Looking for a way to grow your list from 0 to 10,000 email subscribers overnight?

This is not that post.


You, my friend, know that email lists are about more than just the milestones.

Instead, you’ve got your sights on a list made up of only the people who are actually the right fit for what you do or offer (A.K.A qualified leads).

So you’ve set out to create the ULTIMATE free resource to help you find your true tribe, and get to serving the people who could benefit most from what it is you bring to the table!

But what to create????

(And how do you convince your visitors you are not just another Spammy Pammy and that their super-secret subscriber deets are safe with you?)

Good news!

There are endless ways to use what you know about your industry to attract your ideal future client or customer to your biz.

So if you haven’t already checked out: The top 3 lead magnets I used to quickly grow my email list for free, I recommend bookmarking that one to read after this!

But before you go deciding on a format for your freebie, there’s some pretty important freebie-building best practices you should know!


8 tips to help you design & and market your freebies & opt-ins

1. Unless you are Oprah-level famous, nobody is going to click on a form that says “sign up for my newsletter.”

Seriously. I’ve tried it.


No matter how excited your visitors are to have found your business, they are currently getting newsletters from eleventy-seven other businesses they at some point subscribed to but never bother to read.

So your promise of emailing them once a week/month with “insider tips, deals & discounts” is giving them serious flashbacks to an inbox full of unwanted clickbait.

Want to seal the deal with potential subscribers?

There has to be an actual promise of something valuable waiting for them on the other side of them giving up their contact info to some total stranger on the internet.

Your CTA (call-to-action, A.K.A the copy or website words you use to get them to *hopefully* subscribe) needs to make it clear that this is something that will help them greatly on their journey, and that you probably have no business giving away for free because it’s THAT good.

Which brings me to my next tip!

2. Make sure your landing page for your freebie clearly outlines what it will help your subscriber to achieve.

This includes letting them know which important questions or pain points you will be answering/solving for them once and for all.

A “catchy title” isn’t enough to convince them it’s worth their while, so show them there is actual transformation in store when signing up for your thing.

How has your freebie helped others?

And if you have yet to share it with others, how did following those same steps totally rock your own business?

Here’s a peek at one of my top converting landing pages for my most popular Free Training: Build a site that sells 101 so you can see an example of how to go about outlining all that you are promising with your free thing.

(Go ahead and click it to see the full page if that’s helpful!)

Obviously, you’ll want to come up with your own design that matches what your biz and what it is you plan to offer in your freebie!

But short, purpose-packed sections alternated with super clear CTA’s is generally a great place to start!

For more on creating a simple yet killer landing page for your opt-in gift, check out: Creating a high-converting landing page for your list-building freebie.

3. Let your freebies be a healthy mix of:

A) Inspiration/success stories:

Seeing other people kill it who were recently in their exact same boat will motivate visitors to take action, starting by downloading your thing!

The number one obstacle to getting started with pretty much anything is the fear that you won’t succeed, right?

Share personal wins, or success stories from others who have benefitted from your methods/help that make them believe it’s possible for them too, even though they are just starting out.

Answer the unspoken question “but is this possible for ME?” for your visitors once and for all.

B) Concrete action steps:

Rather than creating some sort of definitive guide to the universe, or an exposé on your opinions on the industry, you want to make sure your freebie is designed around simple, easy-to-put-into-practice steps.

The goal of your opt-in gift (besides growing your email list) is to help them experience that quick first or next win to keep them coming back for more of that sweet sweet advice in the future!

C) Recommendations:

Do you have a tool or software you already use and love that would help streamline or supercharge their journey?

Share it!

Your audience will appreciate not having to Google yet another aspect of getting started, and if the tool does end up helping them, it will only make them seek your expert opinion more and more!


What do you wish you knew when you were first getting started?

Think back to how frustrating it was to have to piecemeal all the answers together from a million different sources, and use that to create a useful resource for people who now find themselves in those shoes!

There are a lot of “experts” out there who may legit be the top-dog in their industry, but are scared to be generous with their knowledge, so now that you’ve been around the block or two and have a few hard-learned lessons you can share, my best advice is to be generous with your knowledge.

(And FAQ is the perfect way to make that knowledge quick and easy to digest!)

You’ll be setting yourself apart as someone who champions newbies, and therefore is a more trustworthy source for all things related to your industry.

When it comes to building your audience, time & trouble saved = trust earned!

4. Make sure your freebies are relevant to your audience and what you hope to offer them.

Having clear direction for your content and overall marketing strategy is key here.

Your guide/checklist could very well be the most useful thing on the internet…

But if it doesn’t relate to what you do/offer (or plan to offer) then people either:

A) Won’t find it (because it has nothing to do with the other niche content on your site), orrrr….

B) If they do, they will be entirely the wrong kind of subscribers and are likely to show zero interest in your actual paid thing!

5. Free content vs. exclusive content

The best thing you can be doing to grow your email list is to consistently put out valuable free content that people do not have to sign up for to access.

“But Paige, isn’t the whole point to have something for them to sign up for?”


But people are super skeptical of free offers, especially if they are brand new to your biz.

You have to find a natural, non-sales-persony way to plug your freebie, or people aren’t going to look twice.

And while you can (and totally should) include a CTA action to opt-in for your lead magnet on every last page of your site…

You’re more likely to win over someone who has already had a taste of your genius in the content that doesn’t live behind a wall.

So it’s worth whipping up a helpful blog post, YouTube video, podcast episode etc. to build trust and hype around that new freebie, and to show that you are here for them, even if they aren’t ready to sign up for your thing.

When I first create a new opt-in gift, I like to write a blog post in tandem with the freebie I’m offering, treating it like a content upgrade so that I can encourage them to download the free resource to help them take immediate action on the steps I’m outlining in the post.

Here’s a good example of how I’ve done that in the past: How to start building a website on Squarespace.

Pro-tip: content upgrades that are specific to a particular bit of content you’ve created are def helpful, but you’ll likely get a better R.O.I if you create something that would still make sense to share site-wide, and not just in that one post.

(More on why consistent, valuable content matters in: The most successful online businesses all have this 1 thing in common.)

6. Keep your lead magnet simple.

Again, people want quick wins, so if your freebie is quickly turning into an exhaustive online course in an attempt to make it appear more valuable, it may be time to take it down a notch.

More content does not equal more value.

And while something like an e-book can be super exciting to someone who is already a super-fan of your business, it might be a little too much of a commitment for someone who is new to your biz and doesn’t yet know you from Adam.

The goal is not just to get them to sign up and put another notch in your list-building belt.

make it easy for them to actually put the tool you’ve created to use right away, so that they can experience first hand just how helpful you are.

… and leave the impression that it is worth opening up every last email you send because it’s sure to be packed with legitimately useful info.

7. Keep everything on-brand.

You may not feel like putting too much time and effort into a thing that you’re just going to turn around and hand out for free…

(The important info is in there! What more could they want!?)

But taking the time to get things “on-brand” is never a waste, IMO!

Being exposed to the same consistent branding and messaging everywhere a person shows up to interact with your brand is going to create familiarity.

…and familiarity is going to go a long way in warming up a lead to someday buy your thing!

(Or at the very least, want to open up your emails.)

If subscribers can tell you phoned it in when creating your freebie, you’ll have a difficult time convincing them you’re going to show up for them if they invest in your product or service down the road.

8. Include a CTA to your paid offering

If done right (see: tip #4), your freebie will be the perfect, least-salesy-ever lead-in to the paid products or services you offer!

If your subscriber took action and saw results from your free content, they are going to be left wanting more! So when they reach the end of your freebie, don’t leave them scratching their head about the next steps.

Use the momentum and excitement gained to create hype about your paid thing too!

Say for example you are a web designer, and you’ve created the ultimate freebie for helping newbie business owners write their copy (A.K.A their website words).

At the end of your freebie, you could have a super clear, distraction-free, stand-alone page inviting them to continue their journey with YOU!

You might say something like…

“Congratulations on nailing down your website words!

Ready to put your copy to work for you on a gorgeous new custom website? Click here to learn how we can work together to bring your vision for your business’s online home to life!”

Your new subscriber may not be familiar with your business and what you do, so if you don’t create a clear path for them, they may go looking for those next-step solutions somewhere else, simply because they didn’t know you offered them!

Wondering where to shout out about your freebie?

You put a lot of work and thought into designing your lead magnet, so you don’t just want to mention it once then let it fade into the background…

Here’s a handful of places it’s totally encouraged to do a little self-plugging:

  • your site’s home, about, and services page

  • your site’s sidebar & footer

  • drop a link to you freebies page in your main navigation

  • pop-ups and announcement bars on your site

  • all throughout your content/blog (in video descriptions or podcast show notes)

  • in FB groups (but not in a spammy way…try to show up and be helpful in advance, and only use your freebie to compliment answers that you are already providing in the comments)

  • link to it in the descriptions and captions that you post on your social media, podcast, YouTube Channel, etc.

  • Story about it (bonus points if you can share a little case study of someone your freebie has helped, even if it’s your own case study!)

  • Pinterest

  • Ad campaigns

In the end, freebies are about more than just growing your list!

They are not just some trap you are setting, hoping to catch unsuspecting visitors who stumble on your site.

It’s about growing your impact and building relationships with the people on the other side of the monitor.

If you let your focus always be on bringing value, your subscribers will not doubt you when you say you have something worth investing in down the road.



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8 tips for designing and marketing your subscriber-winning opt-in gift