When you’re first starting out in your business, chances are you don’t have wads of extra cash just laying around to throw at ad campaigns in order to drum up some leads and grow your email list.

So if that’s you, it’s time to get creative (and a little scrappy) and think up ways to build your list for free!

Btw, let me just say I totally get where you’re at right now.

I also started with a big fat 0 subscribers (and a baby business budget) just like you!

Skip ahead a couple years and my email list is now the #1 place sales go down in my biz.

And while I’ve recently started testing out a few FB ads here and there, for the first few years of my business, I spent exactly $0 growing my list and running ads! (And we did multiple 6 figures in sales. )

So just know what I’m about to teach you is superrr powerful!

In this post I’ll be sharing the top 3 things I’ve used to get people to get people in the door (read: subscribed!)

I’ll give you a glimpse of what they are, why they work, and how you can take that idea and adapt it for your own biz!

Plus, a few other helpful tips and best practices I’ve learned along the way!

My 3 top converting lead magnets:

(and how to adapt them for your own business)

1. FRee Trainings & Webinars on my niche topic

So I actually have several free trainings and webinars that I offer (both live and pre-recorded) but since we are focusing on slightly more passive ways to build your list, let’s take a look at the free training videos that live on my site year-round.

Example #1:

Name of lead magnet: Build a site that sells 101

Who it attracts/helps:

There’s a lot of decision making paralysis out there when it comes to building a website and getting your business online. And unless you have thousands of dollars to drop on a fancy custom site design by a pro, people tend to find themselves stuck in one of two boats.

They either:

A) Have a super janky and outdated website that they are legit embarrassed to sent potential clients and customers to (but are feeling crazy-overwhelmed by the giant task of learning how to update it themselves, and have therefore put it off for months, and even years).

B) Don’t have a website at all and are trying to get by on online marketplaces and social media platforms where someone else owns and controls your only virtual storefront.

They know that their website (or lack of one) is losing them sales on the daily, and making them look anything but profesh, but they just don’t know how to get started building a website that actually reflects where their business is today (or is at least where they want it to be!)

Which pain points it solves:

This free training helps people stop procrastinating and start taking action with a handful of clear action steps to be taking to make sure their site is set up to attract and convert their ideal clients, so they can start turning those site visitors into actual paying customers!

It answers the question of which platform/tool is going to be the easiest to use to help them quickly reach their goal, taking the guesswork of which site-building software to choose in a sea of options.

How to adapt it for what you do/offer:

Being the go-to Squarespace lady, most my free content/freebies relate to learning to DIY your own custom, high-converting website. I already have a ton of tutorial type posts for how to handle the tech bits of building out your site, but sometimes knowing the tech isn’t enough to get the job done!

People put off what they think they won’t be able to do well, so you want to help them experience a quick win to build their confidence, and inspire them into action!

And since you helped them in the past, who do you think they will turn to when they are ready to invest in the next steps?

If you are currently creating free content around the how-to’s of your industry, think of the mental blocks that your audience is likely to face when they go to actually implement those new skills and build a free training around that!

If there are decisions that they have to make before moving towards their goal (ie. which tool or software to pick) shed a little light on their internal struggle by making recommendations based on what you use and love in your own business!

Let me give another example using the other side of my biz…teaching people how to take those mad new Squarespace skills and use them to build a successful, fully-booked web design business!

Example #2:

Name of lead magnet: Finding clients as a new Squarespace Designer (7 costly mistakes to avoid)

Who it attracts/helps:

Once again, I’m speaking to the people who are feeling overwhelmed and stuck. They are just starting their businesses and their biggest fear is that they won’t be able to find clients, and actually book enough projects to replace their income from the 9-5 grind they just escaped.

They are sick of doing #allthethings to try to make this work that they’d honestly take anyone at this point.

(Yup, even that super soul-sucking client that wants to pay them literal peanuts to build them a completely custom site.)

Which pain point it solves:

They know they have a lot to learn when it comes to marketing their business and nailing down clients, and they see other people out there absolutely killing it, but no one seems to be sharing any answers for how they got there.

In Finding clients as a new Squarespace Designer (7 costly mistakes to avoid), I share the things they need to be doing in their business now to set themselves up for long term success, so they don’t still find themselves on running like mad on the client-finding hamster wheel six months from now.

How to adapt it for what you do/offer:

Once again, you’ve identified a common fear and struggle that people are facing, and you are providing real answers that other “experts” in your field seem to want to keep pretty close to the vest because they are scared that if they “give it all away for free” that nobody will buy their thing.

Don’t be afraid to give away the cow before they even buy the milk. This may be your one and only chance to show them they made the right decision by trusting you with their email address.

Oh, and friend? Do not mess this up by delivering a straight up fluff-piece…

(If you struggle with knowing how much to give up and how much to hold back, you may want to read: If I teach what I do for free on my blog, why would anyone hire me?)

Even if you’re a legit expert now, you have to get good at putting yourself back in a total beginner’s shoes and answering every question they are currently asking (or don’t even know they should be asking).

What do you wish you knew when you were first starting out?

Where could you have used some major hand-holding?

What’s the one thing someone could have shared with you that would save you a heck-ton of time and frustration when you were first learning the ropes?

Make your free training about that and you’ll have people lining up around the block to sign up for your thing!

2. Freebie opt-in Gifts or content upgrades on my niche topic

Name of lead magnet: Start Your Squarespace Website Workbook

Who it attracts/helps:

This person has already decided which platform they want to use to build their site, and they’ve read a few blog posts about how to use the software, they still have no idea what to actually put on their site, or how to choose a template that will do everything they will need it to, even if they decide to make changes to their site down the road.

The fear of choosing the wrong template is keeping them from getting started. Their free trial is expiring in like 2 days, and they just want someone to tell them exactly how to go about planning out their site.

They don’t want to go into this thing blindly, but they may not be ready to invest in one of my online courses to make that dream website a reality.

Which pain points it solves:

The Start Your Squarespace Website Workbook walks them through the steps and decisions they need to be making before they even touch their site, saving them tons of time and potentially costly mistakes that come from winging it on their own.

The workbook helps users to get clear on:

  • site goals (so that their website actually appeals to the people they are trying to reach and gets them to take the action you are hoping they will)

  • where to find inspiration, and how to use what you find to make design and layout decisions

  • how to set up your site navigation to make your site easier to use for your ideal visitors

  • which content and pages you need to include based on your business

  • the right way to pick a template so you aren’t kicking yourself down the road

How to adapt it for what you do/offer:

Notice how I called it a “freebie opt-in gift on my niche topic.”

If you don’t have a niche that you are consistently creating free content around, it’s going to be pretty hard to come up with a useful freebie for your audience.

You may have lots of good insights to share, but if you are blogging about everything under the sun, you won’t really be speaking to any one audience, and therefore won’t know which problem points it is that you are trying to solve in exchange for their email.

So if you aren’t already super clear on your niche, that would definitely be the first step. (You can learn more about narrowing down a niche topic/target audience in Do this one thing to ensure your website will appeal to your ideal clients.)

But, if you have your niche nailed down and now you are just trying to figure out the best way to share your knowledge in a way that actually makes people want to sign up, then the easiest freebie to start with a workbook or checklist that walks people through a process that you are already doing in your business on the daily.

What’s a task that you find yourself repeating in your business/industry? What steps or decisions are involved every time you sit down to tackle that thing?

List those out, leaving space for your new subscriber to write in their own notes/action plan for each of those steps in your process.

Think of ways you can help your audience streamline something that could otherwise be pretty time consuming or challenging to navigate for someone just starting out.

3. free guides, Quizzes or formulas that solve the FAQ of my industry

Name of lead magnet: Online Business Matchmaker

Who it attracts/helps:

More and more, people are looking for ways to say adios to their 9-5’s and become their own boss.

They know that they want to build an online business around a life that they love, instead of the other way around, but they are having a hard time coming up with a business idea (or have wayyyyy too many to choose from and need help deciding which one to pursue).

They are willing to put in the work, but they also want to make sure it’s something that they love and can support them long term because they do not want to have to be starting over again 6 months from now if it doesn’t work out.

Which pain points it solves:

My Online Business Matchmaker helps people to get clear on what type of business is right for them based on the passions and talents they already have. It helps them to define who their perfect dream customer will be, and which business model would benefit their new idea most!

It’s the bridge between daydreaming and doing when it comes to confidently starting their new hustle!

How to adapt it to what you do/offer:

People love to learn about themselves, so if you can offer some sort of guide, formula, or quiz for figuring out another aspect of their life that they are currently stuck on, people are happy to hand over access to their inbox.

(People have been known to take quizzes to find out much less important info like what kind of cheese they are or which Disney Princess they are, so…)

This is different from giving useful info based on their interest in a general topic, because their next steps will be tailored based on exactly how they answered the questions/prompts in your freebie, so the help you’re giving will be much more personalized than a general how-to.

Maybe you offer a handful of similar but slightly different products or services and your customers have questions about which one is going to be best for them before they go dropping their hard earned dollars!

Rather than answer that question in your inbox 50 times a week, whip up a quick quiz or guide that addresses the exact questions you seem to be getting all the time and then include it as an opt-in on your online shop page!

If it relates to what you do/offer, and people tend to have a lot of the same questions about it, it’s worth creating a free resource around both to save you time in your inbox, and to work on building your email list in the background.

So those are just a few examples from my own biz! Every audience is a tad different in the way they research and absorb information, or what it is they would even care enough about to want to sign up, so knowing your ICA (Ideal Client Avatar) is key!

Need help Creating a killer lead magnets for your business?

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



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The top 3 lead magnets I used to quickly grow my email list for free