25 Content Ideas for Your Publications

Thanks so  much for joining me, this is my final post in my three week mini series about Marketing and Promotion. Today, I’m talking about good content development ideas to put out those freebies pdf downloads and giveaways and increase your mailing list.


One thing that always annoys me, there’s never any listing of what people come up with and what they make to put into these little guides they put together and offer on their websites. I mean if you think about it, we all could make the same thing in some form or another if we could just have the list of ingredients. Thus once again, I took it upon myself to list out of some of the most awesome things I have seen and read in the NUMEROUS guides and materials I’m always downloading and devouring. Why do you need this? Well if you’ve ever wanted to come up with something free or something to give away in exchange for sign-ups and thus building your newsletter mailing list, following you on IG and Twitter or driving traffic to your site for other interesting things you want to tell them while they’re there, then you need good CONTENT. OR if you’re like me, you will have times when you simply like creating things to help others and give away without requiring folks to do anything but click. Below, this LIST of content ideas should help you put together short booklets and guides for those exact purposes.

Note, the order for your book/guide is up to you and my list of content ideas are not in any sort of logical order, however, with that said, items 1 – 4 are in the order in which they usually appear across other guides you may have seen. Study the layout, visual and content of other guides to gain ideas and ensure that whatever you put together, the order makes the most sense. Finally, an * implies all the items I have used in my own documents.

  1. *An awesome cover – if you like creating in Canva and other design programs, create two covers – it’s very Erin Condrin’ish. Create one that’s standard and muted, and then get whimsy to create one that has a bit more sass

  2. *Copyright Page Note: If your little guide is under approximately 10 pages I would say, a Copyright Page is not necessary. I would also say, however, be certain that you put the (c) copyright symbol, your name, website and “For Personal Use Only”. Make this as part of the footer (on every other page) and you’ll be fine (this link will take you to a couple of different copyright wording samples here)

  3. *This Guide Belongs To – only if it’s a longer guide and there’s  a bunch of them just lying around, you’ll want to give space for people to put their name in their book. Not major at all, it’s just a nice touch.

  4. Welcome Letter Page

  5. Introduction – Could be the same thing as the Welcome Page’s letter

  6. Using this Guide – tips on getting the most from the material contained within

  7. Lists of best books for – whatever the subject matter is – use the cover images it’s more visual

  8. *Find 100 quotes (or less) and then depending on the length of your guide put them on every other page (I wanted to put my quotes on every other page of the 30 page booklet I am making for my Publishing Summit – thus decidedly, I needed 15 quotes – try to keep the location the same, and use same colors – this will give your guide visual uniformity

  9. *Use an action / business template (see examples here, and here) and then simply complete an example of that page (filled in) to show the readers, based on your own project/goal to be able to show the guide user what it looks like when it’s completed or to give people inspiration and some ideas on how to complete their own

  10. *Have a resource page. People love resources and references, (include books and websites, of course, but go a little above and beyond the norm to include links to videos, podcasts and perhaps even some transcripts.) Try to insert Bit.ly links if the guide will be printed to cut down on length and make people happier as they type in the links

  11. * Blank Calendar Pages – let people fill in their own numbers for the days

  12. *Daily pages – whatever a week layout looks like to you – if this is a planning-goal or action guide, you’ll want to give people ample space to record month to month or week to week accomplishments and goal tracking leading up to the big  date

  13. *Pictures of you working or images from stock photography sites – remember clip art and animated illustrations are great but think about the tone of your book and the message you are trying to get across. I’m personally annoyed at times by content that includes a lot of cartoonish images and neon colors. If you have a serious business subject matter, this does not fit, make a kids book instead -which would be totally cool too for kids to download and work on. For the adults, have real images of people working in the office setting are best.

  14. Lists – simply a page with numbered lines, or boxes big enough for users to record their own things on (please give enough space so it’s usable)

  15. *Notes page – always include a couple of blank pages, lined or not (and graph paper is also becoming very popular) to use – I LOVE graph paper

  16. Fill in the blank – this is great if you have an instructional video or webinar that goes along with your guide or workbook. However, one important caveat I have, is to either share what the content of the blanks are supposed to be in some fashion on your site, or make it very clear. For example, if you have a live video to supplement your guide – use the wording you use in the guide or alert the viewer to where this tidbit goes. You could say a simple phrase like this ” If you’re following along – page 5 of my guide -I’m going to highlight the ten principles you need to…. “. Then list every single one without too much extra verbiage in between. What’s better, you could also, in the video, just show the page completely filled out so people can pause it, complete their own and so they don’t have to guess whatever you were TRYING to get across

  17. Glossary – while words are going to change all the time, many industries have a set of certain words that people need to know – you may go one step further and include frequent words that you will be using throughout the guide if the reader will be new to the industry- my subject matter, Publishing, for example, has a LOT of words but many basic terms that people should know

  18. *Contact Me Page or Book List page (list your own books as an advertisement, or books that are your go-to advice/instruction for the subject matter you’re speaking on)

  19. Work with Me Page- this is similar to # 18 but not the same. The difference is what if you wanted to list your actual services and the pricing structure for that. The contact page would simply be all your social media handles, a phone number (if you share that outright), email address and your website information, etc. You could go one step further and include a page for people to fill out – an intake form that helps the user clarify what they want and answer questions you need to know in order to start working with them. Great if you have something you’re handing out as part of a presentation

  20.  Testimonials page – nothing like positive words from former user experiences to encourage others to get in line and pay up

  21. Toolkit – in my own toolkit, when you are stressed and worried and busy and it can be hard to remember to do the things that bring you joy. So spend time coming up with a list of those very things, – some things in my toolkit including Watching Youtube (NOT about anything writer related, watching a show I like that’s funny, shopping, resting for ten minutes, chair laid back and soft music I’ve preselected playing, sleeping late, eating my favorite comfort food, staycations and on and on) What’s yours? You could use a cool graphic, like a picture of an empty Mason jar, or empty tool box graphic (illustration here) and then have people fill in the jar/tool box with their own toolkit ideas or even images they cut out of their own favorite magazines if you were doing say- a vision board workbook or fitness workbook

  22. SWOT Analysis – boxes for a SWOT analysis can be used for a variety of different things

  23. List of professional organizations, clubs, and associations

  24.  10 Tips for: This or That / 10 Reasons You’re a … – lists are very popular, try to stick to shorter ones as it pertains to your subject

  25. Assessments and Quick Test – people love to answer a SHORT list of questions about their style or themselves – search assessments on line and see if you can use them or create your own series of questions to help people drill down on their own motivations and understand more about what they want/like and what propels them to action

  26. Tables – budget sheets/schedule list/blank timetable – so that people can examine how they spend their time (to find more writing time for example) or tracking income/expenses for a period of time

  27. Idea Generator page – These obviously come in many forms but I personally love those spider web types with the larger circle in the middle and then many offshoots of smaller circles for generating a connecting theme

  28. Technology list – list popular items and the logo, of what you may be using to get the job done for whatever the subject is about and links to where to purchase that technology or apps

  29. Case Study/Finding or Best Practice example – Frame or tell a story about someone’s history, experience, and background and how applying various principles helped to change their course/outlook or help them reach success

  30. Reference material – a list of any material that you utilize over and over again to help motivate/encourage, gather data or use frequently in your program/business

  31. *List of Festivals and Book Fests or whatever event your target group needs/should attend. Best-selling Romance Author Lisa London has a free downloadable (for subbies) list of all things romance conferences calendar found here.

  32. When all else fails, okay fine, I now hereby give you permission to: add a page or two for coloring. I personally think the Adult Coloring Craze has gone the way of the cupcake shop, cute at first but now a bit ridiculous. BUT, consider your subject matter and tone and intention; weigh for yourself, whether or not it is appropriate to add a page or two as it can be fun and can help alleviate stress if people need a doodle break. However, if you’re giving a talk or presenting this material and the guide is something you get at the registration desk, you’ll now need to add a box of crayons or colored pencils and that’s an added expense. 🙂 You don’t have to but you can get those same crayon packs they give out at restaurants, here.

Think of these 25+ SUGGESTIONS  as the template for your guide. Once you gather these components (or once you pick out the components YOU want for YOUR book) think about the layout as it will be easier to put together if you spend time gathering everything first and then you’ll simply be able to insert it in.

There are so many wonderful programs like Canva (and Publisher and Photoshop also) that make it very easy to create simple yet beautiful looking layouts and print materials but programs like MS Word, Pages and even the free programs (like Google Presentations -for Gmail account holders) and other basic software that you may use more frequently (and thus are more familiar with) will also work fine. Often, because of the ease of having all the text together, I will write the entire copy in word so I can move around and manipulate the text in one spot, and save it and spell check it. I will then usually copy and paste that text into my Canva layouts and add the pics and visuals last.

One final tip as far as the design, is to choose three colors and three fonts and try not to stray much from these. Remember, you want people to read and enjoy the content, not lament about the clashing text with too varied fonts and colors.

Have fun and good luck. Here’s to creating wonderful things meant to inspire and assist others in reaching their goals, enlightening them about a topic while upping your own following by offering these free compilations and tools to them. While early on I mentioned that I gave things without requiring a sign up to my newsletter or mailing list; when you first start out you should require it as it’s the surefire way to build your list. I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t like thousands of subscribers to their lists.

To see another book I did (and consequently another list of possible content), visit my DIY Paper Planner Blog Post here. That was fun too and I’m thinking about doing a mini half size version of the planner, this time with GRAPH PAPER as the note pages, YAY! I can’t wait.

When you just really don’t want to do this, well you can also simply outsource the project but you still need to have some ideas about what you want and this list can still help with that. Here, Wikipedia,  also has a list of content for a training manual.

I mentioned Upwork and Fiverr in my previous post, to find those that will complete design work for you but also ask friends/small biz owners and take a look through various Graphic Design focused Facebook groups to see samples of work from others.

Finally, here’s a FREE Marketing Checklist I have developed earlier this year. It appeared on a previous blog post but I wanted to ensure you had it. I’ve gotten lots of compliments on it, so Click to Enjoy.

I hope this last three weeks has been inspiring and informational. Good Luck on all your marketing efforts. YOU can do it!



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