November 10, 2018
In our experience, hosting online conferences (aka virtual summits) has been one of THE best, most rewarding, most lucrative experiences in the 6+ years we’ve been business owners.
Here’s a list of how we’ve personally benefited from hosting our summits and why we suggest other consider doing so as well.
Summits are an incredible way to build a community, especially when they’re free!
Hundreds or thousands or (ahh) tens of thousands of people, gathered for a common purpose, listening to the same presentations, and talking via chat about how they can apply what they’re learning in the presentation to their own businesses, sharing about the conference on Instagram, telling their own audiences about it, thanking you for putting it all together – it’s all such an amazing, engaging, enthusiastic (exhausting for the week, haha), community-building engagement and it’s seriously my personal FAVORITE part of hosting these suumits.
It’s a lot of work (and we make it as easy as possible for you!), but the people and feedback make it so incredibly worth it.
Some of my closest friends have come as a result of relationships started during summits. This is not an exaggeration. As small business owners, we can sometimes feel isolated, especially if we spend most of our time hidden behind a laptop screen. Summits are a great way to create genuine social interaction and help people with a lot of interests in common to come together and to become lifelong friends.
Besides being great for growing a community, a summit naturally helps position you as a leader in that community! Personally, I hate being in the spotlight if I’m being completely honest, but one thing that I’ve loved about hosting summits is having created a platform to put OTHERS in the spotlight – to lift others up and to be the person who is known for giving that opportunity to those who may not often get them.
You’ll be finding speakers, creating the website, figuring out how to take payments, paying out affiliates, getting the word out about the summit, etc (we can help with all of this, btw). But at the end of the day, people appreciate the level of effort that goes into a conference and they will identify you as someone who cares about the community enough to put something like a this online conference and engaging, gathering space together.
It’s great for the community and it’s great for your brand, too!
As far as being great for your brand, there’s more than just the fact that your name is on the summit. You get to set the tone for the whole thing! Every speaker will be hand picked by you to send a certain message – since you’re choosing the speakers and the theme of the summit, you’re the curator of whatever message you think is most important.
What this means (and why it’s so amazing) is that you’re able to prime the audience to come to YOU and your speakers as the expert(s) for the things that you want to be best known for. After the summit, they’ll be ready to tackle the topic at hand – what better time, then, to send them to a lead page for a product or service that you offer to solve that problem?
A great way to ensure that your audience is getting high quality, valuable and on-topic content is to have each speaker be an expert in their field. For instance, if you’re a brand designer and the goal of your summit is to help people to prepare for either DIYing or hiring for their branding, you’ll want to have speakers who work in parallel fields, but who can communicate a similar message.
So, copywriters, website designers, business coaches, etc – all people who will benefit your clients as well as who will add valuable insight into creating a well-rounded brand.
Make sure to also read our blog post from the Launch Brand Grow on 3 Ways to Overcome the Idea of Competition to learn more about how to have speakers who actually do overlap with what YOU offer!
These last two reasons to host a summit are more personal ones, but they’re still important.
People underestimate the amount of work that goes into a summit. If you manage to present a free summit to the world, you (and your speakers) should be compensated for it. The first way you and your speakers get compensated is through email list growth.
The ONLY way for people to sign up for the free summit is if they register with their email address – this is where they’ll get the links to all of the presentations during the week of.
The ONLY way for people to get all of the amazing freebies that you offer during the summit and through the All-Access Pass is through the speakers’ direct opt in links (learn more about why we suggest not giving out the ENTIRE email sign up list to speakers in the blog post, How Speakers Benefit from Speaking at an Online Conference – we promise it’s a good thing for everyone!)
The general format that our summits follow is to have each presentation be up for 24 hours for free, but if anyone misses a presentation, they can purchase the VIP or All-Access Pass for a small fee and have lifetime access to all of the presentations from the summit.
Reminder: If income is a primary goal for you, then – yes, it can absolutely be a lucrative endeavor, however – in my own personal experience, the more that I focus on the money aspect, the less lucrative it becomes. Focus on the quality, focus on nurturing the attendee and affiliate and speaker relationships, focus on HIGH QUALITY content and creating a “product” that truly is a no brainer for your audience to buy. Focus on creating an experience that makes people excited to come back to the next one.
It takes a few solid months of work to put on a summit, and there’s no guarantee of a return on investment (though, if you take our advice to heart, you should do quite well financially with it! I highly (and biasedly) suggest picking up some of our templates for running a high quality summit in our Shop!).
And the most important thing is that a summit should be something that you’d be happy to put on regardless of the return – people buy from people; enthusiasm is contagious. If you aren’t excited about the content, then others won’t be either.
A bonus tip that I just thought of – the speaker content makes for AMAZING content to repurpose! Make sure to remember to forward traffic their way anytime that you use the content and make sure that you allow them to use their own presentation however they see fit, but repurposed content can look something like this:
Of course the MOST important thing about repurposing this content is to make sure that all parties are happy with the arrangement – make sure to ask your speakers for permission to repurpose the presentations and/or to make sure that this arrangement is well outlined in the initial Speaker Agreement.
Everyone should be benefitting from this exposure and collaboration, even after the summit is over, please make sure you’re being generous with what you give back!
The Modern Conference was founded to help to revolutionize the Virtual Summit scene to become a more valuable asset to creative and small businesses. We're here to offer tools, insight and education on how to create an event that's truly worth attending, creates real value and encourages community.