A lead magnet, or freebie, is something you offer of value to your reader in exchange for their email address. Lead magnets are often digital goods and include worksheets, courses, checklists, e-books, and giveaways. However, some lead magnets offer non-digital goods like a physical book or ticket to a live event.
The goal of a lead magnet is to grow your email list. The more subscribers you have, the more potential for making money blogging. This is because you can promote and market your blog by sharing your recent blog posts and offers with your email list, which often translates to more page views and increased sales.
Arguably one of the most popular lead magnets for bloggers, a checklist gives the reader an opportunity to implement suggestions you make in your blog post, or it can supplement what you’ve written.
For example, let’s say you’re writing a blog post that is a step-by-step tutorial on how to create a family budget on one paycheck. At the end of the blog post, you can include a checklist of the 10 steps your reader needs to complete each time they’re paid.
2. Swipe Files
Swipe files are one of my favorite lead magnets because it doesn’t take a whole lot of work to put together. Why? Because it’s content you already have—you just have to package it. A swipe file is simply a collection of your proven emails, sales pages, or social media posts. For example, if you blog about making money online, offer a folder containing all of the sales emails you’ve sent to make money from your list. You can even offer a smaller swipe file and charge readers for the entire file.
The idea isn’t for your reader to copy word-for-word every email you send, but to give them an idea of what to send their own audience. For example, if you send me 10 of your best social media posts, I can choose my own pictures and substitute with my own, similar story for my own social media posts.
3. Cheat Sheets
If you’re writing about a topic that is confusing, a cheat sheet can really help your reader keep things straight. A cheat sheet is a quick overview of notes your reader can reference to understand a topic.
When searching for examples of cheat sheets to show you, I laughed when I found one about scrum. It’s a framework used for project management that I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around.
I’ve read books, watched videos, and sat in countless scrum meetings to try to understand scrum better—to no avail. This is coming from someone with a project management certificate, mind you. This scrum cheat sheet made my life a whole lot simpler. You want this exact reaction from your readers.
A template gives readers an easy-to-implement tool because most of the work is already done for them. Templates contain a preset framework, so your reader doesn’t have to create something from scratch. You can hire a freelancer to create a template for your lead magnet, or you can make one yourself using Canva or many different Adobe products. Your reader just needs to make a few changes to the template to make it their own.
Examples of templates include Canva graphics, website builder templates, sample resumes, and Lightroom presets, a preset format for a document or file, used so that the format does not have to be recreated each time it is used.
Toolkits are another favorite of mine because it gives readers what they need to implement within your niche, and offers affiliate opportunities. Think of a toolkit as a group of resources for your reader to accomplish their goal. For example, you can provide a list of your favorite kitchen gadgets if you’re a food blogger.
Many bloggers create a page dedicated to all of the resources available to their readers, but gate it so that the reader needs a password to access the toolkit. How do they get the password? By being on the blogger’s email list.
Most of the links to tools and resources are monetizable. For example, if you’re a travel blogger, you might have links to photography equipment you use when you travel. Each of those links can be affiliate links. Even if these resources are publicly accessible through places like Facebook or in a public blog post, people will sign up for the convenience.
Depending on your niche, your readers might want to know word-for-word what to say to accomplish their goals. A script is simply word-for-word what your reader should write or say to achieve their desired result. For example, if you blog about getting people out of debt, provide a script for debt collectors. Or, if you teach digital marketers, give them a script for gaining their own clients.
Are you a blogger with a product? Provide your readers a free demo of your product or service. This is beneficial for a few reasons: You get a lead, the potential customer can see how the product works, and it allows you to answer your reader’s questions in real time.
This is best for high ticket products and services. This is because you’re going to have to get the potential customer on a call or video chat to demo the product.
A calculator is perfect for times where your reader might need to make their own calculations after reading a blog post you make. If you teach how to pay down debt, include a calculator that shows how long it will take for your reader to be debt-free. Or, if you write about landscaping, include a calculator showing how much grass seed they need to purchase for the size of their yard.
Use a calendar to remind your readers of important dates—such as when to start seeds indoors and when to transplant the seedlings outside. Another idea is to include a workout calendar with a schedule of workouts to complete, along with a link to each detailed workout in a blog post. Many bloggers include blank, visually attractive calendars for their readers to print out.
When you create a free course as a lead magnet, it doesn’t have to be a full-blown course that takes you six months to create. Instead, you can create a mini-course. This course is a bite-sized course—usually no more than five days—designed to help your reader accomplish one or two things.
Examples of courses you can create include setting up a budget, planning your garden, planning your blog content, launching a sales page, and self-publishing your manuscript.
A planner helps your readers organize their lives, and typically gives an agenda to follow. You can create a planner to organize your reader’s home-school, budget, social media posts, blogging strategy, and debt-payoff plan.
Perfect for online business and graphic design niches, fonts make it easy for readers to create their own graphics and designs. If you create fonts, consider offering your creations as a lead magnet to your audience. Some bloggers send out one new font per month to subscribers, which is a great way to keep readers on their email list.
Worksheets help readers complete exercises or plan out their strategies—much like a planner. However, these worksheets are typically less than a few pages. It’s best to create an editable worksheet that a reader can fill out without needing to print out the worksheet. Examples of worksheets include math, handwriting, budget, and household worksheets.
14. Inspiration Ideas
If you’re writing blog posts about creative subjects, like bullet journaling or art, your reader might enjoy a look book to gain inspiration from. A look book is simply a collection of images to show off the look, style, and feel of objects. Sometimes these objects are outfits. Or, if you are a graphic designer blog that makes logos or websites for a living, create a file or book of designs and offer it to your readers. You can house these in a PDF created using the free design software Canva, or you can use a password-protected website.
A workbook is very similar to worksheets, but there’s usually a group of worksheets working together to accomplish a specific goal. These goals include paying down debt, getting hired, increasing your credit score, and improving your art. You can compile these worksheets into one document and offer it to your reader as a workbook.
A tutorial can teach your readers how to do something like draw an anime character, or how to install a toilet in their RV. Often, a tutorial is a video, but it can also be in written form. When creating your tutorial, use a step-by-step approach so readers can take action, even if they don’t read or watch all of the details.
A spreadsheet is similar to a calculator—it helps your reader organize and analyze data. Use a spreadsheet when sharing how to pay down debt, organizing your budget, calculating when to order pantry supplies, and keeping store inventory. Be sure to create an editable, downloadable version for your readers so that you can maintain the master copy.
18. Gated Content
Gated content is popular with online publications like newspapers and digital magazines. It’s when readers can typically see the first paragraph or two of an article, but will need to subscribe to a newsletter to read the rest. This strategy works great when you’re writing in-demand, detailed blog posts.
19. Free Trial
Instead of offering your reader a demo, consider providing a free trial of your product or service. It will let them test drive your product before committing. Some bloggers require a credit card so they can collect payment after the trial, but others allow a trial without providing a credit card. The choice is yours, although readers seem to prefer a trial without requiring a credit card up-front.
20. Case Study
I don’t know about you, but I love to read success stories in my niche. I want to know exactly what steps they took to achieve their results. This is possible with a case study. You’re offering your readers the opportunity to see exactly what happened to cause a transformation (or lack thereof). A case study is an up-close, detailed look at a situation.
Case studies include details about how you lost 50 lbs., what you did to become debt-free, or how you grew your brand-new blog to 10,000 page views in 30 days. An example of a case study where you didn’t get results is how you tried to work out like an A-list celebrity for 30 days and failed.
21. Report/White Paper
Reports or white papers are a great lead magnet idea if you serve businesses through your blog. These reports typically share data you’ve either collected yourself or have researched, and compiles it in one easy-to-read document. Examples include online marketing statistics, the future of cryptocurrency, and digital marketing analytics across brick and mortar businesses.
22. Ultimate Guide
An ultimate guide deep-dives into a particular subject like how to make money online, or the steps to creating a food truck. Because ultimate guides are usually very long, make each headline skimmable and actionable. You want your readers left feeling inspired to get started ASAP, not overwhelmed.
Your lead magnet does not have to be written or even visual—you can create a downloadable audio for your reader. Popular audio examples include guided meditations, podcast episodes, and bite-sized actionable steps for readers to take. You don’t need special equipment to create audio downloads, either—most smartphones have recording capabilities.
Your video lead magnet can show readers how to do something like fix a leaky toilet. You can also use it to inspire or educate your audience. Provided you’re giving something of value in the video, don’t get too hung up on the production value of the video. You can even compile a list of your best Facebook Live videos.
Some of you might panic at the thought of writing a book. Usually, this is because books tend to be long and take a lot of time. However, an e-book doesn’t have to be long at all. In fact, most e-books are usually no more than 2,500 words. That’s roughly the size of a good blog post, by the way.
Examples of e-books include home-school productivity, DIY soapmaking, raising backyard chickens, and mastering your family’s laundry. If you have a particular blog post that does really well, consider expanding on it through an e-book offer to your readers.
26. Event Ticket
Many bloggers host free in-person events for their readers as a way to give back to their audience, or to even expand their audience to new people. A free in-person event is sometimes called a “feeder” event—you give away the ticket, with the intention of converting a good portion of attendees into a paying customer (by selling a product or service onstage, for example).
If you’re not ready to host a live event, you can host an online one like an online summit (more on that below). You’ll have a much lower overhead with digital events vs in-person events.
27. Physical Book and Shipping
If you’ve written and published a physical book, consider offering it to your readers for free, provided they pay shipping. You might be thinking…are you crazy? Why would I do that? Hear me out:
Let’s say the book costs you $8 to produce and ship on-demand, but you only charge $6.99 for shipping and handling. You might be thinking, I’m losing $1 every time I ship this book!
However, let’s take a look at what it would cost you to run advertising to get a lead. The average lead, when gained by advertising, costs around $25 per lead. It’s pretty unheard of to get a lead for $10, let alone just one dollar. So instead of thinking you’re losing $1 every time you ship a book, see it as getting a lead for just $1.
Keep in mind that for this to pay off, you need to actually offer a product or service that your lead can eventually purchase (whether at the time they sign up for the free book, or after you’ve nurtured them).
28. Email Course
An email course is exactly like a course you’d hold on a membership platform like Teachable or Thinkific. The only difference is that the course takes place via email, which makes it an attractive option for bloggers on a budget. Each day of the course, an email automatically goes out to course participants. You can set this up using an email program like ConvertKit or Mailchimp.
29. Sample Chapter
Maybe you’re not ready to give away your entire book just yet. You can give away a chapter of your book instead. Even if you have a book published with a traditional publisher, you are typically allowed to give out a sample chapter as a means to get readers to purchase the full book.
30. Online Summit
An online summit usually brings together a panel of experts to share their opinions, wisdom, and advice on a given topic in pre-recorded videos. Each expert is responsible for sharing the event with their own lists and social media accounts to bring as many viewers as possible.
Examples of online summits include creating a personal brand, conquering autoimmune disorders, and becoming a public speaker. Typically, the organizer is the only one who is growing their email list with this method, unless a viewer specifically chooses to opt-in to a guests’ own lead magnet.
A webinar is very similar to an online summit, although webinars are usually done solo. You’re still promoting the webinar through your current email list and on social media. A webinar will usually set to accomplish one specific goal in mind, like “how to sell out your first retreat,” or “how to grow your medicinal tea garden.” Most webinar hosts will then provide an offer at the end that relates to the webinar topic.
32. Free Strategy Session
While incredibly popular in the consultant and coaching fields, bloggers can still offer a free strategy session for their readers. These strategy calls are usually no more than 30 minutes and focus on providing value to the reader.
Giving free strategy sessions is helpful when a blogger also has an offer that complements what the strategy session is about. For example, suppose you’re a blogger that writes specifically about blogging. You can offer suggestions to take their blogging to the next level, and sell a one-on-one coaching package at the end of the call. If the reader isn’t ready to sign up, you can continue to provide value and market to them until they are ready.
Many of the strategies I’ve suggested take place at a specific date and time, like the webinar and live event. However, you can continue to market those events after-the-fact by offering a replay. Many bloggers will continue to use the same material over and over again, because many topics are what you consider evergreen, which means it’s content that stays relevant for the long term.
A quiz is easily one of my favorite types of lead magnets because of how easy it is to have one go viral. You see quizzes all over social media. One person posts their quiz result. Then their friends share their result in the same thread and then share the post on their own newsfeed.
If you’re a travel blogger, you can do a quiz titled, “Where should you take your next vacation?” For each quiz result, you can share a link to a blog post you’ve written about that particular location. A business blogger might share a quiz titled, “What type of brick and mortar business should you start?” Each quiz result will link to a blog post, or even offer a strategy call.
A giveaway doesn’t necessarily have to be something that costs you money out-of-pocket. You can give away a one-on-one coaching session, an e-book, or a digital planner. Try to relate it directly back to what you blog about. If you offer an iPad giveaway, you’ll inevitably have a lot of people signing up who don’t care about your content at all. This leads to mass-unsubscribes as soon as the giveaway ends. Think about your reader and what you can offer to help them.
Offering your readers an opportunity to sign up for your newsletter is probably one of the easiest lead magnets you can provide. You’re not necessarily giving anything to your reader up-front, but promising to send the reader value periodically in the form of a newsletter through their email. Many bloggers offer a newsletter sign up in the sidebar of their blog.
A challenge is a fun initiative for your readers to accomplish a specific goal over a short period of time. Most challenges are less than 30 days, with some as little as three days long. Think about a lesson or skill you can teach your readers in a short period of time and allow them to take part in a collective challenge to conquer a goal.
Examples of challenges include launch your blog in 30 days, lose 10 lbs. in 30 days, and start a victory garden in a weekend. Your challenge can take place in a private Facebook group, via email, or through a membership site.
As soon as you start to plan a new product, course, or service launch, you should create a way for your readers to join the waitlist for your new offer. By adding people to your list now, you will have more people to market to once your offer is live, which often translates to making more money come launch time.
What Makes a Good Lead Magnet?
When you look at the list of lead magnet ideas, keep in mind that you’re going to create many different lead magnets over your blogging career. In fact, I create a new lead magnet for my blog every single week (sometimes even more). When I find a lead magnet that does really well, I’ll usually allocate some of my ad budget toward promoting it on social media channels such as Pinterest and Facebook.
A good lead magnet is:
- Effective: Sometimes, the best ideas don’t work out the way you want them to. You might need to tweak your lead magnet if you don’t see results over 90 days.
- Relevant: The lead magnet you link to at the end of a blog post should directly relate to the content you’re writing. When I started doing this, I increased my opt-in rate by 600% in just 30 days.
- Bite-sized: The faster your reader can implement what you teach, the faster they can see results. If they get results quickly, they’re more likely to purchase your paid offers. You can even offer a “light” version of your paid offer to give readers a taste of what’s to come.
- Valuable: Note that valuable does always mean “long.” Respect your reader’s time by keeping your lead magnets succinct and powerful.
When I first started blogging, I didn’t always collect email addresses. In fact, I didn’t collect them until six years into my blogging journey (this is easily my biggest mistake in blogging). My rationale was that I wasn’t selling anything, so why collect email addresses? I cringe thinking about how much further along I’d be if I had collected emails from the start. You may not have an offer right now, but you likely will someday.
Bottom Line: Lead Magnet Ideas
Lead magnets are a great way to grow your income and impact as a blogger. It also lets you nurture your relationship with your audience because you’re providing value on a consistent basis.
You don’t have to create every lead magnet you offer to your audience. Instead, you can use a service like Fiverr to outsource lead magnet creation to expert freelancers. For as little as $5 per lead magnet, you can have a new lead magnet by the end of the weekend. Get started today.