Are you a coach, service provider or creative business owner looking for an effective way to get targeted traffic, email subscribers and customers knocking on your virtual door?
We all know we need to be posting on social media. Start an email list. Speak at interviews, conferences and write guest posts.
But a severely under utilized and highly effective form of marketing is to create viral challenges that promote themselves and continuously bring you new sign ups automagically.
A challenge is like a course or guided experience with a promise of a specific result at the end.
The only thing you really need is your brains and some elbow grease.
So how do you create a challenge? Read on below for the 5 Easy Steps to Creating Your First Viral Challenge!
1 – Choosing your challenge topic
Think of a challenge topic that helps your audience and ties in with your overall brand’s focus. What are some of the struggles and challenges your customers face? What are some quick wins you can give them? The easiest victories, no matter how small, will position you as the expert and go-to person in your industry. Don’t discount small wins!
Consider how your challenge might help sell your existing services or products. People who are taking your challenge are getting great tips and advice for free, so don’t feel shy to promote your paid offerings where they are relevant!
Consider how your challenge might help sell your existing services or products Click To Tweet
When you’ve picked your challenge topic, create a name for it that can quickly deliver the benefit of taking your challenge. Use these prompts to help you think of a catchy name:
- Why should someone sign up for your challenge?
- What do they stand to gain after completing the challenge?
- What is the purpose or mission of your challenge?
Here are some great examples of viral challenges:
- The 30 Day List Building Challenge by Nathalie Lussier
- The 30 Day Creative Business Cleanse by ByRegina
- 52 Weeks to a Better Business by Brilliant Business Moms
- The Epic A Sale A Day Challenge by Creative Hive Co. (hey, that’s me!)
2 – Logistical decisions you’ll need to make
Once you’ve come up with your challenge topic and name, it’s time for you to think about the little technical details that can make or break your challenge.
Will your challenge be kept behind a closed door, where people need to sign up to your email list to access?
Or will your challenge be publicly available on your blog?
A free, results-oriented challenge is a great way to build your email list, but the barrier to entry is much higher and fewer people will join.
If you made the challenge open to join on your blog, consider using an app like Social Locker Pro for WordPress to hide your challenge content until the reader shares the challenge on social media. That way, people need to pay for access with a share that ultimately helps you promote your challenge without you doing any of the promotional work!
I used the latter option with my Epic A Sale A Day Challenge and even after months of launching, it brings me tons of traffic daily. Because of the Social Locker plugin, I’ve gotten over 1.08k pins, 900 Facebook shares and 166 Google+ shares as of this writing. That’s a lot of exposure for my business!
Also carefully consider how long your challenge will be. How many steps should it take to get your reader from Point A to Point B? Your challenge doesn’t need to be 30 days. It could be 7 days, 14 days, or 52 weeks. Don’t fret over this, just think about what would work for your challenge.
If you create your challenge as a blog post, that’s not to say you can never reuse it ever again! I’ve used the challenge as an opt-in offer or an exit intent pop up that encourages people to join my challenge by signing up on the form. I’ve gotten over a thousand subscribers this way, and you know what they say: the money is in the list!
Some challenges also direct participants to a private Facebook group. This is a great place for you to continue building that relationship with your potential client, as well as support your tribe.
3 – Outlining and creating your challenge
So you’ve decided on the details for how you’ll set up your challenge. Now it’s time for you to outline the content. I love using mind maps for creating detailed projects. First, do a brain dump of all possible ideas or steps for your challenge. Set the timer for 10-20 minutes and don’t filter yourself yet.
Now that you have your thoughts down on paper, start by rearranging the steps into an experience that makes more sense for your audience. Trim down on ideas that are not necessary for your reader to reach the goal you’re promising them.
When you’ve created an outline for your challenge, it will be 10x easier to actually write the content for your challenge. My 30 day challenge took me three weeks to write–imagine how much longer it would have taken if I didn’t create an outline first!
Aim to make your challenge so good that you could charge money for it. The plan is to make it available for free and because the challenge is so amazing, your customers will be dying to work with you. They’ll think that if your free stuff is so valuable, imagine how life changing your paid services will be!
Aim to make your challenge so good that you could charge money for it Click To Tweet
4 – Tie it in with your paid products
The point of creating a viral challenge is to bring targeted traffic, email subscribers and customers your way. It would be a loss if you didn’t at least mention your paid products in the challenge.
Once your challenge content is created, go back into each step and where it can fit, make a plug for your paid course, digital product or service. This can be something as simple as a “P.S.” after the challenge step, or it could be funneling subscribers to a separate autoresponder once they’re done taking the challenge to prime them for the sale.
If your readers are organically helping you promote your challenge, you’ll have a constant stream of new prospects going through your challenge where they’ll be introduced to your expertise and offerings. That’s a great way to build know, like and trust factor that will eventually lead to the sale!
Another great way to monetize your challenge is by repackaging your challenge. Nathalie Lussier gives you the options to either wait each day for the challenge steps or pay a small fee to access all steps right away.
5 – Promoting your challenge
Additional ways you can use to promote your challenge (other than using the Social Locker plugin) is to share them in Facebook groups, create share-worthy Pinterest graphics and smaller button-sized graphics that people can add to their own blogs.
Facebook groups are a great way to find likeminded people who need your help! Search your niche in the Facebook search bar and click on “Groups” to see what comes up. Join a few, but remember to always give value before you ask for anything in return. There’s a fine line between promoting yourself vs. helping people out. Take the time to introduce yourself, respond to people’s posts first then make your pitch for why people should join your challenge and how it can help them.
Create vertical images using stock photos from sites like DollarPhotoClub or Pixabay. You’ll definitely want to add some text overlay so people can tell right away what your challenge is about. Your ‘alt’ tag for the images should be descriptive because this is the text that shows up in your pin’s description on Pinterest.
Encourage your challenge participants to stay accountable by adding your challenge graphics to the sidebar of their blogs. You can do this by creating smaller images of your challenge for people to use.
People love free stuff so it’s fairly easy to get the word out there. However, it’s common practice and there are tons of free information online. You’ll still need to work strategically to stand out from the crowd – and that’s why step 1 0f this guide is super important!
Start brainstorming ideas for your own challenge! Then follow the steps in this guide to make it go viral! Let me know in the comments what challenge ideas you come up with!
Mei is a marketing strategist at Creative Hive Co. and helps makers, artists and designers make a consistent income. She also runs a multiple six figure handmade jewelry business. You may have seen Mei on Creative Live, Design*Sponge, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Incredible Things, Parks and Recreation or inTouch magazine.