Hosting a challenge is a fun and exciting way for you to grow your email list, promote your business, engage your current audience, and increase your sales. A challenge, in this regard, is not a negative thing such as an obstacle is. Instead, a challenge is an event where you can push yourself in order to achieve a goal.
Perhaps you’ve considered a self-care challenge, a meditation challenge, a blogging challenge, or even a drink-green-smoothies challenge. I’ve also created and hosted a couple of challenges for my business too (a productivity challenge, a to-do list challenge, a goal-setting challenge, a habit challenge, etc.).
For some people, having others lead them in a challenge where they can build camaraderie with others is very motivating. As an online business owner or entrepreneur, you can use a challenge to your benefit in two different ways.
First, you can host a challenge to get more subscribers and to showcase your expertise. Second, you can host a paid challenge where you charge for entry and guidance.
Benefits of Hosting a Challenge
I can personally testify that creating and hosting a challenge is a highly effective strategy to:
- Attract your target audience
- Build your email list from scratch
- Grow & leverage your community
- Increase engagement within that community
- Position yourself as an industry expert
- Increase awareness about your products or services
- Sell your products or services
One of the great things about hosting a challenge is that your lessons do not necessarily have to be completed ahead of time. Therefore, you could start today and work on the challenge as you go.
Challenges can have daily or even weekly content for participants to absorb. You can give them how-to tutorials, motivational tips, and inspiration, and have check-ins to gauge how participants are coming along.
So, if you’re seriously thinking of creating a challenge for yourself, let’s get started because it’s not that difficult!
8 Steps to Create A Challenge
Here are 8 proven steps to create a challenge.
- Choose A Challenge Topic.
- Set Challenge Goals.
- Address Your Participants Struggles.
- Share the Playbook/ Game Plan.
- Feature Must-Have Bonuses.
- Choose Your Content Format.
- Choose Your Distribution Platform.
- Promote Your Challenge
Challenges Boost Engagement and Excitement
When you are the host of a challenge event, it excites your core audience because it’s an opportunity for them to achieve something they’ve been struggling with. They know they won’t be alone, and they know they will have an expert helping them along the way.
If you’re using this event to build a list, then you may want to host a free challenge so that you get more subscribers onboard to test out your leadership and knowledge. Your reputation will only grow as participants in the challenge exchange comments and share their successes and struggles.
In these moments, you will either have social proof that what you are teaching is working or the opportunity to help get a subscriber on the right track for all to see. This is a good way for nervous online entrepreneurs to build confidence in their ability to lead, too.
You can host your challenge publicly or privately. If you host it privately, others will not be able to see the engagement. However, it makes it more exclusive. It gives people a reason to get on your list to have access.
And just like a marathon where the streets are lined with others cheering them on, your participants will enjoy receiving the support of others who have joined in to have access to your guidance so they can meet their goals.
Challenges Require Goal Setting & Accountability
One thing you never want to do is leave a challenge wide open to where participants have no set finish line. You want them to establish smart goals that can be attained through your leadership in this event.
Otherwise, they may not achieve the milestones they need to complete their goal, leaving them feeling disappointed in the challenge – and in you. Early on in the event, after you explain what the process will be and how it will work, you want to have each participant declare a specific goal.
They can do this publicly or privately with you, but you need to be able to see where they want to go so that you can help them get there. You’ll also be able to see if their goal is unrealistic or too easy.
Don’t let them set a vague goal. It needs to be specific, like the completion of a 50-page eBook, the loss of 25 pounds, or getting 100 subscribers. It needs to be detailed.
Some will need you to help them set their goals for the timeframe within which they’ll be working. For example, if you are hosting a weight loss challenge, and they need to lose 100 pounds total, you would help them set a mini-goal for the 60-day challenge.
Building Community with Accountability
Your challenge can be any length that you want. It can be a set number of days or a certain number of lessons. It can also be to achieve one specific goal without a timeframe, such as writing and publishing the first fiction novel.
They can always go at their own pace. Different participants will have different times available to devote to the challenge, so it’s best not to force them to stay on a certain timeline to complete the challenge lessons.
Once the reader has set their goal and conveyed it to you, you’ll need to hold them accountable as time goes on. This does not mean you routinely scold them to the point where they feel shame and guilt.
It simply means you are able to motivate them and remind them of what they want to achieve, and why. Knowing why they have set their goals is important for you to be able to tap into the emotions that will help drive them.
Periodically within your challenge, you might have everyone check in with their current milestones to see who is struggling and who is ahead of the curve. Often, you will be able to use the participants who are succeeding as examples and even fellow leaders who can assist you with the needs of those who are being left behind.
Your challenge group will be like a community for them, rather than an individual journey. The camaraderie they will enjoy is part of what will make your blog feel like “home” to them online.
Showcase Your Expertise
As the challenge host, it will be your job to help them achieve a goal that they otherwise couldn’t do on their own. They may have taken courses, read books, and tested things that just didn’t work out.
They’ll be looking to you for the right information that holds the key to their success. Therefore, before you even get started with your challenge, you need to have your lesson plans mapped out.
You can create your own online course for this challenge, curate lessons from other individuals who have given good advice to the public or use a hybrid model of the two. Always make sure that you are giving credit to other leaders if you are pulling their advice (not their content) into your challenge.
This does not negate your own leadership and expertise. It merely shows that you are good at sourcing the best information for their needs. One thing you don’t want to do in a challenge situation is throwing too much at your audience at once.
Your lessons should be bite-sized and easy to implement. Because these people have struggled with their goals in the past, they will already have a mindset of defeat. You want to give them baby steps to absorb so that they accumulate many small successes along the way.
Provide Guidance Throughout Your Challenge
Providing guidance throughout your challenge will boost your participants’ confidence and allow them to reach the finish line easier. So, for instance, if you were hosting a challenge about how to publish your first info product, you wouldn’t just have lessons for product creation, sales copy, affiliate recruitment, etc.
Each one of those topics would be broken down into miniature lessons for your participants. For info product creation, you would have one lesson on idea brainstorming.
You might even have multiple lessons on that if you have different methods of brainstorming, so they’re not all grouped into one. You would have another lesson on outlining your product.
Another lesson could talk about how to format the book or course. If there are multiple ways to do something, then you would split those ideas up into separate lessons rather than present a buffet of choices all at once.
Eliminate Overwhelm In Your Challenge
You never want your participants to end a day in your challenge feeling overwhelmed and confused. Each lesson should be clear and concise. Don’t worry if the lesson seems short.
This is more doable for your audience than if you presented them with hour-long lessons every day that they would find hard to work into their schedule. Every time your audience reaches out to you through the group or in a one-on-one email, you want to take account of what it is they’re asking for help with.
At times, you will realize that your lesson has missed the mark in some way. Maybe it wasn’t clear, or a question went left unanswered. These are opportunities for you to create additional bonus lessons to share with your audience.
This is one reason why it works to create your challenge as you go. If you did a lesson on brainstorming your info product and received several questions about that topic, you would be able to create an additional lesson to send out the following day, rather than moving onto the next topic.
Then, after the challenge is complete, future participants would find everything laid out in a logical order. After the initial challenge is complete, you can bring on the second wave of participants, or leave it open for people to join at any time.
Celebrate the Winners and Participants
Whenever people sign up to participate in any event, they like to be recognized for their hard work. Even those who are shy and take a back seat to public engagement usually like to be acknowledged by the host.
Consider it like a dinner party where you would greet every guest upon arrival and thank them for coming at the end. It’s no different when hosting a challenge. You want to welcome everyone and individually get to know your participants so that you can offer personalized assistance.
Be sure to keep the confidentiality of each of your participants during the challenge. There will be some who feel more than comfortable sharing everything with the group. There will also be those who privately communicate with you because they are shy or simply don’t want their information put out there.
If someone asks a personal question they need help with via email, either ask them if it’s okay to share with the group – or, if the question needs to be turned into a complete lesson, make sure you do it anonymously.
Anytime a participant helps a fellow participant or answers a question that you feel is beneficial for the group, make sure you give them credit and thank them publicly for stepping in to lift up those who are struggling.
They will be the ones who are making your challenge that much more special. They will be cultivating the feeling of community that you want your challenge participants to experience.
Make A Big Deal of Challenge Winners
At the end of the challenge, you may have people who have achieved their goals or won a competition, if you set your challenge up to have a leaderboard of some sort. Sometimes, having winners wouldn’t be feasible.
But other times, it might help push your audience to perform. For example, you could do one for the most pounds lost, the most sales for an info product creation, etc. But if you are in a niche like relationships, there are no measurable goals you can use to determine who has won ahead of others.
You want to make a big deal out of those who win. You can have prizes, recognition, etc. If you’re teaching your participants how to publish their first fiction book, then you might pay for them to have some promotional graphics made or simply write a review blog post about their upcoming release.
It doesn’t have to be a monetary prize. Recognition and acknowledgment can go a long way, too. While you want to highlight those who have succeeded with your advice and pushed themselves to achieve their goals, you always want to make sure that others who failed in the task do not feel ashamed or left behind.
They may be suffering from guilt or frustration at their lack of being able to succeed when everyone else around them seems to have achieved their goal. Make sure you acknowledge the advances they have made toward their goal and offer to stay in touch and help them until they reach the finish line.
Create A Big Bang
As your first challenge, and subsequent challenges come to an end, you want to snowball your success into something more. It’s all about having an ending that leads to more great things! If you have hosted a free challenge, then you can parlay this expertise you have shared freely into sales of your paid and more advanced courses.
This is one reason why it’s so important to share extreme value in your free gifts and free challenges. If you are willing to give a lot of value at no cost, customers will trust you and be willing to send you money for a paid product.
You now have a list of subscribers who have participated in your challenge. You can turn content into profits in the future by recommending courses and tools that others have put on the marketplace as well.
As an affiliate marketer, they will be able to trust your advice and want to spend money on things you recommend because you have stayed above the board throughout your challenge in guiding them previously.
Always make sure that you never stray from giving good advice, even after the challenge is complete. You don’t want to ruin your reputation after you have worked so hard to prove your worth to your target audience.
One thing you can do is continue rolling out more courses that are created as challenges. You don’t have to simply sell video modules or eBook courses for them to consume on their own.
Many people will love and appreciate the challenge format, where they are drip-fed lessons along the way and have the opportunity to engage with you and others who are on the same journey.
Level-up Your Challenge
If the drip format works well for you, then you might want to leave your content as a free challenge, and subsequent ones as paid challenges. You can even have tiers of challenge participants if you would like to.
For example, a top-tier entry into your challenge, which costs a little more, might include a phone or zoom consultation once a week. Instead of having winners who were acknowledged, you might offer some perks to different tiers.
For example, an upper-tier participant who completed his or her goal might receive a set of five customized blog posts they can use, or a review of their product in its finished form.
What you don’t want to do is complete your hosted challenge, only to disappear into the background of your niche when it’s over. The strategy is to stay at the forefront as a leader, always developing new lessons to help guide your audience.
You don’t have to do another challenge. You can create eBooks, courses, offer both individual and group coaching, and more. Keep the momentum going and you will develop a loyal fanbase who is eager to consume everything you put out.
Try to have a game plan for your follow-up monetization strategy before you even create your first challenge, which can be used for list building and branding. But subsequent ones should deliver a monetary reward for you.
This can snowball into more online income if you create an entire line of challenges. Make sure you emphasize the personal care and consideration they will receive when they sign up, because this is one area often lacking in a consumer’s journey of learning how to do something.
Over to You
In the world of online marketing, there are products and there are challenges. Hosting a challenge is a widely popular strategy to grow your email list and increase awareness about your products or services. It’s also a great way to grow your community and boost engagement but it can be quite overwhelming to set up the first time.
For this reason, consider these eight steps to create your first online challenge: choose a challenge topic, set challenge goals, address your participants’ struggles, share the playbook/ game plan, feature must-have bonuses, choose your content format, choose your distribution platform, promote your challenge.
When done correctly, a challenge is a win/win for you and your audience, providing them with valuable information, support, and success and providing you with new leads who are primed and ready to do business with you.
Interested in getting a peek at what a successful challenge looks like? Then click here to join my Best Year Ever Challenge, which has become one of my most successful challenges!