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10 Content Upgrades for Building a Blog’s Email List


If you want to get someone to sign up for your email list, then offering them something for free is a great enticement.

The only problem is that “free” isn’t always free. Asking someone for any piece of personal information, including an email address, eliminates “free” from the equation.

But calling this a “trade of information” or a “non-monetary transaction of data” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as a “free download.” Does it?

The best content upgrades for an email address are when websites provide visitors with instant access to premium content.

So what are the best content upgrades to use?

There are ten tried and true upgrades that deliver high conversions over and over again.

So let’s get right into number one.

#1. The Cheat Sheet

We all want to be able to do our jobs better, faster, and in the easiest way possible. If you’ve developed an easy method of completing a task that has provided you with a number of benefits, then there’s a good chance your site visitors will find it to be valuable as well.

There are three key benefits to using a cheat sheet as your content upgrade.

  • It is easy to create. A cheat sheet is really just a checklist with instructions. Most cheat sheets are only a few hundred words long. This will save you a lot of time and effort when compared to other incentive options.
  • It creates fast results. With a cheat sheet, your visitors can immediately test the value of what you’ve offered. This instant gratification can speed up their progress through your sales funnel.
  • It verifies success. People can see with certainty that they’ve had success in using your upgrade. When success is experienced, those visitors want to share it with their personal networks. This leads to social sharing and quality referral traffic.

The best part about the cheat sheet is that it can be included on virtually every post on your blog. In a matter of days, you can create a cheat sheet for every category of your blog. This will give you a quality content upgrade for every single post that you have written.

#2. Video Screencast Tutorials

The screencast tutorial is one of the easiest types of videos to create. I recommend using Screencast-O-Matic. It is completely free, and very easy to use.

This type of content upgrade is best used to target specific posts with lots of traffic. Here are a few examples of how to use a screencast in an email upgrade…

Post Title
11 Benefits of Keyword Research

Screencast on How to Use SEMRush to Identify Keywords

Post Title 
SEO Tactics that Will Still Work in 2020

Screencast on How to Optimize a WordPress Blog Post for SEO

The best practice is to upload these videos to YouTube. In addition to the video views that your blog drives, you can also get significant views from YouTube. Since YouTube’s algorithm keeps track of engagement on embedded videos, the content upgrade views will push your videos higher up in the YouTube search rankings.

#3. List of Tools

A tool list is another content upgrade that takes very little time to produce. A tool list can also be used as an upgrade for entire categories.

The easiest way to create a top notch tool list is by going to Google and typing in a search. If you type in “SEO tools” into Google, you are going to get an endless supply of quality tool lists created by other bloggers. Just pick three posts that you like and combine their lists into one mega tool list.

The tool list upgrade can also drive significant affiliate revenue. After you have completed your list go and sign up to every tool that has an affiliate program. Then turn each of those links into an affiliate link.

#4. Case Studies

Case studies are a great way to drive highly qualified subscribers into a sales funnel.

  • It offers visitors a unique learning opportunity that came from your direct experience.
  • It shows how you tackled a specific problem, outlining the steps that were needed, allowing the reader to duplicate your success.
  • It can provide people with skill-building steps that can help make them an independent operator within their industry of choice.

Case studies will only work when you have the data to back up your conclusions. This upgrade takes a little more time, energy, and money to produce than some of the others, but it is an investment that will yield a steady supply of new customers.

#5. Reports

Most people are an expert in at least one subject area. That expertise came from extensive research and educational opportunities within that subject. If you funnel that expertise into a report, then it can become a valuable resource.

When you provide reports as an incentive, you are also proving to your industry that you have got what it takes to be considered an expert in your field.

Social Media Examiner has built their email list to over 500,000 subscribers by using this tactic. Over the years, they have continued to offer this as their primary email upgrade throughout their site. Their free report is right at 50 pages long, and it has established them as the top social media industry expert.


#6. Automated Email Courses

An automated email course can be set up with an autoresponder through virtually any email marketing software. Here are a few tips on creating a free email course…

  • Do Not Give Away Everything – Try and consolidate your free course to seven emails over seven days. Give them some broad strokes and a few big wins that will get them excited about your paid offer.
  • Use Existing Content to Save Time – Most of the time, you will already have seven great blog posts that have all the content you need for a free email course. You can test your email course concept by just including a short sentence with a link to each of your seven blog posts. If people are subscribing and clicking, then you can turn those posts into video slideshows.
  • Offer Your Paid Product on the 8th Day – Whether you have a course or ebook, you need to have a hard sell on the email that you send out on the 8th day.
  • Add Weekly Engagement Emails – After the first eight emails are sent, the best practice is to add additional weekly emails to the autoresponder. Once a week, you will send them another one of your blog posts via the autoresponder. The great thing about this process is you only need to create one new email a week. I have built out autoresponders that continue to send out weekly engagement emails for over 100 weeks.

If you have a paid course, then this is a perfect content upgrade to include throughout your blog.

#7. Printables

Although many of our email incentives and content upgrades tend to focus on our online activities, sometimes it is nice to embrace our off-line lives. That is what this option can provide.

Most people over the age of thirty still like to use paper for many different things. Here are a some printables that people search Google for more than 10,000 times every month.

  • Monthly Calendars
  • Coupons
  • Coloring Pages
  • Crossword Puzzles
  • Baby Shower Games
  • Planner Pages
  • Pumpkin Stencils
  • Budget Planner
  • Sheet Music
  • Recipe Cards

No matter what niche you are in, there is going to be printable that will work for you blog.

#8. The 30 Day Challenge

Humans are generally competitive by nature. Everybody loves a good challenge. It will help push your subscribers out of their comfort zone and closer to becoming a paying customer.

Here is the basic process for creating your own challenge…

1) You will start by inserting one of the core topics that you write about into this call-to-action formula.

Take the 30 Day ______ Challenge

2) Then map out 30 ways to challenge your audience.

3) After that you will create an email for each of the ways you will challenge subscribers to stretch and grow. If you are doing an evergreen challenge, then you can set these 30 emails up in an autoresponder.

4) You will also want to establish a Facebook group for your challenge. The Facebook group is where the magic happens. By bringing a group of like minded laser focused individuals together, you are creating a hotbed for intense engagement and accountability.

5) When everything is setup, you will place your content upgrade at the bottom of each post, in your sidebar, and in the main navigation.

Here are some examples of 30 day challenges that are working very well for many bloggers.

  • Lunge Challenge, Ab Challenge, Sugar Challenge
  • Relationship Challenge
  • 30 Days of Gratitude
  • The 30 Day Meditation Challenge
  • Writing a Blog Post Per Day for 30 Days
  • 30 Days of New Social Media Tactics
  • Happiness Challenge
  • Productivity Challenge

While health and fitness sites dominate the 30 day challenge space, a good challenge can be created for virtually any niche.

#9. Webinars

As I have mentioned before, nothing will convert your audience into paying members like a well executed webinar.

The three most popular webinar formats are…

  • The Presentation – These webinars are typically scripted and the host walks through a visual slideshow that has been prepared for the audience. Since the audience can not see your face, it takes a bunch of the pressure off.
  • The Interview – The interview takes the least amount of time to prepare and execute. You bring on an expert to interview and share their knowledge with your audience. The best practice is to use a split screen via Skype.
  • The Q and A – This will be a live video of you talking head and you answer question that people submit through your webinar’s live chat. You will want to look directly into the camera as you answer each question. This is going make every person in your audience feel as though you are talking directly to them.

I recommend doing at least three presentation webinars before you move into the interview or Q & A format.

#10. Templates

A template makes life easier.

Templates are an effective resource for people who might need to accomplish a specific task, but do not really know how to do so. If someone is a photoshop novice that is launching a new business, then a quality logo template can save them hundreds of dollars.

Here are some of the most in demand templates across all industries…

  • Resumes
  • Invoices
  • Business Plans
  • Powerpoints
  • Business Cards
  • Lesson Plans
  • Brochures
  • Excel Spreadsheets
  • Social Media Cover Images

If you do not have the expertise or time to create your own template, then go on over to UpWork to hire a freelancer. A small $100 investment in a top notch template can turn into tens of thousands of valuable email subscribers.

The best email incentives and content upgrades must be reflective of your goals and the content you have already published. It is a very effective way to establish expertise within your niche, create customer loyalty, and prove the value of everything you have to offer.

About The Author
Although millions of people visit Brandon's blog each month, his path to success was not easy. Go here to read his incredible story, "From Disabled and $500k in Debt to a Pro Blogger with 5 Million Monthly Visitors." If you want to send Brandon a quick message, then visit his contact page here.