Tools & Resources mentioned during the episode:
- Deadline Funnel
- Active Campaign
- Deer Designer
- Thrive Cart
Hey, friends, welcome to Episode 14 of the Virtual Summit Mastery podcast. What does it cost to host a virtual summit? This is a question I hear often, and it is a good one. Because there are three types of costs involved in running a virtual summit, you have ongoing costs, a one-time cost, and costs per event. So I’m going to break down all three of those.
I’m going to explain to you what types of services you need, what tools you need, how much they cost per month, what’s the one-time fees that you have to pay? And then you’ll have a good understanding by the end of this episode of how much budget you need per month to keep the summit running.
What does it cost to run a virtual summit except for training programs like VSM and stuff like that? So that you can set up a proper budget for your virtual events.
The Ongoing Costs
So let’s start with the ongoing costs. We have the summit platform. This is, I would say, the primary platform that you need to use to run your virtual summit. It’s essentially your website. And no matter whether you build it on WordPress, Click Funnels, Kartra, whatever. There are costs involved in this. WordPress is the cheapest option right here. We are looking at around $10 to $20 per month.
For good WordPress hosting, I personally use Cloudways. I have a link in the transcript that’s VSMpodcast.com/14. Everything I’m going through in this episode will be explained and linked to, of course, in the transcript. So WordPress, let’s say 20 bucks a month is a good baseline for WordPress hosting. If you go with Click Funnels, it starts from $97 per month as of recording this episode. Kartra is $99 a month for 2500 leads.
So the goal for the summit for this sample calculation is to get 2500 attendees for the virtual event, which I think is a good baseline. And then we have the summit platform. We have two other marketing tools that I consider mandatory for a virtual summit. One is called Deadline Funnel, which is a tool that lets you set a real countdown. This is used inside Virtual Summit Mastery to create real urgency.
It is the one countdown timer so far I’ve seen that cannot be tricked. I have not found a way to trick Deadline Funnel yet, even when switching to different devices, switching different wi-fi, and stuff like that. It works. We use Deadline Funnel to not just have the one-time offer in place when building the virtual summit.
That is a discounted version of the replays in most cases. Directly shown after somebody signs up, and then you show that offer for 15 minutes. We do that 15-minute countdown timer with the Deadline funnel. But you also can expire all your sessions using Deadline Funnels so that they are taken offline immediately. When the time is off. When let’s say you want to show the sessions for 24 hours.
On day one of the summit, the countdown starts for everybody who’s attending the summit. When the countdown runs down, those sessions assigned to that countdown automatically redirect to an expired page where you can pitch the replays of those sessions again. That’s Deadline Funnel; it’s $99 a month for 10,000 leads.
So they have a smaller plan, which is $94 a month, but you get over that quickly because you can just have 1000 leads. That’s why I’m referring to the 10,000 leads plan. Ten thousand attendees for the summit is $99 a month. So considering that we have the summit platform anywhere from $20-$100 a month plus $99 a month for Deadline Funnel.
And then the third tool that we need to run a virtual summit is email marketing. Inside Virtual Summit Mastery, we use either Active Campaign or ConvertKit. Those are the two recommended platforms, and Active Campaign starts at $55 a month for 2500 leads while ConvertKit is for $49. So roughly 50 bucks. So that is a baseline of around $200.
If we use WordPress, you are looking at roughly $180 per month. If you are using click funnels or Kartra, you are looking at $250 per month. That is just to keep the summit running. That’s the baseline. You can use the website, email marketing, and Deadline funnels to execute a virtual summit properly and have the ability to run evergreen virtual summits.
This works in this platform. And then, if you want to use premium video hosting, you can log into a platform called Vimeo, which I’m just pulling up the pricing page right now. I think I pay around 300 euros a year. My plan is business. I pay 40 euros per month. So that’s 500 euros per year for Vimeo.
Broken down, that’s another 40 euros or 50 bucks per month. So we’re looking at $230 using WordPress and $300 using ConvertKit. Using click funnels or Kartra, it’s $230 with WordPress $300 per month with click funnels or Kartra. So it’s not a cheap amount.
But then again, it’s a business asset that generates way more than this if you execute a virtual summit properly.
The One-Time Costs
Now, we do also have one-time costs for virtual summits. And those are the essential things. It’s a service or platform that you buy once because it has a lifetime deal. And then, you can use it for any summit that you plan to run in the future. And for other things as well.
I’m talking about a payment gateway called thrive cart. It’s a payment gateway we use in VSM to sell the memberships to automatically create users when they buy a membership in the all-access pass area. And they get all the paid replays and stuff like that.
You can connect Thrive cart to your email marketing tool into your membership platform. You can then run automation that automatically creates the users’ accounts, saving you a lot of time. And it has affiliate management integrated if you go for the pro version, which is $700 one-time, which isn’t a cheap amount.
But then it saves you a lot of time. And usually, if you run 2500 leads for a virtual summit, you should be able to offset that costs and make way more from 2500 targeted leads. And that is the only one-time cost we have in this concept.
Additional Ongoing Monthly Costs You Need to Spend On
Now there’s one other thing that I forgot on the ongoing monthly costs that we need to talk about, which is a membership plugin.
If you use WordPress, you are looking at a membership plugin like memberium, for example. I think it is around $40 a month that I’m paying right now. I use memberium for Active Campaign. It is $37 per month that comes on top of the equation. Usually, you’re looking at $270 per month with WordPress and $300 and change with click funnels and Kartra.
And again, this just puts into perspective what a virtual summit really is. It is a business asset that can grow your business sustainably. And that involves investing a bit of money into your business as well.
The Costs Per Event
Now, what is the costs per event? What do you have to spend actually to execute the event? The elephant in the room is building the website and the membership area, which you can outsource to a freelancer. You can use the templates we build in Elementor, Divi, thrive cart, Thrive Themes, and Gutenberg that is included in the virtual summit mastery course.
They save you a ton of time; otherwise, if you outsource this to a freelancer, expect to pay anywhere from 1000 to $5,000 for the membership area and the website with virtual summit mastery. It’s all included. And you just have to click a few buttons to get the website set up and running, and then you fill in the copy.
Adjust the graphics and stuff like that. Adjust the colors. Then what you also need, as we’re talking about graphics, is that you can use all the templates we have in virtual summit mastery for the graphics. Or you can hire a graphic designer for every event to create website graphics, lead magnet graphics, promo graphics that you can use, and paid traffic campaigns and stuff like that for your affiliates and things like that.
I personally use deerdesigner.com. Again, the link is in the show notes, vsmpodcast.com/14. DeerDesigner is a flat-rate design service. It’s the best one I’ve seen so far. I also tried Design Pickle, but I wasn’t too happy with them. They approached me afterward and offered to make up for that.
So I have to give them that. I’m not saying anything bad about Design Pickle other than when I used them a few years ago. I wasn’t too impressed. With Deerdesigner, I’m really happy. But Deerdesigner is $500 a month. So Deerdesigner still is really expensive, or $500 a month can be expensive. Let’s phrase it that way. But then you have a flat-rate graphic design.
So when you think about what it costs to hire an in-house designer, Deer Designer is really, really cheap and really affordable. And you just need to hire them for the time when you’re running the summit and the three months before the summit when you have all the graphics created.
So that’s probably another $1500 to $2,000 that you have to budget for when you’re executing a virtual summit. And then the last expense you’re looking at is paid traffic campaigns. And usually, I see friends of mine who run these agencies to run paid traffic campaigns for clients.
They start at $1,000 per month, plus your ad budget. So this is obviously a decision that depends on your own use case on your own budget. You can do it yourself, of course, but you’re probably not going to see as good of results as a professional could generate for you from paid traffic.
But again, it’s a decision that you have to make for your own budget. So to summarize, we have ongoing monthly costs for a virtual summit that keeps the platform running; in WordPress, you are looking at roughly $270 per month. When you use something like Click Funnels or Kartra, you’re looking at roughly 330 to $350 per month, including the platform, the content management system, deadlinefunnel.com, and an email marketing tool, like Active Campaign or ConvertKit.
And if you’re using WordPress, you will also need a membership plugin like memberium.com. Then you have one-time costs, which is, in this case, just thrive cart. It’s $700 per month. It’s a payment gateway and affiliate marketing system. And then, you have costs per event that virtual summit mastery can help you with.
And save some money with outsourcing the website build and building the membership area where we have professionally-designed website templates for WordPress and click funnels and Kartra that you can import or pay somebody to do it for you, which usually costs around 1000 to 5000 US dollars.
And you have to have the graphic design done for a virtual summit, which includes website graphics, lead magnets, promo graphics, and so on. For that, we use Deerdesigner at Virtual Summit Mastery. And we also have graphic templates that you can use to save yourself some money and some time.
You have paid traffic campaigns that usually start from $1,000 per month, a management fee plus your ad budget. If you want to take it to the top, you can hire copywriters as well. You can hire community managers as well. But this is just a baseline calculation for running a virtual summit so that you have an idea of what other expenses you have to budget for when executing a virtual event.
Why Sponsorships for your Summit is Important
And this also goes to show how important it is to have sponsorships for your virtual summit. This is so key you need to have somebody else covering these expenses to minimize the risk of losing money at your virtual event. You want to have companies in your space who get involved with the virtual summit to not just help with promoting and putting your event out there.
But also want to invest money into your summit to make it a success so that you can cover all the costs of actually organizing and putting all of this together. Again, you can find all the tools listed at VSMpodcast.com/14 in the show notes and the transcript. And if you want to learn more about the virtual summit mastery method of hosting virtual summits, check out the book at virtualsummitmastery.com/book where I explain the entire process of putting a virtual event together. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll catch you next week.