So you want to grow your newsletter subscribers but you are stuck. Maybe growth has flatlined after an initial surge of users. I faced this problem recently with my No CS Degree newsletter where I share interviews with successful self-taught and bootcamp-trained developers. I have discovered a great solution - give stuff away for free with lead magnets! I got a 7x improvement in my sign ups from this.
What are lead magnets?
You've probably signed up for an email list already because of a lead magnet already. You just give something away for free when someone joins your list. It's very common to see entrepreneurs and companies offer things like guides or ebooks which are inexpensive to produce. This is exactly what I did as well.
Giving away the Imposter Syndrome ebook
I had an ebook on imposter syndrome in tech which had decent initial sales but nothing spectacular. I was just charging $5 for it so it wasn't bringing in much revenue. I've learned to monetize my newsletter so I can charge sponsors $200 for a newsletter advert spot. Therefore growing an email list is worth more to me than a handful of ebook purchases per month.
How to give your lead magnet to subscribers
Obviously you only want to give your lead magnet to people who successfully join your list. What I did was I added a discount code on Gumroad which means that when someone goes to the link, they get it for free. If you make a product on Gumroad you can select a discount option. There isn't an explicit option for making it free but if your thing costs $5 you just take off $5 from the discount link price. I then added this discount link to my No CS Degree welcome email for confirmed subscribers.
I added the lead magnet on the 28th of March. You can hopefully see a big change from that point on in sign ups. In the 2 weeks preceeding giving away the free ebook I gained a measly 6 subscribers. In the 2 weeks after the 28th of March I gained 45 subscribers.
So that's a 7x improvement! Some days I've been getting 10 new daily sign ups instead of 1 or 2 in the past. So I'm definitely pleased with the results.
Objections - won't people just take the freebie and unsubscribe?
A common counter-argument is that you don't want to offer lead magnets to subscibers as you'll attract either people who won't be interested in your newsletter or people who will unsubscribe as soon as they get their freebie.
I would disagree. I think it's human nature to want things for free. I've signed up for loads of lists because of freebies and if the newsletter is any good, I'll stay subscribed. Obviously it's your job to make your newsletter so good they don't want to ditch it. In my welcome email I also list some of my favourite articles in the hope that I will keep people engaged.
Also, if your list grows 7x faster than it would have done normally and half the sign ups instantly unsubscribe once they've got their free gift, well your list is still 3.5x bigger than it would have been anyway.
I'm really glad I gave away my Imposter Syndrome ebook away for free. I hadn't been paying enough attention to growing my list. People like free stuff! So make something high quality that people want but which doesn't take a lot of time, like an ebook. I've very happy that I've increased my newsletter subscribers this way.
If you want to monetize your newsletter instead of just growing it, check out my 5-star rated course on Gumroad.