How to avoid common mistakes with your online challenge list build

Online challenges are one of the best ways to not only grow your audience online but to also engage them. My “Level Up List Build Challenge” for example was a huge business builder for me and helped me launch a course.

Challenges come with their own set of “challenges” (how meta I know!) and you can easily avoid most of them with a bit of attention to detail.

What’s the biggest mistake entrepreneurs make with online challenges?

Simply put, they don’t spend enough time in the planning stage of the challenge and they don’t build in enough promotional time for the challenge either. Both of these easily made mistakes can cost you hundreds of possible subscribers and big bucks in terms of lost revenue

The Profits are in the Planning

Have you heard that before? We love to rush into projects because we want the end result FAST. I’m always having to share with entrepreneurs that they have to pump the breaks a bit so we can plan an event that will produce the best result.

Challenges require about 3 weeks of planning. Now that’s not you spending 8 hours a day planning, that’s you working on it a few hours a week working on the details.

Here’s what you need to think about in the planning stage:

  • How many days will your challenge be?
  • What will the topic be?
  • What will you teach each day and how will it help the participant/registrant?
  • What’s the outcome you want? (what do you want to sell afterwards)
  • What’s the outcome you want for your participant/registrant? (what problem is it solving for them?)
  • What will the title be and the tagline?
  • Will you use a Facebook group or other way to create engagement?
  • Will you present this with video or just via email and YouTube videos you do?
  • Will you be creating worksheets and handouts?
  • Will there be a VIP or All Access Pass? If so, how much and what’s in it?
  • Where will the landing page and all the tech (the funnel) be hosted?
  • Will you use paid traffic?

These aren’t tough questions, but they do take a minute to figure out and plan how you’ll set this all up. It also helps to have a strategist who knows what they are doing with challenges to help you. I’m happy to give you some guidance. You can apply for a 15 minute strategy session here.

Not Promoting the Challenge Enough or for Long Enough

People tend to register for your challenge about 72 hours or up to 5 days out, that’s when the bulk of registrants/participants join. So we should only promote the challenge for 3-5 days right?


The ideal promo window is about 10-14 days. Why? If everyone registers so close to the date? Well the answer is in repetition. People tend not to DECIDE to join your challenge until 5-72 hours before, but that’s only because we’ve consistently been promoting it for 5-7 days before they make that decision. People need the time to think about it, understand the benefits of it and make that decision.

This isn’t to say you won’t get registrations at the beginning of your 10-14 day promo window – you really will! Just know that the last 72 hours or so is the big push.

The second mistake here is not promoting enough. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. So let’s think about this for a second… our social feeds are crazy, we scroll and scroll and everytime we refresh the scroll we see something new, we almost never see the same post or reel twice – why is that? Because the platforms want to keep you interested, and so they show you new posts and posts that have had lots of likes and shares.

What that means for you when you promote is, if you’re just posting once every 2-3 days to promote your challenge and you’re only sharing it in one way (only posting stories, only posting in your feed for example), then the majority of your audience won’t see it.

Consistency and frequency are key for a successful promotion. You simply cannot promote “too much” because the algorithms are just not showing all your posts to all your followers

You really can’t promote enough, so make sure you’re planning enough time for your challenge and that you’re create multiple ways to promote (not just static posts, but also stories, reels, lives, and other types of media).

I did a quick video on this a short time ago that can also help you understand why online challenges are such a great way to list build

Not including a VIP or All Access Pass Offer

Challenges are for the most part, 100% free, I’ve seen people do them for $10 or $30 here or there, but I don’t recommend it if it’s your first challenge because the job of a challenge is to BUILD your email list and engage them. If you have a dedicated following, then you can get into some paid ones.

But what you should for sure consider is a paid option inside your challenge. We call this a VIP or All Access Pass.

VIP and AAP’s are usually BUNDLES – and are made up of different resources that help further the registrant/participant on their journey to solving their problem.

What’s in the bundles will depend heavily on what you do, but here are a few examples of what you can include.

  • 30 minute one on one consult with you
  • Access to an upcoming workshop that you are running and that the general public will have to pay for
  • Access to a mini course you have, or one that you will create
  • Templates or downloads that are usually reserved for clients
  • Other gated content reserved for paying customers or clients that sweeten the deal and offer value

Not Creating Engagement Inside Your Challenge

You must create engagement within the challenge – or what was the point? Beyond the email list growth of course.

Engagement can be connecting with registrants/participants in a challenge focused Facebook group. My Grow & Profit Online group started out as a challenge focused group but has since grown beyond that.

Look at ways of getting to know your new registrants/participants so you can better serve them during the challenge by asking them questions about where they are right now with their big problem and what ways they’ve tried to fix it.

Ask questions and connect with them where they are right now so you can connect to their big desire and how you can fix it.

I do this in my group with daily “getting to know you” posts that my registrants/participants are encouraged to comment on, and then I interact with them.

Cramming Too Much Info Into Your Challenge and Creating Overwhelm

Don’t try to cram too much information into one challenge. You cannot address or fix all the problems your ideal client has in one 5 day challenge. Address one thing, offer a possible solution in your challenge and focus solely on that one thing.

If you try to DO ALL THE THINGS in your challenge, you’ll end up causing more confusion, your registrants/participants won’t be able to see any sort of transformation during the time of the challenge and they will equate that to you not being able to help them.

Keep the plan for your challenge simple.

Address one problem really well and help people see that they can get some results with what you’re doing, this will help you make sales later and after the challenge.

Not Making an Offer After the Summit

This is so common but such a big big missed opportunity.

Make. The. Offer.

When? You can seed your offer (talk about it like “this is the signature system I use with my one on one clients, and if you want to hear more, then just msg me and we can set up a time to chat” or set up a webinar or a series of emails (or both!) after the challenge to push people to your offer.

ALWAYS make the offer within about 30 days of the challenge. The sweet spot is within the first 5-15 days but sometimes that’s just not possible. The main thing I’m trying to get across is not to ignore making an offer and leaving it.

Your new list of registrants/participants is engaged with you the most during and right after the challenge, don’t let that cool off before making an offer!

What’s next?

Challenges are one of the best ways you can grow your email list and one of my favorites, but it can feel overwhelming to try to plan a successful challenge all on your own.

Sometimes having the right person in your corner to guide you through it can be the difference between 40 people and 400 people (or more!) registering for your challenge and making $40 bucks or $4,000 (and yes more!) from your VIP offer.

Connect with me here to have a 15 min chat and see how I can support your successful online challenge.


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