This post contains affiliate links that I could make commission off of. All opinions are my own.
As a blogger, one of my top goals is helping my audience learn the intimidating tech side of blogging and business and feel more comfortable with it. One of my favorite ways to do this is through my free resource library.
When I first got the idea, though, I had no idea how to do it. So, I figured it out on my own, and now I’m excited to share this info with you!
Did you see what it looked like? Awesome! Now let’s work on replicating that for your blog.
Step 1: Decide what to fill your free resource library with
Here’s the key: we want this to be a free resource library, where your audience members can sign up for your email address and get instant access to all of these goodies without having to pay for them. A membership library is totally different.
So that being said, if you’ve got a ton of awesome ideas for passive income, your free resource library might not be the best place to put those items. You’re not making money off of this. That doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to (after all, they’re signing up for your email list), but the resource library isn’t the place for it.
So let’s figure out what to fill your free resource library with. The first thing to figure out is your niche. Don’t have one? Get one. Check this post out, decide on your niche, and come back. I’ll wait.
Here are some ideas for resource library content based on a few popular niches:
- Food blogs. Fill your resource library with your favorite kitchen tips and tricks. What tools do you use every day in the kitchen? Share those with us! How do you plan out your meals for the week? Create a printable planner and give it away. You’re welcome to share extra recipes, but I don’t necessarily recommend filling it exclusively with recipes. Share those in your blog posts so your audience knows and trusts your cooking style. Instead, do fun printables with different recipes illustrated. Like, say, 10 ways to mix up your plain avocado toast, complete with drawings.
- Beauty blogs. Give us some video tutorials! What’s your go-to makeup routine? Record yourself doing it and share a private link to the YouTube video. Give us a PDF of your absolute favorite, can’t-go-anywhere-without-it beauty items and why you love them so much. Maybe you’ve figured out the best times of the year to shop at each store? Create a calendar and share that with us!
- Fashion blogs. Capsule wardrobes are all the rage right now. If you’ve tried it, create a workbook that walks your readers through the decision process. Or maybe you, just like the beauty bloggers, have figured out the best times of the year to shop at your favorite stores. Create a calendar and share it! And maybe you’ve got some go-to clothing combinations. Create some illustrations of them and create a poster we can print out and hang in the closet!
- Travel blogs. You’ve most likely shared a ton of tips about your favorite travel destinations. Now combine them into a big PDF workbook based on each location! Include your photos, checklists of restaurants, shops, etc. to visit in that city or country. Think of it as your own travel book based on your experiences in each place.
- Business blogs. What are your ultimate business tips? Share those with us in a quick checklist! Have tax tips to share around the beginning of the year? Share a workbook that walks your readers through all of the steps they’ll need to take to file their taxes.
As you can see, there are so many options for every niche! Take your existing content, repurpose it, and make it look good. Bonus points if they’ve got interactive elements like checklists and forms.
Step 2: Create the free content
Now’s the fun part: create your free goodies! I personally love InDesign, but you could also use Pages, Canva, or Microsoft Word to create them. Whatever you’re comfortable with.
Once you’ve got enough (I’d say at least 4-5 before you launch your free resource library, adding more as you see fit), upload those documents to your website. On WordPress, simply save it as a PDF or a .zip file (depending on what you’re sharing), and upload it to your Media Library. Once you do that, keep track of the URLs, because you’ll need those in the next step.
Step 3: Design your resource library
Now you’ll create a password-protected page on WordPress. It’s pretty easy to do; on the righthand side of the page, under the Publish options, change Visibility to Password Protected. Then choose a simple password that people will remember. It should relate to your blog or niche.
There are plenty of ways to design the links on your resource library, but I recommend making them visual and showing off what they’re about to download. Mine, for example, look like this:
But you should already know that because you’ve already got access. 😜 If you don’t, sign up here:
Some bloggers just create previews of the documents that you click on, while others (like me) create entire graphics. Totally up to you and the vibe of your blog.
Once you’ve created those graphics and added them to the page, link the images to the corresponding documents that you’ve uploaded to your website. Make sure the links open in a new window, though. That way they can download it, close the window, and be back at your free resource library to download more goodies. One of my biggest pet peeves with resource libraries is when I close the download and suddenly the resource library is gone. What if I wasn’t done? I don’t want to have to hit “back,” so make the downloads open in a new window.
Step 4: Create your email list + set up automation
If you haven’t done so already, create an email list for your audience to subscribe to! I use Mailchimp because it’s inexpensive and easy to use, but I’ve heard a ton of recommendations for Constant Contact, ConvertKit, and Aweber, too.
The bummer about offering a free resource library is that you actually have to pay for it if you want to get people’s email addresses in exchange for access. But luckily it’s pretty cheap. With Mailchimp, for example, I only have to pay $9 per month, which is highly worth it to me.
So, once you’ve got your email list set up, get automation set up. You’ll want to create a Welcome email that goes out to subscribers as soon as they sign up for your list. Here’s where you’ll include the link to your resource library and the password for access.
Luckily, there’s an easy setting in Mailchimp where you choose your list (in my case it’s the And Possibly Dinosaurs Newsletter list) and select Welcome Message. It’s the first option and is automatically set up to email subscribers as soon as they sign up.
Once you’ve set up your configuration (deciding what to call it and which email address to send the emails from), you just have to click the checkbox that says “Trigger workflow when subscribers are imported.” It’s automatic for when someone chooses to subscribe to your list, but if you check that box, they’ll also get it when you import them manually on the Mailchimp side. So, say you do a webinar and collect email addresses that you then import into your Mailchimp account. Those people are then sent the welcome email.
It’s up to you if you choose to check that box. I personally do, so the people I import know about the awesome resource library they now have access to, but it’s up to you.
Then you’ve just got to design your emails. Again, choose a pretty simple password that isn’t hard to remember in case they delete the welcome email and need to access the library. I also keep the welcome email pretty short — you don’t want to overwhelm them. Just share the link to the free resource library, the password for access, and a few of your top posts, so they know what to check out first.
Step 5: Create a welcome-gate page for your resource library
This step is important. You’ll want to promote your resource library like crazy, but you need some sort of welcome gate to tell people to sign up for your list in order to get access. With the password protected page, all they’ll see is a note saying the page is password protected, with an input field for the password. If they don’t know how to get the password, you’ve lost them.
So, create an additional page (I’ve titled mine Resource Library Introduction, but do whatever you’d like for yours) that is not password protected. On this one, you’ll want to give a quick intro to what they can find in the free resource library (emphasizing that it’s free) and tell them to sign up for your email list to receive the password instantly.
Then, include a form (like the one below) so they can easily sign up for your email list without having to search around for it.
I also create a link to the resource page saying “Already have the password? Click here to continue to the resource library!” That way, people can easily find it if they’re already subscribed and have the password. No need to search through their email for the specific link!
Step 6: Promote the heck out of it
Now that you’ve put all of this work into your free resource library, you want people signing up for it! Include links all over your website. Have one in the main menu, the footer, and the sidebar. But remember–don’t clutter your site up too much.
So there you have it! An easy-peasy way to set up a free resource library for your audience. I guarantee they’ll appreciate all of the work you’ve put in if you’re giving them great value for the cost of their email address.
And don’t forget. If you want to really knock your goodies out of the park, make them interactive. Don’t know how? Sign up for the InDesign Adventure Guide and I’ll show you!