Are you considering changing careers and seeking something that harnesses your organizational skills and love of working with people? If so, event planning offers the opportunity to help others rock their big day. What do you need to know to get started in the industry? Read on What to Know About Becoming an Event Planner.
This field offers flexibility, with multiple avenues for newbies to enter. Depending on your circumstances and desires, you may choose the entrepreneurial route or become part of a larger team. Here’s what you need to know about becoming an event planner.
What to Know About Becoming an Event Planner
What Do Event Planners Do?
Event planners make everything come together on special occasions, from small, intimate wedding ceremonies to multinational conferences. Everyone from UN officials to your next-door neighbor may need your services. You’ll perform various duties, including:
- Meeting with clients to discuss their needs, desires and expectations
- Coordinating with caterers to provide food and entertainment
- Maintaining ongoing relationships with various vendors to ensure coverage when you need it
- Overseeing setup and cleanup
- Serving as emcee and host
Becoming an event planner means your schedule may look different on any given day. For example, on Monday, you might meet with a florist to place various arrangements for a corporate event. On Tuesday, you might travel to a nearby city to emcee a conference, keeping the speakers flowing in the correct order.
However, you’ll need more than a love of working with people to become a successful event planner. You also require business savvy and basic math skills. For example, how can you help a budget-minded couple design their dream wedding without going into debt? You must think creatively and run the numbers.
Do You Need Education to Become an Event Planner?
While you can find bachelor’s and even master’s programs in event planning, you do not need a formal degree to enter the field. Instead, weigh the pros and cons.
On the one hand, going to school lets you network with other students and professors. Career services departments have useful resources to help you launch your event planning dream. However, the average tuition cost in the U.S. is over $35,000 per year, meaning a four-year degree can easily cost more than $100,000, especially after you add in books and lodging. It’s the cost of a small house — is it worth the potential payoff?
Helpful Certifications for Event Planners
A less expensive route to launching your event planning career is to earn various certifications. You can get these through online courses on sites like Udemy, where you often pay less than $200 per offering. Some of these certificates require education, but you can often substitute experience. For example:
- Certified Meeting Professional (CMP): Earned by exam
- Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP): Requires three years experience in the field, plus passing a course to earn your license.
- Global Travel Professional (GTP): Complete a comprehensive exam
- Digital Event Strategist (DES): Demonstrate experience, take a course and pass an exam
Essentials for Starting Your Event Planning Business
Becoming an event planner requires some upfront investment, even if you don’t attend school. What will you need to hang out a shingle as an entrepreneur? You must create the following.
1. Business Plan
A well-written business plan can help you secure capital funding for your enterprise by approaching investors. While this step sounds intimidating, it isn’t. You can find online templates and advice that make the job easier while introducing you to several considerations you may have overlooked.
2. Elevator Speech
Your toughest hurdle to becoming an event planner may be selling yourself and your service. Prepare an elevator pitch where you explain the value of what you provide in two or three short sentences. Practice using it on everyone you meet, as you’ll hone your delivery the more you repeat it.
Prospective clients want to see what you can do. Begin amassing your portfolio from your first event, adding to it with photographs, videos for your website and customer testimonials. You need to ask for the latter — design feedback forms to give to all clients, including a check box if you may publicly use their replies. That way, you have written documentation of your great work.
How can you build a portfolio before your first event? If you have friends and families with upcoming bridal showers or bar mitzvahs, offer to coordinate them for free in exchange for using their photos and feedback to grow your business.
4. Marketing Plan
Every business must market itself, often taking up a hefty chunk of its overall budget. What are some inexpensive ways to get your name out there? Consider the following:
- Community events: Talk to your local parks and recreation department. It coordinates scores of events throughout the year and could use your help. Offer to do the work in exchange for the right to pass out your business card and flyers to participants.
- Social media: Social media is free, although you may wish to upgrade to a paid business account later. Start small, using community sites like Nextdoor and Facebook neighborhood groups to advertise your services and upcoming events.
- Google: Get your business listed on Google so people who search locally will find you.
- Host classes and events: Designing a free webinar for expectant parents or brides-to-be provides valuable information to participants while getting your name in front of a whole group of people who need your help.
5. Tax Savvy
Here’s the good and bad news about the U.S. tax system. First, take your medicine — the IRS can shut down your business and even seize personal assets. However, such incidents are rare and generally apply to outrageous behavior, like using withheld federal income taxes held in trust for your employees for other expenses instead of forwarding them to the IRS.
Now the good news: The tax code is business-friendly, but only if you know what you’re doing. Connecting with the right accountant or enrolled agent to set up and run your books can be a lifesaver and save you a fortune through various deductions and credits that slash your tax burden.
What to Know About Becoming an Event Planner
If you want an exciting, people-centric career requiring flexibility, event planning may be for you. Becoming one is easier than you may think.
Follow the above tips to launch your event planner career and make the magic happen.