Content upgrades are a great way to get people on to your email list. Email lists are really important if you plan on selling anything in the future. Starting an email list at the beginning of your blog is a great way to slowly grow that readership. Content upgrades are an enticing way for people to join your list. In order to get the content upgrade the person has to give you their email. Some people may join your list, just to get the content upgrade and then unsubscribe, that’s okay because those aren’t the people who will eventually buy your products anyway.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term content upgrade, let me explain how it works with the example of a pdf. There are all sorts of things that can be content upgrades and we’ll get to those, but for this example, we’ll be talking about a pdf. So you write a blog post about the right way to water your house plants. So as an upgrade, if your reader gives you their email, you will send them a pdf that they can print out about how to water 20 common houseplants plus a spot to add their house plant watering schedule. This way they can print off this pdf and write out their very own house plant watering schedule. The great thing is that they are now on your email list and you can send them your weekly newsletter straight to their inbox.
Before we go into the all the different types of content upgrades there are. Let’s talk about getting your content upgrades to a better level.
Be consistent with file names
You want to make sure that you’re keeping your file names the same across the board. The names can all have similar beginnings, so when your reader puts it into her, “to do” file all the files from you are grouped together. For example, ADS_content_upgrades – this way all the Ashley Design Studio files are together. You also want to be consistent with the look of your content upgrades. Keep the same fonts, colors, etc. They need to go along with your branding.
Ask questions that give real answers
Don’t be super vague with the questions you’re asking your readers in the content upgrade. Be sure that the questions you’re asking get to a true answer and not something that’s super vague and very broad stroked.
Keep the content upgrade on topic.
Don’t try and put the same content upgrade with blog posts it doesn’t belong with. I know it’s tempting to put a content upgrade with a post that’s similar, but people will definitely be unsubscribing if they don’t get what you said they were getting. Be consistent with your topic and content upgrade. It’s okay to put the same content upgrade on different posts as long as the topic is consistent and it helps and goes along with the blog post or you explain very clearly what the content upgrade is.
Make them interactive!
Content upgrades are great when you have access to a printer, but if your reader doesn’t want to spend tons of money on ink, printing out content upgrades can get pricey. So if possible, try and use inDesign to make the content upgrade easy to fill out and interactive with fill in the blanks. I know not everyone has access to inDesign or the desire to learn it (I still need to learn it), but it makes it easier for your readers who don’t have access to a printer or want to spend the money on printing out all the awesome content upgrades that you’ll be offering.
Add a Checklist
I’ll mention it below, but I’ve got to mention it here as well. Checklists are awesome and I think they are more likely to be downloaded. Especially if you can make it interactive where someone doesn’t need to print off a ton of the same list or spend money on laminating it. Checklists that need to be done daily, weekly or monthly are great and easy to make.
Links! Links! Links!
Be sure to add hyperlinks into your content upgrades. Don’t make your readers have to copy + paste links into their browser. It makes it easier on your reader and interactive for them as well. Be sure to add your logo and make that link back to your website, too.
Below I’m going to list 33 content upgrades ideas and how you can use them in your blog.
1 – Workbooks
These are basically a whole lot of worksheets put together in one. You can have them based on a series of blog posts so that you can have the same content upgrade be for all those blog posts or it can go with one epic blog post.
2 – Personal notes from your notebook
Give some insight into your own notebook, calendar or schedule. Give people a behind-the-scenes look into your life and/or business. This can be done in the form of a pdf, audio file or even better a video.
3 – Calendar
Creating a monthly calendar that people can use as a desktop background, as an editorial calendar or as some sort of tracker.
4 – Coupon Code
A discount to paid products that you currently have is a great way to get emails. It’s what all the major stores do, so that doesn’t mean us small business owners can’t do it, too.
5 – Video tutorial
Sometimes it’s just easier to talk through something or show the examples in a video. You can setup a webcam or your smartphone to record going through the explanations.
6 – Cheat sheets
Cheat sheets can really help with any topic. It can cover many shortcuts quickly. It can be a reference guide for the topic that you’ve written about. Technical information can make for great cheat sheets.
7 – Mini e-course
Mini e-courses are another way to see if you would like to do this as far as passive income. You can create an e-course for free using teachable because if you sell it for free they won’t charge you. The mini e-course can be broken down into 3-10 lessons, you can do it in the form of an online course, using something like teachable, an e-mail course, a private password protected page on your blog or a PDF with links to videos on YouTube or Vimeo.
8 – Step-by-Step Tutorial
If the post you’ve written has an intricate technique writing up a step-by step-tutorial on a pdf that includes photos with instructions can be helpful. You could even add a video if you want.
9 – First chapter of your book
If you’ve written a book, you can give away the first chapter as a teaser. This will also entice people to want to purchase your book in the future.
10 – E-book
If you want to share more on a particular topic, but don’t want to put it into blog posts you can create an e-book. This is also a great way to test the waters if you possibly want to do passive income in the future. You can practice with creating this free e-book first.
11 – Swipe files
Templates for all sorts of things like email canned responses, copy, and letters. What would your ideal reader need help writing? Creating fill in the blank templates where they can create their own style.
12 – Cliff notes of a book/classes
You could read a book and then take notes on it for readers. This way your readers get all the benefits of the book without spending the time reading the whole book. If you’ve done a reader survey and asked your readers what books been on their to-read list for a while or asking in a blog post. This could be added with a video and made into a kit, see #33.
13 – Printable Poster
This is great for posts that have lists or resources, this can help them stay on track and organized.
14 – Worksheets/PDFs
This is probably the most often used content upgrade and the easiest to make. Creating worksheets helps your readers to apply what they have learned in the blog post and make it their own. Creating a PDF that asks the questions posed in the blog post and has your readers come up with their own solutions to their problems. Other ideas for worksheets could be for keeping track of stats like blog visits or social media following, for example.
15 – Resource list / Tool box
Anytime you have written about resources, you can make them a content upgrade. For example, my blogging tools post could have a resource list attached, which I probably should create.
16 – Additional tips
You can do a blog post that has 10 tips on “whatever” topic, then you have the content upgrade could be 10 more tips on “whatever” topic. This can also gauge your reader’s interest in that topic. Lots of downloads mean lots of interest, fewer downloads less interest and then you know that, that topic is something your readers aren’t really interested in.
17 – Checklist
This is great for lists that people need to do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. They can print the list out, get it laminated and then reuse it over and over or use pencil on it and erase every week or if you’ve used inDesign they can duplicate the file. These can be very valuable content upgrades.
18 – Photos (creative commons)
This is a great content upgrade for a photographer. Anything that helps your readers do less work is always a great go to for a content upgrade.
19 – Challenge
A challenge can come in all sorts of forms – email course, pdf, or page on your blog. Challenges can be a great way to connect with your readers outside of your blog. You can create a hashtag to go along with your challenge and have your readers share it on social media. Challenges can be all sorts of things and they can help your readers move from one point to another.
20 – Webinar replay
If you’ve done a webinar, a replay of the webinar is a great resource for a content upgrade. If you have a lot of webinars, you can have them all in a webinar library that needs an email address to access.
21 – Fonts
Along the same lines as photos, fonts are an opportunity to share something with your readers that isn’t the normal content upgrade. If you create fonts, it’s an awesome way to show what you can create and possibly have readers buy in the future.
22 – Bonus Interview
Interview someone that’s an expert in the field you’re talking about. Maybe add it via video or audio as something extra special other than text. If you want you could also add a transcript to it and have it as two content upgrades.
23 – Library of info – old blog posts/all the downloads you have available
Some people like to give access to all their content upgrades at once. Some others like to create a new worksheet and/or cheat sheet every week. This is a great option for some.
24 – Scripts
Similar to swipe files, scripts are things you actually say to people. So helping someone with an interview, what to say when you’re pitching your business or how to reply to grandma when she asks why you don’t have a boyfriend.
25 – Slide presentations
If you’ve given a webinar or a live presentation, you can have the slide presentation attached the webinar replay or if the replay has expired this can be an option for your readers.
26 – Images – moodboards/instagram files, etc.
If you make graphics that people can go in and change up later that’s great, too!
27 – Mini e-book
You can create a mini e-book, let’s say around 10 pages instead of something like above which is more like 30 pages for something free. This is also a great way to see if you want to create e-books as part of passive income in the future.
28 – Email series
I’ve mentioned this before but an email series can be great. You can send them one thing to do every day for a week or two weeks or a month whatever you think is best for what you’re trying to teach your readers.
29 – Audio
Think about your reader’s favorite podcasts, you could create something along those lines for readers. Depending on your blog topic, audio content upgrades can be really great.
30 – Transcript
You can create a transcript from a webinar, podcast or youtube video. Transcripts can help you gauge who’s interested in a subject and if you should be creating more of that topic.
31 – Coding text
If you are a developer or designer, you can show examples of how to create something in CSS/HTML and put it into a pdf.
32 – Case study
Case studies are the behind the scenes on how some project worked out. This can be done in the form of a pdf, video, and/or audio. Case studies are great projects to bundle together. For example, having the main case study be written in a pdf, make a video going over the case study and have a worksheet that helps readers do the project for themselves.
33 – Kit
Kits are basically two or more content upgrades put together. You could package a video tutorial with a detailed pdf going through the steps and add in cheat sheets or worksheets that go along with the tutorial. This can be a great way for readers to accomplish a goal. Making this a limited-time freebie would make it even more desirable to your readers, especially since it’s free.
There are probably more content upgrade ideas out there, but here’s 33 to get you started. I would love to know what content upgrade you think you may make for your readers first!