How to Host an Online Workshop
You've probably heard of a workshop or a webinar. They're blowing up right now in the small business world as a fantastic way to get in front of your audience in an approachable and authentic way. With the boom of Periscope and the launch of YouTube's live streaming - webinars are quickly becoming the new version of an eCourse.
There's a ton of online eCourse about hosting webinars and workshops if you want to dig deep into them and really learn strategy - but today I wanted to give you a free version so you can begin hosting online workshops without dropping $400 on an eCourse first.
What is a workshop
Workshops and webinars are pretty much the same thing. To me, the main difference is a webinar is used to sell something - whether that's a product, service, ecourse or upgrade. A workshop usually costs money to attend, but there's no big sales pitch, the purpose is to teach you.
Think of a workshop as a live mini-eCourse.
How to Host
Hosting a workshop takes some prep time but if you have a good topic idea, it shouldn't take long to set up. I'll take you through my process for setting everything up, keep in mind there are a ton of free and paid tools you can use through the process, but it'll be essentially the same idea.
Finding a good platform to use to host your webinar/workshop is usually the toughest part of the process. Personally I love Crowdcast.io, they're a relatively new company so they still have some features to add, but I really like the clean design and good prices.
There is a free option, where you can host video, have chat, allow signups and import video. The paid version has additional features such as being able to charge for the webinars (through Stripe) or exporting the emails for the people who signed up. You can also create "series" where users can watch a whole series of videos on one page.
Crowdcast connects with YouTube video events which is the main reason I have stuck with them. Creating the video is extremely easy with YouTube. I made a quick video to show you the steps, but if you're not a video person I also wrote them out.
- Login to YouTube.com and go to your channel
- Click on "Channel Manager"
- Choose the "Live Stream" tab on the left side
- Under the Live Stream pick "Live Events"
- Create a new event by clicking the gray button in the upper right hand corner.
- Name the title to match your workshop and add a description to match (I usually add the crowdcast link in here)
- Change the privacy of the video to "unlisted" - this will prevent anyone from finding the video so you can re-sell it later
- Change the start time to match the time & date of your workshop, then hit "schedule"
- This should take you to the list of your events. Click on your event and copy & paste the link into crowdcast.
One aspect that can be hard to pin down is advertising. If you're not planning on hosting a workshop for only 1-2 people, you need to get the word out! I try to plan my workshops at least 2 weeks out so that I have plenty of time to get people to sign up. I use a combination of newsletter announcements and social media updates.
The first step is to create graphics for your workshop. I love using Canva to create my images, because I can easily re-size them to fit all my social media channels. I also created a template so all my workshops have a similar look and feel.
I tend to use a similar style to my site (white blocks with black text and big images) in my graphics. I get my stock photos from all over the place but I love Unsplash.com for free photos and CreativeMarket.com for paid photos.
Next, I'll create some text for my ads. I'll write out 15-20 tweets, a couple of long descriptions for Facebook and Pinterest, and a few "Q&A's" for my splash page (we'll talk about this further down). Once I have these written I log into my Buffer account and schedule updates 2 times a day for the remaining time up until the workshop.
When creating my graphics in Canva, I also use the "newsletter header" graphic size to make an add for my newsletters. I use this in my weekly emails and in a special workshop-only email. (We'll talk about this further down as well).
Squarespace has fantastic cover pages which I like to use as a "splash page" or "sales page" for my workshops. You can see an example of mine HERE.
You can create a sales page in WordPress or any other host as well, but for this video I show you how to build the page in Squarespace.
There are key pieces of information that I include on every page:
- What - what is it and how will it help my audience
- When - when and at what time will the workshop be held
- Bonus - what extra goodies are included with the live video (worksheets, guides, special offer)
- Why - why should someone sign up, how will this help them or their business
- CTA - give them a clear, actionable step, call to actions can be a sign up button, a contact form or a newsletter sign up.
Focus on how your workshop can help your audience - if you can't think of at least 3 reasons, you need a new workshop topic.
When you're announcing a new workshop, your first announcement should be to your newsletter subscribers. I just included my first "hint" at the project a week before I "launched" the sales page. This puts the idea in your audience's mind, so they know you're planning something. I even gave them a date so they could keep the workshop day clear of meetings.
When I launched my sales page, I included a button to it in the bottom of my newsletters, and I left it there throughout the next few weeks. I also mention the workshop each time to remind people and give them the chance to sign up.
The newsletter before the launch, I'll let everyone know it's their last chance to grab a seat. People respond well to "last chances" or "final sales" - so I make sure to let my subscribers know, it won't be open much longer.
In Crowdcast, you can export the list of people who have signed up for your event. 5 minutes before the event I export that list into mailchimp - into a list I've built. This way, when I'm done with the event, I can immediately email everyone who attended and give them their free goodies, the special sale offer and a recording of the video.
By instantly sending that info to your workshop community, they'll keep what you taught them fresh in their mind. I also like to send out a second newsletter the next day, thanking everyone and maybe including one more free goodie.
Prep and Resources
The days leading up to the workshop are busy! To have a focused topic, you need to plan what you'll be talking about. Don't just wing it! I like using PowerPoint or Google slides, so I can send them to my audience after the workshop ends.
Another option for this could be designing a "slideshow" using graphics. Canva has a great template for this called "Presentation" - you can also export this into a PDF file after and again, send it to your audience.