How To Create & Launch An Online Summit / Interview Series
Updated: Oct 30, 2020
Hosting my online summit brought me the LARGEST business growth out of any other marketing strategy I’ve tried and allowed me to make a name for myself in the pet industry. Simple as that.
When I asked my email list if they needed any additional support for their business, someone got back to me (shout out to Alessandra - a wonderful pet photographer in my community) asking if I had any resources on how I planned my interview series and I realized I hadn’t shared about it!
Thus, this blog post. I want to share with you the results, the planning steps, the software, and more when planning and launching The Empowered Petpreneur Online Interview Series.
A little backstory and motivation:
I knew absolutely nothing about online summits before deciding to do one. I went to a free two-day business conference here in San Diego and one of the first things the speaker said was, ‘you are all going to plan an online show.’ Without too much more information, she said, pick a date for three months from now. That’s the date it’s going to be released. And that, my friends, is the story of how my online summit came to be.
So, before we get into the nitty-gritty of it all, know that if I can plan this, you can, too. I will say one of my greatest attributes is resourcefulness. I did endless amounts of research and stalking (legal stalking, don’t worry) in the process, and as a result, I was able to:
More than double my email list
Double my Facebook Group membership
Gain new clients
Establish a name for myself in the pet industry
Network and meet other pet industry and business experts
Bring in more than $5,000 in profits
Gain more confidence in front of the camera and in my ability to run a business
So, let’s get to it!
What Are Online Summits / Interview Series?
First things first, what are online summits (online summits, virtual summits, and online interview series can be used interchangeably)? Online summits are typically free online conferences where a host brings together experts on a particular topic or theme and interviews them. Attendees are then able to watch and learn the information for a certain period of time, unless, in certain cases, they purchase lifetime access to the summit.
Who can plan one?
Absolutely anyone! At that conference I attended, there were jewelry makers, educators, coaches, DJs, photographers, therapists, designers, you name it! If you can bring people together on a particular topic, theme, or industry, you’re golden.
The goal? To connect, expand your reach, and share your knowledge.
How To Plan For It
Step 1: Pick Your Theme/Topic
This boils down to knowing your audience. Who do you want to work with? What are their struggles? The biggest question: What would they want to learn about MOST?
For me, I knew I wanted to help entrepreneurs in the pet industry who were SO overwhelmed and burnt out from their work that there was no room for growth. It wasn’t just “pet business owners.” Otherwise, I would have had such a broad topic. We want to narrow in on a specific theme. As a result, my tagline became: How to feel at ease while confidently running and growing a successful pet business.
Step 2: Pick A Date
Simple. Pick a date and then plan it. Make it work. Otherwise, you won’t move forward.
At the conference, we were recommended to pick a date 3 months from now. If you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to this, I might suggest 4 months. I wouldn’t recommend extending too much further than that as you want to make sure it’s a goal you have in sight and you don’t get lost in the fact that it’s so far away!
Step 3: Research and Select Interviewees/Speakers and Email Them
This is the biggest and most important step! Once you send these emails, you can’t go back. I’m telling you. SEND these emails and your life will change. That’s what put me over the threshold.
You want to find people who have a decently sized email list as that’s how the series will be promoted. Don’t worry if your following is not as large. The point here is to grow your audience, not to share your expertise on the topic. This isn’t about you and what you have to say. Once you get into that frame of mind, you’ll see the bigger picture of the summit. I recommend having at least 15-20 experts to interview, so your list of prospects will need to be larger than that.
Once you pick your speakers, send them an email. Ask them if they’re interested. The email doesn’t need to be long. Tell them what you’re doing and what impact you hope to make. Ask if they’re interested. Present yourself as an equal - a colleague. There’s no need to act desperate or say ‘this may be a long shot, but…’ Be direct and know your worth!
Step 4: Figure Out The Logistics
Ask yourself the following questions:
What type of interviews do I want to do? Audio? Video? Scripted? Live?
How long will the interviews be? What dates do you want to record them? (My suggestion: pick only a couple of days for recording and just change your outfit/hair if you want it to look like different days)
What do I need from the interviewees? Their bio, photo, freebie they want to offer (the title and the link to it), their social media, etc.
Do you want to just ask questions and have them answer or is it open-ended? Are you pre-determining the questions and are you selecting the questions or are the speakers? If so, they’ll need to submit questions. From my research and recommendations from experts, 3-4 questions over 30 minutes is your sweet spot.
Do you want to offer an All-Access Pass? What is the pricing? I recommend three different prices - one for before the series, one during, and one after.
Do you want to do affiliates, so your speakers can earn commission by promoting the summit as well? How much will they earn? My affiliates earned 50% commission because again, I wasn’t in this to make money. I was in it to grow my community.
Step 5: Get The Speakers On The Phone
Let them know:
What the series is all about. What difference do you want to make in the world? Share that with them. See what they want to share. What are they excited to talk about?
What’s expected: What do you want from them? A video interview, a freebie link to grow their own list, all of the info you need from them, including a contract, etc.
If it’s a good fit, formally invite them on board to the series.
Step 6: Schedule The Interviews
Next step, get the info you need from them, as listed in Step 4 (I used Dubsado to build these forms since it was already my CRM system). Send them a scheduling link (again, I used Dubsado here. You can also use something like Acuity or Calendly) to book their slot on your interview dates and get it on the calendar.
Tip: You’ll need a speaker agreement. That way, you have the rights to sell it in the future, have the right to share the interviews in any way you choose, etc. It’s essential to be protected here. If you’re a follower of Pet Marketing Unleashed, you’ll know I love, use, and recommend YourLegalBFF templates for things like this because it’s much more affordable than hiring a lawyer, but you still get the coverage of a lawyer-written contract. Here’s the direct link to her speaker agreement template.
Step 7: Get The Interview Equipment
You’ll need the proper equipment to make sure sound and video quality are ready to go.
Video recording software: I used Zoom to record my videos.
Video editing software: I used iMovie (for Macs) to edit my videos (also Screenflow).
Webcam: I got the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920.
Step 8: Start Creating Content (You’ll need a lot of it!)
Off the top of my head, here are some of the content pieces you’ll need:
Email templates for the speakers/interviewees to send to their list
The drip emails that will go out to those who registered
Thank you emails for those who have registered
Emails to your list to get them to register for the event
Emails about the Lifetime Access Pass
Thank you emails for those who have paid for the Lifetime Access Pass
Social media content for yourself and your speakers
Any other graphics: email headers, website headers, etc.
A website to host all of this information. OR, at least an opt-in page, a sales page, and a confirmation page. You can send the rest via email instead if you so choose.
Interview Scripts (if it will be scripted - I typed out all of the questions so I had them for each interview)
Follow-Up emails for the speakers to thank them for their participation
An email to remind the speakers to share about the summit to their list (within 10 days of the summit going live to build excitement)
A short (1-2 minute) video to get people excited about the event and tell them to register online. A video is crucial here so people can hear from you!
Keep in mind that I’m probably forgetting an email or two here because there are SO many pieces to this. That’s why it’s a good idea in step 4 to figure out the logistics. I used Asana to build my to-do list.
Step 9: Record The Interviews
Make sure to find a quiet location in your home with a simple background, so that it's not distracting. Ask the speakers for the same. If they have a microphone or speakers, that's great, too!
Step 10: Edit the Videos and Start Compiling Everything Together
Now it’s time to edit the videos and bring it all together, whether you’re creating this in the form of an automated email sequence or making a website. Get it all set up and scheduled. I used Vimeo to upload the videos.
Step 11: Finalize Your Affiliate Program (Optional)
Get your affiliates (the speakers) the links and email templates they need to share the lifetime pass to their audience. Make sure it’s set up properly and that your affiliates know exactly what they’ll earn (% or $ amount per sale), when they’ll receive payment, etc.
Step 12: Promote The Summit
I recommend dedicating the 3-4 weeks before the launch date to promotion! Promote it everywhere you can: Instagram, Instagram Stories, Facebook, Pinterest, blog posts, Facebook Ads, emails, you name it!
Step 13: Launch The Summit!
I recommend dedicating a substantial portion of your day (if not the whole day) each day of the summit to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. Be prepared to handle customer service issues. Make sure the emails are scheduled properly and everyone gets what they need to watch the interviews.
I also recommend encouraging engagement throughout the live summit! So, if you have a Facebook Group or Instagram, start a thread each day to encourage conversation!
Step 14: Send Thank You Emails
I recommend sending a thank you email to your speakers as well as to your audience. Continue your new partnerships with these experts! For your audience, perhaps create a survey so you can get to know the new members on your email list, what they’re searching for, and how you can serve them best!
Tools Needed/Used For Your Online Summit
1. Video recording software: I used Zoom to record my videos
2. Video editing software: I used iMovie (on Macs) to edit my videos (also Screenflow)
4. Webcam: I got the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920
5. Video host: Vimeo
6. A website or landing page website. I created a separate Wix website. A popular option is also using something like ClickFunnels.
7. Automated email marketing: I used Convertkit
8. Graphic design: Canva
9. Affiliates & Checkouts: Sendowl
10. Speaker Agreement Contract: YourLegalBFF Template
1. How long should the interviews be?
Remember people don’t have long attention spans. I think anywhere around 30 minutes or less is perfect.
2. Did you do the editing?
For the videos, I edited them myself. However, I didn’t make too many edits. I added in an intro and some transitions and that was mostly it unless there were huge things to fix!
For text, I did have my assistant help me with drafting and editing emails, which was, in my opinion, necessary! It’s a lot of work, so you’ll need additional support!
3. How much time does this take?
I won’t sugar coat it. This thing is a beast. I highly recommend getting help in the form of a virtual assistant throughout this process. It’s hard to manage it while also running a business, so keep that in mind. You will be working more. And, you will need help!
4. I’m worried big names won’t respond to me. How do I get the right speakers and how does this result in growth for me?
Honestly, I didn’t expect half of the emails I sent to result in the answer, yes. But they did! I suggest being direct, confident, and present yourself as a colleague rather than them as superior to you. It’s ok to shoot for the big names. If they say no, they say no! But you might as well ask.
And besides, they’ll be able to expand their business, too! It’s not just you and that speaker sending emails. It’s 19 (or whatever number of speakers you have) sending emails to ALL of their audiences and then coming together to watch your series and then submit to each speaker’s freebie to get on their email list. It sounds confusing, but it’s essentially as if all speakers are coming together to share their influence and audience!
I hope this was helpful!
Again, these summits exist as a way to build relationships, authority, and community around what you represent and what impact you want to bring to the world. Focus on that, rather than it being a marketing tool or a way to grow your business. You’ll see the biggest growth when you can make the biggest impact and provide the best value for your community.
If you want access to my summit, The Empowered Petpreneur, where pet industry experts & online entrepreneurs shared their best tips for growing your pet business in a way that promotes ease, work/life balance, confidence, & profitability, feel free to join here.
Any other questions, reach out. firstname.lastname@example.org