Four Complete BS Myths About Creating Workbooks

Today we’re talking all about workbooks. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I am obsessed. I think they are an absolute necessity to anybody’s content based business (ESPECIALLY if you sell online courses).

Now this isn’t just your average “myths about xyz” blog post. We are diving deep into workbook creation and giving you a glimpse at how I use them in my own business. This post is a good one. Okay. Let’s jump in.

Myth #1: Workbooks and PDF’s don’t get the same return on investment as email courses and webinars.

I don’t create workbooks with the intention of just growing my email list (although they are GREAT at doing that too); I use workbooks to sell my products. The reason is workbooks have a very low barrier to entry for your audience. They don’t need a ton of convincing to download a two-page cheat sheet.

While a free webinar, email course, or video series works great for selling your product, your audience has to spend time digesting those materials. A PDF on the other hand, is a super easy to digest one or two-pager that your audience can go through in less than ten minutes.

Have you ever been hesitant to sign up for webinar because you didn’t know if it would waste two hours of your day?

The barrier to entry for a webinar, ebook, email course, summit, etc is much higher for most people than a simple workbook or cheatsheet.

For the example of launching, you want to segment as much of your list as “interested” for your new product as possible. This translates to more people receive your launch sequence and ultimately purchasing your product. If you only use a high barrier freebie, fewer people are going to opt in and your launch sequence just won’t hit as many people who may have been interested.

My lead magnet for my Workbook Workshop was the fastest signed up for opt-in I’ve ever had. And guess what? It was a PDF workbook!

Not only did it perform really well when I first released it, I been able to bring in loads of new people into my tribe due to the “buzz” the workbook created with my audience (the POWER of a super valuable PDF pack).

I was able to dramatically increase my daily average list growth. Why? It was a low barrier freebie that didn’t take a ton of time to consumer.

Webinars, email courses, and video series are great for selling, but they aren’t always the best at growing your interest list the fastest (at least not in my case). A lot of people just don’t have the time to sign up for a ten-day email course or a 2-hour webinar. Giving them a simple three-page cheat-sheet or a two-page checklist will solve their problem and give them a quick win so they know they can trust your expertise in the future (like when you ask them to a webinar).

But you may be thinking now…Cole…. Aren’t workbooks overdone and no longer as desirable? The answer is a big no.

It all comes down to positioning. If you throw up a landing page and say “free workbook”, you may not see the return you’re looking for. Just like how if you were to create a landing page and say “free branding webinar”. It just doesn’t do it.

Instead, we have to position and create our workbooks as a much higher quality “product”. Examples would be PDF packs, eKits, cheatsheet, checklist, swipe copy templates, etc. They need to solve a problem and not just be more “homework”. What is a problem they can sort out by going through your PDF?

Want some workbook design and positioning inspiration? I’m always posting my latest workbook designs over on my Instagram.


Myth #2: Workbooks can’t get my audience the same results as written or video content.

It all comes down to the problem you’re trying to solve. The purpose of a free PDF giveaway is to solve a major pain point in your audience’s life. Are they struggling with budgeting? Planning their first book? Defining their career goals? Create a workbook with a content path that leads them to the solution.

Also, one of the best ways to establish the know, like, and trust factor with your audience (crucial before selling anything), is to give them quick wins. A workbook or PDF with content that guides them from point A (where they are now) to point B (where they want to be) can work wonders. If you can easily solve a problem they’ve been struggling with in a simple worksheet, what would that do for your relationship with them?

For example…

Let’s just say your ideal customer has no idea how to create a Facebook ads campaign and they don’t have the time for a free email course, webinar, or video series (especially if they have built no relationship with you). But they see a simple two-page cheat sheet on setting up your first campaign. They download the cheat sheet and it gives them four phases to set up your Facebook ads with a checklist under each phase. They implement, and make their first sale! A win for you and them.

The person is now so much more likely to sign up for your webinar or video series where you sell your flagship program because they have already had a quick win from you.

To sum it up, creating a free workbook/cheatsheet/checklist/digital download ahead of your launch works great to build up an interest list as well as building trust so that you promote your webinars and video series, you have a group of people who are more interested.


Myth #3: Creating workbooks is a ton of effort and requires hard to use software.

By now, I probably have convinced you the workbooks and PDF’s are amazing and you want to implement more of them ASAP but… you are scared by the daunting task of creating it on top of the software it would take.

The first step is to grab my Workbook Creation Kit here. This will help you layout and create the content of your PDF freebies.

I also want to tell you that creating workbooks within InDesign can be so much more efficient than in other programs. InDesign was built for printable goods. The tools within the program are optimized for people who want to create print materials. I think the reason why it can seem so daunting is because there is so much information on how to use InDesign that isn’t relevant to content and course creators.

I think the reason why it can seem so daunting is because there is so much information on how to use InDesign that isn’t relevant to content and course creators. If the software is too much for you to learn by yourself, I have an entire workshop on using InDesign. It includes over 90-minutes of InDesign tech training along with copy + paste InDesign templates and bonus tech tutorials. You can click here to learn more.

After the workshop, I felt so much more comfortable with using InDesign to create workbooks.
– Sarah of The Diploma Project


Myth #4: My audience wouldn’t want to download a workbook or PDF.

Okay, maybe they wouldn’t want a “workbook” but again, it comes does to how you create and position your PDF’s.

If you’re a food blogger, you can create a free eCookbook and give it away for free to build your list or build hype around a launch. Heck… you could even sell it! If you’re a finance blogger, you can create budget spreadsheets using InDesign. A style blogger? Create a Fall 2016 Lookbook with affiliate links (yes you can add links to PDF’s using InDesign) to each item. A mom blogger? Planners!

My point? You can get crazy creative when it comes to creating workbooks, PDF’s, and digital downloads for your audience. And the best program to create these in? InDesign. When you have the skills to create these resources, you have a low barrier way for casual readers of your website to become part of your tribe.

Ready to create some incredible workbooks?

Now that you know the myths, I have created a detailed free Workbook Creation Kit for you.

Whether you’re looking to create a worksheet as a content upgrade to your new blog post, a PDF lead magnet to generate interest for your new launch, or even creating a product that you can sell, the task of laying out, designing, and execution seem daunting.

The kit will lay out exactly what to include in each of your workbooks (down to the pages), the tools and resources you’ll need to get started, as well as a helpful activity for creating your workbook purpose, name, and content. Click here to grab the kit.

My goal is that you read this and you’re ready to take action. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. 🙂 I’d also love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the myths.

Want more workbook creation knowledge? Check out my complete workshop on creating workbooks from scratch with InDesign by clicking here.


  • Avatar
    Loved this blog post Cole! I am super excited about creating tons of different workbooks now. This blog post provided so much clarity plus it shows a behind the scenes. The email list growth is amazing. Great job.
    • Avatar
      Thanks Shazeen! Can't wait for you to implement some more workbooks!

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