Chances are you've heard of at least one of the following things...
- Murphy's Law: anything that could possibly go wrong, at the worst possible moment, will probably happen
- Hope for the best and plan for the worst
- There are some things you can control, and other things you can't, so you need to be smart enough to know the difference
I've run plenty of live webinars where the internet connection died part-way through. Pitches where the website simply wasn't working. Software demonstrations where the software simply didn't work in front of a crowd of hundreds of people.
What if you woke up one day and your PayPal or merchant account was shut down, and all the money you had inside was frozen? What if one day your website was down? Or your computer didn't start up and everything on the hard drive was lost?
Internet Connection = DOWN!
I was in trouble. I was set to run a 1-hour pitch webinar the next day (to an audience of hundreds of attendees) and my internet connection died. It wasn't the first time. There were about 2 drops of rain and my cable internet provider (Charter) lost its connection for a few hours at around 7pm one evening. No big deal.
I spoke with one of their operators, they told me there was an outage in my area and to wait for it to be fixed. I went to sleep, woke up, still no internet. Some digging on Twitter revealed a cable had been cut, many people in California from Redding to Los Angeles were without internet.
What was I going to do? Cancel the event? Have Lance fill in for me? Park my car in the McDonald's parking lot and use their free wifi to run a pitch webinar from my laptop in the car?
I posted this problem on Facebook with hours to spare. Different people had different ideas(things like "use an iPad to host the webinar" which didn't work) and the idea of buying a 4G hotspot came up a few times, but I didn't want to reset my data plan or get stuck paying an extra monthly bill.
Solution = 4G Hotspot
Finally, my friend Chris Garrett had a real answer... some providers (such as Virgin Mobile) sold 4G hotspots with no contracts. I drove to my local Target, they had phones only. I visited Walmart, and there I found a Verizon "Mifi" card.
I quickly checked their website, typed in my address and realized I had 4G LTE coverage (basically, broadband speed cellular coverage) in my house. You could buy these with no contract and no monthly fee for about $200 and pay as you go.
Two hundred dollars later and about 2 hours to spare, I bought this little black box, drove it home, plugged it into the power outlet, slid the SIM card in, called an 800 number, typed in the SIM card and I was ready to wirelessly connect to the internet...
Here's how the hotspot works, if you don't know. This little box acts as its own wifi network. You connect your computer, smartphones, iPad to it, and then it talks to these cellular carriers. I connected my computer to this wireless network, it had me add a credit card (so they could bill me) and in a few minutes, I was online.
Results & Total Cost
The webinar went great. The speed was about the same as my cable internet. It cost $60 for 3 gigabytes of usage (I used about all 3 gigs), no one noticed any difference in speed. A few hours after I finished the webinar, my cable internet access returned and I tucked the "mifi card" into my desk drawer.
At any point in the future, if I want to run a webinar and there's no internet, I can pull that out and I'll be back online instantly.
The real point is, there's always a way around any problem. I would have presented that webinar at a friend's house if I really had to. What's your excuse for not running a webinar? I only had to solve the problem that one time! If the issue came up ever again, I now know exactly what to do. I hope you now know as well.Any ideas?