How To Get Blog Readers To Subscribe To Your Optin Freebie

It’s hard to make an opt-in freebie (lead magnet) that actually grows your email list.

Most bloggers know they have to offer something more than just their newsletter, but then they get stuck. What do you offer? How do you get people to sign up for it?

And then, if readers aren’t subscribing, is it your lead magnet itself that’s the problem? Or is it the headline of your lead magnet? It could also be your lack of traffic.

There are so many pieces to the puzzle, and if you really want subscribers, you need to think about all of them. Once you’ve figured it out, though, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief as your email list grows and grows.

Know Your Audience

I’ve repeated this many times on Successful Blogging, but that’s because it is so important. The first thing you need to do in order to grow your email list is to know your audience. Once you know your audience, what they want, and what gets them excited, you will be able to create a lead magnet that they eagerly sign up for.

But if you don’t understand your audience, all of your attempts to make a lead magnet they want will fail. It’s like throwing a dart at a target with your eyes open versus doing it with your eyes closed. You will never hit the bullseye if you don’t open your eyes to what your audience cares about.

A few ways to get to know your audience better than they know themselves:

  • Survey them
  • Talk to them on the phone
  • Take them out to coffee
  • Read forums like Facebook groups and Quora
  • Ask them what they’re struggling with in your email autoresponder

Make Something Truly Useful

Once you know your audience, you can make a lead magnet for them that they will happily sign up for. And what do people want? They want something they can use.


Useful things like checklists and templates will grow your list, and your readers will use them, too. Lead magnets that aren’t actually useful might grow your list, but then you’ll have to convince people to use them – an energy drain for you and an annoyance for them.

Examples Of Useful Lead Magnets:

  • Checklists
  • Templates
  • Short video tutorials
  • Worksheets

Pro tip: Lead magnets don’t become more useful the longer you work on them. When deciding on a lead magnet for your blog, make it a top priority to give your readers something that will create a quick win. Often, these will take you much less time to create, and they’ll be more effective list builders, as well.

Put It Where They Can See It

If you want people to sign up for your lead magnet, you need to put it in a place where they can see it.

Put it:
– On a landing page
– In a box at the top of your blog
– In an unobtrusive slide-in box
– After the first paragraph and at the end of your blog
– In your social media profiles

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The more places you put your lead magnet, the more likely you will be to grow your email list.

Write Copy That Makes Readers Crave Your Lead Magnet

It’s not enough to put your lead magnet everywhere on your blog and social media. You also need to write about it in a way that gets people to subscribe. Here are a few ways to do that.

1. Use the BTE headline formula

Make sure your lead magnet has a name that clearly shares what your readers will get when they sign up. A great formula for this is [Benefit][Timeframe][Even if…]

– Grow your email list by 1,000 people in under 30 days even if you’re a beginner blogger
– Lose 5 lbs in one week even if you hate dieting
– Find your soul mate in a month even if you’ve sworn off Tinder forever

The reason these work so well is because they have 3 key ingredients:
– A tangible, specific benefit your readers want
– A timeframe that makes them feel it’s possible
– An answer to their objections about why it wouldn’t work for them

2. Make them so curious they have to find out what’s in it

Have you ever noticed how you feel after reading a well-written sales page? You want the product even if you never thought about buying it before you landed on the page.

That’s because of something called open loops. Open loops leave your audience wanting more. Think about your favorite TV drama. The end of each episode always has a cliffhanger (aka open loop). You can’t wait to tune in next week (or watch another episode on Netflix) to find out what happens next. You can do that in your description of your lead magnet to make your readers crave it.

3. Use their words in your copy

One of my favorite strategies is using my audience members’ words to describe a lead magnet. Go back to the surveys or emails I mentioned at the beginning of this post and copy sections that convey emotion or words that repeat a lot. Then use them in your subscribe box.

This works really well because when you use your audience members’ words, they feel like you understand them. You are showing them that you speak the same language, and that is a powerful trust builder.

Include An Enticing Image In Your Sign Up Box

My final suggestion for getting people to subscribe to your lead magnet is to include an image that makes it real for your readers. Use a book mockup or take screenshots of the worksheets and then make an image that makes them look like physical worksheets. Everyone loves opening a package of treats when it arrives on their doorstep. You want your lead magnet to feel like a gift package — something they can’t wait to tear into.


48 thoughts on “How To Get Blog Readers To Subscribe To Your Optin Freebie”

  1. Hi Sue, I love this one. I need to come up with a newer one and this was very helpful in helping me to plan it. I'm also deciding whether or not to stay with Mailchimp. I love the ease of using it and see they have a new Facebook integration.

    Decisions, Decisions.

    Have a great weekend Sue!

  2. Hi Sue,

    Great tips and just in time. I am working on improving my lead magnet. My email list is growing, but it's just soooo slow.

    I haven't thought about using an image. You're right, I love receiving my Amazon packages whenever I order something.

    It's kind of like Christmas when I see the UPS truck coming down the road. Even though I know what I ordered, it's always fun opening up the package.

    Thanks for sharing these tips, I am going to use them to see if I can improve my lead magnet.

    Have a great day πŸ™‚


  3. Hi Sue,

    Thanks for sharing another impacting post. I so much love your headline formula of BTE. Its unique and simple.

    It's difficult having a clear understanding of who your blog audience are. But there's one thing I've been able to figure it, and that's, if a blogger knows his audience, he won't struggle to the most suiting lead magnet.
    Emenike Emmanuel recently posted Step-by-Step Guide on How to Craft an Effective Small Business Content Marketing StrategyMy Profile

  4. Hello,


    Happy to read your post. Making lead magnet is really hard for many people. In this post you share tips to get people to subscribe that is so nice and all the points are effective. After reading this post I am going to try your all tips to increase leads.

    Best wishes,

    Praveen verma

  5. Hey Sue, you're absolutely right. Most people know an email list is important but don't know how to get people to sign up. You really have to make something of exceptional value – like ebook worthy. And, the website design has to emphasize the sign up so that people convert. I especially appreciated your point about using an enticing image.

  6. Sue,

    You nailed it again, another great blog post.

    Recently, I've had to rethink my strategy with many of my lead magnets. I was producing rather large videos, blog posts, and books.

    However, no matter how good these lead magnets are, your target audience will probably not even look at them.


    They are too big.

    There's a great copywriter who has over 70 books that he wrote which you can download for free. Knowing how good he is, I downloaded every single on of those suckers.

    Guess what? I've only managed to get through half of one.

    So quality, not quantity is important. People are usually looking for an answer to a specific question. So, if you can narrow down your lead magnet to a specific problem or set of problems, you might get more subscribers.

    It looks like people will feel much less overwhelmed with a simple step-by-step blueprint rather than a 200+ book. (I think I'm going to replace mine pretty soon.)

    The other problem is the usual traffic you get to your site. Years ago, I had a site that generated a ton of traffic. Too bad the people that came to my site were looking for something I didn't have.

    The more specific the audience, the more conversions.

    As a parting note, I'd like to say that you did a great job on your lead magnet copy on this post. (Want help building your sales funnel?) Man, that was killer! I clicked on it right away!

    Once again, this is my favorite blog on the planet! Keep them coming Sue!


    • Great points, Mark. I so appreciate you taking the time to write it.

      P.S. Love my sales funnels. We need to talk πŸ™‚

  7. Hi Sue,
    Basically, I am getting enough leads for my business. This content point me where the problem was. Now I got the solution from this article.

    Thank you, Sue.

  8. Impressive.Thanks for the post

    This is SO useful. Thanks a lot for the post. The main factor which I found interesting in this post is:


    2.Easy reading

    Thanks a lot for giving such an informative post like this. Waiting for another amazing post like this!!

    Usually, I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You’re doing a great job, keep it up.

  9. Hi Sue,

    Great stuff. I think people are getting bored when they see the "subscribe to me" buttons.

    Changing that CTA to something better (something like "Grab your email course now", "join the list to grab your eBook") can work like a charm.

    You need to give strong reasons to people to get more subscribers. People are getting really smart.

    I personally think email courses and webinars covert like crazy over eBooks. What are your thoughts about it Sue?

    Keep rocking!

  10. Thank you Sue for the informative article on making subscribers opt-in to freebies. It will be my reference when writing an opt-in page.

  11. Hi Sue,

    I can't agree more with you on this, your article is super great. The tips are incredible. I took special note of #1 and #2, which emphasis the need to write a BTE headline formula, and make you audience curious.

    I recently got wrote an article about how to write headlines that people will love to click. There I pointed out that need to craft a promise-driven headline. This type of headline attracts more clicks and subscribers because readers are looking for the benefits they can get when they optin.

    And the fact you also gave them a time frame when they'll get the benefits is fascinating.

    Moreover, making your readers curious is also a great way to get their attention. Curiosity will makes them want to optin to see what's in it for them.

    Thanks so much for sharing these helpful article.

  12. Good information for bloggers and useful tips to guest blogging readers, blogging is one of the best way to enhance your website traffic, for more information on blogging go through the blog

  13. Hello Sue, I've recently put my freebie on my home page (similar to what you did). Currently, I am not seeing results, but do you think that this is the best practice?

    • It should work if you put an optin box in 3-7 places on your site, Ivaylo. So, an exit-intent pop-up, a Hello bar, home page, after each post, etc.

      Put some more on and, if it doesn't convert by at least 5%, get in touch with me, OK?

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