Some summits offer free registration, while some are paid. But which one is best?
I've only ever run free summits, so I brought in Cara Harvey of A Purpose Driven Mom to give us the inside scoop of the results she's seen running both free and paid summits.
In my first two summits, tickets were sold for $46. This allowed lifetime access to all the recordings and access to the Facebook group. There was a small $9 upgrade that got attendees a digital workbook as well.
The first year was just about doing the virtual summit. The second year, I pitched my membership, which only opens about four times a year, and it worked beautifully. It was the perfect time to offer them even more. I did wind up getting about a dozen member into my membership.
I did it again this year and got even more new members!
The first year I learned that not everyone is good at doing Facebook lives or natural at speaking. To help, the following year I sent over questions that the audience submitted in advance via a survey.
The Q&A usually went like this:
The Q&A was then downloaded from Facebook and uploaded into the summit portal for the VIP lifetime access members.
In 2018, I made $1,800. I had about 40 tickets sold, and you needed a ticket to attend.
In 2019, I made $2,700. I had sold 60-some tickets.
This year, in 2020, attendees got free access to the summit presentations for 24 hours. They also got transcripts, which they ended up enjoying more than I expected. This also allowed access for those hard of hearing.
In addition, they got a freebie from each of the summit speakers and they had access to the community Facebook group.
When attendees upgraded to our all-access pass, they received:
They were able to make this upgrade anytime before or throughout the summit.
Where my previous summits brought in $1800 and $2700, I made around $13,000 with the freemium format!
I was afraid a free virtual summit wouldn't make any money, but it actually did the opposite. We had 3800 people register for free, and 170 VIP passes sold.
This time around, I did a light version of a VIP ticket. There were 25 presentations, and 5 were mine. I took my 5 presentations and bundled them together for $25 for two days. I had six people buy those, which was an extra $150.
I also opened everything up again for an encore weekend. I'm glad I did because a couple bought into VIP passes that weekend.
To be honest, I was tired and could have pushed harder, but I got 58 new members to my membership and made about $6,000 on top of that.
That was exciting because it was a brand new audience. My membership has monthly, quarterly, and annual options, with the annual option costing $300.
One thing that I knew didn't go well in years 1 and 2 was affiliate sales. I had six affiliate tickets sold the first year and only one the second, which was frustrating.
This year, I made this a great experience if you were an affiliate. I used all the templates you (Krista) have in Summit in a Box. I really made it as easy for them to share as possible.
I also found that speakers are much more willing to share something that is free. And it is easy to get people to register when it's free!
I paid about $1,500 of my $13,000 in affiliate commissions. It wasn't a massive chunk, and they brought in a lot of free people, but it is a vast improvement. One affiliate brought in almost 900 people alone!
This year I really niched down my summit.
YES! You can have 25 sessions about productivity and time management
Topics we covered included:
Niching down made it so much easier! I remember posting that question in the Summit Host Hangout Facebook group. I was scared, and you told me to just trust the process and go for it.
It took me a while and it was a hard transition - I didn't want to leave people out, but there are things I want to be specific about. So overall, it was totally worth it.
I created a fun experience for my speakers through surveys. I called them "love notes".
It was a simple Google Form, but attendees could give feedback or just give love to a presenter. I feel we don't say "thank you" enough and this was an opportunity to do that.
At the end of the night, I got the love notes for everyone who presented that day and posted them in the speaker Facebook group. At the end of the summit, I sent each presenter about 10-30 love notes; just kind words. This also helped get my customer's language for next year.
I also created a post-summit survey for anyone who didn't buy a VIP pass and gave away a VIP pass for filling it out.
200 people filled out the survey! That was 200 testimonials and 200 pieces of feedback, which is powerful.
Now I have all that feedback to incorporate into my next summit and I have a whole list of podcast episode ideas as well!
It seems scary to do a free summit. But, if you do a free summit, you will bring in more people.
In the long game, you can
Cara is a wife, mom to a 13-year-old stepson, 4-year-old daughter, 2-year-old son, and a woman of God.
She works as a mom empowerment coach and her mission is to provide women with the tools, resources, and community to reach their goals, empower themselves, find their happiness and live a life by design. She does this via her blog, podcast, virtual community groups, and e-courses that help women learn to balance their lives, finances, schedules, health, and themselves!
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.