10 Types of Free Gifts to Grow Your Email List
by Cheryl Binnie

What IS the free gift anyway?
Sometimes called a …


Lead Magnet

Opt-In Incentive

Reader Magnet

No matter what you call it, it’s the free resource someone gets when they sign up (“opt in”) for your email list.

More importantly, it’s the reason people sign up for your email list. They want the free gift.

(Let’s face it: people are waaaay less likely to sign up for your email list if you’re just like, “Subscribe to my newsletter!” or “sign up for helpful articles and tips.” The free gift is more of a Gotta-Have-It-NOW item.)

The only catch is – there are a lot of boring, mediocre free gifts out there.

So the question is…

How do you create a gift that’ll make your audience all like, “YAASSSS”?

First, create a free gift that solves a problem.


What are the major problems your clients have when they first come to you for help?

[*Jeopardy theme song plays*]

Remember, these are the problems THEY know they have.

As the expert, you likely know there are other, underlying problems that they’re aren’t even aware of yet. DON’T create a free gift about those underlying problems, if your people don’t know they have those underlying problems, or don’t care.

Ex. If someone is tired of guys disappearing after 3 dates, you’re not gonna rope her in with a free gift about self-love, even though YOU know that’s where she needs to start.

Okay. Got your list of problems? (The ones THEY are aware of.)

Now, what kinds of free gifts could come from those problems? Where you are helping them to solve the problems (or at least get started on solving them)?

You might be thinking, “I know! An ebook!”

I hate to say it but, a 20-page ebook?

Not your best return on time-and-energy investment.

Yes, they may be loaded with valuable content – but most people never get around to reading them.

Although the #1 point of the free gift is to get people to opt in to your email list, the #2 point is to start building a relationship where they see you as a trusted, helpful authority on your topic. And that’s not gonna happen if they never read your ebook.

Instead, create something people are more likely to consume right away.

(You can save all that amaaaazing material that would’ve gone into a 20-page ebook for the email nurture sequence they get after they opt in for your free gift.)

3 categories of gifts/lead magnets that work right now:

1. Instant & Interactive:

This is something they can receive right away and actually USE right away.

For example…

  • Checklist
  • Workbook / Worksheets
  • Calendar
  • Spreadsheet
  • Outline / Cheatsheet / Script / Template
  • Quiz

2. Dripped

This means the gift has various parts, and those parts are released over time like Mini-Courses and Challenges…

  • Video Course
  • Email Course
  • Challenge

3. Resource Library:

This is the most robust of the bunch.

A resources library is a password-protected page with a BUNCH of your freebies.

Don’t worry, we’ll go over everything.

Let’s deep dive!


1. Checklist:

Difficulty Level: I’d give this a 3 heart out of 10 for difficulty: <3 <3 <3

Your checklist offering can be based on equipment, tools, apps, or software YOU already use…

  • The 5 Tools I Use to Create My Videos
  • 25 Essential Ingredients for Your Pantry
  • The 4 Apps I Use to Track My Finances

Or it could be a prep checklist, to help them get ready for something…

  • The Savvy Speaker’s Prep Checklist
  • The Checkup Checklist: 9 questions to ask your doctor at your next visit
  • The “Best Workshop Ever!” Checklist”

Or give them a list of things to look for in certain situations…

  • 5 Qualities an Amazing VA Must Have
  • 5 Warning Signs that Your Team Lacks Leadership
  • 10 Signs He’s Totally Into You (and how to respond to each one!)

And then there’s the “what to do/create/include” checklist…

  • The “Write Your Website” Checklist (oh, hey! That’s one of MY free gifts! You can grab a copy of it here.)
  • The Interview Checklist
  • The Performance Review Checklist

No matter which checklist you choose, ALL of them will have these basic components:

    • Cover Page – with the title, your name or business name, and hopefully some lovely graphic design-type stuff that matches your brand.
    • Intro Note from you – preferably with an awesome photo of you to go with it!
    • The Checklist Itself!
    • A Call to Action – something that tells them what to do next, like sign up for a complimentary Strategy Session (aka Sales Conversation) with you, or explore your offerings back over on your site. Tell them what to do, and then give them a link, URL, button – something that allows them to take the action right then and there.
    • Your Bio!

    Another great option for an Instant & Interactive freebie is the WORKBOOK.

    2. Workbooks:

    Difficulty Level: 4 hearts out of 10. <3 <3 <3 <3

    If you already have an ebook, consider turning it into a workbook.

    Make it fill-in-the-blank or add spaces for them to answer questions.

    For example, you could tell a short story to illustrate a teaching point, or give them Step #1, or a journaling prompt, then blank space for them to write their own thoughts or answers.


    Just like the checklist, there are some basic components to cover with your workbook:

      • Cover Page – a branded, designed page with the gift title, your name or business name
      • Intro Note from you – with your photo, if you have one
      • The Worksheets/Exercises!
      • Call to Action – Tell them what to do next – go back to your site? Schedule a call with you? Give them a way to do it now!
      • Your Bio!

    For a change of pace from writing lists, a great option is the CALENDAR…

    3. Calendar:

    Difficulty Level: I’d also give this a 4 hearts out of 10. <3 <3 <3 <3

    Think about your business. What kind of calendar would offer the most value to your current and potential clients?

    • Workout calendar
    • Meal plans
    • Marketing calendar
    • Team check-in calendar
    • Date Night calendar
    • 30 Days of Adventure calendar

    For example, let’s say you’re doing a Workout Calendar…

    Day 1: Awesome Arms

    Grab two 5 lb dumbbells and your mat…

    Day 2: Light Cardio

    Go for a 25-minute jog or fast walk…

    You can do this in a simple PDF format, like a mini-ebook. Or you could get all graphically-inclined and design an actual calendar for the week or month.

    4. Spreadsheet:

    Difficulty Level: 3-5 hearts out of 10 (depending on your comfort with Google Sheets!) <3<3 <3 <

    This can be ANYTHING you organize for people!

    • Launch spreadsheet
    • Event spreadsheet
    • Coaching calls
    • Workout tracking
    • Revenue/Expenses

    How to share a spreadsheet…

    • Send them an Excel file in their “congrats” email.
    • Or “share” a Google Sheet (just make sure to include instructions on the first page that tell them NOT to make edits in your master copy. They need to save a separate copy of the spreadsheet to their own Google Drive.)

    Now here’s one of my favorites….

    5. The Outline / Script / Cheatsheet / Template

    Difficulty level: 4 hearts out of 10 for difficulty <3 <3 <3 <3

    Why is this so great?

    Because people LOVE done-for-you & fill-in-the-blank stuff!

    This can come in the form of…

    • Email outlines or templates
    • Phone scripts
    • Interview scripts
    • Conversations with your partner
    • Resumé template

    The basic structure, like the Worksheet and the Checklist, is as follows:

    • Cover Page
    • Intro Note from you
    • The Outline/Script/ Cheatsheet/Template!
    • Call to Action
    • Your Bio

    This next one can really turn up the fun or playfulness of your gift…

    6. A QUIZ!

    Difficulty Level: 7 hearts out of 10 for difficulty <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    Let’s dive in…

    Just like people love fill-in-the-blanks, people also like to know what “type” they are or what their “style” is.

    I’ll admit, this freebie takes a little more work on your part.

    Step 1: Decide what your quiz will tell people.

    • Your _____ type
    • Your _____ style

    Step 2: Create a list of the possible results. (i.e. the 5 different types a person could get.)

    Step 3: Create a list of multiple choice questions.

    Each answer should be “assigned to” one of the results.

    Question 1: “It’s Saturday night and raining. What are you thinking?”

    • Option A: “Let’s go out. Spending the night inside would be an outrage!” (extrovert)
    • Option B: “Rain? What a perfect excuse to cancel all plans & drink tea at home!” (introvert)

    Note: the person taking the quiz won’t see the results until the END of the quiz.

    Step 4: Write up a short description of each result or “type.”

    Congrats! Your Argument Style is Passive Aggressive!

    You avoid direct confrontation and tend to drop hints that you want something or are angry, rather than coming out and saying it.

    (Optional) Step 5: Write up helpful tips or steps for each type.

    Step 6: Create your quiz!

    • Make a PDF that includes:
      • Cover page
      • Intro note from you
      • Quiz
      • Results page
        • They can tally up their numerical score to see which result matches them. Or you can find a quiz-maker that does this for you automatically, using webpages instead of the PDF (see some options below).
        • You can either have your quiz-takers opt in to your email list before they start the quiz… or let them take the quiz, and then they have to opt in to see their results.
      • Call to Action
      • Your Bio

    OR – Create your quiz using a quiz app or software.

    There are few different tools out there that let you do this.

    Hands down, my favorite is INTERACT. (I have an article that gives you a video walk-through of how to create a quiz with Interact here. It’s way super easy – and fun!)

    Want to see an Interact quiz in action? Take the free quiz below!

    Okay – that wraps up my 6 favorite Instant & Interactive types of free gifts.

    Let’s move on to the next category…


    “Dripped” means your new subscribers receive your gift over time, instead of all in one shot.

    That means there are multiple parts to this freebie – like multiple lessons that you teach either in emails or videos.

    Each day, they get a new email giving them the new lesson.

    Dripped gifts are great because they train your new subscribers to remember your name AND associate it with good things every time it shows up in their inbox.

    (The only downside is – when people opt in for a free gift, they’re wanting a solution to their problem ASAP. A dripped gift isn’t something they can consume and take ALL the action on right away. So you want to make sure you give them an action step or small win in the very first lesson they get from you, so they still get some instant gratification.)

    7. Video Course

    Difficulty Level: 5 hearts out of 10: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    Step 1: Plan your video lessons, make slides, write script, etc.

    Step 2: Film the videos.

    If you’re going to be talking to the camera, you can use your computer’s webcam, or your smartphone, or you can upgrade to a slightly higher level webcam. I use a Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920, the same camera a lot of online marketers use when they don’t want to break the bank but want clearer images.

    If you’re using slides, you can just do a screen capture video. On a Mac, the easiest way to do this is to use QuickTime.

    If you want clearer sound, you can also upgrade your microphone. A great one is the Blue Yeti Microphone.

    Step 3: Edit + upload the videos (YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia).

    Step 4: Build the web pages where the videos will live.

    Step 5: Write emails to deliver the videos.

    Each email will give them a little teaser of the info they’ll learn in the video. Also include a screenshot of the video, and then give them the link to go watch it.

    8. Email Course
    Difficulty Level: You’re in luck! This type of freebie is only a 3 out of 10. <3 <3 <3

    Step 1: Decide what the course is about.
    Remember: try to solve a problem!

    Step 2: Outline the steps or lessons.
    4-7 is a good length.

    Step 3: Write the emails.
    Each lesson/step = 1 email!

    Step 4: Add an intro to email #1
    Congratulate them for signing up + introduce yourself.

    Step 5: Add a close to the final email.

    Bonus Tips for your Email Course:

    • Subject lines should include the title of the course + the lesson / day / step number they’re on.

    Health Makeover Day 1: Prepare your pantry!

    [Health Makeover #1 of 5] Prepare your pantry!

    • Always include at least one action step or takeaway in every email.
    • Invite them to

    9. Challenge

    Difficulty Level: This is an in-betweener. Like the spreadsheet, this gets a 3-5 hearts out of 10. <3 <3 <3 <

    But guess what??

    You know how to make this already (if you’ve read the rest of this article instead of skipping to this part, that is)!

    Your Challenge can be delivered as:

    • An email course
    • A video course
    • Or on social media (post prompts/challenges in a Facebook group)

    You’ll just want to set up an email to welcome them to the challenge + tell them where to go, and then other emails reminding them to continue with the challenge (“Don’t give up!”).

    And last but certainly not least…


    There’s only one type of free gift under this category…

    10. Resource Library:

    Difficulty Level: 8 hearts out of 10 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    (But not because it’s *actually* difficult. It’s just that you have to create a bunch of freebies. So – it’s way more difficult if you’re just getting started, but actually really easy if you’ve already created a ton of stuff.)

    I’d only suggest choosing this option once you have a BUNCH of freebies.

    Here’s how it works:

    A person decides to opt in…

    …and you send them the password + URL via the Congratulations email!…

    …and BAM! They get access to all sorts of goodies, you get their email address, and you look like a super generous fountain of valuable information.

    And there you have it!
    10 Free Gifts that your audience will looooOOOoOove.

    If you’d like to see an example of one of these in action, grab a copy of my “Write Your Website” Checklist below.

    In the checklist, we’ll go through all the essential pages of your website, starting with the Homepage and closing with my favorite kind of sign-off, a Thank You.

    Click here to get the Write Your Website Checklist

    Invite them to engage on Social media, for example, “like” your Facebook page.