7 Questions To Ask Before Creating Your Next Freebie (So You Don’t Waste Time on a Dud)

So your first attempt at an opt-in freebie was a total flop.

No one signed up for it (or, if you were lucky, your mom and BFF did) and you were left staring at a big glaring “0” in your MailChimp account.

You must have read a zillion and one blog posts about creating a freebie that was guaranteed to *explode* your email list. You thought you had it all figured out. So what happened?

Don’t sweat it, girlfriend – we’ve all been there. Myself included! True story: My first freebie generated a whopping 8 – count ‘em 8 – signups. And *ahem*, that was over a span of two months. Let’s just wipe that one from the books, shall we?

Thankfully over the past two years my freebies have gotten a whole lot better, and the results have gotten a whole lot less embarrassing. Nowadays my freebies will get hundreds or even thousands of signups. Much better, right?

According to email list powerhouse Sumo, the average opt-in rate in 2017 was around 2%. So if yours is considerably lower than that, we’ve got some work to do. Enter: Today’s post!

In this post I’m sharing the 7 questions you need to ask BEFORE creating your next freebie. I don’t want you wasting hours of your precious time designing a workbook or checklist or cheat sheet until you’ve worked through all 7 questions below and can confidently answer “Yes!” to each one. Deal?

Because we’re all about blogging smarter, not harder. Let’s dive in.

Last opt-in freebie barely got any signups? Don’t sweat it girlfriend - we’ve ALL been there. And it doesn’t have to be that way! Click through to learn the 7 crucial questions you need to ask yourself before moving forward with your next freebie. Only when you’ve given a resounding “yes!” to all 7 questions can you take your idea and run with it. #emaillist #emailmarketing #bloggingtips #optinfreebies via Blog Beautifully

*This post may contain affiliate links for products I love. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. For my full disclaimer, please click here.*

7 QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE CREATING YOUR NEXT FREEBIE

Want a cheat sheet version of these 7 questions? I gotchu, boo. Click here for the free download.

Image of freebie questions cheat sheet

Got your cheat sheet? Purrfection. Let’s get cracking with the first question you need to ask before taking your freebie idea and running with it.

Question 1. Is this a topic I know my readers need help with?

The best freebies (read: the ones that tons of people sign up for) are wildly helpful for their intended audience.

And the key here is not to pull something out of thin air. You need to actually *know* 100%, without-a-doubt that your audience needs help in this area. You can’t be guessing. You can’t *think* that maybe-just-maybe they could use some help. It needs to be a known fact. How can you know for sure? A few different ways…

Maybe you see your ideal readers asking questions about this topic in Facebook groups….

Maybe you hear them complaining about it on Twitter or in their Instagram Stories….

Maybe you see them struggling with this thing, whatever it is, in your day-to-day life.

Yep, it’s time to get a bit stalker-y. Time to follow your ideal audience around on the interwebs and in real life, and to dive deep into what they’re expressing a clear-cut, gotta-have-it need for.

Because if you only *think* your audience could use some help in this specific area, without having seen them ask questions about the topic or express a keen interest in it, here’s the thing…

You might be wrong.

And that’s how you punch your ticket to freebieville – signup population: ZERO.

Question 2. Is this topic in my zone of genius?

Okay, so you know your readers need help in this area – whether it’s gardening or cutting out carbs or choosing reading material for their kids. Awesome start.

Next I want you to ask yourself: Is this a topic that’s actually in my zone of genius? In other words, are you a pro when it comes to this kinda stuff? An expert? An afficionado? Could you riff on this topic all day without running out of things to say?

Or, if you had to create a freebie on this topic, would it involve you doing a TON of research and pulling bits and pieces of info from other sources you find online?

If you hadn’t already guessed, we want the former, not the latter.

You should always, always, ALWAYS be working within your established zone of genius. You should be talking and teaching on topics you know a whole-heck-ton about. This is how you stand out online, make the biggest impact, and achieve progress in the shortest amount of time. Capiche?

Okay, so what do we have so far?

a) Your freebie should be on a topic your readers have expressed a clear need for help in, and…

b) It should be within your established zone of genius.

What’s next?

Question 3. Can I use this freebie in multiple blog posts?

Here’s an insider secret for you:

The best opt-in freebies can be promoted over and over again in various blog posts, saving you a ton of time because you don’t have to create a new freebie for every blog post you write. You can essentially “recycle” freebies you already have.

Here’s how this works.

Say you’re a fitness blogger and you have 5 categories on your website:

  • Yoga
  • HIIT
  • Weight-lifting
  • Nutrition
  • Stretching
  •  

    You’re going to create one super epic freebie for each of these big categories. Then you’ll plop your weight-lifting freebie into every relevant blog post in your weight-lifting category. Same with the nutrition freebie, and the stretching freebie, and so on.

    The key here is that your freebies shouldn’t be SO-stinkin’-specific that they’ll only ever “mesh” with one single blog post you write. Because we’re all about blogging smarter, not harder, remember? And one freebie per blog post is going to eat up a heckuvalot of time.

    You shouldn’t be spending hours creating a new freebie for every blog post when you can “recycle” one you’ve already created and still get a ton of signups. Sure, every so often it’s okay to create a freebie that will only be applicable to one post, but let that be the exception, not the norm.

    To reiterate: Create one epic freebie for each category on your website. That way you can insert each freebie into multiple blog posts, saving you a ton of time and energy.

    Question 4. Will this freebie help people take action or achieve something?

    Here’s another one of my freebie golden rules:

    The best freebies are inherently actionable.

    By using your freebie, your readers should either:

    a) Solve a problem they have (or make progress towards solving it*)

    b) Achieve a goal they have (or make progress towards achieving it*)

    *Hang tight until Q5 for the full scoop on these parentheses.*

    What kind of freebies help people take action? Think workbooks, checklists, roadmaps, video tutorials. Anything your audience can follow along with and use to make progress.

    Email courses also work well if they’re designed to encourage your readers to take action. If you decide to create an email course for your freebie, try adding a “Homework” section at the end of each email, and include 1-3 action items for your students to complete before moving on to the next lesson.

    Question 5. Is it bite-sized?

    This one’s always been a bit of a tough pill for me to swallow. Personally, I like to giving away a ton of free information to my readers. I love sharing. I love writing. I love teaching everything I know.

    But at the same time, I’ve learned that I have to be careful not to overwhelm my readers. Analysis paralysis is real, and giving your audience too much information at once can actually be counterproductive and can stop people from taking action.

    Instead, I want you to focus on helping your readers achieve one small win with each of your freebies. Here’s an example:

    Instead of creating a freebie that shows your audience how to overhaul their entire Instagram account (with 12 steps and involving a whole new set of images and a completely revamped profile)…

    Teach them how to spruce up their Instagram bio in 3 easy steps.

    Here’s another example:

    Instead of trying to teach your audience every single thing there is to know about affiliate marketing…

    Give them a simple spreadsheet where they can track their affiliate links and commission info. (Pssst. I have one of those here if you want it!)

    See the difference? Think finger sandwiches, not entire buffet.

    Question 6. Would this be better off as a blog post?

    This one’s the kicker, and it’s a fatal mistake I see bloggers make way too often. And I really don’t want it to happen to you.

    Here’s the thing about opt-in freebies. The way it works is that your reader coughs up his or her email address (and by doing so, opts in to joins your mailing list) in exchange for whatever it is you’re sending him or her as a freebie – a workbook, checklist, etc.

    No one likes giving out their email address, especially if they’re already subscribed to dozens of email lists and their inbox is constantly swarmed with messages. So it goes without saying that your freebie has to be good.

    But more than just being “good”, it also has to be something that couldn’t have just as easily been presented as a blog post. That might sound a little confusing, so here’s an example to show you exactly what I mean.

    If your freebie is a “List of the 10 Tips to Help You XYZ”, your readers might come across that and think, “Hmm, I wonder why she didn’t just write those 10 tips in a blog post?”

    Because see, you’ve already written a blog post where you shared “10 tips to do this-other-thing”, and “10 steps to achieve-that”… so why are you holding out now and making us give up our email addresses to get these 10 tips?

    In other words, why you bein’ so stingy?

    Hopefully you see what I’m getting at here. I’ll sum it up with another Golden Rule:

    Your freebie shouldn’t be something that could just as easily have been a blog post.

    It needs to be something more than that. What *can’t* be made into a blog post, you ask? A workbook, a printable checklist, a video tutorial. These are all things that go above-and-beyond a standard blog post, and that people will be more willing to hand over the email addresses for.

    But a plain ole list of tips? Not gonna cut it, girlfriend.

    Question 7. Does this serve a larger purpose in my business?

    I’ve saved the best and most important for last (gotta reward you for stickin’ around!)

    Like I mentioned earlier, I’m all about helping you blog smarter, not harder.

    And blogging smarter means that every single freebie you create needs to serve a bigger purpose in your business.

    If you’ve created an opt-in freebie before, you know that they take a good chunk of time to create. At least a few hours, possibly more. I’ve created email courses that have taken me days and even weeks to write and set up.

    We don’t want you spending all that time on a whim.

    Think of your freebies as being part of a “funnel” that slowly channels your audience towards one of your paid offerings – whether that’s a service, a course, a digital product, or even an affiliate product you promote.Your blog posts are the entry point to this funnel. And your freebies are the gatekeepers that shepherd people in, signifying that they’re interested in a particular topic. From there, you guide each new subscriber towards making a purchase.

     
    Image showing stages of a sales funnel

    This is the smart way to blog. By having a bigger picture in mind. Not by creating freebies on a whim or because you think they’ll be popular or easily shareable or god-knows-what-else.

    Because they’re going to serve a bigger purpose in your business. And that “purpose” is making you more dolla dolla bills.

    And hey, if you don’t have any paid offerings yet, don’t sweat it. Simply think about what kind of products, services, or courses you might want to create and sell down the road, and focus on creating freebies that will be good “gatekeepers” and entry points for those items in the future. And don’t forget that you can create freebies and sales funnels for affiliate products, too!

    So, are you ready to knock your next freebie outta the park?

    Did you give a resounding “Yes!” to all 7 questions? Heck to the yea! Your freebie will be worth its weight in gold. On top of that, I know that when you lock down this thinking process, you’ll be able to whip up epic, profitable freebies for your blog and business on a regular basis.

    Psst. Don’t forget to swipe your 7 Questions Cheat Sheet before you go. And if you enjoyed this post, go ahead and share it on social media by clicking the buttons over to the left!

    Image of freebie questions cheat sheet

     


    Posted by Krista in EMAIL LIST

    Tags: , ,

    • Awesome post Krista!! So many times I’ve seen bloggers just have a sign up box on their blog and I always cringe. This post is definitely a helpful tool for bloggers who don’t know if their freebie will be good or not 🙂

      • Thanks girl! Yep, I’m with you on that one — big x-nay on the “signup for updates!” box. Hope you’re doing well! <3

    • LuckyLoveLife

      Yeah I put so much work into my first one and delivered way too much at once. Lesson hopefully learned a mere 19 subscribers in three months later. Great tips. Thanks!

      • I did the exact same thing (multiple times). I’m finally starting to learn my lesson and focus on those bite-sized freebies!

        Thanks for reading girl <3

        • LuckyLoveLife

          For sure. Sheila Joy recommends your site highly!

    • Krista, you’re spot on with every point in this post – LOVE IT!

      I believe that I too have created my fair share of half-assed freebies that didn’t do anywhere near as good as I thought they would. Nowadays, I’m all about creating opt-in freebies that have people busting to download.

      My Kick Ass Blog Planner seems to be the biggest hit because it’s a huge download full of pretty pink & black organisation sheets. And I mean, who doesn’t love getting organised right?!

      Beaucoup d’amour,
      Elley xo

    • Shona

      This is great stuff, Krista! I haven’t linked up any freebies to my email sign-up yet but I’m headed that way. Would you say that your blog posts should be “bite-sized” as well? It seems like some people like – and some niches call for – longer, more detailed posts, and some would prefer a series of shorter, “bite-sized” posts? I am writing about strategies for managing conflict, which can be quite detailed and nuanced … I’m interested if you (or anyone else) have any opinions on how big my “chunks” of info should be. Thanks for all the great info you’re providing; I’m really enjoying exploring your material :0)

      • Hey Shona! That’s a really great question, and honestly, I think you answered your question right within the question itself 😉

        I think different audiences and niches call for different post lengths and formats. It’s all about determining how much time your audience has to sit down and read a blog post (or consume whatever type of content you’re creating for them), and what style of format they prefer to learn in or how they learn best. Some audiences will prefer three bite-sized blog posts per week, while others might would love one super long, juicy post to dive into. The only ways to find out are to: a) Ask them! and b) Play around with different lengths and formats on your blog and see which posts seem to perform the best in terms of engagement (comments), shares, opt-ins, etc.

        Hope that helps! 🙂