John Lincoln

How to Run Your First Challenge Online

How to run your first challenge online

Ready to run your first wildly successful online challenge? One that can actually generate a substantial profit that you can then convert into a killer business model?

If your answer is “yes,” then keep reading.

In this post, I’ll be sharing all the right moves you need to make to ensure your challenges are a success—from ideation to execution.

Let’s jump right in.

First, What Is An Online Challenge?

It is an event that you conduct online which teaches an audience something and then challenges them to complete tasks associated with what you teach.

Pretty clear, right?

Now let’s talk about how to create the perfect challenge for your business and market it for the biggest return.

You Need An Idea That Pops

Everything that’s moved the digital world forward began with an idea. In order to determine if your idea is a good one, it needs to meet the following criteria:

It Has To be Interesting and Timely        

Above all else, the idea has to be engaging.

I recommend sifting through news articles and finding out what’s taking place in your industry that your customers would be curious to learn more about.

For example, Google recently came out with a new update to their algorithm, where they will be giving weight to a new set of metrics—interactivity, visual stability, and loading—called Core Web Vitals. This would be an example of something in the news you could create a challenge around.

Perhaps your challenge is, get all of your Google Search Console errors fixed before the Google Core Web Vitals Update!

Centered Around Your Expertise and Related to What You Sell

To effectively position yourself as a subject-matter expert, you’re going to want to plan an event around your area of expertise. Make sure your challenge aligns with a product or service.

As tempted as you might be to host a challenge related to what you love, the reality is it needs to trace back to what you sell.

Personally, I would only run a challenge that was related to digital marketing since it’s in my wheelhouse.

Adds Massive Value

Avoid trying to get people to participate in your challenge simply for the sake of selling. What’s in it for your customer? A standout presentation might do the trick. You must add massive value.


Choosing the right platform is key. With so many choices, try weighing the pros and cons. Here are some of my top picks:

  • GoToWebinar—Known for its reliability, you can set up your event in a matter of minutes hassle-free.
  • Zoom—Here, you have the option to create a custom landing page and broadcast live through various social platforms.
  • Facebook Live—Easily stream live videos and share authentic content in real time.
  • Facebook/YouTube Premiere—If you’re not comfortable with live streaming, you can pre-schedule a live event instead.


The best way to start gaining momentum for your event is by actively promoting it. This will require a lot of hustle, but it’s definitely not a component you can overlook. Some tips and best practices to keep in mind include:

  • List Marketing—This spans email marketing, push notifications, chat messaging, exclusive offers, and more.
  • Run Advertising—Let’s say you have $5,000 that you run in advertising with a $50 cost per acquisition, that would mean you could get up to 100 people to attend your event. To increase your odds at acquiring more customers, make sure to use as many different networks as you can to get the word out and keep an acceptable CPA:
    • Facebook
    • LinkedIn
    • YouTube
    • Instagram
    • Display
    • Blog Posts
    • Media Buys
    • Bonus Tip: By placing a top banner on your website that’s accompanied by a countdown timer, it creates a sense of urgency that inevitably compels people to want to sign up.


This is the final piece of the puzzle—a practical framework to help guide your online challenge strategy:

Challenge or Educational Event

Remember—the goal is to get a prospective customer to learn something for free and/or be challenged to take a specific action (ie. rank number one in Google, cut their PPC budget by 10,000 per month and increase the ROAS by 200%, build an email list made up of 1,000 visitors, etc.)


If you’re offering prizes, you need to build plenty of hype around it. The prize(s) should motivate your customers to make a concerted effort to sign up for the event. Note that the reward must be brand or product-related and something your target market would want or find useful.

Multiple Speakers

Memorable events typically don’t feature just one speaker. But, when it’s four or five speakers over the course of five days, the value is indisputable.

Multiple Days

Logistically, you want to map out how long this challenge is going to last. I’d recommend aiming for one or two days at least.

Special Offers

Pricing is a make-or-break decision for a lot of your customers. Decide how you want to structure the event by choosing all or one of the following offers:

  • Free or very low cost to join
  • Offer #1: $300 special report
  • Offer #2: Opportunity to sign up for additional event at 20% discount
  • Offer #3: $3,000 for high-ticket offer

If someone purchases each of the abovementioned offers, that comes out to $3,400. But, if 50 people sign up to receive each offer, you’re looking at a whopping $170,000. Good revenue model, right?

As you can see, creating an online challenge requires a ton of strategy, planning, and marketing prowess.

But, with these tips, I have no doubt that you can put together an effective online event that will knock it out of the park!

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John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, one of the top digital marketing agencies in the nation. Ignite Visibility is a 4x  Inc. 5,000 company. Ignite Visibility offers a unique digital marketing program tied directly to ROI with a focus on using SEO, social media, paid media, CRO, email, Amazon and PR to achieve results. Outside of Ignite Visibility, Lincoln is a frequent speaker and author of the books “Digital Influencer” and “The Forecaster Method.” Lincoln is consistently named one of the top digital marketers in the industry and was the recipient of the coveted Search Engine Land “Search Marketer of The Year” award. Lincoln has taught digital marketing and Web Analytics at the University of California San Diego since 2010, has been named as one of San Diego’s most admired CEO’s and a top business leader under 40. Lincoln has also made “SEO: The Movie” and “Social Media Marketing: The Movie.” His business mission is to help others through digital marketing.

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