Blogging,Email List-Building

7 Opt-In Ideas To Grow Your Email List (Plus Real Examples!)

Email lists are definitely a blogging commandment of mine. If you envision turning your blog into a business in the near future, your list is where the money-making-magic will begin.

But what if you’ve spent ages finally getting your email list up and running and…crickets?

Creating your list is only half the battle. The next challenge is getting people to subscribe.

Enter: the opt-in freebie.

But not just any opt-in freebie. The right opt-in freebie that speaks to your target reader.

In this post, you’re going to learn about 7 opt-in ideas that will authentically grow your email list. If you’ve hit a wall in subscriber growth, this post is for you.

This post is NOT a generic list that includes checklists and calendars. I’m going to give you strategies to help you come up with your own unique spin on these ideas that will serve you and your audience best.

How To Grow Your Email List With Opt-In Freebies

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase by clicking on one of my links, I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, that will help me continue to bring you valuable content. Thanks for supporting In Search of Sheila! 🙂


First things first, if you don’t have an email list for your blog, start one NOW! I will always hound my readers to have one because:

  • they allow you to build a strong relationship with your readers
  • it’s the only platform you have complete control over, unlike social media which can get deleted at any moment’s notice
  • if you want to turn your blog into a business, an email list is the #1 starting place to monetize

Your list will literally become your pride and joy. As social media continues to take a turn for the worst in terms of growing your blog, email lists are thriving.


An opt-in freebie is anything that you can give someone in exchange for their email address. They’re also known as content upgrades, freebies, opt-in gifts, triggers, and lead magnets.

The key is to give away something for free that your readers actually want and more importantly, feel like they NEED to have.


Just a disclosure before we get started: your email list isn’t about you. It’s about YOUR READERS.

Your email list isn't about you. It's about YOUR READERS! Click To Tweet

I can’t stress how important it is to know what your target audience needs help with. Or what they’re most interested in signing up to an email list for. These bits of information are absolutely necessary to understand to actually grow your list.

My biggest tip for beginner bloggers is to be patient and willing to try different ideas. As you create more freebies, you’ll get an idea of what people like and what they don’t like. Pay close attention and change want needs to be changed in order to appeal to your audience.

If something isn’t working, fix the damn thing!

With that said, I hope this post can get your creative juices flowing so you can come up with opt-in idea that your target audience will be obsessed with. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about you, it’s about them!


7 Opt-In Ideas To (REALLY) Grow Your Email List Click To Tweet

1. eBook

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m obsessed with downloading eBooks. Maybe it’s because I legitimately work in a library…or I just like growing my own paper and virtual collection of information.

Needless to say, when I come across a FREE eBook that I know is going to help me (whether with my blog, lifestyle, personal development…) you can bet that blogger quickly gets my email address.

The trick is to jam-pack juicy information into a mini eBook (no more than 20 pages max.)


  • Turn a popular blog post into an eBook. You already have the content written, so now you just need to format it into a PDF and tweak the information a little bit. People love having something they can access through their phone rather than going to your blog!
  • What questions do you get asked over and over again? Could you turn this into an eBook that you could direct people to download?



Krista and Mike of Reroute Lifestyle have lots of awesome opt-in ideas that target problems their readers come to them for: how to make money with their blog. In this case, how to make affiliate sales on Pinterest. Grab a copy for yourself here!

No matter your niche or blog focus, there is ALWAYS something you can pack into an eBook!

  • Fashion blogger? Compile your best bargain shopping tips or wardrobe checklist and how-to style tips for each season
  • Lifestyle blogger? Write a “how to” guide that correlates with your blog topics such as a journaling workbook to combat stress or productivity planners for procrastinators
  • Food blogger? Create curated shopping lists or your best recipes
  • Travel blogger? Put together your best tips on budget traveling or location-specific itineraries such as “10 Things To Do In New York In a Weekend”

2. eCourse or Challenge

I always recommend an email course or challenge for a few reasons:

  1. It’s a great way to build a relationship with your subscribers. You’re popping in their inbox every day and they’re learning from you. You’re literally earning their trust. And that my friends, is what you want.
  2. They’re good for delivering info that needs to be shared in chunks, rather than altogether such as an eBook. Daily emails don’t necessarily focus on the information per say, but rather a way to get people motivated to take action. This is why I LOVE email challenges. I thrive off of accountability, so they really help me.

Mindfulness Challenge

One thing I’m always down for is self-care and personal development. I just signed up for this 7-day mindfulness challenge by Catherine of The Blissful Mind and I can’t wait to get started. Click here to sign up and start your journey to mindfulness 🙂

3. Password Protected Resource Library

People LOVE resource libraries because they feel like they’re getting something super valuable in exchange for their email address.

The way you use one to grow your list is to make it password protected. Readers will opt-in and receive a password via email that they can use to log in and access the library.

What you put inside your library is totally up to you! You can combine all your available opt-ins or make some new ones that are exclusively for the library.

I have one myself that you can opt-in to here. Inside you can find checklists, worksheets, workbooks, my favorite tools and resources, and more! All targeted to help my readers grow their blogs.

Travel Resource Library

A really unique resource library I’ve seen is from Justine of the travel blog The Irredesecnt Wings. She calls her library “The Secret Hideout.” It includes resources to help you travel on a budget plus her own pre-made itineraries! Click here to get access!

4. Swipe File

What’s a swipe file?

Basically, it’s a line (or lines) of copy that you basically “steal” from someone else to copy, paste, and plug in your own content for your own use. They are best delivered in a Google doc.

Swipe files ideas:

  • blog headlines
  • email replies
  • email sequences + subjects
  • sales pages
  • opt-in forms and landing pages

Swipe File Opt-In idea

Meera of Meera Kothand has a whole swipe file collection of list-building hacks that helped her get over 1,200 subscribers! I’ve learned a lot about email lists from Meera, so I recommend checking the swipe file out here!

Swipe files are for people like me who are lazy and/or their brain has gone to mush and they need some kind of structure to get their juices flowing again.

Swipe files are great opt-ins for people who get stuck with writing emails and headlines! Click To Tweet

Also for people like me who get emails every day from companies that want to advertise on my blog who I am totally NOT interested in, but I know I have to respond with grace.

I actually tweeted out that if anyone had email templates for replying to brands I didn’t want to work with. I was surprised when Aitza of Petitely Packaged said she would send me her “Polite Rejection Letter!” in a Google doc. (TY AITZA!)

So naturally, I tweeted that rejection email templates would be a great opt-in idea 😉

Opt-In Freebie Ideas To Grow Email List

5. Workshop or Video Series

Online workshops or videos work great for any niche really. As video continues to grow and is projected to be HUGE by 2019 in terms of marketing and sales, now is a good time to start playing around with it.

Since video is getting bigger for bloggers, now is the time to start experimenting! Click To Tweet

Back in August, I co-hosted a live workshop with my blogger pal Katherine of Slightly Savvy. It was a great way to grow our email lists and we had over 100 signups.

Once the workshop was over, we kept the sign-up page up and continued to grow our email lists as more people opted in to watch the replay. You can check it out here!

If video isn’t something you normally incorporate into your blog, it could actually be a great idea for an opt-in freebie because it will be exclusive content people can’t find anywhere on your main website.

How To Use Video To Grow Your List

  • Give your readers a behind the scenes of how you run your blog
  • Create an exclusive community that only your subscribers can get access to where you have weekly coffee chats or Q&A’s
  • Show off your expertise by creating a tutorial in something that can be better explained in a video, rather than just a blog post. I created a Pinterest Video Vault to help my readers improve their strategies
  • Host your own workshop! Team up with a friend to make it extra fun (and valuable)

Free Pinterest Videos to Grow Blog For Beginners

Click here to get access to my Pinterest Video Vault!

6. Exclusive Community

We all want to be part of a community, right? Creating something that is community-based and exclusive is a win-win for everyone. Users will be included in something super cool and you’ll be able to grow your list!

This is why I want you to start thinking about your email list as a community, and not a game of numbers.

Create a unique and exclusive community just for your subscribers! Click To Tweet

How to create an opt-in based community through your blog

  • One way is to create a Facebook group related to your niche and audience and require users to be on your email list to get access
  • Another way is to create a Pinterest group board where users need to be on your email list before you let them join
  • A creative way is to put a community vibe on your weekly newsletters. Dee of Morning Coffee With Dee has a “virtual coffee shop” for women where she pops into your inbox every week for a coffee chat. I think this is SO cute and clever! It makes her subscribers feel more exclusive and part of something. I always get excited when I see her in my inbox. Click here to become an Inspiration Roaster!
Make your readers feel part of something with an exclusive community through your email list! Click To Tweet

7. Personality Quiz

We all love quizzes, don’t we? As humans, we always have that little bit of curiosity when it comes to knowing more about ourselves.

But did you know how awesome they can be for your list-building strategy?

With Interact, you can make your very own quizzes (for free!) At the end, users can opt-in to get their results sent straight to their inbox. BAM, new subscriber.

Did you know that quizzes are actually an awesome way to grow your email list? Click To Tweet

Interact was created specifically for bloggers and entrepreneurs to embed quizzes on their sites to grow their email lists. So yes, quizzes are fun, but also a great list-building strategy.

Here are two quizzes from two bloggers who used Interact that I think are super fun:



Rachel of The Confused Millennial created a quiz called “What Type of Millennial Are You?” Are you guys surprised that I’m a “Purpose-Driven Millennial”?? Hahah. Click here to take the quiz!

Brand Voice Quiz

 Kayla of Kayla Hollatz created her “What Is Your Brand Voice Style?” quiz to help bloggers and entrepreneurs connect better with their readers and clients. I got “The Connector” aka the best friend. Again, are you surprised?! Click here to find out your voice style!

How To Make a Quiz For Your Blog With Interact

To get started you can sign up here for free and start creating your quiz. I LOVE that they have pre-made templates specifically for blogging. It makes it so easy to customize the images, design, and wording to match your style and blog.

Once you finish your quiz you can easily embed it right onto your site and start collecting email addresses!

Interact also has helpful step-by-step video tutorials to help you navigate the creation process. As you continue to use it more, you have the option to upgrade your account and use more integrative features such as connecting it with your email service provider!

Interact Quiz Builder For Bloggers

To go above and beyond with this strategy, sweeten the deal by delivering extra value after quiz-takers opt-in. Besides just delivering their results, throw in some resources and blog posts you’ve written that would help them.

In last week’s post I shared my “Where Are Your On The Blogging Babes For Business Journey?” quiz to help you guys figure out where you’re at in terms of taking your blog to a business. For those that signed up, you received an email with a checklist and resources specifically to help you at your current stage of blogging!
Blog to Business Journey QuizClick here to take my quiz!


  1. eBook
  2. eCourse or Challenge
  3. Resource Library
  4. Swipe File
  5. Workshop or Video Series
  6. Exclusive Community
  7. Personality Quiz
What kind of opt-in freebies do you have on your blog? Were there any on this list that you can’t wait to try out yourself? Please share how you plan to use these ideas on your own blog below!
And make sure to share this post on Pinterest to help others who want to grow their email lists!
Best Opt-In Freebie Ideas To Grow Email List

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  • Love these ideas!

    Your quiz was so much fun! Plus when I was in middle school I LOVED taking Quizilla quizzes – it’s just fun to learn more about yourself through them. Plus with yours, where you should start focusing on next.

    P.S. Thanks for the shoutout! I love downloading ebooks, too. It’s like another form of binge-reading a blogger’s content.

    • OMG QUIZILLA!! Totally forgot about those!! My life just flashed before my eyes haha.

      And of course, your eBooks are always packed with great info !!

  • Sheila!

    I swear I think of something and then you immediately write a blog post that solves my problem lol How do you do it!!! lol I just created a freebie that relates to one of my most popular blog posts and am going to send it out to my email subscribers first as a thank you for signing up. I plan on using it as an opt-in on my blog, too. I have been brainstorming other email list ideas, and of course, you write a post that has great stuff.

    I love the Quiz idea and have been toying with the idea of repurposing my top blog post as a e-book. Definitely putting this on list!!

    • I’m a mind reader!!! Haha but I REALLY do want to address problems you guys are having 🙂

      let me know if you have any questions or need advice, I’m here for ya!!

  • Dee ☕️

    LOVE LOVE LOVE. Thank you again for mentioning me in here that really means so much! My email list is definitely a work in progress but my push to get it started definitely came from hearing you emphasize email lists so much! My eCourse has definitely gotten me a lot of sign ups lately and I’m super grateful.

    I really want to try out Interact! I loved your quiz so it would be awesome to try and make one myself. Thanks for the tips girl!

    Dee //

    • Yay!! I am so happy when bloggers get serious and start their lists, it’s so important to start early in your journey! It’s definitely a process, but once you reach a milestone and pick up momentum, it’ll just keep growing 🙂

      Let me know if you have any questions about Interact, I’d love to help!

  • This is extremely helpful, Sheila! I just can’t seem to know how to rock my email list. I also don’t know how to figure out what everyone would like to see, especially since it’s not just bloggers subscribed to it. It’s hard for me to want to come up with brand new material for my email list when I could just share it on my blog. Hopefully after the move I can have a good brain dump session or something haha. I feel bad I’m only doing recaps of my week through posts and such. I tried a self-care challenge for over the weekend since mine go out on Friday, but I got zero response lol!

    • Oh I can totally understand that problem! Honestly, I think you can repurpose some of your old content, especially since you’ve been blogging for so long! You have so many posts that I haven’t read, so I think it’d be a good starting place.

      And I would think a self-care challenge would do well for you!! Maybe promote it in a blog post and on your social media channels? Tie it in with Instagram? I would participate lol.

      • That’s what I was thinking – self-care challenge. I definitely want to do that once we’re moved in and somewhat settled lol. Now to come up with a couple ideas for the next few weeks.

  • Thanks for the shoutout girlie! I have all these random email templates but never thought of making them into an opt-in. I’m actually working on something more visual for that aspect. Also, love the quiz idea.

    • Yeah girl, thanks so much for sending that over! and I love the idea of creating something more visual!

  • These are amazing tips, Sheila! Building my email list is something I’m really trying to work on and I’m actually working on an opt-in freebie right now so these tips are PERFECT!! 🙂

    • yay for perfect timing! Good luck and let me know if you need any advice!

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