The days of “Sign Up To Receive My Newsletter” are long over my friend. When was the last time you said “OH HELL YEAH” to a pop-up that looked like this?

(image via sumome.com)

So if list building is on one of your goals this year and this is your current strategy, it’s time to up your game. Read on.

We are bombarded with pop-ups and content upgrades and free downloads these days. Honestly, how many emails do you get every day?

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I’m saying that if you want to stand out to your audience, and eventually turn those people into huge fans and paying customers, you need to offer them something really frickin awesome.

Here are a few ideas to get you started. I recommend you pick ONE of these and commit to having it done in the next 10 days. Will you accept the challenge?

Get your opt-in up in 10 days! The 3 types of opt-ins to create to start growing your list now

Email Course

What is it? Put simply, an email course is an autoresponder series that teaches your reader something over the course of 3-10 emails. An email course can be created on ANYTHING.

Why An Email Course?

You can also use your email course as a lead into your paid products or services. Your course is going to guide your readers down a path about your topic. You will teach them something, share your personal story, and by the end, you’ll convince them you are the expert on the subject. It acts as a mini sales funnel – so this opt-in is really doing double duty.

Email courses tend to convert really well. I’m talkin’ over 50%. That’s crazy! So if you only have time to set up one list building strategy this year, this should be at the top of your priority list.

How to pick your topic

What does your audience ask you about most often? What kind of comments are they leaving on your blog posts? What questions do your clients have before hiring you?

Don’t have an audience? That’s ok! Do some sneaky market research and look at comments on other blogs or Amazon book reviews related to your niche.

If you want to set up an email course in just 5 days, you’ve got to check out this free challenge from Mariah Coz at Femtrepreneur. She guides you through the entire process from idea to done. I’m doing this challenge right now and it is legit.

Cheat Sheet, Resource, or Guide

Cheat sheets and resource guides are your best bet for creating content upgrades. They’re easy to create quickly and can give your blog readers that extra resource they need to implement what they’ve just learned in your article.

There are tonnes of options here

  • Checklists of everything you need to start on a project
  • Complete list of tools or resources
  • Flowchart of the steps to take to implement something
  • Definitions of common terms in an industry
  • A quick reference for symbols, shortcuts, or terminology
  • A template or script for an email, sales page, or conversation
  • A spreadsheet used for organizing contacts, numbers, dates, etc

There are seriously endless options for creating these simpler opt-ins. If you want to go more in depth on each of these types of cheat sheets, listen to this quick 25-minute podcast on the topic.

The only rule you need to stick to when creating these upgrades – make it a valuable resource. You want these quick guides to be something that your reader will use immediately, and hopefully again and again in the future.

The best content upgrades are something that fit perfectly with the blog content, so think of the resource or guide that would help you take action on the blog post you’ve just written.

One blog that absolutely kills it with checklists, templates and resource guides as content upgrades is CoSchedule. They create a downloadable bundle of resources for nearly every epic blog they create.

You can use these guides and resources as the main opt-in on your site – they don’t have to be content upgrades. These will work if they really do address the main pain point that your readers are having right now.

How do you make these?

There are plenty of tools out there to design simple cheat sheets. You can use anything from Pages to Photoshop. I typically use Adobe Illustrator, Canva or Beacon.

Ebook or Case Study

Ebooks and case studies are great for delivering a lot of information on one topic. These will be much longer than your typical guide or cheat sheet.

If you want to get really in-depth on a topic, but don’t necessarily want to split it up into lessons like you would with an email course, then an ebook might be the right format. You can deliver all kinds of value in one download.

Case studies are a solid option for showcasing your results, so they also serve as a sales tool while building your list. Create a case study around a few of your past clients or projects and pick out the most valuable lessons. Your audience will learn from your success and start to realize you’re the bomb dot com and that you deliver results to your clients.

The obvious con of an ebook is that it takes longer to write, edit, and design than an email course or simple guide (that’s why it’s last on this last). But – ebooks can also convert really well in some niches and provide a whole whack of value to your audience.

Ebooks and case studies are also a great opportunity to partner up with people to create an epic resource on a topic. My friend Jacqueline at Piktochart partners up with Hubspot regularly to create resources on using infographics as part of your content strategy – which helps both companies grow their audience and authority.

So – what kind of opt-in will you create in the next 10 days? Let me know in the comments!

(PS I’m totally in on this challenge with you! I’m doing the email course challenge with Mariah RIGHT NOW.)