Here is some really, absurdly obvious advice. I'm telling it to you anyway.

Why?

Two reasons.

Firstly, some folk get this wrong. I don't know how but, yes, some adults who ask strangers for their money make this mistake.

Secondly, there's a lesson here. You don't want to simply avoid doing this – you want to go far in the opposite direction. You want to not just avoid the mistake, you want to do the smart thing instead.

Anyway, here's the situation that prompted me to share this advice:

I'm on a few email lists that send people whitepapers, free training or other juicy bonuses. The products are good stuff. Whenever I've accessed them, I've been impressed by the quality of the offer.

It's not always amazing, mindblowing stuff. After all, this is what they give out for free. Even so, it shows they're experts in their fields – usually competitive areas like corporate consulting.

Whatever I've downloaded has helped me in some way.

Even so, I rarely take advantage of their offers.

In fact, every time they send an offer, it reminds me how sloppy and unprofessional they are.

Here's how it goes.

They send an email talking about their latest (say) whitepaper.

I think to myself hey, neat, I want to read this.

I click the link in the email.

It takes me to a landing page telling me I can get the paper if I subscribe to their email list. (With one of these pages, it's not just entering your email. They ask for your first name, last name, company name, industry and job title.)

If (and I do mean 'if') I go through with this, they email me the link to download the whitepaper.

My surface level advice is don't ask your email subscribers to subscribe to your email list. Simply send them the link to the whitepaper. Or if you're segmenting your list, send them a one-click subscribe link to the sublist.

Like I say, this should be obvious …

The deeper lesson is this:

Always think about the experience from your reader's perspective. Maybe you want to make it as easy as possible for them to subscribe. Maybe you want to put some hurdles in their way to filter out lazy freebie seekers.

Both have their strengths.

But this approach?

It just makes you look incompetent.

Now, you can get away with that if your audience trusts, respects and likes you enough … but it sure makes things harder for you. If you make reading your emails a breeze, they'll love you more with every message.