E-book, Sales Funnel Creation

How to Design a Free E-book That Grows Your Email List (Complete Guide)

 June 30, 2016

By  Peter Nyiri

Here are some stats for you.

After analyzing hundreds of survey responses, I found that 81.76% of my visitors want to “Grow an Audience” so they can sell e-books and online courses.

That’s a big number. My bet is you want to do the same. I’m going to show you how to grow your audience by giving away a high quality guide that you create using the programs you already own – and probably use every day.

..plus a few things I’m going to give you for free.

But, Why Give Away an E-book?

There so much you can give away and we can get into a whole discussion about which one is better, easier, faster, more effective. The point is to offer something of value (for free) in exchange for the email address. You’ve heard this before – possibly hundreds of times.

You need to build your list. You don’t have a business unless you have a list of subscribers that have given you permission to email them – and this is true. Most successful businesses have a database of subscribers or customers that they can market to by sending out promotional emails.

But it doesn’t necessarily have to be an e-book. You can give away:

  • an email course
  • an audio course
  • a discount code
  • free software
  • 15 minute consultation

The lead magnet can be anything that will compel your website visitors to give you their contact information and sign up for your email newsletter – I’m just using an e-book as an example because I think that’s where most people start.

…and because you can get some pretty amazing results doing so. Here’s what happened after I started giving away my ‘10 Steps to Online Course‘ PDF guide.

growth subscribers ebook


Today I’m going to show you how I created my brand new PDF guide from scratch. Enjoy!

How to Design Your E-book Inside PowerPoint

I’m on a Windows PC so I’ll be showing you how to use Microsoft PowerPoint to design your free e-book. If you’re on a MAC, then you already have Apple Pages and Keynote installed on your computer (you can follow along since the options are pretty similar).

I only worry about 6 things when I start designing an e-book inside PowerPoint:

  1. The Layout
  2. The Cover
  3. The Background
  4. The Spacing
  5. The Font
  6. The Images

…and of course the content, but I’m assuming you’re giving people some amazing content that will actually help them. I’ll talk about images and fonts later on, right now I’m going to talk about the cover, the background and the spacing.

These 3 things can make your e-book look high quality and professional if you do it right. Most people think PowerPoint is just a presentation software – and that’s what it was intended for – but in my opinion it has many more features that make it the ultimate e-book creation tool.

Even better than Microsoft Word… check out what I did using very simple PowerPoint features.

powerpoint screenshot


Choose Your E-book Layout

First let’s talk e-book layouts.

This is a pretty easy decision to make. You either want to create a portrait style e-book or a landscape style e-book.

I generally like the landscape style guides because it gives me more flexibility when it comes to adding images and visual content. But in this case I went with portrait. Let me show you how to choose your e-book layout.

orientation selection powerpoint

Now that you have your e-book layout, let’s move on.

Add an E-book Cover

In order for the cover to fit perfectly on your first page, the size of the cover needs to be: Width 1536 px by Height 2048 px

I created the cover you see above in Photoshop using a stock image, a color overlay and free fonts. Nothing fancy. You can also use the templates of a free tool called Design Wizard for creating your covers (see tutorial). You won’t have to create them from scratch.

Change the Background

The background needs to be the same size, but I recommend using minimal colors to give your e-book a sophisticated and cleaner look.

As you can see from the screenshot above, the content pages are mostly white space with a blue border at the top left hand corner and at the bottom.

Get the Right Spacing

Another way to give your e-book a sophisticated cleaner look is to add ample space between your headlines, main content, and page borders.

This space can be added by creating text boxes that only cover the middle of the page. This makes the e-book easier to read. Here’s how to add the e-book cover, the background images, and the spacing.

  1. Right click on the slide and select Format Background
  2. Then select Picture Fill
  3. Open up the Background for that slide (in this case it’s the e-book cover)
  4. Click on close to save it


If you want to add additional slides to your PowerPoint E-book, all you have to do is create a new slide, add a different background and duplicate that slide over and over – depending on how many pages your e-book is going to be.

  1. Then go to your blank slide and select the Text Box tool (shown below)
  2. Click and drag your mouse to create a text box
  3. Don’t go near the edges to give your content ample white space and a clean look and feel


…that’s it.

You can now start typing away. Keep in mind this free e-book you’re creating is the first transaction you’re going to have with potential customers. This free content needs to be as good as your paid content.

You need to WOW them with value and over-deliver to keep them coming back for more.

Let’s move on to images..

Adding High Quality Images to Your E-book

Images make your e-book come alive.

They help illustrate your points a lot clearer – we are visual creatures, so it only makes sense to add screenshots, graphs, and visually appealing photos.

Screenshots with Skitch: The first thing you’ll notice about this post is that it includes a lot of screenshots. I do that to make it easier for you to understand the information and take action. The same can be done for your free e-book. (…and I should take my own advice because my 6 step guide doesn’t have any screenshots)

It’s mostly instructional, but that’s neither here nor there. I use Skitch to grab screenshots of any webpage, programs or area on my desktop. Once you install the free program all you have to do is click on Screen Snap, then click and drag any area of your desktop and let go.

screenshot-skitchIcons & Stock Photos: The second thing you’ll noticed on this site and inside my 6-step guide is the stock images and icons I use throughout.

For this I recommend the websites listed below:

  1. PikWizard
  2. Gratisography
  3. Death to the Stockphoto
  4. Unsplash
  5. Freepik

photos-screenshotpikHere you can search for, download and use any image or photo you want. Some of them have terms of usage so be sure to read their specific guidelines when adding them to your website or e-book.

Most of the time you can just credit the photographer with a link back to the image itself – which is fairly easy to do. Adding them to your free guide is also fairly simple. Inside of PowerPoint, go to Insert > Picture – search for the image in your computer and Open it.

insertpicture ppt shot

Once it’s on the PowerPoint page/slide, you can move it around, re-size it and place it exactly where you want it to be.

What about fonts?

Fonts 101: How to Choose the Best Font Combination for Your E-book

I won’t spend too much time on this because fonts shouldn’t be something you think about for hours.

I like having 2 fonts throughout the entire e-book. The headline font and the text font. Generally, you want these fonts to be very different from each other so the content is easier to scan and skim through. Here’s what I mean:

sanserif-serif-fontFor the headlines inside my 6-step guide I use a Serif font called Chaparral Pro which is already installed in all Windows and MACs today. For the text font I used Calibri Light – also a default font inside all Windows and MACs.

However, if you want to get fancy and use fonts nobody else using, you can go to DaFont.com and download new fonts for free. They have thousands of fonts to choose from and if you’re a design-nerd like me, expect to spend a lot of time looking for awesome new fonts.

Here are just a few new ones that were added recently:

choose your ebook-fontsOnce you find the ones you want, install them and use them on your free e-book (again, make sure to follow their terms of use).

Whether you use fonts already installed on your computer or new ones, the most important thing is that the content is legible. Don’t use fancy fonts for your main text, it might be a pain to read.

Additional E-book Page Templates You Can Use

In addition to the content pages and images, you might also want to add quotes, action steps and checklists to your e-book. This will not only make your e-book stand out from all the other crappy stuff in the market, but it will increase the usefulness of your content.

1. Quote Pages – these are pages that share an inspiring quote that sums up the content inside that chapter or section of the e-book. You can search on Google for “KEYWORD quotes” and you’ll get thousands of results to choose from.

To do this you can follow the exact steps I taught you before. Create a background image that matches the size of your e-book and set it as your slide background. Then add a text box to the page and insert the quote. Boom!

Here’s what a quote page looks like:


2. Action items – These are important if you want your subscribers to take action as soon as they download your free e-book. You can either have action steps break up your content in between chapters, or you can have action items at the end of your guide.

The action steps can also be a summary of what they learned, which can be displayed as a checklist.

3. Checklists – These are very helpful for people who want everything they read in one place. To do this just grab your main points and list them from beginning to end. People will appreciate this especially if your e-book is super long.

Here’s what a checklist or action step page can look like:


Converting Your Free E-book to PDF

It’s time to convert your e-book into a file format that other people can read, but not edit. Once again PowerPoint makes this super easy to do. (MS Word, Pages and Keynote also allow you to do this)

This is the file you’ll be sending people once they sign up for your email list – that’s the whole idea behind creating this free guide, isn’t it?

So here’s how to do it:

Go to File > Save As… and select PDF under Save as Type. (screenshot below).

save as pdf


Take that file and upload it to DropBox, AmazonS3 or your own WordPress website and set your email marketing service to deliver that link to them once they sign up.

For a complete video guide on how to set up your email lead generation process, check out my list building tutorial.

Final Step: Make Your Free E-book Irresistible

This step is optional, but it helps big time.

Having a visual representation of the e-book you’re giving away will compel more people to sign up to your email list to get it. Below is the download link to the same PSD file I used to create the iPad mockup I have on my site.


You’re going to need Photoshop (and a little bit of Photoshop experience) to do this. If you don’t have neither, go to Fiverr.com and hire someone for $5 to design this iPad Mockup cover for you.

That’s it. It’s done. It’s over. Finito. No more.

This guide includes everything you need to create a free e-book that will grow your email list.

Don’t let technology stop you. You already have and use the programs you need to create this e-book, you just have to do the work. (and that’s the hard part). When you’re done designing your free e-book, let me know in the comments. (link to it if you like).

Now get to work. 🙂

Peter Nyiri

Peter Nyiri

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