How to Create a Free Download That Does More Than Scream “Free”

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Offering a free download is a common way to build an opt-in list you can use for your email marketing campaigns. The freebie can be a special report, white paper, tip sheet, resource document, etc. In fact, to many website owners looking to build a list, it doesn’t always matter what it is, as long as it gets people to submit their email address to download it. But being on the receiving end of a few less-than-useful free downloads myself, I know there is no quicker way to lead a subscriber to search for the unsubscribe link. Not to mention that offering a “cheap” free download is just bad business. You don’t have to give away the store, but you can make your free download better and improve the way your audience perceives you in a few easy ways.

Provide Information Not Available Elsewhere

One of the cheapest tricks with a free download is to copy info everyone else is using or that is available to everyone and presenting it as unique. Spending time to create your own original document not only separates you from the masses but can also make your download much more valuable.

Give Quality Information That Can Be Used NOW

You won’t win anyone over if you provide a download that gives tentatively useful information if the reader does X, Y and Z first. Make your download useful, relevant and truly free by focusing on providing information that your readers can put to use immediately.

Write Good Marketing Copy Describing the Freebie

The goal of your marketing copy may be to get your readers to submit their addresses, but misrepresenting your download is an ineffective and downright poor way to do it. Even though there is no money exchanging hands, you are still responsible for accurately describing what the recipient will get in exchange for providing their email address so they can decide if it’s worth that cost to them.

Don’t Blatantly Sell Something Else

You may view your free download as a stepping stone to a paid product, but if you reference your upsell repeatedly in your free download, it’s like beating a dead horse. Save the upsell for the end of the document, after the reader has absorbed all of the valuable information you’re giving away for free.

Create a High-Quality File That’s Easy to Download

Whether your download is a PDF, a video, or some other format, take time to make sure the format you choose is appropriate and that it’s easy enough to download. For example, if you have a 24 MB file, it’s not exactly accessible by everyone. Plus, spending a little time to polish the presentation can do wonders for boosting the perceived value of the download.

Include Extra Resources for More Information

You can’t include everything the reader may want to know in a free download, nor would you want to. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it easy for them to expand their knowledge with a few clicks. Offer a variety of resources at the end of your download including your upsell, more freebies and other methods your readers can continue to learn. Do you offer a free download in return for an email opt-in? How do you make it worth it to your readers? Image credit: Spiders

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Creating Free Downloads

How can I create a free download without any technical knowledge?

Creating a free download doesn’t necessarily require technical knowledge. You can use platforms like Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive to upload your file and generate a shareable link. This link can then be shared with your audience. If you’re using a website, most content management systems like WordPress have options to upload files and create download links directly.

What type of content can I offer as a free download?

The type of content you can offer as a free download depends on your industry and audience. It could be an eBook, a whitepaper, a software, a music file, a video, a design template, or any other digital product. The key is to ensure that the content is valuable and relevant to your audience.

How can I protect my free download from unauthorized distribution?

While it’s challenging to completely prevent unauthorized distribution, you can take measures to discourage it. You can use digital rights management (DRM) tools, watermark your content, or use a download link that expires after a certain period or number of downloads.

How can I use free downloads to grow my email list?

Offering a free download in exchange for an email address is a common lead generation strategy. You can set up a landing page with a form where visitors can enter their email address to receive the download link. This way, you can grow your email list while providing value to your audience.

Can I track how many times my free download has been downloaded?

Yes, most platforms that allow you to create download links also provide analytics. You can see how many times your file has been downloaded, and in some cases, the location and other details of the downloader.

How can I promote my free download?

You can promote your free download through various channels. These include your website, social media, email newsletters, and online ads. You can also collaborate with influencers or other businesses in your industry to reach a wider audience.

Can I monetize my free download?

While the download itself is free, you can use it as a lead magnet to monetize in other ways. For example, you can use it to grow your email list and then promote your paid products or services to your subscribers. You can also use it to attract traffic to your website where you can earn from ads or affiliate marketing.

How can I ensure that my free download is accessible to all users?

To ensure accessibility, make sure your file is not too large and can be opened with common software. If it’s a text file, provide alternative formats like PDF and DOC. If it’s a video or audio file, provide captions or transcripts.

Can I offer multiple free downloads?

Yes, you can offer as many free downloads as you want. Offering a variety of content can attract a wider audience and cater to different preferences and needs.

How can I create a free download that stands out?

To create a free download that stands out, focus on providing unique and high-quality content. Understand your audience’s needs and preferences, and create content that provides a solution or value. Make sure your download is well-designed and easy to use.

Alyssa GregoryAlyssa Gregory
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Alyssa Gregory is a digital and content marketer, small business consultant, and the founder of the Small Business Bonfire — a social, educational and collaborative community for entrepreneurs.

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