What to expect

PDFs are the #1 tool that businesses are using to get some attention from potential customers these days.
I'm of the mind that in most cases, using a PDF isn't the best tool for the job. Read on to learn why using a PDF for your opt-in might be an absolute FAIL!

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The internet largely agrees that attraction and engagement plans are two of the most important things that you can develop to create a sustainable business, right now.

A big part of that strategy for most businesses begins with a downloadable PDF, because as a business owner, you recognize that your time is finite and that you need a scalable way to attract, engage, and nurture budding customer relationships.

Just like Baskin-Robbins’ little pink spoon delivers free ice cream samples, your opt-in is a brilliant way to deliver a free sample of your services and can tell people a lot about what to expect from your business.

According to a 2017 study from Episerver, 9 out of 10 people aren’t going to buy something the first time they visit a website, even if they went there JUST TO BUY SOMETHING. Additionally, 32% of those same people will never make a purchase.

When is the last time you bought a service from a company without really knowing who they are and what they’re about?

But does your pink spoon HAVE to be a pdf?

Signs point to no and here’s why:

Reason 1. PDFs aren’t digital.

I get it. PDFs are easy to make! All you need is access to a word processor and “Save as” to convey your thoughts and ideas pretty quickly.

That said, providing people with a PDF is, essentially, just giving them a piece of paper in the digital space. A PDF that, once delivered is just there… incapable of providing the end-user with an experience.

Reason 2. No feedback loop.

Your audience has the information – now what? If your free sample has an actionable purpose, you’ll find that you can prompt people to do things, but other than that PDFs are mostly cosmetic and don’t make a great medium to lead people back to you.

The whole point of signing up for email marketing and figuring out how to make a link that people can use to download that thing and all the other things you created around this content is to nurture your relationship by engaging with those people. A couple of hyperlinks (if you’ve got some in there) aren’t encouraging that.

Reason 3. You actually like your people.

The idea of delayed gratification is lost on most of the internet. Content creators, in particular, bow to this perceived need for immediacy by making sure that “Get it now!” is an incredibly literal phrase

— BUT —

Your opt-in is a free sample of your business. Delivery of a product or service, i.e. doing business, is all about moving nouns (people, places, & things) from one state to another.

If you run a restaurant you move people from hungry to fed. Giving them a free sample of the food still puts food in their mouths.

You like your potential customers so you’re not going to give them an excuse to use up some ink, fill their trash (digital and physical) with more paper, or give them questions or checkboxes that they can’t complete.

Other strategies for your free sample

1. Send people to a web page.

This page [the one you’re reading now] is publicly available on the internet. I have it set to non-index, meaning you can’t just google it, but if you have the link, you can visit anytime.


  1. Create a page and set it to NOT be indexed by search engines like Google, et al.
  2. Create your subscriber sign-up form with a nice call to action
  3. Set the form to redirect to the page when the user signs up

ONE MORE THING (optional, but a great idea)

Set up an email to automatically go out to new subscribers with the same link and an additional call-to-action to discuss their thoughts with you!

2. Share a private podcast.

I HIGHLY suggest this for people who already have a podcast, or whose work is largely coaching and facilitation-based.


  1. Tools like Hello Audio make it easy because you can use Zapier to automatically give people access (and take it away) when they use your subscriber form.
  2. You can use CloudApp, Zoom, or Loom to record, download the recording (audio and/or video) and just send them a link to a public file in Dropbox, or Google Drive.
  3. Another great idea for a LIVE version of this is to send new subscribers an invite to a closed Clubhouse room!

3. Make a Notion template.

Now, THIS is another one of my favorite BOSS moves. If you’re not familiar, allow me to introduce you to a power tool that I love 🥰   It’s called Notion 💡 and Notion is a versatile and freemium online tool for creators that is kinda like old-school, pre-ribbon Microsoft decided to merge Word, Excel, and Access into one program AND make it easy to use 🤯

Here are the opt-in use-cases that I can think of in the next few minutes that would get an automatic, “use Notion” from me:

  • ✅  Checklist – complete with editable and reusable checkboxes
  • ✅  Web page – type your text and then just click “Share” in the top right corner
  • ✅  Editable/fillable form – just type a question and leave a blank space where people who copy your template can just start typing
  • ✅  ALL OF THE ABOVE!! Embed or upload audio, video, images, and other kinds of content, add some text and share it out.

With Notion, you don’t need to be a web developer, or even very tech-savvy in order to create online pages with whatever mix of content types that you desire and I can’t recommend it enough!

Click the link below and opt into my audience if you’d like me to show you how to use Notion to take over the world.

Good if you are. . .

  • not familiar with, or are curious about Notion OR
  • just want more info on free stuff that you can start using now to build your empire OR
  • wanna snag your copy of my opt-in planner today

Final thoughts. Let us help you Plan YOUR Opt-in

In the spirit of showing off MY favorite opt-in strategy, I’ve created a very simple Notion template that you can use to plan your opt-in. It’s pretty meta, I know, but opt-in to my mailing list to get access to the RJ Lewis Digital Resource Library and my monthly(ish) email, Technobalance. 🤓