One of the best and easiest ways to grow your email list is by creating a free resource library. Ever since I created the free printables library in October, the number of newsletter subscribers more than tripled and it’s growing every day. I wanted to offer a content upgrade for a long time, but I couldn’t find a good way to do it.
If you are unfamiliar with this, a content upgrade is a download you create that will only be accessible in exchange for signing up for an email list.
There are many apps and plugins that help you with this, but most of the plugins I tried were expensive and had more features that I needed. Instead of using something that made people subscribe every time I added a new resource, I decided to create my own library. The really great part is that you can do this for free and you don’t have to use plugins. That is unless you really want to.
You can create a free resource library with the following:
- a new WordPress page
- MailChimp (or the newsletter software you usually use)
- Download Monitor (optional)
- Genesis Easy Columns (optional)
How to get started
Before you create your resource library, you actually need to make something for your users to download. You don’t need a library if you only have one item, like an eBook, but you will need it if you plan on sharing more items or adding new ones every month.
I decided to use the library for free printables. At the moment, you can find weekly planners and blog planning sheets. My plan is to add new items every month or every two months. I’d like to add calendars, checklists and worksheets and maybe even recipe cards and digital papers.
Making printables is not hard. It’s actually fun and easy. And what I like most about it is that you can create printables for yourself and share them with your readers. Or you can create worksheets and checklists as a content upgrade for a new or popular post.
The downside of using a free resource library
To be honest, there aren’t many cons to creating a library for you email opt-ins. People are more likely to give you their email if they receive something in return. You probably write great newsletters, but they don’t know that so they need a little encouragement.
Some people will unsubscribe after they receive the password: I know this might bother you, but the number of persons that unsubscribe is low. Since I already offer a lot of freebies without collecting emails, this isn’t something that I’m too worried about. The number of people that subscribe, read your content and click your links is much larger.
You will receive emails from people that don’t receive or lose the password: This also doesn’t happen often, but it can be annoying. To make sure that your subscribers will remember the password, add a little note in the newsletter about the library.
How to create a free resource library
Step 1: Create a password protected page
If you are on WordPress, you can create a new page from your dashboard. On the right side of your post editor, you have the Publish menu. To password protect your page, click on Visibility, select Password Protected and enter your password.
Step 2: Add your freebies
Download Monitor makes it easier to offer downloads from your site. You can upload files to your Media Gallery and keep track of downloads using this plugin.
I recommend saving your files as PDFs and you should also create a thumbnail for your library. I use Genesis Easy Columns to create columns that will make it easier to add the thumbnails. Despite the name, this plugin works with any theme. You don’t have to use a Genesis theme, but you will have to activate it by going to Settings > Easy Columns. The plugin lets you create between two and six columns.
I create the columns and then add the images in each column. After that, I add the download links that Download Monitor generates under each image.
I love using this method instead of creating a gallery with other plugins because I can also add text or images of different sizes.
Step 3: Add the link to your final welcome email
When your library is ready, all you have to do is add the link to your final welcome email. I’m using MailChimp, but you can probably do this with any newsletter software.
You can edit the forms from Lists/Signup Forms.
This is your chance to welcome your new readers and maybe write a bit about yourself and your blog.
Every time you add a content upgrade to a new post, you only have to add the link to your signup form. You can find the URL under Signup Form.
Let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to help you!