Creating and growing an online business has been broken down into a bit of a science: grow an audience, warm the audience up, create a product they need, sell to them, repeat.
It sounds simple, but each individual step of the process is just that, a process.
Sure, some people strike internet fame and manage to build an audience seemingly overnight. But, for the rest of us, there’s a bit of leg work that goes into it.
Luckily, working at Teachable, we’ve seen so many successful online entrepreneurs build their audiences and create careers for themselves online.
What does that mean? We know what works and what doesn’t.
One universal tool we see nearly every single successful entrepreneur use is Lead Magnets.
What are lead magnets?
As per our Digital Marketing Terms Glossary, a lead magnet is: bonus content given to people typically in exchange for their email address. This could be in the form of a free downloadable e-book or access to a special video.
For example, if your brand is around sustainable living, you can create an ebook walking people through the top 10 easy ways they can reduce waste in their home.
You’d gate this content so that they only way it’s accessible is through signing up for your email list. It’s a win-win. Your audience will get your awesome guide, and you get to add them to your email list.
Creating lead magnets your audience wants
I’m going to be real with you: I’ve signed up for a lot of sub-par lead magnets in my day. Case in point: Just recently I signed up to receive “the only vegan shopping list I’ll ever need.”
It was grocery day and I was pumped. I was imagining filling my cart with great produce and concocting restaurant worthy meals when I got home. When the email landed in my inbox I eagerly clicked expecting to find the shopping list to end all shopping lists.
I got a one page Google Doc with a bullet list containing 16 grocery items. No mention of cucumbers or celery or cherry tomatoes. And don’t get me started on the lack of snacks.
In short, it was the only grocery list I’d ever need so long as I wanted to have veggie-less tofu sandwiches with mustard and a sign of canned corn every day.
This single interaction has made me doubt the quality this blogger can provide before I ever even had a chance to see what else she had to offer. If she ever came out with an online course or paid product I’d be skeptical about purchasing because the very first experience with her brand was underwhelming.
And that is a mistake I want all of you to avoid making with your own brands. To help you get started, this blog post will cover:
- Brainstorming lead magnet ideas
- Lead magnet formats
- Creating high-quality lead magnets
Brainstorming lead magnet ideas
You’ve heard it before: getting started can sometimes be the hardest part. You know you should create a lead magnet, but actually figuring out what is worth offering to your audience is another battle entirely.
One recommendation I have for you: Don’t overthink things.
Think about your niche and your area of expertise. What are the most basic things your audience will need to know?
For example, if your brand is around reducing personal debt you might want to create a lead magnet detailing:
- How to track your income and expenses
- How to cut expenses from your everyday life
- X things people waste money one
- X Ways to make your income go further
- How to reduce the amount of money you spend each week
Or if you’re planning on creating an online course teaching people how to clear up their acne, you might create a lead magnet on one of these topics:
- X Powerful ingredients that fight acne
- X Products to avoid to clear acne
- X foods that are great for your skin
- X Surprising things that might be triggering your acne
I like to think of your lead magnet as a primer for your paid products. In other words, what does your audience need to know to be qualified to take your online course? Or what can you offer your audience to get them excited about learning more from you?
Lead magnet formats
Another thing to consider when you’re deciding on which lead magnet to create, is how should you format your lead magnet?
Lead magnets come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and different formats are better for different types of offerings.
Let’s take a look at a few examples:
- Ebooks: I feel like ebooks are the classic when it comes to lead magnets. Just about every successful online entrepreneur has dabbled in ebooks at one time or another. These are great for providing comprehensive information. Don’t let the term “book” care you, either. Oftentimes ebooks are just 9 or 10 pages long, they don’t have to be a novel.
- Mini courses: I see mini courses as being the ebook’s cooler, older cousin. They contain the same information, the formatting is just a bit different. Mini courses are more sleek to deliver, and tend to have a higher perceived value.
- Shopping lists: If your niche or area of expertise requires any products or physical items, creating a shopping list for people new to the field can be incredibly valuable. Offering these shopping lists is great because you’ll be attracting an audience that is completely new to your field, and you may be the first person they ever follow. Being that introduction to your niche is great for positioning you as a thought leader.
- Video guides: If you’re teaching a skill based course, like guitar for example, offering a video guide on a basic skill is a great way to attract your audience. If you’re teaching a course called “Spanish guitar for beginners,” maybe your lead magnet will be a video of you teaching your audience how to strum.
- A module from your course: I’m all about the idea “work smarter, not harder.” If you’ve already created your online course, consider offering your first lesson as a lead magnet. This has several advantages: It gives your audience a taste of what your teaching style is like, you’ve already done the work, and it creates an obvious segway to market the rest of your course to them.
Now, what you offer to your audience as a lead magnet really is up to you, but those are some of my favorite options. I’ve seen people offer 30 minute discovery cards, free consultations, and free group coaching sessions, too.
The key here is to balance: what you have time to create and fulfill for your audience and how you can provide the most value for your audience.
Creating your lead magnet
Here is where things can get tricky: You have a great idea and you know how you want to package it. The big question here is how do you actually create it?
The answer: it depends on how you plan on formatting it. I’ll break down creating some of the basic lead magnets.
Creating an ebook
Like I mentioned earlier, ebooks are one of the most popular content types for lead magnets. They’ve been around for forever and they’re easy to create.
The process will look a little something like this:
- Create a draft. This will include all of the text and images you’ll use in your ebook. You can do this in a Google Doc or with Microsoft word. Make sure to edit this carefully!
- Bonus: Make sure to add Calls-to-Action and links to your other content within your ebook to get the greatest impact.
- Choose a program to format your ebook on. If you’re comfortable with Adobe, you can create beautiful ebooks with InDesign. If you’re like me and you prefer a simpler program, you can use Canva. Additionally, you can hire a freelance to format and design your ebook for you if you prefer.
- Save your ebook as a PDF. You’ll want to deliver this in PDF format to your audience so they can download it and read on the go.
Creating a mini course
Given our affinity for online courses here, we’ve already written an entire blog post detailing the process of creating a mini course to support your online business.
Creating a shopping list
Shopping lists are one of the easiest lead magnet types to create. They can easily be made on Google Docs, and even shared through Docs, too.
Creating a shopping list with Google Docs:
- First (and most obviously!) create the list of items you’re recommending your audience buys.
- Using Google Docs click Insert>Special Characters>Geometric Shapes and choose a square or circle your audience can use to check items off, like this one. ⬚
- Format your list by inserting the square on the left side of each item and use a line break after each item so it’s easy to read
Creating a video guide
Video guides are a bit more time consuming to create, but they’ve got a huge impact. First, decide if you want your video to be slide based or an actual recording of you teaching something.
If you choose to create a slide based video, feel free to download our free slides you can customize to fit your brand. If you’re recording a talking head video, this blog post can help you set up a DIY recording studio.
Once you’ve decided on your video type, create an outline or script so you are prepared when it comes time to film.
Updating your content upgrades
We often see people create content upgrades and then promptly forget about them. This is fine your content will never become outdated (i.e. guitar strumming techniques are an evergreen skill), but if you’re lead magnet is talking about making money through affiliate marketing in 2018, make a note to yourself that you’ll need to update the information for 2019.
What is the best lead magnet you’ve ever signed up for? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!