This is part 1 of a 2 part series. Read part 2.
My life for the past two months has been contracts, confirmation emails and Cabernet Sauvignon as I gear up for my annual “See. Speak. Feel.” art and performance showcase. The idea to host an art and performance showcase featuring amazing yet untapped talent originally came to me back in 2013; I tried to pull it off that year to no avail. At the time, I lacked the reach, network and foresight to execute the vision. But, by 2014 I felt prepared enough to try again. Last year’s show brought together 10 performers and five visual artists in a night that I will never, ever forget.
But, I knew this year had to be better. I challenged myself to think bigger and take risks, which translated into developing an event website, bringing on sponsors, hiring a marketing and event assistant and increasing the ticket price. With all of these additions, I felt a jolt of nervousness run through me. What if people didn’t buy tickets? What if no one wanted to sponsor the event?
Those moments of nervousness are when hard work and blind faith have to kick in. I’m excited to say that this year’s show both sold out and secured funding from eight different sponsors! Now that most of the prep work is done, I’ve had a chance to reflect on the event planning process, not only for this show, but for other events I’ve hosted. Here are 3 tips as you start planning your next (or first) blog event:
Venue first, speakers second
This is an adage I learned from my friend Dayana who is a full-time event planner. Securing a venue is usually the toughest and most expensive part of planning an event, but everything else about the event relies on the space. Focus on getting a space that is affordable and in alignment with your vision. If you’re seeking a cozy and intimate vibe, you don’t need a 400-person theater. Also, avoid reaching out to speakers or participants until you have signed that contract.
Create a budget and stick to it
This was something I did not finally get serious about until this year’s showcase. For previous events, I just would spend money and hope that my bank account didn’t look like fifty shades of f**ked up at the end. Now I’ve learned it’s better to plan ahead and keep track of expenses as you go along. That doesn’t mean there will be unforeseen expenses along the way, but feeling financially prepared for the larger ones makes a difference.
Always think about the energy and vibe
This sounds sort of artsy fartsy, but when developing your vision, think about how you want people to feel before, during and after the event. Sometimes I want people to feel happy and turned up. Sometimes I want people to feel sexy and inspired. How do you want people to feel? What kind of energy do you want to create? Thinking about those things will determine a lot as you refine the details of your event.
Have you ever planned an event? What questions or advice would you give?