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conference swag

Over the weekend I was in San Diego, California at Digital Marketer’s Traffic & Conversion Summit (T&C) – which was so well planned and organized and truly fantastic.

Throughout the 3-day event, numerous speakers took to the stage to speak about their area of expertise and to share insights about what’s trending in digital marketing today.

I cannot stress enough just how important it is to attend business conferences. The insights, inspiration, and networking are invaluable.

I had a chance to spend time with my friend and award winning marketer, Franziska Iseli. I convinced a bunch of us to go dancing one night so we had some fun, too.

Shameless plug: If today’s episode resonates with you, I highly recommend you consider joining us at Success Academy. No matter what type of events you plan, you’ll learn how to better position and market your event business. Get the full scoop by joining the list here!

Event planners from all over the world join us for this 8-week training program – we’ve had people from France, England, Australia, all across the US and Canada, India and Jamaica register. 

Conference Swag Ideas

During the T&C conference itself I took pages of notes; all amazing takeaways that will add zeros to our bottom-line at Event Planning Blueprint, met experts who will help us add value to our subscribers and shuffled through tons of conference swag ideas.

In today’s video at EventPlanning BlueprintTV, I share what’s inside the conference swag bag from T&C and whether or not it’s worth it or wasteful.

Watch now!

event planning services

Today I’m fired up because of a conversation that happened earlier this week about ‘giving away your event planning services for free’.

Warning:the tone of this post is different than our other posts (and foul language is used)!

Why do event planners think it’s OK (or necessary) to give away their event planning services for free?

If you want to plan a free event, volunteer for a non-profit organization. At least then you’ll learn from other professionals, improve your skills and help your community.

This is my biggest pet peeve in the event industry and I’m obviously passionate (and opinionated) about it!

It drives me f**king crazy when planners – mostly women – immediately jump to “I’ll do it for free” in order to get experience or get hired by a client. Whether you’re just starting in the event industry or you’re a pro who has fallen on hard times, you cannot survive if you give away your event planning services for free.

When planning and organizing come so naturally to us we often get stuck in the money-game because it’s hard to imagine someone actually paying us to do what we love.

When you think about getting your event services out there, do you find that little voice in your head saying…?

“Just because I love planning events doesn’t mean anyone will hire me.”


“I love planning events and I think I’m pretty good at it, but I don’t know who will hire me to plan their events.”

Unless you’re planning an event for your family (yes, your friends should pay and be treated like a client), for the love of all that is holy, stop giving away your expertise and start placing a dollar value on what you do.

Giving Away Your Event Planning Services Isn’t Helping

Here are 3 reasons why…

  1. Event clients need to be invested so they’re motivated to get the most out of the experience.
  2. Giving away your services for free doesn’t help you invest in the event. By charging for your event services, you’ll put your best foot forward and you’ll want to learn, grow and improve.
  3. Free doesn’t = income. It’s difficult to pay your bills when you’re not making money. Seems obvious, right?

Money is a hot topic with varying opinions and attitudes, and we all deal with it differently.

If you’re stuck in the ‘free game’ and struggling to charge for your event planning services or if money beliefs are limiting your success, today’s episode of EventPlanning BlueprintTV is for you. In today’s video interview with Denise Duffield-Thomas from Get Rich, Lucky Bitch, you’ll learn how to shift your mindset so you place value on yourself and your event planning services.

event planning checklist

Do you struggle with creating an event planning checklist?

It’s one of the most important pieces of planning any event, and yet most event planners worry they’re not getting it right.

While there’s no ‘one size fits all’ to follow, there are some basic guidelines to use when putting together your event planning checklist.

In today’s episode of EventPlanning BlueprintTV, we’re talking about how to create the perfect event planning checklist. Including, 4 simple tips to create an event planning checklist for every you event you plan.

Tips To Create An Event Planning Checklist

  1. Use your event objective and budget to create an event checklist so you don’t miss any steps
  2. When putting your checklist together, start with the basics and add line items as you continue to plan your event
  3. Use Google Docs, for example, to share your event checklist (or parts of it) with your clients, if they’re responsible for anything in the planning stages
  4. Once the event is over, complete an event post mortem to build an event planning checklist for your next event.

And, here’s a free-event-planning-checklist to get you started.

**This is a sample and you’ll need to customize it to meet your event needs.

charging for your Event Planning Services

Whether you’re starting an event planning business or plan to be an independent planner, knowing how to charge for your event planning services is going to make (or break) your success.

Typically, event planners are hired when their clients don’t have the resources (time, money or people) to plan an event themselves. An event planner can take over the event planning and management so the client can step back and focus on their clients or business while all the details of their event are handled by a professional.

It doesn’t matter if you’re planning events part-or full-time, the goal to charging for your event planning services is to make a profit — no matter how big or small the event.

Victoria Gibson, a coach and marketing consultant, recently wrote an article called Price and Popularity or Results and in it she says, “…if you are in the philanthropy business, this is a great intention, but if you are in business business, this is a really bad strategy…don’t fall into the trap of thinking you will get more sales with lower prices, that does not always work out.”

Charging For Your Event Planning Services

Today we’re taking a look at 8 steps to charging for your event planning services:

  1. Track your time
  2. Set your pricing and be confident about it
  3. Know your process and share it with your clients
  4. Start with the end goal in mind
  5. Find a need and fill it
  6. Follow up quickly!
  7. Share documents with your clients (budgets, etc)
  8. Know your hourly rate

Suggested apps:

  • Hours Keeper
  • Hours Tracker
  • My Hours

For a fresh look on how to charge for your event planning services and more information about the eight steps, watch today’s episode of EventPlanning BlueprintTV.

event planning software

Not all event planning software fits all events and it’s often about your event needs and what works best for your team. How do you know which event software is right for you?

The real answer: it depends.

(Thankfully) gone are the days of having to plan your event on paper or with a word.doc or excel spreadsheet (OMG all those tabs in the binders!), unless of course you prefer kickin’ it old school. Today, event planners are able to take advantage of sophisticated features that create customized websites, registration and ticketing pages, and creates a community amongst your event attendees.

If you’re in the beginning stages of your event planning career and you don’t have a budget to purchase event planning software, there are (nearly) free options like Basecamp, Trello or Smartsheet (excel spreadsheets still work well, too!).

However, if you’re looking for event management tools to improve your events and facilitate the planning process, we’ve included some paid options for event planners that have more specific software needs for their events.

10 Event Planning Software Options

(In no particular order)

Paid Event Planning Software

Planning Pod – With over 20,000 event professionals relying on this event management software, Jeff Kear and the Planning Pod team provide event management tools to manage your event, your calendar, venue, and billing (and more). It’s perfect for #eventprofs who have a lot of moving pieces (apps, emails, notes, and files) because it manages everything in one place. https://www.planningpod.com (We have to admit, we love their simple and easy to navigate website!)

Watch our interview with Jeff Kear here.

Etouches – Offering solutions for event registration, floor plans, timelines and task assignments, etouches is a great option for all cycles of your event. We think one of the best features etouches offers is the ability to integrate payment gateways like PayPal, which makes it easy to collect payment from your event attendees. https://www.etouches.com

Eventbrite – One of the most popular event planning software options for event organizers (professional planners and community organizers) looking to sell tickets and manage event registration. With their fast, easy setup you can manage the details of your event and promote it on your website or through social media sites like Facebook, with the option to promote your event on the Eventbrite site too.https://www.eventbrite.com

Evolero – With a free two week trial, Evolero was developed by an event planner and claims to have all your event software needs in one place so you don’t have to switch between platforms – everything from managing event registration and websites, to ticketing, planning and promoting. http://evolero.com

Cvent – A leader in the cloud based, event management systems, Cvent offers event planning software for mobile apps for events, email marketing and web surveys, targeted advertising, and online registration and venue selection. Cvent also offers a ‘Find Event Venues’ search option, however it appears that only hotels are listed in the search, so unless you’re a meeting planner looking for hotel and meeting space, the options are limited. http://www.cvent.com

Azavista – Planning an event of any size, Azavista may be a good option for you. Offering flexibility, their platform allows event planners to set up a new event within minutes. With their drag and drop functionality, ability to track changes in real-time, and multi-lingual support, they appear to offer the same features as other software solutions but with a simple interface. http://www.azavista.com

We noticed most of these event planning software options appear to offer the same features. At least at first glance and according to the copy on their websites. As an event planner, it may take a little more digging to find the solution that’s right for you.

Event Planning Training

Are you the organized one? Do your family and friends look to you to plan their events?

It’s probably fair to say that if something needs to be planned you’re the one people look to, right?

Planning and organizing events may come naturally to you, but do you have the event planning training you need? The knowledge to (comfortably) negotiate with vendors, suppliers, or hotels; do you understand what A/V (audio visual) you’ll need for your event, or how to hire the right speaker?

As you may already know, I believe the most important skill to be a successful event planner is the ability to communicate (whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert). And, no matter what level of experience you have right now, it often requires some guidance to learn the tricks of the trade.

It can be so confusing and overwhelming trying to decide which part of the event to focus on first, which vendors to contact and what questions to ask them. Especially if you’re just getting started and haven’t had any event planning training.

As an event manager, you have to wear a lot of hats and keep it together when things don’t go as planned. So, how do you know if event planning is right for you?

Event Planning Training

I sat down with Owen Hemsath during his Small Business Success Summit to talk about how to plan an event that’s successful.

This training helps you determine whether or not event planning is right for you before you spend thousands of dollars on an event planning course.

Here’s what you’ll learn in today’s event planning training:

  1. Why having an event objective is the secret to event success
  2. Why food is the most important part of your event
  3. 5 critical tricks to consider before you book a venue
  4. How to increase your event attendance rates
  5. Discover sneaky add-on services that may increase your visa bill (without your knowledge)
  6. and more…

This week I’m dishing on the exciting events that I experienced while in Costa Rica attending Awesomeness Fest. You heard it right. For the last week I’ve been in a tropical location listening to world renowned speakers, coaches and visionaries speak about how to change the world at an event with a crazy (yet awesome) name!

The world’s most amazing leaders, thinkers and doers like CEOs, best-selling authors, award-winning artists, entrepreneurs, and world-class speakers came from 52 countries to attend this four day event.

I was there to learn and network with the attendees, but my event planning hat was on and I want to share 4 event planning tips I learned in Costa Rica with you today – including daily highlights shared in today’s episode of EventPlanning BlueprintTV.

4 Event Planning Tips

When the event was over, I surveyed some event attendees and here’s what they had to say about their experience. Feel free to use these ideas for your events too.

  1. Franziska loved the variety of events during the day. There wasn’t a lot of downtime and the event was never boring because there was always something going on, and something for everyone.
  2. Joey raved about the event app that the organizers created that included regular updates and a news feed that made it easy to communicate with other event attendees. She also said the event was memorable because the event host was amazing.
  3. Richard looked at it from a logistical standpoint and appreciated that the Westin hotel staff was prepared for 300 people descending on the hotel within hours of each other.
  4. Christo said the event host set the stage by introducing the speakers with passion but also emphasized their achievements which gives them credibility.

For me, it was really important that we contribute to the area in Costa Rica where we were staying. The event organizers planned a “Pay It Forward” day (they call it ‘Give Back Day’ but IMO there’s nothing to give back!) with a local community centre and 50 event attendees volunteered by playing games with the kids, painting a mural, building a garden and a covered play structure, and the DJs showed up to teach the kids how to spin and to create ambiance for the hard working volunteers.

If you’re ready to change your events and experience a little of Awesomeness Fest with me, watch today’s video.

As an event planner who is getting started in the industry, it’s easy to overlook the logistics of feeding a crowd. But, with the right planning, you can ensure nobody goes hungry, you’re not left feeding your event guests plus a small army, and you know exactly how much food to order for an event.

When I started my event planning career, I often wondered how much food was the right amount to order, and I often left it up to the caterer to make the decisions. Rookie mistake!

Whether you’re planning an event for 10 people or 1000, it’s important to find the right caterer to join your team because they help make or break your event, but it’s up to you as a professional event planner to know and understand how much food to order for your guests and to work with the caterer when deciding what’s appropriate for your event and your client’s needs.

Food is one of the most important aspects of event planning, and like it or not, everyone always remembers the food served at an event and they’ll continue to talk about how good (or bad) it was.

How Much Food To Order For An Event

Food and beverage often takes up the largest portion of your event budget, sometimes averaging 40%, and often tells you whether or not your client can afford a buffet, passed hors d’oeuvres, food stations or a sit down dinner.

So, before you start calling reputable caterers in your area, there are 6 questions to ask yourself before getting started. Watch today’s episode of EventPlanning BlueprintTV to find out what these questions are and how they’ll help you decide your catering needs when it comes to how much food to order for an event.

event budget

How To Stay Within Your Event Budget

Planning a wedding or another major event can be expensive. The average cost of a wedding is moving closer and closer to $30,000. Even large parties like an anniversary or graduation party can cost thousands of dollars. If you plan a corporate event, the cost can go up exponentially.

As a party planner, it’s important to work with your clients to stay on budget while also planning the event of their dreams.

5 tips to help you stay on budget

Research Costs

Before you can create a budget, you need to have a good idea of what things cost. You may be shocked to learn what catering costs, or you may have had no idea that a photographer could cost so much. Call around to get a few estimates based on some standard details, or do an online search to get a ballpark for what others have paid in your area. Once you have that information, you can get a rough idea of what you might like to spend for each item on your party planning checklist.

Create an Overall Budget Amount

Start by determining how much you can afford for your event. Create a couple of amounts: Set the amount you’d like to spend, and set the amount that you could spend if you stretched things a bit. By having a budget range, you will have some wiggle room for unexpected expenses. You’ll also give yourself some flexibility to indulge if you find a more expensive caterer that you love or you decide you want to spring for a nicer venue.

Create Estimates for Each Category

Break down your budget into categories for each item you will need for your event. For example, a typical event planning checklist for a wedding would include things like catering, venue, wedding cake, the officiant, flowers and wedding attire. Create a range for each budget item, ensuring that the total still falls within your overall budget range.


Our webinar, “How To Make Your Event A/V Foolproof” was a hit!

If you were unable to watch it live, you can see it here as A/V expert and event planner, Will Curran of Endless Entertainment, shares his immense experience and must have info for any event A/V needs.

Event A/V Tips

Will was named one of the Top 40 under 40 as an event leader and recognized by Inc Magazine’s Coolest College Startups. This is all before he graduated college! He’s been producing events like Phoenix Comicon, Festival Block Party and Color Run since high school.

TAGS: event a/v, event audio visual

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