Five months ago I set off on a quest to find and create a more personal online learning experience for live events than what I was doing back then. Previously, if I wanted to give free trainings online, I created a simple Google+ Hangout On Air and invited people to RSVP on that page. Like the one below from April 2015 about my 10 favorite ways to monetize as in infopreneur:
Here’s the problem with that. You have no real way of capturing valuable information from the people who attend (like, say, their email address, name, and type of business/need) and the built-in chat feature is less than awesome–when you compare it to the super interactive way Periscope or other online chats operate. The “no email” issue began to be huge for me because I like to send homework (PDFs) before live events to help people get the full value out of the workshop.
No bueno. But I did many live events online like this before I knew better. You can check them out on my workshops page.
Let’s move on to V2 (version 2).
If I wanted to deliver paid workshops online (live or pre-recorded), I used to create a Google+ Community that only paid participants could access, then I’d upload videos at a set schedule and hang around all day answering questions live. This was the model I started using about 5 months ago. I thought I’d arrived at a perfect solution.
Whereas this model was more chatty and personal, it lacked organization and I soon found out that Google+ was not everyone’s favorite tool for community interactions. Booooooo.
So I started in on V3 of my quest. I began doing what most people do for their short webinars . . . integrate a Google+ Hangout On Air with LeadPages (a software that I truly love–you can see my bro and I using it below) or use Webinar Ninja (another very useful piece of software that’s simple to use for quick webinars). I can create signup pages, thank you pages, and live video pages with an embedded chat. Note: I’m still using both of these tools for shorter trainings–and for ones I don’t charge for.
P.S. Even though that might look like my brother Lemuel, I’m supposed to tell you that’s actually a guy named Len. P.P.S. Len is just a different persona my brother adopts during workshops to illustrate a point.
But, here’s the problem with these models for longer workshops like the one I’m doing next week on self-publishing your own book (that I’ve been talking about with you on Periscope for days now), you can’t host multiple videos on the same page at the same time easily. So if you plan to have an 11 o’clock session, a 1 o’clock training, and a 3 o’clock training for your workshop, you’d have to have 3 separate URLs, which can be confusing and doesn’t really allow for the convo to keep going in the same chat box easily.
Also, the tools listed above cost money. Further, with LeadPages your chat will be below your video typically, which means people have to stop watching to scroll down and type. Boooooo.
So now we arrive at V4 of all this. The version I recommend and use when I have lengthy online classes and workshops going on (especially ones with multiple separate trainings) that I want to provide a single workshop page URL for. Oh, and the best part about this version? It’s free.
Backstory: As you can see on my workshop page, I have a $97 master workshop coming up on self-publishing your own printed books. I’ve shared in income reports before how printed books make up a couple thousand of my income each month. I completely believe in them.
This training is going to involve planning + researching your book, laying out your own book, designing the cover for print, publishing and printing your book, getting your own ISBN and making your own small publishing house, and so much more. It’s way too much for a single day, and it’s way too much for multiple LeadPages strung together. Simply updating the one LeadPage with the current video of the day is not ideal, because I want my workshop ninja friends to be able to go back to the previous sessions and replay them.
So, for version 4, I’m using private Google+ Hangouts On Air to broadcast live, then I’m embedding those Hangouts in a page on my site, along with a clean chat interface that people can use throughout the whole 3-day event. If you want to get fancy, you can even password protect these pages (or integrate the pages with a membership plugin that only allows certain people to log in). Optionally, you can just keep the URL between you and your workshop friends.
I realize that a lot of steps and technical stuff can go into hosting something like this, and as I’ve been setting events like this up, I’ve been making notes so that I could share them with you in this tutorial. I want to show you how to set up the flow below, for free (as long as you already have a website).
Or, if you offer a workshop for free (as most of mine are free on the day of and for 72 hours afterward), you can set up your flow like this:
Whether you offer your workshop for $0 or charge for it, let’s go through the steps of how you can create and package your next workshop or live class without incurring any expenses on your end (while still capturing important information from people and delighting your attendees).
1. Build a signup page or form + payment option.
I suggest you make people before they register. If you create a registration form that then redirects to a payment page, you’ll likely have some people fall off and not complete their payment. It can then be difficult to tell who has paid and who hasn’t if you receive forms for people who didn’t complete the process.
Tools + options for your signup page + payments:
- A PayPal payment button on your site that you set to redirect to a contact/registration form or a MailChimp list signup form.
- The free version of Typeform.
- A simple contact form on your site (using Contact Form 7 on WordPress or the built-in form feature on Squarespace).
- A “product” set up in your digital payment platform of choice, where you can collect emails and send workshop details to those email addresses afterward.
- A “product” set up in your digital payment platform of choice, where you have an automated action set up to push the customer’s email address through to your email list and then send an email. (This will typically be a paid feature though.)
- The paid version of Typeform that accepts Stripe payments for you.
Whichever method you choose, make sure to get your customer’s email address, name, and any pertinent needs/questions related to your event so that you can tailor the experience or build in extra value for people. Sometimes your workshop purpose will be so clear that you don’t need much extra information from people, but info can be a powerful tool for crafting an epic experience.
2. Send a receipt and a thank you email with next steps. Or redirect people to a thank you page that gives them an idea of what’s next.
When you send this receipt (whether you’re able to link this up with an automated system or not), you can also send the schedule or homework for your event. If you haven’t created that yet, simply send a thank you or redirect people to a thank you page with additional information or downloads.
2.5. Set up your live video events (and chat feature of your choice) and embed the appropriate code in your website.
A. Log into Google+ so that you can schedule a Google+ Hangout On Air
B. Create a Google+ Hangout On Air with a title that will make sense to your attendees. Make sure you select the future date and time of the event by clicking on “Later.”
The description won’t matter because people will view it from your site.
C. Set the event to private by deselecting “Public,” then add in at least one invitee (I added my bro) and hit “share.” Repeat this process for each live session you want to have.
D. Copy the “video embed” code from each of the pages/events that are created. We’ll need to embed this into your site.
E. Optionally, create a chat channel at Tlk.io by typing in a channel name, then clicking “join.” You can also log in with Twitter and become the owner of the channel to make sure no one else can delete it or take over.
You can use another chat software that you like, as long as it can be embedded or integrated into your workshop’s page on your site.
F. Get the embed code of your Tlk.io chat by scrolling down on the home page to the “Embed” section and entering your channel name. After your press enter, some modified code will pop up on the right side of the screen.
Note: Tlk.io allows people to type in their name or log in with Twitter to chat, so people can choose to be as public/anonymous as they want to be.
Okay, now it’s time to plug in all your code to your site. Below are instructions for WordPress and Squarespace.
G. WordPress Embed
Use the “text” tab of your WordPress page editor to plug in the code for your live video(s) and your Tlk.io. In the shot above, I’m using the plugin Symple Shortcodes to create 2/3 + 1/3 columns so that my chat is always at the top of the screen. As your workshop progresses, you can move the current video up to the top of the screen.
G. Squarespace Embed
Create an unlisted page in your Squrespace site and add content blocks with the G+ Hangouts On Air code and the chat code. Line the two blocks up side-by-side, then publish your page.
After all those steps, your site’s page will look something like this.
3. Send the workshop schedule and event URL.
If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to share more details of the event with your audience and make sure they know where to go on the day of.
4. Send a reminder the day before and resend the homework and event URL.
This reminder will help people who may have forgotten and started to schedule other things. This will also help people who may have forgotten the homework or misplaced the URL.
5. Send a reminder email 60 minutes before the event.
This is typically enough time to let people finish up last minute things but not so much time that people will re-forget.
6. Conduct your live class or sessions.
If you are co-hosting a Google+ Hangout On Air, make sure you and the other party/parties are all following each other beforehand. This way, you’ll be able to invite your co-hosts properly once you click “Start” on your event page. Also note: Whereas your Google+ videos will play live on the pages you embedded them on, you MUST start the Hangout on Air form the Google+ event page that you copied the embed code from.
7. Send out a replay link and a reminder of how long you’re audience will have access to the files.
If you plan to package your video(s) up with any resources you created and sell them to anyone who didn’t purchase the first round, make sure your attendees know how long they have access to the files and where they’ll need to go to access the files during that time.
Ex: You may take down the live pages on your site, but give your audience (that has already paid) free codes to your product in Gumroad.
8. Package your product for sale on the platform of your choice.
You can either:
- continue to host the workshop on your site and give access to people after they’ve paid
- package the workshop as a course using 3rd-party software like Fedora
- or sell the material on a site like Gumroad (as I often do–view the image below)
Since you created a Google+ Hangout On Air, it creates an automatic copy of your presentation in your linked YouTube account. Go to your YouTube “Creator Studio” after the live recording has ended. Select the drop-down arrow next to the recording you want and select “Download MP4.” This will give you a video file to upload to your course website or Gumroad account (which by the way allows you to set videos to “stream only” so people can’t download them if you don’t want them to).
Packaging workshops for sale can be super profitable. Since I typically don’t sell during the workshop itself, and since most of my workshops are free when they first air, this has been a really great way for me to earn income off of the hard work of putting together content of substance, homework, worksheets, and more.
What do you think? Might you be trying the online workshop model soon?
P.S. If you’re interested in publishing a book, you might want to check out the Zero to Self-published Book Workshop.
Main Photo (c): Lumina