3 things a lead magnet must have and 2 easy ways to come up with your freebie

Whether you’re just starting to build your email list or you’ve been steadily working at it for a long time, an opt-in incentive (also known as lead magnet or freebie) is a great way to get new subscribers quickly.

What is an opt-in incentive?

An opt-in incentive, or lead magnet, is a free download that you give your prospective clients or customers in exchange for them subscribing to your email list (or chatbot, etc.).

Your freebie could be any sort of digital material that makes sense for your business, like a PDF e-guide, a workbook, a guided audio meditation, or a video.

Why you need an opt-in incentive

The most obvious answer to why you need an opt-in incentive is in the name itself: it is an incentive for people to sign up for your email list when they otherwise might not (because let’s be honest, there’s a lot of noise in our inboxes already).

The less obvious reason is that it helps you to build rapport with people who don’t really know you yet. By giving them something helpful at no cost, you’re beginning to build the like-know-trust factor. It’s your opportunity to give them a taste of your special gifts and help them to understand that what you offer might just be what they’ve been looking for to solve their problem.

It’s okay to give stuff away for free

Many of our clients feel hesitant to give their intellectual property away for free. And we get it. Your knowledge, skills, and expertise are valuable and you deserve to be compensated for your work. We aren’t suggesting you give away entire courses or programs for free. When you are putting together your opt-in incentive, you want to share or teach just one small element of a larger offering.

Imagine that you are planning a wedding or a large event and you need a caterer. You aren’t going to spend boatloads of money to feed hundreds of guests when you haven’t ever tasted it before. Hence the infamous taste test. As a common practice, caterers let you enjoy a small selection of their menu for free to see if you want to invest in them for your big day.

That’s exactly what we’re doing with our lead magnets! We’re giving them a small taste to show them our program, course, or other offering is so delicious and worth their investment.

What to give away as your lead magnet

This is where we see so many coaches and online service providers get stuck…
What do you give away that people actually want?
How much is too much to give away?

There are really only three criteria that you need to meet with your freebie, but they are all important.

  1. It should be directly related to one of your signature offers (1:1 program, group program, mastermind, online course, etc.).
  2. It should be easy to digest—a small enough chunk of information to give them a taste of your awesome offer, but not too much to overwhelm. For example, an e-guide might be 10-20 pages, a video or audio track might be 15 minutes or less.
  3. It should be obvious on your website how they can download (a popup and/or prominent section on your homepage).

Here are two of the most successful opt-in incentives:


Do you have a signature offer, program or online course? If so, there are likely several modules or topics with a handful of lessons inside each. What process can you pull from one lesson to share? What would give your audience something really valuable but still leave them wanting more?

For example, if you have a course that teaches people how to build an online business, you might share in detail your process for how to outline a business plan. So it’s detailed but on a very small part of your larger offer.

30,000-FT VIEW

What process or methodology can you give people the high-level view of, without going into detail? For example, if you have a process called “10 steps to creating your online course” you can list the steps without explaining the “how” of completing those steps (they would come to you for support to tackle those steps).

This provides helpful structure for how someone gets clear on what it takes to do what they are trying to do (in this case, creating their online course), but keeps it broad so if they want support tackling those steps, they can come to you for 1:1 guidance or join one of your group programs or courses.

How to make a lead magnet

If you’re savvy with design and editing tools, you’re probably all set in this department.

But if you’re not a designer, or you just simply don’t have the time to get technical in Illustrator or InDesign, fear not—Canva is free and incredibly user-friendly!

We love Canva because it’s a free online design tool that makes it super easy to create beautiful branded digital downloads. They have built-in templates to start from for many types of digital files, but you can also start from scratch or purchase a template. In fact, we love it so much that we build all of our best-selling Etsy products in it!

Love the lead magnets in this post?

You can own them!

(And edit every single element!)

enjoy 10% off with code leadmag10

It’s definitely not required for you to make beautiful designs, but it’s worth nothing that if you sign up for a Canva Pro account, you get access to even more templates, elements, and photos, plus you get to upload your own custom fonts, create animations, and resize your designs to any format.

Remember, while good design does add value to your brand in the user’s eyes, the biggest value comes from your content, so make sure it’s helpful (solves a problem your prospective client has) and easy to digest.

Congratulations, now you’re ready to start getting those awesome subscribers on your list!

Note: Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means we get paid a small “thank you” for the referral if you decide to use the same tools as us. This doesn’t change what you pay, and we only recommend products that we use and love. Thanks for supporting us!

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Meredith McCreight

Meredith McCreight

Hello you! I'm Meredith, co-founder, content creator and designer at Done For You Content. I'm also a coach and a visual designer at Create Without Bounds. I coach women entrepreneurs who want to scale their heart-centered businesses and need help with time management, niche and ideal client clarification, offer creation, pricing strategy, and more. I work with clients to design elegant, high-end brand systems and build beautiful, functional websites. My favorite place is the woods and I want to pet all the dogs. I'm grateful you're here and look forward to getting to know you!

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