About a year ago, I began experimenting with webinars. They proved to be an effective way to share my expertise, build my email list and engage the readers of this blog.
As I explain in this post, which details my return-on-investment from webinars, there’s something powerful about interacting with readers in real time, when they can hear my voice and truly get to know me. Blog posts might bring readers to you, but webinars turn those readers into loyal and active community members.
Yet when you’re just starting out with webinars, experimenting to see if they’re right for you, you don’t want to invest a lot of money up front. At least that’s how I felt when I began looking into which technology I would use to power my webinars. And it’s why I gasped when I found out how much I’d have to pay to use GoToWebinar, the platform that’s known as the industry standard.
GoToWebinar’s lowest-priced plan is $99/month and allows up to 100 attendees. That’s not a bad price, but I knew straight away the plan wouldn’t work for me, since I hoped to entice at least 100 people to join my events. (Nearly a year later, I can report that I typically see about 300 signups and a 40% attendance rate, so it was smart not to cap out at 100 attendees.)
Then I looked into GoToWebinar’s next-biggest plan, which allows for 500 attendees — and that’s where I gasped. It costs $399/month.
For an established firm that’s bringing in the big bucks, $399/month (or nearly $4,800/year) might be a drop in the bucket, but for my bootstrapped startup, that’s way too much. Especially considering this isn’t the only digital tool we use every month. When you add in fees for MailChimp (for newsletters), Flow (task management), Hootsuite and more, it all adds up. And since we planned to start by offering only one free webinar each month, I knew it wasn’t worth spending that cash.
(Quick side note: I share these specific figures because sometimes the fee for a new tool sounds like a lot of money, but when you actually do the calculations and factor in how much you’ll earn, it’s worth it. In this case, it wasn’t.)
So I looked around for alternatives, and here’s what I’ve used ever since: MeetingBurner.
For just $99.95/month, MeetingBurner allows 1,000 attendees, making it much more affordable for solopreneurs and bootstrapped startups. It also offers a version for just $39.95/month, which accommodates up to 50 attendees.
Of course, while the price baited me here, price isn’t everything. I also cared about how easy the platform was to use, both for me and for attendees; whether it looked professional; and most importantly, how well it performed.
On all of these accounts, I can now recommend MeetingBurner. The company still has some kinks to work out, and not all components of the platform are perfectly user-friendly or seamless. But MeetingBurner has become my platform of choice, one I’ll continue using for the foreseeable future — and not just because I like supporting the underdog.
MeetingBurner offers all the features I need and want, and whenever I can’t figure out how to do something I haven’t done before, the company’s support team responds quickly via email with helpful instructions.
I use this platform not only to deliver my webinars, but also to hold conference calls and virtual meetings with my Socialexis team. It allows me to record webinars (so you can view them later if you miss the live event), see attendee analytics, hand off the meeting to other presenters, watch attendees chat in real time during the webinar, and more. There’s even a PayPal integration that lets you charge for events — something I’m hoping to try in February with my first paid webinar. (Update: This webinar on contracts for freelancers is now available.)
So for all you readers who have asked how I deliver my webinars, MeetingBurner‘s the answer. Highly recommended.
This is part of a series of posts about tools I use to run my business and blog, a topic readers often ask about. I’ve included affiliate links because I highly recommend the tool, but the creator of this product has in no way directly compensated me for the post (and, in fact, doesn’t even know I’m writing it).
If you have any questions about webinars, I’m happy to answer in the comments!