Starting from Scratch: Hosting a Summit without an Existing Brand or Audience with Maggie Klaassens

Let's explore the world of hosting a virtual summit from the ground up. Our guest organized her first event without a brand, business, audience, or email list.

We're continuing our series on hosting a virtual summit as a newer online business owner with a special guest interview that is a must-listen if you're having any doubts about whether you're ready to host a virtual summit. 

Right now, you might be asking yourself...

If that’s you, get ready to be so inspired by this week's guest who launched a successful summit without an existing business, brand, blog, email list, or audience of any kind. What she did have was a life experience and a big vision for impacting others, so she went for it.

Let's dive in and explore what it looks like to host a virtual summit completely from scratch, with the brilliant mind behind The Sober Summit, Maggie Klaassens.

Maggie's journey is proof that amazing opportunities can arise when you take a leap of faith and trust yourself throughout the process!

Listen to the episode

Prefer to listen? Use the links below to listen on your preferred podcast player:

Not sure where to start with the hundreds of episodes on the Summit Host Hangout Podcast?

Click below to get a curated playlist of episodes based on your business model and summit interests!

Get the Playlists

Download the episode transcript here.

Episode at a glance:

[2:22] Usually, we begin the podcast with the guest telling us about their business,  and I love that that doesn't apply here today. This is going to be so eye-opening for people who are doubting that they can do this if they're starting small or starting from scratch. 

When I decided to host a summit, I had no business, no brand, not even a social media account. I'm not an influencer. I don't have a podcast or blog. I had nothing.

[4:22] Maggie had the idea to run a summit about sobriety, but doubted she could pull it off herself. She pitched the idea to a few well-known podcasters in the sobriety space, but they didn't even know what a summit was. However, they said if she did it, they'd help promote it. Despite her doubts, she knew she had to move forward with her idea.

In sobriety, when you give up alcohol, you gain so much more. People run marathons, write books, and do all these things. I thought maybe this summit could be "the thing" that I do with my sober journey. 

[6:03] Even though Maggie wasn't a business owner herself, she was part of a few crafting communities with crafters who had hosted summits, so she reached out and asked them how they did it. They all came back with the same answer: Summit in a Box. So, she bought Summit in a Box, binged the Summit Host Hangout Podcast, and finally started to see that maybe she could do this! 

I had a lot of limiting beliefs throughout the process, and I kept proving myself wrong! I spent so much time and money because I thought I couldn't do it on my own. I didn't trust myself, but, I trusted Summit in a Box.

[12:47] We recommend a minimum 90-day timeline for planning a summit, and Maggie decided to extend that and give herself 6-months to put it all together. She works full-time, has kids, and had gone back to school, so she worked to an extended Timeline. She also brought in support to help with running her summit. 

I did hire someone to manage my Facebook page and inbox, and that was money well spent! I highly recommend having that support. I was able to engage with people in my Facebook group and not have to worry about the inbox. 

[15:46] Maggie shared that she had a goal to hit 5000 attendees, which is ambitious for a first-time summit. She ended up with 4600 attendees and brought in $34,000. Those are great numbers! Her main goal was to help just one person. If she could help just one person who's questioning their life with alcohol, then she knew it was worth it. So to have 4600 people raise their hands and say they're curious and want to know more, was an incredible feeling. 

My favorite moment throughout the whole thing was hearing my husband say, "I'm proud of you!" more times than ever before when I did this. 

[19:42] Despite having no audience of her own, Maggie was able to land some well-known speakers. She credits this to just putting herself out there and knowing the worst that could happen is that they ignore her. But when people started saying yes, her adrenaline went through the roof, and she leveraged those names in her other pitches. And those people who initially ignored her or said no because they didn't know who she was, were now coming to her saying they'd like to be a part of the next run of the summit. 

[23:48] One of the biggest concerns for people who don't have brands or businesses and are hosting a summit from scratch is that they don't have a proven offer with proven messaging. Many don't know how to write effective copy and how to say things in a way that will resonate with people, which makes it really hard to position a summit. We have the templates, but they're really meant to just be a starting point.

I think what helped was that I went through this journey myself. I know what it's like to have brain fog, not be able to sleep, not feel your best, and just feel like you're on this hampster wheel of life. But I also took inspiration from other summits out there from across the niche board. I took what spoke to me and wrote that into my own copy.

[26:39] If you're doubting whether you can make a summit happen with little or no audience, it's all about baby steps. Having Summit in a Box in your back pocket was the key. All Maggie had to do was keep following steps and trusting the process laid out for her in the program. 

About Maggie

To be honest, when you remove alcohol from your life you gain SO MUCH! People feel like they're losing something when in reality you're gaining so much more. I wasn't a drunk or an alcoholic but I also wasn't sleeping great, I had brain fog, I didn't have much energy, and I felt like I was on a hamster wheel. When you remove alcohol so much is possible. Others I looked at were running marathons, writing books, and doing big things in their life. When this came up as an opportunity at first I thought there was no way I could do this, I'm just a mom of 3 living in Virginia, and no one knows who I am. 

But then I thought maybe this could be the big thing I do with my new alcohol-free life. Not only has it filled me with so much passion and purpose but I've been able to be a lighthouse for other people and help them begin their own alcohol-free journey and it's so rewarding!!

Connect on InstagramGrab replays from the first Sober Summit  
Join the waitlist for the next Sober Summit




View related episodes >>

Pin it for later!

Let's explore the world of hosting a virtual summit from the ground up. Our guest organized her first event without a brand, business, audience, or email list.Let's explore the world of hosting a virtual summit from the ground up. Our guest organized her first event without a brand, business, audience, or email list.

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.