How To Grow Your Email List With A Lead Magnet

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“How to grow your email list” is quite the hot topic amidst the freelance and online business community… but has anyone ever bothered to tell you why you should work on growing your email list?

Time for a little email marketing review! I’ll spare you guys the speech in favor of a quick explanation: your email subscribers are people that know they already like you.

And, most importantly, they’re the users that will still be there if something were to happen to social media (hacked account, IG apocalypse, you get the picture).

Email subscribers are opted-in, locked and loaded, ready to purchase (or sign up, or download, or whatever your call-to-action is).

Now that we’re all up to speed on the why, let’s talk about the how: by creating a lead magnet. To learn more about what a lead magnet is, how to create one, and how to deliver it to your growing email list — keep reading!

What even is a lead magnet, anyway?

A lead magnet—or freebie, as most of us creators call them—is a free item that is given away in exchange for contact details.

You download my free homepage how-to guide, I get your email.

Lead magnets are win-win situations, created by business owners who want to attract people who’d be interested in what they have to offer, aka qualified leads.

The best freebies are easy reads, or “low-hanging-fruit” style gifts to your audience that solve an immediate need.

This freebie has got to be something they want now, in order to make them want to click the ‘download now’ button.

Not only do freebies help you grow your email list, they also help you build authority, community, and—eventually, more often than not—your client list. 

Before creating your lead magnet:

Here’s where to start when creating your first (or next!) freebie:
First you’re gonna ask yourself a few questions…
→ What do I want to be known for? What can I create that will help paint me as the “go-to” person for content about this? Why should *I* be the one making a free resource about this thing?

What can my audience benefit from? Which questions can I answer for them? What are they dealing with that my content can help solve?

Will this capture attention? Is this thing really what people need right now, what they’re searching for? Or is something else more relevant / more likely to grab their attention?

Which subject should I address? Which subject is going to attract people who are interested in the services I offer, products I sell, or things I’m trying to promote?

Think about what you can create that will provide enough value, without giving too much away. Because remember, you are giving this item away in exchange for an email address.

You need to determine much someone’s email is worth to you, while keeping in mind that this freebie has to also be worth someone giving you their email.

I beg you not to be the type of person who makes a dinky little lead magnet out of an existing blog or IG post. A freebie should be exclusive info. That’s the point.

We’ll talk about how to determine whether you’re providing enough value or not another time, but for now, make sure you’re comfortable with people — including your competitors — accessing this information for free.

“Give away the what, not the how” as fellow copywriter Alex Cattoni says.

You want to leave people coming back for more, not clicking ‘unsubscribe’ because you’ve already given them everything they need to know. We love a free value moment, but we don’t love a free work moment.

Deciding what to offer for your first freebie:

Once you’ve given some thought to the topic of your freebie and how much information about that topic you’re comfortable including, it’s time for the next step: deciding on the what.

What are you going to create as your first lead magnet?

This is the fun part! Your lead magnet can be *anything* you want, in any format that you’d like it to be presented, but remember: the goal of this lead magnet is to get people to sign up for your list.

It has to be worthy of them taking an extra moment, typing in their name and email, then stopping their scroll to head over to their email, open it, and actually read it.

(It also has to be relevant to your services / offerings / products, or it doesn’t make sense for you to create it.)

(TBT to the time I created the “Pinterest ABCs checklist” as my first-ever freebie then had a bunch of Pinterest-lovers on my list, even though I’m a website copywriter, and never, ever talk about Pinterest.)

(Don’t make that mistake.)

That may not sound like a lot of steps, but think about the times that you’ve entered your own email on opt-in forms. What were you getting from it?

More often than not, you were likely getting “10% off your first purchase” or a free guide, checklist, or cheat sheet to something you really wanted to learn.

You wouldn’t have willingly given away your email for something that didn’t sound valuable—and your target audience won’t, either.

Here’s a list of some lead magnet ideas for ya:

  • Checklists

  • Cheat sheets

  • How-to guides

  • Video tutorials

  • Step-by-step outlines

  • First module of a course

  • Free lesson

  • Templates

Choose the format of your lead magnet based on what you think your audience will enjoy and benefit from the most!

(Hint: people prefer simplicity.)

And make sure it’s something that you’re positive you can actually bring to life.

In terms of topic, think about your long-term goals. If you know that you’re planning to launch a course about how to become an influencer next year, maybe it would be smart to create a lead magnet about the best tools for first-time YouTube vloggers.

Or if you’re just starting out in your career as a freelance branding designer, maybe it would be beneficial for you to create a free lesson on the importance of having a complete visual identity, or a pack of free fonts to download.

Consider what you feel comfortable educating about, and what you want your audience to remember you for.

Also, before we move on, a pro tip:

Just because you’re knowledgable about something doesn’t mean you should create a freebie about it.

Really take the time to consider who is going to benefit from (and download) the freebie, and who you want on your list.

Like I mentioned earlier: a while back, I created a freebie all about optimizing your Pinterest account, even though I’m not a social media or Pinterest manager.

I was doing a bit of content strategy work at the time, because I like it and I’m knowledgeable about it enough to help clients, but it isn’t my main focus.

After spending all that time and effort creating it, I realized that the people downloading a guide to Pinterest probably weren’t my ideal client.

I mean, sure, there’s definitely some overlap—but ultimately, my ideal clients are the business owners who want to learn about how to optimize their homepage, and how to get great testimonials from their clients, and how to kickstart their email list growth.

When to release your lead magnet:

Short answer? Yesterday. Long answer? It depends.

If you’re ready to actually engage with your email list on a regular basis, then you’re ready to launch your lead magnet now.

But if you can’t commit to nurturing your list every so often, then I suggest waiting to launch your lead magnet until you’re ready to actually talk to the people on your list.

The whole point of releasing lead magnets is to get more people on your email list. But if you’re not active on email, then… what’s the point?

Releasing your lead magnet with no email strategy would be like matching with someone you really liked on Bumble, going on your first date, then never speaking to them ever again.

They’d forget about you by the time you were ready to see them again.

You don’t have to be ready to send a lengthy weekly newsletter, but you do have to be ready to chat with your list every once in a while so they don’t forget ya. 

(I mean, you could always send a little “remember me?”-style apology email later on, but engaging your email list from the start is very important for retention purposes.)

(That’s what welcome sequences are for.)

Need a little bit more help making your lead magnet finally actually happen?

I’ve got just the thing.




If we haven’t had the chance to *virtually* meet yet, hi! I’m Sara Noel—website copywriter and marketing mentor for creatives, copywriters, and all-around cool people. If you like my content and you want even more BTL in your life, here are a few ways you can connect with me:

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Check out my services. I write website copy, sales pages, email sequences, blog posts, and brand messaging guides for entrepreneurs of all kinds! Maybe you’re my next favorite client.

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To get in touch with me directly, send me a DM or email Have a great day!

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Hi, I'm Sara—Website Copywriter & Marketing Mentor.

If you're an entrepreneur, business owner, or course creator with big dreams of success and growth—and a big, scary blank document standing in your way every time you sit down to write your own copy—nice to meet you, I'm your new solution. 

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