How to Run Your First Webinar (with No Skills, No Stress and No Budget)

How to Run Your First Webinar (with No Skills, No Stress and No Budget)

It’s just too scary, isn’t it?

You see all those fancy schmantzy bloggers offering webinars.

And everyone and their cat is queuing up to watch them.

They have the authority; they get the attention.

Yes, I bet it’s crossed your mind to do it too.

After all, webinars are supposed to be the hottest thing on the Net.

But to run a webinar yourself? It’s just too damn scary.

There’s the huge cost.  And how to even start creating a webinar, let alone broadcast it?

It’s beyond the reach of a blogger like you, right?

I’m here to tell you something: the world of webinars has changed.

It’s now affordable. It’s easy. You can do it.

In fact, you should do it.

Here’s why…

Why Serious Bloggers Love Webinars (Even if They Don’t Have Anything to Sell)

If you blog about any topic that more than a handful of people care about, you’ll be up against fierce competition.

Many bloggers will be fighting for the attention of your audience, and from the outside looking in, little will distinguish you from them.

Rise above the mass of wannabe bloggers.

So if you want to rise above the mass of wannabe bloggers, running webinars is a savvy option. Here are the benefits:

  • You transform your ideas into events. As the experienced blogger Chris Garrett says: You get the opportunity to create a sense of event around your ideas, value and information.
  • You forge a unique bond with your readers. Watching you on live camera is the next best thing to seeing you in person. Not only can they see you, but they can also interact with you. And in the future when they read your content, they’ll hear your voice.
  • You become an authority. When you appear as a presenter and give value to your readers, you create fans who respect you as an authority.
  • You increase your blog traffic. Online events, like webinars, are like magnets. They attract traffic and generate new subscriptions.
  • You can earn a little money. If you review, promote, or talk about a product in a webinar, you can make sales and earn income.

But if webinars are so damn sexy, why don’t more bloggers use them?

The honest truth?

Because they’re scared.

Why Most Bloggers Are Scared Witless by Webinars

Let’s face it.

Running a webinar sounds daunting.

The technology seems like a scary challenge.

And then there are those embarrassing glitches you hear about…

Like the guy who talked for thirty minutes before noticing that people could hear zilch.

Or the trolls who stalk webinars and disrupt presentations.

Shit happens, but most problems are avoidable.

Bottom line: you have to practice before you go live.

Shit happens, but... most problems are avoidable.

Unfortunately, I headed into my first webinar ever with the attitude, “I haven’t got time to practice, but, hey, it can’t be so difficult!”

The webinar ended in chaos. Here’s what went down…

It was in 2009. Leo Babauta and I had just created a blogger training course, called  A-List Blogging, and we decided to run a webinar as part of our launch.

The software we used at the time allowed us to appear live on camera. It looked easy, so I didn’t bother to practice.

The plan was that I would start the webinar and Leo would appear after my introduction.

We agreed to meet up as presenters in the software’s “green room” a few minutes before kickoff.

But Leo was nowhere to be seen.

I waited a few minutes and then started the webinar without him.

I was rattled.

After a little while, I said to the participants:

“Er… sorry, folks, I seem to have mislaid Leo.”

“WHAT!?” The chat-box erupted with questions.

It wasn’t a good moment.

Suddenly, a few lines appeared in the chat box, written by Leo. He couldn’t get into the system as a presenter so he entered as a participant to let everyone know he was locked out.

I soldiered on.

Now and then, Leo popped up in the chat to say he was still trying to get in.

The participants got involved:

“Leo, REBOOT!”

“Mary, has Leo got the right password?”

“BUY A NEW LAPTOP, MAN!”

Leo never managed to show — and the webinar slowly slid into chaos.

And when I think about it today, I still feel a little sick.

Since that time, I’ve learned how to run goof-proof webinars.

And I’ll tell you exactly what you need to know to run successful online events.

But first, let’s consider what content to choose for a webinar.

How to Choose a Webinar Topic Your Readers Can’t Resist

Most people are busy, and leisure time is in short supply. So if your webinar topic is boring as bat’s piss, they’ll chill out with funny cat videos on YouTube instead.

To get your readers to watch, you must wow them with a topic that’s as satisfying as placing the final piece in a puzzle.

But how to pick the right topic?

Hidden in your blog are two sources of fail-safe webinar topics: your list of popular posts, and the list of keywords that lead readers to your site.

Find your hidden sources of fail-safe webinar topics.

Take a look at your ten most popular posts and think about repurposing them as a webinar.

For example, on my blog WritetoDone.com, three of the ten most popular posts are hot contenders for webinars, How to Write Better: 7 Instant Fixes, 201 Ways to Arouse  Your Creativity, and How to Finish What You Start: A Five-Step Plan for Writers.

I’m sure you can imagine how these topics would lend themselves as content for a webinar. In fact, 201 Ways to Arouse your Creativity could be transformed into a whole series of webinars!

A webinar is an opportunity to drill down into the topic of a popular post. It’s your chance to expand what you wrote, give detailed suggestions, offer examples, and discuss questions.

The second source of content for success-prone webinars are the keywords people use to find your blog. If you have Jetpack installed, you can find them in the Site Stats section, or you can look in Google Analytics (under Acquisition > Keywords > Organic).

For example, the following keywords brought readers to Write to Done on a recent day:

Things to write about

Sexs (yes, written like that!)

Writing dialogue

How to write better

How to be a writer

… And the list goes on and on.

Apart from the second keyword [YIKES], all the others would be great starting points for creating webinar content.

But what about your blog?

What keywords do people type in to find you?

Once you’ve picked your topic, you’ll be itching to create content right away.

However, I suggest holding off until you get a tight grip on the technical aspects of running a webinar. Creating content is much easier once you understand your webinar basics.

How to Run Webinars Like a Pro (Without Spending a Dime)

With the advent of Google Hangouts on Air, it’s possible to run webinars for free. And you can accommodate unlimited participants!

It can be a little tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing, but this post will give you all the information you need for a confident start.

(When it’s time to scale up your webinars, you can buy some cool webinar software that integrates with Google Hangouts on Air, such as WebinarJam (affiliate link) or Easy Webinar Plugin (affiliate link). They offer additional functions, like integration with autoresponders, having the option of more than one presenter, using high-converting registration pages, and so on. However, you have to shell out at least $297 for either of these two solutions.)

Run your webinars with the confidence of a pro!

Here is how to set up and run a webinar on Google Hangouts on Air.

Hangouts on Air integrates with YouTube, and your webinar will be streamed out live on your YouTube account.

To run Google Hangouts on Air (HOA), you need to connect your Gmail account with Google Plus and YouTube.

If you don’t already have a Gmail account, set one up here.

Actually, set up a second Gmail account as well. You can use this account to test your HOA webinars.

Go through the following setup steps both for your main Gmail account and for your test account. You need to …

Tip: In order to run webinars that are longer than fifteen minutes, you need to increase your time limit on YouTube by verifying your account.

Congratulations, you’ve now got the technical setup complete!

Now it’s time to get cozy with running a webinar. And there’s only one way to get confident: practice!

How to Make Sure Your First Webinar Runs Without a Hitch

You need to practice thoroughly before you run a public webinar.

Think of your training as having four stages.

Stage 1: Get to grips with Google Hangouts

They’re very similar to Hangouts on Air but are not streamed out live so you can keep your early efforts private.

You can practice on your own or invite a small group of friends to join you.

Here’s how to start a Hangout.

Go to your Google+ homepage, moving the cursor over the Home menu on the top, left-hand side to see the drop-down options. Click on Hangouts.

Google Hangouts

On the next page, click the Visit hangouts.google.com button.

Visit Google Hangouts

From there, practice using the various tools, apps, and icons.

Practice before going public.

You might also like to try creating some basic slides using PowerPoint or the SlideShare app on Google Drive.

Note: if you want to present a slideshow in your webinar, make sure your slides show up in a separate window. (Click here to find out more about crucial settings).

Stage 2: Learn how to set up an Event on Google+

Tip: use your test Gmail account to practice setting up events.

First, click on Events in the same drop-down sidebar menu as before, or click on Event in the share bar.

How to set up an event on Google+

You can find step-by-step instructions on how to set up a Google Event here.

Stage 3: Practice starting a Hangout on Air

You can start a Hangout on Air either from your Google+ home page, or from your YouTube account.

I find it easier to start from YouTube.

First, click on the Upload button.

Start a Hangout Air from YouTube

From there, you’ll see an option for starting a Hangout on Air.

Broadcast HOA

You can find out exactly how to do it here.

Stage 4: Bring it all together and create a test webinar

Now you’ll integrate what you’ve practiced so far.

Use the following steps:

  • Set up an Event on Google+.
  • Send an invitation to yourself at your second email account.
  • Schedule the event 30 minutes ahead.
  • Start the Hangout on Air by going to your YouTube account.

Give your Hangout on Air the same name as the event you created.

Once your HOA is set up, you’ll need to grab the embed code for your blog page, as well as the link for your Google+ page.

You can find the Links icon at the bottom right-hand corner of your HOA.

Grab the Google HOA embed code

When you embed the YouTube code in the Text Editor of your blog page, I suggest changing the size to “640” width and “360” height to make the video bigger.

The YouTube Page link needs to be placed in the Events section on Google+.

Click on your event and select Edit Event.  From the Event Options button, select Advanced and then, Show more options to reveal the YouTube input field.

Embed the YouTube HOA link.

Once you’ve embedded the code in a draft page of your blog and have inserted the link on the Google+ Event page, your webinar is ready to be broadcast.

Click on the green Start Broadcast button on your HOA to make your webinar go live.

You can download an essential report on how to troubleshoot webinars using Hangouts on Air. Grab it here (it’s free).

Now that you’ve come to grips with the technical side of webinars, let’s get creative and give shape to your content.

How to Design a Webinar to Engage Your Audience from Beginning to End

For killer webinars, the classic three-act structure works best.

The first act is the introduction which includes your story of why you’re passionate about the topic. The second act is the main presentation, and the third act is the question and answer session.

Here is my blueprint for forty-minute webinars:

  • 5 minutes for the introduction and personal story
  • 25 minutes for the main presentation
  • 10 minutes for the Q&A

A key part of your main presentation is the last five-minute stretch. Always end with a call to action. If your webinar is educational or inspirational, suggest one simple action your viewers can do today.

And make sure you know what’s in it for you too. Ask them to sign up for your email list or like your Facebook page.

If you’re using your webinar to sell a product, use the last five minutes before the Q&A to explain how the product solves a problem you’ve been talking about, and encourage people to buy it now.

Blueprint for a killer webinar.

Here’s the process of creating a webinar.

First, create a rough outline of the introduction and the main presentation with headings, subheadings, and bullet points.

Next, decide on an approximate length of each section so that you can work out how many slides you need — five slides per minute is about right.

In order to create slides, you need some presentation software. Depending on whether you have a PC or a Mac, you can use PowerPoint or Keynote to create slides.

Another option is to use the Google Slides app, which you can access on Google Drive for free.

A key technical point is that your slide presentation needs to show in a new window. Both PowerPoint and Google Slides have settings for this, but using Keynote is more complicated. I explain more about this (including a work-around for using Keynote) here.

When you create slides, use text only with big bold headlines.

Once you’ve created your slides, you can go back and add images for extra emphasis.

Of course, you’ll be speaking to your audience as you show each slide. You might be tempted to wing it, but write a script to follow. Believe me, you’ll feel more confident if you have the words you want to say in front of you.

How to Make Sure the Camera Loves You (and Your Fans Will Too)

People love seeing their favorite bloggers live on camera because they feel connected in a way that’s difficult with writing alone.

But most of us don’t like how we look on camera. However, the truth is that talking, smiling, laughing — even making mistakes — on camera endears us to our readers.

You don’t need a “TV-face” to be successful, but you do need to know something about the psychology of relating to your viewers on video.

The key factor is camera placement. The camera needs to line up exactly with your eye-height.

Here’s why.

If the camera is below your eye height, attendees will get the feeling that you are “talking down” to them.

On the other hand, if the camera is above your eye height, attendees sense that you’re looking up to them and lack authority.

So line up the camera exactly with your eyes.

Connect on camera - your readers will love it.

If you’re using a web-camera on your computer or laptop, you may have to balance it on a stack of books or adjust the height of your seat to achieve the right height.

One of the advantages of systems that use Google Hangouts on Air is that you can choose between appearing live on camera and showing slide presentations. This also means you don’t have to be on camera every second of the webinar.

For example, you can start live on camera, then follow on with your slide presentation and appear live on camera again for the question and answer session.

So now that you’ve created your webinar, it’s time to let people know about it. After all, you want your fans to show up for your online event.

How to Create Irresistible Buzz for Your Webinar that Gets People Queuing Round the Block

You can create a great webinar. But what if nobody watches it?

The best way to create buzz around your event is to treat the lead-up like a mini-launch:

  • Get participants to register for your event. It’s a good idea to set up a special email list with a corresponding signup form to use for registrations. You can do this easily if you’re using an autoresponder service like Aweber (affiliate link) or Mailchimp. You can create an automatic response that gives them the URL of the page where you’ll embed your webinar.
  • Write a blog post that gets readers fired up about your webinar topic. You can heighten anticipation by opening up questions in your post and promising to answer them in the upcoming webinar. Place the webinar registration form at the bottom of your post and make a point of asking people to register.
  • Email your subscriber list. Once you’ve announced the webinar on your blog, send out a series of emails reminding the people on your main list to register. In his ebook, The Ultimate Webinar Marketing Guide (affiliate link), Lewis Howes suggests sending out a sequence of three emails as a mini-launch. The first email could go out a week before the webinar, the second one four days prior, and the last one on the day before the webinar.
  • Use social media to keep the buzz going. Don’t forget to use social media to let people know about the webinar. And reach out to other bloggers to let them know about the event too.

Build some buzz so people line up to watch.

Another fantastic way to build buzz is to write a guest post on a popular blog covering a related topic and announce your webinar in the author byline. This takes some effort and planning but could have a huge impact on the number of attendees.

In general, you can expect about 25 percent of those who have registered to actually attend. To boost that number, send out an email just before you start the webinar to people who’ve registered.

It’s Time to Join the Ranks of the Webinar Pros

If you’re serious about becoming an authority; and want more traffic and subscribers, webinars are an opportunity you can no longer ignore.

You might think webinars are scary and costly, but the arrival of Google Hangouts on Air means that with a little practice you can run slick, successful webinars at zero cost.

But the big question is: will you take action?

Because let’s face it, most people don’t; taking action requires grit.

So they stay hidden in the background, just another wannabe blogger who’s too meek to truly connect with their audience.

But that’s not you, right?

Because you’ll take the steps laid out in this post and put them into action.

You know this is your chance to finally rise above the mass of wannabe bloggers.

So grab it.

Use it.

Enjoy the attention and become a true authority!

About the Author: Mary Jaksch is best known for her exceptional training for writers at WritetoDone.com — where you can grab a copy of her free report, How to Create an Irresistible Lead Magnet in Less Than 5 Hours. In her “spare” time, Mary’s also the brains behind AlistBlogging.net. and GoodlifeZEN.com, a Zen Master, a mother, and a 4th Degree Black Belt.

107 Comments

  1. Noufal Binu
    May 29, 2014 @ 11:25:52

    Mary, Thanks for sharing a Superb Article About How run first webinar. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups thanks once again.

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 15:44:49

      Hey Noufal, thanks for your encouraging comment!

      • MSI Sakib
        Jun 04, 2014 @ 14:37:56

        Hi Mary Jaksch,
        Along with Noufal Binu I am waiting too.

  2. Zoe Uwem
    May 29, 2014 @ 11:27:09

    Really great post, Jon and Mary.

    Webinars could be scary at times but are worth trying when looking at the benefits.

    I look forward to hosting my first webinar soon.

    Thank you for the information.

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 15:49:38

      Hi Zoe, I’m excited that you’re planning to run your first webinar soon! When you do, you’ll learn something beyond all the benefits: just being you is enough! You don’t have to be like anyone else to be successful online.

  3. Fabienne Raphaël
    May 29, 2014 @ 11:29:48

    This is great and useful information here Mary. I think one of the most important piece of your webinar should be « picking a good topic ». The best way to do that is to find what the top 3 problems and goals of your target market are. After that find the most timely and relevant events going on in their life, their businesses, etc. at this time. Then you can tie these elements into your webinar.

    For example, if you are in the fitness business, you know your audience is interested in weight loss. So you decide to present a webinar with this topic : « How To Lose 10 Pounds In 20 Days ». In the beginning of January, you are pretty sure that your webinar will succeed. Why ? First, you will provide a solution to a problem (benefits after binging during the holidays) and second, the timing is perfect. You will generate a powerful emotional response.

    No wonder, there is always a special discount in January in every gym on the planet !

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 15:56:44

      That’s a very interesting suggestion, Fabienne. It made me think about creating a webinas on how to tap into the pre-Christmas buying frenzy to make money with your blog.

      Thanks for enriching this discussion!

      • Fabienne Raphaël
        May 30, 2014 @ 08:36:00

        It was my pleasure Mary! In fact, we can definitely use an event or a Holiday to reinforce people’s interest, so they pay extra attention into our webinar. How to tap into the pre-Christmas buying fenzy to make money with your blog is a pretty good idea! Glad I could help!

  4. Coach Comeback
    May 29, 2014 @ 11:31:34

    Hey Mary!!!! How have you been? What an awesome breakdown. Hangouts are brilliant! And you get automatic recordings and they rank EXTREMELY well. So maybe even consider using a Keyword Rich Title for the webinar! I LOVE them. Been doing them for over a year now! And I still learned something new =-) Love your outline on putting together a great webinar people will love! Keeping people engaged is the most crucial part. THANK YOU for the friendly reminder

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 16:07:56

      Great to see you here! And thanks for the tip about using a keyword-rich title for webinars.

      I know you do a lot of podcasts too. What’s your experience of how webinars and podcasts compare in terms of getting traffic and connecting with your audience?

  5. Bobbi Emel
    May 29, 2014 @ 11:39:09

    Hi Mary,
    Wow! This post is just packed with tons of useful information. I haven’t done a webinar yet, but I feel more confident about doing one since you’ve laid out the process so nicely for me! Thanks!

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 16:14:45

      Hey Bobbi, thanks for stopping by! I’d love to be invited to your first webinar. I’ve seen you on video and you have a lovely, warm presence on camera. Just perfect for a webinar 🙂

  6. Kent Sanders
    May 29, 2014 @ 11:50:06

    Mary, thanks so much for this great article. It is packed full of great information. I have been recently doing webinars to promote my Evernote course and have found them to be a lot of fun. It can be a technical challenge at times, but once you get a system down and you become comfortable with everything, it’s no sweat.

    I have used Google HOA’s and also set up a registration page via LeadPages. You don’t need to register to view a hangout, but I’ve found that it’s nice to add people to my mailing list, and also makes it look like a professional deal if they register. Plus, it lets me give them a handout or freebie ahead of time.

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 16:23:27

      Good suggestions, Kent! I too am a fan of Leadpages and use their registration pages in conjunction with WebinarJam or Easy Webinar Plugin.

      I think that’s the next step. I mean, once you’ve got comfortable with using Hangouts on Air, it’s good to step up to creating a more professional webinar – which you’re obviously doing.

  7. Belinda @ Copywrite Matters
    May 29, 2014 @ 11:55:38

    What a fab resource Mary – thank you! I’ve been a presenter on a few webinars but I’ve never run my own. I’m planning some live workshops this year and I’ve just bought WebinarJam as the tool. It looks incredible but the real glory lies with Google + Hangouts.

    One tip I would add (from experience) is getting someone to moderate while you present so you don’t have to get distracted with all the questions coming in – or the tech issues.

    I’m bookmarking this as a checklist – thanks again!

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 16:33:09

      Ah yes, Belinda – it’s a great idea to have a moderator to help you.

      I’ve found the option of turning the chat on and off in WebinarJam very useful. I now only turn the chat on during the actual Q&A, or if I ask a question in the middle of the webinar.

      As to tech issues, I tend to make the webinar go live about 10 minutes before the actual start of the webinar. (I just show a slide, saying that the webinar is going to start in just a few minutes. ) I open the chat and ask people where they are dialling in from, and whether they can hear me clearly. In this way I can be sure all the tech stuff is OK.

  8. Kush Sharma
    May 29, 2014 @ 12:06:52

    Great post! I conducted my first ever webinar when I was working with a company that sold shopping carts. My boss just pushed me in the deep end and I was a nervous wreck. But it turned out to be rather fun and went smooth. With webinars, it’s all about crossing that first bridge.

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 16:40:17

      I like what you say, Kush: “It’s all about crossing that first bridge”. That’s so true! Once you start doing it, running webinars is fun.

  9. Vanessa Marin Sex Therapy
    May 29, 2014 @ 12:42:10

    Great article! I’m wondering if Mary or anyone else here in the comments has input on my particular situation. I’m a sex therapist, and I do online coaching and educational programs. I use Hangouts all the time and would love to do a webinar, but I’m concerned that the private nature of my work would dissuade people from signing up for a webinar. In the past, I’ve done teleseminars, which seem to work fine, but I would love to move into the webinar format. Any tips or techniques for ensuring privacy via webinars? I would want participants to feel confident that their names, profile pictures, etc wouldn’t show up. Thanks in advance!

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 16:49:38

      Hi Vanessa, confidentiality is obviously a great concern in your line of work. The point of danger is the chat. To safeguard your participants, I would use professional software, like WebinarJam for two reasons:
      1. It has a chat function people don’t have to sign up to.
      2. Only the presenter or the moderator can appear live on screen.

      I would also add another layer of protection and suggest to people that they sign up to your webinar with a pseudonym, and not their real name.

      In this way you can guarantee anonymity (and you would have to spell that out for your peeps)

  10. Laura Christianson
    May 29, 2014 @ 12:46:07

    Love the step-by-step instructions. People often ask me to do webinars to enhance the in-person teaching I do, but I’ve hesitated because it seems like a monumental task. Your article breaks it down into doable steps.

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 16:50:39

      Oh good! I’m glad this post has helped you see how to climb the mountain by just putting one foot in front of the other, Laura.

  11. Mi Muba
    May 29, 2014 @ 13:22:15

    Amazing tutorial on how to organize a webinar. It is not only useful for selling products but also for raising public awareness and advocacy building. So it is equally great for all types of niche where one sells products, ideas or services whatever.
    One must be clear before organizing a webinar on its objectives. If he just deliver like he does by publishing another post then it won’t bring desired results.
    Secondly people expect more from webinar than the normal post or video. They want to take full benefit of its interactive part. That is why its organizers must be fully equipped with all necessary tools required to conduct it and must have thorough homework on its topic as well.
    Thanks a lot for sharing such a wonderful post-cum-tutorial that will really help many many bloggers who have assumed it very techie and didn’t try it so far.

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 16:55:23

      Thanks for the reminder that webinars can be usefuls tools for raising public awareness, Mi. And yes, homework is important. I think utilising a successful blog post topic is a great start. Just think of everything we leave out of a thorough post in order to trim it down to a manageable length…

  12. Leanne Regalla
    May 29, 2014 @ 13:23:56

    Very nice, Mary! I’ll be returning to this for sure.
    I would add that even with this guide, always expect the unexpected. There are all kinds of little surprises and glitches that come up during HOA. It took me about 4 tries to finally feel even remotely competent, although my previous attempts were successful to a point.
    Great advice about the camera placement. I’d also check the lighting. During my first webinar, I put on only my usual amount of makeup, but I looked like a circus clown because of the lighting! And at that time I couldn’t get a slide to show up to hide my face!
    Fun, fun, fun… 😉
    But still, the best and easiest way by far to get started.

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 17:00:40

      Ha, ha – I loved your remark about the “clown look”, Leanne.
      Thanks for bringing up the topic of lighting. It’s important to use LOTS of light. Professional lighting gear is great, but you can also make do with using anything you and lay hands on at home. For example, you can use desk lamps, uplighter, and so on.

      And of course natural light as well!

      A good way to think of light is that the face looks best if you have two light source, each at a 45 degree angle.

      What’s your tip about lighting, Leanne?

      • Leanne Regalla
        May 29, 2014 @ 21:54:40

        Well, I’m not that sophisticated yet… but I’m fortunate to have good natural light in my office during the day. I just use a corner that’s opposite the windows and lit nicely. The window was beside and behind me during the first webinar and that’s what made the horrible contrasts. 😉
        Nighttime is more difficult. I need to work on lamp placement – I’ll try the 45 degree angle on either side that you suggest, and some brighter bulbs.
        Downloaded your trouble shooting guide – thanks for this!

      • Bree
        May 30, 2014 @ 01:23:45

        FYI, I interviewed a YouTuber for my free email giveaways, and he suggested going to Ikea and buying their cheap Chinese lanterns. Apparently they give off the perfect amount of ambient lighting!

  13. Stacie Walker
    May 29, 2014 @ 14:29:02

    Amazing post! Thanks for providing simple guidelines and tips to create an outstanding webinar.

    Best,
    Stacie Walker

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 17:01:07

      Thanks Stacy, I appreciate your positive attitude.

  14. Kerry Brind
    May 29, 2014 @ 14:50:06

    Thank you so much for this post Mary, I’m just getting started with my first blog venture and despite yourself and Jon making it look easy I’ve always been convinced that a webinar would be out of my technological and financial reach. You’ve solved both those problems in a single post and in a way that even I understand! My new favourite post for 2014!

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 18:16:31

      Thanks for your positive feedback, Kerry!

  15. Peter Kanayo
    May 29, 2014 @ 15:29:24

    Mary, you really delivered value. So nice of you sharing this info for free.
    Will certainly come back to this post when I want to host a webinar.

    The article has really made a bit more easier

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 18:20:26

      Yes, everything looks daunting when you first start out, doesn’t it? Once you can see that it’s a sequence of steps – and that you only need to get to the next one – a pathway opens up that you can follow.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Peter.

  16. Gary Korisko
    May 29, 2014 @ 17:34:45

    Wow, Mary. Exceptional.

    At the beginning, I was thinking I’d ask a few questions in the comments, but after that thorough rundown I no longer have any. Great stuff. Thanks!

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 18:26:30

      Good to see you here, Gary!

      When I write a how-to post, my most pressing concern is, ‘Have I left crucial information out?”

      I’ve so often read instructions that suddenly jump from step 2 to step 5 and I think, ‘WHOA! How the heck did we get here?’

      I’m glad you liked the post 🙂

  17. Aaron Baldassare
    May 29, 2014 @ 18:01:30

    This is a truly remarkable article.

    Extremely helpful, very thorough, and that’s a fantastic headline. This is exactly what I was looking for!

    Bookmarked, shared, evernoted, sent to kindle. Thank you so much for putting this together, Mary.

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 29, 2014 @ 18:28:21

      Thanks for sharing this post so thoroughly on social media, Aaron!

  18. Flora Morris Brown
    May 29, 2014 @ 19:24:16

    Hi Mary,

    Thanks for patiently rolling out the details for hosting a successful Google Hangout. I remember the A-List Blogging training course, and am so happy you persevered through the glitches to continue to offer quality content and training.

    Although I’ve felt confident giving the PowerPoint-style webinars before, I am shy about adding and managing the on-the-camera component. I’ve watched many Hangouts since they arrived on the scene and almost all of the presenters struggled with glitches. With your clear explanation I’m encouraged to give Hangouts a try, with lots of practice to start of course.

    Thanks again.

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 30, 2014 @ 01:15:40

      Hey Flora, great to see you here!
      Using live camera on webinars is actually pretty straight forward. Make sure you download my trouble-shooting guide (the link is in the post above). That’ll save you a lot of stress.

      You can also use it for a checklist to see that you’ve got all the settings right. It’s a good idea to start the hangout early (maybe even a whole hour early). It won’t go live before you press the big green button, and you can check all your settings and make sure your presentation is ready to go, etc.

      I do suggest, however, that you consider using WebinarJam or Easy Video Plugin if you can spare the cash. It’s so, so much easier to run webinars with these two software options!

      • Flora Morris Brown
        May 30, 2014 @ 18:54:28

        Thanks again for the reminders and the tip to use Easy Video Plugin which I already own, but just haven’t used yet.

        I’m back up to be sure I got the troubleshooting guide.

  19. Janet Scarborough Civitelli
    May 29, 2014 @ 19:27:45

    What a well-done and generous article! As soon as many of us hear “run a webinar,” we feel overwhelmed. This article gives me hope not only for myself but for all my clients who routinely tell me they want to gain competence with webinars. Thank you, Mary! I’m off to share this on all my social media platforms.

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 30, 2014 @ 01:17:23

      Hi Janet, thanks for the lovely comment! I’m glad the post will make things easier for you.

  20. Sharon Smoot
    May 29, 2014 @ 19:54:46

    Thanks so much for sharing this very useful information. I will be sharing this post immediately!

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 30, 2014 @ 01:22:48

      Thanks for the shout-out, Pooja!

  21. Pooja
    May 29, 2014 @ 20:34:36

    Mary,

    Thank you for the detailed post. I must admit, I’ve screwed up on a webinar before because of the exact same reason — lack of practice! I actually used HOA, but had no clue what I was doing.

    You’re right, it can seem daunting but if you do a trial beforehand, you should be fine.

    Pooja

  22. Kate (Daily Tarot Girl)
    May 29, 2014 @ 20:43:06

    This was a very timely article for me – its like you read my mind! Thank you for writing this in such an easy to understand way. I was wondering – is there any way to interact with webinar participants using Google hangouts (without buying one of the plugins)?

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 30, 2014 @ 01:42:14

      Yes, Kate, there is a Hangouts chat app you can use. If you start a HOA, move your mouse to the left to see the options. You’ll see a Q&A app. Click to activate it.

      This app will ensure that a chatbox opens on the right hand side. The only concern is that you can only turn it on or off before you broadcast live. You can’t open or close it on the fly.

  23. Monty Campbell
    May 29, 2014 @ 22:29:52

    Thanks Mary for such an informative and detailed post. I’m in the process of creating my first webinar to promote my blog’s message of achieving financial freedom. Your post has given me some great ideas and tools to use. I really like the tip about positioning the camera at eye-level and your thorough explanation of Hangouts. Great article!

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 30, 2014 @ 01:44:21

      Thanks, Monty. It amazes me how many people get the camera placement wrong! Once you know the secret, it’s so easy to adjust.

      I’m excited that you’re in the process of creating your first webinar … WOOHOO!

  24. Bree
    May 30, 2014 @ 01:26:33

    Like Kate at Daily Tarot Girl said, did you read my mind? I’ve been thinking a lot about webinars, too. 🙂

    I’ve been debating doing one to get subscribers to my blog, but BEFORE it launches. Do you think this is a good way to use a webinar, or is it best to save them for when your blog’s already launched?

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 30, 2014 @ 01:48:26

      That a very interesting question, Bree.

      I think creating a webinar is a great way to collect subscribers – even before you launch your blog. Just make sure that people enter their email addresses when they register.

      You’ll need to create a Youtube account for your webinar. Make sure it has the same name as your proposed blog. In this way you are already creating an ‘outpost’ of your blog.

      • Bree
        May 30, 2014 @ 01:58:13

        I already have a YouTube account attached to my Google account, which I’m going to stick with and just create a playlist for all my blog’s videos and related hangouts. I realize keeping these under a YouTube account with my blog name may help brand it better; however, I want to start making web series and videos myself some day, using my name. That’d mean I’d have to manage two different YouTube accounts.

        Philip DeFranco (a YouTuber I greatly admire) once discussed how dangerous it is to try to manage several YouTube accounts when you’re trying to build your platform, and he suggests staying on one account until you’ve hit 100,000 subscribers. Then you can justify “fragmenting” your audience.

  25. Gregory
    May 30, 2014 @ 03:52:29

    I enjoyed reading your perspective. I started using the Google Hangout feature a few months ago. This is a different animal in the process. There is no camera or person ,but a “ding” to tell you you’re live and one has to get used to a different style of presenting.

  26. Bryan Collins
    May 30, 2014 @ 05:40:51

    Interesting post Mary. Can you tell me what volume or traffic or how many subscribers you need before considering webinars?

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 30, 2014 @ 15:59:24

      Think of webinars as a good way to get more subscribers. You can start as soon as you hit 100 subscribers. You may not get many people to your webinar, but you can ask them to invite their friends and also spread the word in social media.

  27. Dee
    May 30, 2014 @ 05:54:20

    Great article. I feel quite motivated now. I was and still am a bit scared but part of the issue for me was what content should I be using for a webinar. Your tip about converting a popular post into a Webinar is awesome. Why did I not think of that!
    Thanks again!

  28. Shane Arthur
    May 30, 2014 @ 11:01:45

    @Mary: Bookmarked! Thank you.

    And I especially like how you mentioned the rough start you had with these. I can better relate to someone who had to work through speed bumps on the road to mastery.

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 30, 2014 @ 16:00:59

      Thanks for your comment, Shane. It’s come just at the right time as I’m planning to write an article for Writetodone about how to write about yourself by telling your ‘failure’ stories.

  29. Keith Gilmore
    May 30, 2014 @ 14:31:10

    About 6 months ago I wrote up a webinar template for clients to follow, but after going through this – I realize I left a number of important points out. This is fantastic – you’ve really thought of everything! I’ll be sure to mention you when revising it. Thanks so much Jon!

    • Mary Jaksch
      May 30, 2014 @ 16:02:16

      Hey Keith, I’m glad this post has helped you!

  30. Susan Jones
    May 31, 2014 @ 08:03:38

    Thanks for a very thorough post Mary. I’m just about to use Google Hangouts to do a webinar to launch my first product and also to run regular Q&A Office Hours, so it was very timely for me.

    I love what you can do with HOA. I am really impressed with how Copyblogger is using it and how professional and fun their HOA broadcasts are.

    • Mary Jaksch
      Jun 03, 2014 @ 02:56:47

      Yes, I love HOA too! I had some terrible experiences with GotoWebinar – they taught me what absolutely NOT to do if you want to have a good relationship with your clients…

      Thanks for the heads-up about Copyblogger

  31. Ahmed Aljonaid
    May 31, 2014 @ 12:10:11

    Perfect timing. I am about to start my first webinar very soon.
    My favorite part was “How to Design a Webinar to Engage Your Audience from Beginning to End”. Of course everything else in the article was amazingly useful but that part was what I really needed to learn.

    Thank you very much.

    • Mary Jaksch
      Jun 03, 2014 @ 02:57:30

      Hi Ahmed, I’m glad it the post was helpful for you 🙂

  32. Riaz Shah
    Jun 01, 2014 @ 00:28:33

    Wow this is great, thanks for taking the time to write this all down, Mary. I’m new to blogging and planning to start using hangout soon 🙂

  33. Peggy Nolan
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 20:03:06

    Hi Mary – thank you for this jam packed info blog post! I’m printing this out because your directions are super clear. I’m not afraid of doing a webinar I just didn’t know “how” to run one! Now, I may have a few articles that are worthy of a deeper dive in the form of a webinar and with your instructions, this should be pretty much idiot proof 🙂 THANK YOU!

    • Mary Jaksch
      Jun 03, 2014 @ 03:07:52

      Oh, good! I look forward to getting an invitation to one of your webinars. Don’t forget to download the trouble-shooting guide, Peggy! I always take a quick look at it before I start a webinar.

      One of the most important tips is to use an Ethernet cable to connect your laptop or computer to your modem. Don’t use Wifi! It can fluctuate (and you can be dropped from your webinar … OUCH).

  34. Patrick Wong
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 03:45:04

    Thanks for the very detailed post, Mary. I’m not ready to host a webinar yet but I’m now equipped with the knowledge from your post. I’ve bookmarked this.

    • Mary Jaksch
      Jun 03, 2014 @ 04:02:53

      I don’t think anyone feels ‘ready’ to do their first webinar, Patrick. A great way to ease into it is to invite friends to a getogether on HOA.

  35. maximyou.com
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 11:10:55

    Thanks for this very complete guide! There are many similarities in public speaking and webinars – makes all the more sense to do ’em.

    • Mary Jaksch
      Jun 03, 2014 @ 15:34:03

      Ah yes, that’s very true. But it’s much easier than public speaking because you don’t feel the eyes upon you.

      I’ve actually joined Toastmasters to hone my public speaking. I’m enjoying it very much!

  36. Anna
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 22:10:32

    Thank you so much, Mary! An EPIC post. It is too early for me to host a webinar but at least I know how to. Incredible amount of info! Thanks again!

  37. donna merrill
    Jun 18, 2014 @ 13:12:07

    Hi Mary,

    What great advice! You have not only given a step-by-step way to do a webinar on a Google Hangout, but you have also explained the importance of it. I have been doing it myself. Yes, it scared the heck out of me! But then I thought of those expensive webinars I had paid for and how many times there were technical difficulties. How many times the speaker (a guru of shorts) didn’t have a knack of speaking well….like a long drawn out monotone voice.

    Then I dawned on me…I can do that too. Just the other day on a Q & A, I had technical difficulties. We were standing in front of the computer and had a slide share all ready. But we forgot to press that button, so our guests seen hubby and I run around the office. No worries….We all had a good laugh!

    If one is blogging, one needs to be getting out there face to face with their audience even if things do go wrong.

    Thanks for this lovely message, I will pass it along to my blogging buddies!

    -Donna

  38. Suraj Chavan
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 13:17:21

    This is a very nice article which are seeing by me.
    I am enjoying to reading your article very much.
    Very helpful for No Tension giving bloggers.

  39. Apon
    Jun 28, 2014 @ 02:59:49

    This is very good thing (webinar).

  40. Suraj Chavan
    Jun 28, 2014 @ 23:43:06

    This is very nice article and very nice Blog to see.

  41. Tiffany Rashel
    Jul 07, 2014 @ 20:02:22

    Thank you Mary for this Uber informative blog. I am not a blogger, but I coach on image. branding and connection and have previously done a series of vlogs. I have often advised my clients about preparing for webinars, but have yet to do one myself. I am planning a conference in LA in October and have been considering a webinar as a good lead-in for my event. The tips that you gave have made it easier and not so overwhelming to plan an event and a webinar simultaneously. It also is a great reminder that being “out front” is always going to prove more effective to our intended audience.
    Thank you

  42. Sanjay Sajeev
    Sep 05, 2014 @ 08:08:06

    Hi, mary. I’m a new baby in online business. So that my knowledge regarding it is limited. The information above added to my knowledge and also boost up my confidence to host a webinar. Thank you for sharing this huge article.

  43. Julie Jamison
    Nov 27, 2014 @ 10:43:55

    Thanks sooooo much for this post! I’ve been thinking about doing webinars, but the thought of actually doing it scares the crap out of me, but now with you easy step by step tips, I’m all up for it!

    thanks so much again!

  44. Marielle
    Feb 24, 2015 @ 09:10:08

    This was so helpful! Thank you very much. Quick question–what is the best way to improve your video quality for webinars?

    • Mary Jaksch
      Jul 22, 2016 @ 14:48:31

      One of the simplest ways to improve the quality is to use plenty of light. If you don’t have professional lighting, use any lights in your home and point them at your face.

      If you are running your webinar in daylight, sit directly by the window AND use lights.

  45. Krin
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 20:42:06

    You answered every question I had to help people start walking.
    Thank You

  46. Swayam Prakash
    Jul 21, 2016 @ 12:31:39

    Awesome post! Before that I never decided to manage a webinar but now I must start one. I continuously see Neil Patel talking about webinars but I didn’t know what’s that, now I got it. so very thanks for sharing.

  47. Mary Jaksch
    Jul 22, 2016 @ 14:55:40

    Hi Hiren, you are obviously championing R-HUB. I looked closely at this product but discarded it because it’s pricey and clunky.

    • Mary Jaksch
      Jul 22, 2016 @ 14:58:03

      Forgot to say, I would hate my product to be in a lineup of so-called ‘quality web conferencing tools’ like Webex, and GotoWebinar- two outdated systems that people are fleeing from in droves…

  48. AdeKunle @ BillBlogger
    Jul 23, 2016 @ 05:44:30

    Your simple explanation about webinar is motivating. I’ve always thought of doing it but good to know you can start with low budget.

  49. Ravi Roshan Jaiswal
    Jul 28, 2016 @ 08:38:26

    Hey Mary,

    It’s a matter of great happiness to me because, you have informed very well to run a first webinar. It became easy for me to run it after reading your encouraging post.

    You are absolutely right that Webinar could be scary for everyone first time but reading your post it will be easy to run it. You have instructed very well and hope it will be easy for everyone to run first time.

    Often, I see Neil Patel talking about webinar in online marketing. Now it comes to my mind that it is really useful in online marketing. You writing style on webinar is motivating me and I am looking forward to use this as soon as possible. I have learned about beautiful thing today.
    Thanks for sharing.
    – Ravi.

  50. Lets Develop
    Jul 28, 2016 @ 14:59:44

    Thanks for sharing this amazing article i have been following your tips.

  51. Salman Noorani
    Aug 03, 2016 @ 00:07:38

    Epic and really amazing post. I’ll implement all the tips for my first webinar in future. :p
    Thanks for sharing!

  52. Rakesh
    Aug 07, 2016 @ 10:16:07

    Really great post…..

  53. Sara Williams
    Aug 12, 2016 @ 13:17:33

    Hi Mary,
    Wow! This post is just packed with tons of useful information. I haven’t done a webinar yet, but I feel more confident about doing one since you’ve laid out the process so nicely for me! Thanks!

  54. Nicoli Redmayne
    Aug 13, 2016 @ 00:53:31

    I have one question though. How do you ensure that your webinar participants are engaged? I’ve run a few webinars and each time I badly missed feedback from the audience. It was as if I was talking to the “wall”. I had no idea if I was nailing it or screwing up.

  55. Kim Orr
    Aug 13, 2016 @ 12:58:35

    Wow Mary! What a thorough and thoughtful post! This is a keeper. Your point about practice is so important. For those who have taken webinars but not yet given them, they may look easy. Just like a world class athlete makes it looks easy — so that we think we can do it just like that too, until we try to run the 100 meters at home. Think of all of the practice that goes into Olympic performance!

    It’s wonderful that you cover things right down to the camera angle. I would add two things for beginners: background noise and visual. If the camera has a wider angle then people will see what is behind or to the sides of your face. That needs to be something that is not distracting — doesn’t detract from your face.

    Same thing for your voice — background noises (fans running, water running, dogs barking) will also distract the viewers and they may get more interested in what kind of dog or cat it is than what you are saying.

    Also keep pets from jumping into the picture. That can be charming on the one hand, but also distracting.

    Thanks again for sharing these great tips.

  56. Sunaina Rajpoot
    Aug 16, 2016 @ 01:44:40

    Hi Mary,
    this is awesome… especially as this is the next step for me. Looking forward to the webinar next week. Thanks…
    Regards: Sunaina Rajpoot

  57. Nagesh K Bansal
    Aug 17, 2016 @ 00:40:12

    Nice Info for all beginners like myself. Thanks

  58. Timmy Brain
    Aug 19, 2016 @ 20:22:31

    I’d been of the opinion that webinars are for the “WEB- Intelligent NARrators” and not for start-up hustling blogger like me, so I nurture nor doodle about it.

    But…

    Your piece is an eye openner, my first webinar should be live in few days through the provision of this post. Thanks!

  59. Timmy Brain
    Aug 19, 2016 @ 20:27:59

    Thanks Mary,

    You just gave me the sword to slay one of my most feared gaint. Now I can stage webinars to connect more with my readers.

  60. David Clark
    Aug 26, 2016 @ 18:17:03

    I’ve been a little afraid of a live webinar. This helps relieve some of the anxiety. Thanks for the helpful tips.

  61. Feeha Batool
    Sep 04, 2016 @ 02:10:11

    Hello, Mary.
    Thanks for your nice piece of information i was not use to webinar and not comfortable using it. But know i am excited to explore it all over again thanks for your help.
    Your truly: Feeha Batool

  62. salman noorani
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 09:56:06

    Awesome post… love the way you write.

  63. Nanette
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 20:05:54

    This is great, only problem is Google Hangout on air will be stopped September 12, 2016

  64. Lance
    Sep 09, 2016 @ 02:08:28

    Incredibly useful information, Mary. This was exactly what I was looking for today. Webinars are unique in that not only are they capable of reaching an audience as wide as the Internet, they offer an opportunity like no other to build credibility.

  65. Search Marketing
    Sep 09, 2016 @ 14:05:27

    Excellent Article. I am planning my first webinar for a local group to teach SEO in a few weeks. It looks like google is moving everything from hangouts to Youtube Live next week.

  66. Emilie
    Sep 17, 2016 @ 09:22:53

    Hi Mary!
    thank you for this article full of practical explanations and encouragements!
    I have a question: I would like to keep my webinar “private” (to reserve it to some people), but you explained that it is automatically shared on youtube, how can I do?
    thank you!

    • Mary Jaksch
      Sep 17, 2016 @ 13:33:23

      Hi Emilie, thanks for your question. You can set your Youtube video to ‘private’.

      • Emilie
        Sep 17, 2016 @ 16:07:53

        thank you Mary!

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