This article shows you how to create and launch a lead-gen system for your freelancing business that will become the gateway to your email marketing system.

It doesn’t take that long to do – if your life depended on it, you could have your first leads pinging into your inbox today!

If you think it’s impossible, buckle up, I’m going to show you how it’s very doable!

*As an aside, thankfully, I’ve never known of anyone having a life-dependent reliance on building a lead-gen system inside a day! 😊

Here’s how we’re going to create our lead-gen system;

  • Create a lead magnet
  • Create a landing page (or opt-in form)
  • Create content to share online
  • Collect subscribers’ details
  • Create your Lead Magnet email sequence
  • Create your Welcome email sequence


Let’s get into it…

The basics of email marketing

You’ve undoubtedly heard of it, even if you’ve never actually used it in your business – “email marketing” is the most lucrative and effective digital marketing channel that you have available to you, as a freelancer.

When used properly, it can provide a 30x return on your investment – and the great thing about that statistic is that it’s based on millions of people who have gone before us – so we know it’s based on fact and not speculative mumbo-jumbo (and personally, in my business, I see a return of more than 50x, but let’s go with the average).

Essentially, it involves sending emails, normally in bulk, to a list of subscribers using a third-party software platform, to nurture relationships and sell your products and services.

At the heart of your email marketing system is your ‘list‘. This is where your email subscribers reside and, over time, you’ll begin to collect attributes of each subscriber, meaning you can personalise your messaging to each one.

When you look back in a few months, you’ll begin to get an appreciation of how valuable your ‘list’ is and will be in the future.

What do I need to get started with my lead-gen?

Not very much, truth be told.

You can create a lead-gen system today, for free, and with relative ease. It does require some learning and a bit of work, but it’s not like we’re trying to split an atom – it’s clicking a mouse and typing on a keyboard!

Firstly, when we begin collecting ‘leads’, we need somewhere to store them. The most convenient way to do this is using one of the many email marketing platforms out there.

The one I use (and recommend you do too), is called ‘ConvertKit‘.

They have a free plan (up to 10,000 subscribers) and you can expect to pay a monthly fee of around $9-$15/m if you go with a premium plan.

It’s worth noting that to create a lead-gen system, everything I’ll show you here can be done using ConvertKit’s free plan.

How to attract subscribers to your email list

What’s the most effective way to attract subscribers to our email list?

Well, the short answer is to offer them something of real value that will compel them to exchange their name and email address in return for what you offer.

This is what’s referred to as your ‘lead magnet‘. Whatever you create should provide your subscriber with a genuine solution to one of their problems or challenges – something that’s good enough to sell, but you’ll give it away for free – or more accurately, for their contact details.

What can you create as your ‘lead magnet?

The short answer is – anything you like, providing it creates value for the recipient. To give you some ideas to get your mind thinking along the right lines, here are a few that I’ve used in the past;

  • Downloadable PDF (e.g. a beginner’s guide on email marketing)
  • A cheat sheet that saves someone a lot of time and /or effort.
  • A template that can be used out of the box (e.g. ConvertKit templates)
  • A digital course with a planned outcome (e.g. ConvertKit overview)
  • A scorecard or quiz (e.g. How ready are you for email marketing?)
  • An email course(e.g. Learn the basics of ConvertKit in 7 days)
  • A free trial of your membership (e.g. 30 days free)
  • A free webinar (e.g. How to Get Started with Email Marketing in 60-mins)
  • A discount code for one of your products or services.

Hopefully, these examples will inspire your thoughts, something that you know your ideal client would appreciate, and your lead magnet will genuinely provide a solution – no missing bits out, holding stuff back, and giving them everything they need.

How can you get your lead magnet in front of your target subscribers?

The most common (and effective) way is to share your lead magnet (i.e. your ‘offer’) across your preferred social channel(s). I’m most active on LinkedIn and find that works for me.

Create different ways of making your offer, for example, add a link inside your profile or bio; create a post and talk about what your lead magnet provides for your (soon-to-be) leads, and make it available from within your featured section.

As an aside, don’t refer to whatever you come up with as your ‘lead magnet’ to your audience as this can potentially have a bit of a negative connotation, even though there’s no intention to deceive or manipulate anyone, ever.

Below is an example of a post that I made on LinkedIn, offering my audience access to a free webinar;

Don’t fall into the trap that many others do!

I’m talking about those people who create and offer their lead magnet, purporting to give something of incredible value, but when you sign up and download it (or access it), you’re left feeling very underwhelmed and almost conned out of your email address.

Don’t be that person… I know you’re not, but just don’t be. 😊

When your subscriber gets access to your lead magnet, you want them to have a ‘Wow!’ moment – thinking… If this is what they give for free, imagine what their paid products and services must be like!

If you find yourself struggling to come up with an idea for your lead magnet, here’s an exercise that might help you come up with a list…

  1. Get a sheet of paper and a pen (or a blank page on your laptop) and write down 100 questions that your clients ask regularly (either ask you or themselves). You should be able to come up with 100 in less than 30 minutes.
  2. Once completed, scan the list and look for trends – what are common themes that are woven into the list of questions? This should give you at least 6 themes to focus on (e.g. how to get more leads; how to convert more prospects; how to get better at marketing; how to increase overall customer lifetime value, etc. – you get the gist).
  3. From the themes you identify, identify and choose a solution that you can create that will completely solve a common problem that came out of your list – that’s your ‘lead magnet’.

Whatever you decide on, make sure it aligns with what you do in your business for your clients – don’t make it something completely unrelated or left-field as this will only confuse your target audience.

So, now you need to go build your lead magnet and know that, once done, you’ll be able to use it repeatedly for 100s, 1,000s, or even 10,000s of subscribers.

Now that you’ve gone through the process of coming up with your first lead magnet for your subscribers, it’s time to show you how to exchange it for your subscribers’ names and email addresses.

Let’s dive in…

How to collect subscribers’ contact details

To be able to offer your audience your ‘lead magnet‘, you’ll need somewhere to collect their name and email address details in return.

Using an Opt-in form

This is done most commonly from an opt-in form. Below is a simple example of an opt-in form, embedded in one of my web pages;

When offering my ‘lead magnet’ (i.e. this free 7-day email course), subscribers must decide if it’s something worthy of sharing their name and email address.

Even if you’re not very techy, all you need to do is copy a little snippet of code from ConvertKit (it’s created for you) and send it to whoever looks after your website – it’s a minor task to paste the code snippet into your web page, although you’ll want to add a bit of contextual info around it, i.e. what you’re offering, why they should get it etc.

Using a Landing Page

If you don’t have a website, or if you prefer to collect subscribers outside of your website, you can use a feature of ConvertKit called ‘Landing Pages‘.

In essence, a landing page is simply a web page that’s hosted by ConvertKit, meaning you don’t need your website.

Inside ConvertKit, if you click on the menu option “Grow -> Landing Pages and Forms“, and then click on the button “+ Create New“, you’ll get the option to create a Landing Page.

Once you click the button, you then get a bunch of templates to choose from to start creating your landing page; choose one and begin to design your page.

Below is an example that I previously used for a free webinar that I used as one of my lead magnets; (this was created entirely inside ConvertKit and I didn’t use my website);

You can see that one of the elements on this page is an opt-in form, just like the embedded example above, but in this instance, it’s on the landing page so no need for any additional code snippet.

When you create a landing page, it’ll be assigned its unique URL (web address) that you can share with your audiences; here’s an example of my landing page’s URL:

It’s worth noting that whichever option you use for collecting subscribers (i.e. opt-in form or landing page), the result is the same – the subscriber gets added to your list and you just collected another interested lead.

If you’re not tech-savvy and just want to start collecting leads, the quickest way is to create a simple landing page in ConvertKit.

What your subscribers are thinking right now

When you’re creating your lead magnet and landing page, put yourself inside the heads of your subscribers – what are they thinking?

Well, depending on what your lead magnet is, it’s going to solve at least one problem or challenge they have.

Or maybe it’s going to educate or inform them of something that, until they came across you, they didn’t know.

Whatever it is, you’re adding value by sparking an interest using your copy, offering them a way of overcoming that ‘challenge’ and giving it to them for free (or in exchange for their details).

They then get access to your lead magnet (let’s imagine it’s a downloadable PDF document that takes them through a step-by-step process of solving their problem), and now they want to implement what you’ve shared to get results.

What do you think they want from you now?

I’ll give you a clue – it’s not what most people think it is.

How do I know this?

Because most email marketers do one of three things when someone subscribes to their list;

  1. They do nothing – at least for a while (I’ve never understood this one!)
  2. They tell you how good they are; the awards they’ve won; the clients they’ve worked with; the money they’ve made… etc.
  3. They try selling to you immediately

As a new subscriber, NONE of these is what I want from you right now.

I want you to help me solve the problem that you first told me you can help me with.

What I’d value more than anything else is ADDITIONAL valuable information about the thing I’m trying to overcome.

That’s why you need a ‘lead magnet email sequence‘.

A what? 😳

It’s a series of emails that further support and complement your lead magnet – going even deeper into solutions that will allow you to solve your problem.

Here’s an example… (translate this for your own business)

If you download my free guide, “The Freelancer’s Guide to Email Marketing“, then I know that, right now, you don’t want to know about ME or necessarily buy my products or services.

You want to fix your problem/challenge, i.e. getting a good fundamental understanding of email marketing.

So, the most effective way for me to do this is by sending you a series of emails that help you get a better understanding of how to design, build, and run an effective email marketing system.

This would typically have between 4 – 7 emails, drip-fed to you over maybe 2 weeks, that go even deeper into certain aspects of the challenge, helping you to have the best experience I can give you.

Once I’ve done that for you, then I can begin to share a bit more about me and my business – because, by that time, I’ve addressed your initial hand-raise of “I want your help around email marketing” request.

Make sense?

Okay, great.

I can assure you that by employing these longer-term value-adding steps, your subscribers will come to trust you much more (and quickly) than if you bombard them with sales pitches as soon as they join!

Welcome your leads and let them know what to expect

Now it’s time to tell your subscribers a bit more about you and your business, and what they can expect as a subscriber to your email list.

By now, they’ve received your lead magnet (whatever you created), they’ve been sent your series of supporting emails to help them solve the problem they originally came to you with (your ‘lead magnet email sequence’), and now it’s time to tell them who ‘you‘ are, what your business can offer them, and why you do what you do.

It’s not rocket science, it’s merely a series of emails that form your ‘Welcome email sequence(or ‘Orientation’ sequence) in ConvertKit.

A series of between 3 – 5 emails that explain a little bit about you, what your subscribers can expect from you, and how you’ve helped people just like them.

In short, just help them to understand a bit more about who they’re working with and why they’ll benefit from being part of your world.

And that, as they say, is that!

🙌 Well done! You just created yourself a lead-gen system that you can switch on and run continually, collecting leads every day, no matter what you’re doing in the background.

Here’s a recap of what we covered in this article:

  1. The basics of email marketing – if you’ve never used it before, it’s essential to get the basics of what will become your most lucrative digital asset.
  2. Your lead magnet – this is where you designed and created something that gives enough value to your ideal clients that they’re happy to give you their name and email address in exchange for it.
  3. Your landing page – this is the web page, hosted on ConvertKit, that you’ll use to do the value exchange, giving away your lead magnet and collecting the lead’s name and email address.
  4. Your lead magnet email sequence – a series of emails that support and complement what you already provided via your lead magnet.
  5. Your welcome email sequence – a series of emails that shares more info about you and your business, letting your subscribers get to know you a bit better.

By completing the 5 steps above (and doing them, not just reading about them!), you’ll be in great shape to begin collecting new leads.

You’re going to hit the odd hurdle or two along the way, but that’s entirely natural and you should embrace them as opportunities to learn even more about lead-generation, content marketing, and email marketing.

If you haven’t yet joined ConvertKit, here’s the link to get your free account, including a 14-day free trial of all premium features:

The Freelancer’s Guide to Email Marketing gives you everything you need to know to design, launch, and run an effective email marketing system in your business.


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John Bellingham
John Bellingham

Starting out as a software engineer over 30 years ago, I began working for large corporates before realising solopreneurship was my 'thing'. I've had many businesses over the years, which have taught me many lessons.

I now spend my time helping other solopreneurs to implement the strategies and tactics that worked for me, whilst avoiding all my expensive mistakes.

If you're a solopreneur who's either starting or running a business, then connect with me and let's have a chat.

I love Formula 1® so that's always a good conversation starter if you need one! 🏁 🏎

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