Lead magnets (aka “buzz pieces”) are useful tools for freelancers. As a freelance professional, they can help you:
- Generate leads
- Position yourself as an expert (or as the obvious choice)
- Give prospects a taste of your work and how you think
- Stay in touch with longer-term (not-yet-ready) prospects
- Build trust and credibility with prospects
- Make it easier to take someone from cold prospect to paying client
But recognizing their value doesn’t make them any easier to create. Getting your lead magnet done is something that can sit in your docket for months—if not years. It’s a constant and unforgiving nag that’s both frustrating and overwhelming.
The secret to FINALLY publishing your lead magnet is to break the process into smaller steps and assign manageable timelines. And then stick to them!
The Lead Magnet Creation Process
1. Pick a Lead Magnet Type
First, decide what type of lead magnet you’d like to create. Your choices are almost endless, but here’s a tip that will save you time and headaches:
Stick to a short, easy-to-consume format!
There’s an overwhelming amount of content already out there. And in many markets, prospects aren’t necessarily hungry for more information. What they really want are tips and ideas they can easily consume and start applying right away.
Give them enough to be useful. But resist the temptation to give away the farm (less is often more). Try to avoid e-books, mini courses and long-format reports.
Instead, give them a:
- Process map
- Tip sheet
- Cheat sheet
- Resource guide
- Useful tool
- Quiz, assessment or audit
2. Decide on the File Format
PDF is usually your best bet. But you could also go with video and audio. Or a combination of all three. In the case of tools, your lead magnet might be a spreadsheet or online calculator.
But whatever you choose, go with a format that’s easy and fast for you to produce.
Again, less is often more. Your prospects are busy people and don’t have time to pour through a 100-page omnibus or 45-minute video. Aim for succinct and informative.
3. Brainstorm Topic Ideas
Many freelancers lose their momentum when it comes to generating topic ideas.
But keep in mind that your topic doesn’t have to be mind blowing! It just has to be useful and relevant to your target audience.
Ideally, your topic should tie in with the services you provide and be congruent with your core differentiators.
Choose a topic that’s aimed at your ideal prospects and will entice them to check you out. Something that would be useful for them and they could actually apply.
4. Select Your Topic
Once you’ve brainstormed some good options, run your top picks by your current clients. See how they respond.
If your current clients are interested, your prospects probably will be too.
5. Give it a Strong Title
Make your title a good one. Your title (more than anything else) is what sells your lead magnet.
So come up with a title that generates curiosity and implies relevance and value.
Best bets are “How to…” and numbered lists (e.g. “5 Ways to…”).
You can also identify the lead magnet format in the title (i.e. “worksheet, cheat sheet, audit, calculator…”).
Also, consider including an identifier for your target market (e.g. “The Marketer’s Guide to…” “…for Creative Directors” “The Tech Marketing Campaign Checklist…”).
6. Create It
Don’t try to create your lead magnet in one day! Spend some time mind-mapping and outlining your ideas, then use your lead magnet’s title to direct your writing.
Break the project into weekly milestones. Set a hard deadline and schedule in time for you to meet it.
Helpful tip: It’s very common to underestimate the time required to complete these projects. So add 20 percent to your original time estimate as a buffer.
7. Format and Design It
Consider hiring a designer—or even barter for design services if you need to. A great-looking lead magnet attracts more interest and makes a much better impression with prospects.
Another option to consider is a lead magnet design tool such as Beacon or Designrr. I’ve played around with these tools and, frankly, I’m not a huge fan. It takes time and patience to get it right, and the end product still feels a bit like a template.
But if you have little or no budget (and plenty of time and patience), it’s definitely something to look into.
8. Put It All in Place
Reach to your website developer and/or a newsletter service provider to get the lead magnet on your website. You’ll need an opt-in box, an email with a download link and a download page. You’ll also need some way of managing your mailing list.
And naturally, you’ll want to test carefully to make sure everything works smoothly.
Once you’ve mastered this process, you might consider offering it as a service to your clients.
That’s it! Again, when it comes to projects with lots of moving parts, the key to completing them successfully is to break them down into steps, give yourself ample time, schedule these tasks into your week … and treat them as high-priority to-do’s.
Do you have a lead magnet on your site? What are your tips for getting it done?