No more “free webinars”

Offer low-cost ones instead.

Have you experienced this before…

Sign up for this valuable free webinar!

Join our free training!

You must hand over your email address for the “free” event. When you show up, you discover that they spend the first 20 minutes convincing you about their credibility, then 20 minutes giving you a few tips but careful not to give away the farm, and the final 20 minutes selling you on the deeper program / service, the thing you “must” get to feel complete.

It’s not a “free training” — it was a (cleverly-disguised) sales pitch.

This is what we’re taught by many marketing experts: Bait our audience into attending a “FREE” webinar or teleclass, and then when we have their precious attention, upsell them into our paid program/service.

Bait-and-switch: one of the oldest (and slimiest) marketing tools.

Marketers keep doing this because it “works” in the short-term. With the almost limitless numbers of people they can reach online, they can keep churning through unsuspecting people… yet having a hard time building long-term relationships with a loyal audience of true fans. People who know them don’t really trust what they say.

If you are doing your business from a deeper place, truer than the promise of “big fast money” — if you wish to build an authentic business, let’s stop the bait-and-switch.

I’ll share a method that could work in the short-term, and is far better for building a loyal audience in the long-term. This will make your business easier and easier over time.

Like all good and worthwhile things, patience is needed. Or perhaps, the focus on enjoying the process.

Which would you rather have:

  • Group A — 30 people attending your free webinar
  • Group B — 15 people attending your paid webinar

Which group is more likely to become clients?

Which group is better to focus your content and offerings for?


I did hundreds of free webinars in the first 5 years of my business, each one upselling people on expensive programs. It “worked” for awhile, but I was always feeling anxious, hyper-excited when there were sales, depressed when there wasn’t, and never building a real audience.

In the past few years, I’ve switched to doing low-cost paid webinars ($25–45 USD), and thus far, I’ve done dozens of these. Much preferred.

If a free webinar gets 100 sign-ups, the typical number of attendees would be 15–30. Not unusual to get 20% attendance in a free webinar. Maybe another 20% would listen to the replay. (It’s much easier to convert live attendees to a paid product, though, which is why webinar marketers urge people to attend live.)

For my paid webinars, with the same amount of promotion as I would do for a free webinar, I might get 20 sign-ups instead of 100, and yet 70–90% live attendance.

Let’s compare:

  • I’ll be liberal and say 100 registrants for my free webinar, at 30% attendance = 30 free attendees.
  • I’ll be conservative with my paid webinar and say only 20 paid registrants, and only 75% attend = 15 paid attendees.

My business would much rather have the 15 paid attendees any day.

In my free webinars, I felt the pressure to sell people on my programs (because I put in all this effort to produce and market this free webinar…I better earn something from it!)

The audience felt a lot of sales pressure too.

On the other hand, in my paid webinars, I can focus on delivering the value that they came for. They already paid for it. I can spend my energy making them happy.

The audience feels that too.

As I mentioned, in my free webinars I would have to spend something like 33% of the time trying to sell them on my paid programs.

In my paid webinars, the people who buy and show up are already serious enough about the topic that they are interested in paying for it.

I only need to spend maybe 10% of the time (6 minutes out of a 1 hour webinar) describing my deeper program.

Since they are paid participants, they’re more likely to be interested in further paid products/services, and are more eager to ask questions about it.

In other words, by doing a paid webinar, you will filter forward your more ideal clients.

They are looking to pay for your help.

Instead of spending a lot of effort marketing and then delivering your free webinars, spend that same amount of time marketing your paid webinars.

The best way to test the market is to actually ask them to pay for something.

If no one signs up, you save the time of having to deliver it.

Just change your webinar topic, and market it again.

The Path to Paid Webinars

If you have no audience yet, it’s tough to market a paid webinar.

Instead, start by offering and promoting free content without a sales message.

Content helps you clarify your niche as well as gather an audience.

As you build your audience by promoting your free content (for example, with Facebook Ads), you’ll then start to understand what topics you can do for your paid webinars:

  1. Which of your content topics does your audience like the most?
  2. Talk with your audience, and ask them what they’ve bought recently in the areas of your expertise: which webinars, trainings, events, courses, and books?

The answers to these questions can give you excellent paid webinar topics.

The next step is to try it out.

Create a simple webpage describing the paid webinar (price it between $10-50, depending on your market, topic, and length of webinar).

Include the option to get a replay if they can’t attend. Include a 100% money-back guarantee.

You can see how I write the webpages of my paid webinars, which I have turned into online courses:

Once you create your webinar webpage, share it with your audience with 1–2 week notice, and see if anyone signs up. Buy Facebook Ads so that your audience is sure to see it a few times.

If people do sign up, you’re onto something.

Repeat your successful webinar in 3–6 months. In the meantime, you may want to create more webinars like that, going into a similar topic, or going deeper into one of the sub-topics.

Towards the end of each paid webinar, you can talk about your deeper programs or services, spending about 10% of the whole webinar time (6 minutes out of 60 minutes) describing it and answering any questions about it.

Then follow up with the replay, and an invitation to your deeper program or to have a complimentary 1–1 exploratory call with you.

Give it a try, and let me know if you have any questions!

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Written by

Authentic Business Coach & Author of 4 Books including "Authentic Content Marketing" and "Joyful Productivity"

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