Have you heard that you should have a freebie, or lead magnet, for capturing new email subscribers? Whether you already have one or you’re looking to create one, this episode will help you decide what your freebie should be and then I will share my tips for designing a freebie for your blog!
Can’t listen to the episode? Read on for the transcript!
Back in May 2019 when I attended the Everything Food Conference, there were multiple presentations about email marketing. In fact it seems like email marketing is a huge topic of conversation in every industry right now. For a lot of food bloggers, email marketing is really an untapped platform.
You’ve probably heard that in order to grow your email list you need to have a freebie or lead magnet that you can give to people in exchange for their email address. And this is 100% true.
But if you have no idea where to begin with designing a freebie, this will help! Before we dive into design tips for a freebie, it’s helpful to figure out what your freebie will be!
What is a freebie?
Something you give as a gift for signing up to receive emails from you.
There are many examples of freebies. Typically, food bloggers tend to go to recipe ebooks. But there are lots of other ideas.
When you’re thinking about a freebie, think about what the next step would be for your audience.
Another way to think about this is what is a FIRST step before someone makes your recipes. This is really important if you have a specific niche where you cover a type of food that is a specific diet or a cuisine.
10 Examples of Freebies for Food Bloggers
Here are some examples to get you thinking. I’ll share what type of freebie it is and then an example of what it might be. Remember to make this specific to your niche and your audience!
- Checklist (10 Brazilian Pantry Essentials)
- Hack (Freezer Meal Hack for Saving Hours on Meal Planning Each Week)
- Shopping List (Whole30 Shopping List)
- Meal Plan (7 days of meal prep recipes)
- Recipe ebook (10 dairy free side dishes)
- Swap list (for allergies or healthy eating) (20 healthier store bought swaps)
- Cuisine guide (guide to kid friendly Asian food)
- Timeline (Thanksgiving Timeline)
- Holiday menu (Easter Brunch Menu)
- Printable (dairy free substitutions, recipe conversion table, spices cheatsheet)
A note about printables as a freebie for food bloggers:
Printables tend to have really high conversion rates which means people will actually sign up to receive them. However, we want to make sure THE RIGHT people are signing up for your list.
So be sure if you are going to do a printable as a freebie that it is very niched and specific to your audience, so you don’t get a ton of people who subscribe and unsubscribe right away (because that is just a waste of everyone’s time).
Tips for Creating A Freebie for Your Blog
This should be ONE step towards your audience’s end goal. This can be simple. It can be one page. The content for this is key.
Getting subscribers from this freebie is a perk, but the ultimate goal of a freebie is to serve your audience.
Test Product Ideas
If you have ideas for products in the future, create a freebie around that idea as a way to test it and see how it performs.
This could be choosing a freebie within a certain topic or subject, or create a tiny version of what a paid product might be to see if people would even be interested.
Your Audience’s Journey
Keeping Your Audience in Mind
I’ve covered the concept of defining your ideal reader in the past, and when you’re thinking about creating a freebie it’s essential to know your audience.
- When you understand your audience, you can provide value in the form of a freebie.
- Creating a generic freebie will result in people grabbing it and unsubscribing.
A relevant freebie is going to attract the right audience and repel the wrong audience.
- A freebie shouldn’t be something you create JUST to grow your subscribers. It should be something that solves a problem and gives value to the RIGHT subscribers.
- Creating a freebie can be a lot of work, so it doesn’t make any sense to do it if it won’t attract the right people to your blog.
If you haven’t defined your ideal audience, you should do that first before thinking about creating a freebie for them.
Take a piece of paper or open a Google Doc then write down everything you know about your ideal audience — what life stage are they in, what does their family situation look like, what is their occupation, what age are they…
Then you want to recognize any potential struggles that overlap with what you do.
Ask yourself the question:
what is your audience’s biggest struggle with ______ (going dairy free, entertaining, feeding their family, meal prepping, etc.)?
Helping Your Audience with A Problem
When you understand who your audience is, you can start to understand what their struggles are.
When you understand their struggles (as they pertain to your blog) you can start providing value to them.
Ask the question, what would solve that struggle? What tool could you give them to help?
The freebie is the first step towards YOU helping them solve their problem.
Remember that your blog is NOT about you. You are the guide to help your audience on their journey in overcoming their struggles and problems.
This ties into both your audience’s struggles but also your brand messaging and how you’ll approach talking to your audience about this struggle.
A freebie is something you can also promote in other places like Pinterest or Instagram, so knowing these struggles and solutions will also help you promote this in other places with the right language.
Questions to ask about your audience
- Who is your ideal audience?
- What are they struggling with?
- Why are they struggling?
- What are they feeling?
Think of secondary struggles they may be having such as:
What would you be able to give them as a freebie to get them one step towards overcoming that struggle?
Final things to remember before designing:
You are NOT solving this problem with ONE freebie.
This is the very first step to get them started.
This can also be a simple bonus for the content — which can be a bit more general. Here are a few examples that I might have used for my own blog:
- 5 kitchen skills to master PDF
- 10 fail proof recipes ebook
- How to gain kitchen confidence guide
- Pantry essentials checklist
Now that you have your freebie in mind, let’s talk about design tips.
Design Tips for an Email Freebie
Will this be printed or saved to their computer?
Consider what they are going to do with the freebie before you start designing it.
Checklists of recipe ebooks are most likely to be printed. But this is where knowing your audience really comes in. When you can anticipate what your audience would do with a freebie, you really know them!
Something like a workbook or guide can be made so that it’s fillable on a computer, but a lot of people will still print it!
If it’s going to be printed – keep graphics simple and use color sparingly.
Maintain Consistent Branding
This freebie should fit right in with your blog. It should maintain the same styles of fonts, colors, use of graphics, etc. It should feel like an extension of your brand, not something completely unique.
Related: Consistent Branding For Your Blog
Choose a Program that Works for You
If Canva is what you’re comfortable with, go for it! Canva works perfectly fine for these types of projects.
Programs like Canva and Photoshop are not really built for creating large PDFs or working through layout designs, but if they are the program you know and can work with, use that!
Don’t let the tech side of creating a freebie stop you from starting.
How long should a freebie be?
This answer will always depend on what you are creating, but this should be small. More than 3-5 pages can be overwhelming. Sometimes for a bundle of recipes, longer is okay. But if it’s a guide or something more long form, it may be too much if it’s longer.
If you have more content than a few pages, break it up into a follow up email sequence.
Should a freebie be brand new content?
The short answer is No! Especially if it’s a recipe bundle, I think it’s totally fine to bundle recipes that you already have.
You’re providing convenience for someone by bundling everything up in one spot! Plus, this is an ad free way to look at the recipes.
If they would be upset by that, they probably wouldn’t give you their email anyway.
You have a freebie, now what?
After you have something designed, now it’s time to put it online!
There are a lot of different email platforms, use what you know and are comfortable with.
I love Convertkit because it allows you to have different opt-ins and it’s really a robust platform. However, I used Mailchimp for years. It’s just more clunky for more advanced email marketing tricks.
How do you display your freebie and sign up form?
This will depend on your platform but in general one of these methods is used for adding the freebie sign up form to your website:
- Form html
- Image that is linked to a landing page
When you design the freebie, design an image to promote it too — create one for in the post, on your sidebar, on Instagram stories.
While you’re in the mode of designing it, it’s helpful to create these at the same time.
Where should you put a freebie sign up?
If growing your email list is important, this should be in the highest value spots of your website! Some of these include:
- After the blog post
- OR before the recipe card (if it’s relevant)
- Within the body of the post
- As a part of your homepage
If it makes sense, create a welcome sequence for AFTER the freebie that helps your audience continue along their journey.
Pro tip: also send the freebie to your existing list.
When someone receives your freebie, ask them to share it with a friend by sharing a link to subscribe. This lets you get more subscribers without doing any extra work to promote the freebie.
Remember these things as you start working on your freebie:
- A freebie should be a quick, bite sized win for your audience.
- Tailor it to their struggles
- Check the show notes for those examples of different freebie ideas, but know that this can be in any format that makes sense for your audience!
- Consider how the freebie will be used: printed vs on computer
- A freebie CAN be existing content because you’re providing it bundled in a way that is convenient!
- Don’t forget to add it to your website in a strategic place where people will see it and take action.
- Decide what your freebie should be
- Create your freebie
- Share with your existing audience
- Create sign up forms to grow your audience!