Janelle Allen is the founder of Zen Courses, where she helps online course creators create with less overwhelm. We caught her fresh off a series of webinars and asked her to share some tips on how creators of all kinds can successfully get started with live, educational events online. Here are her seven steps to launching live webinars.

You probably already know that webinars are one of the best ways to boost your brand, grow your email list and build fans. But the hard truth is, running your first live event can be incredibly daunting.

Over the past 30 days, I’ve run seven webinars and definitely had my share of learning curves. Before you start to question my sanity, though, learn from my mistakes. These are the seven steps to follow to run a successful webinar.

Step 1: Set a goal and host format

Before you get started, set a goal. What's your business objective? Keep this in mind as you determine format.

Pitch or nah?

Decide on your offer strategy. Are you trying to sell a paid product, get people to sign-up for your free bonus offer or just provide free education?

Don’t have a product or offer yet? Don’t worry, free education goes a long way in building trust.

Pro tip: I use Crowdcast to host my webinars. The platform's call to action button allows me to sell products and collect contacts for a free bonus.

Solo or joint venture?

Solo webinars are perfect for connecting with your audience and building credibility. If you’re just getting started with webinars, or you want to provide value to your existing followers, this is the way to go.

On the other hand, if you’re ready to take things to the next level, joint webinars are fantastic for growing your email list, building relationships and spreading brand awareness. When considering a co-host:

Pro tip: If you run a joint webinar with a business or SAAS, they usually require a minimum of 100 registrants to run the webinar and they will rarely promote the event to their list.

Step 2: Set a date and time

What is the best day and time for your webinar? If you’re starting out, this is probably a big question. In the United States, mid-week works best—so plan for a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday event. My personal preference is Wednesday, with Thursday as an alternate.

As for the best time, that depends on your audience and mine is primarily U.S.-based. For me, 2 p.m. Eastern Time works great. (Anytime from 12-2 p.m. ET is generally golden for U.S. audiences.)

If you have an international audience, it gets trickier but it's do-able. Try to pick a time that works for the top three countries in your audience. Not sure when that is? Use a tool like TimeandDate.com's Meeting Planner to find the best times across time zones.

Pro tip: Most email service providers provide location data for your audience in their analytics.

Step 3: Set up your registration page and email sequence

Now that you’ve decided on your format and scheduling, it’s time to set up your registration and email sequences. You probably know you’ll need a registration page for people to sign up for your webinar. But what happens after registration? That’s where email sequences come in.

Setting up your registration page

One of the great things about Crowdcast is that it has a built-in registration page for events. You can easily create a customized registration page, and share the link in your marketing.

Pro tip: If you’re running a joint webinar, be sure to create and share the registration page with your co-host at least 10-14 days prior to the event. This gives them time to get it on their social media calendars (and out to their people).

Email sequences

After setting up your registration page, the next thing to do is set up your follow-up emails. At a minimum, you’ll want to have an email thanking registrants for signing up for your event, as well as a reminder before the webinar begins.

But people are busy and need a few extra nudges. I recommend the following sequence after someone registers for your event:

*(True story: One of my webinars had a pretty low attendance rate. So I sent out a “Starting in 10 minutes” reminder and—voila!—a ton of people signed on. So, don’t discount the power of the 10-minute reminder.)

Again, people are busy, so don’t skip this sequence if you want them to remember your event. To email event registrants via Crowdcast, just go to the Settings menu and select “Email Templates,” then customize your Registration and Reminder emails.

Pro tip: If you end up running a lot of webinars, email sequencing can get stressful. Create Zapier integrations and actions on your registration page. Why? So you can automate your custom email sequence and drive sign-ups to your mailing list.

You can set up a trigger through Zapier on Crowdcast's native registration page to automatically send your e-mail sequence through your mailing list app. You can also set up “zaps” that instantly connect event registration contacts with your mailing list app, like MailChimp or ConvertKit.

So once people register for your event, the registration page will trigger your email software to start your email sequence and add registrants to your mailing list. Beautiful!

(Note: I use a third-party software (Leadpages) for my registration pages. It all comes down to personal preference and what works best—and is easiest—for you.)

Step 4: Market your webinar

Okay, now it’s time to market your webinar. There are two main channels you absolutely want to hit: social media and email.

Marketing with social media

Build event awareness, and get people onto your email list in the process, by giving social media a big push. Start by identifying the platforms where your audience spends most of their time. For my audience, that’s Facebook and Twitter. Begin promoting seven days before the event, right up to the day before.

Twitter best practices:

Facebook best practices:

Pro tip: If social media makes you anxious (trust me, I get it), use Buffer to schedule your posts in advance.

Marketing with email

You've built a strong list of contacts. Now get them to take action:

Pro tip: If you have a podcast or website, don’t forget to mention your event there. Be sure to share a link that’s easy to remember.

Step 5: Structure your event content

We’re at the halfway point. Now it’s time to make sure your content is ready. The first thing to consider is what type of content you want to share. Do you want to have slides, or will it be a talking head presentation? Here’s some pointers for both:

Talking head presentation

Slide presentation

Pro tip: If you’re doing a joint webinar, it’s best to discuss structure in your initial planning meeting.

Event flow

Creating content is only half the battle. To keep things running smoothly for your attendees, you’ll need an organized structure. Here’s what I’ve found works best:

  1. Pre-welcome: Thank people for joining and let them know what time things will kick off. Ask people to share where they’re joining from in the chat while they’re waiting.
  2. Welcome: Introduce yourself. Mention your guest’s name and the webinar topic. Thank attendees again. (Optional: Ask those who’ve just joined to share where their location in chat.)
  3. Instructions: If you're using a platform like Crowdcast, introduce them to the features and where to participate. If you’re holding questions till the end of the event, let your audience know; tell them where to submit questions.
  4. Formal introduction: Introduce your speaker (if you have one) and their website. Introduce the topic and its value.
  5. Give the presentation: This should run 35-40 minutes.
  6. Present your offer: Share the link, tell them why it’s valuable.
  7. Q&A and wrap-up: Allow 10-15 minutes to answer questions, remind audience about the link and tell them to expect an email with the replay, offer link and anything else you’ve promised.

Step 6: Make a tech contingency plan

Things don’t always go according to plan, especially with live events. Here’s what to do to make sure you don’t lose attendees because of tech glitches.

Safeguard against browser trouble

Doesn’t it seem like Google Chrome is always in the middle of an update at the worst time? Check for updates and, if necessary, restart your browser before you start your event. Have Crowdcast open in Firefox, as a backup.

Anticipate co-host tech trouble

Preparation is half the battle. Email your co-host instructions and the link for joining Crowdcast several days prior to your event. They can even test things out on their own right here.

Have them join you 20 minutes early in the green room. If they’re running late (it happens), have content prepared for your audience to avoid dead air.

Join early to test your audio and video

Take advantage of Crowdcast’s green room to test your audio and video. If you’re doing a joint webinar, be sure to set the expectation with your co-host that they’ll need to sign in 20 minutes for testing.

Step 7: Follow-up with attendees

You’ve run your first webinar and it was a raving success! The event is over, but not your interaction with the audience. Keep those lovely registrants engaged (and on your email list) by staying in touch. Here’s what I recommend:

Pro tip: If registrants opt-in to get emails from you, consider creating a special on-boarding sequence of messages just for them—instead of just dropping them into your next broadcast.


There you have it—my trusted steps for getting started with successful webinars. If you’ve been on the fence about hosting your first live event online, you now have all the steps to get started and stay organized to run your first webinar without totally losing your sanity. Good luck!

Follow Janelle on Crowdcast: @JanelleAllen