We looked into various ways to offer the best support to our customers, and one of the ways of attracting new customers, but also showcasing our product was to create webinars. We started our research into webinar tools and found out that most of them are more expensive than we ever expected. But we realised that one of the best tools for creating webinars is actually free and it’s available to everyone – Google Hangouts, mixed with YouTube Live and WordPress – in order to create a landing page and only offer the webinar to those who have registered for it.
This is what you need to do to create a free webinar using Hangouts and Google Live:
- Go to Creator Studio – if you don’t have a creator studio account, create one now.
- Go to Live Streaming, from the left sidebar
- Click on Events
- Click New Event on the top right of the screen
- Select type – quick Google Hangouts event
- Fill your basic info and time – the Go Live button will change to Create Event
- Set it to unlisted or private – unlisted, they have to register to get to the webinar
- Click Create Event
- Go to the event that you’ve created on the list and click Start Hangout on air
- Go on the bottom right of the player, over links
- Get the embed code
- Create a page on the website for this webinar
- Paste the embed code into the new created page
- On the preview page it will say when the live stream is supposed to start
- Before the event starts, go back to events and click start hangout/start streaming
- To add other host, on the top of the player click on Invite People
- Add them by email (they need to have a Google account) or by sending them the link – they still need the Google account
- If you have a presentation, second button from the left side panel on the player is Screenshare – share the whole screen or just an app – like only PowerPoint
And here is the final result
Okay, so that’s it, in a nutshell. But I would recommend you to continue reading this article, for better insights on how to do this properly.
Step 1. Go to Creator Studio
Google is replacing Google Creator with YouTube Studio (which is now in Beta) – We will update this article once YouTube Studio is out of beta, but, for the moment, I’d recommend you keep using the Creator Studio (because I found it difficult to get all the features on their Beta tool). To easily access Creator Studio, follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/dashboard?ar=1&o=U – but you can access it from your YouTube Studio as well, from the bottom left sidebar and skip their question.
Step 2. Go to Live Streaming and Create a Live Event
In case you didn’t do that already, you’ll have to “Enable Live Streaming”. Click on the blue button. You will have to verify your account using a mobile phone. And then you’ll have to wait 24 hours untill the Live Streaming is activated. After that, click the New Live Event button on the right side of the screen. You will get something similar to the image below
Steps 3 – 11: Fill the details and Create Event
Fill all the important details of your webinar. You will notice that once you select the date and the time, the “Go Live Now” button will change in “Create Event”. I usually don’t add tags, but you might want to, for various reasons – especially if you want to make the webinar available to everyone, even those who did not register for it and will find it searching on YouTube. But for that you’d also need to make the final video public – we’ll get there.
It’s important to know that the time of the event can be changed after, and it’s actually only used to display a countdown on your video – it’s not like you cannot do the webinar outside that time range. Also, choosing “Add end time” is only informative for your viewers, it won’t restrict you in any way.
Now, on the right side, you have a dropdown with “Public”, “Unlisted” and “Private” – it works just with the uploaded videos. In our case, since we’d like to make the webinar visible to everyone that has the link, we’ll set it to “Unlisted”
Also, we have to chose the type: The two options are “Quick” and “Custom” – custom gives you a lot of other options and, to be honest, it could be great for experts, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll stick with “Quick” – which is using Google Hangouts on Air. We’re done with this page, just click “Create Event”.
Now you’ll see a list of all your events. On the event you’ve just created, click on “Start Hangout on Air” – don’t worry, this will not start the event. A new window will pop-up, and actually you will notice that the camera is working (I’ve already accepted all the permissions, your browser might ask you if you allow Google Hangouts to use the camera and the microphone, just click Yes, or Allow, depending on your browser). Now, at the bottom of the page you’ll see (bellow the name of the event) a text “LINKS”. Click on it and you’ll see two options: YouTube Page and Embed.
Copy the Video Embed code. We’ll use this on our WordPress (or any CMS or website). But before going to WordPress, go back to Creator Studio, click on stream now from the left side menu, and on the video you have just setup, click on Change Thumbnail and add a nice image of your product, or the logo of the company, or even better, an image that’s representative for the webinar.
Steps 12 – 14: Add your webinar to WordPress (or other CMS you’re using)
Now go to WordPress and create a new page or port and call it Webinar – or whatever – I use to change the name of this page based on the name of the webinar I am organising. Paste the embed code you copied in the previous step and paste it into the page. In some cases, depending on what type of CMS you’re using, you might need to change the editor to HTML. If you’re using WordPress with Guttemberg, just paste the code, the editor will identify the html and create an HTML block.
In my case, the webinar page looks now like this:
Notice that, on the bottom right I have a notice that the webinar will be live in 5 hours – that’s how the date for the webinar is used.
Set The Autoplay For The Webinar
Unfortunately, there’s a small change we need to make to our webinar code – the one embedded from Youtube Live. We have to set up the autoplay, so whenever a new guest arrives on our page, he will join the audience straight away, without having to click on play. Let’s take a look at the code we have for the embedded video:
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/ijGh287klj” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Notice the code of the video in bold. Just add after it the following:
The new embed code will look like this:
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/ijGh287klj?autoplay=1&mute=1&enablejsapi=1” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Yes, that’s kind of the only “hack” you’ll have to do. This will autoplay the video, IF IT’S LIVE, when someone lands on the webinar page. Because of Google’s privacy settings, you’re not allowed to play embedded videos with sound, so the user will have to click on the volume on the player to unlock it. But that shouldn’t be a big issue.
Do you need a chat for your Youtube Webinar?
In some cases, you’d want to interact with your audience. The easiest way is to use the comments section. You can allow anyone to post comments, and you could delete the comments at the end of the webinar. You can also hold the comments for moderation, and this way you’d get the questions / feedback from your viewers, but you wouldn’t have to worry about what comments go live on the feed below the video.
You can also use a chat system. I’m not going to go into details, but it’s worth mentioning that there are a few free plugins for WordPress that you could try. Check this link There are also some paid solutions for that, but for the firsts webinars I guess the comment box could do it.
And just in case you don’t want to use your own website to host the webinar page, you could just use the Google Hangouts page, that has the chat included in it. Or even the Youtube Channel where the video is available during the live webinar (and after) could be used the comments.
Steps 15 – 18: Add more hosts and share your presentation or the entire screen screen during the webinar
Since we have the WordPress landing page setup for the webinar, let’s go back to our Creator Studio on Youtube, click on Events and then on Start Hangout/Start Streaming. Let’s take a look at the options you have, before starting the webinar:
First of all, you might have a special guest on your webinar, or you would co-host the webinar with a few more people. In order to add more speakers to your webinar, click the Add people Icon to add someone to the webinar.
You also have the options to turn on and off the microphone or the camera, things that could be handy during the Youtube Live Webinar.
Another important feature, is the Share screen option. You can share the entire screen, or you could select to share only one app, like your PowerPoint presentation – make sure to check if this option works with your browser before the webinar starts – It will work for sure with Chrome, but I just noticed it doesn’t work properly with Opera browser.
And that’s how I managed to have my own Free Webinars using Youtube Life and Google Hangouts. All you have to do now to start yours is click “Start Broadcast” Good luck!
Do you know how can I improve this method? Please leave your comments /thoughts below. Thank you