How An Online Summit Will Skyrocket Your Revenue, Email List, & Influence This Year

In April of 2018 I hosted one online event and saw my email list grow from 500 to 1400 subscribers. My monthly revenue usually sat around $3k-$4k, but this single event brought in $16,000.

And guess what? Unlike a lot of "get rich quick" tricks out there, this is something you can actually do.

I'm not going to lie, it takes hard work over the course of a couple months. But once you do that work you can put it on repeat to get amazing results over and over.

In today's post we'll go over what an online summit is, the benefits of hosting one, and the first step to get started.

What is an online summit?

An online summit, also referred to as a virtual summit, is a lot like an in-person conference. 

A group of experts come together to give presentations on a topic they have extensive knowledge in. Each of those presentations fit with the overarching theme of the summit, allowing attendees to get a ton of high-quality information on a topic they're interested in.

As the summit host, you have the power to choose what your summit will be about, who it is targeted to, and which speakers are a part of it.

For example, my first summit was all about streamlining web design businesses. A few presentations included things like:

  • Drama-Free Client Communication
  • Cultivating A Work / Life Balance
  • A Simple Marketing Plan That Works
  • Simplify & Streamline Your Web Design Process

All of the 20 presentations came together to give designers a huge leg up in creating a simple and profitable design business.

Generally, an online summit lasts anywhere from 3 to 5 days with 3-8 speakers per day. Presentations from speakers can either be live or pre-recorded. For first time summit hosts, I recommend sticking with 20 or fewer presentations.

Many summits are free to attend, but have something for sale after an attendee registers. Mostly commonly, you'll see an "all-access pass" of sorts where attendees can get lifetime access to the presentations that would otherwise only be available for a short period of time. More on that later.

Summits that are done well also include a community aspect. Generally speaking, a Facebook group is the easiest way to do that. Inside the Facebook group attendees can ask questions, celebrate wins, get some extra accountability, and interact with the speakers.

Make sense? If you're thinking of a multi-day event with several high-quality presentations per day, you're on the right track! Let's move on to the benefits.

Benefits of hosting an online summit

There are all kinds of powerful reasons to host an online summit. The great thing is, you'll almost always see growth in each area. However, if you choose one or two to really focus on you can see the most progress in those areas.

Benefit 1: Income

What better reason is there to do something for your business than being able to see a huge monetary return?

With my first summit, I expected to bring in two or three thousand dollars. In fact, I was going to be thrilled with that!

Instead, I made that amount within the first couple of days and by the time the summit was over, I had brought in $15,890. Five times my original goal!

And while that might seem far off to you, remember that I wasn't hugely successful already. I had an email list of about 500 people an Instagram following of about 800 and I still saw an amazing return. (And if you don't even have that, don't worry - this is still totally possible for you!)

So how does that work if a summit is usually free to attend? There are all kinds of ways you can monetize your summit. A few examples include:

  • Making presentations available for a short period of time (ex: 24 hours) and allowing attendees to purchase lifetime access.
  • Creating a bundle of products with your speakers and selling it to attendees.
  • Pitching your own product or service throughout the event.
  • Charging for the summit, rather than giving free access.

Benefit 2: Email list growth

While income far more than you're used to is a great benefit, there's also the chance to see a large increase in your email list. Aka warm leads for your products or services!

After 3 years of working to grow my email list, I was stuck at about 500 subscribers. Then, in the 3 week promo period for my first summit I saw that number grow to over 1400! 

500 in 3 years versus 900 in 3 weeks? I'll take that any time!

The list growth can come from a few places:

  1. Your speakers - This is the big one. Most of the speakers taking part in your summit will be more than happy to share with their audience, meaning most of the promotion is done for you!
  2. Your existing audience - The promotion you do on social media is sure to convert some new people to subscribers who weren't previously. And as your audience members sign up, many will share with their own audience or friends as well!
  3. Paid advertising - Facebook ads are also something to consider for an online summit. You'll generally see a good return for both warm and cold audiences when it comes to something that provides this much free value!

Benefit 3: Expert positioning

A mistake I see a lot of people make is waiting until they're an "expert" to host a summit. In reality, that is completely backwards!

A summit can make you into an expert in a way most other individual events cannot. Since hosting my first summit, I've had all kinds of potential clients and collaborators contact me and reference my summit as the reason they're reaching out.

Each speaker you're able to list on your registration page boosts your credibility. An attendee who isn't familiar with you may think, "Oh wow, so-and-so is a speaker? This person must know what they're talking about!"

A summit is also something that many people are too intimidated to try themselves. The fact that you're willing to put in the work to do something so big also says a lot about you and what you do.

And last, be a speaker at your own summit! The face-time you'll get with attendees who have never come across you before is a great opportunity.

Benefit 4: Mutually beneficial connections

Reaching out to speakers can be intimidating. Especially if you're pitching people a little farther ahead in business than yourself. But getting brave and making those connections is so worth it.

Each speaker is another person you have in the future to promote your launches and collaborate with. Just remember to return the favor!

Benefit 5: Immense value to your audience

And last, a summit can bring an incredible amount of value to your audience (and others).

It's a place they can go to get more value than anywhere else, all at once. They'll get connected with new experts with the ability to help them in areas they're struggling with and they'll make connections with other attendees.

Even though it's great to think about the ways you'll benefit from hosting a summit, never underestimate how much you can change the lives of others. Seeing those changes will always be my very favorite part of being a summit host!

How to get started with your first online summit

Now that you have a better understanding of what a summit is and why it's something you have to get on your calendar, I want to give you the very first step of getting started.

I know everything that goes into an event like this can be overwhelming, so we'll start at square one: choosing your audience and topic.

Now, hold on. I know that doesn't sound overly exciting. But ignoring this step is the single biggest mistake I see summit hosts make. It's the difference between hosting a summit that brings in a few hundred dollars versus thousands.

So let's start with your summit's audience.

This may be your current target audience or a subset of those people. People you know you can help and people you already understand.

You'll want to avoid audiences like: creative business owners, online business owners, women. These are far too vague and you're not going to catch anyone's attention.

Narrow in as much as you can and then narrow in a little more.

Now, let's move on to your summit's topic.

Take your audience and list the big problems they have. What kinds of things are they struggling with? If you're not sure, ask them! You can get on a few calls or send a survey to your email list.

From the list of problems you create, choose the biggest one. The one that they are most desperate to solve.

Solving that problem is your topic!

For example, I got on calls with about 5 brand and web designers - the target audience for my other business. I expected their biggest problem to be related to getting content from their clients or figuring out their process. Instead, I learned that they don't have time to make things better and they're constantly stuck hustling, while still not making any progress.

From there, my summit topic became creating a streamlined, profitable, and stress-free design business.

Take 10 minutes to brainstorm right now and see what you can come up with!

Is it your year to host an online summit?

After reading this post, take some time to consider whether this is the right type of event for you. Yes, the first one is quite a bit of work, but it's a whole lot of fun and you can see an amazing return.

For a complete summit hosting process, check out my Summit Host Process Map!

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