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It should come as no surprise to you by now that it’s really difficult to grow your email list without some kind of incentive to exchange for an email address. As we’ve mentioned before when talking about email courses, people want to know what you can do for them, not just what they can do to help you and your business out.

This is why it’s so important to create and share easy content upgrades to use in your blog content to generate new leads.

What is a content upgrade?

It’s an extra piece of content, like a downloadable PDF, that goes more in-depth than your initial blog post, and can be a great way to generate more sign ups to your email list.

Um, Kevin, I already have an awesome opt-in freebie or lead magnet. Why do I need to create content upgrades?

Great question! And totally valid concern. Why do you need to put in the extra work to come up with freebies to go along with your already fabulous blog posts?

Well, why not have even more ways to generate new email subscribers?

A blue graphic about how to grow your email list

Check out the episode below:

How does a content upgrade grow your email list?

Let’s map this out:

Step one, you create your blog content. It’s an awesome post about eating vegan when visiting family who don’t.

Step two, you brainstorm a few content upgrade ideas to go with it. What could relate to this post, but make it even more valuable? Perhaps a vegan recipe that the whole family will love?

Step three, you create your content upgrade and design a graphic to promote it several places within your blog post. Each time someone clicks that graphic to download the family-friendly vegan recipe, they’re prompted to enter their email address. Once they do, the recipe gets automatically and immediately sent to them in an email.

They now have this awesome recipe to share with friends and family who may not have the same dietary restrictions, and you have a new person added to your email list.

Not only is this just a new subscriber, but it’s a new subscriber who is obviously interested in your content. You’ll send them your regular email newsletter with strategic teases throughout to get them to buy your core product or service.

And eventually, this person does!

Now, because of your content upgrade within your blog post, you’ve created a new customer and generated more income for your business.

Plus, Brian from Backlinko himself has corroborated that his content upgrades have helped him boost his email conversion rate from 0.54% to 4.82%. That's a 785% increase!

Is that a win, or what?

Gif with a woman doing a hand gesture for a win because she grew her email list

You don’t have to be stuck using the same old ideas for your content upgrade post after post.

No way.

There are so many different types of easy content upgrades to use. So let’s dive into 29 different ideas for converting your readers into email subscribers.

1. Worksheet

If your blog post is about creating something or doing something new, supplying your readers with a worksheet to help them actually apply what you’re talking about to their businesses is a great idea. Create a quick printable worksheet or workbook with boxes or lines for your readers to write in.

It’s also a really considerate thing to do for your audience because when you supply them with pages to take notes on, they’re much more likely to do what you’re telling them to do in your blog post.

2. Checklist

Well whataya know, checklist is on here?! No wonder I’m giving away a free content upgrade checklist for readers of this post to ensure they check off every step of the way when creating their own easy content upgrades. 😉

If you’re creating a step-by-step blog post, offering a checklist printable for your readers is a great idea. This way they can print it off and reference it each time they go to do something, rather than having to reopen your blog post over and over again.

3. eBook

An eBook does not have to be a crazy 100 page thing. (And if it is, it’d make a better lead magnet than content upgrade!)

It can simply be a 3+ page booklet of information. So if you’ve created a 2,000 word blog post, but you know there’s a lot more information that you could have packed into that subject, create an eBook out of it. And offer it as a way for your audience to get even more out of your post.

In this video tutorial, I give you permission to copy exactly how I create eBooks on Canva without any designs skills required.

4. Email Course or Series

How timely. Didn’t we just do a deep dive into creating an email course as your opt-in? These can also be great content upgrades!

Use this as a mini course that goes more in-depth in each of the topics you mentioned in your blog post. Don’t forget that you can still use this content upgrade as a way to sell a full paid online course.

Watch how as I walk you through the exact steps to create your own irresistible email course like a pro inside ConvertKit (affiliate link, at no additional cost to you):

5. Challenge

What better way to incite action than by challenging your readers to do something? Because no one can say no to a challenge. 😉

Put together a booklet for each step of the challenge, or consider turning it into a series of email reminders. This can become an extremely popular content upgrade for your business as well. Consider creating a community around it by creating a hashtag for all challenge participants to use as they dive in.

6. Step-by-Step Tutorial

There’s no getting around it—sometimes blogs have to cover technical and complicated topics. Offering a step-by-step tutorial as a content upgrade in your blog post can be a great way to utilize photos and screenshots in your how-to so that readers know exactly what steps to take along the way.

7. Video Tutorial

Take your step-by-step tutorial up a notch by creating a video. You can upload your videos to YouTube and post them as “Unlisted” so they’re not available to the general public, but viewers with the direct link are able to access it. Once you get an email opting in for your freebie, send them the link to the video tutorial.

Youtube instructions on how to set up a free content upgrade to grow your email list

8. Resource List

If you’re covering a topic that utilizes a lot of tools, putting together a resource list is a great way to offer value to your readers. This way they can access every potential tool they may need all in one place.

And to make this even spicier for you, consider adding in your affiliate links for the tools that you personally use and recommend.

9. Podcast or Audio Clip

Maybe it makes the most sense for your readers and potential customers to listen to your content upgrade, rather than read it. If they’ve got a long commute, or if it’s the type of information that simply needs to be stated out loud, put together a podcast or audio clip.

Upload your audio clip to a platform like Buzzsprout (what I personally use and recommend—use my affiliate link and score a $20 Amazon gift card 😉) and include the link or audio download in an email to each of your new subscribers.

These guys are excellent teachers and went above and beyond to help me get my podcast up live, and I'll recommend them for life!

Plus, when you sign up with my link you can use the Amazon card towards some nice equipment to make your voice sound silky smooth. 😉

Content upgrades that make money for you and a friend by referring them

10. Webinar

A webinar can be created in many ways, but is typically a video slideshow with your voiceover. This can be an incredibly easy type of content to create, and can have huge conversion power. And according to Content Marketing Institute, 61% of content marketers are incorporating webinars into their marketing strategies.

11. Transcript

If your main piece of content was a video, audio clip, or podcast, offering the transcript of the content is a great way to increase conversions. Not everyone will be at a place where they can listen to your content, but they still want to know what you have to say.

I personally recommend and use Rev for my transcriptions made easy.

Video graphic about costs for video marketing for free content upgrades

12. Swipe File

What is a swipe file?

It’s basically content that your readers need that you’ve already created for them. This can be a booklet filled with Facebook Ad ideas they can mimic, About Page copy they can repurpose, or email sales copy they can fill in the blanks and send to their own email list.

Make things easier for your readers by providing a swipe file to get them started on the task you’re covering.

13. Cheat Sheet

A cheat sheet is like a quick reference guide for your overall blog post (or course, or email series, or whatever your content is). It’s a great content upgrade to offer to your audience when you’ve covered a lot of information at once.

Creating a cheat sheet can be as simple as writing a grocery list and assigning an instructional description to each step.

You can see my example blogging cheat sheet I’ve personally created by clicking here.

14. SlideShare

SlideShare is a great online slideshow software owned by LinkedIn, and can be an incredibly powerful tool for business owners. Put together more information than what was in your blog post in a slideshow and offer that as your content upgrade!

15. Interview

Set up an interview with another influencer in your niche or industry and offer exclusive footage or audio (plus a transcript!) of some of the questions as a content upgrade. This can be a great way to partner up with other business owners and get your audience turned onto them and their audience turned onto you. Win-win? I think so!

16. Quick Start Guide

Some blog posts are going to be like a million words long. They just have to be for them to include all of the necessary information. And, well, not everyone has the time right when they find your blog post to read through the whole thing.

Putting together a quick start guide to accompany your blog post is a great idea to assist those readers who are in a bit of a rush. This way they’ve got the basics, then they can come back to your blog post whenever they have more time.

Pro Tip: Be sure to include the permalink to your blog post in the content upgrade for easy access.

17. Full/Ultimate Guide

And on the opposite side of the spectrum, let’s say you only have the time/desire to gloss over the basics in your blog post. Then you create a “Full Guide to” or “Ultimate Guide to” that dives into each part more in-depth and covers even more questions your potential readers could have.

18. Case Study

Ah, I love a good case study. Don’t just tell your audience about your results. Show them. Take a past client, a customer experience, or a successful marketing strategy and walk your audience step-by-step what you did exactly and what your specific results were.

These can be incredibly powerful for your audience and generate great conversion rates. If you’re experimenting with something, or you have a client/customer success story to share, put together a case study to use as a content upgrade in a blog post about it.

19. White Paper

If you’ve heard of white papers before, chances are you’re absolutely cringing right now.

Well let me take a load off your shoulders: in the world of digital marketing, white papers are super exciting. And they can be colorful.

If you haven’t heard of white papers before, I’ll fill you in. They’re in-depth reports that inform readers about complex topics. And in the olden days, they used to be the bane of many corporate employees’ existences.

However, you can create a fun and engaging white paper filled with valuable information that is well designed and visually appealing to cover complex topics with your audience without hating yourself. And they can actually be a highly converting content upgrade.

20. Bonus Content

Do you want to just extend your blog post a bit more? Include some bonus content as your content upgrade. This is a great way to create extremely long-form content that covers every aspect of your topic without having to give all of that goodness away completely free.

21. Script

There are many different ways this can apply. If you’re writing a blog post informing readers how to save money by lowering their cable bills, putting together a script of what to say on the phone with customer service representatives can be the perfect content upgrade. Similarly, you could include a script for generic responses to customer service tweets at your business, for creating a compelling podcast intro, and more.

22. Template

This is another option that can have so many applications depending on your business. It could be a template for creating the ultimate blog post, a template for creating computer or smartphone mockups in Photoshop, or a template for designing a new blog post graphic. There are so many different ways to utilize this, so get creative!

hilarious cat GIF of a cat painting like crazy that says stay creative

23. Free Trial

If you have a membership program, a course, or another paid informational product, offering a free trial as a content upgrade for a blog post promoting that product can be the perfect option to introduce new people to your online course or subscription program.

Try offering either a 7 or 30 day trial with a promo code that new subscribers can use during checkout.

24. Raw Files

This relates more to designers and photographers who use software like Adobe for creating and editing images. Raw files can be .psd or .ai mockups as well as raw unedited photos from a DSLR or 4K camera before they’ve been converted into useable files.

Files like these can be beneficial depending on your business and who your audience is.

25. Themes

Businesses who create or maintain WordPress themes could also offer basic themes or theme elements as a content upgrade in their blog posts. These are incredibly valuable to customers who need assistance with their WordPress website designs.

26. Stock Images

Another great option for photographers to utilize. If you’re creating a blog post about using stock images in your blog post graphics or social media graphics, including a 5-10 photo pack as a content upgrade can be extremely valuable to your readers.

27. Infographic

Many businesses include infographics in their blog content, but that’s not the only way to utilize these valuable pieces of content. Because of the work that goes into these (hours of research and design), offering an infographic as your content upgrade can actually be a smart business decision. This way, you’re getting something in exchange for all of the work you put into your infographic.

Infographic on how to create an infographic, that you can use for a content upgrade

28. Spreadsheet

Many business owners need spreadsheets, but really have no idea where to start when it comes to creating the spreadsheet that has all of their needs. If you’re writing a blog post about bookkeeping, social media or website analytics, or anything that has to do with numbers, really, using an editable spreadsheet as your content upgrade is perfect.

29. Kit

And last, but not least, include a kit that incorporates multiple types of content upgrades as an addition to your blog content. You’ll want to make sure you include these on super-niched blog posts that only your target audience would enjoy because this type of content upgrade is so incredibly valuable. That way you’re only converting qualified leads, rather than some of the less qualified leads you can attract in your more basic blog posts.

I highly recommend you include at least one content upgrade in each of your blog posts to increase the chances that people will land on your email list. Then you can start slowly bringing them down your sales funnel, one email at a time.

Ready to get started creating and implementing your content upgrades? Download this checklist to make sure you never miss a step.




These are the EXACT same steps I used to 10x businesses just like yours and generate new customers on autopilot!

it's free!
100% privacy guaranteed, no messin' around!