Today I'm so pleased to welcome a new blogger to the site. Joanna Chee shared her story inside our Facebook group about how she created and promoted her incredible opt-in and saw great results. I just had to invite Joanna over to the blog to share what she did – so you can do it too! – XO – Beth Anne
*This post contains affiliate links. Read more in our disclosures here.
Hi there! My name's Joanna. I’m a beginner blogger. My site MumsKidsJesus launched 10 months ago. I’m also a beginner Brilliant Business
Mom Mum (I’m British). And, I love it!
A few weeks ago my email list of 89 subscribers tripled in 7 days (yay!) up to about 300 subscribers.
Not big numbers for some. But, WOW for me! It had taken me 8 months to get those first 89!
So, how did it happen? Let me share with you:
The Strategy of Treating an Email Opt-In as a Valuable Product
An email opt-in is something you offer your visitors for free in exchange for their email address, such as a pdf checklist, a list of tools or resources you use, an e-book, a mini e-course, or even a giveaway.
How do you usually promote your email opt-in?
Do you put an opt-in form at the end of your posts or in the sidebar? Mention it within a post? Hope your readers want what you’re offering and sign up?
What if you treated your opt-in freebie as you would a valuable product?
Imagine selling an e-book, an e-course or other product. You’re likely to have a marketing plan, a pre-launch, a launch, and follow-up. It’s worth it, because you’re selling a valuable product.
What if you treated your freebie in the same way?
Well, that’s what I did. Actually, quite unintentionally!
I did some things, had success, looked back, and thought, “Hey, there was some great strategy in there!”
Here’s what I did:
1. I created a freebie of value.
Value could mean something you could potentially sell OR just something of intrinsic value to your niche.
In my case it was both.
I knew I needed a better email opt-in.
Most of my 89 subscribers were friends and family who signed up when I launched. I was getting one or two new subscribers a month.
My email opt-in was a monthly newsletter, some Bible verse cards, and a couple of pdfs related to my posts.
I had the right idea. I was offering more than one freebie, and slowly building a subscriber-only resource library.
But I needed something that my readers REALLY wanted.
Inspiration struck (largely thanks to Abby Lawson’s How To Create Organizational Printables in Microsoft Word. Sign up to access it).
Over two weeks, I wrote a 30 page resource called The Cultivate Love Challenge: 50+ Ideas and Resources to Help Your Family Grow in Love.
This is something of great value to my niche of Christian mums. It not only gives them the ideas to cultivate love in their family, but the planners and printables to put it into action.
Takeaway: What can you create that is of value to your community? It doesn’t have to be 30 pages! If you’re not sure, ask your subscribers. What are their struggles/needs/interests?
2. I pre-launched my freebie.
In January, I wrote a post called Everything I’m Excited for This Year. I made large mention of my coming freebie, and gave a link to sign up to my newsletter to be notified of its release.
A few days later I wrote a post specifically about The Cultivate Love Challenge. Again, readers could sign up to my newsletter to be notified.
I shared both these posts with my subscribers (all 89 of them!), and on social media.
I also sent a separate (excited) email telling my subscribers about The Cultivate Love Challenge.
Takeway: How can you create buzz around your freebie? Post about it before it’s released? Get readers to sign-up to be notified of its release? Share on social media?
3. I created a landing page for my freebie.
This is nothing fancy. It's just the pre-launch post I wrote, with the ‘receive notification' links changed to ‘download now' links. You can see it here.
The page is full-size so there's no sidebar to distract readers. The only option is to sign up for my freebie. There are sign-up links throughout the page and an opt-in form at the end.
Takeaway: Do you have a landing page or post about your freebie? Could you create one?
4. I launched my freebie.
I emailed my subscribers, and other friends and family.
I shared my freebie post whereever possible: social media, link-ups, Facebook groups, yahoo groups, forums, with parents at my kids’ school, with churches I’ve been part of.
I even stood up front and gave an announcement in my current church!
I have a list of over 20 places where my niche of mums is found and where I can share my posts. This is the result of joining and building positive relationship in FB groups, forums, link-ups and the like. It’s taken time!
Takeaway: Where can you share your freebie or posts? Start making a list. Find out where your niche hangs out. Start building relationship.
5. I gave my freebie away to bigger-name bloggers and asked them to share it.
I sent emails to seven bigger-name bloggers, attaching The Cultivate Love Challenge as a gift (without them having to opt-in), and asked them to share it.
Five of them did, either as a mention in a post, or on their social media.
These were bloggers I’d been following for a while, commenting on and sharing their posts, apart from one who I discovered the day before (and they still shared it!).
Takeaway: Which bigger-name bloggers in your niche do you follow and build relationship with? Send genuine encouragement their way. If you’d like them to share your post, freebie or product, just ask!
6. I guest-posted.
I’d never done this before.
A link-party I sometimes link up to needed guest posts. I offered. They accepted.
My guest post was 3 Great Books (and a free resource) To Help Your Family Grow in Love.
Guess what the free resource was? Yes, my freebie!
I got to share The Cultivate Love Challenge in my guest post and include several sign-up links.
And now, TODAY, I’m guest posting here at Brilliant Business Moms. Thank you so much Beth Anne!
Takeaway: It’s not so hard to get a guest post. Look out for opportunities, or just ask! Share your freebie in your guest post, and add several links to it (not just in your bio at the end.) Who could you approach?
7. I kept sharing my post AND other posts that linked to my freebie.
OK, so now I had my freebie shared by several other bloggers and in a guest post.
So, what did I do? I shared all those posts on my social media.
They are looped on my Pinterest boards and will keep being shared both there and on Facebook.
And, yep, I'll be sharing this post too!
Takeaway: Is your site, post or freebie linked to by others? Share their posts as much as you can.
8. I liked and replied to all comments on the posts I shared on Facebook.
Have you noticed that when you comment/reply to a post in a Facebook group, the post shoots back up to the top of the feed?
I sometimes space my comments/replies out over time to keep a particular post higher in a feed!
Not sure if it’s the same in a regular feed, but likes and comments do help keep your post ‘out there’.
Replying to readers is a great way to build relationship too, of course!
Takeaway: Do you have a post that links to your freebie? What Facebook groups do you post it to? Any comments you need to like or reply to? (Just do this in a genuine way so you don't annoy others.)
9. I have follow-up plans.
I will continue sharing my freebie using the methods above.
I may approach someone for a podcast opportunity.
I may do a Facebook ad. (I did run a FB ad for a couple of days. It was a fail because I had no idea how to target my niche audience. I now have Beth Anne’s Facebook Brilliance course to help me out!)
10. My freebie naturally builds ongoing community and momentum.
The Cultivate Love Challenge is not a read-it-and-leave-it printable (as valuable as they can be). It builds community over time.
My readers and I are doing the challenge together. Each month I post Cultivate Love Updates on how it’s going for me, and encourage my readers to share too. This keeps the freebie ‘alive’ month after month, and others can join at any time.
Takeaway: What freebie do you have, or could you create, that builds ongoing community? A challenge? A Facebook group? A monthly give-away? A book club? Regular update posts?
Sound like a lot of work? It was, and is!
But, there’s GOOD NEWS:
- You don’t have to do it all at once. I did. I had a huge spike in subscribers. But I exhausted myself and couldn’t sustain my efforts. After the first week, my numbers slowed (though I’m now at over 400 subscribers). It’s only now, two months on, that I’m beginning to think about ongoing and sustainable promotion. I know I need to keep writing great content, and get Pinterest and Facebook strategies up and running. (I'm using, and highly recommend, Beth Anne's Brilliant Pin Promotion Course, and Brittany Ann's book *Strategies Worth Sharing: How I Grew My Facebook Page From 2000 to 100 000 in 5 Months.)
- You can make a plan ahead of time. I didn’t. With a ‘marketing plan’ in place, you can space out your efforts.
- You don’t have to do everything I did. Some things will lend themselves better to your type of freebie. You’ll see results, even by doing one or two of the things above.
- It's never too late to start promoting a freebie!
And there are HUGE BENEFITS:
- You grow your email list. Obviously.
- After a period of time, you can repackage or add to your freebie and sell it (depending on your type of freebie, of course). That’s what I intend to do with The Cultivate Love Challenge. AND I can ask everyone who’s had it for free to review it, share it, and become my affiliates!
- Treating your free email opt-in as a valuable product is FANTASTIC practice for marketing and selling a real product. I now know a ton about creating value, pre-launching, launching and ongoing promotion, and I have channels in place to use again. I still have lots to learn, but I can go into selling my real products (e-books and e-courses) with confidence, and with a plan!
I'm determined to make this thing work!
Since launching my Cultivate Love Challenge freebie opt-in, I've discovered content-upgrades! A content upgrade is extra post-specific content that can be downloaded in exchange for an email address.
I've switched my email provider to *ConvertKit, who make it very easy to manage different opt-ins forms for different posts, send content upgrades, and keep track of which readers sign up for what.
I'm still keeping the Cultivate Love Challenge as my main opt-in at the end of all posts, but I link to content upgrades several times within each post itself.
To see an example, check out my post Something I've Started Doing for My Husband That I Really Enjoy where I offer a free mini e-course (content upgrade) to help you start doing the same for your husband!
I'm excited about content upgrades. My subscriber numbers are growing again!
Well, that's it: the strategy of treating your freebie email opt-in as a valuable product to grow your email list.
Now I'd love to hear from you: How do you promote your email opt-ins? What one thing can you take away from this post? I'd love to know. Add your comment below!
And, if you haven’t checked it out yet, do take a look at The Cultivate Love Challenge. It’s a fun-filled resource to strengthen your marriage, deepen your relationship with your kids, and help your children grow in friendship. It comes with everything you need to put it into practice!
Joanna Chee is from the UK but currently lives in the Middle East with her husband and four children. She blogs at MumsKidsJesus.com, and has a heart to encourage and inspire mums and moms, practically and spiritually. She is writing two e-books, and has a million other book and course ideas whizzing round in her head! Follow her on Pinterest and Facebook.