Freelancers, like brands, are always looking for ways to diversify their income streams. Not only to remain relevant in an ever-changing modern age but to ensure their bottom line is healthy and flourishing.
In addition to investing in marketable skills that are helpful in the digital landscape and honing into your niche, it is also essential to have a pulse on the latest trends.
Why webinars are trending
If you haven’t investigated the opportunity found in webinars, here’s your friendly nudge. Especially during a time where everything requires a virtual component, webinars are not only a way to connect with others in your industry but an avenue to draw in more business and demonstrate your expertise.
- They allow us to be human
- They allow a brand to pivot
- They build and demonstrate expertise
- They serve as another leg of inbound marketing
- They build consistency and trust
- They provide a lower cost of entry
- They provide an opportunity to team together
Learn more as webinar junkies shed insight on this new, emerging market below.
1. They allow us to be human.
As more and more work goes remote, the need for human connection is higher, and at times, more challenging. That’s where a webinar can provide a much-needed outlet to ‘network’ without putting yourself at risk, according to the founder of MARA Beauty, Allison McNamara. She hosts ‘virtual hang’ webinars that speak on various topics, including sustainability, clean cosmetics, and more.
From a business perspective, a webinar offers a more formal and intimate way to talk to customers and engage your community. “I think webinars will be a trend because they are convenient, cost-effective, informative, and an easy way to reach more people,” she explains.
As an example, McNamara’s company hosted a sustainability panel event last October and had about 30 guests. Everyone who attended had to commute, park, mingle and listen, cutting out a significant amount of their day. Though we all long for in-person discussions right now, a webinar offers a more natural and shorter way to digest information. These days, McNamara says her events average 60 or more.
2. They allow brands to pivot.
Meghan Ely is the owner of OFD Consulting, a leader in the wedding industry. As a long-term educator in the wedding and event industry, she’s been presenting and hosting webinars for the past decade. It’s no surprise this segment has seen a significant shift in business, as couples have been forced to postpone or cancel their celebrations due to current 2020 crowd restrictions.
As vendors search for different ways to maintain their businesses, Ely says many are turning to digital events, like webinars. This outlet provides a powerful way to pivot so they can continue to build value and target their audience for when we’re in better times.
“More professionals are eager to build additional income streams through online education. Webinars are one of the best ways to increase brand awareness for a thought leadership platform, while also creating a great lead generator to build an email list,” Ely shares.
3. They can build and demonstrate expertise.
In a competitive marketplace, freelancers are tasked with illustrating how their know-how beats the rest. That’s why marketing expert and author Courtney McKenzie Newell says webinars are an excellent way to demonstrate your skills.
By hosting a tutorial and inviting others within your industry to tune-in, you help others while also building your resume of experience. It works too, especially since it’s been a big part of how she’s built her own business over the past seven years.
She suggests selling each class individually or bundling them together for a discounted fee. Think: Creative Writing 101, 102 SEO Keyword Optimization 101, 102, and so on:
“You can record the live sessions and sell the ‘on-demand’ or replay options. This provides a multi-level opportunity to build a new base of customers. Teaching also helps keep the teacher sharp. There’s no better way to keep your skills sharp than by teaching others and answers their questions.”
4. They can serve as another leg of inbound marketing.
To continuously earn clients, you need contacts, right? Webinars are a seamless way to collect emails and encourage those who tune-in to respond to your queries. Ely suggests thinking of webinars as a way to meet your inbound marketing goals.
She recommends providing a download that complements the talk as an incentive for attendees to sign up for your mailing list. She uses Textual to capture emails, but there are also free versions via MailChimp, and like competitors.
“I normally send out an email the same day with the download, as well as the slides from my talk. In many instances, I’ll offer a recording to the talk as well. I like to keep the conversation going, so in some instances, I’ll have planned out a more comprehensive campaign to reach out to the audience more regularly with tips and strategies related to my talk.”
5. They can build consistency and trust.
As you have already learned from developing blog strategies, to stay top of mind and head of Google searches, being consistent is step number one. When you host weekly or monthly webinars, your network will begin to see you as a leader in this practice, according to the CEO and founder of Repêchage, Lydia Sarfati. Her brand implemented a webinar schedule last year and it’s vastly increased business, as well as their presence in the industry.
By hosting regular sessions, Sarfati has seen a slew of benefits:
“[Webinars] keep clients informed on the latest products and research and can provide education. They can also offer incentives such as discounts on new products, access to key members of the company, industry experts and even the founders of the company themselves, and provide a forum for clients and customers to give feedback. Regularly schedule webinars to be on the same date and time each month to assure clients of regular content and contact.”
6. They have a lower cost barrier to entry.
If you aren’t ready to invest hard-earned dollars into a webinar practice yet, that’s okay. But to be successful, Ely says it’s crucial to have the right software. After all, having a meeting crash when you have hundreds dialed in can be embarrassing, and potentially lead to less business than you had before.
She says a business-level Zoom membership is a reliable and cost-effective place to put your money. “Make sure you can present with strong wifi and in a room with limited distractions. If you’re showing your video, it won’t hurt to make sure you’ve created optimal lighting,” she adds.
7. They provide the opportunity to collaborate.
What’s better than one wordsmith or marketer hosting a webinar? Two. Or four! Newell suggests teaming up with another freelancer for a web interview series. Since she says live podcasts (aka, webinars) are a booming market, this is a great way to build your profile and personal brand. Not to mention, it’s an even more excellent tool to build a massive network of high-powered professionals.
You can explore various ways to do this that make sense for your personal brand, but these ideas can get you started:
Collaboration ideas for webinars:
- Content Marketing 101
- How SEO Specialists and Content Marketers Can Work Together
- Trend Insights From Across Several Freelance Industries
- How to Build a Better Business With Content, Social Media and Design
- The Basics of SEO Keyword Blog Development
And while starting with pals you know and you love is a smart way to begin this programming, Newell encourages freelancers to dream bigger, too. “The quickest way to get a response from someone is to offer them free money; the second fastest way is to ask to interview them. Record the webinar interview and release it as a special interview series,” she continues. “You can then turn those interviews into a book. Ever dreamed of being a bestselling author? Now may be your time.”