How to Use a Challenge to Boost Your Email List

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Whether you call it a challenge, a drip campaign, an autoresponder or an email series, mulit-part emails are one of the hottest ways to grow your email list.

Need some proof?  How about these:

Christian blogger Arabah Joy has a 40-day prayer challenge that helped grow her list into the thousands …. ten times in less than a year!

Terryn Winfield of A Simple Home blogs about home, business and family.  Over 800 people have signed up for her Overwhelmed to Organized, a free 5-day course for wives and moms who want to take their lives back.

Rachel Britton recently launched Bold Girls at the Cross: 40 Days to an Easter Heart.  Over 100 people signed up in the first week.

My own 3-part mini e-course Pinpoint Your Purpose provides a steady stream of new subscribers, with over 150 people finding their purpose at the intersection of Why, Who and You.

Why are these campaigns so effective, especially for faith-based bloggers? Because they provide benefits for both the reader and blogger, and meet our deep need for connection.

Readers sign up for challenges that promise to meet a need.  Whether it is a practical need or a spiritual need, they expect the challenge will help them answer a question. When talking about her series, AJ said, “Challenges are very attractive because they offer the reader a series of quick wins and provide built in accountabililty.”

Whether you call it a challenge, a drip campaign, an autoresponder or an email series, mulit-part emails are one of the hottest ways to grow your email list.

But that is only part of the attraction, because really, there are any number of ways a reader can get the same information.  But the email series feels more personal. When that email is opened, the relationship between the reader and the writer grows every day. By the end of the series, the reader feels like she has a trusted friend and advisor in the writer.

That relationship also benefits the writer.  Not only has she gained a subscriber, she has gained a new friend of her ministry … someone who will follow, share and support because they have gone through an important growth experience together.

How to craft the perfect email series

Use your best content – Look at your most popular blog posts and see if you can use them to create a series.  It may be multiple blog posts on the same topic.  Or one great post that you can expand.  Add a worksheet or other printable that helps make the concepts more concrete.

Make it practical – Remember … readers sign up for challenges that will solve a problem.  So be super clear, both in your writing and your promotions, what problem your challenge is going to solve.  Offer specific steps toward the solution that the reader can put into practice after each email.

Be unique – Look for problems that aren’t being solved by someone else, or that you can solve in a different way.  Your email series is going to be part of your foundational content, so make sure it represents your unique view and voice.

Keep it short and simple – Readers love that these challenges deliver information in managable, bite-size pieces. Each email should focus on a single concept with an actionable step that can be done in just a few minutes.

Keep the end in mind – What do you want the reader to do when the series is over?  Continue subscribing to your emails? Purchase  a product or course? Invite others to experience the series?  By carefully pointing your content towards the end goal throughout the series, taking that step will feel like the most natural thing in the world for the reader.

Follow up – Don’t leave ’em hanging when it is over.  Encourage them to continue this relationship with you.  Plan to contact them again in 2 – 4 weeks and see how they are doing with that problem or maybe they need some encouragement to complete the assignments.  Keep the conversation going.

Getting people to sign up

If you’ve carefully researched your topic and are providing practical value in your email series, getting people to sign up is mostly a matter of getting enough eyeballs looking at your offer.  Treat your new series like the valuable content it is and give it a proper launch.

Start with an eye-catching graphic that is consistent with your branding, and use it everywhere.  Be sure you have versions properly sized for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram so you can promote it in all of those places.

Create a landing page (on your website or through a service like LeadPages or through your email service provider) that describes your series. Help people understand what they will receive when they sign up and the benefit to them.  Include a form or a button or link to a form they can use to sign up straight from the landing page.

Pro Tip

Both MailChimp and  MailerLite now include automation with their FREE accounts!  

Line up some of your most faithful readers and blogging associates to help you launch the series by sharing it on their pages.

In your first welcome email of the series, encourage them to invite their friends by providing a post they can copy and paste to Facebook, a pre-formatted click-to-tweet and a link to a pin that can be re-pinned.

So if you looking for a way to jump-start your email list, try offering an email challenge.  It will benefit you and your readers!


PPP Jan exIn the May Pray Plan Prepare workshop, I shared best practices and step-by-step videos using free automation in MailChimp and MailerLite to create drip campaigns.

Click Here to grab the workshop worksheets and recordings!



Linking up with Arabah Joy at #GraceandTruth

2 thoughts on “How to Use a Challenge to Boost Your Email List”

  1. Christa, now you’ve got me curious about a landing page! I also heard Kathi Lipp mention the importance of a landing page in her teaching on Compel. I’ll need to explore this. What all should you have on a landing page? Should that be set as the first thing people see when they visit my site? Time to start researching this!

    • There are all different types of landing pages. It usually refers to a place where you are offering a product and is focused on a single, clear call to action. So you could have a landing page (which could be as simple as a dedicated page on your website) for your new devotion series. When you do blogging, speaking and have a book like you do, a static home page (rather than your blog page) is a great way to highlight all the aspects of your ministry, rather than just having them listed on your nav bar. Hope that helps!


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