Hosting a webinar…Most bloggers either love doing it or absolutely hate doing it. Personally, I’m a big believer in the power of hosting them as they can potentially help you connect with your readers, grow your email list and make more product sales for your blogging business.
Why should YOU host a webinar?
Because nothing humanizes your brand or helps you build a closer connection with your readers faster than the use of video. Webinar attendees can hear the tone of your voice and (if you choose to do so) can see your face and watch your hand expressions as you talk. This can give them the feeling that they’re actually visiting with you, versus simply reading one of your 3,000+ word blog posts.
If you’re still in doubt about hosting a webinar, let me ask you two questions.
Would it be easier to remember me if you learned something while seeing my face and hearing what my voice sounds like?
Or would it be easier to remember me if you learned something from one of my long blog posts?
Either way, you’d be getting incredibly valuable information but it’d obviously be easier to remember who Allison Lindstrom is if you can actually see her face and hear her talk.
The more people who remember YOU as a person, the more likely they are to remember your brand. That is always going to be good news for business, and that is why I think you should try webinars.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you purchase something. I only recommend things I love and trust. You can read my Disclaimer here.
The Best Webinar Platform for a Small Business or Blogger
The best webinar software I have ever used (and as a blogger, I’ve used many!) is Crowdcast. Their platform very rarely experiences random technical difficulties or glitches, which saves me from a ton embarrassment. Let me explain.
Imagine I have 500 people signed up to watch my webinar. I’m getting ready to go LIVE in 30 minutes so I sign into my webinar software (not Crowdcast) and the platform has announced that it’s temporarily having technical difficulties.
The platform also says it’s not sure when things will be back up and running, which means I have to put my webinar on hold till TBD and also apologize to the 500 people who are now showing up and expecting a presentation.
Unfortunately, this situation has happened to me many times with many different softwares. But it has only very rarely happened to me with Crowdcast. This is why I recommend it 100% and find it is worth every penny!
Do webinars cost money?
You get what you pay for, and a dependable webinar software like Crowdcast will cost you approximately $50/month.
Oh, I completely understand that’s a lot of money for software each month and I agree with you!
What I like to do is look at the calendar and decide when it would be a good month to host multiple webinars. Then I pay for a month or two of Crowdcast, host all of my webinars, then cancel the monthly subscription when I’m done.
This is yet another reason why I like Crowdcast as they don’t have contracts and allow you to pay month-to-month.
How do I start a free webinar? Can Skype be used for webinars?
There are free webinar options, such as Facebook LIVE, YouTube LIVE, and Skype. But like everything free in the world, there are some drawbacks.
Here’s why free webinar software may not be a good idea:
You can’t collect the email addresses of webinar attendees
You may not have access to the media file of the webinar replay
You may not have the option to share your screen and thus, won’t be able to show a PowerPoint presentation or technical tutorial
Let me be frank.
Hosting a webinar takes a ton of work! You need to prepare your PowerPoint slides and/or talking points, promote the webinar to get registrants, and then actually take the time to host the webinar itself. It’s mentally and physically exhausting.
How long does it take to create a webinar? On average, a 1-hour webinar presentation could take approximately 6-12 hours of preparation time and post-webinar time completing tasks, such as sending follow-up emails or content.
This 12 hour estimate is especially true if you have a product you’d like to pitch. Typically, this situation ends well when you vocally pitch the product at the end of your webinar, then follow up with a series of emails to encourage your attendees to buy.
Do I have to sell something during a webinar?
Yes, you should try to sell either your own product or promote an affiliate link during a webinar.
Some people really hate the idea of selling a product during a webinar, claiming it’s salesy. I agree that some webinars can be salesy. But they don’t have to be obnoxious and you can find a healthy way to promote your product without coming off as a slimy salesman.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to throw a truly wonderful webinar then it’s going to take a lot of time to set up. And if it’s going to take a lot of time to set up, then I need to have some sort of compensation for it. A girl’s gotta pay her bills!
How long should a webinar last?
The length of your webinar is dependent on a few things:
Are you briefly teaching a couple of valuable points or showing them an in-depth technical tutorial?
Does your target audience have the time to sit down and watch a long webinar or are they busy individuals?
In my experience, the average successful webinar is no more than 60 minutes long. Anything beyond that is too long for my particular target audience, who are mostly busy mothers and/or working women.
Provide value in a compact punch instead of drawing out your presentation to 90+ minutes. People just don’t have all day to listen to what you have to say.
Hosting Webinars to Build An Email List
Sometimes webinars are seen in a really negative light, which is a shame if you ask me.
Hosting a live training or presentation is one of the quickest ways to connect with a large group of people all at once, regardless of whether you do it in a physical location or online.
Who wouldn’t want to do that?
Webinars are also helpful in growing your email list. They have literally added over a hundred subscribers to my list per day when I’m promoting one, and are pretty a lot of fun to host too.
I threw my first webinar, How to Get Your First 100k Pageviews Using Pinterest in 5 Steps, with my beautiful friend Kristin from Believe in a Budget.
We had over 150 people sign up the first day and had reached over 550 by the time the day of the webinar arrived. Neither one of us had ever hosted a webinar before and those numbers just took our breaths away!
But building a subscriber list isn't just about the numbers. You really need to connect and resonate with people in order to for them to actually stick around! What's the point in getting 50 subscribers/day if half of them unsubscribe next week?
This is where webinars really come in handy. Hosting one means that you're adding subscribers to your list and then instantly connecting with them on a personal level.
They get to hear the way you talk, identify with your personality, and (hopefully!) walk away with some incredible knowledge. It's like having coffee with over 500 people from around the world at the same time!
How do I conduct a successful webinar?
Here are some tips on how to plan a webinar:
Find a solution to a specific problem your target audience experiences, and make that your webinar content
Collaborate with another blogger if you’re feeling too nervous to host a webinar solo
Have a “webinar rehearsal” by yourself/with your co-host
Promote your webinar until you’re blue in the face
Offer an incentive in return if you don’t have a product to sell
1. Find a solution to a specific problem your target audience experiences, and make that your webinar content
Think of how much an individual is investing in you by registering and then actually remembering to show up to a webinar. Make sure that the show you end up delivering is actually worth their time.
In fact, don't throw a webinar if you can't answer these questions.
How can you help your target audience?
How can you add some great value to their lives?
What will they learn by attending?
How will this information change their perspective on something?
What makes your content stand out?
Why are you an expert or authority in this niche?
2. Collaborate with another blogger if you’re feeling too nervous to host a webinar solo
Hosting a webinar solo can be a little nerve-wracking. I wholeheartedly recommend hosting your first webinar with a co-host. It gives you comfort in knowing that you're not alone and shaking with butterflies all by yourself.
Here are a few things I recommend if you’ll be working with a webinar partner:
Choose someone you know you can trust and depend on
Choose someone in a similar or relatable niche
Use webinar software that’ll enable you to have a co-host, such as Crowdcast
Split the workload in half, divvying up tasks such as creating PowerPoint slides, creating graphics to promote the webinar, writing the pre and post-webinar emails
If you’re selling a product, have one person be the affiliate and give them a 50% commission rate (or 45% if you have to pay the credit card and transaction fees) in order to seamlessly split the profits
3. Have a "webinar rehearsal" by yourself/with your co-host
Have a test webinar before you go live with your guests on the actual webinar date. It can help you identify any technical glitches or content issues.
When you do a "webinar rehearsal" you may notice that you need to add/remove content or that your mic (here’s the Blue Yeti one I recommend because it never fails me!) isn't working properly.
You don't want to experience issues that you could have easily solved.
4. Promote your webinar until you’re blue in the face
Here are some of my favorite ways to promote a webinar.
Write a blog post
Share the blog post and sign up page on Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (and any other social media platforms you use!)
Search social media platforms for users that are already discussing your webinar topic and invite them personally (I found a lot of great users on Instagram this way just by searching hashtags.)
One of the perks of throwing a webinar is that you're growing your list. I certainly recommend letting your current subscribers know that it's happening but I also think you should aggressively promote the webinar to gain new subscribers!
Write a blog post, create a Pinterest pin, and share both of them often. Post an announcement on your Facebook Page or Group multiple times. Be aggressive, and have your co-host do the same.
This would obviously require a bit of planning ahead so be sure to think ahead and act early when you’re promoting your webinar.
5. Offer something in return if you don’t have a product to sell
You wouldn't let someone leave your party without a little gift bag, would you?
Make sure the webinar itself is jam-packed with actionable content but also send them home with a freebie too. This could be something as simple as a worksheet to get them started on something.
A note of caution though- do not give out your slides if you have any. Kristin and I did this once and simply offered a PDF version for anyone who couldn’t attend the live event.
One of the webinar attendees used the PDF to create her own webinar slides (she just changed the colors and modified the text a bit) and then gave away all of our content pretending it was her own, and didn’t give credit where credit was due.
Yes, there are bloggers who think it’s okay to steal. Don’t help them do it by giving away copies of your hard work.
How do I host a live webinar? What equipment do I need?
Here are my recommended resources and software for a successful, worry-free webinar:
Crowdcast: The only webinar software I trust to run without a hitch 99% of the time. I use them for the actual streaming of the webinar.
PostPlanner: I literally fill my queue with social media posts so that I only have to sit down once to write everything out. Getting a webinar ready means I don't have the time to sit down and post on Facebook all day
Blue Yeti Mic: The default mic on my Mac computer is okay in quality but not great. This is the mic I’ve used for years. It’s still in great shape and the quality is amazing.
Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920: This webcam took my video quality from amateur to professional. Highly recommend!
I'm constantly testing and tweaking what I use to host my webinars. But I've got some experience under my belt now and these are the resources that have consistently had my back.
Can I be seen on a webinar?
You don’t have to show your face on a webinar and can easily share your screen to only show what’s on your computer. Many people do this during their very first webinar if they are especially nervous.
I personally recommend showing your face in the beginning so you can say hello and welcome your attendees. Then you can switch to sharing your screen in order to work through your slides. Lastly, you can switch back to your face in order to do a Q&A session and wrap up the webinar.
What is the best time of day to host a webinar?
The best day of the week and time of that day to host a webinar depends entirely on your audience.
If your target audience is busy moms then you probably shouldn’t host a webinar on a school night or right around dinnertime. Instead, choose a more relaxed time such as Saturday afternoon or during school hours when the house will be quiet.
If in doubt, ask your audience when a good time will work. They will let you know!
How do you create a webinar in PowerPoint?
Creating a webinar in PowerPoint is very easy. You simply create a new file, put together your slides, and then click save. Then when you go live, you can simply share your computer screen and work through your slides that way.
Remember: webinar attendees can see your computer screen this way. It’s great for going through your slides with them but don’t pull up your bank account or log into your email while you’re live!
Like everything in blogging and business, there are pros and cons to each strategy. Though webinars have been getting a bad rep lately, not all of them are "gimmicky" or "salesy." Obviously, if someone has something they want to sell, they're going to mention it because they are running a business (and quite honestly, what kind of a businesswoman would they be if they didn’t mention their product at least once?).
As long as you are packing a punch in the content value department, your webinars will do great. They are an awesome way to instantly connect with and share information with your readers. Community is everything and if webinars are one way to build your loyal following, then you should go for it!