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How to Add a Freebie Download on Your Website that Grows Your Email List

Feb 23, 2021

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Creating a website that allows you to capture your visitor’s contact information is a goal that most of my clients have when they come to me when we create a custom website. One of the most effective ways to do this is by offering a freebie download on your website that someone can access in exchange for sharing their email address.

(If you simply want to share a file with someone without capturing any of their contact information, you can easily do that too, however, you’ll be missing out on the opportunity to grow your email list.)

(This article contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission for purchases made through links in this post at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I 100% believe in. Read the Privacy Policy for details.)

Before you get started, there are some key steps and components that you’ll need to have together in order to make this work.

  1. Decide on your freebie topic and format.
  2. Name your freebie.
  3. Create your freebie.
  4. Create your sign-up form.
  5. Create your email autoresponder.
  6. Promote your freebie.

1.Decide on your freebie topic and format.

Your freebie can really be any number of things but here are some ideas you might consider:

  • quiz (though technically not a download, a quiz is a great way to grow your email list!)
  • checklist
  • ebook
  • video training
  • workbook
  • template
  • spreadsheet

Consider the topic of your freebie first as this will help you make a decision about what format makes the most sense. The topic should be something that you have expertise and experience in and that aligns with your ideal client’s needs and interests. A great framework for creating a freebie is something that saves someone time from having to do the research themselves or gives them a simple step-by-step guide for a complicated process.

2. Come up with an amazing freebie name.

Once you’ve decided on your topic and format, you need to create a great name for it. I broke this out as a separate step because I truly think half of the work in getting someone to sign-up for your freebie download is all in the name. Try to be as specific as possible and not only describe what’s inside the freebie but also include what the result or benefit will be from them using it. 

Some great examples of this are:

  • Pre-Launch Website Checklist: 21 Tweaks You Can Make on Your Site that Will Make Google Love You
  • Explode Your Email List: 9 Easy Ideas You Can Try to Get Your First 1000 subscribers
  • 7 Costly Marketing Mistakes You’re Making This Year and How to Fix Them

Any of these catch your eye? Hopefully, I made these interesting enough that you feel inspired. On the flip side, here are some examples of some, not so great titles that you’ll want to steer clear of:

  • Great Ways to Optimize Your Website
  • Easy Tips to Grow Your Email List
  • 7 Ideas to Improve Your Marketing

Notice the difference? Good, now brainstorm some of your own ideas and then narrow it down until you think you have a winner.

3. Create your freebie download.

This process will look different depending on the format and topic of your freebie, but usually, no matter what you’re going for, an outline is a great place to start. Create an outline for your content in a simple Google doc and then flesh it out until you have a solid draft.

Once you’ve finalized your content, you’ll need to create the final format. If you are creating a PDF or template, you can use a program like Canva or Indesign to design it. If you are creating a quiz, Interact is a popular platform that makes the logistics of creating a quiz super simple. Also, don’t underestimate the power of a simple Google Doc or Google Sheet as well.

How a freebie download works

The whole point of your freebie is to provide a valuable resource to your audience so don’t hold back on your expertise. You might think that if you give away “too much” for free that you’ll be losing a potential client, but usually the opposite is true. Most people know that freebies aren’t going to change their life or solve every problem they have. Even if you jam-packed all your expertise and experience into one value-packed freebie, how many people would actually take the time to implement everything you recommended and suggested to them? I hazard to guess, not many. And even if you’re freebie solved one of their problems, I’m guessing they have more where that came from.

Here’s the thing I’ve learned after nearly 10 years in business…When it comes down to it, most people want you to do the work for them, even if they know how to do it themselves. Once you show them how much work is involved in the thing they are trying to accomplish with the freebie, that’s when they start to see you as the expert. And that freebie download is just the start of a relationship they’ve initiated with you… Creating a freebie to download works because it gives your audience a taste of what you offer and they start to develop trust and loyalty with you, if you’ve created it with enough valuable information.

If you continue to nurture your subscribers in a meaningful way, eventually, they’ll want to take things to next level and actually work with you, instead of trying to do it all themselves. Keep this in mind as you create your freebie because this is your chance to knock their socks off and get that person thinking… if you were able to provide them with all this valuable information in just a freebie, how much more you could offer them if they hired you to work with them?

Related Post: How to Design a Lead Magnet to Attract Your Customers

4. Create your sign-up form.

In order to create a sign-up form, you’ll need to have an account with an email marketing service like Mailchimp, Flodesk, Mailerlite*, or Convertkit. There are tons of options out there but I recently started using Mailerlite and personally, it’s been my favorite because of its simplicity. Seriously, it’s so easy to use, plus, they have a free plan so you can’t go wrong with that.

After signing up for your account, you will want to create a download form for your freebie and connect that form with a specific segment or group on your email list. At a minimum, you’ll need to collect a user’s email address, but having their name (at least their first name), can also be nice too so that you can personalize their emails. You can adjust your form styles, add a thank you message and then save it once you are happy with it. 

After you have created your form, you should be able to easily embed it into your website. You can copy and paste the HTML code provided and place it on your site where you want to feature your sign-up form. Consider where it will get the most traffic and visibility to ensure that your visitors don’t miss it! Depending on your website design, which platform hosts your site, and your email provider, this process could be slightly different.

5. Create your email autoresponder.

The last step is to create an automated email that is triggered to send once someone signs up for the list segment or group that you’ve created your sign-up form for. If you’re using Mailerlite, this will be done by creating a workflow under the Automation tab.

Make the initial email it sends to your subscriber, short and sweet. Of course, in your email, you will want to link to your freebie. If it’s a file that you need to share, you could use Google Drive to host it, or you could upload it to your WordPress media library to get a shareable link. Some email service providers also allow you to upload a file directly and link it inside of your email. Any of these methods will work as long as you have a shareable link for your freebie.

You might also consider introducing yourself briefly and asking a question in this email to start a conversation with your new subscriber. You can also create a series of emails that will nurture your subscriber to warm them up in the sales process. If they respond to any of your emails directly, in the future, you’ll get higher deliverability rates. 

Related Post: WTH is an Email Nurture Sequence & Why You Need One

After you have your form embedded and your autoresponder set up, you’ll want to test it out to make sure that it works as expected. When testing, you should ensure that it properly collects the information you submitted and that your info was assigned to the appropriate segment or group inside of your email service provider. The reason you want to share your freebie download with them via email versus just giving it to them directly after they sign-up on your site, is so they are incentivized to give you a real email address. 

5. Promote your freebie download.

Once you’ve tested everything, now’s the time to promote your freebie! The best place to do this is on social media. If you are a part of Facebook groups, share it on a promotion thread where allowed or on your own social media profiles. 

You’ll also want to write some teaser copy to let people know what they can expect if they download it. Another great way to draw attention is to create a mockup design of your freebie. This brings it to life and makes it feel more like a tangible product, giving it more perceived value. You can use a tool like Canva to impose a cover-style image or a screenshot of your freebie on an iPad or a sheet of paper to give it some added flair.

Related Post: How to Grow Your Email List with a Lead Magnet

And that’s it! Now you’ve got the basics of what it takes to add a freebie download to your website. It may seem like a lot of work to get it all set up, but I promise it will be well worth it. This has been the number one way I have grown my email list over the past several years and continues to bring me clients and customers on autopilot!

Need help getting more visitors to subscribe and engage on your website? I’ve got some ideas to help. Reach out today for a free strategy call. Or check out this freebie in action and download my brand messaging tips below!

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Editor in Chief, Designer & Founder

kristin pruis

Before I enrolled in design school, I was *this* close to switching my major to become a writer. But fate had other plans, and here I am, 10 years deep as a designer while nurturing my love for writing on the side.


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Teaching others everything I've learned about branding, design, and marketing over the past 10 years is a passion that truly fills my cup. No matter where you are on your journey of owning your business, I hope you'll find something here that you can take with you and leave you feeling inspired.


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