20-point Checklist to Optimize Your Blog for Lead Generation

11 min

The number one goal of your business blog is to collect email addresses. Most people are surprised to hear this. They think their website exists to generate sales. It does, but it’s not the number one reason for it.

This is especially true if you are a service professional like a coach, consultant, trainer,  freelancer, or if you are a solopreneur selling physical goods such as jewellery, art, bespoke furniture, personalised stationary items, or hand crafted accessories.

The way Internet marketing works is that people seldom buy from you on the first encounter. They stumble across your blog after clicking on a link they found on social media, in a group, or on a recommendation by someone and now it’s your job to tell them what to do next.

They hardly know you. They’ll click around but remember they are not ready to buy yet. So what will you ask them to do? Subscribe to your email list, of course. This is in fact a golden opportunity. They are on your website or blog for a reason. They must have liked something about what you shared so they are already feeling some affinity towards you.

Ask them to get on your list. Turn them into a lead. In this post, I am going to tell you exactly how to do that.

#1 Define your ideal audience

Before you start hoping for tons of signups on any given day, make sure you are talking to the right person. Create an ideal client or customer profile, this will drive your content strategy, your branding and every other decision you take. In the absence of it, your blog elements will lack a coherence. Things will seem out of place and people will find one reason or the other to not sign up.

#2 Make a great first impression

Your goal is to make the best possible impression on your first time visitors. Install a professional theme, pay attention to your branding (message, colours, and typography). Make use of white space so things are not cluttered. Optimise for mobile and let people know you mean business.

#3 Show what’s in it for them

The biggest mistake you can make on your blog is to make it all about you. Don’t do it.

When someone lands on an unfamiliar site, they look for any information to see if they are in the right place. They wonder WIFM (what’s in it for me)? Tell people very clearly what they stand to gain once they subscribe. Tell them how you help them. This is the sure-fire way to get them to explore a bit more and sign up.


#4 State your unique selling proposition

Brownie points for you if you can differentiate yourself from your competitors within the first few seconds of them arriving on your site.

There are thousands of self-help blogs, what makes you different? There are hundreds of copywriting blogs, why should they subscribe to yours? Spell out how you are the right person to help them and they’d be more than happy to join your list.

#5 Make an appearance

People follow other people. As soon as someone clicks to your blog, they want to know who the blogger is. They want to know about you and see whether you click.

I highly recommend adding an author bio on the sidebar so no matter which page they arrive on, they can see your smiling face. Of course they can click on your about page, and they will, it’s a good idea to say a quick hello and welcome to help them feel right at home.

#6 Add a feature box at the top

Have you seen those sites where the first thing you see is the header and right underneath you see a sign up box (often a horizontal bar) asking you to – you guessed it – sign up? You cannot miss it. It’s there and there is a big call to action. Do the same on your site.

#7 Build credibility

Don’t know about you but when I land on a website or a blog for the first time and see a list of credibility logos (as seen on), instinctively I begin to take this person a bit more seriously. Surely if they have been featured in these places, guest posted or been interviewed, they must be an expert in their field.

You want to elicit the same reaction from people. Add photos and testimonials of your past customers. Add other credibility building elements and you will supercharge your list building efforts.

#8 Sprinkle social proof

Imagine going out for coffee in a newish part of town and seeing two cafes on a busy street. One café is bustling with people while the other is pretty empty. Where would you want to go?

Humans like to take the lead of other humans. When somebody comes to your site for the first time and they see comments, tweets, likes, and shares, they form a favorable impression of you. They feel assured that others are finding your content useful as well. This is the power of social proof so do take advantage of it.

#9 Offer a great incentive

In order to entice people to hand over their email address, you can offer an ethical bribe – that is your lead magnet. Depending on your audience’s needs, this can be an ebook, a report, a checklist or a cheat sheet, a white paper, video tutorial, or an e-course. The important thing to keep in mind though is to make it as specific as it can be.

Remember, your goal is to attract the right person from day 1. If you try to speak to everyone, you will end up speaking to no one.

#10 Create a squeeze page

While this is not compulsory, it pays to create a separate landing page for your opt-in offer. This is also known as a squeeze page.

Create a bold, benefit laden headline. Jot down some benefits of your offer and ask for people to sign up. This page really comes in handy when you are guest posting and you direct new peeps to this page instead of your home page. You can also promote this page on its own on various social media platforms.


#11 Limit your sign-up fields

There is no need to ask for unnecessary information. Most single person owned businesses need an email address, that’s all. I ask for a name as well but it’s entirely up to you.

Do you really need a phone number, their profession or size of their company, address, and marital status? The more information you request, the less inclined people feel to fill out your form.

#12 Add sign up box in strategic places

Most people are too shy to ask for the email. They hide their sign-up boxes somewhere on their site. Please don’t do that. Remember, your website exists for a reason, and the reason is to simply attract the right person, get them on your list so you can create a long term relationship with them.

Somebody who comes to your website and don’t subscribe – well, once they leave, they might never come back, even with the best intentions at heart. Make it easy for them, add a feature box under your header. Add a sign-up box after every blog post and on every landing page. Whatever people are reading, make sure there is an opportunity for them to sign up on the spot.

#13 De-clutter your sidebar

You don’t want to add any links to your sidebar that will take people off your website.

If you don’t have a huge traffic coming your way, there is no point displaying ads for other people’s products. Even if you do, move them further down. Don’t list your social media profiles at the top, or links to any external sites to unintentionally drive people away.

I recommend putting a sign up form on the top of your sidebar. You might think with a feature box under your header, or a hello bar, it might be too much. No, it won’t. You can certainly look into your analytics to see which one is performing the best, but keep them all.

#14 Showcase your best content

Ok, this is what I believe in, when people come to your website for the first time you want to impress their socks off. And the easiest way to do that is to bring attention to your best content.

Your blog works in such a manner that every time you publish a new piece of content, the older content is pushed down. And not everything you will create is going to be a masterpiece. For this reason, you want to list your best content somewhere that is easy to spot, usually this is your sidebar.

You can leave links to your best content and title it as reader favourites, top reads or anything like that. Remind people that they’ll be missing out on new stuff if they don’t sign up.

#15 Work on your about page

After your home page, your about page is one of the most frequently visited pages on your blog so pay attention to it.

Most people do a really bad job of writing on their about page. Some will write about themselves in the third person voice, some will be extremely corporate, some will make it sound like a resume. Some people start off with really long life stories. What you need to start with is how you can help this new visitor and why. Talk about what makes you qualified to do it. If you are on a journey then it’s fine to talk about it.

Once you have done it, now you can tell them some backstory. But keep it short. Your about page is all about connecting and creating rapport with your new audience. And don’t forget to add the sign-up box on this page.

#16 Add social media sharing buttons to your blog posts

Some people either don’t add any social media buttons after every post while some, on the other hand, add 30.

Research has proven that if you give people too many choices, they are likely to take no action. If you list every single media platform and ask people to share (do make a strong call to action), they might be too overwhelmed to do anything.

Which platform are you most active on? Ask them to share on that one. Give them a few options – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, or LinkedIn are usually all you need.

#17 Use high quality images

Images matter. Imagine landing on a website filled with dull, corporate shots or stock photos. What would you think?

The blogger can’t be bothered to put in some effort and source some decent photos that don’t portray robots – that’s what you think. You question their competence, their level of commitment to their blog. You wonder if they can’t find images to represent their message, how good their work is going to be.

So you are not literally thinking these thoughts, rather your subconscious minds interprets it that way and you click away immediately. This is precisely what you (as a blogger) want to avoid. Capture their attention with interesting, high resolution images and they are more likely to stay.


#18 Understand principles of persuasive writing

Every single word you put on your blog has the potential to touch the hearts of people or turn them off. Long, navel-gazing, rambling pieces simply won’t cut it. You need to stick to the point and convey it in a clear, compelling manner.

You don’t need to be a writer to create a decent blog post, nor should you train to become a copywriter. However, it pays to learn the principles of effective communication. Learn to write with clarity, conciseness and compassion. When you create a bond with your new readers through your words, you are paving the way for them to hand over their email addresses.

#19 Stand for something

According to Simon Sinek people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. In order to gain followers, stand for something. Articulate your bigger vision on your blog.

You are not just a health coach, you believe in sustaining our bodies without anything artificial or chemical. You are not just a trainer, you believe in lifelong learning. You are not an artist, you want people to turn their houses into sacred spaces. People will get behind you if your cause matters to them. Share where you are going.

#20 Be yourself

Lastly, I want you to stop looking at other blogs for “inspiration”. Be honest, how does it feel to look at someone’s blog with an email list of 20 thousand people? If it feels great then that’s fine but don’t let them dictate what you should be doing on your own blog.

Don’t start comparing yourself to them and blindly copying them. It is fine to be inspired but as soon as you start to self-sabotage, you need to cut the cord. The only way you are going to attract the right people and get them to sign up is when you are 100% authentic on your site. People will follow you because they like you and they want to be just like you. That’s the only way you are going to succeed at this.

There you have it

This is my go-to checklist for making sure a client’s blog is everything it needs to be to attract their ideal clients or customers. Anytime my own subscribers drop, I go and check to see if I can improve on any area. I might experiment with the lead magnet and try a different one.

I pay attention to see what sort of content is performing really well on social media. I’ll see where most of my new visitors are spending their time on. This often gives me clues on what I need to update next.

So tell me, how your blog is currently doing in terms of capturing email addresses. Do you spot an area where you need to work on straightaway and if so what is it? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Marya Jan
Marya Jan
Marya Jan is a Facebook Ad Strategist. She works with coaches, consultants and service-based entrepreneurs to build their email lists, fill up their webinars with Facebook ads and generate big profits in their businesses.