they offer six new free products (things like graphics, stock photography, WordPress themes and custom fonts) every single week. It’s worth signing up over there if you haven’t already.
I don’t suggest this as your only incentive to sign up, but it can be a useful extra. I offer a 50% discount on my Busy Bloggers Success Kit to all new subscribers here at The Savvy Solopreneur. I also offer the same discount on my Freelance Writers Success Kit to new subscribers to my freelance writing website.
A resource library
As it gets harder and harder to entice people to part with their email address, some bloggers are going all out, and providing subscribers with an entire library of relevant resources.
This can be a great idea if you want to include small content upgrades with individual blog posts. You offer a highly relevant extra download (maybe a checklist or worksheet) with each new blog post (or at least one post each month) and add each new content upgrade to your resource library as you create it. New subscribers get access to the library via a private link in your welcome email (you can password protect your library if you want), and regular subscribers can access the library at any time to check out any new resources you’ve added.
There’s a great post on how to put together a resource library over at Melissa Griffin’s blog.
Whether you decide to go small and simple with your opt-in freebie, or create a whole library, is up to you. There’s no reason you can’t start small and grow slowly.
Want more content creation tips? Check out my Kindle book The Savvy Solopreneur’s Guide to Content Creation.