Note: you can listen to this episode above or load it up in iTunes.

How to Get Readers Excited to Join and Stay on Your Email List

Today’s episode is part 4 of the new ‘Today, Not Someday’ podcast series. The focus is actioning your ‘someday’ list, the things you’ve always wanted to do to improve your blog but have struggled to make happen. For details about how the series works, check out episode one here. Part 2 was about why you should sell a product on your blog (and how to dot it). Part 3 was about how to get people to sign up onto your email list.

The focus of today’s episode is about how to create the most effective ‘opt-in’, or ‘lead magnet’ for your blog, or if you already have one, how to make it even more powerful. An opt-in is a free special offer that you can give to people who join your email list. Having an opt-in is one of the most significant things you can to do to increase your subscriber numbers and grow your business.

In This Episode

You can listen to today’s episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment). In today’s episode:

  • Why having an opt-in or lead magnet for your email list is so powerful
  • How to create an opt-in for your email list
  • What format your opt-in should use
  • More than 20 ideas of what you can offer as your opt-in gift
  • How to decide what your opt-in gift should be about
  • How I created an opt-in for my Digital Photography School blog this year
  • Why you should update your opt-in
  • Why you should have more than one opt-in
  • How you can give people something that will still make them want to stay on your list, even after they have their gift
  • What your opt-in should look like
  • Tools you can use to help you deliver and promote your opt-in
  • Where you should mention your opt-in

Further Reading and Resources for How to Get Readers Excited to Join and Stay on Your Email List

Tools you can use to deliver and promote your opt-in

These tools are great and I use them for my blogs:

Meet my new friend, Edgar

I’d like to welcome a new sponsor to the ProBlogger podcast for the duration of this 10 part series, my friend ‘Edgar‘.

Edgar is a tool I’ve been using since January of this year that does exactly what this series is about. It enables you to make the work you do on social media keep paying off for the long term.

You put a little work into Edgar today by adding social media updates highlighting the great content in your blog’s archives and Edgar goes to work to share them to your followers not just once but by queuing your updates to keep delivering to into the future.

The team at Edgar have put together a special deal for ProBlogger readers which gives you a free one month trial. Sign up for it at

Other episodes in the Today, Not Someday Series:

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript

Hi there! This is Darren Rowse from ProBlogger. Welcome to episode 69 of the ProBlogger podcast where today we’re talking about something that you’ve probably been putting off doing that you really should do today that has potential to bring a lot of life to your blog. It’s a continuation of our series of challenges for the month of December 2015 where I’m giving you something different every day that you can do today to get off your Someday List. We’re using the hashtag #todaynotsomeday.

Hi there! This is Darren Rowse from ProBlogger. Welcome to episode 69 of the ProBlogger podcast where today we’re talking about something that you’ve probably been putting off doing that you really should do today that has potential to bring a lot of life to your blog. It’s a continuation of our series of challenges for the month of December 2015 where I’m giving you something different every day that you can do today to get off your Someday List. We’re using the hashtag #todaynotsomeday.

It’s been great to see so many people on Twitter already sharing what they are working on to get off their Someday List. You can find today’s show notes at where you also find a little bit of information about Edgar—our show’s sponsor. Edgar is a great social media tool that has really revolutionized the way that I do social media. I’ve included some more information on how I use Edgar in today’s show notes. Without further ado, let’s get into today’s show.

In episode 68, I talked a lot about email and getting people on to your email list. My challenge was to either start an email list or to do a bit of an order as to how you get people to sign up for it. As part of that episode, I did mention that I was going to be talking later in the series about creating an opt-in or a lead magnet. Something that you can give away to potential subscribers to get them to subscribe for your blog and that’s what today’s show is all about.

As I said, these are sometimes called lead magnets or opt-ins and you’ve probably seen them on many blogs before. There’s lots of different types and I’m going to run through a whole heap of options that you’ve got to create one today and give you some tips on how to do that. This is where you do give something away as an incentive for someone else to give you their email address to get on your list. I talked to you in episode 68, the last episode, about why email is so important. I’m not going to go over that again today except to say that this is a strategy that you really should seriously consider and that’s also something that I know for a fact that many bloggers put off doing. It is something that is fairly and squarely on many bloggers, if not most bloggers’ Someday List. I know that for a fact because I’ve had it on my Someday List for quite some time.

Only recently have I started using an opt-in on Digital Photography School—my main blog. We’ve been lucky that on Digital Photography School and ProBlogger we get fairly healthy numbers of subscribers to our list through the welcome mat that I’ve talked about yesterday and pop-ups. But I know that having an opt-in would increase the amount of subscribers that we get and so I put it high on our agenda this year that we need to get it off our Someday List. I’m really grateful for my team who got that off the list this year for Digital Photography School but it’s not off the list for ProBlogger and that’s something that we are working on at the moment. I’ll talk a little bit more about that later. It’s something I’m getting off my Someday List and so that’s why I want to talk about it today.

Now, before I get into the tips, I do want to talk to those of you who already have an opt-in list. You’re not off the hook. I want to ask you a question today too, “Is it time for you to create another one?” Actually, I think it is probably really useful to have multiple opt-ins at your disposal. Perhaps it’s time to create something that’s more up-to-date or maybe it’s time to create a second opt-in that you could use alongside your first that might attract a different type of person. Something that you could potentially use on a certain category on your blog or even on a certain post that’s a hot post. It’s also something that you can give away to your current subscribers to, I guess, get a bit of goodwill going and to warm up your list. If you already have one, this episode is for you too.

Let’s talk a little bit about why you should create an opt-in list. Obviously, the biggest reason is it gets people on your list. It does increase the percentage of our people who subscribe to your list. First, on readers who come along, see something for free that you’re giving away, and it gives them an incentive obviously to jump on the list, but I think there’s a whole heap more than a good opt-in can do. It can really show your new subscribers that you know what you’re talking about.

If you give them something that actually changes their life, that actually solves their problem for them, and that shows that you’re a credible source of information, it can show people that you know what you’re talking about. But also, it builds trust, builds reciprocity—I struggle with that word—and goodwill with your new subscribers. It also shows your subscribers that you care about them. If you’ve gone to the effort of creating something for free for them then I guess that makes an impression upon people.

The last thing I think that a good opt-in can do is that it can lead people closer to becoming a customer. If you’ve got something to sell which is what we talked about a couple of episodes ago, creating a product. If you’ve created that product, a good opt-in will lead people towards purchasing that product, partly because you’ve shown them that you know what you’re talking about, you’ve built relationships, you’ve built trust but also because you may actually grow desire for your product. You may grow interest in your product through your opt-in. I think it’s really useful to do but how do you do it?

I want to talk about how to deliver it first. On what format should your opt-in be? What form should it take? The most common one that I see bloggers are using is what I would call a written opt-in, a PDF. Often you see people giving away an eBook or a report or a guide or a white paper or maybe something in printout, a cheat sheet or a checklist or a template or a sample, like a sample contract. The list could go on and on. This is probably a good starting place because written content, well, you don’t need to produce a video, you don’t need to put together a course or anything like that. You just open a word document and you start writing. If you want to, you could export that word document as a PDF. I would encourage you to get it designed and make it look a little bit prettier and to integrate it with your brand a bit more but a written PDF might be a good starting place if you are looking at creating a first opt-in.

There are plenty of other options as well. You could do something that’s more visual. Again, this may be delivered as a PDF but maybe you create a mind map or a process or a blueprint or an infographic that you give away. Something that’s really useful that’s more visual content. Your giveaway might be a video, maybe it’s a single talking head video where you talk subscribers through a process or maybe it’s a series of videos that you deliver as a mini course.

Similarly, you could use audio giving away a free podcast. This is actually something that I did in the early days of ProBlogger. I recorded an interview with Pat Flynn—it may have been one of the first interviews that he ever did. I recorded this story of Pat talking to my subscribers and I gave that away to my newsletter subscribers. This is years and years ago now. It was also good for Pat because I linked to that so anyone who subscribed to my newsletter suddenly was introduced to Pat and went to his side as well.

You could give away a test or a checkup tool. I’ve seen people use personality tests as a lead gen if that’s their topic. You could say, “You get to do this test and you get the result if you give us your email address.” You could create your opt-in as an email series, “Opt-in to our list and we will send you a weekly email with tips on how to do…” whatever it is that you teach. You could sell that as a course. You could give away a live webinar or a private Periscope or some kind of a live interaction. I’ve seen people give away 10-minute consultations with people who subscribe. You want to be a bit careful about that because you might get a thousand subscribers and not be able to deliver them but if you have a smaller readership that might be a useful way to get opt-in as well.

Maybe you want to give away some sort of membership area so a private Facebook group or an area on your blog that gets unlocked if they give you their email address that has premium content or a library of reports or articles. It might be that you want to give away some kind of software. I’ve seen people in the photography space giveaway lightroom presets. I’ve people in the Word Press space giveaway plugins for WordPress. Maybe you want to give away a chapter from an eBook that you’ve got, a paid product that you have, a sample chapter, or maybe you want to give away access to a service that you offer or a tool for a month of free trial of the service that you have.

All of these things are completely legitimate ways of getting the email from those first-time readers on your blog. All of them can work. I think you should consider all of them but here’s a question that I would ask you before you run away and create that eBook or that guide or that report or that piece of software. How can you give something away that incentivizes people to stay on your list and stay engaged? Most of the things that I’ve just given you as examples are single one-off incentives, “Give us your email we will give you an eBook.” The problem with that is that people will subscribe to get the free thing and they will then either unsubscribe because, “I don’t want to continue to hear from you.” Or they will become disengaged, “I got the eBook. I then filter those emails off or I just don’t look at them anymore.”

How can you create something that makes people look forward to your emails? Perhaps a better approach than just giving an eBook or a report or a one-off thing is to create something that is a series of things. Instead of giving an eBook or report, perhaps offer them a monthly eBook or a monthly report. It’s a bit more work but you’re going to get subscribers who not only give you the email address but they’re going to be looking forward to the next installment. Perhaps instead of giving a webinar offer a monthly webinar or a weekly one or whatever period that suits you and your time of availability. Instead of offering a single video, maybe offer a daily video for a week or once a month. Instead of giving away a preset or a plugin, offer a regular one.

Hopefully, you can see here that I’m pushing you to more work but I’m also pushing you to think a little bit more creatively about how to create an opt-in that keeps people engaged, keeps people subscribed. We’ve talked so far about what form your opt-in should take but what should it actually be about? What should it be? It’s all very well to say it’s going to be an eBook but what’s the eBook going to be about or what’s the course going to be about? What’s the series of things that you give away going to be about? I can’t give you the answer to this, but I can give you a few tips in thinking about what it should be about.

The first thing I’d encourage you to think through is creating your opt-in to solve a problem. I was on a great little Periscope recently with Zac from In his Periscope, he talked a little bit about opt-ins and there was this golden nugget in it that I have been thinking about ever since, since I’ve been creating my own opt-in for ProBlogger. He said that it needs to give people a quick win. Your opt-in should solve a problem in the next 10-15 minutes after they get it. It needs to solve a specific problem.

If you create an opt-in that solves a problem, it gives people a quick win. It gives them incentive to subscribe. It shows them that you deliver value that you solve problems. It makes them grateful to you. It’s the kind of thing that they will want to share with other people, but it doesn’t give away everything that you’ve got. At least something for you to sell or continue to deliver value on and gives them a reason to continue to deliver value on and gives them a reason to continue to stay subscribed and hopefully leads them towards making a further purchase from you or hiring you in some way.

This really means that you need to be able to solve a problem that your readers have. You need to understand who they are. I think this is a step back from making this decision about what your opt-in should be about. You really need to have done the exercise of trying to work who it is you’re trying to reach and understanding their problems and needs. Make your opt-in something that’s going to solve a felt need that they have. It’s not just a problem that they have that you know they have; it’s going to be a problem that they have a strong feeling about. It’s something that they have come to you hopefully with a problem that they are looking for a solution on.

Another way to kind of unpack this is, “What’s the most common question that you’re asked by your readers?” I know every time I do a Q&A with ProBlogger readers; I get five or six of the same questions and that gives me a hint as to what I could be creating an opt-in about. These are things that the people are coming looking for answers on. I can actually give them an answer and it doesn’t take me a whole heap of time to create that. Create something that solves a specific need. It doesn’t need to be big. It doesn’t need to solve every problem they have. It just needs to be something that creates a quick win for them.

Again, example, I saw recently one photographer on his blog offered a free guide to help people feel comfortable in front of the camera. When I talked to this photographer, he said he had realized that one of the biggest anxieties that people had when they hire a photographer is that they are just going to feel awkward in front of the camera. He created this little guide. It was just a few pages long and had a bit of a checklist of things that you can do to make yourself feel comfortable. It worked really well for his audience when I talked to him about it. He said he found that it really showed his clients that he knew what their pain point was, and it helped them to feel comfortable just that he knew that.

The other benefit of it is when they actually came to photoshoots with him, they came more relaxed because they’d read his book and it made his job easier as well. It showed that he understood them. It helped them to overcome something that they were feeling—that they have pain and that anxiety around—and actually improved the service that he could offer. In the end, it led to better photos which helped satisfy his customers as well.

What you choose to create your opt-in on is really up to you. I can’t give you the answer to that, but it needs to have some kind of value to your potential subscribers. If it can lead them to your ultimate goal of them buying your product or staying engaged, then you are really on to a good thing.

The next thing you really need to think through here is how you’re going to create it. Again, this is something that I can’t really give you the answer to because it’s going to depend upon what type of product you create but what I would say—having created a couple of my own—is to make it a bite size. I have seen bloggers make their opt-in so big and complicated that they never actually get it done and they spent so much time on their opt-in that they’ve got no energy left to create a product to sell or to create a content on their blog. Make it bite size, make it something that you can achieve.

Another thing I would say, and I mentioned this a little bit earlier is to make it look good. It can be worth getting a little bit of help with this. Use a service like 99Designs or even Fiverr to just get a simple but clean design that fits with your brand. You want it to have the same sort of colors as your blog, use your logo where you can. Ultimately, it’s going to be useful and this is something that you just need to have front of mind all the time.

Once you’ve created it, then it’s really about trying to get it in front of your subscribers. A lot of the stuff that I covered in the last episode, in episode 68, will be useful to you here. You can use a number of tools. One is Leadpages, which I’ll link to in our show notes; SumoMe, as I mentioned in episode 68. Both of these are good tools for getting your opt-in in front of people. You can then be promoting it on your social media accounts. This is something that you probably if you’re using a tool like Edgar should be in your library and that you should have scheduled to be promoted fairly regularly to your social media followers.

You should be promoting your opt-in in your content particularly any content that related to the opt-in itself. If you have a post on your blog that relates to the topic of your opt-in, you should be promoting that opt-in in all those posts. Any time you mention your newsletter, you should be promoting that opt-in as well. You should—if you’ve got the budget—consider advertising your opt-in as well. I know not everyone who listens to this podcast has the budget for that but if you are advertising on Facebook or on Twitter or some other social media, I would really highly recommend that you promote that opt-in through that advertising.

I’ve kind of skimmed over the surface, a whole heap today. I have a whole heap more reading for you and links to some of those tools that I mentioned in today’s show notes. But here’s the challenge that I want to give you today: What opt-in will you be creating? What opt-in are you going to create that is going to help increase the subscriber numbers for your blog in the coming months and in 2016 as we approach this new year? It does take work. I’m not saying this is easy. This does take work but it’s one of those things that once you’ve completed this, and once you’ve got this new little asset, it will continue to work for you in the months and years ahead. What opt-in will you be creating? For those of you who have already got one, what’s your next opt-in going to be?

I would love to hear what your opt-in is going to be. You can do it in one of two ways. One, you could go to our show notes at I almost forgot what episode I was on or you can use the hashtag #todaynotsomeday on Twitter or on Instagram to tell us, tell me, but also tell others who are doing this challenge, what opt-in you have created. I would love to see people sharing their ideas.

I want to commit to you that this is a challenge that I’m working on right now. I’ve just written a six-part giveaway for ProBlogger that I’m going to give away in the New Year. I’m not going to tell you exactly what it’s about yet, but it is answering one of those most common questions that I get asked all the time on ProBlogger. It gives you a whole heap of ideas that’s going to be really useful. I am going to send it out every month for six months. It’s a type of thing that I know people are going to find valuable and they are going to look for every month after they sign up.

This is something I’m working on and as it gets closer to finishing, I will share on the hashtag what it is and share that back with you here on the podcast as well. I will report back to you on how I’m progressing with it, but I really would love to hear what you’re working on as well. If you’re going to share some ideas, hopefully, you’ll get some ideas of other people who are leaving comments and using that hashtag too.

Thanks for listening to today’s podcast. Again, you can find today’s show notes at As a special thanks to Edgar who is the sponsor for this series of podcasts that we are doing, you can find that more information on them and the great tool that they offer and how I used it in today’s show notes. Also, check out for the offer that they have for you as ProBlogger podcast listeners. Thanks for listening. I’ll chat with you in episode 70 of this ProBlogger podcast.

How did you go with today’s episode?

What opt-in are you going to create to increase your blog subscriber numbers?

If you already have an opt-in, how are you going to improve it? If you’re creating a new one, what will it be?

I’d love to hear from you about what you’re working on in the comments below, or on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #TodayNotSomeday.

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