Exactly How to Create Your First Irresistible Freebie (And Grow Your Email List)

Exactly How to Create Your First Irresistible Freebie and Grow Your Email List

Ready to grow your email list with an arsenal of irresistible freebies?!

I thought so.

Lots of you seem to have issues with creating and setting up the tech behind your irresistible freebie.

You might have heard similar terms being thrown around like this:

  • Lead magnet
  • Content upgrade (This term is usually used when a freebie is used inside a blog post)
  • Ethical bribe (Like for real, haha!)

This guide will help you with everything you need. On the surface, creating a freebie seems to be like writing another blog post, but when I sat down to write this article, I realized there are so many parts to the freebie.

No wonder you can get confused!

This complete guide to growing your email list is split into the five steps:

  • Coming up with the idea for the freebie
  • Designing the actual freebie
  • Delivering the freebie to your audience
  • Setting up opt-in forms on your blog
  • Marketing the freebie

Here goes…

Part 1: Coming up with the idea for the freebie.

When most people come up with an idea for the freebie, they usually think in terms of, “Should I create an email course or workbook for this? Or both?”

The common pitfall here is they think the more content there is available, the more valuable the freebie is perceived to be.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

In fact, that’s far from the truth.

What people want isn’t more content to consume. Because if your content takes too long to consume, it’s time they can’t spent elsewhere.

People usually want to get the biggest takeaway in the shortest amount of time.

What does this mean?

This means if a one-page cheat sheet can get the job done for them, don’t make them take an email course for it.

And this brings us to our first point.

1. Solving a problem. Before you decide on the form of the freebie, you want to identify the problem people want you to solve first. For example, in this article, the problem that you need solving is “how to create and deliver a freebie to your audience (hopefully without being held hostage by the tech behind it).”

And my freebie on this post is to give away a printable checklist that you can stick to your office wall. That way, you can follow the instructions each time to do it yourself.

This is a real problem people have and there are several steps and leaps it takes to get there.

Action step: I do most of my research on Facebook groups and Pinterest search queries. You want to digest and intuitively understand what problems people are asking, then come up with the solution for the problem.

Don’t present solutions on their own. I’ve certainly done that before and there was little demand for it.

2. Identify that audience. Once you have the problem done, you might want to sit on it for a day. Does it help one specific group of people solve a problem?

You don’t want the problem you’re solving to be massive for two reasons:

  • It will take you forever to create your freebie and you’ll burn out
  • The people you’re targeting won’t feel like the freebie is “specially made for them.”

Let’s take this freebie for example, I’m targeting a specific group of people who are at the phase of “creating and delivering their first few freebies.” This naturally eliminates everyone else at different phases of the blogging journey including those who are starting a blog, selling a product, or building a sales funnel.

If you feel like you’ve locked down your target audience, you can design your actual freebie now.

Decide what form your freebie will take. Now that you have the audience and problem locked down, you can finally decide what form you want the freebie to take. The ideas are endless, but I recommend that you begin with something easy for your own sake. Like I said, the value of a freebie isn’t determined by the length of it.

My favorite freebies are cheat sheets or templates that I have up on my desk wall. I’m looking at those as I’m typing this because they’re just that useful so I use them frequently.

Here are a few forms for beginners:

  • Checklists
  • Cheat sheets
  • Template
  • Roadmap
  • Spreadsheet Tracker
  • Swipe File
  • Script

Related: 7 Types of Lead Magnets to Grow Your Email List Like Wildfire 

Part 2: Designing your freebie

1| Writing the copy for your freebie. This step is optional and it really depends on what kind of freebie you have decided on. Good copy matters on your blog posts and sales pages, but it’ll also apply to your freebies.

If you’re creating an email course or ebook, that’s when compelling copy begins to matter. If your email course or ebook isn’t compelling enough to read, people won’t finish it. That also means they won’t be able to solve whatever problem you’re solving for them.

On the other hand, if you’re just creating a checklist, cheat sheet or tracker, good copy isn’t very relevant. That’s because the goal of these freebies is to help the person get organized.

2| Designing the actual freebie. We’re getting to the meat of designing your freebie, yay! I’ll recommend you use an easy-to-use software like Canva or Apple Pages to design your freebie. If you’re a Mac user like me, you have both options. If you’re a Windows user, then Canva will work fine for you. I’ve enjoyed using both pieces of software at different times.

3| Designing the mockup and banner. This really depends on what lead generation software you’re using. I use Popup Ally and I use a click-based popup for most of my content upgrades. This means there’s a banner (see below for an example) and when a reader clicks on the banner, an opt-in form pops up. Other times, I use embedded forms, where the banner isn’t required.

(This is the opt-in banner readers see inside my blog posts)

popup ally pro(This is the popup opt-in form readers see when they click on the banner)

Lead generation software options are endless here:

  • Mailerlite (free)
  • Popup Ally
  • Leadpages
  • Thrive Leads
  • SumoMe

This step is optional. If you’re creating your first opt-in form, I would omit the banner and just use the embedded form option. But still make a mockup of your freebie. Seeing a visual sample of the mockup does help with conversions.

It’ll make people feel, “Oh my, I’m just one step away from having this!” And since you spent so much time designing it, you really want to show it’s power off!

Part 3: Delivering the freebie to your new subscribers.

Now that you have created the actual freebie and mock-up, it’s time to set up your delivering options inside your email service provider!

1| Identify an email service provider. If you don’t have an email service provider, here are a few options:

Too many people spend too much time in this phase that they never get to sending their freebie. Please don’t. When it comes to making a decision, it comes down to: what you’re willing to pay and can afford and what features you’re going to use it in the near future.

2| Set up an email to deliver your freebie. The next thing to do is to set up an “automated” email or sequence to deliver your freebie. This means that once someone signs up for a freebie on your blog or through a landing page, the reader will be added to a list and the automated email will trigger and send.

Pro Tip: Make sure that the email you set up inside your ESP is an “automated” email or sequence and not a typical one-time email campaign. You can usually set up these automated emails through your “automations” tab.


Part 4: Setting up the opt-in form on your blog.

Now that you have the back-end figured out, let’s come back behind the curtains and take a look at it from your reader’s perspective. It’s time to design and embed an opt-in form.

You can embed this form on the sidebar or inside your blog posts. Or both! I mean, why not right?

1| Create and design a branded opt-in form. Inside your lead generation software (whatever you choose to use), you can design a branded opt-in form. You want the colors of the form to match your blog design colors.

A few things to include in your embedded form design are:

  • The name of your freebie
  • The type of freebie (e.g., checklist, cheat sheet, tracker, etc)
  • A screenshot mockup of your freebie
  • Two form fields: name and email address
  • Subscribe button (Don’t forget to change the default text!)

An embedded form is only one way for people to opt-in. Other ways are:

  • Landing page
  • Click-based pop-up
  • Scroll box
  • Popup form
  • Welcome mat

Don’t try to create all these at once. Focus on one at a time.

2| Add the shortcode or URL to your blog. This varies depending on the lead generation software you use. For me, it’s a shortcode I grab from Popup Ally (a paid WordPress plugin) that I embed onto my blog posts.

It might be a URL for you if you use a different software, but this step is critical if you want your opt-in form to show up on your blog.

Once you set this part up, you want to “test run” your opt-ins and freebie deliverability.

And voila, the tech really wasn’t that difficult right?!

Pin this!

Exactly How to Create Your First Irresistible Freebie and Grow Your Email List

Part 5: Marketing the freebie.

Your freebie is now ready to see the day of light!

Now that you have the backend all set up, it’s time to drive traffic to the freebie and opt-in forms. First and foremost, I usually share links and drive traffic from the social channels that I’ve done research on.

Remember, I said I do research inside Facebook groups?

Well, it would only make sense to first share the blog post or landing page with people who need help in regards to that problem, right?

Then I usually design pins (like the one below) to share via Pinterest.

Take action now


What’s your idea for a freebie to grow your email list?




Hi, I'm Judy! I've owned at least four blogs over the last 10 years, from general lifestyle to skincare to blogging. Combined with my experience in digital marketing tech startup, I give away all my blogging and productivity tips and secrets that will make bloggers and creative entrepreneurs successful online.

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