We talk a lot about selling with a summit around here, but did you know you could actually sell the summit itself!?
In this week’s episode we’re diving into a bit of a different topic, because rather than teaching a strategy about how to host a great summit, I’m sharing the story of how I sold my original Simply Profitable Designer Summit brand after 6 profitable rounds of the event.
If you had told me back in 2017 as I was planning this event for the first time that a few years later, not only would the event have brought in over $220,000 in total revenue, I wouldn’t have believed you. And if you’d told me it would grow into a well-known event that someone would actually want to buy from me, I would have absolutely lost my mind.
But here we are, 6 years later, and I just can’t get over how cool it is that on top of all the other benefits a summit can bring for your business, it’s also an incredible asset that can be sold if you ever decide to move on from an event.
In this episode, I’m sharing what made me decide to stop running this summit, where I got the idea to sell it, and the process I went through to find the right person and hand it off to them.
You’ll even get to hear directly from the new host of the Simply Profitable Designer Summit about what the experience was like from her side!
Disclaimer that the process I followed for selling my summit is not THE way to do it. I highly recommend learning from Chelsea Clark of Her Paper Route, who helped me learn what goes into selling a business asset like summit.
That being said, let’s dive in!
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Before I decided to sell my summit, I initially thought that I’d just stop running it and let it go. There were several reasons that I was ready to stop running this event, despite it being a successful summit that had turned a profit year after year, but it ultimately came down to it just not feeling good to me anymore.
This summit was for my first online business where I was doing WordPress development for designers, but I haven’t been active in that business other than hosting the summit for several years now. I really don't have many connections with that audience or other people in that niche anymore, and I felt pretty disconnected from the last couple rounds of the event. I think my speakers and attendees could feel it too.
I’m someone who really sees the value of connection and relationships, so hosting a summit for a niche I wasn’t a part of anymore was hard for me. The event was still producing great results for both the speakers and attendees, but it felt very transactional to know that I was showing up for this one event with no plans of furthering the relationship beyond the summit.
The last few times I ran the summit, I dreaded going into the planning because it felt more and more disjointed each time, and eventually, I knew it was time to move on.
When I decided I was done hosting this summit, I initially thought I would just be done with it and not run it again. I told myself after my 2021 summit that it was the last one, and I wasn’t doing it again, but my summit speakers had something else in mind…
Two of my past speakers who always saw really great results got wind that I wasn’t planning to run the event again, and they weren’t having it! They encouraged me to continue running the event because it's such a great event for speakers, and they saw that it was so transformational for attendees. In the end, they convinced me not to shut it all down, and we agreed that they would help me run the next one.
The plan was that they were going to do all the work, I would direct behind the scenes, we'd all collaborate to be the faces of the event, and over time, I would be less and less involved. But like I learned when I co-hosted a summit back in 2020, co-hosting is just not for me. Very shortly into the planning process, I learned that lesson again and decided to call it off. I ended up running the event on my own, one last time, in 2022. I also brought both of my almost co-hosts in as sponsors with discounted packages, because they were just so amazing throughout the whole process.
When we wrapped up our 2022 summit, I knew that I was completely done with it, but my speakers had helped me see how impactful this event was in their industry, and that it was possible for someone else to run the event instead of me.
That’s how I got the idea of selling! I was already in contact with Chelsea Clark, a previous guest on the podcast who teaches blog flipping and owns a site called Blogs for Sale, so I worked with her to get the site listed on her platform and start the process of looking for a buyer. I learned so much through the process of working with Chelsea and honestly, I wouldn't recommend selling a brand without her help. She and her team know what goes into pricing, making listings, the legal side of actually handing it off and getting payment, and they lead you through every step of the way.
So I had my site listed with her, and after my last round of the summit, I let all the speakers know that I was selling it, and a few showed interest, but none wanted to move forward.
As the time to start planning the next round of the summit came along, and I still didn’t have a buyer, I decided to get creative.
I’d stayed connected with one of the speakers who’d offered to help with the last summit, Shannon Mattern, and after some discussion, we came up with a plan for me to hand off the summit to her and she would pay me over time through profits from running the summit.
As of right now, I’m still the official owner of the summit, and Shannon is the host who is running the whole thing and using the profits to buy the summit from me. We both felt great about this option because based on her results when she sponsored the event, she'll still make a ton of revenue through launching her high-ticket program on the back end. And she will also be able to pay for the summit over time rather than having to come up with a big lump sum right away.
So that's how it's happening, and we've worked together to get all the information, assets, and tech she needs handed over to her, and she also joined our Launch with a Summit Accelerator™ program to get extra coaching from me and my team for this first round. So far, it's working really well and feeling good for both of us!
A word of caution:
I feel really good about the way that selling this summit worked out, however, please know that I would 100% not recommend this approach with someone you don’t have a solid relationship with. Shannon and I have known each other for years and collaborated in multiple ways before agreeing to this deal, but it is a risk for both of us.
Shannon now has access to everything, and could do some interesting things with it if she wanted to. We also agreed that she'd pay me from the summit profit, so if she decided not to host the summit, or if it doesn't go well, it could take me a really long time to get paid. Ultimately, we’ve known each other for years, we've collaborated in all kinds of ways, and we have a high level of trust, so I'm not worried about it, but this arrangement wouldn’t work in all cases!
There were a few things that I think made this summit an asset that someone else would want to buy for a very decent chunk of change:
So that's my side of the story, and what I think made this summit sellable from my perspective. Now I want you to hear from Shannon what it was like to buy the summit, and what made her see this as an asset worth buying from her perspective:
Shannon here! There were several facets to my decision to buy the Simply Profitable Designer Summit, and a big one was my experience as a speaker at previous rounds of the event. I remember from the first time you reached out to invite me to speak that the process of participating in your Summit was so easy. Beyond that, I got tangible results as a speaker that actually created momentum and revenue for my business. I have spoken at numerous other summits where I provided my presentation, and then never heard anything ever again, and didn’t even really get email subscribers from it. The contrast of the experience I had as a speaker at the Simply Profitable Designer Summit, compared to other events that didn’t follow the Summit in a Box model definitely played a role in my decision.
I’d also gotten great results as a sponsor, launching my high-ticket program through this summit, so I knew it was an event that would produce results for me in that sense too.
When I saw that Kirsta was selling the summit, my immediate thought was that if I had the money, I would buy it. But it just didn't make financial sense for me to make that type of investment all at once, even though I knew that over time, it would create a return.
Then several months later, Krista still hadn’t found a buyer and we were chatting about how it was either time to start planning again or close it down, and that got us both thinking. We came up with an agreement for me to acquire the summit in a way that wouldn’t be too risky for my business financially. This was a huge win for me, but it also gives me a huge incentive for me to run this event well. I have big shoes to fill with Krista, and I have a massive incentive to run an incredible event, not only for my brand, the Web Designer Academy, but to maintain the Simply Profitable Designer summit brand, and to be able to give Krista a pile of money at the end as we fulfill our agreement.
In the end, it was just a no-brainer for me, not just because of the brand, but because of the Summit in a Box structure of the event that has helped make it such a profitable and well-run event over the years and turned it into the asset that it is.
Krista here again! I hope it was helpful to hear from the buyer's standpoint what makes a summit a valuable investment because I think it adds a whole new layer to why summits are so beneficial to your business. Not only do you get incredible benefits while you're running it, but it's something you can sell when you’re ready to move on from it.
Hosting a summit has so many benefits beyond the immediate revenue and list growth, and it can continue to build your business and pay off for years and years and years. This just adds to those long-term benefits!
But first, you need to host an event that's positioned to be profitable, and has proven results. So get that incredible summit out into the world and see where it takes you!
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.