Building a Network on the Road



Content Contributor, HeySummit

Published on 30th January 2020Updated 13th December 2023

Here at HeySummit, we're always looking for new ways to help you make the best of your summits. We're doing our best to feature all the ways HeySummit has been used and loved by our community of users. In this post, the spotlight's on Sharee Collier, bestselling author of Live Camp Work and host of the Live Camp Work: Make Money and RV summit. Read on and get inspired šŸ”ļø

The Challenge

Sharee Collier took the road less travelled. With a background in marketing and event planning, Sharee has been predominantly living in an RV with her family for almost six years now. Wanting to share her incredible lifestyle and passion for travelling, Sharee wrote a book, Live Camp Work, which shot to the top of the Amazon charts upon its release. With the book came a blog and a podcast - people couldn't get enough of Sharee's unique story. Knowing she'd always had this entrepreneurial spirit, sharing her story became her full-time job. While browsing Facebook groups popular amongst the RV community, she realized that people wanted to know how they, too, could comfortably switch to the RV lifestyle. Most of their questions centered on how people living in RVs made money whilst on the road, and Sharee, with her wealth of experience, had some answers. However, as we all know, Facebook comments tend to be on the shorter and briefer side. She knew that it was not the best way to answer these types of questions, so she sought a different platform - enter HeySummit.

Anatomy of a Summit

The road less travelled

Having previously participated in two other summits about life on the road and living full-time in an RV, Sharee loved the way the summits were able to curate so many different perspectives and voices. The potential for a summit to crowdsource information by bringing different mindsets together to create one product, became clear. Sharee leapt off the deep end and started planning her very first summit to showcase not just her ideas, but those of many others in the community. Doing something so out of her comfort zone was a challenge, but she believed that she would eventually be able to create something truly valuable for current and would-be RVers.

You can't cover it all

RV life can be overwhelming. In fact, it's pretty much guaranteed that any subject matter anyone tries to tackle in their summits will be overwhelming. That's why Sharee emphasized the importance of being clear with her summit goals. With her particular experience, Sharee didn't want to address the specifics of RVs - things like RV models, financial considerations or how to homeschool kids on the road. So, decide what your summit is not going to cover. The more focused it is, the more likely you will be to convert potential attendees to registered guests of your summit.

Managing expectations

Having a summit goal in mind really facilitated the planning process. With the ambitious goal of taking her event from Zero to Summit in 30-45 days, Sharee narrowed down her focus to one aspect of RV living - jobs. Virtual jobs, seasonal jobs, everything fit nicely under the theme of making money right from your RV. This made key aspects of the summit, such as building a landing page, finding the right speakers, approaching sponsors and advertising to the right audience, much easier to do. Be clear on your summit goal. What does success look like? Put a number on it.

Know your audience

Speaking of audience, the typical audience for her book and website were mainly people in either the dreaming or planning stage of living the RV life. Sharee knew she could target her usual demographic of people aged 55-70, who'd already had long, traditional careers and were looking to shake things up a little. What really surprised her was that 40% of her signups ended up coming from people in a younger age range - starting from as young as 18. These were people keen to avoid the monotonous 9-5 routine and launch virtual or seasonal careers while travelling the world. With such a diverse audience, Sharee knew she had to shape her summit so that it could specifically address the needs of different groups. She didn't want to alienate anyone keen on making money while on the road. To better understand just who her attendees were, Sharee created simple registration questions, such as "How old are you" and monitored attendee data, for example tracking which categories had the most number of signups. Armed with these statistics, she shaped her summit content as well as creating content on her blog that specifically appealed to people of different ages & stages/ had different motivations for living and working from their RVs. Get to know your potential attendees. Ask them questions, research them - speak to them if you can. This helps you focus your content and deliver value for your target market.

Wanted: speakers

Once you know your audience, you know where to find them and where they main influencers in your field have their strongest presence. Sharee's audience were active on Facebook and she used the platform as a tool to find her speakers. She'd spend hours trawling RV- related Facebook groups, singling out people who were most active and had the most interesting insights to share. Then, she would gather more information about them and decide if they fit with her summit theme and goals. Offline, she also attended various RV events and seminars, each time with the aim of approaching the best speakers she could find. Sharee wanted to have control over the content of her summit, so she refrained from putting out flashy "Speakers Wanted" ads. Instead of having them find her, she put in the hours to find them. The clear and concise manner in which she laid out her summit angle and objectives to potential speakers worked wonders - out of roughly 50 people she approached, 35 wanted in, and 44 talks later, a summit was born. Basically, you should decide on your speaker flow early on. Ask yourself - how you will find them, what your goals are, and what your ask is before you reach out to them. Keep it simple and clear to get the best responses.

Facebook: for speakers and attendees

Facebook didn't just help Sharee find speakers. It helped potential attendees find the summit. 80% of her audience came from Facebook ads - never underestimate the power of a good social media strategy! Sharee used money from her sponsors to cover the costs of Facebook ads. People interacted with the ads by leaving likes and comments, which ended up driving more and more people to her summit page. A simple yet effective strategy that made summit planning so much less stressful. Know where your audience are active and how to describe your summit to them - why should they care? Budget to include ad spend - it's worth it.

Growing your network

Sharee's summit helped her to establish relationships with people from all walks of life inside the RV community. In addition, she was able to grow her email list and expand her audience. Sharee measured the success of her summit by setting two clear targets at the start of her planning stage: firstly, to hit 5,000 attendees (which she did), and secondly, to grow her Facebook group of 300 people to 1,000. This number grew to 1,700 post-summit. Hard work truly does pay off.

Summit Successfully: Sharee's Top Tips

Set a clear pricing plan

Sharee made the summit free to attend live, but sold VIP passes where attendees could watch replays for a specified length of time, plus get a free VIP workbook which included speaker information and offer lists. Understanding that her audience came from different backgrounds, she set three separate price points for a 30-day pass, a one-year pass and a lifetime pass. Prior to the event, they were priced at USD 27, USD 47 and USD 67. Seeing how successful her summit was becoming, Sharee increased prices once the summit started to USD 47, USD 67 and USD 97; and then once again after the summit had ended to USD 67, USD 97 and USD 127.

Let's talk about talks

Sharee used a mixture of talks and interviews between 30-60 minutes long, which were all pre-recorded for quality control. This also enabled her to create audio and video files from the same material. The only exception to this was when she ran Facebook Live sessions. Another benefit she got out of using pre-recorded talks was that she could repurpose content after the summit ended. So far, she has transcribed the talks, and plans to combine it with some content from her blog to create a weekly email series.

The customer is not always right

Attracting attendees, speakers and sponsors is an integral part of every summit. That's why Sharee was determined to provide the best customer support possible - within limits. Usually a warm, friendly person, Sharee sometimes found her patience tested by people who were rude, pushy or insulting. It's not always easy to handle people who are upset, but at the end of the day, Sharee spent so much time and effort planning the summit, putting her heart into it, that she decided to be clear from the get-go about expecting mutual respect from attendees, speakers and sponsors alike. You can see how she did this on her summit page here.

Bumps in the road

We all love emails - up to a point. If there was one thing Sharee would change, it's her email strategy. At first, those who'd signed up to her talk complained they were getting too many emails. In a panic, Sharee turned off all automatic email reminders, which was a step too far in the opposite direction, leaving attendees confused if the summit was still going on as scheduled, and where they could view the talks. Ultimately, Sharee ended up spending a lot of valuable time replying to attendees who'd initially unsubscribed . Next time, Sharee is going to consider if she wants all attendees automatically signed up for each talk. She'll review her email settings and consider what emails get sent when, tweaking them to suit her audience best.

Don't bite off more than you can chew

With her 45-day timeline, Sharee worked exclusively on her summit from 8am-6pm, 5 days a week. But just because she set restrictions on how much time she'd commit to it doesn't mean the rest of the world followed suit. With her summit gaining popularity quickly, speakers were scrambling to sign up to talk. When some of her speakers inevitably missed the deadline, she was flooded with requests to extend the deadline to submit their recordings. Compromising between creating a great summit experience for those who'd already signed up and getting more attendees, Sharee extended the deadline by one week. This still left her with time to ensure everything was in place.

Get started now

To watch the video of this HeySummit all-star, along with 10+ more hours of how-to-summit content, check out the HeySummit Getting Started with your Summit Course.

Love what you're reading? Why not have a go at hosting your very own summit- on us. Here's a link to your free trial with HeySummit. While you're at it, watch our awesome live demo! Happy summiting šŸ”ļø



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