Last month I hosted the first See Jane Write Virtual Summit featuring live online Q&A sessions with 8 female writers and bloggers with noteworthy accomplishments to their name. During the summit, attendees learned how to build a tribe to support their blog, books, and other writing projects; how to work with brands as a blogger; how to start a freelance writing career; how to market and build buzz for their blog, book, or brand; how to use writing to discover their authentic selves; the art of personal blogging; how to lead a group book project; and how to use their blog to write and publish their first book.
I decided last fall that I wanted to host a virtual summit but it took me several months to finally pull it off because I kept making excuses. I don’t have the time, I told myself. I don’t have the money, I said. But eventually I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “Javacia, you can either make excuses or make a difference. But you can’t do both.”
So I got to work. Still a journalist at heart, I started by asking myself the 5Ws and H.
My first step was to decide who I wanted to ask to be a part of the summit. I actually drafted this list while in Atlanta for the Blogalicious conference. During that conference I attended a session on virtual summits, which I took as a sign from heaven that I needed to put my big girl panties on and get this done!
Before reaching out to the folks on your list, decide what topic you want each person to cover. You’ll need some sort of theme that keeps your summit cohesive. My theme was all about how to make money and make a difference with your writing.
Before you do any of this, though, you need to figure out why you’re hosting this virtual summit in the first place. Are you trying to make money? Some people offer their live summit sessions for free, then sell the replays. This wasn’t my goal, so I’m offering replays for free and all of my speakers graciously volunteered their services free of charge. My goals were to build my email list and establish myself as an expert to a wider audience.
Once your speakers are on board figure out what days and times work best for them and use their responses to create a schedule. When asking for their availability also ask for a brief bio and a photo that you can use on your promotion page. (You can see my promotion page here.) Be sure to set a deadline for responses.
Decide where you will promote your summit. I primarily promoted the summit via Facebook through boosted posts, but also used Twitter, Instagram, Facebook groups, and my existing email list to build buzz. If I host another summit in the future, I plan to promote more on Instagram as I had several attendees tell me they learned about the summit through that platform.
How will you host the summit? I used Zoom, which only costs me $14.99 per month. Before I hosted the See Jane Write Virtual Summit I thought I needed hundreds if not thousands of dollars to do so. I thought I needed an expensive webinar platform, lights and a fancy microphone. And while I do still want all of those things for future webinars, I was able to pull off my first virtual summit without any of that. Between the monthly cost of Zoom and the boosted Facebook posts, I only spent $78.70 on the summit. And I made this back and then some when a summit attendee signed up for See Jane Write membership the day after the summit ended.
I’m not going to lie, hosting a virtual summit is A LOT of work. I was mentally and even physically exhausted during those two weeks. But I enjoyed hosting the first See Jane Write Virtual Summit so much that I’ve decided to host monthly Q&A sessions with experts exclusively for See Jane Write members. So if you’ve ever thought about becoming a member, now is the time! Learn more here.