I got this common comment again recently in my online community, “I launched my 30 day program for the first time last month and exceeded my expectations with 28 paid sign-ups! But I’m running it again this month and only have 6 people so far…what am I doing wrong?”

While it’s likely a combination of factors, my first question is always… Did you grow your list in between launches?

If you aren’t consistently growing email list, then each time you sell you are selling to the same people. This will lead to low sales and your feeling that you constantly need to be creating something new to sell to those same people.

But remember, I want you to create ONE signature program and launch it over and over again.

So that leads us to the question of… “but how do I grow my email list?”

p.s. if you still aren’t sure whether or not you need an email list for your business, the short answer is YES! Whether you have an online or offline business, or combination of both you’re leaving money on the table if you aren’t building your email list. Still not convinced? Check out this podcast interview.



Here’s a quick ‘n dirty definition of an online challenge: a multi-step, participant-driven series of activities or exercises guided by content that is pre-written.

By joining your challenge, people have a way to participate in what you offer and get to experience the incredible value you deliver to your paying clients and customers – without the monetary commitment.

It’s the perfect way to build an engaged community, not to mention a great way to jump-start growth in your email list and in your business!

Why do challenges work so well for list building?

As I talked about in the article “Lead Magnet Lessons for Your Health Business”, by offering an opt-in freebie (that’s things like your checklist, ebook or quiz) – you’re already ahead of the list-building game, as opposed to just saying, “subscribe to my newsletter”, for example.

However, something to consider is that some subscribers will simply sign up, nab the freebie, then promptly unsubscribe. It happens, so try not to be offended!

Creating a free challenge as your lead magnet, on the other hand, offers up a few more scalable ways to build your business…

  • Challenges draw in new people (not just your existing followers) to get a “taste” of your offerings without any $$ investment
  • Creates a buzz and has people anticipating your challenge
  • Only for a set period of time (and possibly at certain times of the year), so this creates a sense of urgency, i.e. the need to do it!
  • Better open rates to your emails
  • A group focused on engaging in an experience at the same time
  • Provides accountability to achieve a specific goal
  • Highlights your expertise, and that you’re a go-to person in your field
  • Helps to forge a deeper connection with current and potential clients
  • Primes subscribers to use your paid services and programs (in other words, they’re a step closer to buying from you!)
  • Challenges are very “shareable” which spreads the word about your business

I’ve seen plenty of different strategies for structuring and running challenges, and have used a number of them to build my own businesses. So, I thought I would give you all of the elements that go into building a solid challenge that converts.

Here are the key ingredients you need when you’re building a free online challenge for your business:

  • ✔ SOLUTION ORIENTED: consider what your ICA (that’s marketing talk for Ideal Client Avatar) wants, like what pain point do they need a solution for?
  • ✔ RESULTS: offers challengers quick wins so they want to do more with you
  • ✔ LENGTH – it’s got to be short ‘n sweet, manageable, and easily consumed – just like any lead magnet!
  • ✔ TYPE OF CONTENT & UNIQUENESS – what makes your challenge stand out from all the others out there? What angle are you going to spin yours from?
  • ✔ INTERACTIVITY: while it may be tempting to write every word of your challenge content out ahead of time and then step back and let it run itself — don’t do it!

    YOU must also be an active participant or the whole point of the challenge will be lost and its effectiveness as a high-converting lead magnet will be diminished.

    The inherently social and community-focused environment of a Private Facebook group work well as a place to host your challenge, as you’ve likely seen in our group.

  • ✔ WAYS TO RUN: always take the path of least resistance, whatever that is for YOU. Keep it simple and don’t put your challengers into information overload!

    This might mean running your challenge via sending out daily emails, PDF’s and/or pre-recorded videos.

    You can also run it exclusively in a Facebook Group — and do Facebook Live in the group, instead of just posting each day. You can do something similar on Instagram (and with IG Stories) if you know that your target audience hangs out on Instagram.

  • ✔ PRICE/COST: well, that’s easy — it should be totally free!

    But, if you’re interested in How to Price Your Online Programs – READ THIS.

  • ✔ Promote like heck. Like any lead magnet, you’ve got to promote the thing!


Turning your free challenge into your paid offer

Ok, so you’ve built the thing, you’ve promoted the thing and now you’re ready to run the thing – but now what?!

During your challenge, you want to be subtly planting the idea for your upcoming offer, ensuring that it’s not too salesy, of course. Because, that’s just ICK. But you DO want to be telling them about your upcoming offer. Reminding them that this free challenge has given them a taste of what working with you is like and if they want to continue the journey, then your paid program is their next step.

Remember that not only is the money in the list, as I’ve said countless times, but it’s also in the follow-up. Don’t just leave them hanging – you’ve got to nurture them with that critical follow-up email sequence and other points of connection.

There’s no doubt that building and launching an online challenge will take some work. But using a free online challenge to grow your email list can definitely be a productive (and hopefully profitable!) use of your time.

You have the potential to gain a lot of new followers, and many will likely become those engaged, invested and raving fans who simply love everything you put out there.

And when you are ready to start promoting your online challenge to the world, check out this post for some great ideas.

Let me know below, have you run a free online challenge in your business? How did it go!?

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