Lead Magnets and Opt-ins

15 Easy Ways to Totally SCREW UP Your Lead Magnets and Freebies

Most bloggers know they need a lead magnet (opt-in or freebie) if they want to build their email list. Tragically, most bloggers are getting those lead magnets all wrong. Cue tiny violins!

So today we’re going to fix all that!

I’ve spent hundreds of hours creating custom lead magnets (aka opt-ins or list building freebies) for clients as well as my own. Creating lead magnets is kinda my thing, and I’ve seen every lead magnet under the sun.

Good ones. Bad ones. And mediocre ones.

Sadly, impressive lead magnets are few and far between, and that my friends, makes me super duper sad.

15 Tragic Ways to Screw Up Your Lead Magnet - Are you making these mistakes?

A great lead magnet is a HUGE asset to your business and everyone should have at least one spectacular lead magnet. Spectacular!

But a bad lead magnet is like going swimming with a bag of boulders. No matter how hard you try, you’re just going to flounder. (Not unlike me trying to snorkel in Mexico with giant flippers and a neon green pool noodle because I’m about as graceful in the water as a manatee doing ballet. Just to paint the picture, I was literally tethered to another person so I wouldn’t float out to sea. Anyway, I digress.)

I’ve concluded that most bloggers, no matter how well prepared, have no clue how to craft a strategic lead magnet, but it’s not their fault.

You see as bloggers and business owners we have to learn hundreds of little things. We must learn how to create products, design a brand, build a website, create an email sequence, Twitter, Facebook, ads…it’s all part of a loooong never-ending list.

Overwhelm is a real thing!

And besides being told to make a lead magnet, there really aren’t a ton of great resources for lead magnet creation and even fewer to help you create a stellar strategy.

But friends, that’s all about to change. (yes we are officially friends now)

I’m here to help YOU create a stellar lead magnet for your stupendous brand.

In this series, Lead Magnet SOS, I will share tips and resources to help you create an amazing lead magnet that is an asset for your rising brand.

In this first post we’re going to cover how good lead magnets go bad.

Before you can make something awesome, you need to know what NOT to do.

So sit back, strap in, and let’s talk about the 15 Ways to Totally Screw Up Your Lead Magnet.

15 Ways to Totally Screw Up Your Lead Magnet



Photo credit: www.bigstock.com

Lead magnets that are not useful are EVERYWHERE.

This is a serious problem because if you disappoint your audience they will remember that forever and associate you and your brand with that disappointment.

Avoid this mistake at all costs.

Here are a few ways to tell if your lead magnet is NOT useful:

Is it obvious info?
If it’s obvious no one needs to give you an email address for it.

Is it not specific enough to be of real value?
If it doesn’t show them exactly how to fix a specific problem what’s the point of it? Mediocre advice is general; great advice is specific.

Is it stating an idea rather than a process?
This happens a lot; lead magnets are not for stating concepts (leave that for the blog posts or brochures), they are about providing solutions.

For example:

Meh: “5 reasons why you should go paleo”


Much better: “10 easy, fast, and cheap paleo snacks to get you through your first week on a Paleo diet.”

I think the core of this problem is that is no real strategy (see Misstep #15) and when that happens people are basically shooting in the dark.

This shoot from the hip approach NEVER works.

Instead, take the time to create a strategy and really think about how to serve your reader in a way that is useful to them. Need help? Sign up for my free lead magnet challenge & mini-course. It’s packed full of tips, tricks, and resources to help you create your BEST lead magnet.  



The days of free e-books are long gone.

People’s attention spans are getting shorter and their days busier.

Today’s lead magnets are all about being useful in a concise way.

Save the extended material for your paid offerings or your webinars.

The freebie is the appetizer of the funnel. It should be exciting, snackable, and get them ready for more.

If you give your readers too much up front, they can get overwhelmed and never actually take in the material.

So stick with PDF’s that are under 20 pages, free courses that are under seven days, and webinars roughly less than an hour. 

Have more to share? Great. Make another freebie!



(french bulldog owners, please no hate mail)

These lead magnets move beyond bad design into that awkward unflattering territory.

We’ve all seen them, ahem, PDFs that are glorified word documents.

They are loaded with bad design and are visually boring.

The content might be awesome but if the package is more womp-womp than wow, you have a problem.

And if you think aesthetics are no big deal consider this…

Every day, your readers are being bombarded with beautiful everything. Beautiful ads, beautiful pins, beautiful Instagram images, and even beautiful food.

You can’t show up to the first date in stained sweats and a dirty hoodie, no matter how spectacular you are. Lead magnets are the same way.

Luckily this a pretty easy fix.

I recommend Canva to turn your lead magnet into to something gorgeous.

This is what I use to create my stunning lead magnets, and the platform is free to use!

Shameless plug ahead: If you need help you can buy one of my custom Lead Magnet Templates here. The designs are ready to go and just need your details added. 



Here’s the ugly truth.

Most people won’t read the majority of your lead magnet, gasp, they’ll probably scan it.

I know, it hurts my heart too.

But regardless of all your hard work, this is what your readers are likely to do.

That means you should be creating lead magnets that are scannable with clear headlines and plenty of visual candy.

This is the same principle we use for writing posts.

No long chunks of text.
Do use headlines
Do use bullet points
Do use visual graphics to articulate your point
Do keep it clean

The same applies for free courses. Keep the text spread out and clean. Keep each day’s lesson as short and sweet as possible while still giving them what they came for. And of course, always helpful.

I struggle with this too. As a person who has most blog posts hovering around 4000 words I feel your pain, but again, making it scannable makes even my long winded posts snackable.



Photo credit: www.bigstock.com

This is similar to Mistake #4 but extends beyond not being scannable.

There are some design basics that apply to everything, including lead magnets. Make sure you are not making these mistakes:

It’s too busy, too cluttered (more is NOT better)
• The font is hard to read (if you can’t read it, you can’t like it)
• The colors are jarring to the eyes (save the neon colors for annual Halloween party)
• The title is too tiny to see when embedded in a graphic
• The format is weird
• You have crammed too much in one sheet (just add more pages)
• Margins are right up against the edge (set margins to your text doesn’t run into the border, negative space is your friend)

These are just a few of the issues I’ve seen, but luckily they are all easily fixed.

If you want an easy and genius way to get a great design WITHOUT all the hard work CHECK OUT MY LEAD MAGNET TEMPLATES, where I’m offering a number of GORGEOUS and original design templates for your next masterpiece.



Most titles I see are functional but not compelling.

For example, let’s consider

“10 ways to make affiliate sales” (yes, it gets the point across but it’s missing pizzazz)


“10 secret hacks genius bloggers use to make huge affiliate sales”. (and that my friends is pizzazz)

See what happened there. The first one is the vanilla ice cream, it gets the job done, but it’s nothing special.

The second example is the hot fudge sundae with those sparkler thingies coming out of it!

Even if you didn’t think you wanted it, you CAN’T miss out on sparkler sundae! Sparklers people!

This is what your titles need, some pizzazz. (yes I know that’s a redundant use of the word pizzazz but I really like saying it, people simply don’t say it enough these days)

I have an easy hack to make your titles pop even if you aren’t a super awesome copyrighter. And it’s the same technique I use to spice up my client’s titles. Ready?!

Add at least two interesting adjectives + a SPECIFIC outcome! Ta-da!

Ok, you have that look on your face, the one that says you’re not impressed, but hear me out. Choosing the right adjectives and popping them in the right place is MAGIC!

Adding a specific outcome (as long as you’re being honest) creates a tangible solution for them.

Don’t believe me? Behold…

Example #1:

Before: How to use Pinterest to grow your blog

After: How master Pinterest to sky-rocket your brand new blog and get HUGE traffic

These extra additions pique our curiosity, they spike envy, they make us WANT the secret, and that means handing over that precious email (or Facebook messenger access).

It’s all about understanding what motivates humans.

Example #2:

Before: How to launch a blog for beginners

After: How to launch a spectacularly simple blog for total beginners in only ten days

By simply adding a timeline (or specific outcome) you make the promise more concrete. People will naturally imagine the date and this compels people to action.

And finally make sure you are being honest about your claims, don’t be that sketchy-sketchster-sketchball. 

Want a step-by-step hand-holding walk through with 5 days of tips? Join the  LEAD MAGNET CHALLENGE!



It’s very important that your spectacular title actually be true!

Misleading titles are EVERYWHERE!

I’ve seen this a TON, especially from what I call the fly-by-night blogging mills.

If you create a piece of content, it needs to be something you are actually knowledgeable about.

Integrity comes first, always!

A good measure of your knowledge is if it’s something you can have a confident face to face conversation about, then you’ve met the mark.

But if you dread anyone actually asking you about the subject you need to go back to square one.

You don’t have to be an expert, but you do need to know what you are talking about.

And this will become extra important when folks start sending you messages asking for tips and clarification on the topic you claim to be an expert in.

Remember, the most successful bloggers are making their money serving others.

So find what YOU are good at, share your unique genius, and focus on that.



Photo credit: www.bigstock.com

So now we’ve established that your lead magnet should be based on actual expertise it should also deliver what the title/landing page promises.

I think every one of us has at some point been duped by a lead magnet that makes big promises and then delivered a very inadequate “solution.”

Coming up with a great title is often easy, but if you can’t back up your claims do NOT mislead people.

This usually ends in disaster; these subscribers will forever associate you with lies and incompetence. Even if you come up with something stellar next time they will probably never believe you again.

For the record this is true of ALL your content, free or paid. Never promise what you can’t deliver. It’s just not cool.



Bloggers mean well, they want to share their journey but making their content all about themselves is a baaaaad habit.

This was a popular trend when blogs where first getting rolling, they often began as a type of online journal, so yes they were all about the blogger.

These days blogging is super competitive and if you want to run a successful business, you MUST make it about helping your target audience.

That doesn’t mean you can’t share, sharing makes us relatable, but only talking about yourself and using a lot of “I” statements is a fast way to lose readers.

Don’t be the gal at the party who only talks about themselves.

Every reader has one bottom line: How does this help ME?

You can share your story in a way that brings back the conversation to them.

So if you talk about how you succeeded then make sure to add how THEY can succeed too. What this will look like for THEM. How your lessons help THEM. It may sound simple but writing this way makes a big difference.



With so many types of freebies, it can be easy to make this mistake.

Which lead magnet is right for your people?

How do you choose between a quiz, a free course, a video course, a PDF, a checklist….?

Here’s my first secret.

Choose a format that corresponds to your paid offering.

So if you’ have a video-based course, I suggest you offer a free 5-day video course.

If my subscribers can’t sit through a short 5-day video course, they’ll never sit through my 10 module paid course.

If my paid product is a membership site full of short but info-packed masterclasses then maybe a free webinar is the best fit.

Do you have a quick paid product for people with little time (like a graphics pack or swipe file), maybe a quick quiz or checklist is the perfect option.

But this isn’t the entire equation. It should be combined with the next secret.

Secret number two is, choose a format that makes sense for your target buyer.

Are they busy moms? Then offer something fast and digestible.

Are they trying to train for a new career? Offer them a real step-by-step solution to 10% of their problem as your lead magnet with your paid offering solving the other 90%.

Do they need to see you to trust you (think health coaching, fitness, and personal development)? Go with video.

So basically…

create a format similar to your paid offering + format best for your target buyer 

Now I’m the first to say these two tips aren’t foolproof, sometimes the only way to know is to test and retest. But keeping these two things in mind will help you navigate toward your perfect format for your perfect buyer.



Just like the last misstep, it can be easy to target the wrong people.

Remember, your lead magnet is part of a bigger funnel (at least it should be).

The funnel might be list building now for a product offer later, or part of an evergreen funnel where they are pitched your offer within the funnel.

Regardless of which method you choose, the funnel should ideally end with you making a sale.

So target your BUYERS, not your readers.

This is important so I’m gonna throw it out there again…


If your paid course is about helping new moms lose the baby weight, don’t offer a freebie teaching college students how to avoid the “freshman fifteen.”

Think about your paid offering and work backward from there. We talk all about this is my premium course, THE EVERGREEN FUNNEL BLUEPRINT (Plus step-by-step instructions on creating sales pages, landing pages, 5 different lead magnets, and more!)



So by now, you’ve realized how to format your lead magnet, how to name it, and what format to offer!

But before you start creating your lead magnet make sure you don’t try to solve too many problems.

It can be easy to try and offer your readers too many solutions in one package, but it’s a terrible approach that leads to muddled sales pitches and mismatched readers.

Yep, I’ve made this mistake.

When your head is so full of kickass knowledge and your heart want to “fix all the things” it’s really easy to target too many solutions.

Unfortunately, this only confuses people and bogs down your content. You end up looking unfocused. Not good.

If you do offer multiple solutions, you superstar you, then create one lead magnet for each problem that leads to ONE solution.

Stay hyperfocused on delivering the BEST lead magnet for that one problem.



Very similar to the last mistake but here instead of trying to address multiple problems, this one is pitching too many paid products as the solution.

A lead magnet SHOULD lead to a paid offering, but you should only pitch ONE offer. Not several. Otherwise, you’re likely to overwhelm your reader and seem like you have no real strategy.

So resist the temptation to offer more than one product, and keep the single solution focus for your funnel.



Photo credit: www.bigstock.com

You can create the best, most awesomesauce lead magnet that ever graced the interwebs…but if no one knows about it, your lead magnet will wither away never being useful to anyone.

This. Is. A. Tragedy.

Creating the lead magnet is half the battle, getting people to know about it is the other half.

So once you have your lead magnet make sure you are promoting the heck out of it!

I also address this in the Lead Magnet Challenge! Grab your seat right meow!



Photo credit: www.bigstock.com

A lead magnet is no more a strategy than a loaf of bread is a sandwich.

It’s a piece of a puzzle, a critical piece, but still just one piece.

The biggest mistake I see from overwhelmed bloggers who are doing all the things (I feel your pain) is they whip up a lead magnet with no real strategy.

They don’t know what their paid product is yet.

They have no clue who their target buyer will be.

They have zero idea how this lead magnet fits into their sales funnel.

Someone told them they HAVE to list build. BUILD THE LIST! So they created a lead magnet to build that list, but what is the list for?

A list of readers is not a business model.

Don’t build a list of readers.

Build a list of BUYERS.

And to know who your buyers are you need to know what your product is.

That product doesn’t have to be finished, but it does need to be vetted out, outlined, and ready to be created.

You can always offer the product to your list later, but only if it’s a list built with your BUYER in mind.

If this sounds like you, take step back, refocus on how you plan to monetize your blog. Maybe you’ll offer coaching, perhaps a membership program, or swipe files, or a course, but whatever it is have the product in mind FIRST.

I also recommend you have the outline created because your lead magnet will need to complement your paid offering, NOT compete with it.

If you design the lead magnet before knowing what your final product will look like you run the risk of being redundant in your advice, or worse, offering free solutions that are a big part of the paid program.

So just to be clear plan the paid offering first THEN create the lead magnet…and if we’re getting technical THEN you create your free content (like blog posts, videos, graphics) that are designed to bring people into the funnel who will be interested in your lead magnet that leads seamlessly to your paid offer.


So basically…

Your readers deserve an amazing show-stopping lead magnet. One that makes your readers say hole mole I want THAT!

So grab that notebook and start taking action right now.

Start working on your epic strategy and then create the best confetti dropping, sparkler sparkling lead magnet your niche has ever seen.

And while you are at it sign-up for my free course, CREATE YOUR STELLAR & HIGH CONVERTING LEAD MAGNET CHALLENGE. This free challenge is 5 days of daily lessons, tips, strategy, & resources, all for FREEEEEEEEE.


Until next time!

As always buckets of HUGS!


Was this post helpful? If it was please pay it forward and share using the buttons below!

Like it? Click to Pin it for later!

Lead magnets can be notoriously difficult to get right. In this epic post I share the 15 ways most people are screwing up their lead magnets. Are YOU making these mistakes? Click to learn more! -- via BlogBrandHustle.com


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.