paid webinar vs free webinar which is better

Free Webinar vs Paid Webinar – Which one is better?

Paid webinar or Free Webinar? This is the common dilemma modern digital entrepreneurs are facing as the webinar marketing world become more and more saturated.

First of all, there is no doubt that doing webinars is one of the best ways to grow your online business (or an offline one too).

They are quick to execute, need relatively lesser time to prepare, can be advertised easily and most importantly, give you a chance to interact live with your prospects and future customers.

With a few clicks, you can be interacting with people from around your country or even the world. It’s an absolutely amazing brand growth and sales mechanism.

According to this article by The Branded Solopreneur website, 2-5% of the people who attend your webinar will eventually turn into a customer.

But one of the dilemmas online entrepreneurs face is what type of a webinar to do? Free or Paid?

Now there can be a lot of different categories of webinars but here we are focusing on a typical live webinar which you want to use for achieving the following objectives:

  • To generate leads for your online business
  • To sell a product/service at the end of the webinar (Upsell)

Let’s look at the pros and cons of both free and paid webinars with respect to both these objectives and some other aspects too.

Lead generation and cost of advertising/promotions

Free webinars are easier and cheaper to advertise since you are advertising a free webinar. Such ads get a higher click through rate (CTR) and more sign ups (duh!). So you pay less and get more leads quickly.

On the other hand, paid webinars (even those with a very less price tag) are bound to be slightly more expensive and relatively tougher to get results from since the barrier to entry is higher.

That obviously means that you will get a lesser rate of sign-ups and you may have to spend more money to get the required number of leads. But there’s a twist to this as we’ll learn later on in this article.

But the good thing about paid webinars is that if you have a successful campaign, you will also recover the costs partially, fully or even make a profit on your promotional campaign since people are paying for the webinar itself. What exactly will be the case will completely depend on how well you run your ads or use other methods of promotion.

But there’s no doubt that from the point of view of just the volume of leads generated, a free webinar will outperform a paid webinar because everyone loves freebies.

Attendance/Turnout rate

I learned this the hard way. I remember having 156 sign ups for my first ever free webinar.

Not only were my attendees being reminded of the webinar via email but I had also added them to my WhatsApp group to abosultely make sure they receive the reminders.

The webinar was supposed to start at 3 PM.

At 2:55 PM I had about 30 people in.

At 3 PM I had about 35 people in.

At 3:10 PM, 38 people.

Surely, it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon. Let’s give them some more time” is how I tried to cover my disappointment.

But nope. Nothing more than 38. In fact few of the people left and it came down to 35 LOL. My heart sank. I was expecting a full house (100 people) as I usually did when I conducted paid webinars.

I had no option but to resort to the most appalling of digital marketing sins – sending a broadcast email to my entire email list and spamming them about the my ongoing webinar. Desperate times and all that!

Later I read the average attendance rate for free webinars was 30-35%. So the next time I did a free webinar, I started taking close to 250 sign ups and that worked better.

Compare this to the webinars where I charged as less as Rs.99. I only had to very slightly overshoot and take around 110 people and that would result in a full house.

Bottomline – Free webinar attendees SUCK!!!! No, not really. They just don’t have any obligation to attend and hence most of them don’t. Simple as that. You’ll just need more of them to make sure you get a good turnout.

Quality of leads and conversion of your Upsell (product/service that you are selling)

Not only does the attendance rate suck for free webinars, so do the conversions.

When I do webinars where people paid even Rs.99 to register for it, the conversions are around 20-25%, sometimes even more.

Of course, the percentage will also depend on the price of your upsell and also how well you present your webinar and pitch the upsell.

But it’s bound to go down for free webinar registrants.

I usually have to resort to halving the price of my upsell for the free registrants to get even close to the conversion rate I get with paid registrants.

And don’t forget that when it comes to a free webinar, your initial cost of advertising has to be covered too.

So there’s obviously no doubt that if you are able to advertise your paid webinar in a way that your advertising costs are not going through the roof, doing a paid webinar will always give you more return.

Your Anxiety Level

Another aspect of doing webinars is the pressure and anxiety you are bound to face as the webinar day gets closer.

For instance, whenever I do paid webinars, I get nightmares about the internet giving up on me half-way into the webinar and my back-up connection not being able to live up to the task. Hell, I even usually have my neighbors on stand-by by informing them that I may need to barge in their house without notice in case something goes wrong with my internet. No wonder they stopped greeting me ever since I started doing webinars.

But with free webinars, I am more relaxed because deep down I know there is less degree of accountability on my part since people haven’t paid for it.

So even if something does go wrong, I won’t have to resort to drowning my sorrow in alcohol all night.


Now I hate giving a verdict on a topic like this because it is so subjective that it’s not fair to give one solution.

As always, the answer will depend on your situation.

But at Click Trainers, I made a vow that I will never leave my readers in a vague and confused spot. So I will give you a definite solution.

That solution is – TRY BOTH PAID AND FREE WEBINARS!!!!

But I’ll give you some points that you should keep in mind.

  • Here’s the thing. Free webinars have a poor turn out and conversion rate but they are great for quickly generating a large volume of leads. So if you’re a newbie and you want to get your brand out there quickly, free webinars can be a great way to start.
  • Free webinars also help you understand and get more familiar with the whole process of conducting a webinar. You’ll definitely feel more confident of doing a paid webinar after you’ve done a free one.
  • If you’re already an established brand and you have multiple ways to promote your webinar (established e-mail list, social media presence, online advertising expertise, etc), you can directly go for the paid webinar strategy.

So to sum things up, I’ll say this – If you’re a complete beginner in this online business thing, go for a free webinar first. If you’re more experienced, try a paid webinar and see how things go. You can always resort to doing a free webinar if things don’t work out.

But the important thing is to try.

If you fall in love with doing webinars, you’ll unlock one of the most time-tested tactics of growing your business.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

P.S – In my course Online Course Launchpad, I teach you the complete process of conducting a webinar, how to sell a webinar and how to develop a webinar marketing funnel so you always get a fully booked webinar.

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    1. A well written post which explains the Pros and Cons of free and paid for webinars.

      Those who already have built some trust, authority, and traction in their niche, may find paid for webinars a reasonable filter to use. Even if the cost of the webinar is a low INR 99/-

      I’ve also noticed that paid for webinar executors often price their webinar cost based on the product/service upsell done at the end of the webinar.

      This is how most webinar executors, identify whether people participating in their webinar can afford their upsell or not.

      Webinar cost of INR 99/-
      The upsell may be in the region of INR 999/- to INR 1999/-

      Webinar cost of INR 799/-
      The upsell may be in the region of INR 1999/- to INR 3999/-

      Against that, Kush points out if you are a newbie trying to build, trust and authority in your niche, doing a couple of free webinars is a great way to test how well you can sell.

      The best bit of advice is right at the wrap up where Kush says – Do Both – webinar types. In doing so identify what works for you and what does not.

      Thanks for sharing Kush. Much appreciated.


      Ivan Bayross

      1. You’re welcome Ivan! I’m glad you liked it and thanks for the additional inputs!

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