Setting up a Newsletter with Freebies for Free

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mailchimp newsletter w: secret freebie blog page for free

A couple of weeks ago I posted about my New to Blogging Resource Guide. In that post, I talked about how I was setting up a new newsletter for Made in a Day. I have read a few books on email marketing including the one I reviewed in the post above about how to set up a newsletter with a series of autoresponder welcome emails. The emails arrive every other day or so to introduce the blog to new readers and giving away a freebie to entice the subscriber to join a community.

In the past, my email list wasn’t something I really paid a lot of attention to. I had heard throughout the last few years that social media following was more important and to nurture those outlets instead of email subscribers. I’m not selling a product so I never focused on the email followers of my blog. Well, that was just dumb thinking. I now realize that email subscribers are your most valuable following. Email gives you a more intimate way of connecting with the people who want to see more of your blog.

Setting up a Newsletter with Freebies for Free

Ok, so now what?

I had to decide whether or not I wanted to invest a ton of money on an email service. Eventually, I know I will have to upgrade in the future as my blog grows. But right now I able to use the free version of Mailchimp, which means my subscriber’s list is under the pay plan limit. So in order to get the special features, the paid Mailchimp accounts have, like autoresponder emails that arrive in a series and being able to upload and store freebies as a gift to new subscribers, I would have to upgrade.

But why upgrade, if you aren’t ready yet?

I do not want to pay the extra monthly fees for those features when I’m not out of the free plan yet. So I researched and came up with another solution. There are ways around the autoresponders that make you look as if you are using them. And, you will be able to host a hidden freebie page from your very own blog without upgrading to the paid Mailchimp plan when you don’t need to yet!

Sorry, this post is a little lengthy.

I’ll try to make this as simple as possible.

First sign up for a Mailchimp account, if you haven’t already. Next step is going to the page provided by Mailchimp to get started on how to set up a  newsletter. Please read that first if you are not familiar with Mailchimp or do not have your lists section set up yet.

Ok, so you have your email list set up, ready to go, etc. Let’s move onto setting up your sign up forms and responder emails. On the right top of your Mailchimp dashboard click on “Lists“.

Click Sign up


Next to the list you are going to use for the newsletter, {on the far right} click the grey drop down and choose Sign Up Forms. Then choose General Forms.


forms & response

Click on the grey drop down Forms and Response Emails“. When it opens you will see a long list of forms to fill out. Each one of these needs to be customized by you. Some you can omit and never use, that will be up to you. Add your blog logo, your own wording, pics etc. Personalizing these make them, well more personal. These are your faux autoresponders, so make them pretty and welcoming.

*You could also keep track of new subscribers and send a series of “get to know me” emails in a series of campaigns on Mailchimp. It may be a little time consuming but it is possible. I prefer to jump right in and share my latest content in newsletter form.*

Next lets set up the freebie. In the paid feature plan of Mailchimp you get email autoresponders and an option to upload the freebie to be saved on your Mailchimp account and they give it to the subscriber when your welcome emails arrive in their inbox. The free version of Mailchimp doesn’t get those privileges, so we are going to host it ourselves on our own blog for FREE! And we are going to hide it so not everyone can find it and get it without signing up.

So let’s get started. Go to your blog and create a new page. Name it whatever you want. Some people do a series of letters so the URL is scrambled. I named mine “Yay you made it”!  Add your freebies etc. to the page, I made a series of printables: Some Wall art Printables, Blog Tracking Sheets and a Home To-Do List Set.


password page

For WordPress users, after you set up the page, you want to make the page password protected. On the top right of view of the page, click “edit‘ next to visibility, check password protected and choose a password then publish/update.

I worried about Google picking up the URL and people somehow finding my secret page, so I did not fill out my Yoast SEO plugin form on the bottom of that page at all. Then in the advanced settings check Meta Robot “Unfollow”.

**UPDATE** Not using the Simply Exclude Plugin anymore and everything is hidden just fine>

There is also a great plugin to hide posts from your blogs own search box. So for extra security you can add the Simply Exclude plugin as well, this will block the hidden post’s keywords so your blogs search box won’t find and retrieve them. I am paranoid so I have all three security measures going on, I’m sure just the password would suffice.

Link to password page

Now go back to Mailchimp, in the series of “Forms and Respond Emails” drop-down, when you fill out the Confirmation “Thank You ” Page, this is actually the “Subscription Confirmation page“. This is where you thank the subscribers for signing up, welcome them to your community and add your url link of the password protected page you created on your blog to share your freebies. Do not forget to tell them the password in this email. In addition to my bundles I also give away a freebie each month exclusively to email subscribers, so I made a password protected page for that as well, it is also included on this page for them to access.

Test your email through Mailchimp. Test your passwords! Make sure the series of emails and confirmations are what you want and have all the links a new subscriber would need. I have my newsletter set to send out on Wednesdays at 2pm. They are RSS feed emails, but I add news, upcoming special dates, etc. to them weekly.

I have a newsletter sign up form on my sidebar, FB page and at the end of each post. The plugin for the subscription box on my posts is Opt-in Forms. It is the simplest one I found to configure that looks like it’s custom made to my theme. If you would like to see how my series of emails work and to get my Free Bundles & Freebie of the Month! Please sign up below! I would love to have you as one of my exclusive followers!

Love it? Pin it!

Mailchimp for free





  1. This is really helpful. I have to tweak it a bit because I’m not a wordpress user, but it should still work the same way. Originally I had freebies set up through gumroad but now I’m going to move them through an opt-in like this while offering a premium version with much more product through a storefront. I love making freebies available for people and giving back to the community, but I do have a lot of premium quality content and designs that I don’t feel comfortable giving away. They have more value to my audience and value to me, so that’s why I’m changing things up. And I’m like how can I do this opt-in subscription thingy I see for free when I’m not willing to upgrade yet?

  2. Thank you so much for doing this! I think it would have taken me a VERY long time to figure out on my own :) Now my printables page is password protected and mailchimp is all set up! I’ve been meaning to do that forever.

  3. This is such good info! Thank you so much for sharing it at Tips & Tricks last week. I hope you’ll join us again this week…. the party went live last night. Hope to see you there!

    Have a great week!

  4. Oh thank you, thank you for creating this step by step tutorial!! I have wanted to do this for so long but could never really figure out how! Sweet that I found this on Merry Mondays! This would be a fabulous addition to my link party Making Memories Mondays going on now! I would love for you to stop over! :-) PINNED!

  5. Really great, easy to follow post. Now I just have to make up some freebies for people to enjoy!

  6. Thanks for such a helpful post! I have a mailchimp account but haven’t really done anything with it yet, but this is such a great tutorial on how to get things rolling. I am definitely saving this for reference, thanks for sharing!

    1. I’m glad you liked the post, and thank you for stopping by and sharing a sweet comment.

  7. Omgee…I have to come back to read this when I have more time. I’ve been struggling with my email subscription newsletter and I so need help. Thanks for posting this.

    1. I didn’t have have a newsletter because I thought why add one more thing to do each week. But since it’s RSS and I just add my latest news, it really takes no time at all. I should of done it a long time ago! Thanks Erlene!

  8. Wow – this is good stuff, Kim. I am using the free Mailchimp account too and had no idea you could set this up. I pinned this for in depth review later. Great resource. Thanks so much for sharing.

  9. Fantastic work-around! I’ve seen the tips about building an email list and sending a newsletter, but I’ve always wondered what value the newsletter would be providing. Thanks for sharing this tip about putting a freebie on a hidden web page!

    1. Thanks so much Michelle! Glad you liked it. I thought it would be a great post, it took me a couple of weeks to figure out the best way to do it. I knew others would be interested!

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