You know the formula: step 1: create something valuable; step 2: give it away as an incentive to join your mailing list; step 3: ...; step 4: make money.

But what should you create in step 1?

You might think that a 100-page eBook, packed with everything you know, would be the killer freebie, and your list would explode. But that's not necessarily true.

Over at ProBlogger a few days ago, Amy Harrison wrote:

Don't give them what they need

It goes without saying that your freebie needs to be valuable to the customer, but giving too much can overwhelm them to the point that they can't be bothered to sign up for it. Even if it's something you know they desperately need.


They want something quick that can potentially solve a problem there and then.

So don't base your sign up incentive on what they need, base it on what they want.

The people you're trying to entice may already have 50 free 100-page eBooks sitting on their computer...unread. They probably even have some they've paid for but not read. Why would they want to get even further behind?

This is one reason why simpler freebies, like checklists that focus on a single, narrow problem can often be great signup incentives.

And consider this: when you see that someone's giving away a 100-page eBook, doesn't a little voice in the back of your head say, "psst. Hey you. Why on earth would anyone give that much away, unless is all junk and filler?"

If that little voice is right, the 100-page eBook is worth even less than a 1-page checklist, because not only is it short on value, but reading it would waste more time.

Offer a small incentive that promises to help solve a specific, important problem. It'll be more believable, and more accessible.