Have you thought about running your own virtual summit?
Imagine creating an event where you bring together incredible speakers from around the world to offer up a ton of value, make amazing sales, create incredible connections, get wonderful feedback, increase your credibility and influence, and massively grow your list. With a virtual summit, all of this is possible.
In May 2021 I hosted my first ever summit called the Monetise You Virtual Summit.
It was such an incredible experience that grew my email list, made a ton of sales, and was totally profitable!
In short, it delivered more value than I ever thought possible – and not just to me. To the speakers, the participants, and my team too.
I’m now a BIG fan of Virtual Summits and in this blog post, I want to pull back the covers on all the learnings and results that came from running my first ever virtual summit.
The Monetise You Virtual Summit Goals and Results
Held from 25-27 May, the Monetise You Virtual Summit had one overarching goal: to show female entrepreneurs ten ways they can 10x their income, simply by being them.
As you well know, more women charging what they’re worth, and making more money in their business is what creates a better economy and world for us, because when women succeed, everyone wins.
My personal mission is to help 1,000 women earn $10K a month or more and contribute at least 1% of their income to charities and causes they care most about that help lift up girls and women, and in doing so create a ripple effect in their lives.
My team and I wanted to put something together that had as much value as possible, but was also full of ease, grace, and flow, for us, the organisers.
We split our goals into two categories:
Big Virtual Summit Goals
I had some BIG goals that I set for my team and myself before we started putting together our summit collateral. I knew, for sure, that this was what I wanted (but really had no idea what was possible, given I’d never run a virtual summit before):
- To leave a lasting impact in women’s lives and show them what’s possible
- To grow our email list by 2,000 registrations for the summit.
- To be profitable!!!
- To sell 100+ All Access Passes (5% conversion rate)
- To generate revenue of approx $10K
- To gain at least 20 new $10K Club members as upsells
Goals We’d be Happy With for the Virtual Summit
I also knew that I didn’t want to put so much pressure on everyone that this became all work and no play. So, I had a list of goals that I would be happy with. For me, the MAIN goal was for us all to learn, to grow and to have fun.
- To leave a lasting impact in women’s lives and show them what’s possible
- To grow our email list by 1,000 registrations for the summit.
- To be profitable!!!
- To sell 50+ All Access Passes (2% conversion rate)
- To generate revenue of approx $5K
- To gain at least 8 new $10K Club members as upsells
How did we do?
FINAL Results for the Virtual Summit:
When I sat down to review everything and to debrief the team, I was THRILLED. Almost every single one of my big summit goals had been reached, if not surpassed.
- 1030 Registered for the Virtual Summit
- 40% conversion rate on the virtual summit homepage!
- 102 VIP + All Access passes ( 43 VIP + 59 All Access)
- A conversion rate of 9.7%
- 460 people joined the Facebook group
- 7 new members to $10K Club
- Total revenue = $21,868 in revenue
- Profit: $17, 513
I really think that we were able to do this because there was such an emphasis on ease, grace, and flow during this whole experience, and because it all looked and was run so professionally – we got a lot of feedback on that front.
We learned so much putting this summit together, and I know that the next one is going to rip the roof off of everything we did this time around!
Our Big Audacious Plans for our Virtual Summit
Before I even started getting in touch with potential speakers, I put together a document that outlined the methods we would use to create the virtual summit. I’d love to share some of that because it really helped us to stay focused on the tasks at hand.
We didn’t end up doing all of these, but having the ideas in front of us every single day kept us on course and ensured we were focused on exactly what we needed to do to make the virtual summit a success for everyone: for the attendees, the speakers, and for my team.
How to make this a great experience for attendees:
- Instead of scheduling sessions, allow people to see all daily sessions at once (they don’t waste time, but probably also show up for fewer sessions)
Engagement efforts throughout promo period in the dedicated Facebook group
- 1-2 posts a day – variety (1. about them, 2. about summit topics 3. about summit speakers 4. just for fun) 8 days before event starts
- Daily live session with me in group to recap and answer questions
- Daily giveaway
- Kick-off party
Networking sessions for the Virtual Summit
- Included in our VIP All-Access pass we had two peer-to-peer networking sessions, where participants could meet, chat, connect and learn. We did one before the virtual summit went live and one afterwards.
- This was a great tip from Krista Miller, host of Summit in a Box, and if you haven’t checked it out you should right here! She kept it simple: using Zoom’s breakout room feature. So everyone got on a Zoom call and I could break them up into rooms of like 5ish people and they could all network for 20-30 minutes before I switched them around to different rooms. I included a couple pages of conversation prompts to help any awkwardness. They LOVED it.
During the Virtual Summit
- Daily Bingo card (prizes) or daily checklist with an option to reward with completion points
- Speakers available in Facebook group for questions immediately after their session for 30 minutes and encouraged to check back in
- Announcements of the sessions, intro for the day; discussion threads
How to make this a great experience for speakers in the virtual summit
- Have a clear outline of all the important details, dates, links, etc. (PDF or webpage)
- Check-in regularly, keep them up to date (but not too often)
- Welcome pack (onboarding)
- Make it as fun as possible for them to be part of
- Post-summit recap and thank you
- Give great incentives to be an affiliate but don’t require it
How to create a juicy no-brainer Upsell offer
- Speakers’ contributions (value $50-$200 – courses, templates, downloads, trials…)
- Live workshop with you
- Sponsors offers (discounts, trials)
- $10K Club limited-time membership offer
The document also included our design ideas, and once the summit was over, we put in the email and social media stats.
These are all shared toward the end of this post and also on this juicy behind the scenes of my first virtual summit podcast, if you prefer listening in.
Our tools used For the Virtual Summit:
Here are all the incredible tools we used to make this summit happen:
Why host a Virtual Summit?
First, let’s dive into why you should host a virtual summit. What can it give you?
A virtual summit is a fantastic way of bringing in revenue, growing your list and establishing yourself as a thought leader.
A virtual summit is when a panel of guests or experts are interviewed by a host. It’s a collaborative experience and it’s designed to educate people about specific topics.
When you do it properly, you can attract hundreds, if not thousands, of people into your community, who may have never heard about you, to learn from you and your chosen experts. They don’t have to travel or book hotels so the possibility for reach is massive.
These are all people that you can market to, who will join your list to be part of your summit, and who you can continue to nurture even after the summit is over.
Virtual Summits don’t have to cost a lot of money to produce, because you’re not hiring a conference venue and there’s no catering. If you market your virtual summit well, you can generate quite a bit of revenue.
Done well, it’ll be a win for you, your attendees and your speakers. You get to generate leads. Your speakers will earn new followers, and your attendees will walk away with invaluable information.
In short, summits are a fantastic tool and vehicle for a ton of things:
- Putting out awesome content
- Building really great relationships
- Positioning yourself as a thought leader
- Growing your list to make an income
- Reusing that content to promote and sell
How Do You Plan a Virtual Summit?
There are a lot of things to take into consideration when planning a virtual summit. Questions you should ask yourself are:
- What do you want your summit structure to look like?
- Will you do live interviews or pre-recorded interviews?
- Will you ask your speakers to submit presentations or interview them?
- How many days will your summit run for?
- How many speakers do you want?
- Will attendees have to pay to watch the speakers or will it be free?
Let’s take a look at how to plan a virtual summit.
Live Or Pre-Recorded?
You’re going to be the one doing all the interviews, so this is largely up to you. If you do a live summit, that means all your interviews will be done live, in real-time, on the day.
If you pre-record, that means you’ll record the interviews ahead of the summit dates, and then release those recordings over the number of days you decide to host the summit.
There are pros and cons to each option.
If you run a live event, there is much more opportunity for engagement; participants can ask questions and make comments in real-time. The correlation between engagement and sales is high, so this is always a good option.
But there’s also the risk that things can go wrong: a speaker won’t turn up, the tech doesn’t work on the day…it’s highly unpredictable.
I chose to pre-record all the interviews for my summit because I didn’t want to be live streaming with people who may or may not turn up on time across all sorts of different time zones. I certainly didn’t want people submitting their own presentations because I couldn’t control the quality of that.
I conducted every single interview in April. I was quite organised on that front. I think after nine years of having a podcast, I’m a pretty damn good interviewer. And I love bringing out the best in people.
It also meant we could have them professionally edited with branding added at the beginning and end, as well as repurpose them into audios, made into transcripts in advance (quite a lot of work) and key speaker summary notes made (also a lot of work but highly valuable).
So, let’s pause here and discuss how important it is to have a team that you can rely on and trust to do good work.
I had a new virtual assistant come on board literally at the start of the summit and she rocked it. I also had a kickass project manager, an amazing copywriter, and a WordPress designer.
We used Thrive Themes and my WordPress designer Revelation, to create our beautiful web pages and countdown timers, like this one:
My copywriter and I used ConverKit to draft and schedule all our promotional emails. This is where we track our open and click-through-rates, split test subject lines and create autoresponders so we can see what’s working.
I was really fronting the whole show. So, I got all the speakers onboard, did all the interviews, made sure they felt held and important, and did everything I could to get the best out of them.
It’s important to mention that I was very intentional about who I chose to interview on the summit and how I ran it.
The main intention behind the summit was for it to be a driver towards helping the right women apply and join the 10k Club, but also to help everyone who registered for the free virtual summit to focus on learning 10 ways to earn 10k per month. That’s why I called it the Monetise You Virtual Summit: 10 Ways to Earn 10K Per Month.
So, let’s break down the main elements for you:
1. Pre-recorded interviews
As mentioned, I conducted virtually every single interview in April, or the first week of May. This felt really spacious and gave us time as a team to then process and promote everything, well in advance.
We were able to promote video teasers, sneak peek IGTVs, and text snippets from interviews on social media to get people excited.
I chose to only have 10 speakers. I was one of the speakers; I ran my own session and it was more of a presentation training session all about pre-selling and creating awesome online courses. Every other session was an interview.
I also purposefully recorded two amazing bonus interviews for people who bought the VIP All-Access pass:
One was about getting great sponsors. And the second one was around building wealth through property, which is something I’m actually really passionate about.
I really wanted the focus of the summit to be about looking at different ways to earn revenue and monetise yourself, simply by being you and doing what you love.
I was very strategic about the 10 different ways to do that because I wanted to show people what’s possible. I wanted to really create opportunities for people to think further outside of what they’ve been doing; to really look at all the opportunities that might suit them, their personality, and their passions.
I also wanted them to think about how they could layer some of these revenue streams into what they’re already doing and into their business.
So I chose 11 speakers, to limit my stress but also because I appreciate that my market and my ideal customer are time-strapped, and focused; they want specific answers. They want great strategies.
2. No promotions
I also did something else completely different from most virtual summit hosts. I did not ask for anybody to promote or make it a requirement, and I made that really clear from the get-go.
After years of being asked to be part of many summits myself, I started avoiding most of them as they had such rigid requirements on list size needed, number of promotional requirements, and more. And at the end of the day, I felt it was a privilege for them to get me to turn up for an hour or more to give great advice, let alone asking for all the extras on top.
While I get this is a big part of why summits work so well, I believe you can do it in a better way, where speakers choose to promote because they want to.
This experience was to be about sharing their goodness, valuing their expertise and their knowledge, shining a fantastic light on them, bringing more attention to them, and creating a super valuable summit where women would empower women.
It was designed to show women entrepreneurs, and those aspiring to be, the range of ways they can generate income and business by monetising their skills, knowledge, expertise, and personality.
As a result, every single speaker promoted the summit, even if only a little, which was amazing and such a thrill to experience.
3. Choosing the speakers
First of all, I put together the list of revenue streams that I wanted to talk about.
- Digital products
- Online courses
- Blogging, and more importantly, affiliate marketing
- Running an agency
- Being a service provider
- Running VIP days
So it was very, very specific. I broke them down over the three days.
- How to get paid to write
- How to get paid to speak
- Getting paid to podcast
- Getting paid to blog
- How to package your goodness into digital products
- How to create and pre-sell online courses
- How to earn money through memberships
- Earning as a service provider
- How to earn when you run an agency
- Do you want to create a coaching practice?
- Do you want to have VIP days?
I was really happy with the structure and I think it made a lot of sense to people – they could dive in where they felt it really resonated with them.
I think the biggest piece of feedback I had is that people went through and watched every single session. They also said that they chose sessions that they normally wouldn’t have because it wasn’t on their radar. But they were curious about it so they went along to it, and discovered things that they’d never considered as an income stream.
4. The speakers
I interviewed Neta Telmore who wants people to have a business that suits their lifestyle. She’s all about simplifying your business. What I loved about her interview is that she talked about how to sell without selling, how to focus on additional products that are super-affordable, and how to just have this one line of products that make total sense to people.
They’ll sell like hotcakes and produce a community of raving fans. It was a real breath of fresh air to hear how Neta has built this amazing, incredible business selling $100 products to 5000 customers, rather than charging one customer $5,000.
I knew straight away that I wanted to talk to Joanna Penn about self-publishing. She is one of the most successful self-published authors out there.
She also has a podcast and courses and she does affiliate marketing. She does it all. But she’s incredibly generous with her time and she is dedicated to helping people make a living as authors. The most important thing for me was to show people what it actually takes. It’s hard work to become a six-figure author. Joanna dropped so much value. I was blown away by the generosity of every single speaker. I was inspired by it, I learned so much.
For speaking, I approached Carol Cox. I was recently on her podcast and she was on mine.
Carol has a framework for people to get their message out into the world, she’s passionate about women, she understands how they can get paid to speak and share their message in a powerful way. That interview was incredible.
Kate Kordsmeier is the queen of six-figure blogging and is also really great at affiliate marketing.
I wanted to talk about affiliate marketing as a really relevant and viable avenue for earning income, especially if you don’t want to produce your own products, courses, or services.
Tasha Booth has an inspiring story of being a virtual assistant and then growing her own seven-figure agency by pulling together a bunch of virtual assistants to help coaches and consultants launch courses. So, very specific, very niched and it’s really impressive how she’s gone about being a virtual assistant herself to building this incredible agency.
It’s an awesome story because I really wanted people to see that as a potential for them. If you have really big dreams, and you want to scale, she’s the woman to look to for that.
Sigrun has built an incredible seven-figure (close to eight-figure coaching business) by starting out at $180 an hour for group coaching, before moving to masterminds and events.
She is intentional and clear about her purpose of empowering women to earn more money as well. So I knew it’d be really aligned. Her story is inspiring, and she is a great coach.
Then I approached Jordan Gill whose focus is on VIP days where you charge several thousand for a half or a full day with a client in your specialist area of expertise.
I really loved the model of working three to four days in a month and earning five or six figures, with this one core offering of the VIP day. I’ve run VIP days in the past and really loved them. But Jordan has done an incredible job of packaging and promoting it as a viable thing for you to do, making it really appealing and showing you how to charge what you’re worth.
I had Valerie Shoopman come on to talk about podcasting because she’s the head coach at Cash Flow Podcasting. They are one of many agencies that help you launch and grow a podcast, provide coaching around that, and also provide a done-for-you service.
Valerie’s been in the game for a long time, and she’s managed to get a ton of business through it. She attracted really high-quality people to her podcast and used it as an incredible business tool. I’ve always seen a podcast as a credibility booster, and as a community builder; as a way to teach and educate. You can also share amazing knowledge, and interview incredible people.
Trupti Karjinni is an amazing watercolour artist based in India and has done incredibly with her membership helping people learn how to be artists and paint with watercolour.
She started out selling her own work on Instagram, and now teaches other artists how to get into business for themselves too. Her story is just truly inspiring. She’s super-young, she’s super-motivated, and she’s just delightful. And I loved sharing her story,
I also interviewed a friend, Sarah Weaver, who I’ve come to know as a digital nomad online. She’d been following me for years, and we had a mutual love of property.
So Sarah, and I jammed big time on property investing because I’ve been doing it since I was 21. And she’s been doing it whilst being a digital nomad, traveling the world, with zero money down. So I think that was a little bit of an outlier, but one that I really hope people enjoy and visit at a time when it’s good for them and get inspired about what is possible.
We did have one tech glitch where we needed to clear the cache on the virtual summit site before Day 2 interviews would show up. It was 2 am for me, and for whatever reason, I picked up my phone and I saw something had gone wrong. Many people were emailing saying they couldn’t access it and it was such a bummer as everything had been so smooth up until then.
Luckily Neta, whose product we purchased and were using, was online as it was her afternoon (and also her birthday) and she finally figured out the problem. In the meantime, we left those interviews up for a full extra day as a way of thanking people for their patience.
The biggest lesson I learned was to have your support team take over the email and be on top of tech issues. But that was the only major tech glitch and people were incredibly patient and responsive to how quickly we got onto it. People are really forgiving.
The biggest thing that’s come out of this has been the quality of the summit itself, and the amazing feedback. My team’s performance has given me so much confidence that they’ve got this, that they’re sorted, that we’ve had launches now and they know what to do. And that we come together, we support each other, we do our best and we make things amazing. That is invaluable as an experience.
The quality and integrity behind the summit and the level of feedback that we keep getting on how brilliant it was have blown me away. People have talked about how amazing the sessions were, how much they’ve been learning, and how inspired they are. It’s exactly what I wanted; it’s exactly the intention that I had for how you can run a high-level, high-quality, high-integrity event that gives a ton of value.
It was also good to see that social media did actually make a big difference. We had utm links during this launch, which are unique tracking management links. They let you track what’s working best between your various platforms. Is Facebook sending you more traffic? Or is it Instagram? Or LinkedIn?
We also know all our Google Analytics stats and how many speakers sent a ton of traffic our way. We also know which affiliates did really well. All the speakers were invited to be affiliates. Our open rates on email were incredible: 59% 62% and 41%; click rates were through the roof, and the health of our email list is so much better than it was.
People are engaged. They were excited and deeply interested, there are definitely opportunities to work with people to make more sales, and create more value.
What would I do differently?
Not a lot. I think we really executed well on the summit. I definitely think having a global team is super-helpful. Always have somebody available in a daylight time zone, so that you have constant support.
My team is in France, England, Croatia, the Philippines, and I’m in New Zealand. So nobody is actually in the US time zone which might have been quite helpful. But at the end of the day if you pre-plan and you have as many things as possible in place to support when things go awry, then you can deal with them quickly and promptly.
It’s part of having a global business and a global audience and a global community – you simply cannot be everywhere and anywhere all the time.
We will probably automate a few more things that were time-consuming. Some things took a lot of time to put together. Also, next time around I want to actually bring on other affiliates earlier. It’s just far more targeted, it’s more personal. And you get the right quality of person on board.
I’ll continue to refine, improve and optimise the process to focus on what we do best. I’m personally looking forward to just continuing to interview kick-ass people in a very, very focused specific way to get to the heart of monetisation and to help people earn more money and make more impact.
I love interviewing people, I love getting the best out of them. I love projects and launches that are alive and engaged and bring people together for a common purpose. So I can’t say enough good things about running a summit. It was a really awesome experience to go through, and I would highly encourage you to consider one for yourself.
What’s so cool about a summit is that you don’t need any particular experience at this point. If you can interview or get in front of some pretty amazing people, like thought leaders, then that’s the start.
They don’t need to be big names or celebrities, or have a huge following. They just have to be generous with their time and nature and have some really great things to teach.
It is a fascinating and fantastic way to pull together a product based on other people’s expertise if you don’t have your own product yet, and if you haven’t defined your niche or your expertise. It’s a great way to start a business.
I also want to encourage you to take a look at the Monetise You Virtual Summit page! It is an evergreen mode now and we just got the VIP access pass available for you because it’s incredible. And it’s well worth it. I don’t want any of these sessions to go to waste. The more people who listen to them, take action and implement them, the more money women are going to make. And that means more potential, inspiration, confidence, and goodness is going to come all of our ways.
As promised, here are all our results for you to take a look at:
Convertkit:(Month of May)
- 1069 New subscribers
- 883 Net subscribers
- Open rate of 28.69
- Click rate of 3.02%
Specific Email Stats for various payment levels
Open rate: 59%
Open rate: 62.27%
Open rate: 40.7%
Best Emails with open and click rates where:
- Free pass:
- VIP ALL Access:
- All Access
Thrivecart is our awesome checkout and affiliate tool that I freaking love and made it so easy to track sales, as well as affiliate activity. Highly recommend the one-off price for all its features, including upsells.
We set up google analytics tracking for our brand new site at monetiseyousummit.com and got over 2,600 visitors in the space of just over 2 weeks!
UTM Links + FB Ads:
Best performing Posts:
- Accounts reached + Post interactions:
- Follows: Day 2 Summit Swipe Post
- Comments: Joanna Penn Post
- Best Performing Story (Reach+ next story)
We finished the summit off with a live webinar and training on how to earn five-figure months. We also dished all the goss on the $10K Club and our amazing Queens, and we converted 7 new members. This was a wonderful thing for me, because I love this club and I am so committed to changing women’s lives, so they can change the world.
While a virtual summit is a lot of work, it is incredibly rewarding and worthwhile. If you’re interested in seeing all the magic at work, you can check it out here.