How To Make Printables, Freebies and Opt-ins To Grow Your Email List and Income
Would you like to learn a new superpower today? Wouldn’t it be great to know how to do something that most new bloggers struggle with for months, or even years?
Not only can you use this skill to grow your blog tremendously, but you can also turn around and make money with it, today! Seriously. If you love this stuff, and you’re really good at it, then do it momma!
I may be giving away too many of my secrets here. This may not be the smartest move on my part. But honestly, I want to help as many moms as I can change their lives.
Blogging has been completely transformational for me. Over the past two years I’ve been able to grow from making $0 per month to making over $30,000 per month with this little blog.
How did I do it? Hard work. Consistent effort. Late nights. Early mornings. Blood, sweat and tears. Is it worth it? Absolutely! What would I do differently? I wish I started earlier.
But let’s not get off track, let’s get right into this magical skill that you can learn today and change your blogging game.
At the end of the post I’ll share my best example of using this technique + video tutorials! So keep reading, this post is going to be a game changer for you!
*This post contains affiliate links.
How to Make Printables and Grow Your Blog
Let’s get into it! One of the easiest ways to passively grow your email list is through printables. Printables are also known as freebies or opt-ins when they are used to grow your email list, and I’ll be using these three terms interchangeably throughout the post.
When blogging started, it was fine just to have a “sign up to my newsletter” box and increase your email list that way. But since blogs are a bit more popular today, you have to offer an incentive for someone to sign up.
Think of it like buying someone a drink at the bar before asking for their number 😉 You can’t just go up to them and ask for their number, you have to give them a small gift first. I got this reference by watching movies, I’m not a big partier – you’re much more likely to find me in Starbucks drinking Americano’s than a bar drinking a beer.
I’ve been able to grow my email list to over 50,000 subscribers by just offering freebies or printables on my blog. I would strategically place these above blog posts, in the middle of a post, at the bottom of a post, or as a popup.
What are Printables?
Printables are mostly known as digital paper files. Most of the time they are in a PDF format and contain pretty images, lists or quotes.
What are Popular Types of Printables?
Printables can contain any information, but the most popular types of printables are:
- Coloring Pages
- Activity Pages
- Quick Tutorials
- Reference Guide
- Lists (like this minimalist baby registry list)
Your Email List has Amazing Traffic Potential
But back up, why is growing your email list so important? Because the people who sign up to your email list will one day become your future customers. These are the people that are much more likely to purchase through your affiliate links and recommendations. They will share your articles, comment on your posts and be the first to purchase your new ebook or course!
Every time you email your list you’ll get a flood of readers on your blog eager to learn more. It’s recurring traffic.
Sometimes I think of my email list like a huge dam. Whenever I email them I am opening the floodgates and I have the power to direct that rush of water where ever I need it to go. Do you need traffic to a new sponsored post? Email it to your list. Do you need to do market research and need responses to a survey? Share it with your list. Is one of your affiliate’s running a big sale and you want to help promote it? Send the deal to your email list.
Why Do You Need an Email List?
- Direct access to your readers.
- Increase sales everytime you share an amazing offer or product.
- Better ideas from readers.
- Great personal connections you can’t accomplish using social media.
- Help and support when you need it.
- Grow expertise by helping your readers one on one.
Additionally, if you nurture and educate your email list well, you can predict about $1 per email subscriber per month. It’s a rough estimate of your monthly blog income if you work hard at it.
So if you have a warm email list of 3,000 subscribers, you can expect to make about $3,000 and pay the mortgage with your blog!
Doesn’t that just lite the fire under your tushy to make your first printable and build your email list?
How to Create Printables – Step by Step Video
In this step by step video below I’ll show you how I create printables fast! With three little kids, I don’t have hours and hours of time to blog, so I need to be as efficient as possible with my time. This video will show you all my shortcuts and strategies.
The full video that additionally shows how you can create printables using free online software can be watched here.
After watching this video you’ll know how to create and design freebies. If you love doing this and you’re good at it you could make money right now by selling your own printables or creating printables for others. Isn’t that a neat idea?
How to make money with printables
Offer Your Amazing Services:
The quickest way you can make money online is by offering your services. You can find a client and get paid today for work you do.
Sell Printables on Your Blog:
The second quickest way is to sell printables on your blog. This requires you to drive traffic to your blog, so it takes a bit longer to monetize.
Use Printables as a Funnel:
Lastly, you can make money with printables by using them as part of your funnel. Once someone signs up and downloads your free printable, you can funnel them into customers for your other products.
Freebies are great because readers will refer back to them. They will print them out and hang them on their wall or put them on their fridge. This will serve as a constant little reminder of how amazing you are! And every time they open their fridge with your printable on it, they’ll think, “Gosh, I love Suzi’s printables, maybe I should go check out her blog again today!” Or I guess that’s what I hope happens.
What makes a good printable?
The best types of printables are those that people really want to print out and use. I know that sounds basic, but think about it for a minute.
A great printable is a piece of content that the reader wants to refer to again and again.
They want to put it on their wall, stick it in their notebook, tape it to their bathroom mirror, or carry it around with them in their planner.
A great printable is referred to by the reader over and over. It’s a piece of content they can use.
- Think of a conversion chart you tape to your refrigerator door.
- A 12 month calendar with inspirational quotes that can be used all year long.
- Or the pretty llama printable used in the example below. The printable is being used multiple times as a gift card to friends or family.
Rethink about the printables you want to create to grow your email list. Is it something that the reader can use over and over again? Or do they get all they need in 5 minutes from looking at the PDF?
Don’t make your printable so simple that someone does not feel the need to save it.
You want to create a printable so good that your reader feels they NEED to save it.
That’s when they sign up and give you their email address – because they want to actually USE the information, not just today, but repeatedly.
Is your printable so good that you’ll want to print it out and use it frequently? If not, think of something that will help your readers more.
How to drive traffic to printables and grow your email list
- Write a blog post on a related topic
- Do a YouTube video or Facebook Live promoting the printable
- Create pin images, see the examples below. You can either link these pins to a blog post or a dedicated landing page.
Examples of Successful Printables
The Llama Printable – a direct feature of the printable is used on this pin image. The printable is so cute, no text is necessary.
The Teacher Binder – there are multiple pin images promoting the same beautiful printable.
The Recipe Binder – a mock up of the printable is shown on the pin image, showing the reader they’re getting a whole binder full of advice!
How to Make Printables – The Detailed Process
Below I’ll cover the steps in the video above. If you like this tutorial and want more detailed videos, check out the List by Number course.
3 Quick Tips on Creating Printables and Freebies
- Lists or calendars work well!
- Make sure you offer a quick solution in your freebie. What pain point are you solving?
- Put your blog name at the bottom so they know where it comes from.
- Include your freebie on your home page and at the top of your blog posts.
Create Freebies Using Powerpoint (shown in the video)
I love using Powerpoint to create my freebies. The first thing I do is to setup a custom slide size by going to the Design tab and clicking on custom size.
Fall Inlove with SmartArt
- SmartArt makes creating printables super easy! I can toggle between different designs to find the perfect layout for my freebie.
- You can copy and paste your content into the SmartArt input box or type it out.
- You can change the color and design of your freebie super easily. PowerPoint allows you to toggle and preview different layouts and colors without having to recreate your freebie.
“ I use PowerPoint for work ALL the time and never would’ve guessed what a useful tool it would be for blogging. You totally changed my world.” – Haylee
How to Create a Preview of Your Freebie in Your Post
I normally add my freebie to my post through a Convertkit subscription box. I add a preview of the freebie in the form of a small image to further entice new readers to sign up. This gives them a clear idea of what they will be receiving once they opt in to my email list.
Create a Preview Image
- You can use any screen capturing software you like to create the preview image. I like Snagit from TechSmith because it is super fast and just overall fantastic. If you are serious about clippings and screencast, I highly recommend them.
- You can snap the picture and copy it and go back to PowerPoint and paste your image there.
- Once you have the image in PowerPoint, you can open a new slide and take the image and add a shadow around your image. That will make the image pop.
- Add a little arrow with the preview image to direct the reader to the subscription box that you’ll add later.
Convert to Your Printable to a PDF
- Make sure you save your freebie or printable as a PDF. That is what your readers will download and what you will connect in the backend of Convertkit.
- Add a new blog post and upload your freebie preview image to it.
How to Connect Your Freebie or Printable to Convertkit
Okay great! You’ve created your printable and have your little preview image. Now how do you connect it all so when someone visits your blog they can submit their email address to your list and receive your amazing freebie? Here are the quick steps below.
Get an Email Marketing Software
- Make sure you have an account with Convertkit. I’ve been using them for years! Convertkit is simple to use and has a powerful automation side for creating high converting funnels.
- In Convertkit you will create a new form for your new freebie. The embed code from the form is what you’ll use to have your readers sign up for your freebies.
You can either create a landing page or a form that will go directly on your blog post. A landing page is great if you don’t have a complete post yet to share your freebie and you’re low on time and need to get it out quickly.
Optimize Your Submission Form
- On the submission button, change your wording and don’t say subscribe. It’s a bit boring. Make it more enticing. Use more engaging phrases such as “Download now”, “Get access”, or “Start now”. Make it a little more interesting than sign up now or subscribe.
- If you want people to click on the button you’ll need to change the color to red or a warm color. People are more likely to click on a button if it is red because it stands out!
Deliver the Goods
- In the form settings you’ll be able to set up the incentive email, this is the email sent to a new subscriber when they sign up to that specific form. In this email they will get the link to download the freebie.
- On the incentive email make sure you change the message and the subject line to something they will recognize.
- In the form settings you can either upload your PDF file directly or link to it if you’ve uploaded it to your blog.
How to Connect Your Freebie, Printable, or Opt-in to Your Blog
Fantastic! You’ve created your freebie. You’ve created your form in Convertkit. Now how do you connect all of this together and add it to your blog? The steps are below!
Connect the Printable Sign Up Box to Your Blog
- Go into the form settings in Covertkit and copy the embedded code.
- Add this code to the text side of your blog post. A lot of people get a little stuck on this part. They will put it at the bottom of their post on the visual side. Make sure you click on the Text tab.
- Don’t worry if you don’t see it on the backend of WordPress. Once you publish or preview your blog post, it will show up.
“I created a freebie opt-in the week before Christmas and went from 100 subscribers to 620 in less than 3 weeks!! Learned everything I know about blogging from Suzi!!” – Shanna
How to Create a Freebie Using Canva
As you may already tell, I absolutely love using PowerPoint to create my optins and freebies. But if you’re not a Microsoft person, there are other options!
Use Free Tools
Like Canva! There are pros and cons of using Canva. The pro is that it’s free and online! The con is that you have to use their designs and the software is a bit slow. Because you have to copy and paste your content into each section, it will take longer to create your printable. Once you’ve created your freebie in Canva, you can download it as a PNG to use as the little preview image and as a PDF to upload directly into Convertkit.
How To Create a Freebie Using Google Slides
Second best to PowerPoint is Google slides. Super bonus, Google slides is easy to use, free and more and more features are being added to it every day!
Fall Inlove with Google Slides (oh, PowerPoint is going to get jealous!!)
- Go to your Google drive and click new Google Slides.
- This will look very familiar to the PowerPoint slides.
- Go to page setup and select custom. You can customize your size of your freebie or printable.
- Add your title and don’t forget your blog name at the bottom.
Every couple of months I discover new features in Google docs – I really can’t believe it’s free!
- Google Slides has a lightweight Smart Art feature. If you go to insert and select diagrams that’s where you’ll find it. It’s pretty neat. But they do only have a limited number of variations, unlike PowerPoint.
The Best of the Internet (Because Google = The Internet, right?)
Google Slides gives you the best of both worlds between Canva and PowerPoint because it will give you ideas like Canva, but has the flexibility to be creative like PowerPoint.
- You can use a screen capture to create your mini preview image or download the slide as a JPEG.
- Then for your freebie, download it as a PDF and upload it to your form on Convertkit.
How to Make Your Printables Unique
I recently discovered a bank of icons I can use in my printables! For only $40 a year I can download hundreds of different icons to customize my printables. It’s called NounProject and it integrates with both Google Docs and Office.
You can search for a topic and there will be so many cute icons to choose from. You can even add your own brand colors to them.
“I watched this video a few days ago and it was so helpful. I am going back to it for reference now. Thank you so much for taking the time to teach this to us.” – Mary
Do Freebies and Printables Really Work?
Not all of your freebies will grow your email list. Some will be duds and that is okay. You will learn what your audience doesn’t like and what they do like. It will take time and experimenting to grow your list.
I have had, what I thought, were awesome freebies, that I thought people would love and then sadly, nobody did. That’s okay too. I learned from those freebies. I learned what I shouldn’t do. I learned what my audience doesn’t like and I improved upon that and created something new.
I am not promising you creating freebies will grow your list to 20,000 by tomorrow. It will take some time, testing, and tweaking. But the more you create, the more you’ll learn and grow!
Remember, a great printable is referred to by the reader over and over. It’s a piece of content they can use.
Pro Question: Will my readers print this out it’s so good?
Ideas for Printables and Freebies to Grow Your Email List
Optins and freebies do not just have to be printable PDF documents. Growing your email list can be done in many different ways. If you’re giving away great advice or tips, you can test out different forms of content types and see what resonates best with your audience.
- List of tips
- How to videos
- Short ebook
- Cheat sheets
- Free stock images
- Prompts/ fill in the blank templates
- Free course
“I’m a mother with 2 kids and all this is just so overwhelming, but you make it seem to much not overwhelming.” – Ashley
How to Promote Your Freebies
Here are a few ways you can promote your printables! Below are a few of my favorite methods.
- Sign up boxes on your blog
- Sharing a landing page to your optin on social media
- Popups (I use Bloom and Convertkit)
- Run a giveaway
- Create landing page
- Add a call to action in the banner of your Facebook blog page or group
- Use Pinterest to promote your freebie
- Promote your freebie on Facebook promo days
- Do a Facebook live
- Write a guest post and direct people back to your landing page
- Add an optin on your About me page
Congratulations, You Have a New Superpower
Goodness! That was a lot! If you’ve completed all those steps, I am super proud of you! Congrats!! I hope you’ve discovered that not only can you create printables to grow your own email list, but if you really love creating them, you can offer it as a service or sell your work! Once you master the skills of creating beautiful and helpful printables, you’ll have a new superpower!
And as promised, here is my highest converting printable that I’ve created. It did so well, I turned it into a free mini course, called The Blog Plan!
Now that you know how to create gorgeous printables and freebies, please share your success stories below in the comments! Have you made money off printables? How much have you grown you list? Let’s celebrate each other’s successes!!