How to use QR codes to collect email subscribers

Firstly, what is a QR Code?

QR is the short form for ‘Quick Reference‘.

Invented by the Japanese engineer, Masahiro Hara, in 1994, the QR code was the natural successor to the good old regular ‘barcode’.

It was developed by Hara in response to the increasing limitations being met by the old system which was incapable of storing as much data as the QR code.

The layout of the QR code is shown below – you’ll have seen them millions of times in various places, I’m sure;

All you need to do to access the link that lies behind a QR code is to point your phone at it, using your camera app to detect the code – as you point your camera, you’ll see a yellow box appear as it focuses on the code.

Your phone will automatically show you a link you can tap on to open the destination link, stored on the QR code – see an example I created whilst I was typing this article;

How to create our QR codes

There are hundreds of utilities out there that you can use to create QR codes – some are free, some will charge you.

If someone is charging you to create a QR code, I recommend you walk away and find a free one – they are readily available.

I use Canva to create my QR codes; below is the process I use – it takes, on average, about 2 minutes to create a QR Code;

Once logged into Canva, create a new design – I typically choose the ‘logo’ template because it’s square-shaped (just like a QR code) and it’s relatively small (500px x 500px).

On the left-hand side, select the ‘Apps’ option from the menu, and search for ‘QR code’;

As you can see, there are many to choose from, but I use the first one that pops up – the one entitled ‘QR Code’ at the top-left corner.

This will generate your QR code and add it to your canvas; all you need to do now is resize it to fill the canvas and then download it.

That’s it – all there is to it! It takes little time to create, but you can now place it anywhere you wish to make it easy for your potential subscribers to join your email list.

Below is an example that I use on my LinkedIn banner image; people who view my profile via their laptop/desktop, can simply scan the barcode with their phone and download my gift;

When someone scans your QR code, you want them to be taken to your landing page or opt-in form (whichever you use); then they just pop in their details and they have your gift in minutes;

QR Code placement

Here are a few ideas of where you can deploy QR codes to enhance your chances of being seen by your audience;

  • LinkedIn banner image
  • On your phone as a desktop image (useful at networking events)
  • In your regular email footers (i.e. your everyday emails, not marketing emails)
  • On your website, inside blog articles (they can stay in the blog and sign up via their mobile phone).
  • In the corner of any videos that you publish.
  • In images that you use to accompany social posts (I use them on LinkedIn)
  • On business cards (if you use them, I don’t)
  • On brochures, posters, leaflets etc. (i.e. printables)


If you want to make it as easy as possible for your audience to become email subscribers, use QR codes and place them strategically to enhance your chances of people joining your list.

You can create QR codes in Canva using their free plan, so there’s no need to pay for a subscription if you don’t need one (I do, but I use it every day!).

Pro tip: If you don’t use Canva to create your QR codes, and instead choose a resource that tells you that your QR code will expire after a certain time – run! They will be intentionally disabling your QR code in their back end unless you pay.

QR codes don’t expire, so don’t be fooled!

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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