Should You Run a Free or Paid Challenge?

If you’ve been thinking about running an online challenge but you aren’t sure if you should charge for it or not, you are going to find this conversation very helpful in making your decision. January is a popular time for running challenges, but the great news is that you can run them any time of the year. So, if you’re thinking you’ve missed out on the New Year frenzy because you don’t have a challenge ready, nothing could be further from the truth because people are looking for help 365 days a year.

This was a great question that Sara posted in my Health Coach Biz Support Facebook group, which was: “I want to run an online challenge but I’m not sure if it should be a free challenge or a paid challenge, so I’m not sure how to proceed.”

Sara is right – you can run a free challenge, or you can run a paid challenge, so which one is right for you?

Challenges are great, and the good news is that BOTH options can generate revenue, but let’s look at how to help you decide which one is best for you right now.

If you are starting out with zero email subscribers or a small email list (under 200 people or so) and a small social media following, hosting a free challenge would be the way to go since you’ll be able to GROW your email list AND your following, allow people to get to know you and connect with you, and at the end of the challenge, you invite people to your paid program – whether that’s a 1-on-1 coaching program or an online group program. You’ll have way more people signing up for your free challenge than you will for a paid challenge – even if you only charge $10.

Here’s what’s important to know: In order to get paying customers, you have to have an audience of followers and subscribers to share it with, right? So, if you are just starting out, running free challenges is what we recommend because it will help you spread the word about what you do and give people a chance to see what it would be like to work with you.  In your challenge, you’re helping people solve a small PART of a problem they have, and then the next step is to join your paid program to get more support and the rest of the solution they want – which is what your coaching program is all about.  That’s one of the reasons why I like challenges so much as a marketing strategy, because you’re having people join who are interested in the topic, so it’s easier to get clients when you invite them to get the full solution.

Let’s talk about PAID challenges and when they can work well.

If you want to run a paid challenge, we recommend calling it something other than a ‘challenge’ because that word has become synonymous with being free.  It’s a good idea to call it something like a jump start, kick start, reset or something along those lines, and save the challenges for free offers.

With a paid program of any kind, you are going to include more resources and more support to make it worth the investment, so when people see your sales page and the benefits they will get out of it, they are more likely to be willing to make the investment. Your paid program will give people more of the “how” and a free challenge is more of the ‘what’ with a few micro steps and examples that will leave them wanting more from you. A paid challenge can be as short as 7 days, but a short-term paid program is typically more like 21-30 days. There isn’t a right or wrong here, so do what makes the most sense to you and test it out.  You are the only one who knows your business, your niche and your audience, so always do what resonates with you the most and be open to experimenting. 

Which option is right for you?

If you have a good size email list (over 200 subscribers and you have been emailing them regularly) and a social media following, you can promote a paid program any time, so it depends on your goals and where you are right now with your business.  Since this would be a shorter program, it can be a really good way to introduce your audience to your services and try it out in a low-risk way since the investment will be lower than your 1-on-1 programs. 

A free challenge leads to new clients on the back end, which means at the end of your challenge, you invite people to work with you. This option will also help you grow your email list, so that’s a plus.

A free challenge is also a good way to reintroduce people to what you do if you’ve been gone for a while and you want to re-engage your email subscribers. It gets people excited and looking forward to your emails each day of the challenge. We actually have a great episode coming up in a couple of weeks about How to Successfully Reconnect with a Neglected Email List, so if that’s something you’ve been wondering about, you’ll love that episode. 

So, while there isn’t a right or wrong way as far as running a free or paid challenge, if you are just starting out, our recommendation would be to run a free one and use it as a way to get exposure, grow your email list, and then invite people to your program at the end.

Whether you want to do a free or paid challenge, we know how well they can work for growing your business and generating revenue.  We also know there is a lot that goes into creating one that your audience will be excited to join and then also, at the end, some participants are ready to take the next step in whatever program you are going to offer.

To make this easy for you, I have two different done-for-you challenges you can use that are all ready to go, complete with all the content for each day, the emails and social media posts you need, the posts for your Facebook group, social media posts and emails to fill your challenge, and then emails and posts for the end of your challenge to invite people to your next program. It’s like hitting the easy button for running a successful challenge because you get everything you need including video tutorials that walk you through each step.

The best part is that right now all of my done-for-you programs are on sale – EVERYTHING is 40% off through this Thursday, January 12th when you use code: JAN2023.

You can choose from a 7-Day Healthy Habits Challenge, a 5-Day Menu Planning Challenge or if you want to run a short-term paid program, I also have the 30-Day Mind-Body Reset and the 30-Day Fit and Healthy Jump Start.  Then, I have my most popular program which is a complete 6-month health coaching program that you can customize to fit your niche and that is called Coach with Confidence.

When you have all the resources you need to run your business, you will be able to start helping clients sooner, which means making money sooner and growing your business, which is so exciting. Running online challenges was how I got clients when I was a health coach and they have only become more popular and more effective as a marketing strategy over the years.

Which type of challenge do you plan to run?   

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