I’ll just be blunt. Out of EVERY opt-in I’ve tried over the past 8 months, checklists, worksheets, webinars, e-books and more…the Challenge opt-in has been the most successful.  When I started Uncork Your Dork in March of 2016, I had NO email list.

Honestly, I had NO idea what to do with one.  I was still figuring out products, I didn’t really do much affiliate marketing, and I didn’t THINK I had anything important to tell my readers in a newsletter that I wasn’t already telling them on a blog.

I switched back and forth between a few INCREDIBLY confusing platforms before I finally settled on ConvertKit in June.   By July, through downloads alone, I had accumulated around 300 subscribers. Not too shabby!!!  I’d begun sending out two newsletters a week (a syndication of my blog posts on Tuesday and a broadcast directly to my readers on Thursday), and I’d started to make a crawl of an income.  (Around $200-$300 a month through random product purchases.)

Then, in August, something clicked.  I decided I was going to try to do a challenge ALL about creating a unique writing style.  I launched in second half of August and had over 150 sign ups within two weeks.  Not too shaaaabby!!

Then (some may say stupidly) something clicked AGAIN mid way through the September and I decided….”Screw it!  I’m gonna launch three more challenges between now and December!”  Why did I do this?  A few reasons, actually.

1) I want to REALLY focus on my perfect client and get my list SUPER focused for future sales of courses.

2) Challenges are a GREAT way for my readers to really experience my teaching style!  Sure, I teach on the blog…but now they can see how I teach an entire course from beginning to end.  They can vouch for my thoroughness.

3) These challenges will make GREAT courses and evergreen events in the future!!  Think about it! When the challenge ends…it goes on the shelf for purchase.  But next year, when I decide I want to launch the challenges again…minus a few tweaks and updates, all I have to do is hit play and participate in the group chats on Facebook!

4) Currently, I’m writing the challenge lessons a couple of days before they are released to the challenge members (yes…this means I write about 2,000 words a day…INSANITTTTTY!!!)…but when I re-launch the free challenges next year, I’ll be able to offer them as a “Want all 30 days now?” offer!  If a reader doesn’t want to wait for the 30 days to trickle into their inbox, they’ll be able to buy the course for immediate access!

5) The current challenges are 30 days long…a little too long for a normal challenge, if you ask me!  That’s more of a course.  So why am I doing that, then?  Because when I re-launch the challenges next year…they will be MUCH shorter.  I will most likely make them 7-12 days long…and put the rest of the information into the course area.

So, we are 1/3 of the way through the challenges…how have they done so far? 

Talk Wordy To Me - 30 Day Writing Style Challenge

  • 167 Sign Ups in two weeks
  • $2,165 in revenue

Digital Daze - 30 Days of Digital Downloads Challenge

  • 290 Sign Ups in 4 Weeks
  • $355 in revenue (affiliate profits…since the paid course has not been launched yet. We still have two weeks left in the challenge.)

SEO Extravaganza - 30 Days to An Optimized WordPress Blog Challenge

Cleanliness is Next to Blogliness - 30 Days to a Clean WordPresss

  • Sign ups open in November.
  • Challenge launches in December.

What makes an online challenge such a successful opt-in?

  1. You are communicating with a specific audience.You are CONSTANTLY being told to niche down…and let me tell you, there is a REASON.  Instead of communicating and selling to a mass group of people, of which only 20% might even NEED your message, you could be focusing your attentions on a group of people…all of which are interested in what you have to say.Think about it, only about 10% of your audience will see your broadcast or newsletter.  Why?  You are contending with three things…the SPAM box, the “promotions” tab, and a general disinterest in the topic.  The more saturated your audience is with readers who are actively wanting to hear your solutions…the more sales and conversions you will make.Challenges help to REALLY focus in on a part of a solution that your product can offer at a later time.  They help you build your list…and they help you build trust with your readers.
  2. A challenge makes the promise of results.The ONLY thing that will increase sales and sign ups in your business…is your ability to solve your reader’s problem. Business has ALWAYS been a selfish endeavor…especially from the customer’s point of view! What do I mean?  Being a customer (and rightly so) is all about solving YOUR problems. It’s all about finding answers to YOUR annoyances.  It’s all about saving YOU money, losing YOUR weight, organizing YOUR life.  Owning a business is ALWAYS about the customer.So it shouldn’t come a surprise that your business isn’t profitable, when you aren’t focusing on helping your customer!It really is that simple.  When a customer sees a solution…they want it. So how does a challenge help?  A challenge helps your customer solve a PORTION of their problem. For example…if their problem is “a lack of traffic on their blog”, you do a 7 day challenge all about increasing traffic.  You SHOW them that you can give them a bump.  You CAN increase their traffic.  For 7 days…you give them AMAZING information.  All the best you got.  You REALLY try to make a difference in their business and give them amazing results.  Then, after that 7 days is over…you have even MORE content to give them in a course or product area.
  3. Addresses your readers pain points.We talked about this a little bit above, but when your reader sees that you can solve a problem they’ve been having (losing weight, building sales funnels, increasing downloads, learning a language, etc), they will want your solution!  Even better?  Your solution is FREE! Hell yeah, baby!So, really sitting down and diving into WHAT pain points your customer is wading through will help you build a more focused subscriber list.

5 Fail Safe Strategies to Find a Challenge Topic That Converts Readers Into Subscribers

  1. The Five Why’s to Determine Your Customer’s Pain Points
    “Why?”  Now THERE is the million dollar question. And I have the million dollar answer. You need to ask your readers “Why?”. In fact, you need to ask your readers “Why?” five times…in a row.Think about it as if you are a 5 year old.“Why is the grass green?”“Because mother nature made it that way.”“Why did mother nature make it that way?”“Because green looks tasty and animals eat things that are tasty.”“Why do animals eat things that are tasty?”“Because they have to live.”“Why do they have to live?”“Because we wouldn’t be able to survive without them.”“Why wouldn’t we be able to survive?”“Because bacon is amazing.”Head/desk. You just came up with five different issues, and five different answers to those issues….for a five year old. Now, let’s take a more ADULT approach. Let’s say you write a blog for health food.”Why should I eat healthy?””Because you’ll lose weight.””Why do I want to lose weight?””Because I’ll be able to be more active.”

    Why do I need to be more active?”

    “Because then I can play with my children.”

    Why is playing with my children important?”

    “Because I want to build a strong relationship with them and my future grandchildren.”

    Why is building a future with my grandchildren important?”

    “Because family is everything.”

    Soooo, moral of this exercise? Start eating healthy…because family is everything. If THAT doesn’t sound like a commercial for a diet plan, I don’t know what does.

    Don’t worry if your questions are practically written by a five your old. They should have the “duh”, obvious answer!! Remember…you are trying to get from point A to point E here…and you want your audience to EASILY follow your logic without having known the answers to the questions in the middle.

    Pay attention to the silly questions in the middle, though!! These could very well be pain points for your customer. For example, in the above scenario, the pain points would be:

    • They want to lose weight.
    • They want to be more active in their lives and with their own family.
    • They want to live a long, healthy life and see their children grow up to have children.

    In the challenge capacity, a challenge to help you lose the first 5 five pounds in 30 days might be PERFECT!! You could continue your product into a monthly weight loss subscription after they’ve seen the weight come off in month 1.

  2. Do the usual market researchMarket research is important with EVERY offer you release…whether it’s a product, download, event or simple blog post.Google search - Do a generic search for your topic…then scroll to the bottom of the page to look at additional search suggestions!  For example, when I searched “create an opt-in”, I scrolled to the bottom of the search page and saw this:
    Now, I have an idea of what other people are searching for in relation to this topic!  Creating a challenge that provides plenty of “email opt in examples” and shows subscribers how to create an “opt in page” will probably be a safe bet!  (This is, in fact, what I am doing in the Downloads challenge that is currently going on!)Amazon - Do a quick search in Amazon for your keyword, and pull up books with 1-3 stars.  You are looking SPECIFICALLY for reviews from readers who “wish the book had….”.  Once you know what these readers wanted in a book on the same topic you are thinking of teaching…you can really hone down your niche and pick a topic that speaks directly to what you reader needs!Keyword Planner - The keyword planner, under the “tools” section of Google Adwords website is a free tool that allows you to plug in your search term, see how popular that search term is in Google…then create more niched keywords as a challenge topic!  In the below example, I used the keyword “funny blog” and came up with the below keyword suggestions.  If I were a mom, creating a challenge all about “creating a funny mom blog” might be a great way to go.  Not only could the challenge teach writing style…but it would teach mom bloggers how to stand out in that already saturated niche.
  3. Ask them!If you have even a smaller list or a Facebook group, ask them what they are struggling with…related to a larger topic. For example “If you have EVER been interested in writing an eBook for your readers, what is holding you back? Why haven’t you started?  Or, if you have started, why haven’t you hit the “publish” button yet?”  Use those answers to hone in on a challenge topic that will help them hit that publish button, or choose their topic, or overcome their fears.If you DON’T have a community at hand, post your question in another Facebook group (only if a question like this isn’t against the community rules…), and see what answers you get! Make sure the members of the group you are posting to are similar to the members that you would like to see frequent your own blog! AND DON’T BE SPAMMY!!!
  4. Assess your most popular blog posts and downloadsGo back through your own blog analytics…and see which have received the most hits, shares and traction. Have you noticed a increased interest in a single topic that you’ve discussed in the past? If so, write two more blog posts around the topic…and see how they do.  Focus on your titles, your promotion tactics, and give the BEST and most thorough information you possibly can in your post! If those do well…this might be a great topic to tackle for you challenge (and later for a product!).
  5. Finally, take stock of any processes that have changed the way your business has progressed.Did you start doing something 4 months ago that has solved a problem for YOU?  For example…drum roll please…in January, I’m launching a SERIOUSLY kick ass and thorough course all about how to triple your sign ups and make significant profits from a 30 Day Challenge!  I’m going to go over everything from how to come up with your idea, how to organize and write your lessons, how to promote your challenge and finally how to monetize it!If you are interested in possibly launching your OWN challenge in 2017, download the “Tools of Challenge” PDF below or join one of the open challenges and I’ll notify you just as soon as the course launches in January!In the meantime, brainstorm the changes that you’ve seen take place in your OWN life and business and see if you can offer that same solution to your readers.

Look, there are SO many opt-ins you can choose from, and I’m not saying that creating and hosting a challenge is right for you, but they provide a GREAT way to connect with your ideal reader, increase your subscriber base, and even monetize your small business. They allow you to create a course BEFORE you launch the course, gather testimonials and even hook subscribers up with affiliate links!

Challenges were the change my businesses needed to get over the low subscriber, no income hump in the small business blogging world. AND I WANT TO SEE YOU GET OVER THAT SAME HUMP!!

Don’t forget to grab the download that shows you the EXACT platforms I use to create my challenges…and watch for the early bird email in December for the Create Your Challenge Course launch in January!