You’ve seen them announced on social media. You’ve even signed up for a few and now you’re thinking – I could totally do that. But the more you think about it, the more you shrink from the idea. What would I talk about? How would I run it? And worst of all – what if I presented a webinar and nobody came?
A webinar isn’t something you whip up over night. A good one takes planning and perseverance and yes, you might find yourself talking to yourself for three-quarters of an hour. But webinars can also be an incredible way of connecting with your audience, converting new customers and, if you’re good at what you do, they can even turn out to be an additional source of revenue.
Want a run a webinar? Here’s all you need to get started.
First, let’s talk terms. A webinar is a web-based seminar. It’s like a classroom or conference presentation that you conduct online so people all over the world can attend. It’s a lot like creating a video tutorial for YouTube, except that it’s live and, if you’re lucky, your attendees get to actually participate by asking questions.
The Right Stuff
To get started, all you really need is an internet connection, a webcam and microphone, and a platform. Google Hangouts on Air is the best place for beginners because it’s free and your webinar will automatically save and post to your YouTube channel (you have a YouTube channel, right?) for others to enjoy.
Setting up a Hangout can be tricky, but the Social Media Examiner has an excellent walkthrough.
Always run a test session before announcing your intentions to the world. Even when you’ve done it a dozen times there are a dozen more ways a webinar can come apart. Avoid embarrassing muted moments or slides that can’t be read by testing everything ahead of time.
If You Fail to Plan. . . .
Once you have the tech out of the way, it’s time to decide on content. I know that sounds counter intuitive, but for most people it’s the tech part that is the scariest, so conquer that first.
Next, brainstorm a list of topics based on your skills and / or your store. You can teach people how to craft or teach them how to run a business, raise money on Kickstarter or design graphics for their blog. If you do it well, other people would love to learn from you.
From there, decide on the best delivery method. If you’re not demonstrating live for the camera, prepare a slide presentation. Graphics will help keep your viewers engaged and it will help you stay on task. Once you’re live it’s easy to either ramble off in the wrong direction or freeze and forget what you’re supposed to say.
The final step before the big day is to drum up a house full of participants. Promote the webinar at least a week ahead of time using your website and social media. There are fancy lead page tools presenters use to collect names and register people ahead of time but for your first time out, don’t worry about it. Just make sure everyone you know has the link and send out email reminders to your mailing list.
Tip: Tweet your webinar details to @IndieMade and we’ll help you spread the word.
The Big Day
On webinar day, enlist the help of a friend who will watch the crowd for questions and keep an eye that everything is running smoothly from the viewer end. Wrong slide! Is that humming noise coming from your computer or your cat?
If no one shows up, don’t sweat it. Run your webinar and call it good practice. If you’re using Google On Air, the replay will be available forever on YouTube so it’s not a waste of time.
Treat the people who do show up like treasured guests. Shoutout their names, ask and reply to questions and at the end of the webinar, give them a code for a discount in your store or a link to a free download. By making your first guests feel welcome, they’ll spread the word and come back for your next event.
Webinars take careful planning and nerves of steel the first time out. But once you’ve done a couple, you’ll find they are as enjoyable to conduct as they are profitable for your business.