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The Top 7 Opt-in Freebie Mistakes Bloggers Make and How to Avoid Them

The Top 7 Opt-in Freebie Mistakes Bloggers Make and How to Avoid Them. A post by Natalie Gowan. Learn more about blogging and blog design on

The Top 7 Opt-in Freebie Mistakes Bloggers Make and How to Avoid Them. A post by Natalie Gowan. Learn more about blogging and blog design on

An opt-in freebie download is a bloggers best friend. When someone downloads your freebie she’s basically saying, “Hey! I trust you enough to give you my email address and I like you enough to keep hearing from you more.”

Growing an email list is the best way to monetize from your blog — that’s why Marianne and other rock star bloggers are preaching the power of the list.

To grow your list you need a freebie but if you’re like a lot of bloggers and business owners, getting it done is nagging at you and causing a lot of “I really should do that” guilt.

Later in the article I’ve got a quick and easy guide to creating the perfect freebie for your audience, but first, let’s take a look at some of the biggest freebie mistakes so you can make sure to avoid them.

Continuing on last week’s topic on the best ways to grow your email list, please welcome Natalie Gowen of Moxie Tonic today on the blog. She’s got some super valuable tips for us to help us grow our email lists. Don’t tell anyone but my very first freebie was totally guilty of #1! 😉

Mistake #1: Giving Away the Farm

The biggest mistake bloggers make is packing too much information into the freebie. I’ve seen everything from hours and hours of audio recordings to 80-page e-books offered up for free.

Giving away too much hurts you in two ways:

  1. It turns the fire hose on your readers. If she never makes it through your freebie, you miss the opportunity to make a deep connection with your reader and keep her coming back for more.
  2. Failure to launch. Thinking too big stops freebie completion in its tracks. It becomes an overwhelming project that never gets finished and you miss the chance to grow your list.

Mistake #2: Losing Focus

It’s easy to lose site of the freebie’s purpose and end up creating a download with no focus or purpose.

The best freebies shine the spotlight on your reader and the specific problems she faces. Savvy bloggers use their download to help solve a problem, teach a skill or serve a resource for their reader.

Mistake #3: Blah Titles

I spend more time on titles than any other section of my downloads. A bland or vague title won’t generate the interest you need to capture email addresses.

Great titles for freebies make promises, create mystery or tap emotion. If you need more title tips check out How to Write Blog Post Titles that Get Attention.

Mistake #4: Forgetting to Brand

You don’t need a professional designer, but you definitely want your delivered document to look like your blog or site. Even if you are typing it up in Word or Pages, it’s easy to capture a similar look by using the fonts and colors from your site and adding your logo.

Mistake #5: Ignoring Readers with Questions

What happens after a reader gets your download, has a question or wants to send you praise?

Make sure to invite readers to contact you and include your email address. You can even go a step further and make the email clickable which will increase the connection and engagement with your readers.

Mistake #6: Jumping Through Hoops

Every step of the sign-up process is an opportunity for someone to give up and stop early (i.e. Captcha forms, clicking through extra welcome emails and thank you pages after they confirm, etc.).

Each email address is a hot lead for growing your business so you don’t want to lose anyone along the way. Save your readers a step or two, set up your free download as the thank you page. That way, as soon as she’s confirmed her email address, she’ll automatically go to the freebie.

Mistake #7: Forgetting the Next Step

Does your reader know what to do next?

If you avoid all the above mistakes, you’ll have your reader ready for anything. She’s primed to take a next step, but she needs you to tell her what to do.

My favorite “next steps” include following on social media, joining a private Facebook group or reading popular blog posts. They are simple steps, but they keep your reader interested and engaged in your site.

What are You Waiting For??!!

Every day your blog goes without a freebie and lead capture is one less day to connect and grow your loyal base. If you read all the way to the end you are ready to create an effective, engaging and list growing freebie.

»» For more help in the actual writing and creation of the freebie, be sure to enter the bonus section and grab The 90-Minute Freebie Cheat Sheet that will take you from blank slate to finished freebie in no time.

How to Write Blog Post Titles that Spark Emotion and Get Attention. Natalie Gowen of Moxie Tonic on www.designyourownblog.comAbout Natalie Gowen
Natalie is the brand strategist and content coach behind Moxie Tonic where she helps bloggers and entrepreneurs grow their business through engaging and entertaining brand messaging. If she found a genie lamp she’d ask for a personal chef, an island vacation and a pony. She also hangs out on Instagram.

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  • Lauren says:

    Some really great tips! I need to get on my opt-in library badly so this was great incentive & guidance at the perfect time!

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Siedah says:

    Indeed! You want to make it easy as possible. Best thing to do is test test test and always improve the process. Thanks for sharing Marianne. xo

    • Natalie says:

      Testing is fabulous…sometimes a headline tweak or even the color of the button makes a huge difference…that could be a whole post in itself.

  • Mahriya says:

    Wow, these are some great tips!
    I’ve been stuck on what to actually give my readers as freebies, so I will check out that freebie!
    As for the post, I’m glad I’ve read it before I’ve written in up! Now, I know what to look out for…

  • Thank you for these great tips! I forget I need to show my audience the next step. I’ll add that to my current opt-in.

  • Ooooo I so absolutely love this Marianne and Natalie. So many of my clients say how they need an opt-in like they need SEO, but have zero idea where to begin. It’s become such an industry term that it’s easy to loose sight on exactly what the purpose of the opt-in is in the first place. Your first point, “Giving Away The Farm” was so perfect. We put so much pressure on the opt-in that we can easily turn it into a beast of a project that either never gets finished or is so large it overwhelms our audience. Thank you for such a great post!

    • Marianne says:

      Totally Julie! I gave away this HUGE ebook as my first opt-in! I think when I started offering smaller downloads, it helped my subscribe rate quite a bit.

  • Ralitsa says:

    Such great tips! I always struggle with how much to put into each freebie, especially if it’s a guide or something I want people to see the value in.

    Thank you for these awesome tips Natalie and Marianne!

  • Cheree says:

    How do I add an optin to blog under the header?

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Cheree,
      It all depends on your blog’s theme. I would start by googling “horizontal optin form [name of your theme]” and see what comes up. I wish there was an easier answer, but they are all coded so differently, it’s difficult to make a tutorial that’s one size fits all.

  • Jayati says:

    I am in the process of setting up a blog for myself. I am referring to your blog and have already downloaded the Freebies you have offered. They are Superstars !!!
    However, I am a little lost when I think about my blog. O intend to blog on my Travel experience s and Bollywood Movie Reviews. What freebies can I offer? I am quite out of ideas!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Jayati, think about what types of content you can offer your readers above and beyond what your blog posts are about. For example, next time you write a post such as a list post (ex. 10 ways to do _____), cut out a few of the items in your list and include them in a content upgrade. So for example, your post is now titled “7 Ways to ______” and in the post, offer 3 more “ways” or “ideas” that they can access by subscribing. Hope that helps!

  • Goya says:

    Hey, I am currently working on my first freebie (still trying to figure out what it will be, lol :)) and this information has been so useful – Thank you so much for sharing these!

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