learning

Your Webinar After: Distribution

When we think of an “event,” most of us forget that they don’t have to be a one time thing. This is especially true if you’ve had the foresight to record them. For instance…webinars!

Not only can you host a webinar live but you can offer it as a replay or even sell it as a course.

You may ask yourself, ok so I have this recording, what are my options for ‘archiving’ or ‘distributing’ my webinar?

CDs

Arguably the most old school choice, you can save your recordings in a physical format (CDs or on a thumb drive). I completely forgot this was something we used to do until I ordered a good course I heard about a few months ago online… and got mailed a binder with notes in it, CDs (that were like DVDs I guess since they played different sections of the course), and a personalized thank you note. It was all very old school but, hey, got the message across.

Podcast

A lot of people don’t realize podcasts do not have to be an exclusively audio format- they can be video, too.

You can chop up your webinar into a series of video podcasts… or if you are going to do multiple (regular) webinars, you can use a podcast format to curate them together.

Note: You can have a one episode podcast… but everyone will wonder.

An example to show that, yes, video podcasts are a thing.

An example to show that, yes, video podcasts are a thing.



A Third Party Course Website

So there are plenty of ‘learning’ websites that people go on to learn skills: Skillshare, Lynda, etc.

Your material could go on one of these websites to be distributed by these providers. The upside is these sites are already attracting traffic of people who like webinars. The downside (if you are trying to sell something) is your relatively small cut if you are approved as a provider. (Ex: Skillshare is around $1-2/student as I understand it.)

Basically, these websites vet you as a teacher and in exchange for the marketing and customer service, they get a pretty good cut.

udemyteachers

Your Own Website

Your own website will always give you the most options. You can put your webinar behind a login screen or you can send participants/customers a unique download link via email, it’s entirely up to you.

The main takeaway: using your website, you keep more money, you do more of the customer service and marketing, you give your customers the exact experience you want them to have. And you can take the good and bad that goes along with that.

Here’s a video going over the third party option versus the on your website option:

However you decide to distribute your webinar will ensure more people will see it for your efforts. Don’t skip this step, even if you want to.


Hosting A Webinar: The What

So we’ve talked about the mechanics of hosting a webinar but there is an even bigger question: What will your webinar be about?

Webinars I have seen go by:

As you can see, they range from general to specific, from regular on-demand offerings (ex: every Thursday) to one-time events.

But they all have some things in common: Most webinars are free, interactive, and offer participants a way to learn about something they care about. 

Most people have initial questions about the technology of webinars, which can feel intimidating. But once they realize the setup is doable, most people suffer another round of paralysis.

“What am I going to talk about for 30 to 90 minutes?”

We wanted to give you a couple places to start and a sample outline to frame your thinking.



Answer a question people ask you ALL the time

An example for us may be, “How do I get more people to like my Facebook business page?”

Maybe as I brainstorm, I can think of ten helpful ideas, each with a real life example illustrating the point. Add an introduction and a call to action at the end and that is easily 30 minutes of content!

Feel free to give a disclaimer. For example, you are a lawyer giving an informational session about business structures but can’t advise any individuals in the webinar with what they should do, but you still know enough to be valuable in a general sense.

Bonus is when you have a prospective customer or friend ask you this question in the future, you have a response ready to send them.



Information they can’t get anywhere else

Let’s pretend you’re getting married on an island in Maine. Can you rent portapotties there? Can the church hold 100 people? What is parking like? These questions will involve at least half a day of phone calls… unless you are an area wedding planner or caterer.

If you have informal but useful knowledge, introducing it to people in a webinar is a great ‘social proof’ that can give people the confidence to book your planning service.

Worried about giving away the milk for free? Think of narrowing this down: “Choosing Your Wedding Venue On Mount Desert Island” could not only be well attended virtually but valuable to those attending in and of itself, leaving you plenty of room to still get hired and help them with other things.



A group consulting session

If you feel brave, holding a live Q and A (maybe a brief presentation at the beginning to make sure everyone is starting with the same basic understanding of what you are talking about) can be a great format. You can have people submit questions while registering to get a little prepared but being off the cuff knowledgeable can help your webinar participants with their specific questions while showing you are intimate with your subject matter.

Note: Most people in webinars lurk rather than participate so you’ll really need to encourage people and groom them to send questions in many cases.

Much like structuring a blog post, you want your webinar subject to be specific enough to attract customers but give you enough breathing room to benefit a large group of people. 

If you have a couple ideas, take a quick Facebook or email poll of your customers about which they’d prefer to learn about. Or ask us, we are always happy to give an opinion!

In short, you know something that’s webinar worthy. Now go figure out what it is!



Hosting a Webinar: The Where

It may sound a bit crazy, but I kind of miss the “Back to School” excitement from when I was a kid, perhaps because I have a strange fascination with school supplies (to this day, brand new notebooks and bright sticky notes excite me).

Learning new things has always been fun for me, too, unless we’re talking about complex theories in physics and anything beyond second semester calculus. Fortunately for me, there are plenty of ways for me to keep on learning with the help of online resources.

Webinars are a great way to share information, for educators and students alike. A lot of businesses use webinars as a way to educate people about their products or services, and it can serve as a middle section for the sales funnel. For a more in-depth look at how webinars can help with gaining customers, check out this article from Unbounce and check out our other webinar related posts on this blog.



But, where can you create these webinars? The technology part is what stops most people… but not you of course! Here are some ideas of what technology you can use to record your webinar:

Social Media

Many of the video streaming apps we have discussed (Facebook Live, Periscope, even Snapchat) can work as an informal tutorial of sorts. Although these do not count as “webinars” they are still great ways to offer quick tutorials and other informative content. Our goal with our Tech Thursday and now Ask Us Anything Facebook Live is to answer questions our followers/customers might have.

Google

An equally easy but more formal way to host a webinar is a Google Hangout. All you’ll need are a Google+ profile and a computer or mobile device. Not only can people watch and ask questions in real time, the video will be saved on your Google+ profile for future viewers.

The downside of Google Hangouts is that you can’t make this content exclusive. You can invite who you want but anyone with the link or following your page can jump in and watch.

Extra Credit: Link your Google+ Profile and your YouTube Channel (if you have one) and your Hangout will automatically be published there once you are done recording.



Webinar Software

Webinar services (Anymeeting, GoTo Meeting, Abobe Connect, and others) has a few more bells and whistles than your free options including things like private registration and being able to offer the webinar for replay to those who have registered via email. For example AnyMeeting’s cheapest plan is $70/month or $780/year, and allows you to host 100 people per webinar. All the service options include video broadcasting, PowerPoint and PDF sharing, Live Polls, Live Chat, and Recording Hosting. In the case of AnyMeeting (and many other webinar services), a higher subscription rate offers the same services, but with an increasing number of attendees.

webinarpro

There are LOTS of options in this space. What features you want, what integrations you need (ex: for there to be interfacing with Infusionsoft), and how many people you plan to host can help you make the best choice for you.

Your Website

You can also host webinars on your own website. If you already have software built into your site to, say, support a group chat and streaming video, you may be able to do this without using third party software at all. Note: Most websites aren’t built to handle this but there exists learning management software and online course plugins to help your website become a website that can do this.

(If you want a more detailed breakdown of softwares and options, please subscribe to our email newsletter and get it right in your inbox!)

Still feel overwhelmed by buyer paralysis, some questions that will guide your decision:

  • Do you want the webinar to be available to the public or as exclusive content?
  • Do you want people to pay for access?
  • How “polished” do you want it to be? (i.e. livestreamed content that is uploaded “as-is” or something more professional?)
  • How much do you want to pay for a service? (or, how many attendees do you anticipate?)
  • What features do you need versus want?

If you are trying to decide between two pieces of software, check out online demos and attend a few webinars yourself and see what software the presenters use.

Stay tuned for more posts about webinars throughout the month!



 

What I’ve Learned Writing 1,000 Blog Posts

1000-blog-postThis, my friends, is the 1,000th blog post on Breaking Even.

Now you may argue that other people have written blogs on this site but I have also guest blogged (that’s to say posted on someone else’s blog with a link back to mine) and ghost blogged (that’s to say written blogs on other people’s blogs as them without credit) so I figure I’ve personally written at least 1,000 blog entries over the course of the last seven (!) years since I began my personal finance blog in 2007.

As you’ve imagined, I’ve learned a few things about blogging, mainly by doing and watching other people doing. In summary:

1) A blog post is any coherent idea, from start to finish, written online.

So I could write a two paragraph blog about treating people with kindness or I could write a detailed analysis about why health care is so expensive that covers over 25 written pages.

A blog post isn’t the length of something or what software it’s written in or how many people read it. It is the start and end of an idea, in online form. Don’t listen to anything else anyone tells you about it. If you are writing regularly online in a place where other people can see it, you’re a blogger.

As a rule, my blogs tend to be longer than people recommend them being, but I kind of don’t care. When you know the rules, it’s kind of fun to break them. Also that brings me to…



2) A blog post is your own voice.

I have no dillusions that I’m saying anything amazing. Other people have likely thought (and said) ideas that I am saying, on this blog and elsewhere I’ve written online.

But what makes a blog a blog is your perspective. If you want celebrity gossip, there are any number of places you can go online but you go to Perez Hilton because of his point of view (and maybe snicker at how he reworks photos in Microsoft Paint.) So I’ve never worried about saying something original or so amazing/ridiculous the paparazzi would stalk me outside my house. I just write what I want and don’t care if they like it. No one can fake my point of view.

3) A blog post should be written in such a way that strangers or friends can read it.

I have very good friends and complete strangers who read my blog entries. When I write, I assume that the person reading is reading this blog post and nothing else I’ve ever written. So I will mention ‘My dog Gidget’, I won’t just say ‘Gidget’, since that would lose the strangers.

By the same token, I don’t just blog about Gidget existing because that’s barely interesting to me. I instead blogged about what it was like to get her from an animal shelter, which took my hassle and made it into a (hopefully) useful article animals shelters or people who are considering adopting dogs from out of state shelters. It’s a post a stranger or a friend could read or get something out of, which is always my aim.

If you are Oprah or Gwyneth Paltrow, please ignore this. You can write about you, you, you. But the rest of us need some kind of topic, however general.



4) A blog only gets better with practice and most people are either afraid to practice or lose interest before they get good.

I kept all my old blog entries on this site for a reason. If you want a good laugh, go back and read how seriously I took myself in 2007 when I first started.

Blogging is about a progression. It takes time to find your voice, your style, your point of view. But you can only get that by producing and often. (More on this idea here about how I’m taking this same ‘It’s gonna suck but get way better’ attitude and applying it to videos.)

 5) A blog won’t make you rich unless you are very very lucky.

Most great bloggers I know (and I think even the now financially or otherwise successful ones) started blogging because they love to write. And most of the time, it took them years to get noticed. Yup, YEARS.

If you come at it with an unpure motive, people can sense it. You won’t be passionate and you won’t stick to it.

The most my blog ever made me was $15/month in ad spaces. Sure I was blogging daily and I could have written ‘sponsored posts’ endorsing products or stuck ads in more ridiculous places but point is, don’t do it for the money… because it’s not going to work out except occasionally make enough cash to buy you lunch. It’s like enrolling your kid in Little League and expecting they’ll make the pros: it’s sad and vaguely mean to put that kind of expectation on a person, even if that person is yourself.

I’m sure I’ll write 1,000 more blog posts (and likely more) in the course of my life… and if I printed them all out, it would be a couple small books! But I do hope I keep getting better and remember to keep loving it. Because that’s the best part.



Self Taught Vs. Taking A Class

This blog posts, as many do, started with an interaction on Facebook. Below (orange) is a woman who needs help and in blue is one of my friends responding to her:

facebookquestionclass1

So I am teaching a website class in my hometown (Fort Kent Maine) in January.

Later on in the thread (I jump in and tell her to come to the class because it’s not expensive and very good):

facebookclassresponses

Now I am proof you can take ‘self taught’ to another level. I have three bachelors degrees (that’s another story) but none of them are in communications, marketing, or web design. But even I take classes, seminars, and workshops from others in my field for the following three reasons:

I don’t know what I don’t know.

The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know about a topic. That’s why most people feel dumber their senior year of college than they did their freshman year. They definitely know more… but they are now aware of what they don’t know.

Our orange friend above is aware there are gaps in her knowledge. But she is unsure of what they are since her learning didn’t have a syllabus, she’s learned things as she’s needed to know them, not necessarily how they relate to each other. A good class or book gives you a great general outline and show you what you ought to know.

Getting a vocabulary.

Based on the item above, a good course teaches you a new vocabulary required for your field.

Have you ever tried to do a Google search with a general topic:

generalquestionquerygoogle

Versus a specific topic:

morespecificquerygoogle

Note the second screenshot had ads that I covered up. The first one did not. In other words, people who did the second query tend to be better customers (and are reached out to more by businesses) than people who ask the very general question.

A class can give you the words you need to do better web searches, can give you book titles the instructor has read (versus reviews from know-it-alls on Amazon), can tell you what products they use daily (not because they are paid to by a website but because they genuinely like them)… and all this can better help yourself in the future.

Seeing someone else’s reasoning/point of view.

Recently, I went to a very basic social media seminar put on by another marketer (Nancy Marshall of Nancy Marshall Communications). And guess what? I learned some things. Because not only is Nancy a great speaker but she’s been doing PR for almost as long as I’ve been alive.

Seeing another point of view, different examples, etc. gives me some much needed other perspective on what I’m doing.

Taking a class, even on a topic you think you know a lot about, will give you new ideas and ways of looking at information. And you’ll likely meet people in the class you can either help out ($) or you can get other people’s opinions (both the instructor and people in the class) about what you are working on.

Even the self taught need to be taught by someone else once in awhile… so if you haven’t taken a class in awhile, I encourage you to do one. It makes you remember what it’s like to learn new topics and helps you do whatever you are trying to do better.

Those who can, teach. And those who can are also taught.

Gaming Week: Where You Should Send Your Kids This Summer

Gaming Week in Massachusetts: Where I'd bring my kids this summer if I had any.

Gaming Week in Massachusetts: Where I’d bring my kids this summer if I had any.

I know a non-parent giving parenting advice is going to go over about as well as a lead balloon. But hear me out.

My friend Matt is not only one of the smartest people I know but also one of the kindest. Him and his awesome wife Emily have two sons and they are great parents.

When Matt told me he wanted to hosting a gaming week, I thought he was a little crazy.

He’s going to take a week of his vacation and create something awesome not just for his son to enjoy but other kids as well.

I’ve recently learned that Matt’s 9 year old Minecraft playing son has set up his own server and has been not only learning a lot about the game but some other skills as well. Check out Matt’s blog post about this.

Don’t believe Matt? Here’s someone on PBS saying the exact same things in video format:

So what are my top five reasons your 7ish to 12ish year old kid should go to this weekend?

1) Matt and Emily will make sure everyone has a great time.
2) Your kids will learn skills that will translate into the real world.
3) There will be non-computer games too to give kiddos a break.
4) They will meet cool people in real life they might not get to otherwise.
5) It’s a relatively affordable learning opportunity.

For more info, you can like the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gamingweek.info

Or if you think this is awesome already and have kids, you can register them here: https://gamingweek.info/registration/

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