What I’m explaining here are two ways to require email before the user downloads a PDF (or other asset). A while back, I began sharing the presentation decks from my digital classes at General Assembly via this website. In each case, I used a different method of “hiding” a PDF file behind the requirement to provide an email address.
No Developer Required to Require Email
I’m sure there are dozens of ways to do this, but many of those methods may require a developer. I wanted to share these two ways anyone can require email from users in exchange for a download.
The first is a simple WordPress plugin called – wait for it – “Email before Download.” Yes, they get very creative in their naming. Using this plugin, you host the file (PDF, PPT, or whatever) on your own server. You require users to enter their name and email address prior to seeing the link to download the file. I use this method for distributing the PDF version of my presentation decks when I taught a class. It works flawlessly, and I can update the PDFs whenever I make changes to the content.
Updated Jan 22, 2018 – I have been informed via a comment to this post that the “Email before Download” plugin for WordPress is no longer available. Sadly, it’s true. However, one of the reasons we love WordPress is that there is never only one solution to any issue. A simple Google search for “wordpress plugin to require email for a download” reveals several other plugins to accomplish the same task. Here are two:
- Before and After – 1k users; last updated October 2017
- Email Download Link – 2k users; last updated November 2017
Updated Jan 30, 2018: Life comes at you fast! Just a week after I updated this post with the above ‘bad news’ update I have learned via a comment to this post that the Email before Download plugin for WordPress has just been updated to version 5.0. Check it out.
The second method is from Mailchimp, and is really, really easy. I used Mailchimp to distribute two eBooks on atlantatechblogs.com. Mailchimp’s documentation is perfect. I completed the entire setup in less than 10 minutes. Using this method, you host the file on Mailchimp’s servers. The file can be delivered via a confirmation email or confirmation page on your website. You do all the configuration within your Mailchimp account.
Update January 22, 2017 – Mailchimp now offers free basic Landing Pages, making this process of gating content and requiring an email address even that much simpler.
Now It’s Easy For Anyone to Require Email
I remember how much fun it used to be to host and distribute a PDF way back when at CWNP. Back then, we a FT developer maintaining our website. We later moved completely to WordPress so that we would not require a developer. If you want to distribute your content and require an email address in exchange, these two ways are simple and work really well, even for non-developers.