1. Be patient.
You’re creative & you have a million epic ideas on what to offer at your event. But big ambitions can lead to big disappointment. Manage your own expectations and stay focused
on the long term. You may not have the resources to pull off a lot of your ideas the 1st, 2nd or even 3rd year, but eventually you will! 5 years from now, you will look back &
marvel at how far you have come.
2. It’s going to be more work than you think.
Everyone underestimates the work it takes to run an event. There’s a lot to do: setting up websites, building set pieces, evaluating applications from performers & volunteers,
planning your layout, promotion, answering questions – the list could go on. (It will be even harder if you are detail-oriented & want full creative control.) An annual event will keep you
busy all year, but I always felt it was necessary to dedicate the final 4 weeks to working on the event full-time. The event is over? Don’t relax just yet, because that’s
exactly the right time to keep your buzz going.
Also, there will be sacrifices. I have had to turn down paying work because of event-related commitments. When you’re close to broke, that can really suck.
3. Getting a good turnout to your first event will be challenging
Everyone also underestimates how hard selling is, and it’s really hard to convince people to come to something new. They don’t have any photos or videos from past events to
give them an idea of what this weird, new event is about, or what there is to do there. They’ll never know all of the hard work you are putting in. To overcome this, you will
have to be a relentless promotion machine. Hit the streets with flyers. Blast Facebook. Call and email each of your friends individually. Partner with leaders in
related scenes who can invite their followers.
During the event, make a plan to get as much great video & photography as possible so your second event is much easier to promote. Treat your first event like it’s a shoot for
your event’s promo video.
4. Learn to delegate & automate
Don’t let your responsibilities drown you. Plan on outsourcing everything, because there will still be enough executive tasks to keep you busy. Learn to say “no” to non-urgent
matters and learn to let go of control. When you find reliable people, treasure them like gold.
We are very lucky to be living in a time when we have millions of free & affordable apps & online tools available that can help us automate our work. Make sure you make the
most out of the resources out there to set follow-up reminders, keep track of your to-do lists, and manage social media.
5. Learn online marketing
These days, if you’re not on the internet, you don’t exist. Online promotion has the potential to grow your event faster than any other channel. Don’t just wing it. Start
collecting emails months before your event. Learn how Facebook’s algorithms work. Create a page & a group. Target people in your area with Facebook Ads. Create a presence on Instagram & LinkedIn.
6. Choose the right partners and communicate a lot
You could be in this for the long haul, so make sure you & your partners are on the same page, the same frequency. Are your visions & styles for this event compatible? Does one
person want to turn it into a non-profit, community-owned event, while the other wants it to become a successful startup that could be sold to a large entertainment
Talk to each other a lot, even if it’s just to hang out. Also, hang out with your most devoted attendees. Keep rumors, suspicion & drama at bay. Talk about your concerns & your
fears. Run your decisions & thought process by your partner(s).
7. Maintain a great relationship with the venue owner
We all know you can’t judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it: people like us tend to look like trouble. When meeting with venue managers, city officials, or police,
conveying professionalism & trustworthiness are key. You need their support. Finding a good venue is crucial, and it’s rarely easy finding the perfect place. Don’t take your
venue for granted. If you’re not renting, create a relationship with the local police so they are aware of your presence (& make sure you get everything in writing).
8. Don’t ruin your chances of getting insurance
Promoters like us always want to make our events look like a crazy, exciting thrill ride for adults. But when it’s time to start applying for insurance, suddenly our websites &
YouTube videos become a liability. It’s surprisingly difficult finding an insurance company who will cover some of our events, and they’re not cheap. Many insurance companies
will not touch events with fire dancing, or heavy metal concerts, with a 10-foot pole. Unless you can figure out a way to switch your whole online persona to a much tamer one
during insurance shopping time, think twice before putting that video of your drunk motorcycle-jousting match on your homepage.
9. Always budget for emergencies
Please, please, please make sure you have extra cash left over when it’s go-time. When you’re in your final week of prep & running the event, time is not on your side. You may
need to throw money at your problems. One year, our sound system speakers blew & we had to run 1.5 hours into the nearest town to pick up rental speakers so we could continue
running bands & DJs for the weekend. The final week of prep & the event should be a time of joy & celebration, a time to reunite with friends & enjoy the work of your hands. It
should not be a time of mourning & wondering if you’re even going to break even.
10. It will be rewarding
Running an event is a sacrifice & a lot of work, but it’ll all be worth it when people walk up to you & thank you for everything you’ve done. Your event will be a huge,
exciting part of many people’s lives (and some of them have been waiting their whole lives for an event like yours). You are guaranteed to make lots of new friendships (&
perhaps even relationships) that will last a lifetime. And yea, maybe you’ll make some money, too, if you’re into that.