The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Lead Magnets that Work

By Liz Froment •  Updated: 04/18/17 •  11 min read

You’ve all heard that the money is in the list. And that’s all fine and good, but the hard part is actually getting people on that list.

The fact of the matter is, getting subscribers isn’t as easy as it used to be. People are much more wary about giving away their email addresses. That doesn’t mean having the list is any less important, you have to work a bit harder to get it done.The Beginner's Guide to Creating Lead Magnets that Work

One way to do that is through lead magnets. A good lead magnet can tip the scales in your favor and get people interested in your list.

In this post, we’re going to cover lead magnets. Sure, you’ve seen these posts before.

But here’s the difference: this is all about lead magnets that you, the beginner, can create today. If you’ve been wanting to find ways to build your list that isn’t too hard or time-consuming, keep reading.

Sure, you’ve seen these posts before. But here’s the difference: this is all about lead magnets that you, the beginner, can create today. If you’ve been wanting to find ways to build your list that isn’t too hard or time-consuming, keep reading.

What is a Lead Magnet?

Let’s start with the basics.

What is a lead magnet?

Here’s how we’d define it:

A lead magnet is a high quality (some might say irresistible) free offer to people who visit your website in exchange for their email. Ideally, the big goal is to really attract qualified leads to start building trust between you and your readers.

So these offers do a couple of important things:

Alright, now you know what a lead magnet is. The next part is all about creating them. Gone are the days where you can say ‘subscribe to my newsletter’ and get a bunch of readers. You need more now.

So you do need to put a little bit of thought into your lead magnet before you create it.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you create yours:

Have a good idea about lead magnets now?

Good, because we’re going to get to the real juice of the post.

How to Create a Lead Magnet

In this section, I want to show you specific examples and show you how to create a lead magnet that will work for you. Showing rather than telling serves a couple of purposes.

First, I think seeing examples works better than describing them. You can see each of these lead magnets in action. Second, I picked lead magnets that you can create easily.

Most of you are likely somewhat new to the world of lead magnets and they can feel complex and overwhelming. They don’t have to be which is why I specifically picked these examples.

Alright, ready to take a look?


A checklist is one of the easiest lead magnets you can do. They are quick and simple to create. You can literally create a one or two pager, and share via your email service provider.

Checklists also hit a bunch of the guidelines above. They are easy to digest, solves a specific problem, and provides a lot of value.

Here’s an example from my freelance writing site. This is a checklist that covers a list of places where you can promote a blog post after it gets published.

lead magnet checklist

My checklist lead magnet speaks directly to the people I work with: B2B brands. And it offers specific advice on how they can promote their blog posts. This solves a problem that a lot of brands face pretty easily.

How to Make a Checklist

Open up a standard Google Doc. Type up a little intro to your checklist that reminds people of what it is and highlights how you want them to use it. Here’s an example of the one I created above:

lead magnet checklist example

Next, create your checklist. Select the bullet points and pick the one with the boxes from the drop-down box. Write out your steps. I like to leave a few blank spaces with boxes next to them for people who want to fill in their own.

Save as a pdf. Upload into your email service provider.

Simple, right?

Cheat Sheet

This is another winner. People love using proven formulas that have already worked. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of something and makes life easier.

So, if you have a bit of experience in something already and have seen some success, use that information as a way to educate others as a cheat sheet.

Check out the below example from Jon Morrow’s site, SmartBlogger. Right at the top of the page, you’ll see the “Headline Hacks” cheat sheet.

lead magnets cheat sheet

This speaks right to the audience needs, people who want to write better blog posts. It solves their problem by giving them headline ideas in one simple booklet.

How to Make a Cheat Sheet

Once again, hit up Google Docs.

Next, type up your cheat sheet. I think the thing to really pay attention to when it comes to cheat sheets is they need to be powerful, no fluff.

Remember, what you write is going to be the ‘secret sauce’ for people to use to get ahead. They can be longer than a page or two. You don’t need to spend 15 pages introducing things, just give them the good stuff.

As soon as you’ve finished typing out your cheat sheet, do the same as above. Save and upload to your email service provider. If you have a longer cheat sheet, consider using PowerPoint or Keynote too.


People love tips. That’s just a fact of life.

Here’s where you can use your relative expertise. Show off your skills by offering tips (or tricks or strategies) to people who sign up to your list. This is another easy way to offer people something that is going to help them improve their lives/businesses quickly.

If someone can use even one or two of your tips and see an improvement, you’ve already won.

Here’s a really simple example from Brian Dean of Backlinko. He has a welcome mat that offers simple tips to people who sign up.

lead magnets tips

What really helps Brian here is that since he’s positioned himself as an SEO expert, you don’t need much pushing to sign up. You know that his tips will teach you something new and help you improve your site.

How to Make a Tips Sheet

Creating a tip sheet lead magnet follows the same instructions as before. The easiest way to create one is to go with a Google Doc. Again, have a little intro to welcome people, highlight what they are going to get and give them any instructions for how to use it.

Like with cheat sheets, a tips sheet also needs to be powerful and to the point. This is something that can literally just be a bunch of bullet points that features key tips.

As soon as you’ve finished typing out your tips sheet, do the same as above. Save as a PDF, Powerpoint, or Keynote and upload to your email service provider.

Another way to use this tips method is to create it through an email newsletter. You can have a ‘tips’ series that is sent out weekly.

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Resource List or Toolkit

This is another easy one to create that still gives a lot of value. Use you can create a lead magnet that highlights the resources or tools you use to run your business and would help other people run theirs as well.

We can use Location Rebel Arsenal as an example of a tool kit or resource list. The arsenal is a giant list of all the tools we use to work from anywhere in the world.

location rebel arsenal lead magnets

Sean created the arsenal because so many people were always asking how he was able to get work done and travel at the same time. If you want to be a digital nomad, it can be a common problem. So this list helps solve that problem right from the start.

How to Make a Resource List or Toolkit

Resource lists and tool kits can end up being a bit more in depth compared to the posts above. While those are usually a few pages these can get much longer.

So, you can use Google Docs to create them. Or you can make them appear a bit fancier by going the Keynote, Power Point, or Beacon as options. These are going to feel more like guides or books and have a nicer look.

What you want to do is once again welcome everyone and give them information on what’s happening. And then keep it simple.

Highlight your resources and tools one by one. Make sure to link them so people can click from the list and go. Also, include a sentence or two on how you’ve used each of these to help you.

Once you’ve finished, save, pdf that bad boy and upload to your email service provider.


This is a great one to use especially if you’re working in the health or fitness area. Lots of people need help with getting their schedule and planning set up. So if you’re able to create a simple 7 day, 14 day, or 30 day planner it’s something people can love.

Check out this meal planner from Joel Runyon’s Ultimate Paleo Guide. He offers a 7 day paleo meal planner for people to check out the paleo diet lifestyle.

planner lead magnets

Here’s another easy to digest problem solver.

A lot of people want to get into Palelo but don’t know where to start or what kinds of food to eat. By trying it out for 7 days with a meal by meal guide it helps get people much more invested.

Even if you aren’t in health or fitness you can still use planners. Try them for anything that needs a schedule.

How to Make a Planner

There are a couple of ways you can approach a planner. One of the easier ways is to make a calendar template and fill that in with the information you want to share. You can then make a second one in the ‘package’ that is blank so people can fill them out themselves.

You can also use Google Sheets or Excel to create a planner too. Going with this method will give you two options to share. You can offer it the standard way, as a PDF.

Or if you use Sheets/Excel, you can share the link to a shared sheet. When you do it this way, let people know that they need to file->make a copy. Then they will be able to have their own copy of the sheet that they can fill in and edit for themselves.

Sharing this is simple. You still want to have that main welcome sheet. So if you use Google Docs for that, include the link on the Doc and let them know if they on the link they’ll be brought to the sheets. You can upload your Doc into your email service provider as normal.

Final Thoughts

Alright, these are five simple lead magnets you can create this week.

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the thought of building your email list, you’ve got everything you need here to get started. Follow the steps and, you can get each of these up and running and be well on your way to building your email list.

Liz Froment

Liz Froment is a full-time freelance writer and the one who keeps Location Rebel running like a well-oiled machine. If she's not writing something informative or witty for her clients, she can most likely be found reading a good book.
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4 comments on "The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Lead Magnets that Work"

  1. First off, I love this community…and I’m working to delve in more, as I’ve been trying to build my online business for 12+ years now.
    I haven’t ever “failed” in my opinion…I’ve just been learning the hard way while developing quite a list of products and services.
    The ONE THING I have always struggled with, is building an email list.
    It has continued to elude me and I have created lead magnets of various kinds…from perma-free books on Amazon to cheat sheets, lists, tips, free books…and a few others, all without any more than mediocre results (at best).
    Am I cursed? Jinxed?
    Just plain stupid, perhaps?
    I don’t believe so—because I also sell my products and services and have supported a rather large family in the process (wife and 12 children).
    But without that list, it’s been a constant fight and struggle, exerting energy I don’t think should be necessary.
    Not that I don’t work hard—I certainly do—but it shouldn’t be THIS hard.
    Does that makes sense?
    I’m balancing 2 websites…one for kids and the other for parents and the longer I do this, the more that line blurs—as it should. They compliment each other greatly, but I allow OTHER people to make that connection. The one I’d like to mention to you and hopefully get feedback on is on, my parenting site.
    My lead magnet is a weekly comical comic strip about parenting.
    It’s funny, simple, easy to read and digest in under a minute, easily shareable, has a link to the article it’s based on (and has further share buttons for Pinterest, FB, etc…and it’s also the same name as the parenting course my wife and I are developing and will launch soon.
    SO….I know I’m not doing anything in your list, but I’m hoping for feedback and/or suggestions on this.
    My son (also part of this community) said I should post it on the message boards, as I’m brand new here…but thought I’d leave a reply on the article for starters =)

    Sorry for the rambling.

    Jaime Buckley
    Your BIGGEST Fan!

    1. Liz Froment says:

      Hey Jaime, thanks for the question, and the background. I looked at your site and your comics are really great! I was super impressed.

      I have two suggestions that you might consider trying. One is to have your newsletter be more about tips for managing families and then include a cartoon as a ‘bonus’ in every newsletter that highlights the tips. The other thing is to look at a site like which has cartoons too. Notice how Steph pitches her cartoons? Maybe consider doing it that way too, highlight how your cartoons can help people talk about how they can be used as inspiration, or a stress reliever, or are an easy way to tackle family issues, stuff like that.

      I think if you play around and test a bit you can find the right solution. Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask the people on your list. Do a little survey and see why they signed up, what they love about the cartoons, what they’d like to see, etc. you might get some good insights.

      Lastly, think about how you can use social media, your stuff might be awesome on Instagram. Share images there every week with a link back to your subscription page.

      Hope that helps!

  2. John Domingo says:

    Great post Liz! This couldn’t have done at better time considering I’m currently trying to develop my lead magnet for my blog.

    I really like the suggestion of the resource list because I have plenty of resources that I use daily. My question is, is it a bad thing to have several links in the lead magnet that take people away from it? I wasn’t sure if this was a good or bad practice. In my mind, the people would click off the lead magnet to check out the resource, but hopefully come back for the others. Any comments?

    1. Liz Froment says:

      Thanks, John. Usually when you make something as a pdf or a keynote, etc you have the option of having any links open in a new tab so your resource is still there for them to come back to. But if something like that concerns you, consider maybe having an intro, talking about the tools/resources and then at the very end have a list of links.

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