Creating an Opt-in or Freebie for Your Blog

Getting new subscribers from your opt-in form is probably one of the biggest challenges of blogging. Since building a mailing list is essential to building a profitable blog, it’s important to figure out the secret sauce to getting people to sign up for your list! It took me quite a while, but I’ve finally learned how to get traction, and I hope what worked for me can help you too!

There are several things I’ve done that have really helped me grow my mailing list, and the most important one is finding an incentive (PDF download, video, etc.) that is valuable to your readers. Handing over your email address isn’t easy for a lot of people, so you need to make your opt-in valuable enough to encourage them to do so.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest things I see in most blog’s opt-in forms is “Subscribe to get updates on [blog topic, blog name, etc.]. Usually, this isn’t going to make someone give your their email unless they are a friend or family member.The good news is that it isn’t hard at all to create an opt-in incentive and start testing it. Here’s how:

How to Figure Out What Your Reader Really Wants

A good way to start figuring out what incentive would work best for your audience is to head over to your Google Analytics account and figure out what your top 5-10 most trafficked posts are. This will show you what content is most popular on your blog.

Next, you want to think of some items you could easily create that are related to this content. You shouldn’t spend a ton of time on your opt-in incentive, and chances are, you have a lot of content on your blog already that you can easily edit and repackage into a PDF.

For example, if your blog is a travel blog, and your most popular posts have to do with trips to tropical destinations, you could create a downloadable packing checklist for a warm weather vacation. Checklists are very popular and super easy to create (you can make one for free in Canva!). If you’re great at video tutorials (perfect for beauty and fitness bloggers!), why not have your opt-in be a video? The possibilities are endless, so narrow it down to a few to test out.

When you have your opt-ins, start using one and leave it up for a week or two. If it gets very view conversions, move on to the next one. Trust me– when you find one that works, it will be SO worth the time it took to do this experiment!

Place Your Opt-in Form in Several Places on Your Site

This is another tactic that bloggers often overlook for fear that they are going to be too “salesy.” Guess what? You’re not! Put a link to your sign up form in your header, sidebar and at the bottom of each post. Readers look in different places, so make your form easy for them to find.

Popups can work if used correctly. I’m not a fan of obnoxious popups that appear as soon as I visit a site, and it will often make me click away immediately. If you are going to use a popup, set display rules, so there’s a delay before it pops up.

You should also make it easy for a reader to close the box, so they don’t get frustrated and leave your site before reading your content! I think it’s better to make a popup slide in from the right side if possible, rather than appearing in the middle of the screen. The SumoMe app is great for creating popups and customizing the display rules and locations.

The Tools that Have Helped Me the Most in Growing My Mailing List

There are two tools that I credit with the majority of my mailing list growth: ConvertKit and Landing Pages from Bluchic.


switched to ConvertKit (from MailChimp) a while ago, and I’m SO glad I made the leap! ConvertKit is an e-mail service provider (ESP) that was created especially for bloggers. Since the switch, my subscriber list has grown a whopping 6 times over! It’s made the whole mailing list process so much easier to navigate and customize. I also think it’s A LOT more user-friendly!

As soon as a reader opts into my mailing list, their incentive is automatically sent to them after they confirm their subscription. I can then redirect them to a special page I have for new subscribers. You can fully automate so many different aspects of your subscription process in ConvertKit (with sequences and automation), so it’s been a huge time saver and helped me to better manage different segments of my list.

Bluchic Landing Pages

Having a great landing page (from Bluchic) has also made a HUGE difference! If you aren’t familiar with landing pages, they are pages created especially for one purpose– usually to have people opt into your mailing list. I set my page default to “blank” in my WordPress editor, so that the page takes up the whole screen and gets rid of the header, title, and sidebar. This allows the reader to focus on one thing– your call to action to sign up for your list.

Growing your list can definitely be a frustrating process, but I can promise when you find the right opt-in incentive and give your reader multiple places to see it, you will be happy you put in the work! Your followers on social media may come and go, but you will always have a way to reach your reader through their email. It’s getting harder and harder to be seen on Facebook (due to algorithm changes), so it makes your mailing list that much more important!

If you found this article helpful, you might like to check out some of my favorite Blogging Tools.


Jessica Morrison

6 Comments on Why No One is Filling Out Your Opt-in Form (and how to change that!)

  1. Thanks, that was a great help. I’m struggling to get ConvertKit and Sumo set up properly, but you reminded me that what I need to focus on first are my lead magnets. Great reminder that this is really how I’m getting the addresses. Any tips on sorting out the segments vs automations with ConvertKit?

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