Free Resource Library vs. Individual Opt-Ins | Email Series (ep 21)


Free Resource Library vs. opt-ins

There are lots of effective ways to build your email list, but what’s the best way for you? Two of the top list-building methods are to use a free resource library or to create an individual opt in. 

If you’re wondering which of the two you should go with, the truth is, there are pros and cons to each of these strategies! You are the only one who can decide which fits your business needs the best.

While I can’t choose for you, I’m here to guide you through the decision making process. In part two of our email marketing series, I’m sharing the pluses and minuses of a free resource library and individual free opt ins.

Regardless of which road you take, they both lead to the same destination…more email subscribers. Once you have people on your email list, you’ll be able to nurture them, support them, and gain their trust – which can ultimately lead to more sales.

If you’re enjoying this email marketing series, be sure to check out the next episode where you’ll learn all about choosing your primary opt in freebie for your audience.

00:55 The purpose and benefits of email marketing

2:19 What a free resource library is vs. individual free opt-ins

4:03 Pros and cons for having a free resource library

6:52 Pros and cons for using individual opt-ins

10:54 My recommendation of what to use if you’re focused on email marketing and business growth

Hey TPT sellers ready to seek growth in your business, you’re in the right place. Welcome to the savvy teacher seller. I’m Kristen Doyle. And I’m here to give you no fluff tools and strategies that will really make an impact on your sale. Let’s get started y’all.

Hey, there, I am so excited. You’re joining me for today’s episode. This is the second episode in our email marketing series. And today, I’m excited to talk to you about one of the questions I see all the time from sellers. And that is should I use a free resource library to build my email list? Or should I create individual opt in so today, I want to dive into some pros and cons of both options, and how you can make that decision for your own business.

Let’s get right to it. Before we talk about which one to choose. Let’s talk just a little about the purpose of email marketing. So one reason that you might have an email list is because this is the one place where you own your audience, you have those email addresses, you can take them with you to any email marketing platform, you can download them and hang on to a CSV of them at any time so that you can get in touch with those people. This is one place that you truly own your audience, unlike social media, and even your TPT followers.

Additionally, an email list is a really great place to build what is referred to as the know, like and trust factor. The statistics show us that people make purchases from people that they feel like they know they like them, and they trust them. And so an email list is a really great way to build that for your own business. It’s also a really good place for you to connect with educators and to serve them, to help them solve their problems, to give them teaching tips and free resources before you try to sell to them.

So when it comes to deciding if you should use a free resource library or individual opt ins, either one has its pluses and minuses. And both are really good for serving your audience before we start selling resources to them. Let’s talk about what each one is first, and then we’ll talk about some pros and cons.

So a free resource library is a single place that teachers can go to download lots of free resources all at one time. Usually on your website, this would look something like a page that says get free resources. And on that page, there’s an email opt in form. And also a login button for people who are already opted in. The library page itself could be just a simple grid with an image and a download button for each freebie. Or it could be something more complex somewhere where teachers are able to search through freebies filter by categories, things like that, depending on how many freebies you have and how complicated you want to get.

Generally speaking, in order to have a free resource library, you will have to have a website that you are hosting those freebies on so that there’s a single page for your subscribers to log in and download their freebies.

Now, individual free opt ins are those freebies that you may have created to go along with a certain blog post. Or maybe they are standalone freebies or samples of products within your store. But you create a separate opt in form or a landing page for each freebie. Now, like I said, some of these might be a landing page on their own, or they might be just a form that’s embedded within a blog post that they go along with.

Either way, users will sign up on your landing page or your email form. They’ll sign up for that freebie, and your email provider will send them an email containing a download link for that specific freebie. And if they want to sign up for additional freebies from other blog posts or other landing pages, they would just need to enter their name and email address again to get those.

Now let’s talk pros and cons for each one. We’ll start with the free resource library. So some positive things about a free resource library is that first of all, we all know how much teachers love their freebies. So this can be a really enticing way to get people to sign up for your email list. Especially if you are promising them a vault full of free resources that they can use with their students. This is a great way to get people to opt into your list and to build your list quickly. The free resource library page is also a really easy place for teachers to browse through all of the free resources that you offer and download those resources that will be most helpful for them in their classrooms.

And another piece of that is that this definitely builds the like and the trust part of know like and trust factor. So when you’re offering teachers a vault full of freebies, they are almost guaranteed to like you and if you’re freebies are high quality, this can help them trust that your paid resources will also be high quality.

Now, there are some downsides to the free resource library. So let’s talk about those for a minute, I have four that I’m going to share with you. First of all, because you don’t know which freebies are getting downloaded, you can’t really judge which ones are performing well, which ones resonate well with your audience. You also don’t really have a way to tag subscribers based on what they download, or to send follow up email sequences based on what subjects or what grade levels they’re downloading resources for, without doing some more technical things through tools like Zapier or something like that.

Another con to the free resource library is that because you’re offering this wealth of free resources, all in one place, you might very well be building an audience of freebie seekers who don’t really want to make a purchase. And if that is okay with you, then great. But if you’re trying to build an email list of people who want to purchase from you, then this may not be the best way to go.

Another downside is that depending on how you advertise and market your free resource library, your audience may expect you to add new freebies to it frequently. So if you are promising a new freebie every month, then you have to commit to create an ad those every month regardless of what’s going on in your life. Regardless of what else you might have going on that you might not have time to do this.

Another downside is this does require you to build some pages on your website. Now, if you are on WordPress, and you have Elementor, I have a template in my shop that can help. And I’ll put a link in the show notes for that it’s an easy, almost one click Install template that you can install and then get hooked up to your freebies and your email platform fairly quickly.

Now, just like the free resource library, using individual opt ins has its pros and cons as well. So let’s talk through some of those. On the plus side, you can learn a lot about your followers from what they are downloading, you’ll learn what types of resources they’re interested in, what grade levels or subjects they teach, things like that. And this can help you to tag them in your email provider to be able to send more focused emails in the future.

So for example, if you’ve tagged someone who downloads a third grade math Resource with a tag, third grade math, then the next time you release a third grade math blog post or third grade Math Resource to your store, you’ll know that you can send emails specifically to people with the tag third grade math so that you are targeting people with the things they’re really interested in. This can help people stay on your list longer if they’re always getting highly relevant content. Among other things.

Another thing that you can do is create follow up email sequences so that after the incentive email, that first email that delivers the freebie, your subscribers get two or three other emails that can educate them around this topic, and eventually lead to selling them on a paid resource for the same topic. This is a really good way to keep your email list converting to actual sales. One more plus to using individual opt ins is that it’s easy to see how each opt in is performing and to be able to update and change the ones that aren’t performing well.

Now one thing to keep in mind is that if you’re using the same opt in the same freebie in multiple places, you’ll want to create a separate form for each location so that you can tell which places on your website are performing well and converting to subscribers, and which ones aren’t. If you use the exact same form, for example, in your website, footer and on the sidebar of your blog posts, and also on a standalone page, then you really won’t know which of those is performing best, because all the data will be jumbled together.

So you’ll want to create separate forms, the easiest way to do that is create one and then duplicate it and name it for where you’re going to put it on your website. Now the downsides for using individual opt ins. One downside is that it does require each one to be set up individually, that can be a little bit more time consuming. But like I said, you can often duplicate them and then just tweak the details to save a lot of time. The more options you have, the more there is to manage. So that’s a little bit of a downside as well. And it can be more complicated to switch email providers if you ever find the need to do that.

Now there are two basic ways to put forms on your website. You can embed the form from your email provider using an embed code or you can build the form with a form builder plugin on WordPress and then connect that form to your email platform. That is what I recommend doing. I personally use Elementor to build all of my forms because they connect very easily with ConvertKit. I just pick my form in ConvertKit in the drop down menu, and it connects seamlessly to a ConvertKit form and sends out the incentive email. The nice thing about doing it that way is I get more control over what my forms look like. So they really look like they were built to blend right into my website.

And if I ever decide to move platforms, all I’ll have to do is change where that form is connected. So I can change it from ConvertKit to Active Campaign or MailChimp, or wherever else I might move, then I don’t have to go in and recreate all of the forms. If you’re embedding forms and you move platforms, then you do have to recreate them on the new platform. So that is something to consider when you’re thinking about how you put forms on your website. deciding whether to use a free resource library, individual opt ins, or a combination of both really comes down to what works best for you and for your particular audience.

As I’ve shared today, there are good and bad things about both, and you really are the only one who can decide which one fits your needs the best. If you’re really focused on email marketing, and making this a big part of your business growth plan, then I would recommend individual opt ins because you do have more control over the information you’re gaining from people you get a lot more detail about people from what they are logging into, and you’re able to send more targeted emails in the future.

On the flip side, if email marketing is something that you’re just starting to dabble in or you don’t have a lot of time to spend on it, then a free resource library might be easier for you to manage. Just don’t promise your subscribers a constant flow of new freebies that you will then be committed to creating on a regular basis.

Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to subscribe to the show. And I would so appreciate it if you would leave a kind review on your podcast platform of choice. If you’d like to grab that free resource library template that I mentioned. You can get that in the show notes at Kristendoyle.co/episode 21.

Be sure to come back next week for the third episode in our email marketing series. All about choosing your primary opt in freebie for your audience. Talk to you soon. I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. If you did, please share it with another teacher seller who would also find it helpful. For more resources on Growing Your TPT business. Head to Kristendoyle.co/TPT. Talk to you soon.

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about your host

Your host, Kristen Doyle, has a decade of experience selling on TpT and has made all the mistakes so that you don’t have to! As a web designer and the go-to SEO expert in the TpT world, she loves helping TpT sellers stand out in the crowd & grow their businesses with passive income strategies.

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