SUCCESS STORY QUICK WINS
Jan Koch had a small, not so engaged email list of about 180-200 subscribers before the summit. He wanted to position himself as the leading expert in his field by hosting an epic virtual summit.
HOW HE USED VIRTUAL SUMMIT MASTERY
Jan saw the success I had with The Branding Summit, and decided to do something similar in his niche for WordPress to grow his business faster. Virtual Summit Mastery helped Jan put goether one of the biggest summits on WordPress, The WP Summit.
Jan grew his email list by over 600%, generated a few $1,000 in revenue from the summit and sponorship. He also built realtionships with many big name influencers and became the go-to WordPress expert for online entrepreneurs.
“I grew my email list by 600% and became the go-to WordPress expert for online entrepreneurs…” – Jan Koch
Why did you decide to create a virtual summit?
I was self-employed for around about a year and I felt like I had hit a plateau, like the business just wasn’t growing anymore, like I was working in the business instead of working on the business. I saw the success of Navid’s Branding Summit and the ripple effects that came afterwards with a short period afterwards, and I was inspired to run the WP Summit. I am glad that I had your guidance and your helping hand throughout the process to avoid all the pitfalls.
How big was your email list before and after you hosted WP Summit
It’s almost a bit embarrassing to say, but my list had around 180-200 subscribers. The Summit grew it by 600%. I got around 1,200 new subscribers for that mailing list. 1,200 doesn’t seem that much as an absolute number, but seeing the growth potential and the 600% that I achieved was very good.
How much revenue did the WP Summit generate for you?
I was going through a tough period during this Summit. It wasn’t launching properly and we rescheduled, then I had some trouble with setting up everything in time. Even still, I got 40 sales for the all access pass which was over $4,000 in revenue, and I got $1,000 from sponsoring.
I think following Navid’s system faithfully would have led to way more money and way more success in sales, but the circumstances at that time just didn’t allow me to fully implement the Virtual Summit Mastery system.
How did you come up with the summit’s theme?
I just thought of what people were asking me for advice about and what I was helping most of my clients with, which were WordPress related projects. At the time, I was working with entrepreneurs and small businesses on the global scale already, so I figured that there’s a need for a Virtual Conference in this WordPress space, and I just went through the work I did, went through the most popular content on my blog and did some research on other platforms as well to figure out what other competitors of mine did that really resonated with the audience. I found out that there wasn’t really a Virtual Summit for WordPress. I also emailed my list and asked for feedback on social media to outline the topics that I wanted to cover for this Summit.
Looking back, what would you do differently?
I would niche down even more. WordPress is a really broad field. You have themes, plugins, list building, setting up paid membership areas and all these topics. I managed to give a really good overview about all the topics, and I got amazing speakers on for each topic that shared really good actionable advice but for the next Summit I’m doing, I will hone in on one topic. For example, I will do a Summit on WordPress themes only and then I will have theme developers and conversion rate optimization specialists to really dive deep into one topic. I think just having the term “WordPress Summit” made it hard for the audience to grasp what’s really in it for them. They can’t tell if the Summit is going to answer their questions.
How long did it take you to create your Virtual Summit and how much money did you spend on it?
The timeframe from the first idea to the launch of the event was roughly three and a half months, so it was really on a tight schedule. I was also operating on a very tight budget. I spent around 500 bucks in total for that event. I didn’t pay for traffic for example. I relied on organic traffic, viral traffic from social media and affiliates. For me, it was a real struggle to meet that tight deadline, but on the other hand I needed it to hold myself accountable. There’s always this balance between how much work you can actually get done and how much pressure you need to push yourself to do the work.
How did you get speakers on board? Did you have a lot of relationships in place already or was it a lot of cold outreach?
I had relationships with a bare minimum of speakers. They knew who I was, so most of the speakers I reached out to for the first time were those I had a relationship with. But as for the real big shots, the so called “important people” on this Summit, I was introduced to.
How many people did you reach out to for the Summit?
I reached out to probably 40 speakers, and I ended up with 28 speakers on the Summit, so I had a high conversion rate in terms of getting speakers on the Summit. I really want to hone into this cold outreach aspect. You want to find a way to connect with the people immediately from the first message. For example, with Rand, I just mentioned that I saw him on Navid’s Summit and I really liked his interview. Then I took it from there and pointed him to the Landing Page of my Summit, so that he could check it out at his convenience and I wasn’t taking time away from him. I think that’s what really helped me get many speakers on board.
You are a designer, so you did the really professional landing page all by yourself, but you also taught people in my community how to use existing themes. This is definitely a good option for people on a budget. What is that theme called?
The theme is called The Ken, and you can find it on themeforest.net. What I like about this theme is that it has really good basic styling, and you can build layouts yourself by just pointing and clicking, so you don’t need to be a programmer to use it. It’s around $55. It’s really not that expensive.
Which strategies worked well for you and which ones didn’t work so well?
The best thing for me was social media promotion. I joined countless relevant groups that were talking about WordPress themes and WordPress plugins, selling WordPress products and so on. I built relationships with the group moderators and with the group owners on Facebook, and I asked them to promote the Summit for me basically. So I signed them up as affiliates and I asked for their permission to promote the Summit in their groups. That really worked for me because people started sharing these posts and they started sharing the content that I was putting out in the groups.
What didn’t work for me was the affiliate marketing, but that was basically my own fault. To have an affiliate system up and running, you need some kind of software, some payment providers like Click Bank or Deal Guardian, or something like that. When I reached out to these payment providers, I didn’t have all the interviews in place and I told them. So Deal Guardian directly denied selling my products in the WP Summit even though I showed them the schedule and emails from the speakers confirming the interviews. They denied setting up an affiliate system for my Summit, so I had to set it up on my own, which was another 250 bucks of investment in a software called 1ShoppingCart for two months of using it.
Also, even though I had a professional copywriter to write the affiliate emails for me. I didn’t end up giving the affiliates and the speakers enough time to integrate those mails into their mailing schedule, so that was where I pretty much messed up the launch from the affiliates’ standpoint, but from the social media standpoint, the results turned out really, really great.
You were featured on some major sites like, GoDaddy and Cloudways. Where else were you featured and what did you learn from that experience?
I was also featured on WP Mayor, which is a really huge blog in the WordPress field and WP Engine, the world’s biggest WordPress host, to name a few. So I really got some media coverage, but there’s also a lesson to be learned there because these huge platforms didn’t drive as much traffic as I expected. So, for example, I was featured on templatemonster.com, which was also a sponsor of the Summit, and they sell WordPress themes. They claim to have 250,000 visitors per month, yet I only got roughly 1,000 visitors from them. To be honest, I would have expected way more from being on Templatemonster.
Has the summit changed your status in the industry?
Yeah, absolutely. Before that I had a hard time getting featured on big websites like SEMrush and now I have sites like template.net with a million monthly readers reaching out to me. So that’s how far the WP Summit grew my authority.
Did you face any big challenges on this journey of creating, promoting and profiting from your summit? How did you overcame them?
I want to touch upon two of the major challenges. One was the technical side because I didn’t have a stable internet connection back in the days. When I had interviews with Dan Norris from WP Curve, for example, the connection broke up like six times during the interview, then with Rand Fishkin, it broke up like four times. But those people are used to getting on calls a lot, and they know that these things just happened, so if you deal with it honestly and tell them, “Hey, I don’t have this great internet connection. Let me just restart. Let me fix this to get back up and running with the interview”, they mostly appreciate your effort. So the first lesson I learned is be prepared for technical challenges even though you think you might be good with tech because sometimes Skype and Google Hangout just don’t like you.
The other thing I had to overcome was this fear of putting myself out there actually asking for the sale because I wasn’t really used to selling digital products. I was only doing freelance work at that time, so I really had to wrap my mind around writing these really long sales pages. You helped me a lot with it back then. I think I spent almost 60 hours of work just on the sales page and the thank you page. I struggled to get clear about the positioning for the sales and to actually ask for the sales. These were the two biggest lessons I learned.
How did it feel to get the first sale?
It is the best feeling in the world when someone actually buys something from you because you really poured out your heart and soul into creating it. I got the first sale before the event even started. Knowing that some people recognized the value of this event and bought the pass even though they hadn’t even seen a single interview is probably one of the most rewarding feelings you can get in the world because this shows other people acknowledge the work you have done. For me, it proved that I was moving in the right direction. I’m happy and satisfied with the final result. I know I can do bigger, but we can always do bigger. We do have to start small with the first small step and get that first sale though.
How has your business changed after the summit?
My business completely changed, and my life along with it. I was able to increase my price with people who were already my clients because I had more authority and I could prove that I knew what I was doing. I also built so many good relationships, just as Navid teaches in the Virtual Summit Mastery course. Now I have a network of really powerful influencers. I’m in touch with the most influential people I admired when I was starting out. They’re all friends with me now. A few weeks ago I had a great weekend with Natalie Sisson, for example, in Berlin. The Summit is really powerful not just because of the money it brings.
Are there any surprises that have resulted from creating your first Virtual Summit?
Probably the biggest surprise was that there really is no magic involved in these big results that people share all the time. When you see John Lee Dumas making a few $100k every month from his podcast, for example, it’s easy to think that he has some magic sauce in him when he’s really just putting in the work and the hours, and he has built up this amazing team who supports him. Having this realization that there is no magic key, that there’s no shortcut but anybody do this, and anybody can build six figure and seven figure businesses online if they put in the work and can sustain the bad periods that come inevitably in any type of business — this was the most powerful realization I took away from the Summit.
Thinking about joining my Virtual Summit Mastery program?
What is your advice to someone who’s about to begin the journey to create, promote, and profit from a virtual summit?
It might be obvious, but take Navid’s course! He really knows what he is doing. In the very least, download his Cheat Sheet so that you have a little bit of guidance. If you have to cut back on other expenses to afford Navid’s course, do it because it really is a game changer. Other than that, don’t put yourself under too much pressure. It takes time and it takes money to run a Virtual Summit. It’s not something you can do on your own if you don’t have techy experience, and if you don’t know the exact steps that you need to take. Don’t underestimate the workload that a Summit eventually brings, but also be aware of the long-time profits that you can’t even think of right now.
On a final note, community is a huge part of Virtual Summit Mastery. How has this community helped you?
I think it’s an invaluable tool, and I think it’s really powerful to be a part of this community that has your back. You can turn to it if you have questions about something specific like if you want feedback on your landing page, for example; just post it in the group and you’ll get ten responses in twelve hours, all ripping down the landing page so that you can improve it for your launch. Obviously, I’m in the group as well, so if anybody has a WordPress-related question, I’m there to answer them. The group can also answer strategic questions, so it’s really a great tool and a great add-on to the course.
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