My 4th virtual summit is in the books and I can't wait to share these results with you!
In this behind the scenes post, we'll cover how my latest virtual summit was set up, the goals I had, the results, lessons learned, and more. We'll even cover how my results differed from my last summit and what I think caused those changes.
Let's kick things off with an overview of how this summit was set up.
The summit audience was brand and web designers. These are people in their first 1-3 years of business, so they're a bit newer. If they have clients coming in it's either not super consistently, or their process isn't as smooth as they'd like. They also feel like they work extremely hard all day, but don't see any return.
Based on those struggles, the topic I covered is how to simplify a design business to become more efficient, profitable, and stress-free. It was my 4th time hosting this summit.
As for the registration process, tickets to this virtual summit are free. From there, attendees can upgrade to the all-access pass. There is also a free Facebook community that I can as many attendees in as possible.
As for the all-access pass, I chose to have two versions this year. Mostly as an experiment for you!
My lower tier was simply called the "All-Access Pass". This option was your traditional all-access pass containing ongoing access to presentations as well as notes and worksheets for each presentation.
My higher tier was called the "Designer Power Pack". This option had everything from the lower tier in addition to addition to:
In addition to our all-access pass having two tiers to choose from, I also had an order bump. This is something that originally I heard about from Eden Fried who we had on the podcast. But this order bump offer was an additional $19 and gave them access to the 27 presentations from last year's virtual summit.
We'll cover stats later, but this is an overview of how things were set up. We had free entry, several upgrade options, and the community to keep engagement up.
Let's move on to what my goals for the summit were. I always have three categories of goals:
My main goal is always to host a virtual event that actually matters and makes a difference. If it doesn't, none of my work is going to be worth it because no one will care.
I'm not going to benefit from hosting a virtual summit if speakers and attendees don't benefit from participating.
This time around, the performance for this goal was interesting because my summit promotion period kicked off right as COVID-19 was hitting the United States.
It was interesting to see how that played into things, to say the least. However, it did make my summit even more impactful because it was a much-needed distraction...and it was free.
My audience included a lot of people who were either laid off work or had an abundance of extra time to work on their business for some other reason. And I just happened to have an insanely valuable, free, online event where they could come and get all the information they needed.
Overall, I was definitely able to check the box for this particular goal.
A goal I set related to my speakers was giving them a positive experience and a good return for their effort.
I just sent out my speaker survey today, so I don't know exactly what that's going to look like, but I've gotten incredible feedback via email and the speaker Facebook group.
I've even had a couple speakers say that my summits are the only ones that want to be a part of because they are well organized and actually deliver results! I'm really excited to see what those results actually look like.
One personal goal I had for this summit was to refine my processes so I could improve the resources inside my Summit in a Box® program.
I wanted to tweak the way I did things, try different strategies, and see what worked. With that, I'm able to make better resources for you!
As for metrics, my goal for our registrations was 2500, and my income goal was $40,000. Honestly, I didn't think there was much of a chance that I'd hit either of them!
With that being said, let's dive into the results and break all the numbers down.
Before we do that, I want to mention what my results looked like last year so you can see how drastically things can change from summit to summit.
This is my fourth summit. Each time the numbers have just multiplied several times over. If you start out with a small audience, know that each time it's just going to get even better.
So for last year's virtual summit, I had:
Let's compare that to this year's results. This year I had:
As for all-access pass purchases, I want to break down how many of each tier we had and share some percentages. We had:
Now for some interesting percentage breakdowns based on that:
My total sales came to $58,988 and are now over $60k with selling presentation replays post-summit.
These numbers honestly blow me away. I didn't think I would hit $40k, and we hit over $60k.
This goes to show that you don't need a huge audience to host an incredible summit. My email list had about 2000 subscribers! If you have an even bigger audience, I hope you're excited about the possibilities!
Next, let's break down why the results differed so much between this year's virtual summit and last year's.
The first difference I want to talk about is that I nearly tripled the number of attendees. There are a few things that I think went into that.
First, I had 7 more speakers that likely had a part to play. But, more importantly, was the audience breakdown of my full group of speakers.
Last year's summit was where I finally figured out how important it is to have speakers as the same audience as you. I was finally able to test that finding in this summit.
Almost every one of my speakers had my audience of designers as their audience. There were maybe five who didn't have a product or service they were selling specifically to designers. That is what had the biggest part to play in going from 1400 to 4000 registrations.
There were also a couple more all-star promoters than I had before because of that.
I consider an all-star promoter, someone with the perfect audience who promotes as if it were their own launch. I had several all-stars this time around, which helped a ton.
I also ran more Facebook ads than I did last year. I had almost 500 people sign up through Facebook ads, which is pretty great to see too.
The second difference I want to cover is the lower conversion rate. My 2019 summit had a conversion rate near 19%, but this year it was 13.5%.
I believe the biggest part to play was the fact that the price was so much higher - nearly doubled.
Based on the fact that the price was doubled, I am pleasantly surprised that the conversion rate didn't drop even more. But that was the biggest factor in that particular difference.
Technically, COVID-19 could have also had a part to play, but I'm not convinced that it did.
Let's move on to talk about how the expenses, profit, and time investment of this virtual summit played out.
As for our expenses, I had $6000 in expenses, which I'll break down. I'll also have just over $16,000 in affiliate payouts.
Here's what the $6600 included:
So that's where most of the $6600 went. There are a few other things here and there, but nothing worth noting.
Based on the income and expenses my profit is $36,140, which seriously, I'll take any day of the week.
As for my time, a comparison is the best way to put this into perspective.
I didn't track time for my first summit, but I estimate that I spent at least 400 hours working on it, maybe even 500...maybe more. There was a LOT of time (and love) invested in that first summit.
This round I spent 120 hours on it in total.
However, there were things that caused that number to skyrocket. That includes:
The notes and worksheets and that summit management counted for half of my hours.
If it weren't for those things, I would have only spent 60 hours preparing for the summit, which I think is really cool to be able to make a profit of $36,000 on what could have been 60 hours of work.
With that being said, I'm still glad that we created the notes and worksheets.
Next, let's cover what worked well and what went...less wonderfully. And so we can end on a high note, we'll start with what didn't go so hot.
The biggest issue was some tech hiccups during the first week of promotion.
By the way, I hope this lets you take some pressure off of yourself. I've run my own WordPress development business for five years...and tech was my biggest issue.
Anyway, in the first week of promotion, it took me five days to figure out that people who signed up for last year's summit were not getting signed up again when they registered.
This was something weird that ConvertKit was doing. I know that they don't allow people to go through the same sequence twice, but they weren't being registered as even signing up through the form again.
Because of that, anyone who tried to register who had been a part of a previous event was not being signed up. It took me 5 days and a friend asking why she wasn't getting any confirmation emails to figure it out.
It definitely explained my numbers being way lower than expected.
The second big tech issue happened during the summit.
We had worked with a developer to create a custom plugin to have the presentations publish and expire at the correct times. Little did we know, Siteground caching is really intense and many attendees couldn't see the presentations after they were scheduled to publish.
...Which made Day 1 VERY interesting.
Within five minutes of the first presentation going live, there were probably 75 messages between the Facebook group and our inbox with people panicking about not being able to view the presentation.
The solution was easy - all they need to do was clear cache - but we couldn't expect them to know that.
We adjusted as quickly as possible by:
It did help a ton, but throughout the event, there were still people who didn't read instructions and emailed for help.
Since so many people did have problems, we decided to open access to presentations back up for 24 hours the day after the summit ended.
I'm half-joking as I write this...but really.
About two days after my speakers started promoting is when COVID-19 really hit the US, and you can see in my ConvertKit graph there was a hard stop on their promotion. It went from hundreds of signups per day to less than 100 per day because they just stopped promoting. Honestly, I didn't know how to handle it either.
At that time, there were all kinds of posts of people telling business owners to stop their promotion. I personally didn't agree with it but waited a couple of days to feel it out.
Instead, I realized that it was the perfect time for people to have this free virtual event. Based on that decision, I gave my speakers a little pep talk to get them back in the game.
The promotion never quite got back to where it was, but they did promote consistently after that.
Last, I was NOT prepared for 4000 people and how different it was to manage 4000 versus the 1400 I had in the previous year.
I definitely could have used more help, especially the first day while we were getting the hang of the tech issues.
I tell you all of these things that didn't go well so you recognize that it's not going to be perfect no matter how many times you've hosted a virtual summit or how solid your process is.
This is my fourth summit. I have solid processes. I had been running a WordPress development business for years, and I still experienced tip hiccups. So know going in that you're probably going to experience that too. And it's okay.
Let's flip it around and talk about the positive side and what went well for this summit.
The first thing I'll talk about is registrations. And holy smokes, registrations were on fire.
Like I said before, the biggest part of this was the fact that I had so many presenters with my exact audience.
Another strategy that helped with registrations were Facebook ads. The first couple of days, my ads were converting at $9 per lead. So I had to spend $9 to get one attendee signed up. Yikes.
Luckily I have a Facebook ads coach who helped me see that my copy was terrible. We made some tweaks and instantly got our costs down less than $3 a lead after that.
As for income, the first thing that worked well was the higher price tag.
Having two tiers was also great because when people would email me saying that the higher tier was more expensive, I could point them to the lower tier instead.
And last, the order bump was great. Like I said, $2300 extra, which paid for my team.
Engagement is another thing that went really well. I have my Facebook group to thank for that!
I've heard many summit hosts say that they don't like to do a Facebook group for their summit because not everyone joins. But this is where the action happens! This is where the buyers are, and this is where the people that are dedicated and getting results from your summit are showing up.
So, personally, I don't care that there were 2000 people who didn't join the group because I was able to pour into the people who did decide to join and they got incredible results.
The networking sessions were another aspect that attendees loved and I'll be doing again. It was a simple thing that made the virtual summit feel more like an in-person event. It allowed for connections that will carry on long after the summit is over.
Then the last fun engagement aspect was Summit BINGO. I made a bingo card and, in each space, was some kind of way they could engage with the summit.
For example, there were spaces with things like:
During the summit, we drew prizes each day based on who got bingo and they loved it!
The next thing that worked well was having niched speakers. And these people showed. up.
I think every single one of my speakers promoted at least once, which is unheard of.
There were definitely some that did let me down. You know, the ones with the huge audience who you know will bring so many attendees...but then they don't.
I want you to take note of this because every single year I relearn this fact. If you can't get big-name speakers, it's okay because they're not going to promote anyway. My 2-3 top speakers barely did any promotion.
Instead, the ones that showed up and engaged with their [smaller] audience are the ones that brought the results.
There were a couple of times where I had to offer up some encouragement, but they always responded.
So if any of my speakers happen to be reading this, thank you! I appreciate you all so much.
The last thing I'll cover is my summit hosting process.
First, my assistant did a ton of work for me. She...
Overall, she saved me a ton of time.
Something else that went well with the process was allowing several weeks between when the speaker's presentations are due versus when the summit actually started.
I always allow three weeks between those two dates, and I'm so glad because there's always the speakers who wait until the week before the event to send their material.
This year, I had 80% of the presentations by the day after the due date. Last year, I only had 50%. All I did was give a little more encouragement and a few more reminders.
We're almost done, but next, I want to talk about the overall lessons I learned this time around in hosting a virtual summit.
There are two things I plan to change for my next summit.
First, I plan to have at least one networking session that is open to all attendees, rather than just people who purchased an all-access pass. I do worry about what it will look like to invite thousands of people to a Zoom call, but it's worth a try!
The next thing I'd like to do is some kind of live Q&A during the event. I'm not sure exactly what that will look like yet, but I'd like to have an additional live portion to the event, rather than the kickoff and closing calls.
If you made it this far, I'm definitely impressed. I hope this post was helpful and lets you see what is possible.
My first virtual summit made $16,000 which I was absolutely thrilled with. This summit made almost $60,000. That's a big deal. That shows you how much a summit can help you grow, especially if you do it over and over and repeat the process.
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.