How to Create Incredible Workbooks

It sounds surprising but workbooks have been the foundation of my online brand’s growth… More specifically, the workbook offers I give away on my website and other channels in the form of content upgrades and lead magnets.

These offers take the form of cheatsheets, checklists, fillable workbooks, and my signature Workbook Creation Kit.

People seem confused though when I tell them this. Workbooks? Yep. 🙂

In fact, my free workbook offers have helped me…

  • Grow my email list by thousands of people
  • Consistently generate new leads every day
  • Fill my funnels and marketing campaigns with targeted prospects
  • Engage my audience and get them excited about a specific topic
  • Sell my products and programs (keep reading to learn more about my “thank you page”)

The reason why these workbook offers have proven so successful for me is because they are what I call a “low-barrier opt-in”. I teach you all about this when you sign up for my free Workbook Creation Kit here.

In short, your audience has less of a commitment to make when deciding to sign up for your free workbook or digital download. This leads to higher conversion rates and more people on your email list, consuming your promotional content, hearing about your webinars, and investing in your training programs and coaching.

In this blog post, I want to walk you through the five steps I take in order to develop and create these workbooks. Let’s jump in.

1. Start with your why

I believe the most important step in planning your workbook is figuring out how this will benefit your brand. Before you spend the time creating it, I want you to look at the benefits you hope to achieve by releasing this offer.

My best advice is to create a free workbook offer for each one of your signature products (or potential products if you’re just starting out).

2. Outline Questions + Content

Not only does your worbook need to accomplish something, they need to solve a problem for your audience. Guys, this is a necessity. If your workbook doesn’t solve a problem, it is not worth creating. The point of a workbook is not to create more work.

Some examples of solutions your workbook could have:

Guide somebody through the steps of creating a mission statement. For example… What are you passionate about? How can you use this passion to help others? How can you phrase that to better describe that to people who might be interested? Goal = ACCOMPLISHED.

Help somebody follow along with you webinar content. By creating fill in the blank questions, you make it easier on your viewers so they don’t have to use a lined notebook to write stuff down. For example… What are the three reasons you need to be implementing contents upgrades into your business? So now when you go over the slide with the three reasons you need to be implementing content upgrades, they can jot the three reasons down. This engages keeps people engaged in your content and they leave the webinar with some actionable steps and a workbook full of quality notes.

Help somebody plan out their email course. If you know the best way to create an amazing email course and want to guide people through the step by step process of creating their own, worksheets are THE solution. You can help them create a funnel to sell their paid product or guide them through creating actionable lesson ideas.

Probably should mention these are just to help you understand the whole “solve a problem” concept. I don’t know if these are even something people create.

3. Set up your document

Possibly one of the most daunting parts of the worksheet creation process is creating your document. If you want all the step by step training on creating workbooks with InDesign, I’m hosting a live two day workshop this weekend. It’s going to be amazing. 🙂

I loveeee using InDesign to create worksheets. It is such a powerful program and has some of the most amazing features for making amazing PDF’s (insert emoji with those heart eyes).

If you’re like me and want to use InDesign for alllll of your printable worksheets, here are the settings I use to setup my document.

 

 

You can also design your worksheets in Apple Pages or Canva, but I am so in love with all of InDesign’s features, I could never switch.

4. Adding Content

I’m going to mention this again; make sure your workbook solves a problem. For my Design for Creatives course workbook, I added in a brand design checklist that went along with lesson four. It helps the students digest the info given in that lesson, which helps solve a problem.

You can add in guided exercises, checklists, to-do’s, calendars, etc.

If you’re creating a workbook longer than a few pages, there are some extra items you’ll want to add in. Here are a few:

A workbook name. Create a product out of your workbook. If you create an AMAZING workbook, you’ll want to share it everywhere. I don’t want to say something along the lines of “the worksheets that went along with that email”. No, I would want to say the Design for Creatives Planning + Strategy Course Workbook. You can also trying doing a unique name with a descriptive tagline. For example, Brand Vision Workbook: Guided Exercises to find your unique brand vision. Call it something epic so people want it so bad they have to download it.

A branded cover page. If you add a branded cover to your workbook, it make it feel a lot more quality. It’s going to look more intentional than a stack of worksheets. 

 

Click the photo to grab a copy of my free Workbook Creation Kit.

 

Page numbers for workbooks longer than three or five pages. I hate it when I drop my newly printed out 20-page workbook on the ground. Luckily, most of the time, the pages are all numbered so I can put it back in the right order. Problem solved. Make sure to be adding page numbers to your workbooks so people don’t have to pull their hair out if they misplace a sheet or two. 

Your brand name on every page. Don’t let somebody steal your work. No joke.

A section for notes. This let’s people jot down extra points that they want to remember. DON’T MAKE THEM GRAB THEIR LINED NOTEBOOK. That defeats the purpose of an easy to use workbook. Let me note that this would only be necessary if you’re giving lots of information on, for example, an email or live workshop.

Again, make sure your workbook content solves a problem. Kind of important.

5. Save and Deliver 

Once you have finished your workbook, save as a PDF. I prefer to save as a print-ready PDF if I know people will be printing it out.

If you want to upload it to your WordPress website, then you’ll first need to add it to your media library.

 

Add Media

 

Then you’ll want to click on the item, and copy the link they give you to your workbook.

 

 

Now, just copy and share the link to whoever you want!

So do you want all of the super & crazy in-depth trainings and tutorials on creating these workbook step-by-step? In Workbook Workshop, my complete course on creating workbooks in InDesign, I go into how to…

  • Outline your workbook content and create engaging questions
  • Use InDesign’s tools and features
  • Create and set up your document
  • Create a branded cover page
  • Create Master Pages to save you hours of time
  • Create complex layouts super easily
  • Save your workbook for easy printing by your audience
  • Deliver your workbook to readers
  • Promote your workbook
  • and lots more epic + actionable content

 

Are you interested in joining the workbook creation party?  Do you feel like InDesign’s learning curve is holding you back? Do you want to create more engaging workbooks so that your audience will WANT to print it out? How about creating a piece of work that is beautiful and fits your brand? Then check out Workbook Workshop.

 


 

I also have an amazing eKit for you on creating awesome workbooks. Click here to grab it.

 

22 Comments

  • Avatar
    LOVE this post Cole! I love creating workbooks, but oddly enough I've never sat down and outlined what I want them to achieve or what I really want my audience to get out of them. I definitely need to start doing that, I know it will add so much value! Also, this is my favorite line of this post: "I hate it when I drop my newly printed out 20-page workbook on the ground." LOL, me too :)
    • Avatar
      Cole
      Thanks for sharing the post! I find outlining my workbook before I begin is sooo helpful! P.S. That was my favorite line of the post too! :)
  • Avatar
    I'm super excited about the Workbook Workshop! I've used ID to create a handful of projects in the past, but it's not quite second nature to me yet. I'm really looking forward to learning some new tips & tricks!
    • Avatar
      Cole
      Yay! Katie, I'm excited too!
  • Avatar
    This great Cole! I am super excited for Saturday I am ready to become the workbook/worksheet queen. I am eager to gain a new skill this should be really exciting!
    • Avatar
      Cole
      Angie, I am sooo excited too! Glad you're going to be there!
    • Avatar
      Cole
      Awesome Julie! :)
  • Avatar
    Love ALL your awesome content on your site Cole! I reached you via Regina and I feel like I have the most generous A-Team in my back pocket now. I'm moving from 1-1 coaching and creating products to help more clients for less and I cannot WAIT to get started designing my worksheets, templates, workbooks, e-courses and more with your help. Thank you thank you. :)
    • Avatar
      Cole
      Holly! I didn't see this until now but it made my day! :) Are you joining for round two of Workbook Workshop? I couldn't remember if you joined in last time.
  • Avatar
    Great post! You've got my wheels turning did some content Is never though if making til now. Thanks!
    • Avatar
      Cole
      Thanks Jenny!
  • Avatar
    Thank you Cole! Just found you via teachable. Love your offerings, you've done an excellent job teaching and giving away quality content.
    • Avatar
      Cole
      Thanks so much Sharon! So glad you're enjoying the content. Let me know if you ever need anything! :)
  • Avatar
    Natasa
    Anyway, your content is great. Useful and, above all, interesting and easy to use. Thanks for that.
  • Avatar
    Nicole
    Which INDESIGN feature did you get/purchase? They have several plans to choose from that ramge from $9.99 to $79?
    • Avatar
      Cole Hennen
      I recommend their $19.99/month subscription to just InDesign alone. For me personally, I like to have the entire suite, but that is a bit more expensive (and only worth it if you're using multiple programs).
  • Avatar
    Katie
    Hey Cole. Great post - thank you. Following on Pinterest :-) Katie
    • Avatar
      Cole Hennen
      Thank you for the support. :)
  • Avatar
    Kimberly
    Hi Cole, I am super excited to get started thanks for the free download! I am so ready I joined your workshop too, just waiting on my email so I can get busy! I am also following you here on Pinterest Kimberly S
  • Avatar
    I have noticed you don't monetize colehennen.com, don't waste your traffic, you can earn additional bucks every month with new monetization method. This is the best adsense alternative for any type of website (they approve all sites), for more info simply search in gooogle: murgrabia's tools
  • Avatar
    Louise Rountree
    Hello! When is your next work shop? Please send me man email with more information. Thank You! Louise Rountree

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