30 Amazing Content Upgrade Examples To Grow Your Email List

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content upgrade

Do you want to grow your email list? Want to learn how to use content upgrades to explode it 10X faster?

Content upgrades are one of the biggest breakthroughs that marketers across all industries rave about because they can help you gain a ton of new email subscribers.

In this guide, I’ll share 30 content upgrade ideas to grow your email list.

If you want to first learn what is a content upgrade, read our guide on Content Upgrades: How to Use Popular Posts for More Conversions.

Since this is an in-depth guide, we’ve broken it down into 4 sections for you. Feel free to jump directly to one of the sections below:

We’ll dive into the content upgrade ideas and examples in just a bit. But first, let’s go over some basics.

Exclusive: Download our Content Upgrade Checklist for a step-by-step guide on how to boost your conversions with content upgrades.

How Does a Content Upgrade Work?

A content upgrade is a lead magnet (also known as an optin bribe) created specifically for a particular blog post or landing page.

With content upgrades, you can block or blur a certain portion of your content to site visitors so that you can convert them into leads.

For instance, you can have 25% of a blog post open to everyone. However, you can make 75% of the content accessible only to your email subscribers.

Here’s a content upgrade example from a blog published on Medium:

content upgrade

If readers are already your subscribers, they will see the whole post without any problem.

But if they aren’t subscribed to your email list yet, you can trigger a content upgrade popup persuading them to sign up to access the remaining article.

So do content upgrades really work?

Brian Dean reported that content upgrades have helped him increase email conversions from 0.54% to 4.82%. That’s an impressive 785% increase!

Devesh Khanal of Grow & Convert used the content upgrade idea to increase the conversion rate of just one blog post by 492%.

And Bryan Harris used content upgrades to increase his optin rates up to 20-30%, even touching 62% for some posts.

If you don’t leverage the power of content upgrades, you can be left behind in your marketing.

But don’t worry, content upgrades aren’t difficult to create. Plus, we’ve got lots of great ideas to inspire you.

Ready to see the best content upgrade examples? Let’s dive into the list.

30 Content Upgrade Ideas and Examples

The different types of content upgrades listed below are meant to inspire you.

You can get as creative as you want with your content upgrades. Feel free to take these examples and tweak them to make them your own:

  1. PDF Blog Post
  2. Cheatsheet
  3. Checklist
  4. List of Resources
  5. Video or Audio Recordings
  6. Transcripts
  7. Quick Start Guide
  8. Full Guide
  9. Report
  10. Printable
  11. Challenge
  12. Assignments or Worksheets
  13. Exclusive Interviews
  14. Case Study
  15. Bonus Content
  16. Mini-eBook
  17. Templates
  18. Scripts
  19. Formulas
  20. Free Trial
  21. A Teaser of Your Product
  22. Free Course
  23. Email Series
  24. Free Stock Images
  25. Infographic
  26. Presentation Slides
  27. Swipe File
  28. Spreadsheets
  29. Podcast Show Notes
  30. Tool Kit

1. PDF Blog Post

Without a doubt, a PDF blog post is the easiest upgrade to offer. And you can create one out of an existing high-performing blog post.

All you have to do is save your content’s final draft as a PDF version and provide it as an upgrade.

It’s as simple as that. If your content is truly valuable, your readers will want to download it and refer to it in the future.

Here’s a content upgrade example from Ian Cleary:

content upgrades

Ian wrote a super long blog post about social media analytics and offered his readers a way to download it.

On average, the post converts at 44%! Read the full case study here.

2. Cheatsheet

Offering a downloadable cheatsheet is yet another super simple content upgrade idea. Used in the right context, it can help you improve your lead generation efforts.

It puts together all the most important information related to a post in one handy package.

Let’s say you have a blog post on how to increase blog traffic. You can create a 1-page cheatsheet full of ideas that help your readers improve search engine optimization (SEO) and drive more organic traffic.

At OptinMonster, we created a similar cheatsheet as an upgrade to our post on 700+ Power Words That Will Boost Your Conversions:

content upgrade ideas

3. Checklist

Checklists are ideal for ‘how-to’ or longer posts (4,000+ words) that can be cut down into easier chunks.

This can be a step-by-step printable list, a set of materials needed for a project, or top tips curated from a larger guide.

If your post teaches your audience how to make money with a WordPress blog, your checklist can be a step-by-step tutorial that they can print and refer to when they need it.

Here’s an example of a checklist we created from our guide, the 63-Point Checklist for Creating the Ultimate Optin Form:

content upgrade examples

There are some great tools to create checklists. I personally recommend SweetProcess or Checkli.

4. List of Resources

If your post focuses heavily on tools and resources, creating a master list linking each tool directly can be a helpful resource for your audience.

Maybe your post is a directory of the best websites for stock photos. Or perhaps it can be about the best CRM for small businesses.

Here’s an example from Kiwi Creative, who uses a list of resources as a content upgrade technique:

best content upgrade examples

Related Content How to Use Sidebar Optins To Explode Your Email List.

5. Video or Audio Recordings

If you host webinars, make informative videos, or record interviews, you can offer the audio and video content as downloadable content upgrades.

Another idea can be recording a blog post as an audio file.

People digest information in different ways. Providing a recording of you talking through the content with additional bits of information can appeal strongly to people who learn better through audio.

Here’s yet another example from Medium:

content upgrade techniques

The platform offers a way for its readers to listen to blogs published on the site. But when non-subscribers click on the ‘Listen’ option, Medium requires them to sign up.

If you are looking for easy tools to help you with this idea, try Audacity for editing audio files and Camtasia for editing videos.

6. Transcripts

When featuring interviews, podcasts, or videos in your content, offer a transcription of the recording as an upgrade.

It takes a bit of time to transcribe written content into audio or video formats. But you can hire expert freelancers to do it for you in no time.

Rev and Scribie are 2 great resources for you to find affordable transcription services.

what is a content upgrade

7. Quick Start Guide

When you’re teaching something complicated, it’s worth simplifying it. People just want to get started quickly and easily when trying something new.

Let’s say that your post teaches your readers how to create, promote, and boost SEO for an eCommerce store. If you have great content on the topic, why not convert it into a quick start guide that’s easy for new readers to understand?

It can help first-time business owners optimize their eCommerce sites. Plus, it can be a great source of organic traffic for your website!

Here’s an example of Daydream using a Starter Pack template as a content upgrade option:

why is content upgrade important

Related Content 31 Call To Action Examples + How To Write an Effective CTA.

8. Full Guide

If you want to offer something more than just a starter guide, you can build deep-dive content that takes the reader through every single step.

It’s perfect for the more complicated posts. For example, if your post is about how to start a blog, the guide can break down every step in a comprehensible way.

9. Report

Are you a subject matter expert and have carried out extensive research into your chosen subject? You can package your research findings into a content upgrade to educate your readers.

Maybe social media marketing is your area of expertise. Your report can show genuine facts and stats about its influence on businesses and brand awareness.

Providing these types of reports will also help cement your position as an industry leader. Here’s an example from HubSpot that offers ‘The State of Marketing’ report as a content upgrade:

content upgrade examples

10. Printable

You want to provide something that your reader can print out and either stick up on their wall, keep in their diary, or pin to a noticeboard. Something inspiring that will remind them to stay ‘in the zone.’

This can be anything related to your niche such as checklists, flowcharts, diagrams, inspiring images, desktop backgrounds, motivational quotes, or recipes.

For example, if your blog post is about how to make a certain recipe, you can turn it into a printable guide and promote it as a new content upgrade.

Here’s how Home Sweet Farm Home offers a printable meal planner as a content upgrade to its readers:

content upgrade case studies

11. Challenge

An online challenge can be a mini-project for the reader to take on. It can be a little reminder or an ongoing task for them to invest time into.

The brilliant thing about this upgrade is it also offers the opportunity for community engagement. You can create a hashtag for them to share their progress on X.com (formerly Twitter).

If your blog post encourages readers to write, the challenge can be to write a certain number of words every week, with the Twitter chat encouraging people to discuss what they have written about that week.

Here’s an example from Ship 30 for 30 which rolls out a 30-day writing challenge to its readers:

real life content upgrades examples

To deliver reminders on each day of the challenge, check out our guide on 6 steps to create an effective email autoresponder series.

12. Assignments or Worksheets

Does your blog teach readers about applying something actionable? If that’s the case, you can offer them a homework assignment that they can download and complete at their own pace.

Say your post is about creating a mindful lifestyle. You can create a worksheet to write a gratitude list or create a diagram of important values to live by. You can also include points on how readers plan to get to the state that they desire in life.

Here’s an example from The Jordan Harbinger Show using worksheets as a content upgrade:

what is content upgrade

13. Exclusive Interviews

If you actively interview experts in your niche as part of your content marketing strategy, you can offer the interview recording or the transcript as an upgrade.

Just make sure the interview topic aligns with your blog post so that people who read the blog will find the content upgrade relevant.

Here’s an example from Deezer. They require their readers to sign up with their email to access exclusive interviews published on their site:

content upgrade definition

14. Case Study

Finding out other people’s success stories is always appealing. So why not write case studies about people or businesses in your field, telling your readers how they got to where they are now?

You can even share your own success story.

Here’s an example of case studies packaged into downloadable lead magnets from Fingent:

how to create content upgrades

15. Bonus Content

Offering content as a bonus is perhaps the easiest way to leverage the content upgrade technique.

If your post includes a list, just slice it in half and provide the other half as bonus content. It’s that simple!

Here’s an example from Leigh Miller. To get people to access bonus content and updates, Leigh offers her readers a way to subscribe to her email list:

content upgrade tips

16. Mini-eBook

Are you writing a series of posts about one overarching topic? You can string together the series into PDF format, and package this mini-eBook as a content upgrade on each of the blog posts in the series.

The focus here is on the word ‘mini.’ Don’t get too carried away by adding a lot of extra content. Lengthy eBooks can be overwhelming for the user to consume.

Here’s an example of a mini-eBook from upstatuss:

content upgrade tips and tricks

17. Templates

People love templates because they are extremely useful and easy to digest!

Templates can come in many different forms, such as email templates, budget templates, business card templates, and so on.

Perhaps your post is a lesson to bloggers on how to reach out to brands for sponsorship or collaborations. Write up an email template for them to send out to those important contacts.

John Corcoran offers a similar template. His 72-word ‘magic email template’ is a perfect content upgrade to a post about writing emails to influencers:

content upgrade example

18. Scripts

Similar to templates, scripts are great because they help your visitors when they are stumped for what to say.

Maybe your business focuses on public relations industry tips and tricks. You can create a content upgrade that offers a script for selling stories to journalists.

Here’s an example from Marcus Krieg. In an interview with the Persuasion Nation podcast, Krieg offered a content upgrade for the listeners of the show titled ‘3 Persuasive Video Scripts You Can Steal:’

what is content upgrade

19. Formulas

Formulas are awesome because they allow readers to adapt your information to their own needs. Think of them as recipes for success rather than a ‘fill-in-the-blank.’

For example, if your article is about using social media for your business, your formula sheet can be a flexible framework of social post headlines designed to grab attention.

Here’s an example from Yesware offering a free calculator as a content upgrade on its blog related to sales quota:

what are content upgrades

20. Free Trial

When selling a product or service, a free trial, product demo, or consultation service can be an excellent upgrade opportunity to a piece of content.

Although it isn’t necessarily content itself, it’s a seriously valuable bonus for your potential customers who are interested in what you have to offer.

Free trials convert like crazy, which is why a lot of software as a service (SaaS) companies love them so much.

Here’s a free trial download example from Adobe:

types of content upgrades

21. A Teaser of Your Product

Just like a free trial, offering your potential buyers a teaser of the product can be enticing.

Let’s say you offer an online course on your website. You can offer the first section as an upgrade. Not only will this improve your email optin rates, but you can also leverage this as a way to increase sales to the full course.

As an example, Noah Kagan offers a free chapter of an eBook as a content upgrade to his site visitors:

content upgrade formats

22. Free Course

Instead of offering your customers your product’s teaser, you can also give them the full course away for free. This is a perfect idea if you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field.

The free course can be several things, such as a video series, or an eBook for beginners in a niche. One of the most effective formats to offer a free course is through email.

If you have a blog that provides advice for startups, your email course can be a series of lessons on how to use social media to market your brand. You can set this up through effective email marketing automation.

Here’s an example of a free course content upgrade from CareerFoundry:

blog content upgrades

23. Email Series

Rather than an actual email course, you can also set up an email series in line with your content designed to inspire, entertain, or educate your target audience.

If you run a food blog, you can send your subscribers a new recipe every day for a week. Or a wellness blogger can send a motivational quote every day over some time. Think of this as a ‘daily treat’ for your reader.

For example, Maston Kipp started offering a daily inspirational quote to his subscribers as an incentive for them to sign up. He called this series ‘The Daily Love.’

His email series struck a chord with his readers and Kipp was able to turn it into a full-fledged business.

how to do content upgrades

Related Content What is Email Marketing? Tips To Grow Your Email List Building.

24. Free Stock Images

If you are in the business of photographs, you can offer free stock images as a content upgrade to your website visitors.

Add them as a content upgrade for people to download and use for their brand, blog, or as desktop wallpaper.

A good example of this is Death to the Stock Photo. They offer free photos by email every month:

how to use content upgrades

25. Infographic

Here’s a great content upgrade idea: transform your blog post into an infographic for your readers to use and share.

Why? Because infographics are ‘eye candy’ for most readers. They’re attractive and easy to understand.

Plus, if new subscribers share it on their blog or social media, you’ll get a bonus of valuable backlinks and shares.

Infographics are a lot easier to create than you might think. Check out SnappaPiktochartEasel, and Canva to quickly and efficiently build your own.

Related Content How To Use Visual Storytelling Marketing To Win More Leads.

26. Presentation Slides

You can create a Slides version of your post designed for readers who prefer their information in a skimmable, snackable format.

Slides have fewer words than a full blog post and are therefore easier to take in. That’s why they make great content upgrades.

Here’s an example from Daniel Nilsson who uses this technique in one of his blogs:

download content upgrades

27. Swipe File

A swipe file is a collection of materials that you use for reference or inspiration.

For a copywriter, this can be a selection of powerfully written ads or catchy headlines. For an interior designer, it can be a gallery of beautiful interior images.

Pull these files together into a package that your readers will want to read and offer it up as a content upgrade.

Here’s another content upgrade example from Swiped.co. They offer the latest swipes for copywriters and marketing minds to your inbox:

content upgrade swipe file

28. Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are an excellent content upgrade if you want to give your readers something more manageable to work through.

If your blog talks about the top article headlines to boost SEO, you can create a spreadsheet listing all for readers to work through. You can even organize them according to their relevant niche for easy navigation.

Or, perhaps you have a finance-focused blog. Why not create some budget spreadsheets for your audience to use?

Here’s an example from seedtime, a personal finance blog. They offer their site visitors a free budgeting spreadsheet in exchange for their email addresses:

content upgrade types

29. Podcast Show Notes

If you run a podcast, you can offer the show notes to readers as a content upgrade.

This works especially well if you create a blog post around your podcast, and then offer the show notes as a PDF download in exchange for an email address.

This is valuable for your listeners because it gives them easy access to all the key takeaways and resources mentioned in the episode.

Here’s an example of this from Nathan Latka. He interviews top SaaS founders and executives on his podcast and turns the show notes and interview transcripts into a valuable database.

The data is free, but the listeners will first have to sign up with their email to access it:

content upgrades examples

30. Tool Kit

Does your blog post cover a list of tools or resources? You can package the list into a PDF tool kit, and give it away as a content upgrade.

Syed Balkhi‘s toolkit for growing your online business is an excellent example:

content upgrades

Pro-Tip: Want to create an eye-catching popup like this? Read our guide on What Is a Lightbox Popup and How to Create One.

As you can see from all of these content upgrade ideas and examples above, the possibilities really are endless.

You just have to get creative by thinking of new ways to repurpose and repackage your content and offer the new version in exchange for the reader’s email address.

But you may be wondering, how to create a content upgrade like the examples above. Let’s dive into 9 tools that you can use to make your content upgrade idea a reality.

Best Tools To Create Content Upgrades

For your content upgrade to convert, not only does the actual content need to be great, but the packaging needs to be high-quality as well.

Your content upgrade needs to look professional no matter what format you choose, PDF, infographic, or slides.

There are some great free and paid tools for creating your content upgrade. You can use them to make sure the designs come out looking professional even if you’re not a professional designer.

Let’s take a look at 9 top tools for creating content upgrades that your users will love.

  1. Canva
  2. Visme
  3. Piktochart
  4. Shutterstock
  5. Fiverr
  6. Snagit
  7. Keynote
  8. Audacity
  9. Google Fonts

1. Canva

content upgrade design

Canva is a free online design tool that allows you to create beautiful content upgrades by using thousands of illustrations, photos, design templates, fonts, and infographics.

It’s built with a non-design audience in mind. Canva is extremely easy to use and anyone can use it to create visually stunning graphics.

2. Visme

content upgrade infographics

Visme is a design tool that makes it easy for anyone to create visual content that is beautiful and on-brand, with zero design experience.

You can use Visme to make any kind of content upgrade with more visual impact.

If you want to create a PDF report with numbers and charts, Visme makes it easy to arrange your data in an attractive and easy-to-understand manner.

3. Piktochart

best content upgrade tools

Piktochart allows anyone to create professional-grade infographics. It has hundreds of templates that you can use or edit to match your brand’s style.

Simply drag and drop beautiful graphics, icons, and illustrations to your infographic. You can also create beautiful charts by importing data from spreadsheets.

Piktochart also makes it easier to share your infographic. You can optimize your visual designs, download them, and upload them to your website or social media platforms.

4. Shutterstock

content upgrade tools

For high-value content upgrades, you will need high-quality images. Shutterstock has one of the largest collections of great images, photographs, illustrations, and vector art.

Finding images on Shutterstock is easy. You can search by typing keywords or browse the images by category, file type, or style.

Shutterstock has different pricing plans. You can purchase a monthly subscription or pay just for the image you want to download.

5. Fiverr

free content upgrade

Need to hire someone to create your high-quality content upgrade for you? Fiverr is one of the fastest-growing online freelancing websites.

Simply search for the job you are trying to get done and you will get to see gigs posted by hundreds of skilled professionals from all over the world.

If you can’t pick the right gig for your job, then you can always post your own job. Find the right balance between the quality you are looking for and the money you are willing to spend.

6. Snagit

best content upgrade plugins

Snagit is a screenshot and screen-recording tool for Windows and Mac. It’s free to download and extremely easy to use.

You can create screencasts and video tutorials with or without narration within just a few minutes. Videos are some of the most engaging content available on the web.

Snagit allows you to select a window or capture area, then just click on the screenshot or video button. If you are creating a screenshot then you are ready to share it in seconds. If you click on the video then you can start narrating or performing actions that you want to record.

Unlike other screencast tools, Jing is incredibly fast and the quality is perfect for the web.

7. Keynote

content upgrade software

Want to create beautiful presentation slides for your content upgrade? Most likely you already have the perfect tool installed on your computer. If you use a MacBook, you can use Keynote by Apple to design world-class slide decks.

You don’t need to be a designer to create a beautiful presentation. You can use a basic template and make it impactful with quality content. Add high-quality images along with your text.

Keynote also allows you to add notes, comments, and narration to your slides if you need.

Pro-Tip: Not a MacBook user? If you are a Windows user, you can use PowerPoint by Microsoft or create a Gmail account and use Google Slides for free.

8. Audacity

content upgrades

Interviews and other audio files make a wonderful content upgrade. However, most users don’t have the right tools to record and prepare an audio file.

Audacity is an open-source audio file editor and recorder. It is the easiest and cheapest tool that lets you remove background noise from your audio files. You can also cut, splice, and mix audio files. Audacity also comes with several audio effects that you can use in your project.

One downside is that Audacity comes with a bit of a learning curve. For help, you can look up the documentation on the official website.

9. Google Fonts

content upgrades

Typography is a crucial element in design and Google Fonts is the best free resource for that. You can download the fonts you want to use and install them on your computer.

If you are using them in a PDF make sure that the text is readable. For graphics and images make sure that the font you are using matches the tone of your message.

Now you have everything you need to create a content upgrade of high-quality. So what’s next?

You’ll need to add the content upgrade to your blog post using a content upgrade plugin. That’s where OptinMonster can help.

The Best Content Upgrade Plugin

OptinMonster is an amazing tool for creating content upgrades.

OptinMonster’s Content Lock feature allows you to hide a portion of your content from non-subscribers.

The Content Lock feature lets readers view the rest of the article for free but asks for the small trade-off of an email address.

Similarly, OptinMonster’s MonsterLinksTM feature allows you to easily add content upgrades on your website using a 2-step optin process, which is proven to get better results.

Why? Because it uses the psychological principle known as the Zeigarnik Effect, which states that people who initiate a task are more likely to finish the process.

With a 2-step optin process, the user has to click on a link or button before they can enter their email address. So, they are much more likely to complete the act of subscribing rather than leaving it unfinished.

This makes MonsterLinksTM far more effective than any traditional signup form on your website.

OptinMonster works on all websites including WordPress. You don’t need a separate content upgrade plugin. Just install OptinMonster and start growing your email list today!

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that we believe will add value to our readers.

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