How To Create An Opt-In Freebie That Leads To More Sales (+25 Opt-in Ideas!)

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I’m Courtney Fanning the copywriting and brand strategy brains behind Big Picture. I use my literal master’s in selling stories to help 1:1 clients and DIY students write purpose-driven copy that sells and scales. 

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Written by Courtney
Copywriting & brand strategy brains behind Big Picture.

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It’s no surprise that I’m kind of a words gal. Every word choice comes with its own set of associations and the way you frame a concept can alter your reader’s understanding.

So I have a bit of a bone to pick with thinking about freebies as a way to “build your email list”.

Build it to what end?


The purpose of a freebie/opt-in/lead magnet is not to build your list, but to increase your sales.

See how a *tiny* word choice can completely alter the way you think about something?

Let’s start framing it differently.

After all, a large list does not equal an engaged list, and a freebie without long-term value is easy to download and forget about forever in the deep, dark depths of your downloads folder.

(Anyone else terrified when you have to find that thing you think you downloaded last July? )

✍️Your freebie should act as one of the Hansel and Gretel breadcrumbs that leads your site visitors toward working with you or purchasing one of your products.

Your freebie is not a meaningless throwaway resource. It should be something your audience wants and needs, and helps them along their journey to find whatever solution it is they’re looking for.

As you start thinking about your freebie as a strategic sales tool, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind.


Here’s how to create a value-packed freebie that nurtures your audience and primes them for your offerings.

(Plus, I threw in # opt-in ideas to get you going.)


1) Determine the end goal.

What do you want people to do with your freebie once they’ve completed it? Reach out to inquire about working with you? Apply for your cohort? Purchase a product or course?


2) Pinpoint one problem you can help solve immediately.

What’s one problem facing your audience that you can help solve today? If someone is looking for website copy, for example, you could offer them a homepage copy template, or get even more granular and help them discover their brand voice instead.

Your freebie doesn’t have to be the ultimate solution to all their problems. Sometimes, when faced with large-scale tasks (like building a website) it can be a relief for your reader to find a resource that helps them tackle a bite-sized chunk, like determining their brand personality instead of their entire brand strategy. 


3) Leave them another breadcrumb.

Just because someone downloads one of your resources doesn’t mean they will be willing to make a buying decision yet. What reassurances, education, or information will they need next so that when the time comes to make a purchase decision or sign up with you, they will feel confident enough to open their wallet and enter their credit card details, or raise their hand to chat about working together?

What other bread crumbs do you need to leave for this person to find their way to the end goal? A sales page? An email welcome sequence? A follow-up resource? A free 20-minute consultation to review their freebie?

Tell your reader the next step in the process and link to the appropriate resources or calls to action.


4) How can your freebie copy convey value and inspire action?

I love the proverb, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” It means you can give someone an opportunity, but you can’t force them to take action. 

The best way to navigate this dilemma is to create copy that entices your audience and tells them the solution they will walk away with if they complete your freebie. 

Remind the horse…err client…that they are thirsty, that the next watering hole is miles away, and that this stop also has shade and grass — the ingredients they need to fortify themselves for the journey ahead. 


BONUS: 25 Freebie opt-in ideas to deliver your bite-sized solution.

  1. Worksheet

  2. Workbook

  3. Template

  4. Cheat Sheet

  5. Audio Recording (Meditation, Course, Chapter)

  6. Video Tutorial

  7. Sales Script

  8. Guide (Pricing, Planning)

  9. Calculator

  10. Planner (Planting/Gardening, Quarterly Finances)

  11. Checklist (Post and Pre-checklists, Before-and-After)

  12. Interactive Quiz

  13. Swipe File (Captions, Prompts)

  14. Printable (Calendar, Habit/Time Tracker, Affirmation Card)

  15. Discount Code

  16. 5-Day Email Challenge

  17. Mini-Training

  18. Mini-Course

  19. Webinar Replay

  20. Resource Bundle (Stock Photos, Recipes, Presets)

  21. Resource List (Toddler Play Prompts, Local Must-Sees)

  22. Cheat Sheet

  23. Samples (Swatches, Coloring Sheets)

  24. Free Trial

  25. Collection (Seasonal/Favorite Resources)


Oh, and one more thing, you business-building champ, you. Don’t get caught up in the fear that yes, someone else has probably already offered a similar freebie.

I battle this train of thought daily but it’s your take, your vibe, and your voice (this should be my new daily mantra, tbh) that people look forward to reading/hearing when your resources pop into their inbox!

The originality dilemma has been perplexing creatives since the dawn of…storytelling? Take it from British comedian, Stephen Fry:

“An original idea. That can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them.”

Good advice is good advice, and there are people out there who want to hear it from you.




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The DIY Copywriting Roadmap

A step-by-step copywriting roadmap that will take you from strategy to execution in the right order.

Brand Personality Workbook

Determine your brand personality with seven easy exercises you can complete under 10 minutes.