As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, people all over the world are staying at home to help contain the virus. Counterintuitive though it may seem, the situation presents a golden opportunity for freelancers to score their next big project. In ordinary circumstances, it would be very difficult to reach key decision-makers at companies, due to their hectic schedules. Now, as they are all working remotely, you can send them an email, and it will most likely at least be read.
The best way to take advantage of this window of opportunity? A webinar.
Benefits of Webinars
Webinars are not new. They have been used for years by marketers across industries, for purposes ranging from internal training to lead generation. The graph below gives you a sense of how widely webinars are used across sectors.
For something that can be organized from your home, webinars are an effective sales and marketing channel. 95% of respondents to an On24 survey agreed that webinars are key to their lead generation and marketing efforts. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 32% of the 58% of marketers who use webinars for promotion also think that webinar marketing will be critical to their success this year.
But how do these facts relate to freelancers? To be a successful freelancer, you must be a great marketer. Only when you effectively market your services can you score those big projects. Webinars are a marketing channel where you can illustrate your experience and promote your services to a large audience.
Here’s a simple five-step plan for running your next webinar.
1. Plan Your Webinar
If you have organized a live event in the past, then planning for a webinar should be easy. While you don’t need to choose a venue, much of the other decisions you make will remain the same.
The most important decision you need to make is the topic. You can showcase a wide range of topics in a webinar; you need to pick a subject that you are an expert in and that people will find interesting. Importantly, the topic should align with the services you offer.
When choosing a topic, identify the “pain points” potential clients may have. I normally start this process by creating a customer persona. This will help you understand what topics are likely to click for your audience.
An easy hack to get an idea of what works for your audience is to use Eventbrite. Just Google “your niche + workshop + Eventbrite + big city” to get a list of workshops. Then see which ones have the most attendees registered. Then, you can come up with your spin on that topic.
Once you have your topic, decide on the format of your presentation. Ask the following questions:
- How many speakers? Just one, or will multiple people be presenting?
- What is the setup? Will it be a Q&A session, an interview format, or are you going to do a presentation?
Since your goal is to sell your services, I recommend you be the sole presenter of your webinar. You should use a setup where you can easily give a demonstration of the value you promised your audience. Don’t forget: Your value should be aligned with the service you’re selling. For example, if you’re a writer, you can teach audiences how to write a press release.
Creating a nice ambiance is also important. The presenter below, for example, opted for this setup:
The setting looks professional and polished, and he can use the big screen to demonstrate as he speaks. Importantly, the place has good lighting. You need to create a suitable spot for your webinar.
The time you pick for the webinar should fit not only your schedule but that of your target audience. Even if they’re stuck at home, thanks to COVID-19, most people won’t want to watch a professional webinar at the weekend when they’re spending time with their family. With very few exceptions, midweek during working hours is best.
Since webinars are web-based, bear in mind that members of your target audience are likely to live in different time zones. One way to mitigate this is to allow people who sign up for your webinar to watch a recording later if they cannot attend live.
2. Set Up Your Webinar
Now, you need to create marketing materials and promote the event. Before you do anything else, create:
- A registration page
- Email sequence for attendees
The good news is that most webinar platforms have registration templates you can use. They also have pre-written email sequences for registrants.
The standard templates are pretty simple. They will generally have an above-the-fold section with the key information, usually, with a clear CTA for registration. Here’s an example lacking a CTA.
Below the fold, you have a couple of paragraphs that describe the webinar. The copy should cover in a bit of detail who the event is for and what people will gain from attending. You might decide to use bullet points to highlight the value proposition.
Below is the copy that followed the header I shared above.
And that’s your registration page.
The email sequences are even easier. If it’s your first time hosting a webinar, I’d make a couple of minor tweaks to the standard template and leave it at that. The email sequence is just a set of reminders to ensure people don’t forget they signed up for the event.
3. Promote Your Webinar
Now that you have a registration page, you’re all set to promote your event. The marketing channels you choose to use should align with where you regularly promote yourself.
If you have a website or blog, promote your webinar there. You should promote your event through your social media accounts such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Banners and images will help to attract attention.
Your email list is another relevant channel to use.
You can also do some targeted outreach if you wish. Create a list of prospects who fit your ideal customer persona. If you’re a freelance content writer, this might be marketing or advertising companies. If you’re a freelance software developer, you will probably look for tech companies.
Find out who you should contact in these companies, and how to reach them. You can look for them on LinkedIn and contact them there, or use an email verification tool to get their details so you can send them a message.
4. Webinar Presentation Tips
The next, and most daunting, step is the presentation itself. First impressions count, so dress professionally. Try smart but informal “business casual” dress will be appropriate in most circumstances.
As you present, always remember that you have a goal, and that goal is to make people hire you. But you don’t want to turn them off with a hard sell; instead, reel them in by offering the value you promised slowly. Once they show interest, that’s when you make your pitch.
Some other presenting tips to bear in mind:
- Show that you take your subject matter seriously, but throw in a few jokes, too!
- Use positive body language: sit up straight, face the camera directly, smile and adopt an open, welcoming posture.
- Give your attendees a reason to stay until the end, like a free consultation or discount offer.
- Leave time for a Q&A session.
- End with a suitable call to action and make sure you include your contact details.
That final point is essential. Don’t just wrap up the webinar and say goodbye. Send your visitors to a sales page where you make a relevant, preferably time-sensitive, offer. You can use a landing page builder to create the sales page.
A well-designed sales page with a relevant offer will help convert those warm leads you just generated through the webinar into customers. This is, after all, your ultimate goal.
5. Follow up After the Event
After your webinar, followup is crucial. This nurtures the relationship with your attendees. Then, when the time comes that they need the services you offer, they will remember you.
To follow up, send an email to all participants within 24 hours of the event. Although this is a “thank you for attending” email, your real objective is to get them to take action. You might provide a free consultation session, encourage sign-ups to your newsletter, or offer them a no-obligation quote.
You should also send an email to those who registered but did not attend. This might include a link to the presentation slides or a recording of the session.
Finally, ask all your attendees for feedback on the webinar. You can do this with a short survey. Feedback is invaluable and enables you to hone your webinar skills and improve your offering for next time.
Even when the pandemic is over, the increased digitization of business and events is likely here to stay. For many freelancers and small business owners, this presents a phenomenal opportunity. Do not be afraid to seize it! Webinars allow you to think outside the box and be creative. They provide a new way of connecting with your target audience and allow you to nurture those relationships while showcasing your skills and services. They are a powerful marketing channel. All you need to do is learn how to use them effectively, and create a winning marketing plan to get those clients.