Can You Grow Your Email List Without a Freebie?


Do you need a freebie?

Whether you call it a lead magnet or a freebie, giving away a valuable piece of content is a popular way to grow an email list.

A lead magnet could be a downloadable guide or checklist, an email course, or a mini video series. I generally recommend this strategy, but there are reasons you might consider other ways to grow your list.

Let's look at the pros and cons of a freebie and ways you can grow you list WITHOUT a freebie!


Pros and Cons of a Freebie

One benefit of a freebie is that it is usually a more compelling reason for people to give away their email address than a request to merely 'sign up for emails!' I say 'usually' because I'll share some ideas below for how to be compelling without a freebie.

Another benefit of a freebie is that it gives you an opportunity to share an educational piece of content that goes deeper than the information on your website or social media posts. This builds trust and shows new subscribers that you have the expertise to help.

There are 2 potential downsides to using a freebie to grow your list. One is that the topic you choose could potentially only attract a subset of the types of people you help. If you specialize in women's health and create a freebie about pregnancy, for example, you miss out on all the women who are not pregnant.

The other potential downside of using a freebie to grow your list is that you might be restricted by email privacy laws in some countries. If you are subject to GDPR, for example, you need to get express and granular permission to add people to your general email list. That means they might download your freebie but choose NOT to be added to your list.

Depending on your specific situation—including your interest in investing time or money in creating a freebie in the first place–it might make sense for you to use other strategies to grow your list. 


3 Ways to Grow Your List Without a Freebie


Promise Great Content

If you are sending out valuable content to your list every week, that may be a compelling enough reason for people to sign up. Examples would be...

  • Weekly Recipes
  • Weekly Workout Videos
  • Daily Motivations
  • Daily Meditations

Asking people to sign up for great content completely removes any ambiguity related to email privacy regulations. Subscribers choose specifically to receive your emails because of the awesome content you will send.


Give a Discount

If you sell a product or service that can be discounted with a coupon, this can be a perfect option to grow your email list without a freebie. Examples would be...

  • Join our email list and get 15% off your first supplement order
  • Join our email list and get your first month of membership for $1
  • Join our email list and get 20% off your first order from our online store

Offering a discount or coupon is extremely simple to implement. Use wording that clearly states they will be added to your email list, and make the discount relevant to your offers.


Sell Something Small

Consider this. Your lead magnet does not need to be free. Put a price tag on a piece of content anywhere from $5 to $50, and you have yourself a small product that serves the exact same purpose as any other lead magnet. Examples would be...

  • An e-book
  • A physical book
  • A mini course
  • A recorded workshop
  • A starter kit (like a supplement bundle)

Some argue that selling a small product is an even BETTER way to generate leads for your business than giving away a freebie. The biggest reason is that the people who buy it are definitely qualified leads. They care enough about your content to pay a small price. You don't just have a lead. You already have a customer.


There is never only one right way.

Even though I love helping my clients create stellar freebies to grow their email lists, it's not the best option for everyone. The best way to be successful in your business is not to follow the crowd but to do what makes sense to YOU.


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