10 Freebie Ideas to Explode Your Email List & How to Make Them – Part 2/2

14 min read

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How to create opt-in freebies.

[Note: This is part 2 of the two-part blog post. Read Part 1 here.]

In my last blog post, I shared with you some of my favorite (and popular with readers) freebie ideas for when you’re trying to grow your email list.

I also showed you how to create some of these freebies.

In today’s post, I’ll be showing you how to create the rest of them!

If you haven’t checked out the first part, here it is!

To recap, remember that one of the most important things for a serious blogger who treats blogging as a business, is building an email list. The challenge, however, is to get people to voluntarily give you their email addresses. And to facilitate that, you must give them something first. Something for free, full of value, and so desirable to your ideal audience that your readers won’t be able to help themselves but sign up for your email list, just to get their hands on that free thing you’re offering, in exchange for subscribing to your email list.

And now, here are the top 10 things that most people will be thrilled to have for free!

  1. Cheatsheets or checklists
  2. Planners
  3. Workbooks
  4. PDF mini-guides (chapter from an eBook)
  5. Templates (Canva, Google docs or sheets, or something else)
  6. Email course
  7. Video guides
  8. Webinars
  9. Library of freebies
  10. Quizzes

In part 1 of this blog post, I showed you how to create the first 5 from the list above: checklists, planners, worksheets, mini-guides, and templates.

In today’s post, I’ll go over the rest: an email course as a freebie, video guides, webinars, a library of your free offers (all bundled together), and quizzes just for your subscribers. 

Please note that there are plenty of ways to offer the aforementioned. However, since most of my readers tend to be new-ish bloggers on a budget, I am covering the cheapest (if not completely free) ways to deliver these things to your potential subscribers.

Let’s get started, shall we?

How to Create and Offer an Email Course as an Opt-in Freebie

Creating an email course is a bit more work than say, creating a checklist of a workbook. It is similar to creating a mini-guide of a sort, but instead of offering it as a PDF download, you’ll be offering it within emails.

Typically, here’s how an email course works:

You have an opt-in form to your email course -> Interested readers sign up for the said course -> once they sign up, they start receiving a series of emails, anywhere from 2 to 5 or 6 or more (10 at most), spread out over a few days, explaining something.

So, the things you need to do on your end are:

  1. Have a plan.
  2. Create content for the course (should have enough material and value to call it a short course).
  3. Set it up in your email list platform so that once someone signs up for this course, they get a series of emails, over a few days, with each email covering some aspect of the entire course.

Yeah, like I said, it’s a bit more work than usual. And that’s why I suggest that you have this as a freebie as part of some kind of sales funnel. For example, I have a free email course for list building (the one I am using in this very blog post) which leads to promoting my paid course on list-building. The idea is simple. Give enough information and value to my readers so that the free course on its own is value-packed, but leaves room for more to get my readers genuinely curious and tempted to see what the paid course may have to offer.

Now, you do not have to have a paid course for this sales funnel to work. You could also use it to sell an eBook, or some other type of product. You could even use it to sell affiliate products! Instead of using the email course as a sales funnel, you could use it to promote affiliate products within your free course material. For example, you could refer your subscribers to additional books within your course that may help them along with your free course, and then link these books on Amazon. If you have an Amazon Associate account, this could turn out to be a lucrative way to make some extra cash.

How to Set Up an Email Course with ConvertKit

The first thing you have to do is, of course, sign up for an email list platform. Now, my personal favorite is ConvertKit because this platform is practically designed with bloggers in mind. Now, ConvertKit doesn’t have a whole lot of bells and whistles like some of the other platforms (which I prefer as this keeps the platform simpler to use), but it does have one of the most powerful email automation features. And that is one tool that all bloggers need to strategically grow their email list and income!

Now, setting up an email course with ConvertKit is exactly the same as setting up an email welcome sequence.

First, you have to create an opt-in form. Then, you need to create a sequence. Finally, you will need to connect the form to the sequence with some automation rules.

Let me show you how!

– After you create an account with ConvertKit, go to “Landing Pages & Forms” in the top navigation. Scroll down until you see “New Form”. Click it and then on the next page, choose a form (optionally, you can create a landing age, but assuming you’re using a form within your blog, I will only show you how to create a form and not a landing page.)

Create a new form within ConvertKit

– Next, choose the type of form you want to create. For this example, I will use an inline form. This will show you options to choose from a set up built-in styles. Choose the one you like. I will choose the Pine form for this demonstration.

Choose a form style of your choice in ConvertKit.

– Now, you can customize the form to your liking. I won’t go over the details here as they are pretty intuitive. But if you do want more details of this part of the form setup, you can check out my Convertkit tutorial for more.

– To add the form to your blog, go to the “Embed” tab and then copy the embed code. Then paste it wherever you want the form to show on your blog.

– Now, go to the “Sequences” menu item from the top navigation, and then create a new sequence. Give it a name when prompted.

Create a new sequence in Convertkit. This will be your course.

– Now you can create your course. The sequence is your course. You can add as many emails as you want. Typically, I’d suggest having at least three different emails in your course, but preferably no more than 10. You can choose the delay between each email. I suggest at least one day between each email. Depending on your course materials, you may choose to have two or three days in between emails. However, I do not suggest having too large a gap between emails. Preferably no more than 2 days. Break up your content into these emails in bite-sized proportions, and as evenly as possible in terms of how much your subscribers have to take in from each email.

You can add emails to your sequence and set up delay between emails within a sequence.

– Once the sequence is set up, save it. IMPORTANT: Remember to change the status of each of the emails in a sequence from draft to published, or they won’t deliver.

– Now it’s time to connect a form to a sequence. Go to “Automations” from the top menu, and click on “New Automation”. For this demonstration, I will be showing you how to create a visual automation in ConvertKit.

Create a new automation to connect the form to the sequence.

– When creating a new automation, choose your automation entry point. In this case, we will choose “Joins a Form” as that’s how we’ve set it up so far. Choose which form will be the entry point. After that, click “Add event”.

Choose your automation entry point to be the form you created, and then add that event to your visual automation.

– Now, click the plus sign below the event to add an action to your event. Choose “Email Sequence”, and the sequence from the drop-down that you’ve just created. Then click on “Add action”.

– Once the sequence is connected to the form, you can make the automation live. By default, the form is in “pause’ mode. So, you will have to turn it on to make it live. To do that, locate the “pause” toggle button on top-right, and then click on it once to turn it on.

Make sure to make the automation live by clicking the toggle button that is set to "pause' by default.

And that’s it, guys! You’ve just created an email course! Easy, right? That’s partly why I love ConvertKit so much. It makes seemingly complicated things super easy to do. Saves tons of time and for us side-bloggers, time is hard to come by.

Again, if you need help with the finer details of using ConvetKit, check out the ConvertKit tutorial.

Now, Convertkit is not free. However, I believe it’s a solid and legit investment to your blog. Because you see, your email list is by far the most important thing for growing your income. So, unless you’re totally broke, I suggest you make this investment a priority.

However, if you’re really that broke and need something to get started, don’t worry. There’s another platform called MailerLite that offers email automation for free for the first 1000 subscribers. It’s not nearly as intuitive a platform as ConvertKit, but it’s still better than nothing! You can start with MailerLite, and then switch to ConvertKit as soon as you have the funds.

Alternatively, if you need a platform that’s more powerful and more feature-rich than ConvertKit, Constant Contact is a great all-around email marketing platform that can take care of any and all of your needs!

Using Video Guides and Tutorials as Opt-in Freebies

A video is a great way to teach people how to do something. Most humans are visual beings, so demonstrating something with a video can help your readers learn something better and faster.

Now, unfortunately, I’m not a pro video creator, so, I don’t have a lot to share in terms of the how-to portion. My suggestion would be that you scour through YouTube for video creation tutorials.

However, there’s one type of video I tend to create a lot of. These are screen-recordings of me showing you, my readers, how I use a program or software or what have you, on my computer (for example, I have used videos to demonstrate making certain types of Canva documents in part-1 of this post.) So, for this part, I’ll show you how I use a completely free software (app) to create screen-recording videos.

How to Use Loom to Create Short Video Tutorials

The app in question is called Loom. You can download this app for free on your Windows or Mac machines, or, you can use the Loom Chrome (browser) extension to create screen recordings of your computer.

Personally, I like the Chrome extension and use it to create all my videos.

If you’re recording your voice along with your video, you should use the microphone and connect it to your computer. I use one of those cheap ( < $50) headphones with a microphone attached. It’s not great, but for short videos, it’s enough.

I have also tried my laptop’s built-in microphone. It was decent quality, but due to the placement of the microphone, it tends to pick up clack-clack sound of my typing or using the keyboard keys, which is annoying. But if you have an external mic, that should remedy this.

Making videos with Loom is super easy. You can use it to demonstrate something in your computer, or create a presentation, and record it right on your computer as you walk your audience through it.

To start recording:

– First, add the Loom extension to Chrome. (Note that you can also just download and install the app in your desktop, I just prefer to use the browser extension, so that’s what I’ll be showing you.)

First step is for your to add the Loom extension to Chrome.

– Once it’s added, click on the Loom Chrome extension icon to show the controls. Click on Advanced option from the menu panel to show more controls.

Click on the Loom extension icon on Chrome to show controls.

– As you can see, you can choose different things here.

  • You can choose “Screen + Cam” to record both the screen and yourself. Typically, your photo will be shown on the corner of the video of the screen.
  • Choosing “Screen Only” won’t record yourself. If you don’t like to show yourself (which is usually the case with me), you can choose this option to only record your desktop.
  • Choosing “cam Only” will only record you, and not the screen. If you want to record yourself speaking, but do not have anything to share on your screen, you should choose this option.
  • You can choose to show between “Full Desktop” or “Current Screen”. If you plan on going back and forth between different screens or programs, you should choose “Full Desktop”.
  • If you want to record sound, make sure “Microphone Audio is turned on and choose the correct mic fro the drop-down.
  • The option “Use Photo for Screen Only” shows your profile photo at the corner of the screen. I like to have it turned off.
  • I also keep the “Control Menu” and “Recording Countdown” turned off. Those add unnecessary things on the recording; you don’t need those.
  • Click on “Start Recording” when you’re ready.
  • When you’re done recording, click on the Chrome extension icon once more to stop the recording.
  • A new tab will automatically open with the new video on your Loom account.
  • You can now share the video or embed it on a page, depending on how you decide to deliver your video. Click the small arrow icon underneath the video frame to open options for sharing the link, embed code, etc.

Click the arrow underneath the video frame to open different sharing options.

Note that Loom is free to use. It also allows you to host up to 100 videos for free. If you have more videos, you can sign up for their paid plan.

As for delivery, you can use the same method I described in the previous section. Just create a sequence in ConvertKit, and add the video link(s). Connect the sequence to the appropriate opt-in form and voila!

You can Offer Webinars as Freebies

There are plenty of expensive webinar softwares out there with all kinds of fancy options. You can use Zoom or WebinarJam, for example, to host live webinars.

But I’m a frugal blogger. And if you’re a newbie, probably you are too.

An alternative to more expensive webinar software is the free Loom app I mentioned in the previous section. You can use the exact same method as described above to create a webinar (as opposed to a short tutorial or guide). With Loom, you can record for up to 2 hours, which is enough for a free webinar as an opt-in incentive.

The delivery of the webinar is also exactly the same. Just share the link to the video inside your welcome email sequence and you’re good!

Create a Library of All of Your Freebies

I have a password-protected page where I store all of my freebies in one place. I call it my library of freebies.

Every time a new subscriber signs up for my email list, regardless of whichever freebie they sign up for, I send them a welcome email with a link to that page, and the password to unlock its contents.

Basically, everyone who signs up for any one of my freebies automatically gets access to all of my freebies. It’s a simple gesture of my appreciation towards my subscribers.

Creating a Password Protected Library of Freebies Page on WordPress

Creating a library of freebie is super easy.

In WordPress (self-hosted WordPress is really the only platform I recommend to any and all serious bloggers, hosted with SiteGround WordPress hosting company; if you need help setting up your WordPress blog on SiteGround, you can follow the tutorial here), creating a password protected page is super simple. All you have to do is create a new page just like you would for any page, and then locate “Visibility” in the right panel in the page edit area. Next to “Visibility” the default value should be “Public”. Click on it to show other options, and choose “Password Protected”.

Create a new page, and make it password protected.

Once you choose “Password Protected”, you will have the option to set a password for this page. Save this page when done.

Styling the Content of Your Library of Freebies

Within this password-protected page, you can style your content in whatever way you want. The easiest is, of course, just link to each of your freebies. Whether it’s a PDF or a video, you can simply link it to this page. Below I have laid out a couple of styling options:

Simple Hyperlinks

Maybe type something meaningful, such as, “monthly budget planner freebie” and then hyperlink this text to the freebie. Same with the videos or webinars. Also, if you want certain content to be exclusive and do not wish to link them to this library that’s fine too. For example, if you have a webinar as a freebie but you do not wish to link it to your library of freebies, that’s totally fine. The beauty of this page is that you can add whatever content you want, leave out what you do not want. Simple!

To hyperlink a text, add any text in the WordPress text editor, highlight the text you wish to link, and then link (using the link option in your editor) your destination (such as a video URL). If you’re linking a PDF, I prefer to add the PDF in the media library first, then add the media destination link.

If you want to be a bit fancier, you can add images and link the images to the freebies, as opposed to a text.

 

Using Plugins to Style the Library of Freebies

You can also use certain plugins to help you achieve even fancier styles.

For example, I have a library of freebies where I have a flipbox for each of my items. A flipbox is a blox-shaped area that when you hover over, flips to show you different content. I can use it because I have designed my website using a page-builder plugin called Elementor Pro. This is a premium plugin that can transform your website from generic to unique simply by dragging and dropping widgets to your site.

The Side Blogger Library of Freebies page.
The Library of Freebies page here on The Side Blogger

An alternative to Elementor Pro is another premium plugin called Essential Grid. This plugin also has some fancy styling options for items in grids. It is also cheaper than Elementor Pro. However, if you’re going to invest, I suggest investing in Elementor because you get a TON of different kinds of styling options with Elementor, as opposed to Essential Grid which is only useful when you’re designing items in grid layout such as galleries.

Delivery is the same as always. Set up a welcome sequence to your opt-in form, and make sure to give your new subscribers access to the library of freebies by sharing the page link as well as the password to access the contents of the page.

Create a Quiz to Attract More Subscribers

Quizzes are fun ways to get some more email subscribers. Often folks take quizzes just for the heck of it, they don’t need to be anything super complicated, they just need to be interesting to your readers.

Creating a quiz on your part, even if they’re a simple quiz, does take a bit of work when you’re planning one. Fun or not, simple or not, your quiz needs to make sense.

The best example I can give you is Jenna Kutcher’s “What’s Your Secret Sauce” quiz. It’s fun, simple, and at the end of the quiz, it asks you to sign up for Jenna’s email list if you wish to get the result of the quiz.

Jenna Kutcher's blog has a quiz to attract email list signups.
Jenna Kutcher uses a quiz to attract email list signups.

Adding a quiz can be simple if you use a third-party platform. Otherwise, it will be tons of coding and honestly, who has the time? Also, unless you are a savvy coder yourself, you will likely need to hire a developer to create a quiz for you and that can be expensive!

And so, if you’re going to use a quiz, I suggest Interact. It’s an affordable yet quite powerful platform that takes care of creating quizzes and integrating email list signups with your preferred email marketing platform. Interact practically integrates with all the major email marketing providers including ConvertKit, Constant Contact, and more!

Watch the video below to see how you can create a quiz with Interact. The tutorial below is a bit rusty because I do not use the platform myself (I have no quiz on this site as you can see). Also, I am using the free trial in this tutorial, and so I cannot actually connect my email platform. But I still wanted to show you the backend of the Interact quiz platform so you have an idea what to expect.

 


Well, that’s it guys, now you should have a ton of ideas opt-in incentives. (You can check out part-1 of this post right here!)

So, what’re you waiting for? Start building that email list already!

Have questions or comments? Share with me in the comments below!

Part 2 of 10 Opt-in Freebie Ideas and How to Create Them


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