If you’re an online course creator or sell digital info products, you’ve probably considering adding webinars to your sales process. After all, webinars are a great way to showcase your knowledge, connect with audiences in real time, let your personality shine through, and share your offer in a conversational way.
What’s not to love? Well … the cost of webinar software! No joke, my webinar solution for Love at First Search runs me about $700/year. I’m able to offset the cost with consistent sales from live & evergreen webinars … but if you’re just starting out with webinars, you don’t want to shell out that kind of coin!
So in this article, I’m sharing my favorite free, low(ish)-cost and premium ways to connect with your audience through webinars … and also the best tool for sharing pre-recorded, on-demand webinars.
A free way to get started with webinars: YouTube Live
If you’re just getting started with running webinars, I suggest running a YouTube Live. It has the same vibe as a live webinar — you show up live, share your knowledge & ways to work with you, and people can interact with you live in the chat box to get their questions answered — for free.
You can start a YouTube channel for free with a Google account, and then when you’re ready, you can choose to “upload video” or “go live.” Similar to Facebook, you can go live immediately, or you can pre-schedule a stream in advance:
Once you’ve got your YouTube live scheduled, you can set the link to “private” and share it with your audience so that they can come join you at a specific time, but it won’t be broadcast to the public at large … or you can set it to public and maybe get some new viewers you weren’t expecting!
A few workarounds for YouTube Live as a webinar platform:
- Registrations: There is no “registration” mechanism for a private stream … but you could set-up a landing page to register for the webinar & then share the private link after they’ve shared their email address
- Screen sharing: Typically a huge part of webinar presentations is having a slide deck, which isn’t possible directly through the YouTube live platform. I get around this by using OBS (Open Broadcaster Software: a free, open-source software to record video and stream to multiple locations)
- Tracking participants: While you can’t get a list of exactly who attended the training and for how long, you’ll still get data using YouTube Analytics, so can see in general when people joined and when they dropped off. (Might give you a good idea about which topics or slides are a turn-off to your audience!)
Low-cost webinar tool: Zoom
I’m writing this in 2020 so Zoom has become an integrated part of our society in unexpected ways — baby showers, classrooms, and family reunions all happened on Zoom this year, and most of our meetings have gone online too (and still drag on just as long as the in-person versions, but without the free coffee).
Zoom can also function as a training space, both in its “meeting/room” version and it’s official “webinar” software.
I ran my first webinar in 2014 using a regular a Zoom room (the $15/mo plan), without any of the fancy bells & whistles of the “webinar” level. I changed the room settings to put participants on Mute, shared my slides and got to work.
When to upgrade to Zoom Webinar
As my business grew and I kept doing webinars, the regular Zoom Room became a frustration. Expecting 100 people to mute themselves, getting distracted by their faces popping on and off the screen, and trying to manage registrations in my email software got to be too much. But I wasn’t quite ready to drop hundreds of bucks on a webinar solution yet.
So whenever I had a big webinar coming up, I would upgrade to “Zoom webinars” for $40/mo, run a few webinars, then cancel the webinar plan when I wasn’t in “launch mode.” It felt smarter to upgrade when I needed it than to shell out $400 for an annual plan, when webinars weren’t a monthly event for me. It was a good test run to make sure that I actually like teaching and selling with webinars!
Pros of the Zoom Webinar software
- People are already super familiar with Zoom, and probably already have the software installed on their computers, so the technology isn’t intimidating for users
- Similarly, I spend so much time on Zoom that things like screensharing feel second nature. The UX is really easy to work with.
- Registration is easy, and works really well with my email provider ConvertKit, and includes registration pages that are easy to share
Cons of Zoom Webinar platform
- It’s not super easy to share handouts, polls, or links in the way that other software has built-in.
- Their “on-demand” webinar replays are a little lame and not very customizable. Just the video on a plain white background.
- Their Analytics are lacking — only basic data about watch time, not about engagement or clicks.
- Zoom was built to be a meeting software, not a marketing tool. The webinars are good, but feel like an afterthought, not the main driving purpose of the software. And it feels that way.
Zoom Webinars are fine. Adequate. Acceptable. But also? There’s nothing about them that lights me up and makes me feel excited about teaching or selling. It just feels like another Zoom meeting, in a day full of Zoom meetings.
My favorite webinar tool: Demio!
I agonized over this decision, testing out not just Zoom Webinar, but also WebinarJam, Easy Webinar, and Everwebinar, and eventually I became a believer in Demio (and I have the t-shirt to prove my loyalty).
How do I love Demio? Let me count the ways:
- Very few tech glitches — I had major delays & registration problems with other softwares.
- Integrates really well with both ConvertKit & Thrivecart, two of my faves.
- Easy registration page set-up which is super customizable, or I can quickly embed registration into a landing page.
- Makes it really easy to share links, handouts & polls in the chat box.
- Users can easily sign up for different sessions or a series of trainings with one click.
- Demio can send automated reminders on your behalf (also customizable), with each user getting their own unique tracking link.
- On-demand webinars are a cinch to set up, whether I use a live recording or record specifically for evergreen.
- Analytics are detailed & helpful — info about who clicked links, how engaged people were in the chat, when they dropped off, etc.
- Happens right in the browser window (Chrome, Mozilla, etc), without needing to download additional software (I’m lookin at you, Gotowebinar)
- When I do have a problem (rarely), their live chat support is awesome
Poby’s Nerfect! Downsides of Demio:
- No option to embed the feed on another page & direct people there.
- Replays can take a while to process … usually about as long as the training.
- Fairly small room size (50 live viewers) on the lowest price plan ($34/mo)
- When you’re sharing your screen, your face is really small.
- The price — I run evergreen webinars, so I need the middle plan, which runs me $831/year! 😲 It’s a worthwhile investment for me because 1 evergreen sale offsets more than my monthly fee, but it’s a lot to swallow
On the whole I’m incredibly happy with Demio and won’t be moving any time soon. Get a free 14-day trial here!
(Psssst: That’s an affiliate link, so if you sign up I’ll get a small commission … but I would continue using & promoting Demio, even without that sweet cash, because I honestly believe it’s the best option on the market.)