How to Host an Engaging Online Workshop with Zoom and Acuity Scheduling

13 min read

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How to host an online workshop on a budget
I just hosted a paid, live, interactive SEO workshop online over Zoom, and boy, it was easy! And cheap! And today, I’m going to share everything you need to know to host one with your audience. All you need is a Zoom account, an Acuity Scheduling account, and voila! Both platforms (combined!) are cheaper than most webinar platforms, which makes this combination great for beginner to intermediate bloggers on a budget.

Without further ado, let me show you everything I’ve learned from my workshop.

Content

In this blog post, I’m going to focus more on workshops rather than webinars because that’s what I just did. That said, you can easily adapt the system I’m about to show you for your webinar as well. 

But first, let’s take a look at what the difference is between a workshop and a webinar, and who should host which.

Difference Between an Online Workshop and a Webinar

Online or virtual workshops and webinars were growing in popularity well before this COVID pandemic.  In short, workshops and webinars are events held by someone (or a group) of authority figures in a particular field where they teach the attendees about the said field (or a skill).  Think of these as one-time classes led by professionals.

As for the difference between a workshop and a webinar, a workshop is more like a standalone class, whereas a webinar is more like a lecture on a topic followed by some kind of paid offer.

In other words, we use the term “webinar” when a free lecture is followed by a product promotion (focus on selling the product), whereas a workshop is a free or paid class on its own and isn’t necessarily focused on sales.

A bit confusing, I know, but that’s the best distinction I could find.

So, should you host a workshop or a webinar?

If you have a paid product, then you can use free webinars to promote your paid product. In this scenario, your webinar should contain enough information to create anticipation among your attendees so they’re more inclined to purchase the product.

I’ve seen other bloggers and content creators use webinars and timed discounts to sell their info product, like an online course or an eBook. So, if you have a product already, webinars can be a good way to drive timed sales.

But even if you’re not using timed discounts, you could still leverage a free webinar to sell your product. You can even create an evergreen webinar where you pre-record it, and then serve it up on-demand while using it as an entry point to a sales funnel.

If you’re using pre-recorded webinars as a way to get people into your sales funnel, then the process can be as simple or as complicated as you make them. For example, I have a simple webinar I use to get potential buyers for my course—Side Income with Canva Templates. I didn’t use any fancy software. I just recorded the webinar, uploaded it to Vimeo, and I serve it up to whoever signs up for that webinar using an email opt-in form (which I made with ConvertKit.)


A workshop is best for when you’re selling a standalone class of a sort. Like the one I recently did—the SEO for Bloggers workshop. It was a 1.5 hour class over Zoom, and it was interactive where I engaged with my attendees. Throughout and at the end of the workshop, the attendees got to ask me questions and give me their feedback in real-time. I wasn’t promoting a product or anything with that workshop. The workshop itself cost money to attend, but I wasn’t upselling or cross-selling anything.

It was basically a live, paid class over Zoom.

A workshop is useful for a variety of things. Here are a few:

  • You don’t have enough time to create an online course, so you teach a quick workshop instead and make some money in the process.
  • You want to make an online course, but not sure if there’s a demand or if people would want to pay for it. So you do a trial run with a paid workshop first. Because let’s be honest, a lot of people will sign up for freebies, but only the really curious and interested parties will pay for a workshop (even if it’s only a few bucks).
  • You want to get some teaching experience before creating a course. A workshop can help you get up to speed.
  • You want to create an info product—a course or an eBook—but you’re uncertain about the topics that’d go into it. You want to make sure you’re answering the questions that your future students will have. So you hold a workshop and get live questions and feedback.
  • You’re just having a good time interacting with your community and perhaps teaching them something along the way 🙂 This can be a free or paid workshop (paid if you’re giving them enough value) for everyone to hang out, chat, ask questions, learn something, etc.

These are some of the reasons why you may want to host a workshop and not a webinar; but if you think of something else, feel free to let me know in the comments.

Tools Needed to Host a Live Workshop

Pre-recorded webinars are easy; like the one that I made for my sales funnel. It was a simple recording that I uploaded on Vimeo (private mode) and then shared a link with those two signed up to get the webinar.

Live webinars or workshops are a bit more complex, and depending on which functionalities you seek, one platform may be better than the other. Some platforms will allow your users to pay (useful if you’re hosting a live and paid workshop), others will help you integrate a course platform (if you’re upselling your course or other info products after a webinar), etc.

But as I said before, we’re going to talk about hosting live (and paid) workshops in this post. Also, the target audience for this guide are beginners or intermediate content creators on a budget.

So, we’ll skip the fancy, and expensive, and complicated platforms like WebinarJam or EasyWebinar or EverWebinar. These platforms cost hundreds of dollars per year, and even if you sign up for only a month, they’ll cost you close to a hundred bucks.

Not very cost-efficient for beginners, are they?!

So, I’m going to show you a much cheaper and simpler way to hold a live, paid workshop. You’ll only need these two tools:

  • Acuity Scheduling
  • Zoom

Tool 1: Zoom

Note that Zoom has a live webinar plan that costs a lot more. We don’t need that. Remember, our goal is to keep things as cost-efficient as possible. So, in this tutorial, we’ll use a basic Zoom Pro plan which costs only $14.99 per month. Zoom is where you’ll hold the actual workshop. This platform allows hosting classes where you can have multiple attendees with just one meeting. Zoom can also help you easily record the meeting, chat or talk with your attendees on or off-camera, and control how to interact with your attendees.

Tool 2: Acuity Scheduling

Acuity Scheduling takes care of the payment and scheduling part. Acuity has a Zoom integration, so when a customer buys a workshop via Acuity, it automatically creates a Zoom class. You don’t have to do a thing. Everything is automated after the initial setup (which I’ll show you in the next section.) Acuity even takes care of sending reminder emails to your customers/attendees. The monthly subscription price for Acuity Scheduling is only $15.

So, as you can see, a much, much more affordable option even with these two platforms combined ($29.99 per month at the time of writing this.)

If you hold a lot of meetings and workshops, you can sign up for their annual plans and save more. But even with that, these two platforms combined will cost you less than some of the webinar platforms out there.

How to Set Up Acuity Scheduling and Zoom to Host Your Live Workshop

Let’s look at how to set everything up now, shall we? Don’t worry, it’s a simple process.

Step 1: Sign up for Zoom Pro

The free Zoom plan can only have meetings up to 40 minutes. Typically, a paid workshop should run longer than that (aim for at least 1-2 hours, but if you’re hosting a short and free event, then maybe a free plan could work for you.) The Zoom Pro plan offers longer meetings for up to 100 attendees. If you think you’ll have more than 100, you can either host two or more identical workshops across multiple days to accommodate all customers. Or, you can sign up for a higher plan that offers more attendees per meeting.

Step 2: Sign up for Acuity Scheduling

Acuity Scheduling is where the bulk of the work happens. Starting from creating an event, to accepting bookings and payment, sending reminder emails, and much more. The “Emerging” plan should be sufficient for your cause.

Step 3: Set up payment methods so that people can pay you for the workshop

When you log into your Acuity Scheduling account, from inside the dashboard, go to “Payment Settings” from the left menu. There you’ll see Stripe, PayPal, and Square. Choose the payment methods you want to use, and then follow the prompts to connect them with Acuity. I prefer to have PayPal as well as Stripe. Stripe can handle most payments with credit cards if a customer doesn’t have PayPal.

Set up payment methods within Acuity Scheduling.
Set up payment methods within the Acuity Scheduling dashboard by clicking “Payment Settings.”

Step 4: Connect Zoom with Acuity Scheduling

Go to “Integrations” from the left menu on Acuity’s dashboard. Click the “set up” button under “Zoom” and then follow the prompts to connect Zoom with Acuity.

Acuity Scheduling and Zoom integration
Acuity Scheduling and Zoom integration

Step 5: Create an event for your workshop

Go to “Appointment Types.” Make sure to create a “New type of Group Class.” On this page, choose a name for the event, duration of the event, price of the event, and under “group class”, make sure “This is a class or group event” is checked. You can also pick the maximum number of people allowed. The default is 8, but feel free to change this number to reflect however many attendees you’re willing to let in. Remember, Zoom has max participant restrictions based on your plan. The Zoom Pro plan allows 100 participants, so it’s a good idea to limit your max attendees to 100 (or more if you’re on a higher plan on Zoom.) Click “Create Appointment Type” once you’ve filled out everything. You’ll set up a time for the workshop on the next page.

Create a new appointment for your workshop.
Create a new appointment for your workshop.

Step 6: Set up a time for your workshop

Once you click on “Create Appointment Type,” on the next page you should be able to select a date and time for your workshop. Click on “Offer Class”. This will open a pop-up on the right side of the screen where you can set up your workshop’s date and time. Click “Save Class” when done.

Set up date and time for the workshop in Acuity Scheduling.
Set up date and time for the workshop in Acuity Scheduling.

Step 7: Make sure Zoom creates an event for your workshop

Go to the “Integrations” tab once more, and then under “Zoom”, click the “Edit” button. The two most important settings that should be checked here are these:

  • The meeting name you just created must be checked. In the image below you see many meetings because I use Acuity Scheduling for all my one-on-one coaching calls.
  • Make sure that under Zoom Settings, “Create a single meeting per class” is checked! This is important because if not, Zoom will create individual meeting times per customer, which is NOT what you want. You want Zoom to create ONE meeting for all of your customers (hence a group workshop.)
Set up Zoom settings to create a meeting for your workshop.
Set up Zoom settings to create a meeting for your workshop. Make sure the class you just created is checked, as well as the “Create a single meeting per class” box is checked.

Step 8: Set up confirmation emails for when someone books the workshop

Go to “Client Email” from the left menu. Here, make sure you’re on the “Initial Confirmation” email settings. Create a new template, and go over the wording of the template and edit things as needed. IMPORTANT! In the default email, you have a cancellation and reschedule button at the end of the email. These are nice to have for one-on-one meetings where a client can initiate a cancellation or reschedule an appointment. But for a group workshop, you DO NOT WANT these options. So just delete these buttons from your template before saving it.

Set up initial confirmation email template, and make sure to delete the "change/cancel" button from this template before saving it.
Set up the initial confirmation email template, and make sure to delete the “change/cancel” button from this template before saving it.

Step 9: Set up a reminder email

From the same Client email settings, choose “Reminders” and then create a template for the workshop event. Edit the email text as needed, then save it. You can also choose when the reminder will be sent. Ideally, 24-48 hours prior is good.

Step 10: Grab the direct scheduling page link

You can share this link with your potential customers so that they can sign up for the workshop. To get the direct link, go back to “Appointment Types”, and then click on the appointment you just created. On this page, towards the right end of the screen, you should see “Direct Scheduling Link”. Click on it and it will show you the link to the scheduling page.

Direct link for the Acuity Scheduling appointment type.
Direct link for the Acuity Scheduling appointment type.

Step 11 (optional): Edit the Zoom meeting settings further within the Zoom app

Note that a Zoom meeting will be created only after at least one customer has signed up for your workshop. But after that, you can log on to Zoom, and then edit the settings further. For example, if you want to offer your attendees a recording of the workshop later, then you can set it up so that Zoom automatically starts recording the meeting. You can also make it so that all participants are muted when they join the meeting. And more. Just go over all the available settings once a meeting is created so that you’re not surprised or lost on the day of the workshop.

And done!

How to go about getting customers for your paid workshop

Now that you’ve set up your workshop, it’s time to actually sell it. You can share the direct link with your audience, of course. Like I did! I simply emailed the direct link to my email list subscribers and quite a few of them were generous enough to purchase the paid workshop.

A better way (something I plan to do next time) is to create a landing page for the event. Properly, and in details, lay out what people can expect from the workshop. What will they learn? How will the workshop proceed? How long will it take? What are the expectations from the attendees? Basically, create a nice sales page for your workshop. You can then create a button that links to the Acuity Scheduling direct appointment page so people can book and purchase. Or, you can embed the Acuity Scheduling booking and payment in your landing page directly.

To get the embed code, go back to the appointment page inside Acuity Scheduling, and once again click on the “Direct Scheduling Link” button. You should see that this section has more than the direct link. It also gives you the option to grab the scheduler embed code. Copy and paste the code on your landing page to embed the booking options.

Grab the Acuity Scheduling appointment page direct link and embed codes.
Grab the Acuity Scheduling appointment page direct link and embed codes.

I didn’t make a landing page for my workshop, which I think was a mistake. The direct scheduling page doesn’t have a lot of room for detailed descriptions nor is it all that fancy looking. Better visuals always have a psychological effect on potential customers. So yeah, not this time, but next time for sure!

Now, while I didn’t have a landing page for the workshop, I do have one for the one-on-one consultations I offer. Here’s how the Acuity Scheduler looks like when embedded on a WordPress page.

 

Now, here are some selling tips:

  • If you have an email list, then your subscribers are most likely to purchase a paid workshop from you.
  • You can set up a limited-time discount on the workshop to create urgency.
  • When selling to your email list, send multiple reminders. if you have a sales window of 4-5 days, email your subscribers daily during those days. Don’t overdo it (once a day is sufficient.)
  • In your emails, share in detail why your subscribers should sign up for the workshop, what they’ll be getting out of it, etc.
  • Use Pinterest and social media to promote your workshop landing page. Share the discounted price and sale dates (if you’re offering any.)
  • If you’re new to workshops, set up a competitive price. Your first workshop is always a learning experience, so don’t be afraid to undercharge a little (only by a little) if need be. Think of it as the first step to bigger and better things.

Tips for Running a Smooth Workshop on Zoom

How you do it is up to you of course, because you’re the subject matter expert, and you know best what your audience needs. That said, I’ll share my personal experience with you. Take what you will from it.

  • Always have an outline for everything you wish to teach and share. If you want to pause and open a workshop for Q&A, note that in your outline too. It’s easy to lose track of things during a live event, so be prepared.
  • You can choose to have the video on for all participants, but I discourage it unless you have very few attendees. I often set video to be off in the Zoom settings.
  • I make sure that all participants are muted automatically when they join the meeting on Zoom (you can set it up on Zoom settings.) This helps minimize chaos. Especially so if you have a lot of participants. Anytime during the workshop if an attendee wishes to speak up, they can simply unmute themselves.
  • I usually add some text in the chatbox at the beginning of any Zoom meeting about what’s expected of the participants. (Be kind, keep yourselves muted unless prompted to ask questions or share feedback by the host, etc.)
  • I also make sure to record my Zoom meetings. I make it available later on to all participants. This ensures nobody has to keep taking notes during a workshop, and also if someone cannot join the workshop live, then can later watch the recording. Remember to mention to your participants that the meetings are being recorded. It’s a good idea to mention that in the chat too, along with the other initial messages.
  • I share these recordings on Vimeo. A paid Vimeo account has privacy settings that allow for videos to be viewable to only those with direct links to the videos. It’s pretty handy.

That’s it, everyone. Hope this tutorial will help you come up with ideas to create workshops for your audience. On a budget 🙂

Do you think you’ll host paid workshops? If so, do you have a better, cheaper, and simpler method than what I’ve done? If so, I’d love to know! Please share in the comments below.

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how to host an online workshop with zoom and acuity scheduling

2 thoughts on “How to Host an Engaging Online Workshop with Zoom and Acuity Scheduling”
  1. Thank you for the tips! I usually host paid videos on YouTube with the unlisted or private setting so it is free to use.

    Zoom is a great platform! So is Acuity. Will use your tips for the workshop for my upcoming free livestreams on YouTube. Thank you so much.

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