Ep 129: Liam Austin: Million Dollar Virtual Events

“Holding virtual events is the one of the best way to make millions.”  Liam Austin

You already know how I feel about live events, They don’t call me the million dollar event whisperer for nothing!  In this episode, I sit down with Liam Austin and we talk about how to leverage the power of virtual events to take your business to the next level. 

Are you working your way up the ladder to success? Virtual events may just make the difference for you. In this episode, Liam Austin, founder of Entrepreneurs HQ, shares how he offers programs, workshops, and courses for his clients to learn from himself how to attract more people and successfully conduct online summits. Liam uses his business as a platform to also promote virtual events and bring experts from around the globe, building a learning community. Stay tuned and learn how to have your first million-dollar virtual event!

Liam Austin: Million Dollar Virtual Events

This episode is powered by the Move to Millions Quickstart Guide. Wondering what it’s going to take to make a move to millions? Learn more now by visiting MoveToMillionsGuide.com. In this episode, I sit down with Liam Austin. It was such an amazing conversation. We talked about how his company got started. He started his company for love. We ended our conversation talking about virtual events, and you all know that I love a good event. It was such an amazing experience.

Let me share a little bit more with you about Liam. He is the Cofounder of Entrepreneurs HQ and a Virtual Event Strategist, having launched over fifteen virtual summits, dozens of quick workshops, and many more online events. He is hosting over 400 speakers while educating 100,000-plus business owners through his programs. He is also the creator of the Million Dollar Virtual Summit Program, where he partners with select clients to generate seven figures.

I had such a blast talking to Liam. If you have a desire to learn how to stop making mistakes when it comes to bringing people together virtually so that you can maximize the experience that you’re creating, you’re going to love this conversation. My favorite part of the interview was when Liam unpacked his story, why he does what he does, and how he created work from anywhere business to be able to make sure that he and his partner, Sara, could stay together.

He said the driving force of love is what made them a success to be able to work from anywhere and spend time with family. I hope that you get all the feels when you read Liam share his story, as well as all the strategies when we get to talking about virtual events. Grab your pen and paper, and let’s jump into my interview with Liam Austin.

Liam Austin, I’m so excited to welcome you to the show. How are you?

I am awesome, Darnyelle. I’m spending time with mum at the moment, so all is good.

You can’t see Liam, but he’s got this huge smile on his face. It warms my heart. I’m so excited that you are here. Liam, before we get started, take a quick moment and tell everybody who you are in your own words.

I’m the son of my mom and my father who I’m close. We both live in Sydney, Australia, although my father is Scottish. I’ve got a bit of European background. My partner, Sara, is Swedish as well. We live in Europe together on a little island off the coast of Italy called Malta. It’s sunny there. It has a similar climate to Sydney, my hometown. There is plenty of water. I love water activities. I love to surf. I’m doing lots of that while I’m here in Sydney. Malta is on the Mediterranean sea, so the sea is very flat. Only when there’s a storm rolling into the waves appear. Normally, it’s not a nice sunny day when I’m surfing over in Malta, but I still do enjoy it.

My partner, Sara, is Swedish, so we spend a lot of time in Sweden, traveling between Sweden and Australia and visiting our families. We created an online business together back in 2015 so we could spend time with our family because that’s important for us. That’s how the business started and how I began this journey. It was out of, “How can Sara and I create a life together?” It was really love that drove us to the success we’ve had now.

I love that when I said to tell everybody who you are in your own words, the first thing you said and your face lit up like a Christmas tree was, “I’m a son.” I could tell even before you started talking about you, Sara, and your own dreams, to make sure that you could spend time with your family that it was the most important thing to you. That lit me up. What you said was that it was for love that we started this business. How could we create a life that allows us to love each other and spend time with our family while also making money? You’re already a man after my own heart. I could cry. I won’t because we have to do this interview.

Sometimes when we operate from a space of love and abundance, we don’t even realize how that impacts other people. Part of the reason I’m pulling on that is because I want our readers to know that they don’t have to hustle and grind to have a thriving and successful business that brings everything they desire into their life experience, that they can choose love and love can be the impetus for everything that it is that they do, and their business can follow suit. That’s what you said without ever saying that, and I feel that’s so powerful.

It is powerful, and it’s the driving force for success and what we’ve created to date. I’d been starting little businesses on the side of doing the 9:00 to 5:00 for probably a decade, but without much success, because I didn’t have that drive and reason to make it happen. The tipping point was when things started working and were put together in a way that was what we wanted or what I wanted. It was when I had that reason to make it work. It had to work because otherwise, the love of my life was going to move back to Sweden, and I’d never see her again.

We’d both be working 9:00 to 5:00 jobs in our respective hometowns, and that’s not what I wanted. That driving force of wanting to be with her and creating an online business so we could work from anywhere and spend time with both our families was the driving force. It’s the reason. If you’re passionate enough and have strong enough reason, you don’t necessarily have to hustle to make it happen, but you work so much more smartly because of how important it is to you.

This is what I heard as you were talking and something that I often say, “When you know your why, your what has more impact.” The driving force in your words was, “The love of my life was going to leave me or go and work a 9:00 to 5:00, and we’d never see each other. We have to figure this out. We have to find a way to stay in love, stay together, and do life together.”

That warms my heart. I felt like a puddle of tears. I could just cry at any moment, but I love it. Sara is such a blessed woman to be able to have you make a decision to do something that would impact both of your lives so deeply while also impacting the lives of so many others that you’ve done inside of your company, the things that you do, the ability to have that freedom and flexibility to see the world, your family and all of that.

For me, that’s the stuff business dreams are made of. That’s why we’re all doing this and not just sitting behind a desk like we did when we used to have a job. I certainly spent twelve years in Corporate America. I don’t want to say I hated every minute of it, but it got to the point where I had to ask myself, “Is there more to life than this?” It was a big part of the reason why I started my own company. I wanted to be a philanthropist and to have that freedom and flexibility.

The way that I was working back then, Liam, there was no way I was going to get a man. Now, I get to do life with my amazing husband, Bernard, who makes such a difference. I celebrate that. I’m so excited that you guys made a decision that works for you, and that decision is also changing the lives of other people. I know through your company, there are a lot of different things that you do. When you guys first started with this desire to, “Let’s stay together and let’s work from anywhere,” walk us through the journey of how your company came to be.

You guys have heard the why, and now it was like, “What?” What is going to make this happen for us? The what for us was doing a virtual event. It was in the form of a conference, commonly known as a virtual summit or online summit, where we gathered together. It was 35 experts for our first event in December of 2015. It was LinkedIn lead generation, how businesses prospect and generate leads and sales from the online platform LinkedIn.

We did this from our home in Sydney, where the internet was pretty average at best. It’s not like it is now. It has certainly changed a lot in just a short number of years. I suppose you look at the world and video technology now is being adopted because we’ve got cameras on our mobile devices in our pockets every day. Also, the internet has had to adapt to being able to store and transfer big or larger file sizes of data.

It’s become a lot easier now, but back in 2015, we were working from home on our personal internet plan. We were like, “We want to start a business. How are we going to do this?” LinkedIn was a platform that I’d been using for a number of years. I had had a bit of a community on the platform interested in learning how to leverage the platform better. The interesting thing was like, “How do we get them this information? How do we get the experts on prospecting on the platform LinkedIn all together?”

We thought, “Why don’t we run an online conference where we could bring all these experts from Europe, the Americas, and Asia all onto one stage in one room so they could share their expertise with our audience?” That came into the format of this virtual event. When I say virtual summit, it’s specifically a multi-day conference held online.

In this case, we had 35 speakers, all speaking on one topic, giving their input and insight into their experience and results and the systems and processes they use to prospect on LinkedIn. They were sharing those systems with our audience. People were able to get a free ticket to that event, which enabled us as a business to build our email list and generate leads. We had 15,000 people attend that first event. Since then, we’ve run dozens of other events.

Love will drive you to the success you have been longing for.

In that first event, we had 15,000 people on our email list. We also created direct revenue from that event. It was instant revenue. If someone registered, we’re able to upgrade from a free ticket to a VIP pass or an all-access pass to the event where they got access to the recordings, as well as some bonuses, some key insights, and some private invitations to certain sessions as well.

We had 15,000 leads. We made instant revenue from the event itself, which now enables us to go on and sell our other courses, programs, and services to them. That’s how it all started with that first event. Since then, we’ve repeated that same process by creating events on different topics and attracting audiences, such as speakers, authors, coaches, consultants, and entrepreneurs who want to learn how to generate leads and sales online.

What I love about that is so many things because I know a lot of people are doing summits or online events. However, they’re not getting 15,000 people to sign up. They’re not making money on the backend to have some immediate revenue that comes through it. I know that there are some success clues in there. I personally love live events, whether we’re talking virtually live or hybrid. I love all of them. Prior to COVID-19, a lot of events were happening physically.

With COVID, we started pivoting and figuring out how we can do this beyond the free online summit like the model you described. I love it because it galvanizes people. You get to bring people in and teach them something that they need, and then they can make a decision to take the next step. It’s such a powerful way.

Personally, it’s how I became a million-dollar CEO and a millionaire through hosting events. That’s why I was so excited for us to have this conversation because what I’ve realized as we’re talking about this conversation is that you don’t even have to do those big live events at venues with hotel rooms with food and beverage minimums to make an impact and to make a substantial income. I love what you did in 2015 with spotty internet. It has been rinsed and repeated over and over again.

Now, you’re offering other people to be able to learn your system and your framework to be able to produce similar results. If you could give advice to someone who is thinking about doing a summit, what would you say would be your biggest piece of advice now that for the last few years, this has been the way that you’ve been running or at least the starting point of how you’ve run your business, and how you’ve perfected these online summits and teaching other people? What advice would you give someone?

The biggest realization is that if you can’t be live in-person sitting in the opposite seats at the table, the best next thing is to be on their screen, sitting opposite them and live talking virtually. That’s the best way to build relationships, authority, trust, and credibility with your prospects. Naturally, by being the host of this LinkedIn Success Summit that we ran in 2015, I had people lining out for me wanting to get my consulting advice and services on LinkedIn. Yet, I was not the expert. I had invited these 38 experts. Some of them were coaches and consultants helping clients prospect on LinkedIn, yet as the host, everyone on my email list was seeing me in 35 videos getting to know, like, and trust me.

I was getting my emails. They were seeing my name in their inbox on a regular basis, so I was constantly on top of their mind for them. They were reaching out to me to hire me and wanting to pay me, and I didn’t have any offerings. I wasn’t offering any LinkedIn services, but the associated trust that was being built as well as the credibility that was passed on from the experts speaking at the event gave me that realization that this is a great platform for anyone who wants to be seen as the expert in their niche and build their authority with their audience. We all know once you’ve got that trust and credibility and the authority with our prospects, it’s so much easier to enroll them into our programs, courses, and services because that’s the hard part.

This is interesting because we did it all for ourselves. In October of 2019, three years after running events and bringing together the experts, our audience was saying, “You’re doing these events on lead generation and online sales, but it seems like this event model you’ve got going on is generating some significant leads and some good revenue as well. Can you teach us this model so we can implement it in our own businesses?”

By that stage, we’d had over 100,000 people on our email list, some of whom attended many of our events. They had maybe seen me on video hundreds of times. I’ve interviewed over 400 speakers at our events. They’ve got to know me well over those years. From that demand, we launched an online course teaching people how to run these virtual events that sell.

They’re virtual summits, but it’s also how to do 90-minute workshops because if you’re doing these in-person events and you’re thinking, “Do I really want to move into the event space? Yes, I see the possibility of reaching hundreds or thousands of people. If I’m doing this in person, I have to put down a big deposit to reserve a room in a hotel or a conference hall. I have to hire catering staff to check people in. This is a big and upfront cost when I’m not sure this thing is going to work.”

Why not test it online first, where the costs are low to get started, don’t have to pay for speakers to come and fly to your location, put them up in a hotel, or pay for their transport, food, and all those associated costs? That’s all eliminated when it comes online. It’s a low barrier to entry for businesses to start a virtual event, which is super encouraging for someone wanting to even start a business like I was in 2015. If I had reached 15,000 people, I would’ve had to hire a small stadium to be able to get everyone in person.

I love live events. We do a three-and-a-half-day event every year. In COVID, we had to move it and make it a hybrid. This year, we made the decision not to do an event. Back in 2022, we will be doing our live event. They’re amazing. I love the galvanization and coming together. I love that you even said that the next best way is through virtual. Because of COVID, we started doing virtual half-day events. In five-hour events where over the course of that five hours, we have made as much as $500,000 in five hours.

Once I realized that I didn’t even need to do a three-day event, it became about, ” I want to,” and not that I have to. We made some modifications in our business model to still do our live event or a three-day, but to add a couple of half-day events in there that are done virtually to be able to even continue to magnify our impact on our income which is powerful.

I love that people get a choice. To everything you said, the barrier to entry with virtual events is so low. Whether you’re doing a 90-minute event or a half-day or a full day, all of them can be profitable, which is amazing for people who want it. As I stated, the reason I love live events is that it’s the fastest way to make a lot of money with the right strategy. You got to know what you’re doing. You can’t just galvanize people together and hope and pray that money comes out of it.

There is a process that needs to be followed, but it is such a great way to be able to make that impact. As you were going through this process of perfecting your events and now doing these events for people that became one of the offers you made, people can hire you to produce their virtual event experience. What have been some of the biggest mistakes that you’ve made or you’ve even potentially seen people make when it comes to these virtual events that could make the difference in their ability to be able to generate significant leads and revenue immediately, as well as additional revenue through selling their services?

I’ve run dozens of these summits and thousands of 90-minute workshops. There are two different ends of the spectrum there. Once I started realizing, “People want to learn from me. Do I feel like I’m an expert?” I spent three years bringing in experts like, “Can I be the expert?” There was some self-doubt and some mindset issues, but my audience demanded that I teach them. I thought, “I need to learn some more things here. Let’s do some tests of things that I’m not sure will work, but let’s just try them out.”

Through that process of, “If I’m going to be teaching this, I want to make sure that I’ve made all the mistakes possible,” I know all the possibilities, the return on investment of each hour spent on certain tasks, and technology when it comes to running these online events. I’ve done a lot of testing across the different tech platforms, as well as like, “I want to sell a membership off the back of one of these events. I want to sell the subscription. I want to sell my services, coaching, online courses, and consulting offers. I want to book people into phone calls. I want to run a webinar.” I have tested all of these things, and some work better than others.

If you’re passionate enough and you have a strong enough reason, you don’t necessarily have to hustle to make it happen, but you just work so much more smartly because of how important it is to you.

The biggest mistake that I made was right at the very beginning. I mentioned or hinted at this. The LinkedIn Summit, I’ll take that as an example. We’ve done email marketing funnels, productivity, and many other different topics like sales conversion and business strategy. With LinkedIn, when people saw me as an expert, they wanted to hire me as a consultant. I didn’t have a high ticket offer. I didn’t have a coaching package. My highest-priced offer at that point was the upgrade to the VIP ticket, which was $197 at its maximum cost.

We lost a lot of potential in people who had a lot of trust in me. I knew their LinkedIn platform well. They saw that I was speaking to the experts, so people wanted to hire me. I didn’t have an offering to maximize the potential through that. In terms of creating one of these events for yourself and looking to build a million-dollar business or move from six figures to seven, make sure you are looking at your high ticket offer. Your high ticket offer is scalable. It’s highly profitable, and it’s selling. You’ve already got buyers for it.

Typically, when working with clients, I want to make sure there are at least three paying customers for a high ticket offer before I design an event to generate authority and leads to sell into that high ticket offer. It took me three years to launch an online course, and that online course was $2,000. It took me another year and a bit to launch my own coaching program, my high ticket offer. I was teaching people how to run these events. Virtual events that sell their courses and programs essentially are what I do. I missed out on 3, 4, and 5 years of significant revenue, like multiple six figures at a minimum per year, because I didn’t have a high ticket offer.

The biggest learning that stands out way in front of everything else is having a high ticket offer that you want to be selling and designing the event, the journey, and the experience with people from that event. Attract people who are your ideal clients for your high-ticket offer and give them the journey so that the authority and trust will be built and that credibility and they want to continue working with you naturally, even if you don’t mean it as I did with my very first LinkedIn event if you structure it well.

That’s such a great tip. I want to underscore it for our readers. Before you say, “I’m going to do a virtual event,” make sure that you begin with the end in mind. That’s one of my favorite Stephen Covey-isms. Have what your offer is going to look like, and make sure that whatever you are creating, in terms of the event, is a nice segue into your next level offer. That’s such a valuable lesson to have learned and be able to now teach that in your course and then to your clients that are enrolling in your programs to know that there are so many things they need to have in place before they look to do a virtual event. That is essentially what we’ve done. We used to do our three-day model.

On day two, we pitch our programs like everyone does at the live event. We started doing these half-day events, and as a result of that event, we’re able to go straight to offering our high-end program. We’re cutting out the middleman of all the venue, the food and beverage minimum, and all of that stuff. We certainly had to know where we were leading them in order to make sure that event was going to make sense, and this would be the no-brainer next thing to do when they came to the event.

That is so powerful. We’re going to make sure that we share with you how everyone can get ahold of the free opt-in for anyone interested in learning more about virtual events. As we round out our time together, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

When it comes to virtual events, to see if there’s something that scares you or you’re unsure about speaking on stage, this is a great way to start. I’d suggest starting with what I call a quick workshop where you’re doing a 90-minute workshop teaching one simple thing. It’s something simple that you can teach someone if you meet them on the street in a 5 or 10-minute conversation, you could teach them that and have the knowledge and walk away with it.

In that 90-minute workshop, you’re essentially teaching that ten-minute system process or way to get a certain result for them. You’re also helping them implement the rest of the time so that they walk away from that workshop, having implemented or workshopped their idea, concept, own system, and implemented it into their business or life.

Once you’ve given them a transformation and result, you stand out right from the rest of the crowd or the other people reading because they haven’t been able to get a result from these other people. As soon as they see that you’ve been able to deliver a result for them, they’re going to want to sign with you and work with you further to get more results. They’re like, “If I can get that result in 90 minutes working with Liam, imagine what it’s going to be like working with him for 90 days or 9 months.”

It’s super simple. Everyone already has something that they’re knowledgeable about. They can teach in ten minutes. Typically, when we’re choosing, it’s like, “What’s that a-ha moment, the best feedback you get from or the biggest transformations you get when teaching your system or course with your coaching clients?” Teach that ten-minute gift and see that transformation and trust, and those conversations naturally happen.

It doesn’t have to be salesy or anything like that. It’s a natural conversation about, “Let’s talk about what it might be like to work together to get even more results for you.” That’s part of the gift that I’m sharing with everyone. It is a bit of a checklist on exactly the steps to do that to get started running one of these virtual events and get new clients for yourself.

I’m so glad that you stopped by to share this amazing information, and I love your story. Thank you so much for sharing how you got started. I’m so excited for you and Sara that you guys will be together, and you’ll continue to see the world and spend time with family. You have this amazing business that is impacting other lives and living the dream. That warms my heart in the most amazing of ways.

Before I let you go, I always like to round out every interview that I do with a couple of questions. This episode is different than what we do. We typically are talking about mindset and that kind of thing, but we did get some actionable strategy for our readers, so I’m excited about that. This will underscore that, but typically we aren’t.

I like to make sure we rounded out with a little bit of business since that’s what this is supposed to be about that we’re doing here. The first question I’ll always ask is, what is your favorite quote? What is the quote that always gets you re-inspired? If you have a moment where you doubt yourself, you talked a little bit when you were talking about the mistakes about your self-doubt because people were ready for you to be the expert, and you weren’t quite there yet. Is there a quote that always gets you back in the game?

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Take action, people. That’s what we’re saying here. And then I also love books and like to create a list of books for our readers. What is a book that you have read?

I’m not a huge book reader. In terms of what’s interesting, I’ve been learning a lot more about that. I listen to a lot of podcasts. Maybe I can mention them there. In the virtual world, people have heard Facebook is being rebranded as Meta. Meta is one version of the metaverse, and there are plenty of other metaverses, virtual worlds essentially out there.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

It’s fascinating to me that there are events being held in these virtual worlds, like some famous singer-songwriters and musicians that are performing at these business events that are happening in these virtual worlds. That’s something that I’ve been super curious about. There haven’t been any books that I know about. A lot of the newest and latest information, we find on podcasts. That’s where I’ve been listening and spending a bit of time.

The last question is, “When you think about what has helped make your business easy and effortless, what’s been the tool you swear by?”

It’s going to be a simple answer, email. Email is the tool. If you’re building an online business, your biggest asset as an online business owner is your email list. It’s not your following on Facebook or Twitter. It’s your email list. You own the list of emails. You can send them an email whenever you want. You can change tools. We’re using Infusionsoft, renamed Keap. That’s a tool I’ve been using since 2015, and I love it. I love the CRM system and its email automation capabilities of it. That would be the tool of choice for me. Email is number one.

Liam, thank you so much for being here with us. I appreciate everything that you’ve shared. I’m excited about all the work you’re up to. I can’t wait to hear what you do next.

I’m very happy to have met you. Learning from people like you and having someone like you in my life allows me to expand my own knowledge but also the impact that I can have on the world. For everyone who’s reading, it’s doing what you’re doing, creating a community and audience, and making an impact on the world. You run into some amazing people on this journey. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so just get started and do it.

We’ll see you next time. Take care.

I told you it was going to be good. It was such a good conversation. It’s a treat around here when we have an expert that comes in and gives us some practical business growth strategy. We spend the majority of our time working on your mindset and the way you look at money, wealth, abundance, and alignment. To be able to have Liam here was such a treat. If you enjoyed our conversation and want to connect directly with Liam, make sure you check out the link to his website and grab his free gift at QuickWorkshopWin.com to make sure that you’re able to do that. I am so excited. You guys know that I love live events, virtual events, and hybrid events.

We launched our course Leverage + Scale Enrollment Events and it has been amazing how it’s helping people make more in three days or less than most people make in a year. I’m excited about all that Liam is doing and how he has paved the way for being able to have massive success with very short online events, low overhead, and teaching you all of that.

I want you to make sure that you get your hands on his free gift. If you are ready to make a move to million to your own business, you better grab our quick start guide. You can grab yours now at MoveToMillionsGuide.com. I so love hanging out with you and asking our guests the questions that you need to have answers to so that you can make a move to millions. It’s all about normalizing millions around here because if you didn’t come from millions, millions are not going to come from you. I’ll see you next episode. Take care.

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