How to Get Email Opt Ins (Using the Secret HLS Method)

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 04/12/20 •  9 min read

Ask any blogger who has built a pretty good sized email list and they’ll tell you that creating opt-ins are key to their success.

Your opt-ins are just one part of your overall content writing strategy.

When you write great content on your site and optimize it for keywords, you’re going to start attracting more traffic.

This is true regardless if you’re working on becoming a freelance writer or you’re building an affiliate marketing site in a particular niche.

Once you start getting that traffic coming in, the last thing you want to do is lose them.

That’s why you need to create an opt-in to help build your email list.

There’s one really effective strategy I’ve used to grow my email list that’s been amazing.

Want to know what it is?

Watch this video:

Ok, now you know a little bit about my opt-in strategy.

I call it the “hook, line, and sinker strategy” or HLS for short.

Today, I’m going to dig into how you can use it to start building your list.

What is an Email Opt-In?

First, a bit of the basics.

An opt-in, like a lead magnet, is something that you create and give away in exchange for the email address of the person who wants it.

You might have opted-in to get this guide on over 100 places to get freelance content writing work. If you haven’t already, be sure to click here and grab it — you won’t regret it!

Once someone signs up for your opt-in, they are on your email list.

If you do a good job nurturing your list and sending out great emails then you can move them down your sales funnel and they go from being a reader to a customer.

Where people often get stuck when they try to figure out how to create an opt-in that will actually get people to sign up.

We have a few really good examples of lead magnets you can create right here.

But, I want to take it one step further and walk you through the HLS strategy so you can create a super valuable opt-in that your audience will love and looks good too.

Let’s take a look.

How to Get Email Opt Ins: The H.L.S. Method in Action

The secret sauce for learning how to get email opt ins, is being able to combine really good content writing with your marketing funnel effectively.

So for that, before you start anything, you want to practice your writing skills so you can become a better writer. And, understand the principles of copywriting, especially around creating headlines.

That’s a long term goal so you can keep working on it as you build your niche site or freelance writing business.

Ok, detour over, let’s get to the good stuff.

The Hook

First, you want to pick a really compelling topic and headline.

The key here is that it has to be something that speaks directly to your audience. You might have a topic you’d love to talk about, but if your audience doesn’t care, you’re not going to get far.

So pay attention to your readers!

Here’s an example I used on my golf site, Breaking Eighty.

I create a post called Private Golf Clubs: How to Play the World’s Best Golf Courses.

content writing strategy

This is a big topic a lot of people in the golf world care about.

Most of the best courses are private, so that means non-members rarely if ever, get a chance to set foot on them, nevermind actually play.

So I knew that my audience would love to know my secrets and how I’m able to play some of the most exclusive courses in the country without being a member.

This is the hook.

For a bunch of readers on my site this exactly the stuff they want to know how to do so they’re already interested without even reading beyond the headline.

The Line

Once you’ve got readers on the hook, they’re interested. Now you’ve got to get them on the line and start reeling them in.

That’s where your content writing skills come into play.

Once I had my topic and killer headline (read more about coming up with awesome blog post titles here) I need to create content around it.

So, I wrote a super high quality 4,500+ word blog post all about exactly how to play private courses. Want to write better blog posts? Check out some tips here.

I split the post into seven different tactics.

The first 1500 words are the story. Here’s who I am, here’s how I’ve done this, here’s why it works. That makes sure that if a new reader stumbles across this post they can see I’m a relative expert here. When it comes to golf, I know what I’m talking about and I’ve used these strategies myself.

Then I take my two best tactics and highlight them in the post first. These are another 1,000 words or so of good in-depth information.

At this point, people have bought in. And you can really get people on the line if you lead by giving them information, strategies, or tactics that are unique or contrary to popular opinion.

You know this. There are billions of list posts out there on a given topic and about 90% of them recycle the same stuff. If you stand out and get a little creative, you can keep attracting more and more people to your content.

Then I take two of my best strategies and use them first.

At this point, people are bought in. Especially you give advice that’s unique or contrary to popular opinion.

The Sinker

But after those two tactics, I end the post.

To get the other five readers have to download the book “7 Tactics to Play the Worlds’ Best Golf Courses.”

email optin

This works like crazy, here’s why:

  1. Most obvious, if you’ve established your credibility, AND proven you have interesting ideas — it’s a no brainer for someone to want to see the rest of the strategies.
  2. For those that don’t want to opt-in, you still provided them with a free, useful, and entertaining 2500 word blog post. There’s plenty of value in that.
  3. You can get search traffic. Trying to get search traffic to a sales or landing page is super difficult. But I rank for all kinds of terms around “how to play private golf courses” because I made the blog post itself VERY valuable.

So now not only am I creating valuable content, that converts into email signups, I ALSO have the potential to get search traffic from it.

Pretty sweet, right?

This one blog post alone has helped me get hundreds of signups for Breaking Eighty.

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How to Create Your Opt-In

The next thing you want to do is create your opt-in.

What I normally do is write out my whole opt-in as a blog post. And then I use a tool that makes it super simple to have a professional-looking guide in less than an hour.


It’s a service called Beacon that lets you quickly and easily create beautiful PDF guides.

Used to take me days in InDesign.

Now anytime I have an idea for an opt-in bonus, I can put something together in essentially only as much time as it takes me to write the post and then edit it in Beacon.

A really cool feature of Beacon is you can just paste the URL of the post you need into the site and it will automatically pull your content and photos.

This is awesome if you want to create an opt-in out of some older posts that you’ve improved or you want to combine a bunch of content into one mega opt-in.

Beacon has a ton of different templates you can choose from and they let you choose from pre-configured temples including checklists, workbooks, and resource guides.

It’s a really cool tool that’s made creating high quality opt-ins super simple for us. So check it out.

One Last Tip…

Ok, one more thing.

If you’re just adding opt-in boxes to the bottom of your blog posts you might notice that you’re not going to get a huge conversion rate.

The fact of the matter is everyone’s used to seeing those sitting there now. So, the vast majority of people end up scrolling by. You can always catch a bunch with your killer HLS strategy, but to ensure you get even more people here’s another trick that’s worked for me.

I use LeadPages to make super simple pages with the opt-in as the incentive. Then, I deliver the free guide to readers via ConvertKit.

This combo has been converting like crazy for us, we’re seeing numbers of upwards of 45-50% of the people who hit the landing page sign up for the guide.

That’s crazy high.

And it’s really helped to boost the email list and the sales funnel too.

The best part is that with the combo of Beacon and LeadPages, I can put these together in no time.

Ready to go HLS?

Thought so!

This is the exact strategy that has led to me getting tens of thousands of email sign-ups over the years. Hopefully, you can start implementing a hook, line, and sinker strategy on your site to get more opt-ins and build a list of really excited readers.

Give it a try.

See the other two parts of this series:

  1. How to Make Money Content Writing (Even While Quarantined)
  2. How to Build an Email List (for Total Beginners)

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Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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Comments on "How to Get Email Opt Ins (Using the Secret HLS Method)"

  1. Lindsey says:

    I’m loving this article! I’m going to put it into practice right now! Here is my question though… So people sign up for your top 100 list on breaking 80 and they download the PDF. Then what? What types of emails do you send them after that because technically they only wanted the PDF, right?

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