How to produce webinars: A guide for writers and bloggers

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Webinars have been around for several decades, but it’s only seen a huge resurgence in popularity since the start of the pandemic in 2020. According to On24 Webinar Benchmark Report 2021, webinars grew by 162% and attendance grew to more than 60 million people last year.

Needless to say there are ample opportunities for writers, bloggers and marketers to join the ranks of webinar producers. What makes it more enticing is the fact that most webinar platforms are fairly affordable and easy to use.

Granted, producing webinars isn’t for everyone. It takes someone with tremendous courage to sit in front of their computer screen and talk into a microphone. But for those who have the will and the curiosity to engage with their audience, show their expertise and/or promote a book or product, well, then this might be one more tool to add to your marketing mix.

How do you get started producing webinars? What do you need to know? Most important, what key decisions do you need to make? Because you’re not going to be able to jump right in without thinking about certain aspects. Such as:

What is your goal for the webinar program? Why do you want to produce your own webinars? Is it to promote a new book or a product? Discuss a unique idea or process you’ve created? Or build an audience for your blog or business?

Who is your audience? Consider who your audience is, their age, location, level of expertise, etc. Are they seniors interested in compiling family histories for a memoir, or a group of aspiring bloggers? Knowing who your audience is and what their interests are can help you determine the topics you’ll present.

Also consider the size of your audience. Are you content doing a webinar for 20 people, or would you like to push the limit to several hundred? Keep in mind that roughly 45-50% of those who register for your live events may actually show up.

What topics will you present? This will depend on your goals and your audience’s educational interests. Consider what your audience wants to know. What types of questions do they typically ask? When you see the same questions being asked over and over again, that’s usually a clue what might be a meaningful topic.

How many webinars do you plan to do? Don’t count on doing just one. Think ongoing series. Think long term. Perhaps you can do a series geared toward a targeted audience, such unpublished nonfiction authors, or a series about a subtopic, like a focus on common side hustles. Also consider how you can repurpose the webinar content into other formats, such as podcast episodes or a white paper.

Where do you want to host the webinars? Do you want to show it exclusively on Zoom, or do you want to broaden your reach by showing it live across different channels, such as YouTube, Facebook Live and LinkedIn? Some webinar platforms will allow you to share simultaneously across multiple platforms and record it for later posting.

Research the different platforms. Sites like GotoWebinar, Webinar Jam and Webinar Ninja are a few that are easy to use, according to The Book Designer blog. Or check out sites like Webinarsoftware.org  or Capterra for reviews of the best software platforms.

If you’re looking for free and cheap options, there’s always Zoom. With a personal Zoom account, you can reach up to 100 participants for up to 40 minutes. Or try Google Meet.

What you decide to use will depend on how you plan to host the event and what your specific marketing needs are. For example, you might want to capture leads from the registrants. Experts suggest making sure you have systems in place for following up on leads. Otherwise, doing webinars would be pointless.

Make sure to promote the events. Email campaigns and social media may be the best ways to invite people to attend your webinar. Individual host sites will also promote the events to their platform users. Check the webinar platform to see if they send out calendar reminders or if you have to set them up yourself.

Do a run-through of your program. It is recommended to do several run-throughs of your presentation. That can help you find the rough spots so you can fix them before you go live. It also helps to arrive early to test the equipment and sound. You don’t want to have to deal with technical issues at the start of the event.

Allow time at the end for a Q&A. By the end of the session, which should not run longer than 60 minutes, people will likely have questions. Allow time to answer them, say 10 minutes or so. Be sure to thank people for participating, and be sure to include ways to contact you or follow you on social media.

Don’t use a script. Know your subject inside and out. If necessary, create an agenda for the program that you can follow and a few note cards to remind you of your key points. But go as unscripted as possible, otherwise your presentation will seem stiff and formal. You want to appear natural and conversational.

Measure your results. After the webinar has been posted, follow up with registrants. Send them a survey to get feedback on the program, and ask for suggestions for future events. Also check to see what your conversion rate is. How many people who had signed up for the event actually listened in? You might want to offer a free download for replay later, especially for those who could not attend at the last minute.

For more tips about doing webinars, check out this article on Smart Blogger.

While producing webinars isn’t for everyone, once you have systems and strategy in place, they can help showcase your expertise in a unique and engaging way.

What Are the ‘Silver Linings’ of Your Writing Life in 2020?

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Check out the new weekly writing prompt in the sidebar menu.

“Every cloud has a silver lining.” You might have heard that proverb at one time or another. It means that there’s something good or hopeful to be found in every bad situation.

Dictionary.com has its own definition: “A sign of hope or a positive aspect in an otherwise negative situation.”

The year 2020 has shown us an overabundance of negative situations, from a pandemic of a highly contagious and dangerous disease and social isolation from loved ones to social injustice, civic unrest and political and economic uncertainty. It’s been a difficult year, but somehow we’ve made it to the end with the hope that 2021 will be better. It has to be better, right? We can only go up from here.

Yet despite the turmoil in our world, there is reason to hope. There are silver linings in the year that was. It’s called “counting your blessings.” We all have them if we look close enough.

So what silver linings have I noticed in my world? For one thing, I was highly productive with my writing projects.

* Consistent blogging. I recommitted to my blog, posting stories at least once a week, sometimes two. With this renewed commitment, I am now considering expanding my offerings to include a weekly writing prompt, white papers and e-books.

* Experimentation with writing styles. Without clients to write for, I’ve used my free time to experiment with different writing styles, most notably e-books and novellas. At 30,000 to 50,000 words, novellas are shorter than novels and tend to have only one plot line, but they are longer than short stories.

* Reading challenge. I kept up with my reading challenge throughout the year. Reading provided the needed escape from the darkest moments of the year.

* Professional development. I took advantage of discounted webinars, online workshops and virtual conferences that were offered, which I would not have participated in otherwise. I studied everything from building a freelance business to content marketing and writing holiday romances.

* New technologies. Like many people, I participated in more online meetings than ever before which meant learning new technologies, such as Zoom and Google Duo.

* Expanded offerings. I completed and posted a white paper on my website and plan to do another one in 2021. I also have two e-books in the works.

* Networking. I launched an email networking campaign to one group of contacts to search for new clients. The second phase of that campaign will begin in the New Year.

A writer’s work is never done and it goes beyond just writing stories. There’s the business of running a writing business and all that it entails – accounting, networking, marketing, etc. Despite it all, I feel hopeful and optimistic about the future.

I realize that in the midst of darkness, there is light too, like a rainbow after a storm. We must all learn to adapt to this new reality of ours, because frankly, it’s not going away anytime soon and our lives will be changed. Things won’t be the same as they used to be, even though we may wish them to be  “back to normal.” Each of us will have to redefine what that new normal means for us, and more important, what it looks like for us.

So how has your writing life changed – for better or for worse – because of the upheavals of 2020? What are the silver linings in your year?