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How To Create Your First Email Course or Email Challenge


How to start your first email course

Has your email list stopped growing? Can’t figure out what’s going on?

It’s called the subscriber growth plateau and it happens to the best of us.

Simply saying, “sign up for my email newsletter” isn’t going to do the trick in 2019.

In this guide, you’ll learn how email courses and challenges can kickstart your list growth and convert new subscribers to paying clients with simple, automated emails. The Solution Developing a compelling email course or challenge can revitalize your digital marketing, boost your subscriber growth, and generate a ton of marketings for your business.

Email courses and challenges uniquely attract a relevant and eager audience by tapping into human psychology.

Courses and challenges draw on our desire to learn, attain aims, feel accomplished, and connect with a purpose.

Not only is this strategy effective at growing your email listing, it’s also a logical pre-purchase step for your prospective clients. People that engage with your course or challenge are primed to become perfect purchasers for your paid products or services.

The best part: As email automation tools like AWeber become more powerful, accessible, and easy-to-use, constructing a simple course or challenge is a breeze.

In the following point, you’ll learn:

the difference between a course and challenge

how to choose the best alternative for your brand

how to build your course or challenge use an email automation platform

how to convert participants into paying customers

Don’t have a product to sell yet? Read on and learn how to develop a product, service, or revenue stream to serve your new subscribers. What is an email course? An email course is a simple series of automated emails that deliver educational or instructional content.

( See our newest course, Everyday Email. You get 30 tips in 30 days sent to your inbox. It’s the MOST FUN way to learn email marketing. Ever .)

We’re in the age of online courses, where successful entrepreneurs are making a living utilizing robust, affordable, and accessible course platforms like Thinkific and Teachable. These platforms help you build, deliver, and sell text, audio, or video-based courses to your audience.

Online educational courses are effective because they deliver valuable instructional content that people need to learn and grow.

With an email course, you don’t need to pay for extra software or find a new service to learn. You’ll simply deliver your lessons by email.

For example, you might offer a 1-week email course to your website visitors. When person signs up, AWeber will automatically deliver a sequence of emails at a frequency of your select. This could be one email per day, or one every other day. It all depends on your course content.

Here’s a quick opinion of how a daily course might look for someone selling a guitar lesson bootcamp:

An example of an AWeber campaign

If your email course is free, you can use it as a lead magnet a.k.a. an incentive to invite lots of people to join your email newsletter listing. Just let them know that by signing up for the course, they’re awarding you permission to send them newsletters afterwards. This is a great way to skyrocket your list growth.

You could also set it behind a paywall. Charging for an email course employing PayPal or another payment processor is a great way to monetize your email marketing attempts. If your subscribers start telling you they loved your course so much they’d pay for it, you might want to consider charging for that content.

Keep that in mind as you’re developing your course. What is an email challenge? An email challenge is similar to a course in that you’ll still deliver an automated sequence of emails. Instead of teaching your subscribers a ability or craft, however, the purpose of these emails will be to challenge your subscribers to accomplish aims and take certain actions.

Your tips, tactics, and guidance throughout the challenge will help them set and crush their goals. You’ll also be building up your position as a mentor or coach for your subscribers.

Here are a few instances:

Simple Green Smoothies offers a free “7-day Green Smoothie Challenge, ” which offers daily emailed recipes and shopping lists to help you introduce greens into your diet.

David Siteman Garland’s “Outline Your Darn Course” Challenge, which offers daily emailed tasks to help future online course inventors map out their content.

Challenges appeal to our human desire to improve ourselves. A good challenge encourages participation by playing up the benefits your subscriber will reap if they follow through.

Let’s say you’re operating a 30 -day clean eating challenge. You should promote the positive health and energy changes your subscribers are likely to experience from changing their diet on your webform or landing page.

If your challenge is to help subscribers land their first freelancing gig, paint the picture of what financial freedom looks like after they’ve built their own business.

Email challenges can be sent at a schedule of your select — just let your subscribers know what to expect. If your 30 -day challenge is one email a day for 30 days, let them know when they’re signing up and in your welcome email. But if it’s easier on you and your subscribers, your 30 -day challenge could simply consist of one weekly email( so 4 emails total over the course of a month ).

Not sure where to start? Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal subscriber, and ask how they’d best like to receive these emails, or find a current subscriber and ask them personally!

( We asked our subscribers how often they wanted to receive our email course, What to Write — which led to a 150% increased number of engagement! See how we did it here .) Should you start with an email course or a challenge? It depends on a few determining factors. What will resonate most with your audience? Believe about your audience and the typical content you deliver. Is it already educational? Have you poured hours into building a blog or making content that teaches your tribe how to be better at something?

If yes, an email course might be a great place to start. You already have the content, you might just need to repurpose it and package it into a course.

If your brand objective is to be an authority in a specific area, delivering a course can assist you attain your goal.

Maybe your content appeals to people’s aspirations. Do audiences flock to your content because it’s inspirational, or motivational?

Then an email challenge are to be able to just what they need. Capitalise on your motivational tone and push your audience to accept a challenge and satisfy a specific objective. What will be easier for you to create? As an entrepreneur or business owner, you have plenty to do. Buckling down to create an email course or challenge from scratch may not be on the top of the list. Utilizing content you already have might deliver the most impact for your effort.

If you are a content inventor, or you have a content squad, your course or challenge may already be out there. You simply have to repurpose your content to fit the format.

Do a quick content audit to see what exists, what is still relevant, and what is most popular with your audience. These bits of info can assist you figure out how much you are able to pull into your course without reinventing the wheel. What will help you sell the most stuff? Courses and challenges are wildly effective at growing and engaging your email listing, but what about revenue? How can a free course or challenge build your business more fund?

How you make money might determine whether you build a course before a challenge, or vice versa.

For example, if your current source of online income is educational products, like a paid course, eBook, or physical book, you can use a free email mini-course to introduce your audience to a preview of the paid product. Give your audience a taste of the value your premium products will provide and they’ll be more likely to buy.

If your current source of income is selling physical products or one-on-one service, or promoting products/ services as an affiliate, you might benefit from an email challenge. An email challenge can uniquely stance your products and services as the keys to successfully completing it. At the end of the challenge, whether your subscriber succeeded or not, you can pitching products or services as an aid to try again, or keep on running.

There’s no rule that says you can’t do both! Perhaps start with an email course to build up your audience and later in the year, re-engage the same group with a challenge. What’s important is that you get started. Step One: Crafting your content Employ the tactics below to make this part of the process as painless as possible, especially if you don’t fancy yourself a novelist. Generate an awesome email course Email courses help you and your subscribers grow! Teaching a new subscriber what you know is a great way to kick off a long and profitable relationship. But what should you write? And how do you get started?

First, make your pitch …

Determine what it is you’ll be teaching your subscribers. Condense this down to a simple value-packed statement. This statement will be helpful when you are writing content for your landing page or web kind.

A great email course can:

teach a subscriber how to do a specific chore.

demystify a confusing topic.

introduce your audience to an arousing new topic.

assistance subscribers make more money, save time, or solve problems by enhancing their existing abilities or knowledge.

The perfect pitch for your course should include what you’ll be teaching, how that can impact your subscriber’s life, and how long it’ll take.

Here are a few instances:

Enrol in our “7-day Email Copywriting Course” and never worry about what to write in your emails again.

Kick-start your side hustle with our “1 4-day Find Your First Client Course.”

Plan your Disney vacation like a pro with our 7-day guidebook.

Once you’ve nailed your pitch, you’ll have a sense of what the content should be.

Next, write your emails …

We’ve studied a ton of email courses to learn how they craft their content. Here are a few different styles you might consider imitating.

The Traditional Course

A traditional email course consists of long-form emails that have both a full, in-depth lesson and a homework assignment in each email sent.

These courses are great when diving into a complex topic. Use images and diagrams as needed, and be sure to write in a style that is familiar to your audience. Even if you’re covering a technological topic, you risk losing your audience’s attention if you assume they understand technical jargon and nomenclature.

When structuring your course, you can also list them out as lessons in your subject lines and content( lesson 1, lesson 2, lesson 3, etc .). This will help give subscribers a reference point for where they’re at, and where they’re going.

The Snackable Mini-Course

A snackable course offers bite-sized bits of information delivered over hour. These can be simple tips-off, 5-minute lessons, quick exercisings, or links to short resources or tools.

Here is a great instance of a snackable course email from Henneke Duistermaat. Each day you receive a short tip about copywriting.

Snackable email example.

The Multimedia Course

Perhaps you have educational content in different formats, like video, audio, or long-form blog articles.

If you plan to deliver your course content employing different mediums, simply use email to direct the subscribers to a video, audio, or article on your website, or another service( like YouTube .)

Here’s an example from Donald Miller of how an email might appear utilizing this style:

Video email example.

Drive your subscribers to take action

No matter what format or tone your course takes, it should definitely be actionable.

Be assured that your audience has a clear call-to-action to apply what they’re learning, interact with you or a larger group, and bide engaged throughout the course. Creating an awesome email challenge Crafting an email challenge can be a bit easier than a course. It necessitates less educational content.

But you still need a pitching …

Challenges are all about transformation. At the end of a challenge, your subscribers should be in an improved nation. Your challenge transports them from A to B — from unhealthy to fit, from novice to pro, from start-up to profitable.

To successfully attract email subscribers to accept your challenge, “youre going to” pitch that transformation. Craft a short statement that explains the beginning and end country your subscribers will move from if they take you up on your challenge.

Here are a few instances:

Launch your own successful food blog in merely 7 days!

10 x your email list with this 30 -day challenge!

Drop 2 sizes in 60 days!

Your pitching will become the compass for your challenge emails.

Now about those emails …

Yes, you still have to write them.

Fortunately, writing challenge emails is a breeze. Focus on one action per email. Give your subscribers enough details to know what they’re are forecast to do, and why they’re are forecast to do it.

For example, on Day 3 of David Siteman Garland’s “Outline Your Darn Course” challenge, he explains how to draft your course’s “modules.” A quick video explains what a module is, why it’s important, and how to do the task at hand.

Sell them on the value of completing the task. Give them insight into how this single accomplishment plays into the big picture and helps them achieve their larger objectives.

Example: David Siteman Garland shares that once your course is outlined, you’ll build significant momentum to help you get a real course completed and ready for sale.

Here are some tips-off to attain your challenge emails glisten:

Include numbers in your subject line to let your audience know where they are in the overall challenge( i.e. Day 1, Challenge 1, Task 1)

Offer a teaser of how much effort each challenge might require to encourage subscribers to carve out time to complete( i.e. 20 minutes to complete .)

Don’t let your tribe feel lost. Link to other resources, an online community, or your contact info to encourage them to keep moving forward.

Remember to play the role of the coach. Be equal portions demanding and inspirational. Push your subscribers to do their best, and keep them focused on the benefits of your program. Step Two: Building your automated campaign Delivering your automated course or challenge emails with AWeber is as easy as it gets.

There are just a few steps to upload your draft emails from Google Docs or Microsoft Word( or pen and paper, if that’s how you roll) to an automated sequence — or campaign — inside AWeber.( Haven’t tried AWeber yet? Use this link and try AWeber for 30 days .) Designing your emails Don’t let designing your emails slow you down! There are hundreds of template designs to choose from, so how do you know which one is right for your course or challenge? all that option might have you questioning which one is right for you.

Pro tip: the best design for courses and challenges are as little design as possible.

You want your automated emails to feel personal, like a direct message someone might send from Gmail.

There are a few stationary style templates in AWeber that will help you send simple personal emails. These will enable you to focus on your message and on building a strong relationship with your subscribers, rather than get confused with images and formatting alternatives.

Here’s an example:

Email draft example.

When you simplify your email design, you are able to construct your drafts in minutes rather than hours.

Simply transfer your email content into your new template utilizing AWeber’s Drag and Drop Email Builder. Add any logos, images, video thumbnails, or connects, and you’re set to begin building your automated campaign. Creating your automated campaign Head on over to Campaigns in AWeber. Just click the Campaigns link in the Messages dropdown.

Create a new campaign and select “On Subscribe” as the trigger, this will deliver your automated emails to all new subscribers.

Now, just drag and fell your messages and wait times( the time in between each message .) If you want to send a 30 -day challenge with one email being sent each week for 4 weeks, simply drag in four messages with a one-week wait time in between.

If you want to send a 7-day email course, drag in seven messages with a one-day wait time in between.

Here’s an example:

AWeber Campaign Builder

When you’re ready, save and activate your campaign.

That’s it! Any new subscribers to this email list will immediately be enrolled into your automated email course or challenge. Step Three: Attracting Subscribers Once your course or challenge is live, it’s time to attract the right subscribers to join.

Focus on these four parts to build a high-converting incentive: signup form, traffic, visibility, and value.

Let’s dive into each element! Generate your signup form Your signup form is the entry-point to your course or challenge. This is the form that people will fill out to sign up!

To promote sign on, you want to make sure your form transcript( the actual terms describing your course/ challenge) is clear and compelling. Be sure the design fits your brand, and it’s easy for anyone to fill it out and submit.

Related post: How to Create Amazing Photos for Your Emails on Zero Budget

This means you should restriction your kind to just a few fields, like name and email. Asking for too many details up front might decrease the number of people that really fill it out.

When crafting your sort, focus on the pitching you drafted earlier. What’s the value that your course offer, or the transformation that your challenge promises.

Here’s a few great instances( from Henneke and Pete from Do You Even Blog ):

Sign up form example.

Sign up form example.

There are many best practises to pull from these. Some use colour to highlight key words and value propositions. Others use images to showcase yourself as the instructor, or a happy student with a positive end result.

As your list grows, use social proof to demonstrate new guests that others have found success after opting-in. Social proof is evidence from a real user that your course or challenge run. This could be a statement like: “Join the 4,000 subscribers that[ did the thing your course or challenge promises .] ” This could also include course reviews, quotes, or photos from your fans.

Another important element of your kind is the call-to-action, or CTA.

Related post: 8 Style to Improve Your Call-to-Action Copy to Get More Subscribers

Many forms simply state “subscribe” or “sign-up, ” which is a bit dull. If you want your future subscribers to be as aroused about your course or challenge as you are, dial up the tone of your call-to-action!

Here’s a good example from Simple Green Smoothies:

Green Smoothies form.

You can easily create a kind in AWeber, or use a third-party form tool, like OptinMonster, or a form WordPress plugin.

Don’t have a website? You can also host a signup kind with AWeber and we’ll give you a link to share. Drive traffic to your form The best form in the world won’t produce sign ups if no one watches it!

Get people to see your course or challenge involves traffic.

You can think of web traffic as you would real traffic. There are a lot of vehicles potentially driving to your website or sign up kind. They can arrive at that destination through a variety of “on-ramps.” These “on-ramps” are typically referred to as channels. These could be Google searches, paid ads, social posts, blog articles, YouTube videos, or even a billboard or radio ad.

There are a variety of ways to tell people who you are, what you do, why you do it, and where to go to learn more( your website or signup sort ).

Many marketing channels are free( like posting on Pinterest, or optimizing your content for Google ,) just some time and effort, while others might require a small budget, like running a paid Facebook ad campaign.

One of the best ways to drive paid or organic traffic to your sort or website is to publish relevant content. This can be written, audio, or video content.

You can start a blog, podcast, or YouTube series, which might require a lot of endeavor if you don’t have one of those things already. An alternative to this is guest posting on other people’s blogs or appearing on other people’s podcasts. You can also publish content on public networks like Medium.com.

We published a great article sharing 6 ways to get more website traffic that’s super helpful. Increase your form’s visibility Here’s the reality: Your sign up form won’t do much good at the very bottom of your website. Position your sign up form where people are most likely to see it. This could be in the middle of a popular blog article, or at the top of your site.

You might also experiment with pop-up or slide-in forms that appear after your guests are on your site for a few seconds.

AWeber slide-in form.

Your form should be working for you , not against you. Here are more examples of forms to provide some inspiration. Promote the value Your subscribers are going to ask, “What’s in it for me? ” WIIFM!

Be sure your incentive clearly answers this questions. If you have a challenge, appeal to their desire to improve themselves. If you have a course, stress the value of gaining advanced knowledge or a new ability.

Not everyone is willing to share their email address if the value they’ll receive isn’t clear.

Construct sure your visitors are left reasoning, “How could I not sign up !? ”

Remember, attracting users to your course or challenge takes time. Focus on your sort, traffic, visibility, and value and you’ll give your content the best chance to be seen! Step Four: Converting participants to paying customers Alright, such courses or challenge is make, form is functional, people are joining, lives are changing … what’s next?

In this final step, we’ll take a look at how to convert your new subscribers into paying clients.

Before you are able to make a sale, you must have something to sell.

Related: The Beginner’s Guide to Building Money with Email Marketing

Here are two quick options to put you on the path to profitability. Option 1: Develop a paid solution to a relevant problem If you are already an established business, you likely offer a services and products. This product or service should ideally solve a problem that is relevant to the problem your course or challenge address.

For instance, if you create fitness content or run a fitness challenge, you may sell paying fitness videos or home gym equipment. Maybe you have customized workout schemes that can be sold digitally, or you have a gym or train services which are caters to local clients.

Or if you render a mini-email course on a specific topic, you might have a more robust paid course offering, a volume, or one-on-one consultation conferences that you can sell.

Here are a few common products you might consider developing:

A premium email course, to be presented by AWeber

A digital course, hosted on Thinkific or Teachable

A physical book, sold in stores or on Amazon.com

Digital products( like a PDF or eBook)

A physical product, sold through an eCommerce store

Consultation services via Skype or in-person


Because you developed your own paid product or service, you retain the revenue!

Your happy email subscribers are now more invested in you and your brand after buying one of your products or services.

Expanding your product and service line offers future opportunities to construct more revenue.


If you don’t already have a product or service, you’ll have to develop one, which can require day, fund, and resources.

If you sell physical goods, you’ll have to handle production, fulfilment and delivery, customer service, and returns. If you sell a physical service, be prepared to invest your time and manage administrative chores and customer service.

If you sell a single one-time purchase services and products, you’ll always need to find and convert new customers, since your existing clients don’t have a reason to be repeat buyers.

Option 2: Sell someone else’s products or services Okay, so maybe you don’t have an established business, service, or product. You might not have the time and energy to invest in starting from scratch.

Here’s the answer: You can promote someone else’s products or services to your new audience and earn money for any marketings you might refer.

This is typically called an affiliate, partner, or referral program. Not all products or services will offer one, and you’ll have to sign up and agree to the terms of the provider if you want to pursue this route.

The key to successfully earning revenue as an affiliate or partner is to make sure that the products and services you promote are super relevant. What you promote should speak to the same pain points and wants that your course or challenge address.

For instance, if you are doing a 30 -day fitness challenge, you may consider promoting health food or nutritional supplements. Perhaps your favorite paid workout programs have a referral program — a perfect “next step” to promote to anyone that reaches the end of your challenge.

You may have a mini-course on learning a new computer skill, like digital photography or video editing. Promoting the physical products you’d recommend using — like a camera, tripod, light kit, or software, can also be very relevant and rewarding, as you gain the trust of your new subscribers.


You don’t have to develop any products or services. You can expend more time constructing your audience and less day constructing a new business.

You don’t have to worry about product or service fulfilment, or customer support. You still need to stand behind the products you promote, so make sure the brands you partner with treat your subscribers’ with exceptional care.

Your income is largely passive! If you build a successful magnetic course or challenge that promotes someone else’s products or services, your revenue generated is largely passive, meaning you’ll do the upfront work of defining things up, and email automation will keep things running.


As an affiliate or partner, you only take home a slice of the total marketing, as the majority will go to the vendor.

You don’t have a lot of control over your revenue stream. You’re subject to the terms of the partner, who can adjust their payout percentage and frequency, or even cancel their program wholly.

You’re sharing your audience with another brand. By promoting someone else, you’re missing an opportunity to serve your core audience in a meaningful style and continue to deliver value to your subscribers.

How to convert your subscribers into paying customers! Regardless of which alternative you choose to monetize your efforts, you’ll have to successfully result your subscribers to a phase of sale.

Here are two tips to help you sell more through your course or challenge.

Conversion tip# 1: Pester the problem.

A strong conversion strategy is to always pester the problem, or glisten a light on what your audience might be struggling with, even as your course or challenge moves them towards the solution.

Related: How to Find Your Customers’ Pain Points

Your content should provide real value, solve real problems, and transform customers into a better version of themselves, but the result should never be the final destination.

Even after a 30 -day fitness challenge, or a mini-course to learn a skill, your subscriber will still need to maintain their health, or practice their ability. Or, perhaps take the leaping and seek out the next level of their development.

Paid content, products, or services can help your subscribers continue to move forward.

By teasing the problem, your paid answer is always the logical next step.

Conversion tip# 2: Reveal, don’t tell.

It’s easy to tell your subscribers that a services and products could solve their problems or change their world.

But keep in mind that your subscribers are likely asking themselves these questions:

“How much does it expense? Is it worth the money? ”

“How complicated is it? Can I do it? ”

“Do I need it? Can I be successful without it? ”

“What are other people saying? ”

Instead of answering these questions directly or with a Frequently Asked Questions website or email, consider creative ways to show your subscribers the answers.

Here are two assets to leverage:

Demo videos

Your subscriber needs to understand what they’d be buying. They need to feel confident that they have the time, ability, and confidence to do their proportion.

For example, if you’re pitching a software product, they need to feel savvy enough to use it, or that they can situated things up in the limited time they have.

One of the best ways to help subscribers overcome any doubt is to present a demo video. In your demo video, showcase the product or service, highlight the value to the subscriber, and mostly focus on how easy it is to get started.

Here’s an example of a great demo video for a software product, Asana.

Social proof

Another valuable tool when promoting a sale is social proof, or the use of customer testimonials, narratives, quotes, or social media posts to promote the value and credibility of your products. It’s more assuring for your future customers to hear about success from actual people like them.

When pitching your product, use this content to reduce doubts that your subscribers might have, or answer specific questions. Having tales delivered by your happiest clients, rather than you, can help the sales process feel more natural and less salesy.

Note: Be sure to ask your clients if you can use their testimonial content to promote your products. You may want to get written permission before doing so. Never stop learning. Go forth and construct your online course or challenge, but be sure is to continue to learning what’s working as marketing continues to evolve.

Want to continue growing as an email marketer? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter FWD: Thinking to get the latest and greatest content in your inbox.

From attracting new subscribers to sending emails that merely work, we’ll help you crush your business and marketing goals. Get started with AWeber AWeber is the perfect platform to deliver your online course or challenge. Easily match your brand with one of our customizable email templates, and construct your automated campaigns with easy use our drag-and-drop Campaign editor.

Need a hand? Our email experts are ready to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Get started with AWeber today, free for 30 days!

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