The struggle couldn’t be more real. You’re working really hard… Writing epic blog posts, creating stunning graphicscs and promoting your stuff on Facebook & Pinterest… Heck you even installed a pop-up, but still… Your subscriber count is stuck at 92, 547, or 1,249. (Boo.) What’s worse? Getting smacked in the face every time you hop on Facebook, check your email or pop in an earbud with the fact that growing an email list is the only way to:
- have a thriving online business
- build a relationship with your audience
- create digi-products people are desperate to buy
- fill up your group coaching programs, membership sites and online workshops
(Like you didn’t already know.) Don’t chuck your iPhone in the trash. Instead: Read today’s jam-packed post on Content Upgrades Before diving into the nitty-gritty of creating these list building powerhouses – let’s see why these babies are worth the top spot on your already overstretched to-do list. You’re down for more sales right?? (Don’t have your blog up and running yet? Here’s a free course to get your started including tutorials on how to build your WordPress site.)
What is a content upgrade exactly???
Content upgrades are tiny, specific freebies (bonus content) that help readers implement the next steps after reading your blog posts, watching your videos and indulging in your podcast.
Why do content upgrades work so darn well?
Content upgrades solve an immediate problem readers care about in that very moment that your “main freebie” may not. I know what you’re thinking… “Wait… What..? You want me to do more work? I barely have time to write blog posts now,never mind this.”
Why should you give two-craps about content upgrades?
- You’ll be seen as a giver & getter of results. Not another Furu (Fake Guru) –
Content upgrades get readers results faster & easier. When people see results from your free stuff they’re a gazillion times more likely to buy from you. Which means feeding your family and propelling your traffic got a whole lot easier.
- You’ll rapidly grow your email list
Brian Dean of Backlinko used content upgrades to boost his sign up rate 785%! From converting .54% of visitors into subscribers to 4.82% – with just ONE content upgrade. He’s an online marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) guru. So you know his site was already designed to turn the maximum amount of readers into subscribers. 3. You’ll be happy to know that content upgrades are much easier to create than signature freebies A signature freebie is often something big; like a huge email course with videos (like my free blogging course) or a challenge. These can take weeks to create. Content upgrades often take way less time to make therefore there’s less pressure for them to be perfect. Or for them to be the only hope of growing your email list. 4. Gives you a leg up on creating digital products & services people are hungry to buy If 1000 people sign up for your ‘productivity tracker’ content upgrade that’s a good hint people are coming to for advice on how to do more in less time. So send those subscribers an email diving deeper into their struggles. Then create an “Easy Yes Offer” to help readers more than you could in your blog post and download. 5. You can sell more digital products and services you already have Did you bite the bullet and create an E-book or course – but no one is buying it? Boo. Chances are you’re missing one of the key paths to profit. Traffic → Blog Post → Freebie/Content Upgrades → Email Series → Offer → Weekly emails. Content upgrades are an easy way to get people on your email list so you can educate them about your products and services.
6 Steps to Tripling Your List with Content Upgrades
1. Find Your 5 Most Popular Posts/Episodes
Method 1: Buzzsumo
- Go to Buzzsumo
- Type in your URL
- Set the date range for at least 6 months
- Hit search
- It shows you your 5 blog posts with the most shares
Pro tips: It doesn’t matter if you have WordPress, Squarespace or Wix – this works. Plus you don’t have to touch a shred of code! Con: Just because a post is getting shares doesn’t mean it’s getting clicked. So you might not be getting as much traffic from it as you think. Case study: Jenna Soard – YouCanBrand.com Here’s a snapshot of one of my favorite blogs – youcanbrand.com by branding expert Ms. Jenna Soard. Her most shared post was actually about a productivity app not branding, graphic design or Squarespace (her main 3 areas of focus.) I’ll show you how she capitalized on this using her own unique style after we talk about method 2. Method 2: Use Google Analytics (GA) 1. If you haven’t set up google analytics – go do it now! Seriously. If you need help I show you how to do this click by click in my free Launch Your Profitable Blog Course 2. If you do have GA setup – scroll down to Behavior Selection (pass Acquisitions. Don’t be fooled by the Audience >> behavior selection). 3. Select Site Content 4. Landing pages 5. Set the date range for the last 3 months, then 6 months 6. Bam! Your most popular posts.
Complete blogging methods one and two. Especially if your podcast is embedded on your site. Next flip over to your PodTrac or Blubrry account to track your most popular downloads.
For Vloggers + YouTuber’s
Head over to YouTube.com/analytics set the date range for the last 60 & 90 Days (for giggles try lifetime). If your videos are embedded on your site (which they should be) check out your Buzzsumo report & Google Analytics too. (See For Bloggers above for that) 2. Think, what could make this piece of content better? How can your readers get results faster, with less headaches? Where would they get stuck or quit? 3. Create a simple content upgrade based on your unique talent and skills Remember our blogger Jenna? Her skills are graphic design and branding so she whipped up a free graphic pack so readers could create pretty to-do lists just like hers. Bloggers, Vloggers & Podcasters alike could all benefit from creating simple pdf cheat sheets, checklists or action guides. (I’ve got 36 more ideas coming up in a bit) 4. Add it to your email service provider While pretty much every email service provider can do this, ConvertKit makes it stupid-easy to send content upgrades to subscribers and hook them up to your blog. (Here’s an exclusive 30 Day Free Trial to see for yourself.) 1.Hit “FORMS” on the top menu bar 2. Hit CREATE NEW FORM 3. CHOOSE FORMS (Landing pages are great for main freebies like courses. 4. Choose from style (I like the one with the picture of the content upgrade – more on that in a minute) 5. Customize the form copy (text). Remember to click on the button and change “Subscribe” to something more enticing. 6. Hit ‘save’ then click “SETTINGS” to set the ‘Thank You’ Page 7. Check off “Auto-confirm”. Customize a message including subject line and button then if you’re content upgrade is a pdf, select the incentive download and upload your pdf directly to ConvertKit. If your content upgrade is a video, click the URL button and link to the page where your video is embedded. 8. Click “EMBED” to get the code to put your form on your blog. (This lets ConvertKit and your blog “talk” to each other. 9. Switch over to the “text” mode on your blog post. PASTE the code wherever you want your opt-in forms for your content upgrade. (Note if you installed the ConvertKit WordPress Plugin you don’t have to switch to text mode. You can just paste the short code they give you wherever you want it. 10. Hit SAVE. Look how pretty your post looks, then test the form with one of your email addresses. 5. Link that Ish up Bloggers: Add opt-in forms, call to action buttons, text or picture links for your content upgrades 2-3 times throughout your posts. For an extra boost add yellow boxes around your content upgrade links. Or create mock ups like this…. Podcasters: Add links to your content upgrades in your show notes. Use Pretty Link Lite to create easy to say & remember URL’s to mention 2-3 times in your podcasts. (Like I do here with my podcast Inbox Besties) Vloggers: Add a link to your content upgrades in your video description. Use Annotations + YouTube Cards in your videos to link directly to your content upgrade opt-in form in your videos. Also use Pretty Link Lite to create easy to say & remember urls to mention in your videos. 6. Promote the heck out of it Tweet it, Pin it, Gram it, Facebook Group It, Email it. Yes, you’ll get a nice surge of subscribers since you’re updating your most popular stuff but isn’t more subscribers even better? via GIPHY Shower your new subscribers with emails they’ll love, then buy a bigger purse. (You’re gonna need it)
39 Can’t-Fail Unique Content Upgrades (with real-life examples)
1. Worksheets + Workbooks
Worksheets + workbooks push readers into action forcing them to see quick results. Applying the info from your post to their own personal situations.
If you’re creating an epic 4,000+ word blog post or hosting a mini-training style podcast, a 1 page cheat sheet breaking down key points for quick reference is a must. Check out Rick Mulready’s The Complete Guide to Facebook Ads Pixels Cheat Sheet
Checklists make sure readers don’t miss any vital steps in a convenient format. Keep the design printer-friendly to encourage readers to put your checklist by their desks. Remember Brian from Backlino? Here’s the checklist he used to increase his optin rate 785%. “The 10 most important Google ranking factors checklist – the original post has 200 ranking factors. (wowsers!)
4. Extra tips
Writing a list post? Why not create an extra 3-5 tips to give away as a content upgrade.
5. Topic Ideas
Afton Negra Social Media Strategist and founder of the Social Proof Collective offers readers of her post : 7 WAYS TO AVOID BLOGGING OVERWHELM AS A SOLOPRENEUR – 30 New Blog Post Ideas Every 30 Days.
6. PDF version of your blog post
By far the easiest content upgrade. Before shaking your head, hear me out… Wouldn’t it be nice to have a downloadable version of this blog post so you wouldn’t bookmark it and forget it? Neville Medhora offers a pdf version of his eye-opening post Marketing Psychology: Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
7. Printable poster / infographic
Perfect for manifestos, inspirational quotes, and workflows. Gloria Rand offers a playful workflow infographic of her popular blog post 5 Ways to Repurpose Blog Articles to Get Leads
8. Mini E-books
Repurposing old blog posts into mini-books is a great way to get more mileage out of content + offer readers extra help. Create one for each topic covered in your blog. Beacon.by is excellent for this. In literally 90 seconds you can turn a bunch of posts about the same topics and turn them into an E-book.
Challenges are action-based email courses normally with a community or “live” aspect to it. Creating more accountability. Simple Green Smoothie does this every quarter – I have my own Launch Your 4 Day Profitable Blog Challenge where we actually build your site together.
10. Step-by-step tutorial / guide
For my popular post on creating videos with Adobe Spark I include a downloadable step-by-step guide with detailed instructions and photos or pictures for creating stunning videos with Adobe Spark in a PDF.
11. Video tutorials
If you’re writing a how-to post this is a must. Lots of people learn better from video than reading and pictures. You don’t have to be a tech superstar either… Screen-o-matic & Zoom.us will let you record your screen, self or slide for FREE. Technophobe Amy Porterfield’s steps up to the plate with her free video training: How I Organize My DropBox Folders For Ultimate Success in her podcast episode The First Action You Should Take Before Starting a New Project.
12. Email course
Email courses are a great way to educate your readers while boosting your authority in your niche and are super easy to create. Email courses are typically 3-7 part email sequences with actionable steps readers can take to reach a specific goal. String together the best blog posts you have on a topic. Don’t be afraid to throw some personal stories and lessons learned in your course. Here’s 19 Amazing Examples of Email Courses that will help you grow your traffic, income, email list, and mindset.
13. Resource Guide
Create a master list of all the tools and resources mentioned in your blog post or podcast. Turn it into a PDF download. In your resource guide link directly to the tools, apps or books to make purchasing easier for your readers. Using affiliate links? (which you should) – You must disclosure somewhere in the resource guide that it contains affiliates links and you might receive a small commission if they decide to purchase through the link provided. Ed Troxell – Offers a list of the top 8 tools he uses to run a successful online business here.
More of a talker then a writer? Create audio files with your best tips and tricks for reaching a specific goal. Got a podcast? Gather up all your current podcast episodes about a certain topic and create a course with those. Here’s 19 Amazing Example of Email Courses & Audio Courses that will help you grow your traffic, income, email list, and mindset.
16. Online Workshop + Webinars
This can be an invitation to live webinar, a replay or automated webinar. If you go the live webinar route update the post after the webinars with links to the replay or remove the content upgrade altogether. Pull all the parts of your webinar together with this free Trello Board. (Completely with a promo-plan)
If you’re podcasting, vlogging (video blog) or run an interview show on Blab transcribe your recording. Turn it into a downloadable PDF file. No time? Hire a VA or use Fiverr or Rev to transcribe your episodes. [bctt tweet=”My mind is bursting with possibilities. Thanks to these 39 content upgrades ideas.” username=”@katedoster”]
18. Swipe files
Unlike templates were readers need to fill in different parts swipe files are actual copies of emails, sales pages, or ads readers can look at for inspiration or structure. People love them and their super easy to create – grab the last set of emails from your launch copy ‘em int google docs. Save as a pdf and you’re good to go.
19. Slide presentations
Did you do a presentation in video? Offer the slides as a download like Pat Flynn does in this episode of SPI TV.
20. Bonus/Extended interviews-
When interviewing top experts for podcasts and videos save a couple of juicy “Off Air” questions for content upgrades.
A combination of different checklist, cheatsheets, and guides. Throw in a short video or mp3 and you got yourself one kick-butt kit. Teaching something that is complicated? (Like starting an online business or learning a new piece of software.) Strip down to the essences. This zaps the nagging overwhelming feeling learning something new has.
Great for tracking, organizing and budgeting spreadsheet make great content upgrades for readers. Keep it as a spreadsheet (use google sheets) or download into a pdf.
24. Case studies
No need to super crazy analyzing a huge company or industry. Instead, do a case study about yourself or a superstar client. Leadquizes does this brilliantly.
These could be blogging templates, budget templates, copy templates and so on. Any template you use, share with your readers or create one fresh for them. Derek Halpern, Social Triggers free email templates for emailing influencers and getting replies
26. Free Stock Photos
Everybody loves pretty photos. If you’re a photographer, visual branding specialist or amazeballs at taking Instagram photos package them up offers them as download under the creative commons acts. In your “agreement” include that people can’t not share your images on other site or give them away Here’s a list of 71 Places You Can Get Free Shotphots.
Blogging planning, day planner, launch planner. People loooove pdf planners! Megan Minns gives away a killer Ideal schedule planner in her blog post – A Typical Day Of a Side Hustler
Writing an article about super foods? Create 7 yummy recipes using those superfoods.
29. Shopping list
Perfect for how to crafty, meal planning and build it type posts. A must for traveler bloggers too.
30. Mind Maps
Are all the rage these days. Because of their interactive, fun and show processes in a nice flow.
This is for all my makers, sewers and crafters. Give free patterns. So readers can get taste of what your paid patterns are all about.
M Motivational quotes, or images the reader print out and pin up on their wall. Great for keeping readers focused and motivated. Pretty self-explanatory.
34. Phone or Email Scripts
Ramit Sethi, gives word-for-word scripts for how to negotiate a higher salary, lower your cable bill and breaking the ice with strangers. If you teach anything where your readers can get rejected Perfect for designers, and creative. Give them a “free sample” of your work.
36. Code Snip-its
Great for designers and coders so non-techie can easily implement what you are teaching. Bryan Harris from Video Fruit offers reader both a template and code-snip so they can use the sticky widget bar plugin on their site.
37. Free or low-cost trial
Neville Medhora offers a free product pricing calculator so readers can easy “plan business ideas backwards”. As Neville so lovingly puts it “Instead of coming up with random dumb ideas, I can focus on something that will meet my goals faster by focusing on a pricing structure that will get me there quickly.” – hot damn.
This was awesome, thanks!
Thank you for the post! This is easily the most helpful list of ideas I’ve come across. It’s just what I needed. I am excited now to work on creating some more content upgrades for my blog.
Couldn’t have said it any better!
You too Marcelle. Thanks for the kind words. What’s your blog about?
Yay! I can’t wait to see what you create. What’s your blog about Rachel?
Excellent article Kate! I will test few of these tips right now 🙂
Keep it up!
This is a fantastic list! I hadn’t thought of most of these. I’ve been procrastinating content upgrades because they’re so hard to come up with. I’m bookmarking your page for reference. And I even found one I’m going to make for my blog post tomorrow! Thank you 🙂
Love this post ! I’ve been struggling with my email list and you have given me so many creative ideas.
Thank you !
Thanks, this post is very helpful for me as am still struggling to get more email subscribers to my blogs.
Hi Kate Doster, such an amazing ideas to start a blog on different niches. Really an useful post with clean and clear details. Thanks for sharing this post. Keep sharing.
Why thank you!
Really thorough post – I’m so glad you mentioned spreadsheets in here. I am currently working on one and was concerned people would be too hesitant to download one versus a PDF. Looks like I’m on the right track.
Thanks. Looking to grow my email list and these tips are amazing.
Thanks Sarah, I think knowing your people, being consistent and just thinking a couple moves ahead of what they need next will make growing your list alot easier.
Thank you so much, this is very helpful.
But I would like to know, as a network market/ brand ambassador, what kind of freebies would I give if I want to make sales on products?
Hi Kate, I can’t believe I’m just finding out about you! This list is awesome, and perfect timing as I’m trying to re-organize and re-focus my content to align with what I’m planning to offer (course and membership). I’ve started a list of the ideas that I can use for my topics, and to improve the content upgrades that I already created (that look horrible and super basic). Thank you so much!
I’m so glad it helped Tameeka!
Wow, Kate! This is such a comprehensive and useful article that I’m definitely bookmarking. Have you found that a specific content upgrade, in particular, works best for blogs in a business niche?
Hey Daniella – I find things like 6 things I did to / or do to _____________ work really week. Also doing something that’s really specific well really help you stand out. So instead of six steps to growing your business it’s exactly what to say on your Facebook ads to slice your conversions in half.
Awesome post as usual Kate! I’m in the process right now of creating a course all about creating and marketing a digital product, you have given me even more fantastic ideas to include!
I think #21 is my favorite. It’s sometimes so difficult for newbies to learn without getting overwhelmed (I still do sometimes!) and an easy to comprehend kit or beginner course is just what they need to keep them motivated.
Thanks for sharing your genius!
I am really going to sit with this post and let it inspire me. My optins are not converting AT ALL. Thanks for the great tips.