Last week I was talking about the best ways to boost engagement on your list, but for a lot of entrepreneurs the more pressing concern is how to encourage people to subscribe in the first place. And a couple of weeks ago I was sharing with you the best types of lead magnets to use to grow your list.

While lead magnets are incredibly powerful they are also very time consuming to create and tend to require a lot of resources. They also need to be relatively generic so that they are relevant for most if not all of your ideal clients.

Content Upgrades offer an easy and simple way to consistently build your list by offering an opt-in at the end of your blog posts. These offers will be directly relevant to the blog post your audience are reading, and as such are pretty much guaranteed to be something people are interested in reading more about right then, in the moment.

They’re also much faster to create and don’t require nearly as much in the way of time and resources.

And yet, so many entrepreneurs aren’t using this super-simple list-building tactic because of the need to design content upgrades.

It can be a daunting prospect.

Luckily, it’s incredibly easy to do with one great and freely available tool: Canva.

And the best part? It will take you less than 30 minutes…

How To Create A Content Upgrade In Canva

Create A New Document

Go to Canva and login. If you don’t have an account you will need to create one – it is free, although you can upgrade to a paid version with more options for $10/month. Everything I’m doing here can be done in the free version!

Once you’re logged in you will see a quick access bar at the top of the page:

From here you can create all the most commonly used file types and sizes. If you can’t see what you want, click ‘More’ and it will load the full library, and if you need something very specific you can click the ‘Use Custom Dimensions’ button and add your own size specifications.

For this example we’re going to create an A4 document, so select the ‘A4’ template in the middle of the options.

It will open a new tab containing a blank document. To the left side you will find the toolbar, which will default to show you templates you can use. You can absolutely load one of these up and use it to create your content upgrade, but I’m going to walk you through how to do one from scratch for two reasons:

  1. You might not like any of the layouts and want to create your own.
  2. It will show you how to do everything needed to fully customise an existing template to your brand and requirements.

The name of your document will default to the type of template you’ve used and ‘untitled document’. In this case it’s ‘A4 – Untitled Document’. If you look at the top of the page you will see this towards the right hand side. Click on it and a blank dialogue box will appear called ‘Design title’. Add your own custom title for the document here – this is really important if you’re going to be creating more than one (and believe me, you will!), as it helps you see at a glance which is which even if they look very similar in the preview.

Create Your Cover Page

Now you have your document setup you will want to start by creating an eye-catching cover page. I like to use a full page image as the cover and then add a title section over it. To do this, go to the ‘Elements’ tab on the left side of the page, and select ‘Grids’:

A selection of different options will appear giving you a choice of how you divide the page. There are loads of combinations to play around with but for this one I’m going to use the very first option, which adds a frame the full size of the page:

Now you will want to add a section for your title. You can add text directly over your image, but this can make it very difficult to read your title and you want it to grab people’s attention, and clearly indicate what your content upgrade is.

That means adding something between your image and your text. There are a few things you can do but the simplest is to add a colour block. Go to the ‘Elements’ tab again, and select ‘shapes’ this time:

You will be shown a wide selection of different shapes to choose from. Circles can work very well, and there are more elaborate options like stars, but the simplest choice is often the best. Here I’ve selected a square. Click on it and the edges will offer you options to resize, with a rotate button located in the centre of the bottom edge. You can also click and drag to move your shape around. I’ve moved this one to the very bottom of the page and resized it so that it creates a nice bold bar across the base:

To add your title text, to to the ‘Text’ tab on the left side of the page. There are three default sizes of font that appear, a large title, a small regular size, and a medium subheading size.

Select the largest, add the title of your content upgrade, and position it over you colour block. You can change the colour of both your text and any shapes you create by clicking the item you want to change, then the coloured square at the top of the page. A dropdown will appear with a range of options to choose from. You can click the + button and add the hex code of your brand colours, or use one of the existing options:

Now, return to the ‘Text’ tab and add a subheading. Change the colour to your desired brand colour, and make sure it’s the right size. It’s likely you will need to change the font sizes on text from the default, which you can do using the drop down font size menu located towards the top left:

You can also change the font you are using to your brand font by using the dropdown font menu next to it. If your fonts don’t appear in the dropdown it’s because they’re not standard fonts carried by Canva. (The premium version allows you to upload custom fonts, and set a lot of brand defaults like fonts, colours and logos.)

Make sure both your titles are in your brand fonts and colours, in the best size, and positioned nicely in the box: