When it comes to providing your blog readers with value, nothing works quite as well as utilizing a free resource library. When it comes to creating a free resource library for your blog however, things can become a little bit tricky, especially if you’ve never created one before.
A lot of the guides & tutorials out there can be confusing & they do not quite give you the exact information that you actually need to get your free resource library set up… Not to mention they rarely provide alternative options if you can’t do things exactly as they say.
For this reason, when I was putting my free resource library together, I decided to just wing it. Along the way, I discovered quite a few nifty little tricks you’re not going to find anywhere else. These can make your library look all the more professional & will even increase your CTR.
In this article, I’m going to be going over exactly what a free resource library is, how it benefits your blog, the type of content you should be including, as well as the exact step-by-step methods of creating your free resource library from scratch in WordPress. Plus, some bonus design options, that you can use to differentiate your blog from the rest in your niche.
Related: How to start a blog for Beginners
What is a free resource library?
First of all, if you’re unsure what exactly a resource library is, let me break it down for you.
This is a page on your website that contains downloads or links to various free resources you’ve created or are giving away to your readers. Normally this page requires a password to access, which readers would receive via email, you can deliver this via social media or in a blog post, but I do believe that email is the best as your free resource library can act as a valuable opt-in for your blog, more on that in a bit. 😉
Once your readers receive the password, they can visit the page (normally linked in the password email, as well as in various places on your site) & peruse the wonderful resources you’ve put together.
These can be a number of different things, like workbooks, checklists, guides, tutorials, etc. Anything that can add value to your readers, this could even be something as simple as printable pdf versions of your blog posts.
Why use a free resource library as an opt-in?
Your free resource library can be a very valuable opt-in for your blog. It provides your readers with a number of bonuses that they will receive for free, immediately, when they opt-in to your email list.
It’s also a very convenient method for you to provide extra value to your readers without having to set up new email forms, landing pages, email sequences, etc.
Instead of doing all of that, just upload the resource directly to your library & you’re done… Well, you could also send out an email notifying your subscribers that you’ve added something awesome & new for them to see. 😉 & while we are at it, don’t forget to include a sharing button for them to spread the love on social media & get some more subscribers to your growing list!
You see a free resource library is a great place to house multiple content upgrades & provide your readers with a mountain load of value through one email opt-in. A whole selection of resources will be more valuable to readers than just a downloadable pdf.
P.s. I would recommend creating or housing at least 3, but preferably 5-6 resources to get started, it is called a library after all.
How to create a free resource library for your blog
If you’ve been around these parts before, you’ll know how I love to get into the what & why before I deal with the nitty-gritty of a particular problem. This allows you to better understand the process & why we do what we do.
Now that we know the what & why, let’s deal with the how.
1. Decide on the content
For your resource library, the first thing that you need to consider is what type of content you’re going to be housing. This largely depends on the type of website or blog you have.
Try not to stray too far as this should also act as an opt-in to get readers to sign up to your email list. If you’re blogging about food & recipes, a detailed guide on how to change the oil filter on a Ford pickup truck is not going to yield very good results. Stay on topic & to the point of your blog.
Some examples you could use, for example, would be if you write about food & recipes, a weekly meal planner would be a much better resource than that oil filter guide. 😉 Downloadable recipes of your favorite meals or most popular articles would be another on-topic content upgrade that would yield good results.
For travel blogs, you could add city/country/area checklists of things to do, restaurants to visit, places to go, etc. Itineraries of various lengths, route plans, vital travel information for visiting certain countries, & the list can go on & on. You could even include your travel photos as downloadable images.
Now I am not going to cover every niche, but you should be getting the point I’m trying to make. Decide on your free resource library content by looking at what you can do, what others in your niche are doing & by sticking to the relevant topics.
These opt-ins do not have to be overly complicated, I know that we do over analyze these things on the first go, but don’t worry too much about it.
Just ask yourself, what value does this add to your readers? (& don’t assume they know everything!)
2. Create your free resources
Now that you’ve decided on what to create, it’s time to start creating it.
Onto the next step.
Just kidding, let’s look at how to create some of these free resources.
This all depends on what you have available to you. You can create very detailed artwork & graphics by using Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. but you could also put together very simple content upgrades using free software that generates even more subscribers to your list than the fancy one. This all depends on the content upgrades & how closely related they are to your audience.
To get started you can put together workbooks, checklists & guides using Microsoft Word, Google Docs, etc. These allow you to save your documents as PDFs for your free resource library & most people are familiar with these word editors.
If you want to add some extra creativity to your content upgrades without having to splurge on the Adobe programs, I recommend checking out Canva.
Canva is a free online graphic design tool that allows you to create professional-grade designs without needing a professional-grade qualification. 😉
You can create a variety of different opt-ins using Canva, like checklists, eBooks, guides, workbooks, schedules, planners, etc. & the best part is that you can get started right away, right now.
To get started with Canva, here are a few video tutorials.
Speaking of video, you can also upload videos to YouTube, set them to private & then include them in your free resource library for your email subscribers to enjoy.
I have another guide on how you can start creating YouTube videos on a budget (or completely for free) that you should have a look at here.
3. Create a password-protected page in WordPress
The resources have been created, now it’s time to find a home for them.
To do this, you first need to create a new page on your website. Open your WordPress dashboard, select Pages > Add New.
Give your page a name, you can change it later, this is just to satisfy my OCD.
In the box on the right labeled Publish, select the Edit option next to Visibility: Public.
This is the space where you can enter a password of your choosing. Select the Password protected option, type in your chosen password in the same-named field & once you’re satisfied select OK.
If you do need to change the password of your free resource library in the future, select the resource page from your WordPress dashboard & type your new password into this same field.
All changes will only take effect once you hit the Publish button.
If you want to give your new password protected page a preview, select the Preview button on the top & take your password out for a test run.
Now before you publish your resource library to the world, let’s get to step 4 & populate it with your content, as well as go through some design options for you to consider.
4. Design your free resource library
Now as far as the basic design of your resource library goes, you have two options. Either use the features of your theme to create a layout that you’re happy with or to use a plugin like the Grid or Essential Grid.
I personally prefer to do the designing like I would a regular blog post or resource page. This means that in the resource library page you’ve already made, all you need to do is add some text introducing visitors to your free resource library, add some media & include a few links for your readers to download the free content & you’re good to go.
Let’s break this down, as you can see above, we can do all of this in WordPress’s visual editor.
Add text, insert an image & adding a link to the text. These are all shortcuts you can find in the toolbar.
P.s. I am using the classic editor, I prefer the interface compared to the new Gutenberg editor. You can, however, do the same things using the Gutenberg if you prefer it.
Now that example is quite simple so let’s take it up a notch by including some columns & a button beneath your content image.
By the way, the image you use can be a preview of your resource or a completely custom graphic you’ve made just for your library. I prefer going the custom route, that way the library looks more professional & cleaner.
For the Genesis framework, to create columns, we need to use the [columns] shortcode. To add a button, we need to add some code to the text editor. For columns, I would also recommend using the text editor to save yourself the frustration as the columns don’t preview in the visual editor. You need to select Preview in order to see if your changes have been implemented.
Now if we look into my text editor, a 2-column layout would look something like this:
<img src=” https://yourwebsite.com/image1″ alt=”Image 1″ width=”300″ height=”500″ /></a>
<a class=”button” href=”https://yourwebsite.com/resource1″> Button Text 1</a>
<img src=” https://yourwebsite.com/image2″ alt=”Image 2″ width=”300″ height=”500″ /></a>
<a class=”button” href=”https://yourwebsite.com/resource2″> Button Text 2</a>
And that translates to something like this once you correct the links & Preview the free resource library.
Now, this code may not work with your theme, however, there are most likely similar column & button shortcodes that you can use for your particular theme. The easiest way to find these is to type your theme name into google, along with the shortcode you’re looking for, I.e. X Theme column shortcode.
The search results should bring up the correct shortcode webpage for your particular theme. If this doesn’t work, try contacting the developer.
You could also go the plugin route; Grid style plugins tend to work best & you can get detailed guides on how to set them up by typing in the plugin name in a search bar along with the problem at hand (or simply tutorial to get started).
Now, the next problem you may be faced with is where to actually host your resources. You don’t want to have to host these on your blog as this can slow down your site, instead, link to it on a dedicated storage site like Amazon S3, Dropbox or Google Drive.
Here’s a quick guide to uploading a file with Google Drive. (It’s a similar process on Dropbox, Amazon S3, etc.)
- Open your Google Drive.
- Drag & drop your opt-in bonus into the drive or select +New & select the file.
- Right-Click on the uploaded file & select Share.
- Click on the top drop-down menu & select More.
- Select the first option: On – Public on the web.
- Select Copy Link and that’s it.
Now head back to your free resource library page editor & include the links wherever applicable.
Once you’re happy with the design of your resource library, preview it to make sure it is as you planned it on your site. If you’re still happy, select publish & we can move on to granting your readers access. 😉
…& if you’re not happy, go back & make changes until you are.Share this guide with your followers on Twitter... Please & Thank You 😉😊
5. Create your opt-in form & set up automation
As your resource library is now set up, we need to create a way for your readers to easily receive the password. This can be done by setting up an email opt-in.
I’ve put together a rather detailed guide on creating your first opt-in form with ConvertKit & setting up your email chain to deliver the content upgrade, which is, in this case, your free resource library password. You can access it here.
This guide covers ConvertKit, as they’re the email service provider I use & recommend, but you can do similar things in a similar manner with MailChimp, AWeber, etc.
Once you’ve gone through the guide & set up your first form & sequence in ConvertKit (or whichever email service you’re using) we can move on to set up the access point.
6. Set up the access point
The next step is to create a gateway to your resource library. I.e. Where do readers opt-in?
You can generally do this in 2 ways.
The first & my preferred method is by linking the opt-in at the bottom of the resources page through the ConvertKit WordPress plugin. This reduces the number of clicks readers need to make to opt-in to your free resource library. This method does require you to use ConvertKit or another email provider that offers a similar service.
To set this up, scroll down to the ConvertKit Plugin box, select the name of your Resource Library Opt-in form from the drop-down menu (I selected Opt-In Example in the image below).
Now once you save & publish the page, the form should appear beneath the password field.
The second option would be to create a landing page & a gateway page.
This means you would first create a dedicated landing page for your free resource library.
You can do this with your email service provider, a dedicated landing page builder, or by setting one up manually & including a basic opt-in form to collect the fields. I would recommend using your email service provider to create a basic landing page if you decide to go this route. (You can also set this up with ConvertKit. 😉)
The second part of this option requires you to create another page to act as the gateway, here you will place two buttons (links) with one directing to the opt-in (to get the password) & the other directing to the resource library (for those that have the password).
You can include a link/button to the resource library on the opt-in landing page as well in case readers that already have the password land there by accident.
Caitlin over at And Possibly Dinosaurs does a great job with her library using this second method. She’s also got some great InDesign & Blogging articles you should go have a look at. 😉
7. Promote your free resource library
Now that your library is ready to go, it’s time to add some links & get the traffic rolling in.
Include some links to your free resource library in your menus, add some opt-in forms on posts & pages, wherever it may be applicable. Exercise some restraint though, you don’t need to plaster your Resources library everywhere.
I would include it in your header & footer/sidebar menu, & then include a link or opt-in form in relevant places in your blog posts.
Take the promotion a step further & share your free resource library on social media.
Create 2 or 3 pins just for your resource library & share these on your Pinterest account &/or to a few Tailwind tribes.
Why stop with Pinterest though? Create a post & link to your free resource library from your Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.
& don’t forget to write your existing Email subscribers & notify them of your incredible new resource library. 😉
8. Update your library regularly
One of the best things about a free resource library is the ability to create a wide variety of resources of different sizes. It doesn’t matter if they’re small or large, any additions add to the overall value of your library.
Keep updating your library, even if it’s just a quick checklist, some new images, an update of an existing resource, etc. This will show your readers your library is active & they should check back regularly.
For me, the knowledge that readers are checking back, or that they’re expecting regular new content is something hugely valuable. You see, I like to work against the clock, or to complete things pretty much on the edge of a deadline. If you’re a procrastinator like me, creating your own content can be immensely frustrating as you never seem to get around to it as you have no real deadlines. You need to enforce deadlines yourself & work towards them.
This is where that knowledge comes in, it’s also one of the reasons I recommend adding public schedules to things like your YouTube channel. This not only helps your readers or viewers know when they can expect something new, but it creates a form of accountability for you to actually get things done.
As you can see, creating a free resource library for your blog isn’t quite as difficult as it may seem when you get started. There are countless options to make your library stand out from the competition, & countless options of resources that you can house in your library, vault, or whatever you want to call it.
Keep on updating your library with new relevant resources, don’t forget to let people know about your new resources & keep on creating. As your library grows, so will your email list & your profits.
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Have you created a free resource library for your blog that’s completely different from that which I’ve outlined here? How did you set it up?
If you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.