Transcript: The Business Model I Swear By: Live Launch, Go Evergreen, Repeat!

August 18, 2022

AMY PORTERFIELD: “I'm telling you this because I really want to paint the picture of just how much more money you could be leaving on the table if you go straight to evergreen. Double, my friend. Chew on that for a minute.  

“To further my point, here are a couple of stats from my own business. My DCA live-launch conversion rate is about 9 percent—not just webinars. I mean, the entire launch—whereas, my List Builders Society is around 5 to 6 percent. So that's aligning very much with the numbers Annie and her sister shared with me.”  

INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started. 

AMY: Real quick, I wanted to talk to you about another podcast that I think you might love. It's called Being Boss, and it's hosted by Emily Thompson, and it's really just an exploration of not only what it means but what it takes to be a boss as a creative business owner, freelancer, or side hustler. So Being Boss is an amazing resource for anyone interested in getting inspired and, more importantly, getting started as their own boss. 

So, head to wherever you get your podcasts to check out Being Boss. And I recommend starting with her episode on releasing the sense of urgency in business. Especially coming back from my sabbatical, this episode was a great reminder to slow down and be intentional. You're going to love it. 

Welcome to another episode of Online Marketing Made Easy. Thanks for joining me. 

This week is extra special because this episode is part two to last week's episode, which was all about your launch wellness checklist. If you haven't listened to that episode yet, be sure to listen to it right after you finish this one. You could actually listen to this one first and go back and still get immense value from last week's episode. But they go together.  

We talked about how live launching can be exhausting, but it doesn't have to be. As you've probably seen online and on social media and just in the online-marketing industry in general, people are really pushing to go evergreen, so put everything on automation. The argument is that live launching is just downright exhausting, time consuming, and why do it when you can just put your product on evergreen and go hang out on the beach with a Mai Tai and take lots of naps?  

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that, yeah, live launching can be a lot of freaking work, and it's tiring—for just a little bit. But I’ll also be the first to say that the magic happens when you live launch: the way your email list grows and how fast it can grow, and the way you get to connect with your audience in real time and build an intimate relationship with them, and the way you can get a huge cash injection for your business. All of that significantly outweighs the benefits of going straight to evergreen.  

After doing tons of live webinars and running a business that has been fueled by evergreen webinars as well—I do both—I know a thing or two about the live versus evergreen debate. And as far as the “live launches are exhausting” narrative goes, I want you to go listen to last week's episode because that episode addresses how to run a live launch without running yourself into the ground. Trust me, friend, it can and has been done. It just takes a little planning and practice.  

Now, I'm going to say something that might not be the most popular thing, but I believe it to my core. I know that the very best way to build a successful evergreen product is perfecting it through live launching first. Did you hear me? I'm going to say it one more time. The best way to build a successful evergreen product is perfecting it through live launching first. I know, I know, you're probably thinking, “I'd much rather go straight to evergreen and go straight to the beach.” But trust me, there are very few businesses that successfully work out that way, where they never live launch. And just for the record, evergreen launching does not mean that you get to turn it on and then go to the beach and drink your Mai Tais and never check in and just be totally off the grid. That's not really how it works anyway. It does give you more freedom, for sure, and that's why I'm such a fan of it. But there's a myth to think, like, it's one and done. It never is. But again, it does offer you more freedom. So in order for your evergreen to turn a profit, that truly does offer you, let's say, more time or location freedom or whatever kind of freedom is most important to you, you've got to start with live launching it first. 

So, that's what we're going to dive into today. I want to share a little bit more about my philosophy around live launching first and share what I've seen work and what I've seen work well. So I'll share some stats for my business and one for my student’s business, and then we'll talk about how to determine what products should be evergreen, when to change over to evergreen, and some tips for how.  

I think you're going to love this episode. And to be honest, I think this is such an important conversation to have. So please hear me. If you're an entrepreneur who is still trying to get your business to a place where you can leave your full-time job or a place where your business is going to support your family or give you more flexibility in certain areas of your life, I urge you to take what I'm saying seriously. I know how attractive the thought of going straight to evergreen is, but I also know that for many, that can be a very slow way of growing your business. So stick with me, and let's do this together.  

If you're multitasking, come back to me because I want to kick this off with something very important. Are you ready for it? If you skip the live webinars, a.k.a. live launching, and move right into evergreen, you're leaving money on the table. A lot of money, in fact. From my personal experience and from watching thousands of students live launch, hosting live webinars allows you to become a highly skilled marketer in your business and in your industry. Because if you own a business, you got to be a marketer, right? That's just a done deal. So, when you create and execute live webinars, you're able to improve on the entire launch process in real time and experiment over and over again until you get it just right. Plus, your audience’s live feedback allows you to make necessary changes in the moment, while it still counts. So these tweaks and changes can result in higher conversions. 

On top of all of this, another thing I've seen personally and heard from students is that the trust factor is considerably higher on live webinars or just live launching in general—live videos, live Q&As—versus when your launch is evergreen and you're not live at all. The heightened trust makes selling a whole lot easier, hence why live webinars almost always generate more revenue and have higher conversions than evergreen webinars.  

However, there will come a time when you are ready to graduate from live webinars to evergreen ones. And notice I said graduate. I do believe that it's the next level. They're not equal. They're not equal. Live launching should always come before evergreen. Like I said, though, there is a time when evergreen is an amazing, awesome opportunity. I'll say yes to it all day long.  

So, there is a light at the end of the tunnel if you think, “Okay, am I going to be live launching forever?” because of course it's more stressful than evergreen. No, it's just for a season of time, if that's what you want it to be.  

I live launch every single year. I love live launching because I know what it does for my business, and I know that's why I'm so connected to my audience. But at any time, I could turn everything evergreen because I've done so much live launching.  

So, my friend, I'm going to encourage you to evergreen, for sure. In fact, you might even get to a point where you want to do evergreen launches instead of live launches, like, period. And like I said, that's totally okay. But this doesn't happen overnight. 

A few years ago, I pivoted, and all I did was evergreen launching, no live launches, for an entire year. This was many years ago. And it was very lucrative for me. Was it as lucrative as when I was doing some live launches as well? No, not at all. But it was still a really good living in terms of my business generating revenue. So I loved the transition because it gave me a breather from live launches. I just took a break, and that was great. But I just knew I missed them and wanted to bring them back. And before I transitioned to a full year of only evergreen, I'd been live launching for, like, five years, so I had the experience under my belt.  

So, I have a few stories to share with you about my business and about my student’s, so let's get into it.  

First, I'm going to share some real-life examples. The first one is from my student, Annie Chang. So I actually did an entire interview with Annie back in May, where she shared a lot about how her and her sister built out a successful business that offers a live-launch experience, then an evergreen product, and then a membership experience.  

So when they started, they actually started by selling a PDF. They began noticing that it was doing really well. So they went on to create a digital course, and they live launched it. She said that after live launching a few times, they found that some of their audience was asking for an evergreen course, where they could go through it at their own pace.  

So a lot of the times when we launch—it doesn't always have to be this way—but when we launch live, we tend to deliver a course that we might drip, meaning you get a new module every single week, and there's usually a live component. You might be doing live Q&As. You might have a live Facebook group, where you're showing up regularly for a certain period of time. Like for Digital Course Academy, my signature program, I live launch it. I release one module a week. I'm live in a Facebook group for ten weeks with my students, over and over and over again so they get a lot of attention from me, a lot of troubleshooting as they go through the course. That's very different than, let's say, my evergreen program, which is List Builders Society, where you can buy it any day you want to buy it, and you get the entire course all at once. It's a much smaller course, easier to get through, so that's why I do it that way.  

So for Annie, her students were saying they wanted to buy the course at any time, and they actually were looking for something a little bit cheaper. So for them, they found that they could change up their signature course and simplify it a bit to make it an evergreen product and to make it cheaper. They just felt like that was something that was needed. And then from there, they've actually gone on to launch a membership program, too, and these have all been wildly successful.  

And I just want to say that if you feel that keeping a live-launching strategy as part of your business will never allow you to step away and have some flexibility, that couldn't even be further from the truth. I say that because Annie was able to take eight months away for her maternity leave. Eight months, my friend. And this is a woman who is running a business with a live-launch component, plus an evergreen component and a membership component. So she has live, evergreen, and membership. 

And here's what I really want to get at. And to be transparent, Annie telling me what I'm about to tell you is what spurred this part-two podcast series. She said that her evergreen product converts at around 5 percent, while her live launches convert at—are you ready for it?—10 to 11 percent, double what her evergreen converts at. I'm telling you this because I really want to paint the picture of just how much more money you could be leaving on the table if you go straight to evergreen. Double, my friend. Chew on that for a minute. 

To further my point, here are a couple of stats from my own business. My DCA live-launch conversion rate is about 9 percent—not just webinars. I mean, the entire launch—whereas, my List Builders Society is around 5 to 6 percent. So that's aligning very much with the numbers Annie and her sister shared with me.  

Now, I will say that we recently tried some new things for List Builders Society and had a fantastic launch, and I'll share those strategies with you, for sure. So that significantly bumped up the results for my evergreen conversion rate. But this is the average we've seen prior to testing out those evergreen launch strategies that I just mentioned.  

All right. So, stepping off my soapbox. 

Now let's talk about how to decide what should be evergreen in your business and how to know when to go evergreen. So I've already said this, but I'm just going to make sure that it's very clear: do not implement going evergreen before you've done at least one, maybe even two, live launches, and—there's an and here. This is really important—you feel good with your conversions and your overall profits. Now, your conversion rate does not have to be like mine or like Annie's, but you have to feel really good about what you're seeing because that's as good as it gets, my friend, meaning it's going to go down with evergreen.  

So, if you’ve launched a few times and you're still struggling to make a few thousand dollars, it's probably time to tweak some things. Go back to the drawing board, and launch a couple more times. If you do several live webinars before you move to evergreen, you'll develop more confidence in your marketing abilities. You'll have the opportunity to perfect and craft a stronger message that attracts more people to your course, and, ultimately, more revenue.  

So let's say you've live launched at least twice and you're happy with the results. Here's the question you want to ask yourself next: would this product make sense to put into evergreen? Remember when I shared that for a full year I only offered evergreen products? Well, there's a reason I went back to holding live launches as well: because I believe so fiercely that having a live-launch and evergreen business is the most brilliant business structure you can have, meaning that maybe you only live launch your product once or twice a year, and then you have an evergreen product that's always available.  

So that's two different products, in my head. I like to have a product that I just continue to live launch until I choose not to, and then another product that I've since moved into evergreen. I feel this is an excellent way to build out your business because it offers a handful of things, such as consistent revenue, your audience grows faster—just ask my students or my marketing team. Live launching is the biggest email-list builder, period—and this business structure also keeps you top of mind and ensures you don't lose touch with your students or your audience. So did you hear that one? This business structure, where you have live and evergreen, keeps you top of mind and ensures you don't lose touch with your audience.  

When I was evergreening—is that a word? Evergreening?— that entire year, I remember looking at one of my team members and saying, “I feel so out of touch with my audience. I feel like I haven't talked to them in months and months,” because I really hadn’t. I personally feel that it's easier to lose that connection with your audience when you are not live launching. The automation of the product just takes away that connection. Now, there's pros and cons to both, but that is one of the cons of evergreen.  

I will stand firm in the belief that there’s magic in live launching. And the reason for this is that when you live launch alongside your audience, when someone is getting ready to buy something, you get to see in real time their insecurities, their questions, their objections. And this is an extremely important part of learning how to serve your audience even better. I can guarantee that when you start to hear from them in real time, what they're experiencing, what are they coming up against in terms of some doubts or fears or desires? and you'll be able to hone in on your messaging and perfect it in the moment. I can't even tell you how many live launches I've done where I've looked at my team, who's in live chat on our sales page, and I said, “What are you seeing? What are you hearing? What's going on?” And they'll say, “Amy, something that's coming up that we weren't expecting is x, y, z. People are really confused about something you said in the webinar about whatever. Can you jump on a Live and address that?” Like, “Let’s go.” That’s what I love about live launching. 

There are parts of running my business that I absolutely love. My favorite part is getting to work on my brand mission. I love thinking about the big picture, where I want to take my vision and my business in the next year. Heck, I even love thinking where I'll take it in the next five years or the next ten years. But with every business, there are parts that I don't love as much, parts I don't want to spend my time on. You know, those tasks that you push off until the last possible moment. 

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Okay. I want to switch gears just a little bit here. How do you decide what product should go evergreen? Or if you don't have more than one product, how do you decide what you have is a great option for evergreen? A simple way is if you have an idea for another product you want to create and live launch, you can put your current product that you've been live launching, if you're satisfied with the results, on evergreen, and then refocus your energy and time on your new product.  

But really, the biggest thing you should consider when you're deciding what you're going to make evergreen is this: what is a product that you can put at the beginning of your funnel as an evergreen product? That's what I love for evergreen. I like a product that is front of funnel. So basically, you want as many people to take you up on this evergreen offer as possible. And the reason for that is that you want to get them into your world. You want them on your email list, you want to start nurturing them, you want to start adding value to them, so that when you live launch something, if it's, like, the next product they should move into or it's another product that's going to help them, now they’re warm leads. They've already paid for something. So they're really warm, and they're likely ready to purchase because they trust you now.  

So for me, one of the first steps into my world is around list building. So right now that's my evergreen course, List Builders Society. So from there, I have my live-launch product, Digital Course Academy, which I only open doors to once a year. So I am not live launching every month. I live launch a few times a year, whether I'm an affiliate for someone else's product, or I recently did something called Subscribed. It was a bootcamp for List Builders that was live. But it's only a few times a year, and my biggest live launch is always in end of August, early September, which is Digital Course Academy. And live launching this product allows me to be a part of their transformation.  

I really enjoy being a part of your world. If you've been in Digital Course Academy and you've been on that ten-week journey with me, you know I show up a lot. I really like to help you on your journey. So to me, I never look at live launching as an issue; I look at it as an opportunity. So that's why I go all in for about ten weeks, and I'm with you on the journey, every step of the way.  

So that product makes sense to live launch because I believe that live aspect, once you buy and ten weeks with me in a private Facebook group with lots of Q&As, I believe that's going to enrich your experience. And Digital Course Academy, it's a robust program. I want to give you that support. 

One more thing I want to add, and that is that could you have a product where you live launch it and you also have it on evergreen? And the answer is yes. It's a little tricky, though.  

So I'm going to tell you a quick story. I used to have a product called Webinars That Convert. It's now since rolled into Digital Course Academy. Module five is all about webinars, every secret and trick and strategy I know. So I had Webinars That Convert years and years ago, and we had it on evergreen. And so any day of the week you could buy Webinars That Convert. And then we decided midyear, okay, we're going to live launch this. We had live launched it many times the year before, so we knew it did really well through a live launch. So we said, “Okay, let's live launch it.” I think it was, like, in June. So a month before we live launched our evergreen product, we actually took it off the market. So you couldn't buy Webinars That Convert on evergreen a month leading into when I was going to do this live launch. So that was one thing that was important. I think you really should turn off evergreen about a month before you live launch, if it's the same product. 

And actually—this is totally a side note—when we promote Digital Course Academy, we turn off all ads for the List Builders Society evergreen a month in advance because we're pre-launching DCA, Digital Course Academy, and we don't want to compete with our own ads. We run a lot of ads during the Digital Course Academy launch, especially during pre-launch, the month leading up to cart being open, and we don't want to compete with ourselves because it's a lot of overlap audience. So we turn off evergreen ads, even if it's a different product so we're not competing against ourselves. That's a side note.  

So Webinars That Convert, we turned off the actual product. You could not buy it for a full month leading up to us live launching it. And then we did a live launch, and we struggled. We did not see, at all, the kind of success we had seen the year prior. And we said, “Of course we didn’t.” We realized afterwards, we had set these big goals, didn't hit them. We're like, “Okay, of course that happened because this has been available all year.” So there's not as much of a demand for it, so you're going to have to lower your expectations of a live launch if you're evergreening it all year as well. But even if you're lowering your expectations for a live launch, that doesn't mean that you still can't hit great revenue goals, because one of the things you have to remember with evergreen, every day, if you do it right, you're bringing in money. Every single day, I bring in money into my business with List Builders Society. And so if you add up all the evergreen sales, and, let's say, I were to live launch it as well and you add that up, you could absolutely hit an overall goal for the product by the end of the year. It’s just you have to set expectations. Things start to come in a little bit differently when you're doing both. So just something to think about. 

Now, there is one caveat to this. Annie Chang, who is that episode I mentioned earlier that I'll link to in the show notes, where she has live launching, evergreen product, and membership, if you listen that episode, she actually is live launching and evergreening the same product, but she actually changes the product. And so I mentioned Annie earlier in this episode, where she actually created an evergreen offer that's cheaper and easier to get through. But she still has this other program very similar, with different elements and features that she live launches. It's very interesting how she does it. So it's not an identical program, but it's a very similar program, with different benefits and features to both and different ways to navigate through those programs. So go listen to that episode if you have no idea what I'm talking about. Again, I'll link to it in the show notes. But the Annie Chang episode about live launching and evergreen with a very similar product was very unique and interesting to me, so I was excited to share it with all of you. I'm not a huge fan of live launching and evergreening the same product, but it can be done. So I just want to put that out there.  

Okay. So I want to move into some rules—I guess you could call them rules—or guidelines that I think will really help you as you move into live launching and evergreen, because the chances of you building a successful business that supports live launching in a way that feels good to you and an evergreen offer as well, one that offers you time and space to scale your business, I think your opportunity to do so increases if you can follow some of these guidelines. 

So, I hate the word rule. I'm going to say rule because I don't know what else to say. Guideline number one, whatever, focus on one product at a time. Don't try to split your time and energy between two products. So if you're trying to live launch and successfully offer an evergreen that hasn't quite converted yet, you're going to struggle.  

So what I mean by that, like, when I say focus on one product, you might be like, “Amy, what are you talking about? You just told us you have List Builders Society and DCA.” I realize that. I mean, focus on one product at a time to get it to a place that you feel good about, and then move on to the next thing.  

So if you want to live launch an evergreen—let's say you have a product right now that you're live launching, and you're like, “This is doing well. I'm moving this on to evergreen,” don't try to move it to evergreen while you're also creating another new product that you're going to try to live launch. Just do one thing at a time. Dialing in evergreen takes a lot of work. Give yourself time to do so before you move on to creating something new to live launch. 

In Digital Course Academy—it’s not open for enrollment right now. I'm just talking a lot about it because it's part of this conversation—I teach people how to live launch and then move into evergreen. So I actually teach both. And I always say, like, you got to do one at a time because it is too much to try to take on both.  

Rule number two, if you decide to turn a product on evergreen, spend the time to get it converting well before you do. I've already said this, but we're going over the rules, kind of recapping right now. So before you ever put something on evergreen, live launch at least once, twice; get it to a place that you're feeling really good about; and then move it into evergreen. Remember Annie? This is exactly the approach her and her sister took, and they have generated multiple six figures annually from this business model.  

And lastly, rule number three, follow this equation—and please don't rush through each part of this—live launching, then evergreen, then what's my next live-launch offer? And then you take that next live-launch offer, maybe a new product you create, and you can repeat the live launching until you say, “Okay, I want to keep this on live launch once or twice a year,” or “I'm ready to move this into evergreen as well.”  

I actually haven't mentioned this, but I actually have two programs on evergreen. I have another one called Systems That Scale, and it's all about putting systems into your business, all the systems I used to move to a four-day workweek. And so those are both on evergreen. So you can have more than one program on evergreen. You can have more than one program you live launch.  

Here's the greatest part about being an entrepreneur and a business owner: you can do whatever the frick you want. And I love that. And here I am giving you rules and stuff, and you might want to break all these rules. Go on with your bad self. I'm just saying, I've done this a lot, and I teach it for years, and I know this model works. 

So I'll say it again. Start with a live launch. Do that one or two times. Perfect it. Then, move it to evergreen, if you want to. And then spend the time getting that to convert well. It takes a little while to get evergreen to convert really well. Lots of tinkering to get it there. Ask anyone who's ever done evergreen. But once you're good with it, it takes less work keeping it that way, and then you can move on to the next thing that you want to do.  

This whole idea of rinse and repeat works so well for the live-launch and evergreen model. So live launch, go evergreen, brainstorm your next offer, go from there. I'm so passionate about this because if you follow this model, it's not going to run you into the ground, fully exhausted. It offers longevity, and it scales well and gives you multiple streams of income and flexibility as an entrepreneur.  

If you haven't guessed by now, I think the best business model—okay, I'm laughing because I am thinking in my head, “Amy, they get it. You said it a million times,” but we're just—we're summing up everything—I think the best business model you can set up is one that has room for a live launch once or twice a year, or more if you want, and an evergreen offer that really supports getting people into your world. So front-of-funnel evergreen offer, to me, is the best kind of evergreen offer you can create because it will lead people into your live launch of your digital course down the road.  

But here's what I want to say. If you're thinking that you're behind because you haven't dropped an evergreen offer or don't have this all set up in your business, let me tell you, you are not behind. This isn't something you need to rush. It's something you want to work towards, something that your daily actions will take you closer and closer to it. So keep holding the vision for it, and you'll get there. You'll look back and think, “Remember when I only had one product that I was only able to live launch? Now look at my business.” Like, I can't wait for you to get there because I think you're going to love every minute of it.  

So here's what I want you to do. Buckle down. Buckle down, that sounds weird. But buckle down. You get it. Whatever you have going on in your business, get it just dialed in. Have an email list that you're working on growing. Keep growing it. Maybe start working on that live launch that you have in the back of your mind that you want to do. Or if you have a digital course that you've launched but it needs some tweaks, don't give up.  

I was just reading a story of one of my students, and he got into Digital Course Academy, came up with a topic idea, put his course together, launched it, huge flop. And so he was talking to a friend, like, “I'm really discouraged. This didn't work.” The friend had an idea for him. They hashed it out. Next launch, totally changed the product. Twenty-five thousand dollars later, for a guy that just had a failed launch. Don't give up, my friend. Don't give up. Your success is closer than you think.  

Thank you so much for joining me today, especially on a topic I'm so very passionate about. I hope you enjoyed it. 

I'll see you next week, same time, same place. Did you think I was going to say it? Were you thinking, “Okay, say it”? Bye for now. 

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