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How to Create a Lead Magnet in an Afternoon [Start with the Free Template]

Want to grow your email list? This post will show you how to create a lead magnet (or opt-in incentive, or freebie) that will …

  • Attract the right prospects
  • Entice them to hand over their email address
  • Allow you to nurture the relationship before you ever ask for a purchase

Related: How to Build Your Business Online, The Ultimate Guide

Creating a valuable gift to entice people to join your email list sounds straightforward. But there are a few nuances to building a lead magnet that prospects find irresistible.

We’re going to cover them in the video above, and right on this page.

Have a question you’d like me to answer on video? It’s easy. You can find all the instructions to Ask the Online Business Coach right here.

In this article, you’ll get everything you need to create a lead magnet in a single afternoon.

You’ll get:

  • A step-by-step process for creating an ebook lead magnet so you can follow along and get it done
  • A list of lead magnet ideas for inspiration
  • A free lead magnet template so you can create your downloadable in a single afternoon


It wasn’t that long ago that we could just offer an email newsletter on our websites. “Sign up for our newsletter” was a call to action that worked great.

But now?

How to create a lead magnet - solve a customer problem fast.

Today, we need to offer a lead magnet that delivers immediate value to the person who subscribes.

We’re all busy. To entice people to subscribe, offer them something that delivers an immediate benefit.

Don’t ask them to spend hours reading, watching, or listening to consume your lead magnet.

In other words, solve a problem they have — fast.

Offering a lead magnet that gives your potential customer a quick win is one of the most powerful ways to grow your email list.

Think about your ideal customer. What do they want most? When you tap into that, you turn more qualified prospects into subscribers — or better yet, customers!

Are you a video fan? You can get all my new content fresh from my studio when you subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Opting in to your lead magnet is a “trust event”

I like to call lead magnets a first “trust event.”

It’s one thing for people to click through and read your free content online or watch your free videos. It doesn’t take a lot of commitment.

Clicking on something is not a big commitment. 

Signing up to your email list — handing over the keys to their inbox — feels like a huge commitment. 

You’re asking people to trust you and give you something that feels valuable to them — their email address.

You need to give them a compelling reason to hand an email address over.

But how?


Lead magnet definition: The gift of a solution

My lead magnet definition is …

A lead magnet is a valuable gift you offer in exchange for an email.

“Lead” refers to someone who is representative of the ideal customer you’d like to attract to your online business.

“Magnet” refers to an irresistible piece of digital content — an ebook, a checklist, a video tutorial — that solves an immediate problem.

Think about your lead magnet as the gift of a solution.

Your lead magnet will open a virtual door, giving you the opportunity to welcome prospective customers in.

You can introduce yourself and your business in a way that creates trust between you and your readers.

When you exchange something of real value for their email address, you help transform people to from being strangers to becoming customers. 

When someone signs up for your lead magnet, they’re trusting that you can help them achieve something or solve a problem

Your lead magnet doesn’t have to solve a big problem to make a big impression. Giving someone a quick win is a great way to build trust and authority.

You’ve made it clear you know what you’re talking about.

Keep in mind that for a lead magnet funnel to work …

  • Your lead magnet needs to feel valuable.
  • Your lead magnet needs to be easy to consume and actionable.
  • Your lead magnet must have an irresistible title.

Ready to create your lead magnet in a single afternoon? Let’s do this …

Create a lead magnet that aligns with your offer.

Step 1: Decide what lead magnet to create

It’s very important to create a lead magnet with your end in mind.

What I mean by that is …

Start by thinking about the offer you want people to buy. This is a specific product or the service that you’ll sell to a specific group of people. 

Why does this matter? Because if your lead magnet is not targeted toward an offer, you’re just going to have random people signing up for a random lead magnet — and that does nothing for your business.

You end up having people on an email list who aren’t actually interested in your final offer.

The elements of a lead magnet: graphic
Think about your offer (the full solution). Then think about the transformation it delivers. Create a lead magnet that helps people take the first step.


How to create a lead magnet that grows your email list with future buyers

To find the best lead magnet topic, we need to do some reverse engineering.

  • Think about your final offer. What will you sell them and who are the ideal customers for this offer?
  • Think about the transformation your offer delivers. Where are people before they find your offer, and then where are they after? What can they not do before that they can do after? What transformation will you deliver? 
  • Think about a first, prerequisite step. What can you give them to help move them toward your full solution? Your lead magnet should offer the WHAT and the WHY … not the HOW. (More on this below.)

What information should be free — and what should you save for your paid offer?

Whenever I teach people how to create opt-in incentives or lead magnets, the question I hear is, “I’m not sure what information to put in my paid offer and what information should be in my free offer.”

Your free lead magnet will answer the “what” and the “why.” Your paid product will show them “how.”

For example, lead magnets answer questions like, “What is this topic? What does it mean? Why does it matter? Why should I try to improve in this area?”

Your lead magnet helps to define your topic and establish its importance.

If you answer the “what” and the “why” with your lead magnet,  then your full offer — your paid product — can provide the “how.”

How to use this topic. How to apply this topic in my life. How to master this topic. That’s what people pay for.

Free is the “what” and the “why.” Paid is the “how.” 

Create a step-by-step process — and use your lead magnet to prepare people for the process

If you have information or something you want to teach people or even a product, you can think about dividing the transformation you offer into steps.

Spell out the step-by-step solution, then add your lead magnet at the very beginning as a prerequisite step to prepare people to for the transformation process. (Examples below.)

The steps to creating a free lead magnet
Your lead magnet prepares your prospects to enter into the transformation your paid product will deliver.

If this way of thinking about your lead magnet feels too abstract, take a look at these examples:

How to create the perfect lead magnet: Two examples

How to create a lead magnet for yoga studio owners. Man speaking to group of yoga students.

How to create a lead magnet for an online course that trains yoga teachers how to run a profitable studio

Your step-by-step process: Your paid offer takes people from identifying their ideal customer; to creating enticing yoga classes; to increasing profits by selling gear; to growing a studio by adding teachers.

Your opt-in incentive: Your lead magnet could offer a checklist that shows them the items you’ll teach in the paid course (the “what”) and explains “why” they make a difference to profits. To learn “how” to implement the checklist, they need the paid course.

How to create a lead magnet for this example: Create a lead magnet called The Simple 5-Step Path to Running a Profitable, Thriving Yoga Studio.

Does that makes sense? Here’s another …

How to create a lead magnet that works for a startup consultant business. Woman speaking to startup employees.

How to create a lead magnet for a business consultant for early-stage start up founders

Your step-by-step process: Your paid offer gives founders a reliable structure they can use to ensure every early-stage decision leads to long-term profitability.

Your opt-in incentive: Your lead magnet could be a short video and a brief, downloadable guide to common mistakes start up founders make in their first 3 months of business. These mistakes lead to failure in the long term. You give them the “what” (the mistakes) and explain “why” they should focus on profitability. To learn “how” to make this work in their own business, they need to hire you as a consultant.

How to create a lead magnet for this example: Create a lead magnet called Danger Ahead: How to Survive (and Thrive) During Your First 3 Months as a Start Up

Step 2: Use free software to create your lead magnet [grab my free lead magnet template]

Of course, there’s the issue of getting your lead magnet produced.

This has never been a problem for me — I’ve been a publication designer for decades, so putting together a short PDF is easy.

For you, though? Getting your thoughts into a form that is clear, easy-to-skim, and creates a beautiful, downloadable PDF might feel about as doable and scaling Mt. Everest.

Your lead magnet does not have to be an elaborate product, but it does need to look polished. It’s representing your brand and your business, and you want to make a great first impression.

I recommend you use Google docs to create your lead magnet.

Lucky for you, I have a free template you can use as a starting point.


Go through the process in Step 1 to find a lead magnet topic that will attract future buyers to your email list.

Remember, you want to deliver the first, prerequisite step in their transformation. The “what” and the “why.”

Next, you’ll need to find a format for delivering this information. Should it be a worksheet, ebook, quiz … or something else?

Read on.

How to create a lead magnet - some ideas.

Step 3: Choose the best lead magnet format

Once you know what topic to cover in your lead magnet, decide what format to use to deliver the information.

A few ideas lead magnet ideas you can use:

  • A step-by-step checklist that walks people through a prerequisite to your transformation
  • A swipe file with copy/paste text they can use for emails, website copy, etc.
  • A resource guide with favorite vendors, websites, books, and other resources
  • A worksheet they use to mark progress, keep track, or tally up results
  • A short tutorial video that shows people to do an important task (create a transcript and offer it as a download with the video)
  • A quiz or self-test to analyze and understand themselves or their business
  • A handful of “recipes” — these can be for food, for headline writing, for mixing colors, for creating product ideas … use your imagination!

Step 4: Here’s how to create a lead magnet fast

Write a first draft of your lead magnet.

Resist the temptation to put the entirety of your expertise in this one small giveaway!

Remember — a lead magnet is the gift of a solution. A solution to one problem.

Write your first draft, then walk away for a while. Do something else. Clear your mind.

When you come back to it, ask yourself:

  1. Is my lead magnet simple and quick to consume?
  2. Does my lead magnet offer a single solution to a tough problem?
  3. Have I made my lead magnet clear and easy to follow?

Get my free lead magnet template

Sign up below and I’ll send you a link to my free lead magnet template. It uses Google docs and you can easily edit the fonts and colors to customize it for your brand!


How to use the free lead magnet template

The prompts and the instructions for using the template are in the template itself. If you just read the template content, you should understand how to use it.

Pro tip: Make two copies of the template. Use one to create your lead magnet and keep the other open so you can review the “how to use this template” instructions.

You can use this free template to create all sorts of downloadable lead magnets. Here’s how.

Edit the cover information

Add your lead magnet title, your photo or logo, your author name, and your website URL.

How to use the free lead magnet template
Open the template and change the text on the cover. You can use the small text at the top if you need it, or you can delete it.
How to use the free lead magnet template
Insert an image of the lead magnet author or use a logo to reinforce your brand. Be sure to add your website URL in the footer — it will appear on every page of your lead magnet.

Edit the inside pages

The instructions for using the template are inside the template, so use the prompts to guide you.

How to use the free lead magnet template
The template is set up with Styles. You can edit Styles so they use your brand fonts. Here’s how to add fonts to Google docs.

Optional: Create a checklist or worksheet

The last page of the template contains instructions for adding a worksheet or a checklist.

How to use the free lead magnet template
It’s easy to add an interactive element to your lead magnet — just follow the prompts in the document.

Click below and I’ll send the free template to your inbox:


Step 5: Share your lead magnet

The process for this next step will vary depending on the email provider you use. Once you’ve saved your shiny new lead magnet as a PDF, you’ll need to create:

  • A form or landing page where you will offer the lead magnet in exchange for an email address (ConvertKit has beautiful forms and landing pages.) < affiliate link
  • A way to deliver the lead magnet. This may happen inside your email marketing software or you could send a link in your first email.
  • A follow up sequences of emails. Don’t just hand over the lead magnet and leave your new subscribers hanging! Write a short series of follow up emails introducing yourself and sharing your story, encouraging them to use the lead magnet, and sharing additional resources about your lead magnet topic.

Yes, you can create a lead magnet in a single afternoon!

Don’t overthink this! Grab your favorite beverage and go through this process step-by-step:

  • Step 1: Decide what lead magnet to create
  • Step 2: Use free software to create your lead magnet [grab my free lead magnet template]
  • Step 3: Choose the best lead magnet format
  • Step 4: Create your lead magnet
  • Step 5: Share your lead magnet

Follow this process to attract an audience of people who will be interested in the offer you want to sell them in the future.

You can use both the process and the template to create future lead magnets, too!


Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is the Chief Marketing Officer at DCS. She’s the creator of the Offer Accelerator Program. Learn more about Pamela’s content marketing books, and read reviews of the tools used to run this site.
Pamela Wilson coaches people in midlife to build profitable online businesses
I’m Pamela Wilson

In 2010, at the age of 45, I started this site and grew it into a business that offers freedom, flexibility — and consistent revenue.


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