How to Create Your First Content Upgrade (& Deliver it!)

  A content upgrade is a freebie thrown into a post that is related to that particular post topic. For example, if I wrote a post about training a kitten to use a litter box, I might throw in a printable on a time-management suggestion for when to take your kitty outside or when to put it in the litter box and how often. It's specific, and it's imperative to your topic. 

Content upgrades are all the roar, aren't they?! When I'm browsing someone's blog and I fall in love with their brand and products, I know that I want to taste a little bit of their free product first. After all, that's what content upgrades do: they give your reader a teaser of your paid product. (Of course, in addition to building your list!) 

What is a content upgrade?

A content upgrade is a freebie thrown into a post that is related to that particular post topic. For example, if I wrote a post about training a kitten to use a litter box, I might throw in a printable on a time-management suggestion for when to take your kitty outside or when to put it in the litter box and how often. It's specific, and it's imperative to your topic. 

How do I narrow down ideas for a content upgrade? 

Coming up with an idea that people actually opt in for means that you're staying in touch with your target audience. What does staying in touch with them mean? You're emailing them, you're in Facebook groups with them, you're hanging out on Twitter, etc. Connecting with your target audience means you'll see their questions, concerns, ideas, and desires. 

Create your products based on what you're seeing on social media and in your inbox. People love free things, so think about how much more YOUR people will love YOUR free things. 

How do I create my content upgrade? 

There are lots of ways to deliver information in a digestible format. For starters, PDFs. They're easy to make and readers love them. PDFs can be worksheets, lists, templates, and more. Let's make a cover page using Canva so that you don't have to worry about having an expensive program to get a great list. 

Register for > Click Create a Design > Select US Letter under "Documents" > Select a layout you like.

When you hover over a layout on the left-hand side, it'll tell you if the layout is free or premium, which shows up as a tiny $ sign on the bottom right-hand corner of the layout. I'm going to use a free one but I'm going to make it look completely different. 

I've taken the white lines on the image and made them black, and you can see I added an image in the background that's really light. I find that lighter images with brighter colors perform better in general. 

Now I'm going to add some fun elements. Using the "Elements" button on the left-hand side, I'm going to select Shapes, then circles. You can use whatever shapes you want! I'm going to create a modern, bold workbook cover (for a product that doesn't exist, so don't get your hopes up!) that I could plop onto the front of a free workbook I was giving away in a post if I wanted to.

Here is what I came up with: 

All I used was a different font, changed up the colors some, and added some shapes! It's amazing what you can do with a little bit of texture like that!

Creating workbooks or worksheets in Canva is equally as easy. Let's create a quick worksheet. Using the US Letter selection again, let's see what we can build from scratch.

For workbooks and worksheets, you want to make them printer-friendly, so even if the front page is all image, they can select to only print the worksheets from the workbook and there shouldn't be much image on the worksheets. Let me demonstrate:

Use only borders and shape borders to create your worksheets. This makes them printer-friendly and your readers are more likely to actually print them. 

Remind your readers what book they're working in by including the title at the top. If your workbook is more than 5 pages, I advise including page numbers so that you can say, "On page 3, you'll learn---" blah blah blah. Make sense? Yay! 

After I created my structure, I just added some text and some lines and bada-bing, bada-boom! I have a worksheet on my hands!

Now that we've created our content upgrade for free (easy, right?!) we can talk about offering methods.

How do I offer my freebie?

First, if you're using Wordpress, you have a ton of options for clicks and downloads. You can make the content upgrade a tantalizing, hi-def image that looks attractive and appealing that your ideal audience will want to click on because they want your freebie so much... OR, you can insert a button with a little bit of HTML & CSS. Let's do the button option!

To create that button, you'll need some HTML. Here's the basic stuff:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<a href="YOUR LANDING PAGE URL HERE"><button class="button button1">SNAG YOUR FREE BLOGGING ROADMAP WORKBOOK HERE</button></a>

That's just going to put out a plain, blue link without CSS. This is your foundation. Go ahead and leave the links and such alone for now, since we're going over mailing forms after this and you don't yet having a landing page or a pop up box to send them to. 

To paste this into your Wordpress post, switch from the Visual editor to the Text editor and paste it in wherever you want it. 

Now, because we don't want it to look bare-bones and plain, let's add some styling! CSS might be my favorite thing in the entire world. (Except unicorns and coffee.)

In between the <head> and </head> tags, we're going to add a <style> </style> section. It should look like this:

.button {
    background-color: #4CAF50;
    border: none;
    color: white;
    padding: 16px 32px;
    text-align: center;
    text-decoration: none;
    display: inline-block;
    font-size: 14px;
    margin: 4px 2px;
    -webkit-transition-duration: 0.4s;
    transition-duration: 0.4s;
    cursor: pointer;
    letter-spacing: 2px;
.button1 {
    background-color: white;
    color: black;
    border: 2px solid #555555;
    width: 100%;
.button1:hover {
    background-color: #555555;
    color: white;

You've officially specified the button's basics, like width, padding, font size, etc, and also the specifics of the button, like the background color and the border size. Copy and paste that code in between the head tags. (I don't have a Wordpress blog anymore so I can't screenshot for you.)

Once you've done that, we can move on to our next task! We're going to talk about easy-peasy landing pages now. Go ahead and create a new page in your Wordpress dashboard. Be sure not to list it anywhere in any menus because you want this to be exclusive to certain posts because it's a very niched topic, right? It's for content upgrades only. 

Open Canva and create a killer image that describes your freebie in detail and makes people want to download it. Be sure to emphasize the free part! 

Go back to your new Wordpress page and insert that graphic that you just made. Underneath that, let's add a form. We'll go with Mailchimp, since the majority of bloggers use Mailchimp initially. In Mailchimp, go to Lists and then create a new list. 

Fill in all the details and such (if you have questions, you can email me) and then click Signup Forms. Select "Embedded Forms" from there, and from the box on the right-hand side, copy all the code and go back to your Wordpress page. Click enter under your image to make sure there's plenty of space, then switch your view from Visual to Text (again) and add your code. Without switching back over to Visual, hit publish and view your page. 

Now, you can link to that page in your original HTML for the button we created earlier! When people click the button, it'll take them to that new landing page you just made and they can sign up directly to your mailing list via Mailchimp. 

Pro tip: Create an automatic welcome series to get your new subscriber used to emails from you, and also to introduce them to your products if you have any!

Automation is necessary for delivery because most people won't want to wait for 24 hours to get their freebie and may be a little miffed that they didn't get it right away. I know, I know, but it's 2016 - people expect everything right away (myself included haha). Automation is $10, and it's a topic for another post, so I'll leave you with this amazing tutorial on automation from Think Creative Collective. Emylee and Abigail know what they're doing! You're in good hands. I hope this helped!

PS. If you really want to amp up your email list and raise your conversion rate, I suggest using Leadpages. It's easy to get started, offers mobile optimization, and connects well with Mailchimp, ConvertKit, etc. 

Affiliate links in post.