32 Content Upgrade Ideas You Can Create in Minutes (with Examples)

leads Dec 21, 2018

Looking for content upgrade ideas to grow your email list? Adding content upgrades to your blog posts is the #1 most effective way to grow your email list faster. In this guide, we'll share 32 content upgrade ideas you can create in minutes (with examples).

Did you know that content upgrades have been shown to increase email opt ins by as much as 785% in a single day?

That is without any A/B testing.

Most website owners don't know about content upgrades, or don't realize how powerful they are. But savvy marketers use them all the time, and for good reason. The fact of the matter is this:

Content upgrades are the single most effective strategy you can use today to grow your email list at an exponentially faster rate.

So what exactly is a content upgrade, you ask?

A content upgrade is an opt in bribe (lead magnet) that relates to a specific blog post.

So instead of creating a generic lead magnet that could pertain to anyone and everyone browsing your website, you create a free download that is tailored specifically to a particular post on your blog.

Why does this work so well?

The reason content upgrades are so effective is because of a psychological phenomenon known as the principle of specificity.

The specificity principle says that the more specific your call to action is (whether that's opting in for your email list, sharing on social media, or buying your product), the more likely people are to take action.

Simply put, your lead magnet will be 10X more effective when it is specific to your visitor's situation. So if they are reading a post about Pinterest SEO, for example, offer them a PDF Pinterest SEO checklist. If they are reading about finding a niche for their blog, on the other hand, offer them a list of the top blog niches.

See how that works?

OK, now that you understand the importance of content upgrades for growing your email list, let's dive in to the 32 content upgrade ideas and examples...

1. Printable Version

Let's start with what is arguably the easiest content upgrade to create: a printable version of your blog post.

These are most commonly seen on recipe blogs or tutorial blogs, but this type of content upgrade can be used for ANY kind of blog post.

The best part? It takes 30 seconds or less to create.

To create a printable version of your blog post, simply download the Print Friendly & PDF browser extension.

Then, all you have to do is navigate to your blog post and click on the green printer button that is now located in the upper right-hand corner of your browser. This will open up a dialog window where you can remove any unwanted details from your blog post, so it looks neat clean for printing.

Finally, click on the PDF button at the top to save your printable content upgrade, and you are done! Now wasn't that easy?

2. Infographic

Even though people enjoy reading quality written content, adding a downloadable infographic can make the post so much more actionable for the reader.

People appreciate infographics because they:

  • Help to explain your points
  • Help readers to memorize the information
  • Are visually pleasing and make consuming the information more enjoyable
  • Have high perceived value (when designed well)

How do you make an infographic? You can use infographic design tools such as Venngage or Canva or to make stunning infographics in less than 10 minutes.

3. Step-by-Step Instructions

When you’re writing content for your readers you should always strive to make it as informative and useful as possible. Including a content upgrade with a downloadable list of step-by-step instructions is sure to get your readers attention!

In your instructions, be sure to:

  • Provide all the necessary information on how to carry out the task discussed in your blog post
  • Detail every single step, without skipping any
  • Explain any alternative options or approaches

The goal here is for your readers to learn something new and find the answer they were looking for. It’s a content upgrade that will help you come across as a trustworthy source of information.

4. Video Tutorial

If you discover that your how-to guides are doing well and that your audience enjoys reading them, you can start thinking about taking them a step further.

Apart from the written version of the how-to post, you can make a video tutorial to make the whole thing even more comprehensive and easy to understand.

A video tutorial isn’t hard to make yet it is a perfect content upgrade for your how-to posts.

If you’re wondering why video tutorials are so popular, the answer is simple: many people are visual learners and it helps them get to the bottom of things.

5. Audio Recording

While there are people who enjoy reading your content, there are those who would prefer listening to it.

For those who can’t read your content due to lack of time or some other reason, you can offer an audio recording of your posts. It will make it possible for them to listen while driving, eating or working.

To put it simply, this kind of content upgrade will help you reach out to more people and provide a different form of interacting with your brand.

6. Transcription

When you offer videos or audio recordings of your content, you can offer a PDF transcription of your materials.

Transcriptions are a way for your readers to go back to the most interesting parts of your recording, without having to take notes and press pause all the time.

This content upgrade will have your audience appreciate your extra effort!

7. Email Series

As we're sure you have more to share on your topic aside from just one blog post, why not write an email series about it?

You could call the series a "free e-course" or a "7-day challenge" and drip out the content over an email autoresponder sequence. This way, it is completely hands-off for you, but also feels like a live experience for the subscriber. It's also the perfect way to nurture your leads and convert them into customers!

8. Template

Another way for you to help your readers out and give them something to lean on is to provide free templates supporting your content.

But, why are templates so popular? It’s because they:

  • Are practical and useful
  • Solve a specific problem
  • Make taking action and getting results super easy

For example, if you’re covering the topic of writing the perfect cover letter for a job application, you can offer one or several templates for your readers to download and use.

9. Challenge

Interacting with your audience is a great way to establish firm bonds and emotional ties with them.

A great way to actively engage your audience with your brand is to challenge them to join you on a mutual journey towards achieving a common goal.

Your challenge could include:

  • You sending daily email reminders for the goal of the day
  • Open forum topics to share results
  • Encouraging them to give you feedback on their results
  • Asking them to share before and after pictures of their progress

A challenge is a great content upgrade for your audience to feel connected to you and as a part of a community that you’re running.

10. Worksheet

When you’re trying to teach your audience something, there’s a great way for you to help them acquire the desired knowledge.

You can offer them assignments and printable worksheets they can use to practice what they’ve earned and ensure their learning is going in the right direction.

Worksheets are an excellent way of adding value to your content and giving your audience exactly what they need.

11. Examples

Everyone wants to see concrete examples in order to understand a topic more thoroughly. Why not package these examples together into a PDF download?

For example, let's say your post is about how to create Pinterest graphics. You could include a content upgrade with examples of Pinterest graphics that others have created to take inspiration from.

Or, your content upgrade could include case studies which show exactly what others did in order to achieve results.

12. Swipe File

Have you taken the time to curate a swipe file of resources that you draw inspiration from? Give that away as your content upgrade!

For example, if your post is about how to write email subject lines, you could include a swipe file of good subject lines that you yourself have used or have come across.

13. Bonus Content

When you’re writing your content and getting it ready for publishing, you need to have different types of audience members and readers in mind.

While some prefer scanning the text, looking for the most important information, others like to read in-depth and cover a topic rather thoroughly.

For those more detailed readers, you can offer bonus content, to help them cover the topic to the smallest detail.

You'll gain lots of new subscribers by making their subscription the only pre-condition to gaining access to additional content.

14. Quick Start Guide

When people search online for a solution to a problem, many of them don’t have the time to read exhaustive explanations and spend hours dealing with the problem.

A great way to upgrade your content is to offer quick start guides which would provide the essential steps to mastering a skill or solving a problem.

Quick start guides are great content upgrades because they:

  • Are quick to create and consume
  • Save your readers time
  • Focus on solving their core problem

15. In-Depth Guide

For those members of your audience looking for quality information and genuine value, you can write more thorough guides on solving various problems they might be facing.

For example, if your blog post is about writing SEO-friendly content, you can include a more in-depth guide as the content upgrade with sections such as: What is SEO, Best SEO tools, SEO statistics, How to get started with SEO etc.

Offering this kind of content will show your readership you’re providing lots of knowledge and well-researched texts.

16. Cheat Sheet

Upgrading your content with a cheat sheet is all about being there for your readers.

Topics covered in great detail can sometimes be too much for a casual reader to comprehend.

However, a cheat sheet is all they need to feel like they’ve understood your points and found what they’ve been looking for... and it's super easy to create!

A cheat sheet is simply a summary of all the main points of your article. It could be presented with printable infographics, or just simple text in PDF format. It’s handy, useful and practical, and one of the most effective lead magnets and content upgrades.

17. Checklist

A checklist is a step-by-step list to help your readers a achieve a goal. This content upgrade ensures your readers follow simple yet essential steps in order to successfully perform an action.

A checklist helps your readers see:

  • How close they are to reaching their goal
  • What they already got covered
  • What additional steps they need to take
  • How complex is the entire process 

In other words, you simplify everything by making a checklist for them to check where they stand and see what awaits ahead. Like the cheat sheet, checklists are one of the most effective lead magnets and content upgrades, and they are very quick and easy to create.

18. Free Course

If you write to teach, you definitely need to consider offering a free course to your readers.

Free courses help you:

  • Build a long-term relationship with audience members
  • Build experience as a thought leader
  • Reward your readers with premium content for free

A free course is useful to both you and your readers. They get to feel a piece of the cake that you’re offering, and you end up with new subscribers and customers. It’s a win-win.

19. Free Trial

Some people may be hesitant about whether to buy what you’re selling or not.

This is perfectly normal, especially if they’ve never dealt with you or your brand.

The best way to inspire new audience members to go from potential to actual customers is to upgrade your content by offering a free trial period of your services.

A free trial will:

  • Encourage people to give you a shot
  • Give people an insight into the way you work
  • Increase the number of your customers

Free trials work perfectly to increase conversions on your affiliate posts as well!

20. Resource List

When you’re writing highly informative and well-researched articles and posts, your readers receive valuable information and data.

However, you can ensure an additional satisfaction for them by offering a list of all the authoritative sources you used in your post.

“Providing the resources list, with links leading directly to them, means providing more insight into the topic and helping those who want to do some further reading” says Chelsea Ann Dowdell, a marketing specialist, and editor at Rewarded Essays.

That includes all the research, statistics, and papers you used as a reference.

21. Mini eBook

Sometimes your readers need just a little bit more from you.

A short, concise eBook is a fun way to give your readers even more and to ensure your content is permanently by their side.

All you have to do to create a mini eBook is gather several in-depth posts you’ve published related to the same topic and join them together!

22. Quiz

You may consider adding a short quiz at the end of your post.

Whether the post is a guide, a how-to article or a story post, you can come up with a "personality quiz" or a "pop quiz" on the topic. Just make sure you ask for their email at the end for mailing them their results.

You can create quizzes and capture email leads with a quiz creator tool like Qzzr or Interact. We have a complete tutorial here.

23. Report

If your post is dealing with a research that you’ve conducted, you need to share both your methodology and your results.

The best way to share the findings and results of your research is to present them as a report.

That includes all the conclusions you’ve reached, summarized in PDF format. This will greatly help your readers, and they'll also recognize the significance of your effort and the value of your work.

24. Interview

People love to see the face behind the text. If you happen to know an expert from your niche or even a famous person connected to it, you can do an exclusive video interview or webinar on a topic relevant to your blog post.

Record and publish the interview and offer it as a content upgrade!

25. Planner

You could be writing about healthy lifestyle, fitness, learning a language, learning how to cook or dance, turning vegetarian and a ton of other topics, and there’s one thing all of them have in common.

A free planner would make things much more fun and easy for your readers.

Releasing a customized planner will:

  • Inspire your readers to start a challenge
  • Motivate them to stay focused
  • Make it easier for them to track their success

26. Calendar

If you want to inspire your readers to follow through on your challenges, you can also provide a calendar for them to customize and enter their daily goals.

It’s another great way of letting them know you’ve got their back and you want to make sure they succeed in their plans and aspirations.

27. Best-Of List

"Best-of" lists are an all-time favorite freebie for online readers, and you can make a list of anything: best smoothie ingredients, best healthy breakfast ideas, best morning exercises, best SEO tools, you name it!

Plus, a best-of list is perfect for those in your audience who like to scan the article instead of reading it in great detail.

28. Webinar

Hosting a webinar to teach your online audience and transfer your knowledge is a great thing.

Although it may require some additional effort on your side, this type of a content upgrade will make the difference between you and your competitor. Your audience will get to know you better and take part in a more personal form of sharing information.

Real-time discussions and information transmission is definitely a content upgrade you should give your readers a chance to experience. But to save yourself time, you can do pre-recorded webinars too.

29. Behind the Scenes

When you’re offering courses, seminars, lectures or other forms of informative materials, you can give your readers a chance to catch a glimpse of what it’s all about.

A behind the scenes view or a "sneak-peak" into your newest offers will increase the number of subscribers and also increase your sales. In addition, it will inspire people to remain active customers on a regular basis.

30. Private Community

Creating a sense of community between you and all your readers is challenging. They need to feel like home when reading your content and it needs to make them feel like they belong.

However, you can take things a step further and create a private social media group, giving them the opportunity to join after they subscribe to your email list.

Adding a content upgrade to join your Facebook group at the end of a post is a wonderful way of inviting people to join together and share their thoughts, ideas, and experience with you and your brand.

31. List of Tools

A topic that covers “how-to” or gives guidance of any kind, probably has a lot of tools involved.

If you’re trying to help your audience and give them useful, practical information, you need to let them know which tools to use and how.

Therefore, the best thing you can do is create a list of all the tools mentioned in your post, along with links leading directly to them. This content upgrade will sum up the entire post and leave them with concrete steps to take after they've finished reading.

32. Related Content

Finally, don’t leave your readers hanging.

For those of them who would like to continue reading, offer a list of related content with even more information on a topic.

This could be as simple as a list of other blog posts on your site that are related to the same topic. It doesn't take long to create, but it's a nice touch that your readers will appreciate.


That's it! You now have 32 new content upgrade ideas to choose from.

The best part? You can create these content upgrades in minutes, and mostly for free.

Making a small effort can make a huge difference, so there’s no room for hesitation. Start introducing content upgrades to your blog posts today and watch your email opt ins start rolling in!

Bridgette Hernandes is a Master in Anthropology who is interested in writing and planning to publish her own book in the nearest future. She works as a writer for Rated By Students and Supreme Dissertations.  She finished her study last year but is already a true expert when it comes to presenting a text in a creative and understandable manner. The texts she writes are always informative, based on a qualitative research but nevertheless pleasant to read.

Which Online Course Should You Create?

Answer 7 Questions and I'll Tell You Which Course You Were Born to Teach.

Take the Quiz