Lessons learned from my first marriage challenge

In this post, I will share with you the things I learned from running my first marriage challenge.

I ran my first challenge a few months after starting my blog. I was very new to all things blogging and today I will share the 6 things that I would change and the 5 things I would keep the same.

A picture of a laptop open on a wooden surface.  On top of the picture are the words: Lessons Learned from my first marriage challenge. www.onedeterminedlife.com

In the blogging world, a challenge is something that you ask followers to work with you as you tackle a problem.

Over the past 6 months, I have been trying to learn everything I need to run a successful blog. At times, I have been overwhelmed by the amount of information out there and all that there is to do.

From all the blogs I read, one thing I kept seeing was: build an email list!! So, that is what I set out to do.

The story

Since I don’t have a product yet to sell and I had not created extra content and only had 3 blogs posts on my website, I did not know what to do to see if I could get some people on a list.

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I joined a few Facebook groups to promote my blog and connect with other bloggers. One of these groups had a collaboration Day. People posted what sort of collaboration they were looking for.

I am a Christian who blogs about parenting, marriage, and faith and I wanted to find another blogger to work with to share ideas and content.

I found a woman who wrote about Christian marriage who was also wanting to build her list. We got connected and started brainstorming.

The plan

When we first started talking we thought we would create a free downloadable date night planner. But after a few days, we both agreed that we wanted to create a marriage challenge.

Our marriage challenge would include sending emails for 14 days to our subscribers. These emails would help our readers grow in their marriages and also in their relationship with God.

We decided that each day would focus on a specific area: communication, finances, physical attraction, planning for the future and so on.

The emails each had a personal story, a verse to think about and a challenge to complete for the day. We also created our own hashtag to post pictures on our social media and encouraged people to do the same and follow along.

We decided on 14 topics and split the content writing. I wrote 7 and so did she. Then, we each promoted the challenge using any way we wanted to.

The result

Before we started the marriage challenge I had zero subscribers. By the time the challenge started, I had 37 subscribers.

I was a bit disappointed because I had set a goal of at least 100 subscribers, but decided that I would focus on the positive and not the negative.

We sent out the emails, ran the challenge and waited.

More disappointment: nobody else from our email list used our hashtag or engaged on social media. I was feeling pretty low!!

I had put all this time and effort into something that I thought would explode my email list and encourage so many people.

Looking back, I can see that my expectations were too high.

2 Lessons Learned from the Marriage Challenge

1. To not focus on numbers

At the end of the challenge, I looked at the number of people who had signed up for the marriage challenge and compared it to how many people opened the emails. Let’s just say that the numbers were not encouraging.

I shared my disappointment with the person who wrote the challenge with me and she told me of a few people who had emailed her to tell her they had been encouraged. I think we got 2 responses back saying they had been encouraged.

These are small numbers but I had to remind myself why I was blogging. It’s not to make the most money or to have the largest email list but to truly help and support and love women in their life and to glorify God.

I was reminded of the story of the lost sheep. He left the 99 and went to search for the one. God rejoices in each and every person who comes to Him. To Him, it’s not a numbers game, it’s personal. He knows each and every one of us and rejoices for each person who is saved.

I took that example and chose to be thankful for the people who were reached and encouraged.

2. How to properly analyze the numbers

During this process, I learned so much. One of the main things I learned was how to use MailerLite. I had never created a campaign and saw this challenge as an opportunity to learn how to use a new system.

I also learned about ROI: return on investment, click rates and open rates. Before this challenge, I assumed that if 37 people signed up for the marriage challenge then 37 people would open the email and click on the information we were sending them.

I was so wrong.

As one of the perks of using Malerlite is its data collection functions. I can see how many emails have been sent out and how many of those emails have been opened.

Since I am still new to all this, I see the numbers but have no idea what they mean or if it’s good or bad.

Overall, 37%  to 42% of the emails I sent out were opened. To me, again, I was discouraged. Not even half of the emails I had sent out had been opened.

When I shared this with my husband, he was actually impressed with the click rate.

Since he is in marketing, he was able to give me his perspective on the click rate. He let me know that the conversion rate was good and something to be happy about.

His insight taught me that my expectations were too high and that I should expect click rates to be closer to industry standards.

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6 things I would change

1. Sign up form

Since neither myself nor my partner are very computer literate we were not sure how to collect emails but have one list.

After a bit of reading, I thought the easiest thing to do would be to have a Google form for people to sign up with. We each would promote the same image and have a consistent brand but have one form.

The problem with this is I think it may have kept people from signing up.


  1. The Google form took people off the website to a different page. This is one more step that may have kept people from signing up.
  2. You have to have a Google account to sign up. So, if you don’t have an account you can’t sign up until you sign up for Google or contact us separately. Again, adding more steps made it more difficult for people to sign up, so they didn’t.

What I would do: instead of using google forms I would use Mailerlite opt pop-ups and landing pages and then share the emails I collected.

2. Use video

It seems to me that video is becoming more prevalent on social media. I did not use Facebook Live or Instagram live and that was a mistake. In the future, I plan to go live on either platform once a day. I think by doing this, it will encourage more engagement from the people on the subscriber list but also from my facebook and Instagram followers.

3. The length

I loved all the content we wrote, but I think maybe 14 days is a long time for a challenge and may have scared people away.
When I look online at challenges, they are either 3, 5 or 30 days long.

I think in the future, I would maybe condense the challenge to 5 days and then maybe try to sell an ebook that contained more information in it.

4. Nothing to sell

Since I am a new blogger and started promoting myself before any content was created, I ran a challenge with nothing to sell at the end. I built 14 days of trust and created a small list, but then did not use that trust to try and sell them a product.

From what I read and understand, the best way to sell a product is after building trust and relationships through your email list. I sort of feel like I missed the boat on that one.

5. Scheduling tool

When I was promoting the marriage challenge I had yet to invest in Tailwind. That was a big mistake.

Since investing in Tailwind, my pins have been shared so much more and I have received way more traffic than I did when I was trying to use Pinterest on my own time.

If you plan to run a challenge make sure you are using Tailwind or another Pinterest scheduling tool to help you get as much traffic to your blog as possible.

6. Landing page

When I was promoting the challenge I did not have a landing page. When people were looking at the challenge they did not have enough information and did not know what they were signing up for and what they would gain from signing up.

In the future, I plan to use mailerlite to make landing pages to inform my readers what the challenge is about and what they will gain by signing up.

5 things I would keep the same

1. Time to promote

To promote the marriage challenge, we decided to give ourselves one month to promote and try to gain subscribers. I think that one month was a great time frame. It gave time for natural growth and promotion across boards.

2. Mail system

I love Mailerlite and was so happy to have found it before I started writing the challenge and sending out emails. Their system is easy to use and I loved the results.

If you plan to send out any emails, I highly recommend you use Mailerlite or another mail system.

3. The content

I really enjoyed writing the content and thought we gave our readers great value. The emails were 700-1000 words long with the same format each day and covered a wide range of topics that any couple faces on a regular basis.

I love the content so much, I plan to use the portions I wrote again. I’m not sure how yet, but I will recycle my content.

4. The teamwork

I was excited to meet another blogger who had the same passion and vision as I did. I feel like we worked well together and created great content. What I loved most was the accountability. I checked in on her and she checked in on me.

Because I was not the only one on the journey, I had to finish writing content by a certain date. If it had just been me, it would have been easy to push things later and not get as much done.

5. The daily engagement

One of the main parts of the marriage challenge was creating a hashtag on Instagram and posting pictures every day.

Even though the subscribers did not use our hashtag, I still enjoyed taking pictures each day and sharing them on Instagram. I thought it was a great way of showing people a real couple in real life dealing with real issues.

Even though I was a bit disappointed with the results of the marriage challenge I ran, there were so many things I learned. There are a few things I would change and a few things I would keep the same. It was a way to learn about blogging and everything blogging incorporates.

If you have something you want to write and share, I suggest you go ahead and so it. Even if you’re not sure of the results or a bit afraid to jump the gun, there is nothing to lose. Things may not turn up the way you expect, but you will learn so much about yourself and the way things work that it will be worth it.

Please Share

In the comments below, share with me one lesson you have learned from blogging this week.

I am working hard to grow my blog audience. Please help me by sharing this post with others. Thank you

a picture of a women sitting cross legged on her bed typing on her open laptop.  Above the picture are the words: Lessons learned from my first marriage challenge. Below the picture are the words: www.onedeterminedlife.com

46 responses to “Lessons learned from my first marriage challenge”

  1. Michelle Avatar

    I think the lesson we have to remind ourselves as bloggers is, just connecting with 1 person is special. That will only grow once you keep at it. Maintain what works and improve on what doesn’t. Reaching and connecting with others is the best part of this. The other stuff will eventually come.

  2. jehava Avatar

    Really great tips because, I hope to do this some day! Thanks!

  3. Patty Avatar

    37 is a pretty good start. I have 49 and have been working on that list for a few months now.

    Thanks for sharing your findings. It definitely gave me something to think about!

  4. Keishawna Avatar

    I loved this post. Blogging can be discouraging at times, but as you said we must remember why we are doing it. You never know what post will be the one that gets you the following you dreamed about. Just keep doing what God called you to do. It will all work out in the end!

  5. Leah Avatar

    As everyone said above, 30+ subscribers and over 40% opens on your emails from the get-go is good! It’s really tough to build a blog from nothing. The hardest part would probably be finding those subscribers who are engaged and love your content and will open your emails. Because you had a longer challenge and your emails were fairly long, you should feel really good knowing your list is engaged and interested in your content! Your writing seems very natural to me and I’m sure you’ll do GREAT! Remember, it’s not the numbers we see that matter, one person can affect MANY from your one word for them. Those are the “numbers” God sees (Not that He’s counting anyway)!

    1. anne.markey1@gmail.com Avatar

      Thanks for the encouragement!! I think since I am still new I am still learning what success means.

  6. Debbie McDaniel Avatar

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey & info! God’s blessings to you as you press forward, you’re doing awesome & I’m thankful to learn from what you’ve written! 🙂

  7. Chelsea-Catherine Croom Avatar
    Chelsea-Catherine Croom

    Thanks for sharing the full truth about this challenge! So often people only reflect the good parts, but it’s so helpful to know what to actually expect! Stay motivated!

  8. Rhonda Swan Avatar

    There is a lot of great value here. Thanks for this post and encouraging us all to be unstoppable!

  9. Christine Avatar

    Thank you for sharing this info. Blogging is sometimes frustrating because it feels like no one is engaging. I do find I have the most interaction when I post videos.

    1. anne.markey1@gmail.com Avatar

      That’s great feedback thanks

  10. Anmaria Djong I Onelazychic Avatar

    This post is so useful for me. I really enjoy reading it. You are right, we need to go back to see why we are writing the blog in the first place. I will bookmark your post so that I can learn a lot more from you.

  11. Heather Gerwing Avatar

    I want to start doing more live video’s too. Thanks for sharing what you learned!

  12. Amanda | Maple Alps Avatar

    Thanks for sharing! I’ll keep these lessons learned in case I ever decide to do a challenge!

  13. Sara - My Indie Life Blog Avatar

    I think your challenge sounds great… I think with a bit more promotion, especially videos (which is something I’m getting into now) you will see this become something you could run as a free email ‘opt-in’ service that maybe leads to a paid for product.

    I think you could be on to a winner here… so keep going!

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