Your Guide to Planning a Successful Webinar or Online Course

Your Guide to Planning a Successful Webinar or Online Course
Photo by Teemu Paananen / Unsplash

One of the fastest-growing methods for marketing and continuing education is the webinar. With only a computer and a plan, nearly anyone can offer a webinar on any topic to a global audience.

And now, webinars and online meetings have become the primary method for many companies to communicate with employees who work remotely. Those who have become familiar with the process of planning and hosting online webinars have morphed their skills to monetize their knowledge by becoming online course instructors.

If you’re new to the world of webinars or online courses, this guide will give you an overview of what you need to consider before pressing “record” on your first webinar or opening up your course for enrollment.

What is a Webinar?

A webinar is an online seminar. It’s a presentation, lecture, or workshop that is transmitted over the internet in real time via a video conferencing platform like Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts.

Participants can view the presenter’s slides and listen to and see the presenter live, usually via webcam. They can also type questions into a chat box that the presenter will answer either verbally during the webinar or in the follow-up Q&A session.

Webinars generally last between 30 minutes to an hour, but can be longer or shorter depending on the format and desired outcome.

For example, a training webinar might be split into multiple sessions over the course of a week or month, while a product launch webinar might be just 30 minutes long.

Other webinars can be recorded in sessions and then sold as an on-demand course. More on that later!

Who Should Host a Webinar or Online Course?

If you’ve got the knowledge to share, then you can host a webinar or online course! Whether you’re a subject matter expert, have experience in a certain field, or are simply passionate about a topic, there’s a webinar or course format to fit.

Are you an expert in social media marketing? You can host a workshop on the latest Twitter algorithm changes and how they impact businesses. Are you passionate about plant-based eating? You could create a cooking course teaching people how to make vegan meals at home.

The best webinars and courses are usually hosted by people who are not only knowledgeable but also passionate about their topic. That way, it doesn’t feel like work to prepare or deliver the content - and your excitement is contagious!

Online Course Styles - Know How You'll Teach Before You Start

Not all webinars or courses are created equal. The format you choose will be based on what type of content you want to deliver, and how much interaction you want with your participants.

The three most common formats for webinars and online courses are:

- Pre-recorded and sold as an on-demand course

- Hosted live with participants attending in real-time

- A mix of both recorded sessions and live Q&A sessions

Pre-Recorded & On-Demand Webinars & Courses:

The advantage of pre-recording your webinar or course content is that you have complete control over the delivery. You can edit out any hiccups, re-record sections if you didn’t like the way they came out, and add in any additional graphics or resources that will enhance the learning experience.

You also don’t have to be available live at a certain time to deliver the content, which can be a significant advantage if you have a global audience or attendees in different time zones. Simply post the content online and let participants watch it at their convenience.

The downside is that you won’t be able to interact with participants in real-time, so this format isn’t ideal if you are hoping to build a relationship with your audience or get immediate feedback on your content.

Live Webinars & Courses:

The advantage of hosting a live webinar or course is that you can interact with participants. This format is excellent for building relationships, fostering a community, and getting immediate feedback from attendees.

You can also take questions verbally during the webinar or in the chatbox and address any concerns they might have on the spot. This can be a big selling point for participants as it provides an element of personalization that pre-recorded courses lack.

The downside of hosting a live webinar or course is that you need to be available at a certain time, which might not work for all attendees. You also can’t edit out any errors, so it’s important to be well-prepared before going live.

Hybrid Formats:

The third option is to mix pre-recorded content with live Q&A sessions or interactions. This can be a great way to provide high-quality, engaging content while still allowing for some live interaction.

For example, you could host a live introduction to the course, followed by pre-recorded sections that attendees can watch at their convenience. Then, you could close with a live Q&A session to answer any questions and get feedback from participants.

This format can be a great compromise if you want the best of both worlds - but it’s important to make sure the recorded sections are still high-quality and engaging, or attendees will tune out. Conferences and webinars often use this format to great effect.

A Guide To Preparing and Launching Your Online Course

Now that you know the different types of webinars and courses you can offer, it’s time to start planning your own! Here are a few tips to get you started preparing to create, lead, and follow up on a successful webinar or course.

Step 1: Planning & Preparation

Planning and preparation are the first steps to hosting a successful webinar or online course. You’ll need to decide on a topic, format, and schedule that works for you and your audience.

Are you going to be presenting to potential investors? Have the viewers already paid to view the content? Do you want to generate leads or drive sales? The answers to these questions will help you determine the tone, style, and structure of your webinar or course.

You'll want to plan out the content of your webinar or course in advance. This includes creating an outline, slides, or other resources you'll use.

If you're hosting a live webinar, you'll also need to rehearse the presentation several times to make sure you're comfortable with the material and delivery.

Step 2: Promotion of Your Webinar or Online Course

You may have the most outstanding content in the world, but if you don’t promote your webinar or course, no one will know it exists! Start promoting your event several weeks in advance through email marketing, social media, and paid ads.

Make sure to include all the relevant information (date, time, format, topic, etc.) in your promotional materials, so viewers know what to expect. If you have a promotional video or website, make sure to include a clear call-to-action (CTA) so viewers know how to sign up for your event.

You can also partner with other businesses or influencers in your industry to help promote your webinar or course. There's nothing better than having someone well-known in a particular niche promote your content via their channels - it'll help you tap into new audiences and boost your visibility.

Step 3: Hosting the Webinar or Online Course

Now it's time for the event itself! Make sure you have everything set up and ready to go before the webinar or course starts. This includes ensuring your audio and video equipment is working properly and having any resources or slides you'll be using readily available.

If you're hosting a live webinar, it's essential to start on time and keep the event moving at a good pace. Engage with participants by taking questions throughout the presentation, and make sure to end with a strong CTA (such as inviting viewers to sign up for your course or download a free resource).

If you're offering an online course, make sure the content is high-quality and engaging. No one wants to sit through hours of low-quality videos or read boring text - so invest the time in creating content that people will actually want to consume.

You should also consider offering bonus materials to course participants, such as downloadable resources or access to a private community. These extra perks will help keep people engaged and motivated to complete the course.

Step 4: Following Up After the Event

Once the webinar or course is over, it's important to follow up with participants. Thank them for attending and let them know what's next - such as signing up for your course or downloading a free resource.

You can also use this opportunity to get feedback from participants and find out what they liked (or didn't like) about the event. This feedback will be invaluable as you continue to improve and fine-tune your webinars and courses. If successful, you can convince participants to sign up for future events or even become paying customers!

Tips for Monetized Online Courses

While webinars and online meetings are great for sharing information, a new type of online course has become popular in recent years - the monetized online course. These courses are similar to traditional online courses but come with a price tag.

If you're thinking about offering a monetized online course, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

1. Quality Over Quantity

Consider your monetized course as a product rather than a simple educational resource. Just like any product, it needs to be high-quality and offer value if you want people to be willing to pay for it.

Don't try to cram too much information into your course - focus on delivering quality content that will actually help people achieve their goals. It's better to have a shorter course that's packed with value than a longer course that's full of fluff.

2. Create a Compelling Sales Page

Your course sales page is essential for convincing people to hand over their hard-earned cash. Make sure your sales page is well-designed and includes key information about the course, such as what students will learn, the benefits of taking the course, and any testimonials or reviews from past students.

3. Offer a Free Trial or Money-Back Guarantee

When people are shelling out their hard-earned cash for an online course, they want to be sure they're getting what they paid for.

Offering a free trial or money-back guarantee will help ease potential students' concerns and make them more likely to take the plunge. These can look like short previews of each course module or a full refund if the student isn't satisfied with the quality of the course.

4. Promote, Promote, Promote!

Just because you've created a monetized online course doesn't mean people will automatically find and buy it. You need to invest time and effort into promoting your course if you want it to be successful.

In the same way that you would promote a webinar you are hosting, make sure to reach out to your networks and let them know about your new course. Use all of your available channels to make sure your content reaches the right people.

You'll also want to promote your course through an online platform that is stable, secure, and effective.

Once someone has bought your monetized course, they're more likely to be open to buying other related products or services from you. This is a great way to increase your revenue and get more value from each customer.

For example, if you sell an online course on social media marketing, you could upsell students on one-on-one coaching sessions or a done-for-you social media service. If you sell a cooking course, you could upsell a recipe book or cooking tools.

Think about what complementary products or services you could offer your students and cross-promote them throughout your course. For example, you could include a link to your upsells in the course materials or promote them in the bonus section of your sales page.

By following these tips, you can create a successful monetized online course that will help you achieve your business goals. Remember to focus on quality, create a strong sales page, and effectively promote your course to reach your target market.

Plan, Prepare, and Launch with Cake

Organizing and hosting a webinar or an online course can be a great way to monetize your knowledge and expertise. Whether you want to provide ongoing resources or a one-time event, a strong online course will publicize your brand, increase your niche authority, and help you generate leads and sales.

Don't be afraid to give it a try - with a little planning and effort, you can create a successful monetized online course that will help you achieve your business goals.

If you are ready to get started but not quite sure where to begin, check out Cake. Cake is the perfect online platform for webinars and collaboration.

With unlimited video call duration and an infinite whiteboard, Cake allows for efficient and productive meetings. Cake's innovative Meeting Memory feature ensures that participants never lose track of where they left off.

For businesses and educators who need virtual office space, Cake offers unlimited spaces and rooms. With user roles and access management, Cake provides the perfect level of security and privacy.

Ready to learn more? Sign up for free online and see how Cake is changing the way people meet. It's the closest you can get to teleportation!