I recently helped a client with this very issue and for some reason I’ve been seeing this question pop up all over this past week:
How do you set up a file online for your followers to download (a.k.a. a freebie) — and what do you do if it’s too large and WordPress is being a temperamental jerk?
It’s a whole world of mysterious file size limits, unintuitive WordPress functions, and email management system frustration — or is it?
Here’s the dealio: You’ve made a stunning PDF or audio file, let’s say, that you want to give your followers in exchange for signing up for your email updates.
But what’s the process? And you gotta upload the freebie to either your email management system or WordPress, right?
Uh, actually, you shouldn’t be uploading your freebie to WordPress.
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Keep reading.
How to set up a freebie for your subscribers
1) Choose a place to host your bribe. I mean file.
You’ve got a few options: one is WordPress, another is the cloud (Dropbox, Amazon S3, etc.), and the last is your email management system (MailChimp, Aweber, etc.). If your file is 10MB or larger, your email management system probably won’t let you upload the file to host it there, so you’ll need one of the other options.
I recommend that if your file is larger than, say, 100kb, you don’t upload it to your website. This is because the more stuff you have on your website, the heavier it will be, the slower it will load, and the more you’ll drive people away.
So my go-to for storing freebies tends to be cloud storage. I’ve mostly used Dropbox and Google Drive, but Amazon S3 and others are also fantastic options. Pick what you like best. Then grab the share URL for the file you just uploaded.
2) Create a Thank You/Download page from which your followers can download your gift
This page can either be on your email management system (which means you can probably customize some fonts and colors but it’ll look different from your website) or you can have it on your website (so you can keep the look & feel of your brand on it).
If you’re using your email management system, you can either create the page on there or on WordPress. If on the former, you’ll probably have to create the page, create a hyperlink (a word with a link in it that takes you to another page — like this — or links to the file itself so you can download it), and as you create the hyperlink, the email management system will allow you to upload your file.
Then, when your followers are taken there after signing up, they’ll be able to download your file. Huzzah!
If, instead, you want to have this page on WordPress, you’ll create a Thank You page on your website (being careful to exclude it from your navigation). You’ll then — either with text, a button, or an image — create a hyperlink and link it to your file (if using an image, make sure the image says that clicking on it will let people download the file).
When you set up your follow-up emails with your email management system, you’ll be given a choice to create a Thank You page with them or have your followers be taken to your Thank You page on your WordPress site, and that’s where you’ll enter the link to the latter. Another huzzah!
You can also use both methods to make a file downloadable from your newsletters. Super cool, amirite?
Note: If hosting your file on WordPress, be careful to protect it so that search engines don’t index it. This will keep people from finding it via Google and downloading it without first signing up through your opt-in. Because they will. Bunch of savages in this town. (If you’re impatient like me, fast-forward to 2:20.)
3) Test it, son!
As always, remember to test the process from start to finish before launching it to the world.
I hope this post will help you share a ridiculous amount of terrific free content with your readers.
Go ahead and tell me: what are you offering and what is your go-to system to share files with your readers?