Q+A Monday: How Do I Know If I'm Ready to Host a Live Event?
My business is pretty new, but I love attending events and I want to start hosting my own. However, I'm scared about marketing and hosting an event since I'm such a newbie. Do you think it's better to wait until you have an audience or just go for it?
This is how my first "live event" hosting went:
1) Sent email to 10 friends saying "Come over. Let's talk about business."
2) Nine agreed.
3) I spent $40 on wine, cheese, and snacks.
4) They came over. We had better conversation than some of them had in YEARS of being business owners.
5) Two months later, I modeled my very-first-live event launch after that first email. I thought maybe 10 people would come.
6) I sold all 35 tickets out within two days.
7) I hid under my covers, overwhelmed with anxiety because now I had to actually put on my own event.
8) One year later, I've sold out 5 of that same event.
(I still get crushing anxiety before each one, but it has been getting better with time.)
I'm going to let you in on a little secret:
The number one fear that every single client of mine has is that no one will show up to their event.
Because when you work with a generation of internet business owners, or entrepreneurs who exist primarily via a website like I do, you can have nary a single client YET make it look like your business is flush with cash ALL DAY ERRYDAY (hey, Instagram. Thanks for that!).
But when you hold an event? There is real life social accountability.
People are LITERALLY going to either show up to your event...or not. And if some people show up but not enough people, the people that DO show up are going to think you're a huge fraud.
And then they're going to go tell all THEIR friends that you don't know what your doing and no one believes in you and it's going to be a big public failure for all to see, right?
And if you cancel your event, then that's a total failure right?
(No, not at all. And also, what if people DO show up? But don't worry. We'll get there.)
So you, my business-newbie-friend, are not alone in your "not-ready-ness" of event hosting.
Here's my no-filter way to know if you're ready to host an event.
And it's not going to be some BS like "If you're interested, then you're ready!" because it takes more than interest to actually pull something off and eventually want to do it again.
Three Ways to Know You're Ready To Host A Live Event
1. You've ever said to yourself "I'm so frustrated because XX doesn't exist in my community" and are motivated to actually DO something about it.
This is what we like to call "white space." It is the gap between what people WANT to happen and what is actually happening.
Here's the reality about how most successful events happen:
A bunch of people complain about the white space. One person does creates an event to fill the white space. Everyone else says "I could have done that."
For TWO YEARS, I complained to my friends about how the entrepreneurial community in my town in Montana was so limited that it made me consider leaving. I was one foot out the door because "no one in this damn town understood that one-person business owners and freelancers need community, too."
And so I complained about it for two years.
But I never actually DID anything about it. (And fortunately for my signature event, The Boss Lady Bash, neither did anyone else.)
Today, tons of people tell me "you should do an event for THIS!" and "you should do a community for THAT."
Which made me realize there is a VERY small percentage of people who can both SEE the white space and have the confidence to DO something about it.
(And also, I don't have time and it doesn't serve my business to create a community for artists because I'm not an artist and artists aren't my clients. But someone else can! And starting with my new course that's launching soon, I'm going to show you how you can create your own community using your personal signature events.)
Thus, there are two different kinds of people: those who desperately want to create something, and those who actually take the risk and create that thing.
Because each time you say "I wish there was THIS EVENT", someone else is saying that, too.
If you see the white space and you think to yourself "No one else is doing this. I can totally do this and my competition will be NO ONE!" then that's step #1. Step #1.5 is knowing that 100 other people have also said that.
Step #2 is knowing that 99 won't do a damn thing about it and you've got to be ready to actually DO something about it.
Takeaway: 80% of hosting a successful event is launching said event. The rest takes care of itself. It doesn't matter how long you've been in business; if you see a need that no one else is filling with an event, then you've got to do it.
2. You have a list of 10 contacts (like, good ones, who are big fans of yours) that you could reach out to tomorrow and enlist their help.
If you're brand new and have no people within your target market or who have contacts within your target market, then you're going to have trouble filling your event.
But, you should have these people. And you probably do. Much like when you launched your business and everyone told you to reach out to friends and family and ask them if they knew anyone who needed graphic design/photography/writing work?
Here's how I found the first 10 people:
1) I had 30 coffee meetings over the course of 2 months (lots of coffee) and 7 came out of those meetings
2) I was social friends with two of them
3) One of them I met on Twitter
When I give my signature presentation "Making Boss Lady Alliances: The New Rules of Networking" I talk about how I didn't have an email list OR a very robust social media presence. I sold my event out based on the strength of my network.
It is very, very difficult to get people to come to an event if you don't have other people who will go to bat for you. Most people would rather just stay home.
So, assess what outlets you have, what resources you can tap into, and who you would feel comfortable asking to help you promote your event.
Takeaway: Marketing and selling an event alone is a LOT more work and leads to a LOT less success. You need to have a group of friends, business alliances, or people who really believe in you who will help you market and sell your event.
If you don't, work on that first.
3. The number one reason to hosting this event is NOT "making a lot of money."
Because you probably won't, at least not right away. Events have the distinct disadvantage in that their overhead is HIIIIGH.
(PS In my upcoming course, I'll show you how to keep your overhead low through sponsorship and affiliates, but before you dive into any of that, you need to know that events aren't guaranteed money-makers. This is why every non-profit struggles with having money and paying quality people, and yet they all seem to have huge gala events that raise gobs of money.)
You absolutely can make money with events, but it's not going to be simply because of the ticket price. It's going to be through sponsorships, selling additional products on-site, and other event marketing tactics.
So when you're first starting out, I encourage you to have success metrics that are more important than just "making a lot of money." Some other ones could be:
•Wanting to be seen as an influencer and leader in your industry
•Building a local network of people who want to refer work to you
•Getting speaking experience without getting rejected from a thousand conferences who won't let you speak unless you already have speaking experience (this is a BIG one!)
•Giving away free or low-cost content so that people want to work with you on your service or buy your product
•Simply creating a community of like-minded individuals that you can tap into for questions
You have to be keenly aware of WHY your event is important, not only to the people who are attending but to YOU. Otherwise, convincing people them to come (outside of the "give me money in exchange for knowledge") is going to be a tough sell.