How to Give Away a File in Exchange for an Email Signup


Hi friends! It's fairly standard practice these days to reward readers who sign up for our newsletters with bonus content. This post will cover a couple of technical details on how to do that.

Note: this tutorial assumes that you already have a signup form which begins the process of sending the reader's name to your Email Service Provider (like Mailchimp.)

Know Your Audience, Choose Your Format

If you're giving away a full length book to an audience that's technologically savvy (like, say, romance readers) you might wish to give out an epub or mobi (Kindle) file. So your first step would be to prepare those files.

If you're giving away a shorter document, a pdf should work just fine. Format your document in preparation for sharing it.

Host the File

Whether you wish to make that file available on your Squarespace website or via your email service provider (like Mailchimp or Mailerlite) you will need to host it somewhere. Why? Because email service providers (ESPs) do not like attachments

Since all ESPs are a little different, I'll show you how to host the file on your own site. Go to a private page that you manage and add a link to the text somewhere. Instead of pasting in an external link, choose the "files" option instead. You will be offered the chance to upload your file. 

Save your changes to the edited page.

NOTE: Here is the Squarespace Tutorial for Uploading and Managing Files.

Grab Your Link

Now you're ready to link to your hosted file. Hover over the link you made and right click to copy that link. If you should paste this copied link into a browser window, you will immediately be offered your own file as a download. See how that works? The link will be a squarespace link, and it will be long and ugly. But we don't care! That's our file's new home address.

Here's my example! I just created this link and uploaded a photograph to it.

The link is ugly when I right-click-save-link it. It looks like this:

There's an even uglier version if I paste it into a browser window. Then it's: So try to grab the first version with a right click!

Add the Link to Your ESP (Mailchimp Example)

Since all ESPs are a little different, you will have to decide where the file link goes. In Mailchimp there are two good spots, and using both of them is a viable option. You probably want to hand over your bonus content after the reader clicks to confirm their subscription, right? Therefore: 

1. Go to Lists > (your list) > Signup Forms > General Forms and choose Confirmation Thank You Page from the dropdown menu. You will see the thank you page, and you can add your link in the body of text you find there. (Click here to download my story, etc!)

2. Go to Lists > (your list) > Signup Forms > General Forms and choose Final Welcome Email from the dropdown menu. Add a sentence about your freebie and the link here as well.

Note: Mailchimp will actually host your file for you if you wish. When you're editing the content, add a link. When you're editing your form/confirmation email, highlight some text. Choose the link icon from the style editor and when the link-adding popup appears, change the dropdown menu from "web address" to file and upload right there. 

Other ESPs

I'm using Mailerlite these days, and it allows me to shut off the double opt-in. So my bonus content goes into an automation that begins immediately upon signup. 

If you get a lot of newsletter signups and readers are having trouble opening your files on their own devices, you can use a service like Instafreebie or Book Funnel to handle the delivery. Both are pay services.