How To Create An Opt-In In Four Easy Steps

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How to create an opt-in in four easy steps

Part 1 of 3 in the Opt-In Series

This article will help you understand the options you have for creating an opt-in and the things to bear in mind to make it the first step in persuading people to buy your products or services.

What is the purpose of an opt-in?

An opt-in or free gift, is an opportunity for you to collect email addresses from potential customers to keep them informed of your offers so you can make money.  You offer them something of interest to them, for free, in exchange for their email address.

We all know that we don’t buy something we have never heard of before.  We like to get recommendations or we slowly begin to learn about a product or brand through advertising and information that we read before we decide to spend our hard earned money.

So you need to be very clear on who you are marketing to, and understand why it is they want so that you can provide that to them.

Your free offer should be a solution to a small problem.  Think of it as step one in the process of getting the 'big thing' your potential customers really desires.  

For example, if you are a health coach and help people get fit and lose weight, your free offer might be a food diary that they can use to log their currently food intake.  This allows them to understand what they are consuming and create self awareness around their eating habits. Or, if you are a writer and help people write their a screenplay, perhaps your free opt-in would be a step by step guide to writing a treatment for their film idea.

It has been said that the easier it is to ‘digest’ a free offer, the more likely it is that someone will look to you to want more.  So don’t go too overboard thinking you need to create a ten module free course to help people know, like and trust you.

So think about a small win that can be accomplished in a relatively short space of time that you can provide valuable information or help in getting them to achieve that without overwhelm.  Small wins are the way forward. They are also a very important step in the psychology of change and transformation. People want to see results fast or they are more likely to give up. If you can provide them with a small win from your free offer, it is easier for them to say yes to the next step, which could be your paid service or product.

Get the Opt-In Cheatsheet


This cheatsheet is a quick reference checklist for everything explained in this 3-part Opt-In Series. Get your hands on your own copy to help guide you from conception to implementation so you don’t miss a step!

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    Preparation. Decide what your opt-in will be.

    Here are some options:

    An app

    A checklist

    A PDF guide

    A short email mini-course

    A challenge

    A three-part video series

    An ebook

    A sample of your product

    A free trial of a membership


    Create it.


    If you are creating a free downloadable document, you can use Canva (free) to do this.  If you are not great at design then concentrate on writing great content that will help your subscriber get the results they want and either keep it very simple with lots of white space, or hire someone to create a PDF for you.

    Mini-Course/ Challenge

    If you are creating a mini-course, think of the few steps someone might need to take to get the small win they need to see the possibilities.  Break these steps down into very easy to read instructions with a call to action (something for them to do), and put them into an email sequence that is delivered by your mail provider.

    Free sample/ trial

    If you are offering a sample of a product or service, make sure it’s something that is not too exhaustive in terms of your energy, time or money.  If you offer a free call just think about how many free calls you can actually fulfil - imagine 1000 people signing up for your free offer - can you make good on your promise?

    Video series

    If you create a video series, again break it down into steps of what your subscriber might need to learn.  Be succinct in your delivery of the videos - no-one wants to hear someone ramble on. Think of how you can get to the point with enough information without going round the houses too much.  

    How do you record it?  

    If YOU are on camera, use your phone or tablet on a stable surface, or tripod.  Remember to keep any light sources in front of you, not behind, and try to use natural light if possible. Using a mic will create a more professional soundtrack, but many people use their mic on their headphones (the one that comes with your smart phone or device) when starting out. You can also use Quicktime on your desktop to record your face on screen.

    If you are screen sharing you can use Screenflow for Mac or Camtasia for PC.  Another free option is to sign up for Zoom, and record a meeting with yourself (!) whilst sharing your screen - this does not give you the option to edit, but if your video is short, you can try several attempts to get a good flow without the need to edit. If you’re up for the challenge your Mac or PC has a basic editing suite that will allow you to edit your video to create a better flow.


    Deliver it.

    You need to think about how to house your product, or deliver it.


    You can upload to Youtube and set to private so only people with the link can view it.  Or you can use Vimeo or Wystia.


    If you have your own website, add your pdf to your media gallery, and then use the link to deliver your product via email.

    Free session

    Us a scheduling platform that allows you to integrate to your calendar.  Some options are:

    Calendly (free for one type of session)


    Schedule Once

    Simply Book Me


    The follow up.

    Depending on what stage you are at in your business, you will want to decide or at least consider what might be the next step for your subscribers to take.  In the online industry this is often referred to as a ‘funnel' but I like to think of it as the bread crumbs you leave to get to your gingerbread house (i.e. the awesome paid service or product you offer!).

    It’s often a good idea to reverse engineer your paid for service.  ie. what does someone first have to do before they are ready to invest in what you offer - so that the free opt-in you offer is a natural lead in to you service or product?

    However, if you’ve not fully figured out the end goal just yet then just focus on giving value and keep in touch with your subscribers.  Commit to sending them helpful and results driven content that will help them in their journey.

    Create a welcome sequence of emails that nurture your audience and also allow them to get a know who you are, your journey and how you can help them.  People buy from who they like, so be sure to express yourself as the person you are, don’t try to be like someone you think they want to know get to know.   If you need help getting your welcome sequence set up, you can hire me to write one for you!

    Be yourself - it’s the best way to connect  - as I’m sure you’re parents told you about going on your first date ‘just be yourself, if they don’t like you for who you are then they are not the right person for you’.  

    The same goes for your audience!   

    Related articles in this Opt-In series

    1: How to Create an Opt-In (this article)

    2: Systems for your Opt-In

    3: Implement your Opt-In  


    Get The Opt-In Cheatsheet

    Opt-In Cheatsheet graphic.png

    This cheatsheet is a quick reference checklist for everything explained in this 3-part Opt-In Series. Get your hands on your own copy to help guide you from conception to implementation so you don’t miss a step!

      I want you to know that I truly respect your privacy and will never sell, rent or share the information you provide me with. You can check out my legal policies in the footer of this page.

      Sarah Henson