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Are you thinking about hosting your first webinar?
Even if you haven’t hosted a webinar before, you’ve probably attended one or two. And, if you’re thinking of hosting your own webinar, you probably enjoyed the ones you attended.
There are a number of things that you need to think about before going live including what tools you’re going to use, how you’ll get people to sign-up and, most importantly, what the purpose of hosting the webinar is!
It can feel overwhelming but don’t worry, this post will guide you through everything you need to know about hosting your first webinar.
** For the purposes of this post, I will be talking about webinars that are being offered for free, either as an opt-in incentive or as part of a sales funnel**
If you’re thinking about hosting your first webinar, you probably already know the benefits of them. But, just in case you’re sitting there thinking that hosting webinars was just a fun way to fill time, here are some of the other reasons you might be considering hosting a webinar:
To increase email subscribers
Hosting a webinar is a fantastic way to gain new email subscribers and boost your list.
As part of the registration process for attending the webinar, people will need to subscribe to your email list. In theory, it’s the same as any other freebie or opt-in incentive – your readers will give you their contact details in exchange for valuable content.
As the starting point to a sales funnel
We all know that offering something valuable for free is a great way to start off your sales funnel. It’s a great way to know who is interested in a particular topic (so you can market directly to them) and to show them how much value you can offer to students, clients and/or customers.
For more information on sales funnels and systems that really convert, check out Sweet Sales Systems from Elise at House of Brazen.
They are a great way to connect with your audience FOR FREE!
Webinars are one of the best ways to engage with and reach your target audience. They allow you to interact with your audience and share valuable, actionable content with them in a way that written content just can’t.
So, now that you know why they’re the bee’s knees, here’s everything you need to know about hosting your first webinar:
Choosing a Topic
Or, more specifically, choosing a topic that people want to learn about.
If your webinar is going to be the starting point for a sales funnel, the webinar topic should be similar to the end product that your funnel leads to. It might be a sneak preview of the end product’s content, or it might just be similar.
Already having an end product in place (or at least planned out) takes away the need for you to brainstorm topics for your webinar!
If, on the other hand, your webinar is going to be serving as a way to grow your email list, you’ll need to generate ideas that your target audience will be interested in.
1. Look at your most popular posts
Check your Google Analytics and find out what your most popular topics are. You can repurpose this content into a webinar or address a different angle.
2. Ask your audience what they want
There are a couple of ways you can find out what your audience wants. You can ask your readers directly using your email list and/or Facebook Group, you can create a poll on Facebook and Twitter or you can look around other Facebook Groups to see what questions are being asked.
3. Expand on your most popular downloads
Is there an opt-in incentive that consistently performs better than the others? Then it’s probably a topic that your audience are interested in learning more about.
One of the main things to remember when choosing a topic is to keep it specific. Don’t try to cram too much into your webinar as it will feel rushed. Instead, focus on giving your audience specific, actionable content on one small topic.
Creating a Title and Purpose for Your Webinar
Creating a title for your webinar is the same as creating a title for your blog posts. They need to let your audience know what the webinar is about but, at the same time, entice them into registering to find out more.
As with blog post titles, anything with “How to” in it works really well, as do “Learn how I….” titles.
Alongside a gripping title that piques your audience’s curiosity, you need a purpose for your webinar. This is a couple of bullet points that set out exactly what lessons your audience will learn from the webinar.
As I mentioned earlier, your webinar should be simple and succinct in terms of the topic so no more than 3 or 4 bullet points are needed. These will help you stay on track when it comes to creating the main content of the webinar.
Related Post → The Perfect Blog Post – Incredible Post Ideas and Titles
Where to Host Your Webinar
Before you start planning the content of your webinar, it’s important to decide where you are going to host it.
The reason for choosing the platform first is to ensure that you’re not rushing around last minute looking for a system that meets all of your needs. It also ensures that you have time to explore the system and experiment with it well in advance and, if you need to, you’ll still have time to find another.
There are lots of options available out there for you to choose from BUT most of them are expensive. Like, seriously expensive.
Even if your level of income means that you can pay for one of these platforms, it doesn’t mean that you should.
A lot of big webinars that I have attended have been run through WebinarJam or CrowdCast. At the time of writing, WebinarJam is $479 per year and CrowdCast ranges between $49 and $195 per month!
That’s a lot of money, especially when you can host your webinar for free using a very well known and reliable platform – YouTube.
For options outside of YouTube, check out this post from the Elegant Themes Blog: The 15 Best Webinar Software Products from Around the Web
Using YouTube Live to Host Your Webinar
Previously known as Google+Hangouts, YouTube Live is a fantastic and reliable way to host your webinars for free.
You can send the YouTube link to your attendees or, use a code to embed it into a page on your site. Whatever works best for you.
1. Create a Google account (or log into YouTube if you already have one)
YouTube is owned by Google so, in order to log into YouTube, you need to have a Google account. Don’t worry though, it’s completely free and takes a matter of minutes to set up. Simply head to the sign-up page and follow the instructions.
Once you’re in your YouTube account, set up and verify your channel, making sure you read the terms and conditions well before proceeding.
2. Set Up the Webinar
Select “Creator Studio”, then from the left-hand menu select “Live Streaming”. Next, click on “Events” and “Enable Live Streaming”.
You will then be taken to a screen where you can add all of the details such as your webinar name, time and date etc.
You can also choose the privacy settings here. I would opt for “Unlisted” as this means that it can only be viewed by people who have the link i.e. those who have registered using your sign-up form and have received a link to the webinar (more on setting this up in a minute).
3. Embedding the webinar on your site
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with your viewers watching your webinar on YouTube. It’s simple and clean, plus you have access to their live chat function so you can answer your viewers’ questions during the webinar.
You may, however, decide that you want to embed the video into a dedicated page on your site. Why? Because you can add your branding to the page and make it look like it really belongs to you rather than being any old video on YouTube.
Like I said, it’s entirely your choice. I’ve hosted webinars both ways and not seen any markable difference in either method in terms of the number of attendees and conversions.
Once your webinar is set up on YouTube, you will be taken to the Google screen where you will record the video. In the bottom right-hand corner, there is a button called “Links”. Click on that to find the embed code, copy it and then pop it onto the page on your site where you’ll be hosting the video.
If you’re a WordPress user, I’d recommend using a free page builder plugin like Elementor to get the different “blocks” in the exact places you want.
You’ll want to add a live chat function to the page too so that you can engage and communicate with your audience throughout the webinar itself. For this, I use the free Chatango tool. Again, it’s just a simple case of embedding it onto your page.
Getting people to sign up for your webinar is the same as getting them to sign up for any opt-in incentive that you offer.
Start by creating a stand-alone sign-up form that you can include in your sidebar or in blog posts etc. as well as a landing page.
Treat your landing page like a sales page and tell your readers how they will benefit from attending your webinar. For example, what skills they will learn. It’s also a great incentive to offer an exclusive bonus for people to attend live, like a checklist or workbook that isn’t available elsewhere on your site.
Promote your upcoming webinar on your social media accounts and to your newsletter subscribers.
Use your email marketing service provider to tag people who have signed up for the webinar so that you can send them reminder emails and a link to the webinar closer to the time.
Related Post → Creating Sign-Up Forms and Where to Place Them to Increase Subscribers
Get Your Content Ready
There’s not a lot I can tell you for this stage of the process because it’s entirely up to you!
You can present your webinar in any way you want to. You can use Powerpoint slides and talk to them (with your face never being on camera), you can sit face on and talk directly into the camera, you can share your screen or a combination of all of these.
Remember to focus on those few bullet points that you set out as the purpose of your webinar early on so as not to try and cover too much.
I tend to do my webinars as Powerpoint presentations with me talking to the slides. I create the slides first and then write out bullet points for each to guide me on what to say. Personally, I don’t like to write a full script because there’s then a temptation to read it during the webinar and I sound all strange and staged!
Make sure that you have adequate time to practice your webinar a couple of times before the big day. Practicing will not only ensure that you have the timing right (you don’t want to get 20 minutes into an hour-long webinar and find that you’ve run out of things to say) but it will also reduce your reliance on your notes or script.
A Note on Pitching
If the sole purpose of hosting your first webinar (or any other webinar!) is to gain more subscribers, you probably aren’t going to be pitching anything during your webinar.
However, if you’re using the webinar as the start of a sales funnel or to promote a product, you’ll want to pitch during your webinar.
From a personal point of view, there’s nothing worse than joining a webinar and the whole thing is just a sales pitch and I don’t actually learn anything from it.
Whilst you need to be direct with your pitching and have a clear call-to-action, make sure that you are delivering valuable, actionable content in the webinar itself. To help your pitch convert into actual sales, add some kind of “urgency”. This could be a limited time free bonus in addition to your paid product or a discount that expires
If you are pitching a product or service, make sure that your offer is clear and your checkout cart (or whatever system you’re using) is ready to process orders. You don’t want your audience thinking “wow, that sounds great”, clicking on the link to your new course and not being able to access the page or purchase the damn thing!
Start Your Event
When it’s time to go live (well, about 20 minutes beforehand), head back to YouTube, “Live Streaming” and “Events”. Then hit “Start Hangout on Air” under the event that you’ve created.
Going live when you’re hosting your first webinar can be really daunting so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get things in order well in advance.
You won’t be live right away, but you will be taken through to the webinar screen. From this screen, you can select what you will be streaming (your screen or your webcam).
About 5 minutes before the official start time, go live just to check that the sound and video are working and to welcome any early viewers.
In the first couple of minutes of your webinar, you might want to cover a few housekeeping issues such as how you will deal with comments (will you be in the live chat throughout the webinar or will you answer all questions at the end). Then give an outline of what will be covered before diving into the meaty content.
After the Webinar
There’s no obligation to send out a replay of the webinar but I’ve seen good results from it. I only send it those people who had registered to attend rather than my whole list. I know how busy we all get so I don’t want people to miss out.
The post-webinar follow-up phase is particularly important if you pitched your product or service during the webinar.
The first email I send out is to say thanks to those who attended and the link to the replay of the webinar. I also include a reminder of the bonuses.
I then follow up with two more emails; one reminder of the time limit on the deal or bonus and then a final reminder an hour or so before the offer expires.
And that’s all there is to hosting your first webinar!
Your first webinar might take a lot of work and feel a bit stressful but trust me, once you have that first one under your belt, your confidence will skyrocket and the whole process and experience will become much quicker and more relaxed.
Simply follow these steps and use the free schedule and checklists below. There’ll be no stopping you!