13 Content Upgrade Ideas for Creative Business Owners

The truth is, your email list is important to the growth of your business. 

But, with countless people using and abusing their email lists, people have become more cautious with willingly providing their email address. 

People need an incentive and that's where content upgrades come in.

A content upgrade is bonus content that a small business owner or blogger provides access to in exchange for something, typically an email address. 

A content upgrade is a great way to grow your email list, provide valuable content to your audience and begin fostering a community around your brand. 

Let's get started!


1 | Checklists

Checklists are easy to create and they pair perfectly with long how-to blog posts. 

You can help people follow along with your blog post by creating a simple PDF in Adobe InDesign, Canva or Word, depending on your preference.

Remember to offer it at the beginning, middle and end of your blog post to ensure you get those emails!


2 | Workbooks

Workbooks are really popular content upgrades because they can be applied to blog series, introduce a product or service or build community around your brand. 

Walk people through content and provide them space to fill-in questions, check off steps and brainstorm ideas.


3 | Tech tutorials

A tech tutorial can be a great content upgrade, especially for product-sellers or affiliate partners. 

If you sell a more complex product, a free tutorial of the product is a great idea to introduce the product organically. Tutorials can also be really beneficial for affiliate partners as a way to inform and promote the product in a non-salesy way. 

Be sure to provide valuable step-by-step information as a beginner would be most drawn too.


4 | Planners

Whether you are a fitness blog, social media manager or anything in between planners are a great upgrade that is simple and easy to make. 

Planners can be used to schedule workouts, plan social media content, organize business tasks... the list goes on and on! Add a little playful touch to stand out from the crowd and keep your audience coming back for more.


5 | Templates

Templates are a huge resource to small business owners of all kinds. Whether you have template emails, graphics or blog posts they can be extremely beneficial to your audience.


6 | Cheat sheets

If you excel is a specific area that most of your audience finds confusing or overwhelming, a cheat sheet is a perfect content upgrade.

Your knowledge is valuable to your audience as an expert and sharing that creatively and simply can be a big plus to your audience. 

A few of the best cheat sheets I've seen recently are: CSS cheat sheets (below), anatomy of a blog post and SEO best practices.


7 | Resource compilation

Who doesn’t love a helpful list of resources?

Round up a list of helpful resources on a specific topic - wedding stationery supplies, graphic design tools, photography tutorials, Squarespace/Wordpress tutorials, productivity tools - and share them as a content upgrade along with links to each resource. 


8 | Printables

If you are skilled in creating stationary, handlettering, or calligraphy printables are a great way to highlight your work and gain new subscribers. 

Create a simple art print, card, or invitation in PDF form and use it as a content upgrade on your site.


9 | Challenges

A challenge is a great way to provide additional content, engage with your audience and foster some community. Challenges are especially engaging when paired with a community aspect, such as a Facebook group. 

Challenges also keeps your audience accountable and assists in progressing their businesses forward.


10 | How-to Guides

If you have valuable knowledge or secrets that your audience has trouble with, a how-to guide can be a great resource. 

Round up all of your helpful information on a specific topic and create a guide or tip sheet as a content upgrade. 


11 | Stock photos or graphics

Photographers, illustrators and designer, this content upgrade is for you. 

If your audience is always in search of specific images or graphics, are you able to easily provide them? Maybe you have design concepts that were discarded that you can provide to your audience? Get creative and ask your audience for a little guidance on how you can best serve them!


12 | Mini-course

If you are creating or selling a course, a mini-course is a great content upgrade. 

You can pull information from your course to promote and educate your audience around the topic. Plus, if you use a mini-course as a content upgrade you already have access to an engaged audience's email address and can directly contact them in regards to your course launch.


13 | Audio or Video recordings

Audio is becoming more and more dominant and creating audio or video recordings can be greatly beneficial to your audience. 

Consider making instructional videos, behind the scenes videos, music, screenshares, podcast, stop motion, tutorials, interviews... the list goes on and on! 

Which content upgrade is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!