How to Set Up a FREE Resource Library on Your Blog

Want to create a free resource library for your readers? Not sure how? Well, it's super easy to do! Click through for a step-by guide for how to set up a resource library for your blog.

**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!

But first things first, you should probably see what it looks like, right? So sign up for my email list below and check it out! Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

In-Post Button - Resource Library

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!ย  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.
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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.

PS Want to find out how to create interactive goodies for your resource library in InDesign? Sign up for myย ecourse the InDesign Adventure Guide! Don’t miss out!

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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:

Related:  Things to Avoid in Your Blog Post Images (plus a FREE template!)

Want to create a free resource library for your readers? Not sure how? Well, it's super easy to do! Click through for a step-by guide for how to set up a resource library for your blog.

But you should already know that because you’ve already got access. 😜 ย If you don’t, sign up here:

In-Post Button - Resource Library

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.

Want to create a free resource library for your readers? Not sure how? Well, it's super easy to do! Click through for a step-by guide for how to set up a resource library for your blog.

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.Want to create a free resource library for your readers? Not sure how? Well, it's super easy to do! Click through for a step-by guide for how to set up a resource library for your blog.

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.

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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.ย  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.

In-Post Button - Resource Library

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!

Get the InDesign Adventure Guide for Only $247!

  • Emily Scott

    I love having a resource library. Actually, I have more fun creating content for the library than I do blogging ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I totally agree! It’s so much fun coming up with all of my content upgrades and resource library items for my audience! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • A few weeks ago I figured this out on my own too. I would have loved to know about this post! thanks to Xfallenmoon for tweeting it out, ๐Ÿ™‚ I pinned to share with others. Great step by step process! love it

    • Thanks so much for sharing! And awesome job figuring it out on your own as well! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hi Caitlin,
    There is a way to have a welcome email through Mailchimp for free. It does not have any more automation than that one welcome email. But there’s a check box where you enable or disable a final “welcome” email and it’s totally free. I was planning on adding a resource library to my new blog and I was going to give the link in the final “welcome” email.

    I do really appreciate you outlining the whole process in this post. I’m saving this post to look back on later when I’m ready to plan my resource library out.

    • Awesome! I had no idea! I’ll have to look into it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks, Ashley!

      • If you search the help section on mailchimp for welcome email, something should come up.

  • Thanks, I have an idea I want to work on and this will be so helpful for putting it all together!

    • Awesome, so glad I could help! I look forward to seeing what you put together!

  • Hi Caitlin,

    Would you mind sharing how did you set up MailChimp for sending link to different content upgrades download as well as password to your library? Do you have separate lists for each freebie?
    Is there any way to create some kind of way, that each time you have different download link to specific content upgrade?
    I’m a MailChimp newbie, so I’d appreciate your help

    Thanks in advance ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • This is such a sweet outline Caitlin, thank you! I’ve got one question though – what do you use your welcome-gate page for? Is that what you use when you promote your library on Pinterest and such? Because right now my welcome email links right to the library page, and the welcome-gate is sitting there doing nothing!

    Also – how do you add a form to your footer?!

    • Exactly! I use it as a landing page for people who are interested but haven’t signed up. So it’s the link in the menu of my site and a page to promote on Pinterest, etc. That way if they’re interested, they click on it and it prompts them to sign up for the password (and gives users a link to the password-protected site if they don’t have the link handy!).

      For the footer, I use a premium plugin called Slider Revolution where I format my opt-in, and used this tutorial to add a widget to my footer (I placed the code in footer.php rather than header.php as she suggested) and added the Slider Revolution shortcode into that widget! I hope this helps! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • That does, thanks Caitlin!

  • Gerry

    Thanks for this post Caitlin, I referred to it often while setting up my resource library. It was super helpful. I loved it on Bloglovin’

    • I’m so glad I could help, Gerry! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Amy

    Thank you Caitlin for doing this post. It helped me so much! Check my resource library out and give me any tips!!

    • You’re very welcome, Amy! Glad I could help!

  • The Graceful Journey

    thank you so much! I’ve been looking for a post like this to walk me through the steps. ๐Ÿ˜€

    • So glad I could help! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Stephanie Hamrick

    This post was great! Thanks for sharing! I’m wondering how you get your “Want access to a FREE resource library?” form to show up before your subscribers have entered the password. When I password protect a page in WordPress, my users can only see the “enter the password” box.

    • I actually had the same problem! I tried to edit the code, but it just made my website break. ๐Ÿ™‚ Instead, I just created an Intro page that asked them to sign up for my email list for access, and included a button to get to the library if they already have the password. Then the page they’re linked to is the password-protected page with just the password box. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Stephanie

        Great! thanks for your help!

  • Natasha Nicole

    What plug in do you use to create the opt in forms?

  • Nicole Barnes

    Any recommendations for software/solutions to do this OUTSIDE of wordpress?

    • I unfortunately only have experience working in WordPress, so I don’t. Sorry!

  • Hi Caitlin, I had a question. What is the best way to use an image for the download and linking the pdf to it? I’ve been doing it manually by inserting the image and putting the link in, but wasn’t sure if there was a simpler way to do this. Or if download monitor does this already? Help!

    • Hey Hanha! I do exactly what you doโ€”add the image and manually link to the PDF after uploading the PDF to my Media Library. If you discover an easier way, please let me know! ๐Ÿ™‚