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Filed in Content Marketing, Email Marketing for Service Providers — January 30, 2024

7 Ways To Build Your Email List (Without Creating More Freebies!)

Ah, the world of email marketing: One of the single best ways to connect with, nurture, and convert your audience into paying customers. The ROI on email marketing is incredibly high–about $42 for every $1 spent–so believe us when we say your email list is not something to mess around with. 

If you’re a service-based business owner, an email strategy is an essential part of your marketing efforts. Not only do you need valuable content to keep your current subscribers engaged, you need some kick-ass ways to get subscribers onto your list in the first place. Go ahead and read about how a bigger email list will make you more money if you still need some convincing.

SO MANY businesses default to free PDF downloads to collect all those subscriber names. Chances are, you’ve probably downloaded a few freebies yourself, trying to get as much free information as possible to avoid paying the premium for quality content. But if you’re being honest, how many of those freebies have actually delivered the goods?

Get comfy and settle in: This blog is going to dive into what many people do wrong with freebies, what your freebie should be doing, and some alternative ways to build up your email list without relying on the old PDF trick.

The Issue With Traditional Freebie Downloads

If you’ve had success with your PDF downloads, congratulations. But we’re going to go out on a limb here and say that that’s probably not the case. In our experience, a lot of these freebies offer mediocre content and lack luster information that just lead to frustration (and a quick unsubscribe from that business’s email list).

Here’s the thing: It’s not just the recipients that suffer from these worthless freebie downloads. Every time a lackluster freebie lands in someone’s inbox, it tarnishes the reputation of the creator, too. After all, who’s going to trust a business owner who promises life-changing tips, then underdelivers with irrelevant content? Putting out low-quality freebie content just for the sake of building your email list is not a savvy business move when it damages your credibility. It’s going to do you more harm than good in the long run.

Offer Value, Not Just Freebie Fluff

That’s not to say you can’t create an amazing PDF download that subscribers will love. The key for any lead magnet is to provide immense value and jaw-dropping support–the type of value that leaves people thinking, “Wait, they’re giving this away for free?” It’s about delivering so much value that it feels like a steal–the kind of resource your audience would gladly pay for. 

Remember, your freebie isn’t just a random offer. It’s often your first direct interaction with a potential client. It’s a chance to make an impression, establish trust, and show that you really are here to support them. 

These days, many people are wary of signing up for yet another let-down PDF download, and rightly so. So while it’s possible to gain email subscribers by creating a high-quality PDF download, we’re here to show you other ways to grow your email list that you may not have considered before. 

Alternatives for Free PDF Downloads

Yes, free PDF downloads are a go-to lead magnet for most business owners…but here are some other options you might not have thought about:

#1. Collaborate With Other Business Owners

Team up with fellow business owners in your niche to create joint offerings that resonate with both audiences. Whether it’s a co-hosted webinar, co-create a downloadable resource, or host an exclusive online event, collaboration extends your reach while delivering unique value. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, since you’ll get to share your services and expertise with a new audience, and your business partner will get to share their services with yours.

#2: Podcast Appearances 

Landing on podcasts as a guest lets you showcase your expertise, engage with a new audience, and share your email list with listeners who want more of what you’re offering. The power of your voice reaches ears far and wide, creating connections that go beyond what a PDF download could do.

See if any of your business friends have a podcast where you can appear as a guest, or try reaching out to relevant shows to see if they’d be interested in having you on. Yes, you’ll have to put yourself out there, but gaining a broader audience is well worth it! Just make sure that during the podcast you mention what FREE resources you can offer to their audience, and where they can find it. Turn podcast listeners into email subscribers! 

A podcast appearance Molly made in 2023!

#3: Guest Blog Posts

Guest blog posts are goldmines for expanding your reach, especially if you can write for blogs within your industry or specialty. Craft engaging articles that highlight your insights, and include an invitation for readers to join your email list for more content that resonates. This is a fantastic strategy for SEO, since it increases the number of backlinks leading to your website, and it puts your business in front of an audience that’s already receptive to what you’re offering. In the blog, be sure to include a link to one of your free resources that’s applicable to the blog topic. Turn blog readers into email subscribers! 

#4: In-Person Networking

Yep, we’re saying it: In-person networking is still a super effective way to meet people and spread the word about your business! Meeting in person gives you an immediate chance to connect on a deeper level, which is so much harder through a screen. It’s more likely for networking events to result in new Instagram followers, so be sure to talk about your free resources on your IG the day after a networking event! Link to the resources in your stories for easy access. 

#5: Free Webinars

Knowledge is power, and webinars are your stage to shine. Offer free webinars on topics your audience craves. It doesn’t have to be super long, and you can reuse content you’ve already created. But putting a face to the name does wonders for building credibility. (Have we mentioned that when one of our clients hosted an hour-long webinar, she got multiple direct conversions for the course she was offering?!) Deliver exceptional value, actionable insights, and a sneak peek of what they can expect from your business–all while encouraging them to join your email list for more.

#6: Email Challenges

Try crafting email challenges that tap into your audience’s pain points/desires and give them a sense of accomplishment and transformation. Over a span of days or weeks, provide them with emails that offer valuable tips, strategies, and guidance that demonstrate your expertise and leave them craving more.

This is an often overlooked way to build community, keep your audience motivated and looking forward to your messages, and get subscribers to sign up for email within a certain time frame–use it to your advantage!

#7: Mini Courses

Help your audience dive deeper into your niche with a mini course that offers bite-sized lessons on a particular topic. This value-packed course will showcase your expertise while allowing subscribers to experience firsthand the kind of insights they’ll receive on your email list.

While similar to a PDF download, mini courses tend to be more interactive (think quizzes or videos) and should give your subscribers a greater sense of accomplishment when they complete it. It should break up information into simple, manageable chunks that makes it easy to digest what you’re sharing.

It’s Time To Level Up Your Freebies

Let’s get away from “good enough” freebies, and start working toward exceptional ones. Your subscribers deserve resources that inspire, inform, and genuinely resonate with them. By offering freebies that provide immense value and tangible support, you’re setting the stage for authentic connections with your audience–and that’s a big deal. 

Trust isn’t built overnight, but it starts with a good first impression and a solid foundation. If you don’t think you can create a PDF freebie that reflects the value of your business, then don’t! Instead, channel your time and energy into a different way to collect email addresses, whether that’s finding a podcast appearance, planning a webinar, or signing up for more networking events.

So craft those freebies with care, watch your email list grow, and remember to continue nurturing your audience with consistent and quality email content. You got this!

  1. temp mail says:

    I wholeheartedly endorse every idea you’ve put forth in your post. While they are undeniably persuasive and likely to be successful, the posts themselves are a bit too brief for novice readers. Could you kindly extend them slightly in the future? Thank you for the informative post.

    • Molly Nutt says:

      Hey Berniece! I’ll reach out to you via email on Monday to see if there’s anything specific I can give you additional support/guidance with!

      All the best,

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