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How To Set-Up A Freebie Download After Email Opt In On Your Blog

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Whether you call freebies content upgrades, opt in offers, or tripwires, there’s a few different ways you can get that digital product (whatever it may be) to your subscriber after the exchange of an email address. Exact steps will depend on your Email Service Provider (ESP), but the methods won’t differ that much.

Offering a freebie to your audience not only creates loyalty and benefits to your readers, but it also allows you to engage further through email.

But let’s start off with some high level information just in case you are brand new to blogging (you can skip to a section in the table of contents if this is just “fluff” for you):

What Can You Offer As An Opt In Offer?

Unless you are a service based blogger (consultant, coach, freelancer, etc), the most common freebie will be digital downloads. That can be anything like:

  • eBook
  • Workbook
  • Printable planner
  • Checklists
  • Worksheet
  • Free course

It’s pretty much a small digital item that you can give away for free that actually offers value to your audience.

Save your giant ideas that take a lot of time and effort to create for paid products! These are items you can place after someone opts in for your freebie in a funnel (you will hear the opt in offer called a tripwire to get people into your sales funnel).

How Do You Decide What To Create First?

When you are brand new to blogging, the hard answer is “guess and check”.

If you are a blogger who is already receiving traffic but just getting started with freebies, check out your most popular posts through Google Analytics. Brainstorm what you can offer to your readers on your top posts first!

Unless you have existing traffic and know your audience already, it’s going to take some research and testing to figure out what works.

Don’t despair if you put out the most beautiful planner for free and nobody opts in to get it. That can mean one of two things:

  1. You are offering something that your audience isn’t interested in
  2. Your opt in form and offer aren’t seen by anyone who would be interested because you aren’t receiving traffic to a particular post or page

Either way, work on growing your traffic and testing out what your audience wants. You can even post on your social media or send an email to your list to try to validate your idea before creating it – get feedback, ask for input on your audience’s biggest pain points, and roll with it.

Remember, if your masterpiece doesn’t work it’s not a failure. It’s merely an indicator that you need to try something else (even if it’s trying to market it differently!).

How Do I Get People To Opt In?

You will first need to set yourself up with an Email Service Provider (ESP) like MailerLite (free up to 1K subscribers). You can find out more about email marketing here.

How Do I Get The Freebie To Subscribers?

Ah, what you came here to find out.

There are a few different ways to do this. The methods will apply to any ESP you sign up with, but the steps to actually implement them (with potentially differing terminology) would change that much.

Step 1: Get That Freebie Created

This seems like a no-brainer, but you can’t set-up a digital download without something to download!

Your freebie will likely be a pdf (workbooks, ebooks, etc) which you can create any way you like. Some people can make beautiful freebies in Microsoft Excel and many others choose to use something like Canva (free and paid) or PicMonkey.

Step 2: Save Your Freebie Outside Of Your Site

That’s right: do NOT upload your freebie directly to your WordPress site.

Why?

Every little bit that you add to your site will add up and slow it down.

Web Hosting

I personally use Google Drive through my GSuite account but have previously used DropBox for this purpose.

All you do is upload your file wherever you are saving it (cloud based is great) and then snag the share link. Just make sure that you have it set to allow access to whoever has the link.

TIP: Once you have the link, check out my little trick with Pretty Links (free) to manage not only your opt in freebie links but also your affiliate links!

Step 3: Set-Up Your Opt In Form

Follow the instructions at your ESP or whoever you use to create your opt in form for the freebie. Make it simple and clear what people are signing up for.

An Important Note On GDPR & CCPA

Please note that although many bloggers choose not to follow the privacy laws, here is what you need to know about GDPR (EU) and CCPA (California State) privacy laws (I am NOT a lawyer, just someone who tries to stay on top of all things legal):

  • You must provide a clear description of what the subscriber will receive from you (with a link to your Privacy Policy if possible)
  • EU members are allowed to receive freebies WITHOUT OPTING IN with their email address
  • If you provide any sort of marketing or promotions within your emails, you must have a confirmation checkbox on the opt in form to agree to receive marketing emails

This in itself will be a whole blog post…in short I get around these restrictions by:

  1. Providing a checkbox to opt in for marketing emails.
  2. If someone doesn’t check that box they receive an email to confirm their email address (double opt in) then one more with a link to the freebie.
  3. THEN, in my automation emails I then unsubscribe anyone who did not check that marketing checkbox during opt in to be removed from my email list.

Yes, I lose a LOT of emails this way. Same thing for doing blog giveaways or following a course or product purchase which must also comply with the same restrictions.

I have seen other bloggers provide a link below an opt in form saying “EU Members Click Here” that takes them to a request form to receive the freebie without opting into the email list.

Step 4: Set-Up For Freebie Download

So this is where there are a few ways you can handle getting the freebie to your subscriber.

When you set-up your opt in form, you either selected to do:

  • Single opt in: the visitor merely fills out the opt in form and are automatically on your list
  • Double opt in: the person must confirm their email address in their inbox prior to being added to the email list)

I’ve always done double opt in to not only keep my list clean of mis-spelled email addresses but to also comply even further with GDPR requirements.

I mention this selection because it may alter how you deliver your freebie to your subscriber:

Option A: Following Opt In

This is an option that is good if you are doing a single opt in since they are on your list without having to confirm their email address.

This is merely providing a link on the success message following the opt in form submission.

To do this, just go in to edit the opt in form you created in Step 1 and edit the success message displayed after the form is submitted. Grab the link from your external source and use that to link to the download.

Option B: In the Double Opt In Confirmation Screen

If you have double opt in enabled, you will have a success screen displayed to the subscriber after they click to confirm their email address from their inbox. You can place the link to the download right on the confirmation screen.

Option C: In the Automated Email

This option is possible regardless of the opt in type you selected (single or double).

Most ESPs allow you to create emails that send out automatically (referred to as Automations by many) following a trigger (this could be when they join a certain group, submit a specific form, or a bunch of others).

So once the subscriber is added to your list, you create an email that triggers (how depends on your system) and you place the link for download within that email.

Option D: Access Within Your Resource Library

This is a less common but potential option for you.

Some bloggers create what are referred to as a Resource Library where they list all of their freebies in one place for their subscribers. This page is generally password protected and the subscriber is sent the password for entry.

This is the least user friendly since it requires more work from your subscribers, but at least a portion of your subscribers will appreciate the easy access to everything.

That being said, you can also provide the exact download link in any of the options above (A through C) and also send a link to your Resource Library with the password for access in an email.

Step 5: Embed Your Opt In Form

Assuming your form isn’t a pop up, go grab the HTML code from your opt in form service (this may be your ESP) and embed it where you want!

Step 6: Test Your Opt In Flow

This is a VERY important step so don’t skip it!

Pretend you are a reader on your blog and go through the opt in process to ensure that every step is set-up and ready to go. Double check that clicking on the download link actually downloads your freebie!

Good to go? Then:

Step 7: Market The Crap Out Of Your Freebie

Get the word out on social media and make sure your post is optimized for SEO and, if it fits your audience, pinned on Pinterest.


That’s it! Once you get the hang of things it will become second nature. The first set-up is always the hardest!

Freebie Tips

  • Make sure to keep a running list of every blog post or page that contains an opt in form. I cannot tell you how many people don’t do this and go to change their offer…and forget where they need to change it!
  • Export your pdfs (or whatever file format you are using) at the highest quality you can (if the settings are provided). The last thing you want is a blurry or grainy product.
  • Once you have the freebie process down, look into turning that freebie into a tripwire to get people into a sales funnel for your premium/paid products or services!

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