How to Become An Event Planner with No Experience
You’ve always dreamed about becoming an event planner, but with no experience under your belt, you might have a difficult time finding clients.
Gaining experience as a new event planner is easier than you think. There are many opportunities to build your portfolio and gain experience before you begin working with clients.
One of my favorite quotes for new event planners is: “The Expert in anything was once a Beginner.”
Here are some easy-to-follow tips for getting started in event planning.
1. Offer your Event Planning Service for Free
One of the fastest ways to gain experience is to offer your services for free. You can do this by volunteering with an organization to plan an event or offering your service to individual clients such as a bride and groom.
Post an ad on a directory listing such as Craigslist or on a forum such as Wedding Wire offering your event planning service for free. This will allow you to work with clients, even though they will be unpaid, gain experience and provide you with content for your portfolio.
This is also a create method for developing your business skills as you can learn how to work with clients, track your hours and be able to price your event planning services in the future.
You can use these events strategically to create templates for your business, such an event planning timeline, budget and client contracts. Treat your volunteer positions as if they were paid clients/jobs.
Even more valuable than the experience is the addition to your portfolio that these events will bring. You will now have photos of your events to use in your portfolio. These can also be used on your website and social media accounts to market your business in the future. Most importantly you will now be able to gather client feedback and testimonials that you can provide more trust to potential clients.
2. Don’t Discount your Past Experience
Most event planners started out planning events for friends and family as the go-to family party planner. Even if your past experience is not with a client you can still use this to represent your skills and expertise. Helping your sister plan her wedding won’t be much different from helping a client plan theirs. The only difference is that you are being paid, and will have greater responsibility for what you deliver and how it is delivered.
If you plan all the birthday parties in your family, use these as samples of your work. Organize your events as if you are working for a client, and document the process and time it takes to complete the event coordination. Be sure to also take lots of photos that you can use in your portfolio to showcase your talent.
Even though these are for friends and family they are still evidence of your skills and expertise!
3. Create your Own Event Experience
As a newbie, event planning clients will often ask to see samples of your previous work. Let’s be honest, they still ask to see examples even when you’re an experienced planner. The only difference is experience planners would have a portfolio of events and the experience that came from planning those events.
If you do not have any client or family events to add to your portfolio, there are actually two ways you can start creating them:
One way to build your experience is to host your own events. This could be anything from a business launch party if you are new to the industry, a wedding pop-up event with other vendors or even a networking event with other professionals. The purpose of a self-hosted event is to provide you with an opportunity to gain experience, curate content for your portfolio, showcase your business and build relationships along the way.
Styled event shoots
The second way to create your own event is to design a styled shoot. Style shoots are essentially faux events used for branding and obtaining photos for your portfolio. They often involve a collaboration between multiple vendors such as an event planner, photographer, florist, baker etc. These shoots allow each vendor to showcase their talents and express their creativity in a unique way. Plus, each vendor can then use these photos to market their respective goods and/or services to potential clients.
There are several ways to gain experience as a new event planner. The key is to be flexible, creative and think outside of the box. Remember: Even the Expert was once a Beginner.