Just two months ago, I was a virtual place Maiden. What I mean is that even though the world has moved online in the wake of the pandemic, I have yet to attend a remote event. As someone who always enjoyed conferences as much as IRL communication as well as content, I wondered if an online event was worth the time and expense.
However, at the same time, the siren song of virtual conferences sparked me throughout the legal profession. The missile issue‘s Aid rocket He first came out of the gate again in April: a two-day charity event, a CLE qualifier about a law practice management event that attracted several hundred attorneys and raised several thousand dollars for legal aid organizations. Also at that time, Mike Whelan was virtual Forward lawyer She took an online event on innovation in law with the Pay As You Want Business Model. Finally, NextChapterBK‘s Bankruptcy Week Summit That attracted 3,300 attendees and was put together in a record three-week time as per Janine Sekmere’s guidelines Reimagine a typical virtual conference.
These success stories made a virtual conference organization seem cheap and easy – which made me think I could organize an event on my own. But without an idea for a conference, the idea came up.
But the epidemic continued, and more conferences began announcing hypothetical dates, and I noticed, somewhat disappointingly, that online events had relayed real-life events online rather than replacing something previous with Something better. Moreover, not much of the content has been modified to address new COVID-related concerns such as the added pressure of balancing work and school – especially for mothers – or a new desire for more meaningful work. Additionally, even at a time of heightened awareness of diversity, most paintings still have largely white faces. Suddenly, the idea of a conference surfaced – an event that would focus on maternal attorneys running a law firm. Once I came up with an idea, here are the steps I took to make it a reality:
- Be aggressive – While maintaining the tradition of the previous virtual conferences I mentioned, I wanted to stick to a strict planning schedule to avoid losing interest.
2. As a team I knew I would need accountability for the conference, plus I wanted an idea-based partner. So I reached out to Gina Bellel, the attorney who was running a Facebook group of moms attorneys who run companies, and asked her if she was interested. Once Jenna got involved with the concept for some time during the second week of August, we spent the Zoom session brainstorming ideas for the committees that we both want to attend. We have chosen a date for the conference at the end of September – too early to contradict the large number of fall conferences on the horizon, but avoid interfering with Jewish holidays.
3. Be funky When planning sessions, we wanted topics that were not available anywhere else but at the same time, we wanted to make sure that the conference would provide practical advice. To this end, we have balanced the committees on pandemic law practice and marketing with more personal issues such as balancing challenges, lawyers breaking down barriers and career transition paths. To ensure diversity of voices, instead of inviting one or two keynote speakers from big names, we selected seven different women from different backgrounds, legal practices, and perspectives to share their personal journey in starting a law firm and advising others. We knew that a virtual conference would allow us to benefit from a wide range of speakers at an affordable cost.
4. Charge something – I offered my share of free events through this site, but a conference of this size would have cost something. Ultimately, we settled at $ 39 – enough to cover our basic costs, but also affordable so that we can attract larger numbers which is important to me. We were hoping to make a difference with our sponsors, too. As I’ll discuss at the end, virtual conferences are cheap but not free, so you need to know how to pay – whether it’s an upfront fee or free admission but increases the sale of other products or services at the event.
5. Take advantage of the benefits of the Sixth Conference – Although the virtual conference loses personal interaction, it also creates opportunities for different types of interaction. For example, we have defined Videosocials.net As a partner, he can record mini 2-minute videos for attendees in groups of ten. By gathering the attendees, they had the opportunity to network in small groups, plus they came up with a short video for use on their website.
6. Audience matching tools We knew our conference would be attended by busy mothers, so we had to think of ways to increase participation. One approach was to spread events throughout the day and into the evening, keeping in mind that participants would attend after the kids had gone to bed (spoiler alert: our highest attendance was within 5-9 hours). We also knew that attendees would want to communicate with each other and speakers even after the conference ended – so we created an app for that. But the app was useful in another, less anticipated, but more useful way: It was an easy way for attendees to watch the conference directly from their phones.
7. Event promotion and the downside of no-promotion policies – We are starting to be able to tap into my fans here at MyShingle. Since I’ve been blogging for almost 18 years, I have a good following on social media and a healthy newsletter list that has served as a starting point for my promotion. Two of my colleagues also generously shared news of the event in their newsletters although it is unclear how much attraction it brought.
On the flip side, we have also fallen victim to the strict “no promotion” policies of many Facebook groups, including those with audiences who might be interested in the event. I understand that one of the values of Facebook groups is that owners sponsor content so that no spam is sent to members. But on the flip side, blocking the news for all events regardless of value is also not helpful, and in some groups, we have heard members regret that they haven’t heard anything about our event. However, the rise of Facebook groups has made promoting conferences more difficult without a large email list or social media following – because many members rely on these groups as their main source of curated content.
8. Find sponsors (Or The Chicken & the Egg) – Here, we’ve been blessed with a few early patrons who came on board with no questions asked because they saw the value in our mission. That was important because in the beginning we didn’t have that many registrants – certainly nothing close to the 1,000 that we were aspiring for.
9. Technical tools – Although I had always expected to use Zoom to run the conference, I didn’t understand any of the details on how to make it work a couple of weeks ago. I reached out to Larry Port on Rocket Matter and Lawyer Forward’s Mike Whelan who gave me a behind-the-scenes climax – although none of the setting was perfect. In the end, we went to create a password-protected page where users could directly connect to Zoom’s web link, or they could view directly from a link in the app (insert an image). Other technologies we used in addition to Zoom included:
Evenbright To register a ticket
Freshbooks – My law firm’s payment processor that I used to bill sponsors because it was already set up and allowed the option to pay by credit card or ACH payments
Glideapps.com We used Glide Apps, a low-code tool to convert Google Sheets into an app format. Since we used Eventbrite to register, we needed to create a Zapier Contact Transfer of registered names to the Google spreadsheet to run the application.
Facebook Live Although this is not a technology in itself, we have relied heavily on Facebook live videos to promote the event.
Beaver Builder On WordPress – Again, since I didn’t use a single, all-encompassing funnel to promote events, it was much faster to build or website, www.LawyerMomOwnerSummit.com Using the Beaver Builder Template for WordPress and hacking it down into something cool. I did some design (I always wanted to know enough about technology to be dangerous), with my assistant working out complex problems and doing the bulk of the implementation.
10. Promotion details: I’m not going to lie, promoting this event was tough. All I can say is that consistency pays off. Between September 11 and the day before the conference, we:
- I sent ten emails:
- 18 Facebook Live events Between August 28 and the day before the event
- Multiple posting on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram
- Liaising with law schools and bar associations to sell “packages” of tickets – resulting in no sales.
- Few ads and enhancements for Facebook
Ultimately our promotions paid off with 340 people, but the lesson here is that you need to be relentless in promoting paid events. In the end, we also managed to conquer more than ten sponsors.
11. Conclusion on the cost
Virtual events are cheap but not free. Here are some of our costs:
Swag – even on a tight budget, we spent about $ 4,500 on swag and expected another $ 1,000 in mailing costs. But the spoils were important to our legitimacy.
Zoom – I invested in Zoom’s webinar platform for a month at a cost of $ 560 for 500 guests and 4 hosts
Graphics, Social Media, and Other Support – We spent several thousand dollars on a graphical / social media representative and self-funded administrative support through sponsorship.
Application Development – $ 450
The remaining costs for the web hosting, design, email campaign, extra moderator, and correspondence came from my company as I use these tools anyway and so they are prohibitive costs. We’ve never reached 1,000 people, but we’re getting great feedback and we’ve laid a great foundation for next year. In a future post, I’ll be sharing where we think this initiative is going. In the meantime, if your organization is seeking to sponsor an online event, reach out to me – I am glad to participate.