It’s time to turn the camera on and host your first webinar.
If your first thought is, “Eeek! I’m not ready!”—you’re like every creator who hosted their first webinar. It’s hard to feel ready when you don’t know exactly what you’re doing—which is why we’re going to lay out everything you need to know in this guide.
When you know what a webinar is, how to use webinars, and how to plan a great experience, you’ll have more confidence in your video creation. You’ll be excited to see the signups roll in and countdown the days until you go live—not stressed and anxious.
While a webinar is certainly a creation of your imagination, there are a few parameters you want to meet to make sure it goes off without a hitch.
Here’s what you need to know to feel confident creating and promoting your first webinar.
What is a webinar?
A webinar is a video, either recorded live or previously, that you share with your audience. Generally, webinars teach something like how to name your newsletter, grow a podcast audience, or sell digital products.
Think of webinars as a part of your marketing strategy. They help you get more attention from the people hanging out in your corner of the internet. With a webinar, you offer free value (like teaching people how to grow their podcast listenership) in return for getting to plug your products.
Your webinar can either be a 30-ish minute course or a series of 15-30 minute videos teaching a bigger concept (or going more in-depth). Sometimes webinars are hosted at specific times (like Monday at 3 pm PT). Other times, they can get accessed through a signup form that delivers the webinar to the subscriber.
Why create a webinar?
Webinars aren’t one size fits all digital creations—they come in all shapes and sizes depending on their purpose. Creators make webinars to:
For example, if you’re a branding consultant, you could have a webinar called Branding Your Business 101: Everything You Need to Know to Elevate Your Brand. Your webinar will talk about the foundations of branding and helpful tips on taking branding up a notch. At the end of your webinar, you’ll let your audience know that you have 3 spots open to take on new branding clients—and they can fill out the application linked.
This is just one way to use webinars. Let’s go into more examples to find the way that works best for your creative business.
Different ways to use webinars
Webinars are just as creative as the deliverables of your business. You can make a webinar about any topic, as long as you make sure to lead towards something. (We suggest leading to paid products!).
Use webinars to grow your email list
You can use a webinar to grow your email list by offering a special experience for subscribers who sign up in advance. Everybody that signs up gets free access to your fictional webinar on How to Start Your Own Merch Line. Once they’re signed up, you’ll add them to your email list (and use ConvertKit’s tag feature to remember what sparked them to join).
Send them offers and campaigns for your course on creating a merch line from start to finish.
Use webinars to get pre-orders
Webinars can get your audience excited to pre-order your digital or physical product. If you’re a writer, you can use a webinar to talk about your new book coming out. If you’re aiming big (like New York Times bestseller big!), those pre-orders are essential to getting on the list. You can also use those pre-orders to land spots in Amazon’s book categories (like Business, Fashion, or Psychology).
Choose a topic from your book to go in-depth on in a live or pre-recorded webinar. At the end of your webinar, ask all your attendees to buy a copy.
Use webinars to sell digital products
Selling digital products with webinars is a great way to show your audience that your product isn’t just another course, ebook, or PDF. It’s something you put thought, energy, and expertise into—and it’s highly valuable.
Webinars can help people unfamiliar with your brand get familiar fast, and they can help people on the fence about buying your products see that it’s the real deal (and stop being hesitant to hit the buy button).
Host a webinar training on a topic related to your digital product and show your audience how buying it is exactly the answer they’re looking for.
How to start planning your first webinar
Your webinar planning doesn’t start by choosing a webinar platform, or even choosing a topic. Since webinars look differently depending on your business, products, and strategy, you’ll want to answer each of these questions before finding the best platform to host it on:
- Will I invite a co-host or host it solo?
- Will I interview several co-hosts or panelists?
- Will I allow attendees to unmute themselves and ask questions?
- What day works best for me?
- Which time works best for my community?
- What does my community want to learn?
- Am I selling something?
- Do I want to create a place for my community to congregate and ask questions?
These questions will help you create a firm foundation, clarify your goals, and iron out the logistics, so you know exactly what you’re looking for from your webinar and platform.
If you get stuck on the why behind your webinar, check out this post on the benefits of webinars. You can move on to the tech once you have these questions answered.
Pick the right topic
The right topic is one that your audience would love to hear you speak on and connects to the product you’re promoting in your webinar. Think of the step right before someone buys your product—what question are they asking themselves, and how can you make a webinar that answers it?
If you’re in a creative rut, ask your audience for their answer. Give your subscribers three to five topics that align with their top pain points based on what you know about your audience. See which topic keeps getting brought up and build your webinar around answering that question or helping them solve that problem (while linking to the promotion at the end!).
From there, take it a step further and invite them to co-create the webinar with you. Once you know your topic, ask them which title they like best and what they’d love to have included. Now, you have enough information to start creating copy for your webinar registration page.
Use the right tools
Every webinar needs three to six types of tools to go off without a hitch: a webinar platform, a landing page tool, an email service, a payment processor (if you’re selling something (i.e., the webinar itself, a course or group program), slide deck, and survey tool.
How do you find the best tool for your business? It’s time to answer a few more questions…
- What type(s) of tool do I need?
- Do I have a budget?
- Will I manage it directly or hire an assistant?
- Do I have the time to learn a new tool?
- What learning/training resources are available?
- What key features do I want for each tool?
- With your answers in hand, take a look through these webinar, landing page, email, and slide deck platforms to see which ones suit your needs best.
Free webinar platforms:
Paid webinar platforms:
Key features to look for in your webinar platform: The replay is embeddable and shareable, is high quality, able to host enough attendees, and offers screen sharing.
Free landing page providers:
- ConvertKit (unlimited landing pages included in your account)
- WordPress Landing pages (WordPress plugin)
Paid landing page providers:
Key features to look for in your landing page provider: Customizable templates, ability to add to your site, and simple design.
Free email service providers:
Paid email service providers:
Key features to look for in your email service platform: Intuitively utilizes forms, tags, automated emails, personalization, and integrates easily with your other tools.
Free (with transaction fees) payment processors:*
*Free here means there isn’t a setup or monthly fee.
Paid payment processors:
Key features to look for in your payment processor: Easy reports to access income and expenses, easily integrates with other tools, and accepts credit cards and Paypal.
Free slide deck resources:
Paid slide deck resources:
Key features to look for in your slide deck resources: Look for designs that are on brand, easy to customize, and in the appropriate format (i.e., Powerpoint, Keynote)
*These tools offer free and paid options
Key features to look for in your survey tool: Easy access to entries, shareable link, multiple fields, and offers custom redirects to thank you or confirmation pages.
Setting up your webinar
A typical webinar has at least five phases: Setup, Promotion, (Day of) prep, Live webinar, and Follow-up.
The setup phase refers to the processes you’ll need to plan your webinar and set up the tech. Give yourself enough time to get everything in place. After you’ve found the perfect date, count backward four to eight weeks out. Then, begin setting everything up.
During this stage you’ll:
- Determine a date for the webinar
- Select a co-host (if applicable)
- Get clear on the tech
- Set up your registration page
- Add the confirmation email to your email service
- Create the event inside your webinar platform
At ConvertKit, we use the Running Your Webinar Like a Pro Checklist that runs us through everything we need to do from 8 weeks until our webinar goes live to the day before. Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like:
During this phase, the top question tends to be, ‘What day should I host my webinar?’ The best way to answer this is to talk to your community, followed up by testing different days to answer this question. And, if all else fails, stick to the research which shows that Tuesday – Thursday tend to have increased live attendance rates.
In the second phase, you’ll focus on promoting your webinar. You can share the registration landing page with your list or on social media. If you have a co-host, invite them to share the event too. ConvertKit’s visual automation editor makes it easier to promote your webinars to your community.
During the day of prep, get ready to:
- Send out your final invite
- Hop on social media
- Get in the right mindset
- Arrive 20-30 minutes early for your final audio and webinar platform test
During the live event, you can share your screen, a deck, your face, or a combination of all of them. It’s essential that you deliver on what you promised. You can also have a VA or someone on your team hop in the chat to engage your community or ask questions.
During the follow-up phase after the webinar, you will:
- Share the replay
- Send thank you emails
- Remind people to buy or ask them why they didn’t buy
This stage is the most critical stage whether you’re selling something or just trying to build trust by offering your community more face-to-face time with you.
How to ensure people show up to your webinar
When it comes to webinars, promotion is just as important as the content. There’s nothing more troublesome than stepping out of your comfort zone to host a webinar only to show up on ‘the day’ and hear crickets. Talk about a shot to your ego.
Thankfully, you can avoid empty seats at your live webinar by following these steps.
Tell everyone about your webinar
You may think that this is a no-brainer, but it’s possible to get so caught up in the technical aspect (or caught off guard by life) and forget to share your upcoming event with your friends, family, colleagues, and social media following.
When you’re promoting your webinar, think of the theory of six degrees of separation. It’s the idea that “all living things and everything else in the world are six or fewer steps away from each other.” Your webinar should not be your best-kept secret.
Share your webinars on social media (with images)
Mix up your social media posts, varying between text and images. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create shareable images. Don’t overthink it.
Open up a tool like Canva. Find a template. Make sure the image is the appropriate size for whatever platform you decided to share it on. Then, start sharing.
Identify your audience
It’s not enough to tell everyone about your webinar or share it across social media. You have to be strategic. Think back to your ideal customer/client avatar (ICA). Where does your ICA hang out?
Once you have answered that question, go forth and promote your webinar in those places.
Test your video setup
Your video-based ads and posts are more likely to generate clicks and traffic to your blog posts, landing pages, or webinar registration page. So try using video to promote your webinars to get more eyes on your landing page.
Leverage webinar directories
Webinar what? What’s that?
Webinar directories are free or paid forums that allow you to post and share your webinar with various audiences, like All Conferences, Eventbrite, or TellOnline. (Some, like Eventbrite, will market the event for you!).
Send enough emails
With inbox overload on the rise, it’s no wonder why creators and entrepreneurs are wary of sending too many emails.
Don’t let this get you down.
If people are going to unsubscribe, they will unsubscribe whether you email them too much or not. Instead, send more than one email inviting your community to your webinar. Three tends to be the magic number, with the third one going out to your list the day of the webinar.
Don’t skimp on reminder emails either. Send at least three to make sure people remember your webinar and show up live. Uses these emails to create excitement and tease them about a special bonus exclusively for those who show up live.
Five steps to hosting a great webinar
Here is what you can do to build trust with your audience, get results from your webinars, and create a fun, memorable experience for all involved, even yourself:
#1: Be yourself
I hate when people say ‘be yourself’ as if it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. It’s not, and I get it. Being yourself is a risk. Being yourself is scary. And being yourself on camera? Really hard.
A camera creates an unnatural situation– you’re being filmed– and it can feel impossible sometimes to remain natural under those circumstances.
But I want you to know that being yourself, while difficult, does work. People appreciate seeing someone be authentic on camera, and it holds their attention longer.
While it’s hard at first, in the end, it makes doing webinars much easier once you realize you don’t have to build up all this forced courage to be your “Webinar Self.” Instead, all you need to do is just turn on your webcam and keep being you.
But don’t worry if it takes you some time to get there. You’ll feel more natural the more webinars you do, so just keep plugging away.
You can tell you’ve finally got it when your chat goes off-topic in a fun way, when people want to know more details about you or your life, or keep asking you about your dog or start telling you about their dog. That’s not a sign you’re doing something wrong– it’s a sign you’re doing something right.
If this is really scary for you, start really small. For example, on your next webinar, make it a goal to share one detail about yourself. Grab a trinket from your desk that means something to you and show it off on camera and tell your viewers about it. Or move the camera around and show them your space. Just try one thing and watch the reaction in the chat. You’ll be amazed at how much people will love this.
The real you is more interesting than you think, I promise.
#2: Invite co-hosts
The good news is that you don’t always have to do this on your own. Some of the best webinars are those with two or more people where all you have to do is ask great questions and let your co-hosts shine.
To invite a co-host, you could simply send them an email asking them to join you on a webinar. To help you out with that, I’ve created this email template you can download and use the next time you’re ready to ask another creative to co-host a webinar with you.
#3: Have a plan, but not a script
It’s great to be yourself, but that doesn’t mean you should just turn on your camera and “wing it.” In some cases, that might totally work for you and your audience, but in general, it’s best to have a plan or an outline so that you can ensure you don’t ever waste people’s time.
In such a busy world with so much content online (and on TV for that matter) it’s kind of remarkable that people show up for a live webinar. But they do. Usually, because they are trying to accomplish something and are looking for free training to help them get over that next hurdle.
Make sure that you honor the time they’re spending with you by planning ahead to ensure they walk away feeling like that was an hour well spent.
What is the best kind of plan to start off with? Write out the key problems the people who will probably join this webinar currently have as related to the topic of the webinar. Then write out the key solutions you are going to share.
That should be the foundation of any webinar plan. How you communicate those solutions is totally up to you and your style. And your style does matter. If you try to emulate a style that isn’t your own it just won’t work.
Experiment. Find the teaching style that feels the most fun and natural to you, as that is what will best hold the attention of your audience.
#4: Have fun
The best webinars have an element of fun and surprise, even some off-topic moments. You don’t need to do magic tricks for your audience or break out into song (but hey…you’d remember that webinar forever, right?). It can be as simple as the questions you ask people in the chat.
For example, when you ask if people can see your screen or slides, instead of having them say “yes” in the chat, ask them a question like my personal favorite, “What is the last TV show you watched or binged?” I love TV and find it’s a great way for me to connect with everyone on another level and give them a chance to connect with me and each other.
Ask questions in the chat that you find interesting and bring in a little element of fun– people love talking about themselves and sharing little bits of their likes and dislikes, so get to know the people with you and ask them fun questions. They’ll love you for it and it will help you relax and have more fun too.
#6: Be honest
As with what is above, people will also forgive any mistakes as long as you’re honest, which includes teaching and delivering in the webinar what was promised in the title of your webinar.
Whatever your webinar title is, be sure you deliver those benefits and results. The worst mistake a host can make is not saying a word wrong or messing up a piece of the tech– it’s promising something in a webinar title that is not delivered.
If you’re selling something on your webinar, be upfront about that from the beginning and tell people what is coming. You can even say something like “I do sell something around this topic that I’m going to share with you at the end but don’t worry there will be no obligation to buy anything and I’m going to share a ton of helpful content that you can use regardless of if you buy or not.”
Make the introduction your own, and make it truly honest, authentic, and transparent.
Focus on these webinar metrics
Talking about webinars is talking about an ever-growing process. But generally, when discussing a webinar campaign, we think in terms of averages. Here’s what we estimate for webinar metrics:
Registration page conversion: ~30% Cold traffic average
This is described as the number of new visitors to your website who then decide to sign up for your event and reserve a seat. Cold traffic is generally visitors who do not know you directly or have a previous relationship with you (think advertising visitors who are seeing you for the first time!). We see the lowest conversion on sign-ups with cold traffic, as you have to prove your value and trust more quickly than any type of “warm” traffic.
Registrant to attendee show-up rate: ~40% show-up average
This is the number of signups (registrants) who actually show up to attend the live event. Depending on the emails you send out, the angle of your webinar, and any giveaways listed for the event, you may see these numbers rise or fall. This average is based on typical “cold traffic” registration numbers as well, so you can see even higher show-up numbers with quality, warm registrants who are excited to engage with you.
Attendee stick rate: ~50 minutes average
This is the average length of time those attendees join you live. Obviously, there are exceptions to the rule here, but most webinars are best kept to around 45 minutes to 1hr 15 minutes. You can definitely run longer events, but for a sales presentation, your best attention span will be right around here.
Attendee to conversion average: 15% average
This is the number of live attendees who joined the webinar that will convert into a sale of your product or service. This number depends directly on the quality of the content, the engagement of your attendees, the desirability of the product, and an irresistible offer, but typically, these numbers are seen by presentations that have a dialed-in their market-messaging match.
Replay view rates: ~25% of people view replay
This is the average number of registrants who are emailed to watch the replay of the live event. On average, 60% of people will miss the live show, and then 25% of the total registration list will watch the replay. This includes people who joined and had to leave early, as well as those who did not show up at all.
To reiterate, these are averages, and we’ve seen extreme ends on both sides as angles and urgency are implemented into campaigns.
However, numbers can betray you. A room of 1,000 non-qualified prospects will always produce LOWER sales than a 100-attendee webinar with highly qualified prospects. Your message resonates more, the pain is deeper, and the solution more relatable.
To give a good analogy on what your time and return on investment may look like, here’s a small equation we like to look at:
Your first webinar is ready for you
When it comes to webinars, think of them as marathons, not sprints. As you can tell, you don’t open up your computer one day and hop right into a webinar without putting a good amount of work in beforehand. You need a plan, like our Running Your Webinar Like a Pro Checklist, that tells you what to do and when to do it so your webinars are a success.
Because webinars are worth it.
They can help you grow your email list, boost sales for your pre-order products, and help you get more customers for your digital products. They’re used by some of the smartest business people and marketers—which tells you that they work.
While you’re building out your webinar and making an epic training, let ConvertKit handle your promotion with automated landing pages and email sequences. Easily set up your landing page promoting your webinar and create an email sequence that gives your subscribers all the information they need, while keeping them interested as webinar day comes closer.