Do Food Bloggers Need a Lead Magnet?

Do Food Bloggers Need a Lead Magnet?

A lot of the food bloggers and food content creators I work with ask me if they need a lead magnet to help grow their email list. So let’s talk about it – are lead magnets worth it, or not?

Let’s start with the basics. Before you decide if you want a lead magnet or not, let’s answer the most important question first…


If you’re not 100% sure what a lead magnet is, let’s start there with a quick introduction.A lead magnet is an incentive that you give away to readers or visitors to your website in exchange for having them sign up to your email list. Quid pro quo!

A lead magnet doesn’t have to be complex, in depth or fancy.  An ideal magnet should be low effort for you to create and high value for the person signing up for your list.

Do not confuse what you consider to be high value with what your reader considers high value.  This is a common mistake content creators make.

You’re the expert. When we’re the expert or when something comes easily or seems obvious to us, it’s easy for us to forget that’s not the case for others.

Sometimes, high value may be as simple as saving somebody time (anything that saves me time is extremely high value to me).

I’m not going to get into a comprehensive list of lead magnet ideas here – I’ll save that for the next post But if you’re considering creating a lead magnet or two, think about what you can quickly and easily provide that makes life easier for your readers?


No,  you do not need a lead magnet.

I get asked this all the time and no, you really don’t. You can still build a good, healthy list without a lead magnet.

But… (I always have a “but”, right? 🤣), you will have to work harder to get subscribers and it will be a slower process.

Signing up for a newsletter is generally not the reason people land on your site and it’s not going to be top of mind.  With or without a lead magnet, you’ll need to make it top of mind for them. And with no incentive, you’ll need to work harder to do that.

Make sure people have lots of visual queues to sign up on your website with popups, inline forms on individual blogs posts, text links and sidebar boxes.

You’ll need to ask people to signup via your social media channels – and make it easy for them to do so. Create an easy landing page URL where the only thing people can do is sign up for your list. (This is mine – and for what it’s worth, I don’t currently have a lead magnet!)

The upside of this? People who do sign up for your list will be there because they really want to hear from you –  and that, my friends, is the basis for a healthy list!


The biggest reason I hear for not having a lead magnet (and I hear it again and again) is that “people just sign up to get the freebie and then they unsubscribe”.

This doesn’t cut the mustard with me.

If you don’t want to have a lead magnet, don’t have one. That’s totally fine.

But if you have a lead magnet and you wind up with a net increase in subscribers every month, the lead magnet is doing its job. Why would you ditch it?

If you have a net decrease in subscribers then sure, get rid of it. And then you probably need to dive deeper into why you’re losing more subscribers than you’re gaining every month. Because, it’s probably not the lead magnet!


Yes, some people are going to sign up for your list, grab the freebie and run. That’s life. Just like they land on your website from google, get the recipe they wanted and wave buh-bye. How many of us drop into Walmart to buy the loss leader in that week’s circular and then get the heck out of there?  

We all do stuff like this from time to time when it comes to the businesses we interact with.

If your lead magnet is low effort for you, then it’s really not a big deal if somebody unsubscribes after they get your lead magnet.

Let them go.

They were never going to engage with your emails anyway and they wind up costing you money instead of making you money.

But, the people who do this are almost always the minority. It just feels like they’re the majority because they’re actively letting you know that you’re not for them and that always sucks. (think about how we obsess over the one negative or ignorant comment on a recipe but disregard the dozens of positive comments??)


It’s more likely that people unsubscribe from your email list after getting your lead magnet for one of these reasons:

  • they read it and realized your tone or style is not for them
  • the lead magnet didn’t deliver what it promised
  • they were inundated with multiple emails from you in a very short period of time
  • your send frequency is too high for their tolerance
  • your list onboarding is clunky

The first? Well that stinks but, we can’t be for everyone.  We shouldn’t even try. Having a unique voice and a strong point of view will help you stand out and build a strong following. But it will also turn some people off. And that’s ok!

It wouldn’t hurt, though, to have a few friends or food content creator peers review your lead magnet and your initial emails to see if maybe the tone is coming across awkwardly or your humour or words are falling flat.

The other reasons? Those are all things that are fixable! But it’ll mean you need to sit down and have an honest talk with yourself about what you’re doing.

⭐️ Are you delivering what you promised in the lead magnet?
⭐️ How many emails did they get from you in the first week? 1? 3? 7? TEN???
⭐️ Were you up front about how often they can expect to hear from you in the welcome email you sent them?
⭐️ Did they have to jump through hoops for the lead magnet to drop in their inbox? (and yes, you should be using double opt-in)


No, you don’t need one.

But having one will help you grow your list faster – especially if it’s something your ideal subscriber values.

If you have a lead magnet and you’re getting a net increase in subscribers every month, it’s doing it’s job.  I would keep it

Don’t worry about unsubscribes so much as long as you’re growing, your open rate is steady and people are engaging with your email content.

I’ll be back soon to talk about the kinds of lead magnets you can offer that will be easy for you to make and highly valued by your audience!

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