A few weeks ago, Carter and I sat down with John Lee Dumas of the well-known podcast Entrepreneur on Fire (EOFire) to discuss all things podcasting. For our latest episode, we had the opportunity to chat with his partner, Kate Erickson, to dig into another hot topic in entrepreneurship: webinars.
In just about a year, John and Kate have done over $1.5 million in sales from their webinar program alone — an incredible achievement to say the least. How did they do it? Let’s take a look at what Kate had to share with the Coders’ Startup.
After building up the EOFire podcast, John and Kate received tons of feedback from their audience. People were genuinely interested in learning how to create their own podcasts, but had no idea where to start. From buying the right equipment, to uploading their mp3s to iTunes, the EOFire audience had a lot questions brewing about podcasting.
This was the lightbulb moment for John and Kate — they knew they needed to create a product that people could use to get started and learn the basics of growing a podcast business.
Validate Before You Create
Before John and Kate released their webinar program, Podcaster’s Paradise, they tested the idea on their audience. This is a technique both Carter and I have used before, and many entrepreneurs recommend it, and for good reason. Why waste time creating something that no one will buy?
To gain early traction, John and Kate offered an early-bird pricing for Podcaster’s Paradise — asking customers to sign up and pay for something that hadn’t yet been created. The key here, according to Kate, is to be upfront with your audience about the test. Tell them, blatantly, that you’re doing this as a proof of concept and if you don’t meet your sign-up goals, you’ll give them their money back, no strings attached.
Kate recommends you give yourself a target. Ask yourself, how many buy-ins do you need before you give yourself the green light to start creating? For John and Kate, they decided they would need 20 people to buy-in to Podcaster’s Paradise, a number they quickly reached within the first day of early bird sign-ups.
Validating your idea early-on will help you save big on your most precious asset — time. John and Kate learned this twice over before landing on Podcaster’s Paradise.
Before they found webinar success, John and Kate tried two other iterations of this podcasting product that ultimately, just didn’t scale. The first was a service-based business model called Pod Platform.
For a monthly fee, anyone could use Pod Platform to send John an mp3, and essentially, he would turn it into a podcast. While the EOFire team did garner a few success stories from this service, the business didn’t address the root problem their product was trying to solve — how to create a podcast from square one.
The second idea was a video-based course called Six Figure Podcasting. The problem with this product was again, that it was “skipping a step” in the process of podcasting. Instead of teaching people the roots of creating and growing a podcast, it jumped straight to monetizing. In Kate’s words, it was a “cart before the horse” scenario.
These two “failures” however, led John and Kate closer to Podcast Paradise, so really, it’s hard to see them as such. Moral of the story: get your proof of concept before you invest yourself too deep in creating content that people may or may not want.
Be an Inspiration to Other Entrepreneurs
Because of Podcaster’s Paradise, hundreds of entrepreneurs (like yourselves) have created successful podcasts. Kate says that this is what keeps her and John going — knowing that their product has given people the courage, motivation, and inspiration to get started.
“This is our why. We want to help people get started and understand that they can do this. That they have a voice and knowledge to share with other people that matters, and that it can help other people.”
If you’re interested in getting started or dipping your toes into the world of webinars, there are a lot of tools and products out there to help you get started. EOFire has actually created a 10-day course on webinars, which you can find here. And Kate also recommends a tool called Easy Webinar, that she and John use to stream their webinars.
Blitz Your Market
What I’ve learned from my own webinar experience, and what Kate confirmed during our conversation, is that you don’t necessarily have to have a large audience to execute a successful webinar. There are so many ways to get people to opt-in, that you shouldn’t let lack of a following discourage you. From Facebook ads, to hello bars, to pop-ups, to email lists — there are dozens, if not hundreds, of ways to get people interested in what you’re sharing.
For my own webinar program, I managed to get an initial 300 opt-ins for the webinar, and about 80 actual attendees on the day of. Even though I had about 15,000 subscribers on my podcast, my audience wasn’t nearly as huge as some other entrepreneurs diving into webinar content.
Simply by optimizing a variety of channels, and what I call “blitzing my marketplace”, I’m successfully using webinars to grow my business — and you can, too!