How to Create the Perfect Opt-in Freebie for your Design Business


So you’ve probably heard about the elusive “email list” and the incredibly positive effects email marketing can have on your business. 

I mean, just go to Jenna Kutcher’s Instagram or listen to Amy Porterfield talk about, basically anything, they’re always coming back to the email list. But, what if you’re selling graphic design services? Does email marketing work? Is it worth trying to set up an email list?

I went a long time without having an email list, because honestly I was just too scared to even try to set it up in the beginning. It was overwhelming as hell, along with everything else I was doing. Then when I did finally set it up, I was bringing out opt-in freebies that were attracting completely the wrong people (hindsight is 20:20, isn’t it) so I didn’t make any sales through my email list.

But, with lots of trial and error I finally figured out what to do and what not to do, and how to build an email list that is full of followers who are big fans of my work and actually want to buy from me, or at the least, enjoy hearing from me. 

So, the best way to get people onto your email list is to offer them something for free. 

Giving away your email address is pretty sacred, and people aren’t just going to give you their email address for no reason. There has to be something in it for them. Think about how many times you’ve given out your email address. I can pretty much guarantee you got something free or some sort of deal for doing that, right? 

Mistake: Just slapping up a random opt-in freebie!

We don’t just want to create any old freebie… Like I said, where I made my biggest mistake when I first started growing my email list was having opt-in freebies that were totally attracting the wrong audience. 

I thought the more people on my email list the better, so I created so tons of freebies that weren’t really targeted toward my ideal clients, and I ended up with a big email list full of people who were never going to buy from me. So not only was creating all of those freebies a waste of my time, but it was costly, because email marketing softwares charge you for the more people you have on your list. I was wasting my time AND paying a lot of money for people who were never going to buy from me.

I realized my mistake and ended up deleting all of those freebies and starting from scratch. I put a lot of thought behind one great freebie, and while my list grew a bit slower than it did before, it was finally full of people who would likely actually buy from me someday, or at least be interested in my business.

Long story short, email marketing can work for any type of business, service-based designers included, but you just have to make sure you’re getting the right sort of people onto your email list.

And to get the right sort of people on your list, you need to create the perfect opt-in. 

So what makes a great opt-in freebie topic? It should be:

1 | Helpful

Your opt-in incentive needs to be helpful or useful to your audience, otherwise there is no reason for them to download it or opt-in.

2 | Aimed at your ideal client

It needs to be created strategically for your ideal client/target audience, otherwise you’ll be getting the wrong sort of people on your list.

3 | Related to, or leads into, the services you’re trying to sell

This one's obvious! If you can create an opt-in freebie that leads into your services or products, you’re more likely to sell more of those services and products.

So, say your ideal clients are real estate agents, and you specialize in branding and web design

Some examples of a helpful opt in freebie may be:

  • The 5 Big Mistakes Real Estate Agents Make on Their Website

  • 5 Branding Tips for Real Estate Agents

  • What should you include on your Real Estate Website? A Checklist

Simple, right? We’re targeting our ideal clients, who in this example are real estate agents, we’re talking about the services we offer, which in the example is brand and web design, and the information is helpful!

So I challenge you now to write out your ideal client and services or products, then come up with at least 3 potential opt-in topic ideas.

Haven’t defined your ideal client yet?

Enter your email address below to download this questionnaire that will help you define your ideal client.

Once you’ve got your list of ideas, you then need to actually turn it into a freebie.

There are so many cool ways you can present this information in an opt-in freebie, but you need to make sure that is a little bit more exciting than a text document with tips. 

Here are some ideas that are a bit more exciting than just a basic document:

  1. An email course
    Set up your email marketing software to send 1 email a day for 5 days (eg, 5 different tips)

  2. A checklist
    Create an interactive PDF that has a checklist where they can actually can tick the boxes off as they go (you can use Canva + PDFScape to easily create this)

  3. An online course
    Create a few video tutorials and add them to a password protected page on your site, send the link and password when someone opts-in!

  4. An interactive workbook
    Create an interactive PDF with questions / activities and spaces where they can type their answers (you can use Canva + PDFScape to easily create this)

  5. A free video training
    Create a video training on your topic and send them the video when they opt-in. You could create an interactive workbook to go alongside this training

  6. Free challenge
    Take your topic and create a free challenge out of it! Send email prompts and workbooks over a week period. Or, run a live challenge and give everyone access to a Facebook group + host live videos for a week.

  7. Webinar
    Grant access to a live webinar you’re hosting on the topic, or a replay of the webinar you previously hosted on the topic.

Those are some really common and effective ways to package up your opt-ins. Obviously some are a lot more work than others, eg. an interactive PDF will be a lot less work than running a live challenge, so think about that when you’re setting it up.

It doesn’t have to be extravagant, long or complicated, if anything, the simpler the better. As long as it tackles those three main points, you’re off to a good start and you’ll be getting the right sort of people on your list in no time!

Thanks for reading!


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