Planning Your Brilliant PDF Freebie

Freebies, Big Bananas, Pink Spoons…Got Yours?

Having a freebie, something awesome your website visitors can download or use for free, in exchange for signing up for your newsletter list, is key to growing your opt-in list and online business. If you don’t have one it’s time to get busy and get this done!

In interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you that it took me f-o-r-e-v-e-r to finally get a downloadable freebie up on my site. Why? I’m so busy making big bananas for other lovely ladies that it is hard to find time to do my own stuff AND I was procrastinating like crazy.

Since I put my freebie up (see it over there on the right?) my list has grown 34 percent! So…do it!

Your freebie (also called a big banana or pink spoon) can take many forms:
discount coupons, videos, audio lessons, courses, e-books, worksheets, downloadable PDFs, etc. Today we’ll be talking about PDF freebies.

Before you dive right in to creating your PDF freebie, stop for a few minutes and take a big picture view of the project.
Doing this ground work that will set the foundation for creating a beautiful and useful PDF that will get downloaded and used (not downloaded and forgotten)!

The questions below will help you do this. They cover four key areas: audience, content, design/branding, and marketing.

Here we go. Grab a notebook and jot down your answers.


1. Who is this PDF for?
Picture someone reading your PDF and smiling and nodding and taking notes. Who is it?

2. How can you make this just for them?
What questions do they have that you can answer?

3. What step will they be able to take after reading your freebie? What will it help them do?
Why are they reading your PDF? What do they want to know, learn, or become from reading?

4. How do you want them to feel when they see/read your PDF?
Inspired, empowered, curious, entertained?

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1. What is the topic of your pdf?
What are you going to write about my dear? Start with what your audience needs to know in order to hire you or buy your product.

2. What do you have to say about this topic that no one else does?
Now’s the time to differentiate yourself from everyone else. Say something new. Say something YOU.

3. What format is the content going to take?

    How To
    Look Book
    Product/Service Comparison
    Process Explanantion
    411 – Industry Jargon Explained

4. Where is the content coming from?
Is this new content, a blog post you are expanding, old content that you are converting to a new format?

5. What ancillary info can you include to add more value to your content?
Will it include links to extra materials (videos/mp3/blog posts on your website)? Bonus resources/tips?

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1. How do you want this freebie to look?

    Heavily designed or basic?
    Bold or understated?
    Fun or serious?
    Will it include photos or illustrations?
    Will it include charts?

2. How are you going to maintain your current branding in the design?
What colors, fonts, and design elements from your website and other branding can you use to keep the look consistent?

3. How does this PDF fit into your business mission/goals?
Is it helping you expand into new areas, reinforcing your expertise in your niche?

How does it fit in with the rest of your content/marketing materials.
Does this lead into a product or service you have? Is it an introductory piece for people who are new to your brand or something meatier for your loyal fans?

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1. Why do you want to create this freebie?
Why you, why now? What makes this the right time to be creating this?

2. What results do you want?
Do you want more signups for your list, do you want to drive traffic to a sales page, etc?

3. How can you measure the results?
What’s your subscriber count now? Twitter followers, FaceBook fans? How are you going to keep track of the results this PDF brings?

4. What will success look like?
What increase/changes would make you ecstatic?

5. How can you take this up a notch and really make it a one-of-a-kind pdf that only you could create?
What skills, talents, background, unique perspective on the topic do you bring to the table?

6. How is this pdf going to be presented to your audience?
Opt-in, free, only to your list as premium content, as part of a product launch, as an add-on to an existing program/service, as a bonus for someone else program?

7. What kind of promo activities are you going to do to make sure your audience knows this resource is available to them?
Blog posts, guest posts, Tweets, status updates. Make a plan now to get this out in the world!

Woo! That’s a lot of questions!

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As you are writing, designing, producing your freebie your answers to these will help you keep the freebie focused and on track.

Come back to these answers if you get stuck while writing. Read through your first draft with these answers in mind. Use your answers as a checklist to align the intentions you have for the freebie with the final result.

You can use these planning questions to help you plan freebies in other formats, too.

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Want to learn how to write, design, produce your own PDF freebie?

Come learn how to write, design and promote an opt-in that’s perfect for your clients during Opt-in Brilliance. The next live session of the workshop starts September 23.

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Have an a-ha! moment while reading this post? Tell me about it in the comments.

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  1. Tina Pruitt on at

    Thanks Christie! Whew, that IS a lot of questions, but they are GREAT ones to ask ourselves….this is great for beginners and old-timers alike! Thanks for sharing your wisdom…awesome stuff!
    xo, Tina

    • christie on at

      Thank you Tina! Love seeing your face on my blog.

  2. Christie, this post is priceless!! Thanks for sharing this 🙂

    My freebie right now is a 3-part email series but I’m working on updating it to a video + pdf combo. These questions REALLY helped and I’ll be sure to use them.

    Also, questions 1-5 under the Content section really opened my eyes to the endless possibilities you of pdf’s you can create!! It has already inspired me to think of other pdf content I can create in the future!


    • christie on at

      Thank you, Bianca! Looking forward to your new video + pdf combo freebie. You’ve got a ton of great video advice to package up!

  3. Chantelle Adams on at

    That was amazing, you just provided so much clarity in one blog post. Now, I need to get busy answering some questions! Thank you for sharing this at just the perfect time!

    • christie on at

      You are so welcome Chantelle!

  4. Patty White on at

    Wow, that is a lot of great information, and the detail is incredibly helpful, thank you!


    • christie on at

      Patty thank you. I’m a detail gal!

  5. Having just completed my new opt-in, I found this post very helpful and so valuable. I love the way you broke down the content and how important it is to differentiate yourself from everyone else. Fabulous post, thank you! And, I am eagerly awaiting the PDF workshop. Who knows? I may be able to produce my next opt-in “all by myself”!

    • christie on at

      Thank you Sue Ann. You’ll definitely be able to DIY your next opt-in after the PDF workshop. I’m busy working on the content right now! Well, once I’m done replying to comments! 🙂

  6. Christie,

    This is unbelievably helpful! I’m currently reworking my 5-step guide to fabulous opt-in and can’t wait to use these questions to reshape it. Much love and thanks!

    • christie on at

      Jamie – would love to hear how these questions help reshape your opt-in when you get it done!

  7. Wow, this is a really GREAT resource. The way you put it down makes it looks SO EASY, and I am eager to sit down and work through your questions. Maybe I’ll even get brave enough to have you take a look at what I’ve got. A very generous offer, thank you Christie.

    • christie on at

      Cindy – definitely stop back by and sign up for a review session. It’s so helpful to get another set of eyes on our work!

  8. Megan Flatt on at

    This post could not have come at a more perfect time for me. Literally the first thing on my ‘to-do’ list for this week is “create my free offer.” I was feeling a little overwhelmed but I think that these questions will really help me drill down what it is I want to put out there! And give me a great place to start.

    Thank you so much!!

    • christie on at

      Great Megan. Let me know how it goes and what other questions come up that I may not have covered!

  9. Sarah on at

    Thanks Christie, It’s good to have some tips now what to put up to make it worthwhile – this is possibly and client’s first impression – it’s important we get it right! Sarah

  10. Kat Bouchard on at

    Great advice Christie! It really is difficult to come up with the perfect freebie to give away on your blog. I love the list of questions, they will make the process way easier to get through and get done! Thanks again!

    • christie on at

      Thanks Kat – remember there’s no “perfect” answer! You can keep changing, shifting your freebie as your business grows.

  11. What a great article and resource! I offer 5 ways to shift into more peace after a loss. Now that I have your list, I will make sure to go back and see if I’ve got my spots covered.

    • christie on at

      Love that Claire, please let me know if the list of questions help with your review!

  12. Awesome stuff, Christie! I’m going to dive into this again on my next freebie go-round!

    • christie on at

      Thanks Phyllis! Let me know how it goes.

  13. Renee on at

    I though PDF were more complex, thank you for taking the fear out of it.

    • christie on at

      You are welcome Renee. It’s just like everything else, scary until you do it the first time!

  14. Diane on at

    Thanks Christie. Such great info and easy to understand

    • christie on at

      Thank you Diane, that’s great to hear!

  15. Yvette on at

    Whoa Christie,
    This post is priceless…and the timing is absolutely PERFECT, as I think of a new banana for my peeps. It is so difficult to find the sweet spot when creating your freebie. Thank you, this post is a keeper for sure!! xoxox

    • christie on at

      Thanks Yvette! I know you’ve got tons of great “CEO of your biz” info you can share w/your peeps! Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

  16. Jenn Burton on at

    I agree this is a priceless post with awesome content. I struggled with my freebie for a long time. I’ll be creating something soon, so I am excited to have this post to reference!


    • christie on at

      Great Jenn! So happy to help you out.

  17. Jia Ni on at

    Great questions to ask!! I’m writing a PDF right now so I’ll definitely be referring back to this. Thank you! x

    • christie on at

      Great Jia Ni! Let me know how it goes!

  18. Mindy Crary on at

    These are FANTASTIC questions! I am just on the verge of publishing my freebie, and thankfully, not too many of these questions are unanswered in my mind. But how seamless and streamlined this whole thing could have been, had I just had this post X months ago! I think this post could be an eBook in itself for you, it’s so good!

    • christie on at

      Thanks Mindy! Working on a full course around this topic!

  19. Wow, this is awesome Christie! And I totally know what you mean about procrastinating on the freebie. As a copywriter, I often spend so much time writing + ideating for others that my own projects get put on the back-burner. That 34% growth got my attention. I’m saving this – thank you!

    • christie on at

      Thanks Ashley! I know 34%!!! Still blowing me away. Must not procrastinate again!

  20. Sherold Barr on at

    Christie – this is one of the best and more comprehensive “how to” blogs I’ve read. I loved the indepth questions. My favorite question is start with the end in mind (what result do you want to create). This is how Oprah always planned her shows. As a former PR queen, we would think – what headline do we want to see.
    You are one smart cookie and also for those interested, you have a workshop and sessions available for more. I am so glad I was in the B School group this week. Thank you.

    • christie on at

      Thank you so much Sherold. I really value your opinion!

  21. Christie, I LOVED this! I totally second what Sherold said as well. This came at a perfect time as I develop my new site because I was really feeling over-.pdf’d and wanted to create something more interesting for my visitors. This has totally stirred my creative juices. Your blog posts are SO valuable. Thank yOU!!

  22. […] Connect with Christie while she’s still offering Open Office Days (via skype), or try out her new Freebie (that coincidentally will help you create your own Freebie). I have my own little chat scheduled […]

  23. Marinda on at

    Amazing post, Christie. LOVE THIS and will be sharing.