002: Behind The Scenes of My $22k Virtual Summit

behind the scenes Aug 13, 2019

Get a behind the scenes look at my latest summit, which brought in just under $22k.

In this episode, we'll cover what my goals were, what I'd changed since my last summit, highs and lows, lessons learned, and the numbers.

Transcript

You may have seen me talking about this a little on Instagram stories, but in April, I hosted my third online summit! I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I wondered if my audience would be less excited about this summit than some of the others since it was my third go at it. I also wondered whether this one would bring a more significant reach, allowing me to use new things I’ve learned to increase the results!

Spoiler alert: a bigger reach + increased results were the outcomes of this summit! I am so excited about the success of this round, and today I’m going to give you a look at the behind the scenes of it all. From the results, things I’ve changed, lessons I’ve learned and more. My most substantial focus with this event was making a difference in peoples’ lives and businesses. I also had a big focus on experimenting and documenting things extra carefully for some fun stuff I’ll be releasing here later this month and throughout the year! 

My top goals

To get you inside my head with this summit, here were the top goals for my April 2019 summit.

Increase my revenue

My first summit ever brought in $16,000 for my business. This gave me my most profitable year in business yet, despite taking three months off for my maternity leave. Going into this summit, I was so excited to see what I could do with a bigger starting audience, more speakers, and speakers I was too afraid to pitch in summit’s past.

Make a difference

After seeing an actual difference, my last two summits made for the participants, it became a huge focus for this one. I was ready to do whatever I had to do to improve the lives and businesses of every attendee who would give me the chance to do so. I also knew I’d donate a portion of all profits from the event to Lifesong for Orphans and was looking forward to that along the way. 

Benefit my speakers

We all know that if it weren’t for the speakers, there wouldn’t be a summit. I’m always appreciative of my speakers, but I was more grateful than ever before with this round. I think it was because I had a better understanding of what they were doing for me through their work. I truly understood how much time they took to put together an action-packed presentation and helped me to promote everything. Because of that, I really wanted them to know how valued they all were and do everything I could to get them good results.

What changed + what stayed the same

The benefit of running three summits in a year is the crazy amount you can learn and then tweak each time. Here are a few of the more important things I decided to change or keep the same from past summits. 

Changed: Chat software

In my first two summits, I used Chatango (https://www.chatango.com/) for the live chat box during presentations. I was familiar with the platform thanks to previous webinars, plus the platform was free - which was a huge plus. However, it was a rough experience for attendees. They were constantly getting logged out and showing up as “anonymous” - it was the biggest complaint I received from past summits.

This go around, I switched it up and paid a little bit of money for a WAY, better platform. Going with Chatroll was the best decision. It was so easy to set up, and attendees had a great user experience. I will definitely use it again.

Same: Community

The community aspect of my summits is one of the top reasons they’re as successful as they are. Even without a huge audience, we had a great group of business owners contribute to reaching our goals and outreach. I push everyone who signs up each time to join a Facebook group. This group already had about 700 members, thanks to the previous two summits.

I posted daily conversation starters leading up to the summit and encouraged them to engage throughout the event. I “bribed” the audience with prizes to make sure the comment section on these posts was active and that they were staying involved. Everyone in the group always shares so much excitement and is so supportive. Plus, many sales come directly from that group.

Changed: Live breakout sessions

During my past summits, all of the sessions have been pre-recorded. This time, I decided to try one short live session per day to see how well it was received. I loved getting to show off people who weren’t as well known as most of the regular speakers.

Presentations were scheduled to be about 15 minutes long, but almost all of them ended at around an hour each. Each live session had high engagement, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it was better than the regular pre-recorded sessions. I probably wouldn’t do them again in the future just because of the extra processes needed and lack of control I have over the time aspect, but they were certainly fun!

Same: Quiz

Something that is a universal struggle of all summits is that attendees feel like they have to go to each presentation. I don’t love this about summits, especially if hosts pressure the attendees to take in each presentation. I take a different stance and don’t want attendees going to more than two presentations per day. I support this through a quiz participants can take to help them decide which presentations to check out! This quiz was fun to make and was exciting for them to use.

Changed: Pricing

In the last summit, I had structured like this one, the product I sold started at $47 and then increased to $97, $149, and $197. It felt marketing-heavy to do that many price increases during that particular summit, and after the fact, I felt bad about starting the product at such a low price when my speakers were contributing such incredible products to it. I changed things during my April summit by starting at a higher price and skipping the final price increase. It felt much better all around this pricing structure ended up performing better too.

Changed: Co-working sessions

Just like the live breakout sessions, I added the co-working sessions for an extra bit of live interaction. Each day for an hour, I’d get on Zoom with anyone who purchased the upsell that wanted to join. Through these sessions, we worked on implementing actions steps from presentations. 

I hoped they’d be a great way to get people taking action and seeing results right away and they were! There weren’t a ton of people who showed up (around 10-15 per day), but it was fun to get to know those people and help them move forward!

The highs and lows

We’re going to get into the final numbers shortly, but I’m not going to sit here and try to tell you that everything went perfectly. Just like my previous summits, there were high moments and low moments.

Lows

Before pitching speakers: I always feel pretty down about the whole idea before I start pitching speakers. At this point, I’ve done all of the setup work. I have determined who I am going to pitch to, created the website, and the details are finalized. The only problem is, I start getting inside my head about the whole thing. I worry about the way people will receive it. Luckily, the minute responses from speakers start coming back in, that feeling goes away, and the excitement returns in full force.

Middle of promotion period: The center of the promo period was another significant low for me with this summit. After two weeks of promoting myself and about a week and a half of the speakers promoting, there were only 600 attendees signed up. I had expected that number to be much higher. At this point, I was afraid that speakers would bailout because of the low numbers. I also felt pretty weird about the fact that I was teaching others how to run summits, and I only had 600 sign-ups. Luckily I turned things around and took action. I gave myself a little time to be bummed, don’t get me wrong, but I put some stuff into motion to get new sign-ups coming in. I scheduled more promo to my list and wrote genuine emails to each speaker asking them to share and giving them copy and graphics right in the email to use. By the time the summit rolled around, we had more than doubled it and were creeping up on my income goal.

After it was over: And last, I always have a hard time after my summits are over. After building up to something for so long and having a blast promoting and hosting, it’s hard for it all just suddenly to end. It took me about a week to get out of the funk and be able to look back happily at everything that happened.

Highs

Booking speakers I thought would say no: My first few high moments came from getting yes’s from speakers who I thought would say no. It’s always a great feeling to have your idea validated and especially great when it is approved by people you look up to. That is always going to be exciting for me!

Day 1 excitement: There are a lot of fun moments while running a summit, but nothing quite compares to everything that happens on Day 1. Attendees are SO pumped for that first day of presentations, and that’s when you start seeing them take action. There also tends to be an influx of sign-ups and purchases for an added bonus.

Hitting my income goal: I hit my income goal partway through the live event. It was a goal that wasn’t looking good during that slow first part of the promotion period. This number was far more than I ever thought I could make in a month. Reaching that goal told me so much about how my audience loves this event, I put on, and I’m so grateful for the reception it gets!

Lessons I learned

One of the final things I want to cover in this recap is some of the lessons I learned (or re-learned) this round. I’d love for you to take these things and keep them in mind when hosting your summit. That way, you don’t have to learn them yourself!

Having a backup plan for speakers

I have an excellent process created around collecting speaker materials and making it easy for everyone. Speakers have over a month to prepare, and I have checklists, templates, and examples for them to reference. I make sure they are sent automated reminders, there’s a set place to upload all of their material, and I give even more reminders in the Facebook group.

Despite all that, over HALF of my speakers were late delivering their material. Was it frustrating? Very. However, I did expect this to happen. I planned for it going into it all and had time built in for them to be late without putting too much stress on my team or myself.

Also, just like my last big summit before my April one, a speaker backed out. Again, this was something I knew could happen, and I was prepared for it. I was able to move my presentation for the event to the newly opened time, and it wasn’t a problem.

As much as I don’t want these things to happen, they do. You need to be fully prepared for speakers to be late or even back out entirely. Use my tips to know what to do when it happens.

Ask speakers to share

Just like collecting presentation materials, I have a solid process for getting speakers materials to share on social media about the summit. There’s swipe copy for all kinds of social media platforms, pre-written emails, and graphics in every size and color you could want.

However, just as you saw in my “lows,” it was a little tough getting people to share at first. What I learned is that sometimes you have to go beyond your systems and make a genuine, in-the-moment ask. When I sent that email letting everyone know sign-ups were a little slow and asking them 1-on-1 to share, almost every single person responded, and we had more sign-ups the next day than we did on Day 1 of promotion.

Ask for feedback and implement it

At the end of my summits, I send a feedback form to speakers and attendees. Sometimes feedback can be hard to receive, don’t get me wrong, but it’s so important to pay attention to this info. I would say 99% of my feedback is positive, but those consistent less-positive things (like the chat box) are the things I try to pull out, look at in a positive light, and see how I can improve. All of the changes I made this year due to last years feedback went super well!

The numbers

Now to the information you want to know, right? Below are the results of this year’s summit!

My summits don’t necessarily have the biggest audience, and I really don’t want them ever to have substantial audience numbers. The small-but-mighty audience is more my style. I hope that you can be excited about this fact and know that you can do great things, even with a small audience! Plus, if you ever have a larger audience, imagine the results you can see.

  • Email list before promotion: 1375
  • Speakers:  26
  • Registrations: 1348
  • Facebook Ad cost per sale: $3.03 (this is according to the ads dashboard - I don’t think it’s totally correct or I would have thrown a whole lot more $$ at it)
  • Upsell purchases: 255
  • Conversion rate: 18.9%
  • Total sales: $21,895.00

The expenses

With anything in business, there will be some costs involved. Check out that info below!

  • Affiliate payouts: $6297.50
  • Donation to Lifesong for Orphans: $1500
  • Facebook Ads: $522.14
  • Chatroll: $39
  • Zoom: $7.49
  • Hosting/Website/Plugins: $0 (since I’m a developer and was able to use the licenses I use for my clients and already had the domain from last year)

Now it’s your turn!

I hope this look behind the scenes encourages you and gets you excited about what this could be for you and your business! With a list size of not even 1400, I was able to utilize my summit strategizes to bring in over $20K through ONE event. If a list size of 1400 is more significant than what you currently have, last year I brought in $16k with an email list of 500. If I can do it, you can too!

If you’re ready to dive into hosting your first summit, check out the Summit Host Process Map - it’s the exact process template I use to plan and launch each of my online summits! And if you’re just diving into the idea of hosting a summit and need to learn some basics first, I’ve got you covered. Check out some blog posts that will get you started here.

Resources

 

More posts in this category >>

Close

50% Complete

Free: Virtual Summit Prep Timeline

Learn how much time to set aside for planning and launching your profitable, stress-free online summit and use my calculator to set the due dates for you.