We’ve had a lot of questions pouring in recently about our live events. So for this week’s special episode, we have our very own Live Events Coordinator, Amber Bowling, walk us through Live Events 101.
Amber is based in Lexington, KY and had been in the industry for about 12 years. She started with social gatherings like weddings and college events, later on she also helped in corporate and nonprofit events.
She has been behind our latest community event, and it was every bit as fun as we imagined. She believes that live interaction in events are profitable since it brings and builds business dynamics.
So, join us as we discuss this interesting topic and get your online business to the next level.
You Will Learn:
- The Benefits of Live Events for your business
- How to start a live event for your online business
- What to charge for a live event
- The importance of cost-benefit analysis
- Make your Live Even Checklist
- AND so much more!
Links and resources mentioned on today’s show:
Enjoy the podcast; we hope it inspires you to explore what’s possible for your family!
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Can’t Miss Moment
Today’s Can’t Miss Moment is going to the apple orchard with our daughter, Anna. This is her very first field trip ever. It was the kindergarten fieldtrip and we went out to apple orchard and just got to pick some apples. We played with some friends, and I was really happy to be able to go to her trip to the apple orchard.
Thank you for listening!
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Can’t listen right now? Read the transcript below!
Jocelyn: Hey y’all! On today’s podcast we help you plan and execute a successful live event, with live event coordinator, Amber Bowling.
Shane: Welcome to the Flipped Lifestyle podcast, where life always comes before work. We’re your hosts, Shane and Jocelyn Sams. We’re real family who figured out how to make our entire living online and now, we help other families do the same. Are you ready to flip your life? Alright, let’s get started.
What’s going on everybody? Welcome back to the Flipped Lifestyle podcast. It is great to be back with you again this week. We’ve got a little bit different kind of show for you than our normal podcast. Normally, we bring on a member of our Flip Your Life Community and we help them with some of the questions they have about online business and give them a live consulting call on the air.
But we’ve been getting a lot of feedback and questions lately about live events specifically, how do you host your own live event. I know that this can be a great compliment for many people in their online business to create these live meet-ups and these live events so, we thought we would bring on an expert today.
Jocelyn: And we don’t always bring on experts.
Shane: No, we don’t. We do not bring on self-proclaimed gurus, but we know this person is an expert because this is actually our live event coordinator, Amber Bowling. Amber, welcome to the show!
Amber: Thank you for having me.
Shane: And Amber is also my cousin. So, this is a family thing y’all and if you’re blood related, you get to be on the Flipped Lifestyle podcast for free. I’m just saying.
Amber: It’s 2 for 1.
Shane: That’s right. That’s right.
Jocelyn: But just a little disclaimer, we do hire her… so, we actually have a paid relationship with her.
Shane: Yeah. We have a paid relationship with her.
Jocelyn: So, and it works out really well. So, we wanted to bring her on today and just answer some of your questions about live events and how they can help you to grow your online business.
Shane: So, Amber, before we get started, just tell everybody a little bit about yourself, about your background and your expertise, I mean, in hosting live events.
Amber: Sure. So, I have been an event planner for about 12 years. I am based out of Lexington, Kentucky but plan events all over the country. My experience started out in more of the social wedding, corporate kind of non-profits and these live events have been something that I’ve kind of dug into here in just a last little bit and it is an exciting thing. It’s been a great partnership for us to kind of delve into this and actually, work with some folks in your community. So, it’s been a great thing.
Shane: Yeah. You’ve done weddings, you do things for colleges, alumni clubs, entrepreneurs and online business and it’s just fascinating to me as we’ve gotten more into this live event world to see if how many organizations really do rely on live interactions with their clients to make things happen.
Jocelyn: And how many different types there are, like there’s so many different types of events that you can do.
Shane: Yeah. It almost works in any – like it works for any business, don’t you think?
Amber: It does, it does. Especially and like the online communities, I mean, there’s definitely value to that and there is a sense of community in the online forms but there’s nothing like getting people around the table, live interaction with people to just bring more value to the dynamics. So…
Shane: Yeah. And so we were talking a little bit like off air about like why we host live events and like there is a monetary component. You can make really good money on selling tickets depending on what the event is and what you’re doing.
Some live events cost a lot of money to go to. We’ve seen live events that cost $3,000, $4,000, $5,000. We actually went to one one-time that was almost like $4,000 a ticket.
Jocelyn: But then, they’re also very expensive to put on. You know, like we don’t make tons of money off live events. For us, it’s more about the interaction, getting to know our community like having a face-to-face interaction with them and just sort of cementing that relationship for a really long time.
Shane: And we also find in the entrepreneurial community, a lot of times the online business, the online forums can take you a long way but there’s always peaks or moments in anyone’s business where they need something to take them over the edge and get to that next level and reset the process.
And we found that live events… the best thing to use them for is, you take a small group of people who are really close to making something major happen and then, to help them push over the edge at the live events to the next level because you get so juiced up at a live event. You get so excited that it builds a lot of momentum going forward.
And I think the biggest thing that you brought to our live events for sure is just the fun. That’s what’s awesome about adding you to the team in our live events is the fun aspect of it.
Amber: I’m all about the fun. Yeah.
Shane: Yeah. You are all about the fun.
Amber: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Jocelyn: You know, we like ours to truly be an event. It’s not just like something that you go to for a business and you leave and you’re just like, whatever. Like we like you to actually be something that you think about for a long time after, it’s not just that they like it kind of continues on because it was such a cool experience for everybody to just experience together.
Amber: Well, that’s exactly it and I think that’s one of the things that differentiates me as an event planner. And that’s just what I’m what passionate about is making it an experience. Not just an event where you go to a conference room and, you know, you want people to leave with that, “Wow.”
And so, how do you that? It’s those little details. You know, it’s hospitality, it’s making people feel comfortable. And we kind of do that with you all and just little touches in the food and you know, the welcome bags and the swag and all that kind of fun stuff. You really want to personalize things to wear. It’s not just another cookie cutter event. And I think that’s something that we’ve tweaked with you all and gotten to a really good combination of things so where people leave and it is an experience, it’s not just an event that they attended. It’s something that they will carry with them and take those action steps and they leave empowered to take those next steps.
Shane: Yeah. I love it too because that’s one of the main reasons we do live events too is, not only to get people to the next level but also too because those little touches that set you apart online. There’s a lot of people that teach what we teach. There’s a lot of people that do what other people do. But, that little thing when they leave and say, “Wow, that’s Shane and Jocelyn!” Like I love it in our last live event, the biggest comments we got is that the goodies wherein KFC mashed potato bowls. And like…
Jocelyn: Like styrofoam bowls that say KFC.
Shane: …and I was telling Amber did that by the way. We had just like little bitty bourbon bottle and this little bitty things, all these little candies and stuff. It was so funny though.
Amber: And people will remember that.
Shane: And they will. And I never forget people who’s in those pictures were like, “I took home all my KFC bowl.” You know, that sounds so funny to say that but like the point is, just going to that event and that one little trigger, that one little thing that identifies them with our brand in their life, that helps you retain customers, that helps people stay a part of your community and when they look…
Amber: Well, and people feel like they know you.
Shane: Yeah. Alright. Exactly, it’s more personal.
Jocelyn: Alright. So, we talked about why people would want to have a live event and like the benefits for what we do for online business, let’s sort of get into the more of the nuts and bolts of hosting a live event.
When we started hosting live events, I think it was back in like was it 2014 maybe that we started?
Shane: I don’t know.
Jocelyn: I think it was.
Shane: Just a while back.
Jocelyn: So, we really didn’t know what we were doing. And the good thing was that, I had a little bit of experience when I used to work in the corporate world of doing a little bit of event planning. Nothing really like this, but I mean, I’ve had a little bit of experience of doing some sales trainings and things like that.
Shane: We basically just wanted to see if we can pull it off. I was like, “Let’s just do a live event and we’re like, where? California, why not, let’s go.” And we just started.
Jocelyn: Yeah. And so, I mean, most people who listened to this podcasts frequently, they know that we’re just sort of jumping feet first kind of people.
Shane: “I have an idea. Let’s do this.”
Jocelyn: So, we just sort of make things make happen. And especially Shane, he was just like, “Let’s do it and sell it and just see what happens.” And I’m like, OK.
Shane: We sell the tickets before we had the venue. We just kind of…
Shane: …thought up all the ideas. We literally just, we’re like, “I don’t even know what to charge.”
Jocelyn: Yeah. And so, we’ll talk about that here in just a minute. But, so, for me it was really hard to plan the thing because first of all, it’s in San Diego so we had to talk to people in San Diego. I had never even been there before in my life so, I’m just totally blind, trying to find out information, trying to find a venue and talking to people like negotiating prices that something that I had never done before and like I really didn’t know what I was doing obviously because I really didn’t do a good job of doing it. Planning the menu like getting everything together, it’s a lot of work.
So, I think one of the questions that people have straight off is like, “How do you know what to charge for a live event?” So, maybe you could talk about that just a little bit.
Shane: Because that’s going to really determine what your live event is going to look like I would say. What do you think?
Jocelyn: And don’t just guess like we did.
Amber: Yeah. I think that’s probably one of the biggest hurdles and maybe even what is holding some people back just jumping in and doing a live event unlike you Shane who just went for it, but.
Shane: Oh you know.
Jocelyn: It all worked out.
Amber: Yeah. It did, it did. It worked out great. But I think people, they don’t really know what to charge and I think that’s true that anybody that has a services kind of driven business is, “What is your value? What is the maximum that I can charge without looking ridiculous?”
So, I think, that first of all you have to set what your goals are. What is it that you’re looking to achieve? Is it that you are wanting to make money from this event? Are you wanting to just break even? Or do you just want to have enough to cover your travel? Or is it you really don’t care how much money you make or if you lose money, you just really want to get your community together and grow the community and add value to the community. So, I think that’s the first question that you have to start with.
And then, you know, determining what your budget is overall. There’s two different approaches to this. Some people will say, “Well I have X amount of dollars, this is what we have to work with and then, my job is to plug in the numbers and work my magic to get the best most wow event for these dollars.”
Some people say, “I want to go to San Diego, Chicago, Boston.” But keep in mind that markets our different in every city. “I want to do X,Y and Z but I don’t know how much is going to cost.” And so, then you can kind of look at that and say, “OK, this is going to be X amount,” and then, go from there.
So, there’s kind of two different approaches to it. But I think the biggest question that you have to start with is, “What is your goal? What is your end goal?”
Jocelyn: Right. And .there’s probably a lot of people listening and thinking why would you want to break even from a live event? Well, I’ll tell you, it’s really expensive to put on a live event. I mean, even if you just consider your travel, your hotel, the food, the venue like all of those things really add up. So…
Shane: Even if you just do it in your town. You still have to run a venue, get the food, all that stuff. And also too, I think this is the short side of this we’re talking about of most entrepreneurs. What I find most beginners especially don’t understand is, they don’t understand cost of doing business, they don’t understand a cost benefit analysis. And they don’t understand investment with a later return.
Everybody wants to sell their thing and make money now. “Oh, I have a live event, I’ll make 10 grand, yeah. I’ve got money now.” But no, if you get 20 people from your community to your live event and you’re charging those people $50 a month and they stay because of that live event another two years, well look at the lifetime value of that customer and yeah, you broke even on the live event but you made an investment to get those people to the next level and stay with you as a customer moving forward so you actually made a ton of money off of having that live event, it just didn’t happen like immediately.
Jocelyn: And so, for us, I mean that’s typically our goal like we don’t go into it expecting to make millions of dollars off live events. I mean, that will be great but really, by the time that we account all of our costs in, the cost of travelling, I mean, we do come out ahead, obviously, ‘cause you don’t want to end up in the red, but we don’t…
Shane: If we break even, we’re fine with ours.
Jocelyn: Yeah. I mean, breaking even is OK…
Shane: …because that’s our goal.
Jocelyn: …with us because we know that, that helps out that relationship. And also, we have super solid testimonials moving forward.
Shane: And like those some events out there like the bigger events like the more conference events, those are more for making money. Wouldn’t you say – if you know what I mean?
Amber: Yeah. I think that’s a good starting point is breaking even because you’re going to get your systems in place like we’ve done. We’ve kind of streamlined y’alls live event. We know what the plan is, we know where we’re going. And so, we can be very cost effective in that and to where you are all able to make money at this point. But I think for anybody that’s just starting out. I personally think that breaking even while that sounds kind of crazy is I think that’s a good goal.
Shane: That’s actually a good thing for all business is, if you can get to the point where you can break even, you can become more efficient scale and then, make money. People see us and I think that’s why we get so many questions about having live events.
They see us hold them all the time and they’re like, “Oh, it looks so easy, I bet you’re make a killing off this.” And I said, “No, we’ve got a process and it took us two years of doing live events to figure them out to make them profitable enough to have them.” But also, we really just want to be close to breakeven and really serve our people, really get them results and take them to the next level and the lifetime value of that customer will even out the profit later on basically.
Now, if we were going to host a conference where we said, “Hey, let’s rent a place in Atlanta, get 300 people.” Now, that would probably be some kind of profit thing where you had tried to say, “OK, we’re going to charge this much and take able bring in this many speakers and we’re trying to make a 40 percent profit on this event.” But that’s a different kind of event than what we’re saying for most businesses is, bring in 10 to 20 of your customers, give them a result and move forward.
Amber: Yeah. It takes time to plan an event, I mean, there’s a lot of time and details and logistics that are involved.
So, I think one thing that we will started out planning your own events but then quickly realized, “Hey, guys, this is something we need to outsource.” I think it’s kind of a misconception in terms of hiring an event planner like, “Oh, that’s extra money that I have to spend.” But, really, if you decide to go that route, an event planner can save you money in the end…
Amber: …because that’s something that we live and breathe, events every single day so, we know how to negotiate the best rate with a venue, caterer, this extortion type events that we do and it’s all of those little details that just take up time and time is money.
Shane: We always look at it like, “I can pay this person this much per hour, can I make more than that in my hour not doing it?” That’s how we look at every task in our business. And any task where we can be like, “OK, we can pay this person $25 bucks an hour, $50 buck an hour, whatever.” Can we go and make $200 bucks an hour by doing consulting calls or by getting new members or things like that. And if the answer is yes, it becomes a no-brainer whether or not to hire someone to do it, you know.
Amber: Yeah. I think a great way to look at it too. I mean, that’s a great way.
Shane: Alright. So, let’s talk about the very specific thing. So, what are like the four or five things that are good quality live event you know, 10 to 20 people, what’s the checklist of things you got to do with a live event? If you didn’t know what we are going to do at our live events, what would you tell us, “Hey, a live event needs to do X, Y and Z over this day long period if it’s going to be successful?”
Amber: Well, I think obviously the venue and the setting is very important. So, cost-budget is going to determine a lot of that. I mean, there are some great kind of a resources and that depends city by city if you look like universities or library spaces or that kind of thing. If you look for like kind of a no-cost venue, you can look at there. But if you’re wanting to do like kind of a wow factor and having a place that people remember, I mean, when you were all in Tampa, you know, we held your event at the Aquarium.
So, that’s something that people are going to remember. So, I think picking kind of a unique venue. I’m not – no offensement to hotels but I’m not become a hotel space. I think that’s just kind of…
Jocelyn: …it just screams corporate.
Amber: Yes. It’s not going to be that wow experience. So, I think finding a venue is critical and one that’s going to work to your budget. And certainly, an event planner can help you with that especially if you’re going outside of your hometown.
I think food is really important. Food is expensive.
Amber: For food catering services. And I think people try to maybe take a less expensive route thinking that they’re going to save money. But people remember food. People definitely remember if you have bad food. So think that’s another critical one is you might have an awesome venue but you don’t have food and like – it’s just that hospitality that you’re taking care of people. You want people to be comfortable because if they’re not, they’re going to remember that too.
And then, I think focusing on your content and what the needs of your audience is at that event. And I think you will do a good job of networking with folks very specific that are attending the event prior to so, you’re able to kind of address their questions and needs that are on-site.
And then, there’s just obviously other logistics in terms of live events that people need to think about, that they may not necessarily have at the top of the radar but like parking and AV and transportation. And is there a national conference in town that we think you’re not going to be able to get hotel rooms, just those kinds of things that you kind of have to think through the whole process. I mean, it’s not just, “OK, I’ve got a venue, check that off.” There’s just a lot of those other little details that go into it that I think you know, if you don’t have a lot of experience doing in it, you might not necessarily think of those things off at the top of your head. So…
Jocelyn: Yeah. For sure, and I think that a lot of people recognize that’s not their skill set and that they’re not going to be able to effectively complete this process. For me, I mean, this was even hard for me and my mind does work this way like I think 3,000 steps ahead all the time. But like you know, people don’t…
Shane: And used to plan trade shows and stuff like usual plan…
Jocelyn: Yeah. I mean…
Shane: …similar type of events work.
Jocelyn: …I had some experience doing it and it was difficult for me. It took a lot of time.
Shane: Yeah. I totally agree with all those points you just made. Well, I get so overwhelming about running a live event is all of the logistics and all of the things like add-up. Oh it’s like death by a thousand cuts. Whenever we’re planning our live event, that’s what it feels like to me because it’s like there’s things to do like you have to figure out who is the on-site person you got to talk to. And what if they’re not there that day or they’re off and then, like who are the people that will actually be in the room serving you food and coffee and drinks and all those things.
And then, you have other things that you have to manage you’re saying like, you can’t just show up and your people be there. And oh, we’re the live event, everyone’s friends, you know, like people going to if they’re strangers and even if they talk online, they don’t really know each other and it’s important like two weeks out you know, I always try to break the ice with our people. We put them in a Facebook group. I do icebreakers in the Facebook group like show a picture of your family, tell us about your kids, tell us about your business.
I’m constantly working to try to build that familiarity between the attendees and us so that when we walk in the room for breakfast which is amazing because we’ve picked out great food, that we all consider rounding, get to know each other and there’s a real comfort in that room. I find it hard for us to even juggle all of that sometimes when we’re doing a live event especially the one we did by ourselves because it was like Jocelyn couldn’t participate in that because she was spending all of her time to do this, you know what I mean, it was just so overwhelming.
Jocelyn: Oh, and like if, the thing about doing it yourself is if something goes wrong, you’re out of the event, like you can’t interact with your people who are there because you’re dealing with something that went wrong like for instance when we were in San Diego, that very first one that we did, I had hired this I think it was called like TaskRabbit or something…
Shane: Oh, yeah.
Jocelyn: …basically, they did like little odd jobs and you could pay them. So, I have paid them to go to a grocery store to pick up some snacks for the booth. Well, it was great, they brought the snacks on time to the wrong hotel, that’s a different story but, anyway, that was my fault. But at any rate, so, they bring the snacks and they have forgotten something.
So, I had to go out into the parking lot and say, “OK, well, where’s the crackers?” “Oh, I didn’t know that there were crackers.”
Shane: Doing our own live event.
Jocelyn: So, I had to call the grocery store myself and be like, “Hey, there must be crackers.” And they were like, “Oh, we forgot the crackers.” So…
Shane: And like the best mistake that was made which is actually hilarious when we did it ourselves. I want to stop here for a second. I was like, we do believe that we need to use an event coordinator but you don’t have to use an event you don’t have to use an event coordinator. You can’t pull one of these off.
It’s always that time or money thing, and always, you’re not doing something you’re an expert at, there’s always going to be a problem, because I understand that many of our listeners will not be able to just go out and pay for an event coordinator.
So, anybody listening, that’s not the goal here. But like, these are just funny stories of when we did it ourselves and totally screwed everything up because that’s what we do sometimes.
So, Jocelyn plans out this thing, we all had the timing down perfect from our itinerary…
Jocelyn: And it went really well.
Shane: And it did really – it did go really well. We ate at the Sheraton in San Diego…
Jocelyn: No. We at at a restaurant near the Sheraton.
Shane: …near the Sheraton and we thought, “Hey, well there was a boat, they we’re going to take out on San Diego Bay and it was parked at the Sheraton, right?
Jocelyn: Well, we didn’t know.
Shane: We did not realize because we are not event coordinators and we do not live in San Diego if there’s two Sheraton’s and they were a mile apart.
Jocelyn: Well, about half an hour.
Shane: So, like we realized this at the last minute. We’re about to like miss the boat and we’re…
Jocelyn: So, I’m dealing with this cracker situation. The people are going to wrong hotel.
Shane: We’re on this highway with this little bitty sidewalk so, like all of our people could only walk two-by-two like little ducklings. And like, we have this big column of online entrepreneurs walking from one Sheraton to the other.
Jocelyn: And if you know – and if you listen to the show often and you know anything about me, like I’m dying inside.
Shane: Oh, Jocelyn is dying inside. It’s like eating her alive.
Jocelyn: Because I’m a perfectionist. I’m a control freak like I did not get this right and I’m thinking people hate me.
Shane: Right. And my point is, little things can go wrong, something is going wrong. And it’s nice to have someone to fix it.
Amber: Yeah. And if something is going to go wrong. It just happens.
Amber: I mean, I am a professional and it happens to me. But part of what my job is crisis management. So, that’s a big part of it. So, in that moment Jocelyn, where you’re saying, “Never again. I’m never doing this again.”
Shane: Yes, pretty much. Yeah.
Jocelyn: Yes, pretty much. I mean, I was really upset because I was just more – I wasn’t worried about me so much that I was worried about their experience. I want people to have a good experience…
Jocelyn: …and I felt like because I screwed something up, they’re weren’t going to have a good experience.
Jocelyn: And it was just like crushing my soul.
Shane: And she’s having to deal with it and not able to like you can pivot and you can make things fun like you can make things happen.
Jocelyn: So, instead of talking to the attendees, I’m talking to the TaskRabbit people about crackers. You know, like that was the thing. It was like – it was really hard.
So, let me just say though, I mean, with all that in mind and, yes, we did do it by ourselves and it turned out OK, but like working with you since we have gone to working with you, it has been so much easier. I know we pretty much just show up everything is done, like I have a nice neat little list of everybody I’m supposed to talk to, what I’m supposed to expect and when I’m supposed to expect it. And it’s you know, it’s been a lot easier for me. I don’t have to think about all the stuff. It doesn’t take out my mental space.
Shane: We talk a lot about hiring VAs and outsourcing certain things. A lot of people say, “Well, this person cost this much so, I’m already in the hole.” Instead of saying, “What is my goal? What result do I want? How much do I think this will cost and then, taking that person’s contract fee?” You take that as a part of your planning…
Jocelyn: The cost of doing business.
Shane: It’s not like you’re putting it. Yeah, it’s cost doing business upfront but you can say like, “OK, if this person, this much money, the event is going to cost this much money. All these adds up to $10,000, well, then I need to get 20 people at $500 a piece to break even.” So, I think that’s what people forget about.
Amber: Yeah. I think that’s a great way to look at it is that you build in your cost for these services. When you have someone that’s handling the details of, OK, you have six vegetarians and two gluten-free people and you know, this is, that and the other.
Shane: Look, that’s happened every time.
Amber: Yeah. I mean, it’s the reality that we have to pay this much for parking and you could only park 10 cars here and this, that on the other. You don’t need to be worried about that. You only need to be focused on your members and spending quality time with them versus kind of getting your head bogged down in all of these different logistics of just one day.
So, I think there’s a huge value to that, that it frees up like Jocelyn said, kind of your mental space to be able to you know, just focused on what you’re there for, which is your content and building your community and sharing yourself with your community. I mean, that’s what they’re there to do is to interact with you so that you’re not having to worry about, if so-and-so gets this meal, and so-and-so doesn’t get this, and that way you all can just really focus on what you’re there to do and do that well.
Shane: Let’s talk about game day management too. I think that the hardest part for me is the day of the event. It feels like there’s so many moving part. For someone who is going to do this on their own, and I would just want to preface, you can do this on your own but like, you’ve got to keep it really simple. You’ve got to keep it basic when you’re first learning this process.
Don’t rent yachts like we did on your first live event because that makes things a lot harder. What does a game day management look like? What are your best two or three tips for people like day of the event, if you are running this yourself or your event coordinator is not on-site with you, what are two or three things to keep in mind the day of the event to make sure things goes smooth and if there are fires, how to get them put out while still managing your people?
Amber: I think even before the day of the event, it’s just preparation and communication. I think those are vital so, I prepare a very detailed itinerary for you all and this is so, if you’re doing your own event, obviously, you can do this yourself. But it’s very detailed with contacts and phone numbers and just kind of timeline of the day you think the week before, “OK, I’ve got this down.”
But, when you’re kind of in the throws of it, if you don’t have it in front of you, in a crisis, “Oh, this is who I’m supposed to call the caterers late.” You know, so, I think preparation in advance is critical. And then, you have that. You know, they’re with you that day to refer to. I think communication with your vendors is also, you cannot over communicate with them. I think just reiterating everything timelines and because you may be dealing with person who’s actually placing the order for the food and beverage but it’s going to be another person that’s on-site.
So, just making sure that you know who’s going to be there, who you’re dealing with and just over communicating that and make sure that you’re getting good feedback from them. And then, if you don’t have an event planner, you just have another person there so, like in a crisis, if something like that were to happen like the caterer forgot crackers or whatever it is, that you have a person that you can kind of fallback to. You all are able to do that because you’re a two-person team, you know.
So, at least while Jocelyn was down with the crackers, you could be like entertaining your guests. So….
Amber: …I think you’ve got to have a backup plan. You can plan and plan and plan and plan and I’m a professional planner but things still go wrong for me. So, you have to have a plan B and you have to be able to react.
Jocelyn: Yeah. And things are always going to happen. I mean, even in our last one that you did help us with like we’re supposed to have a breakfast burritos where like the next morning, there’s no breakfast burritos, you know.
Jocelyn: And again, it’s just a communication thing.
Shane: But we, but it was so smooth though because we knew exactly who talk to. We had an all printed out, that’s another thing I would say too is, don’t rely on your Macbook. Don’t have everybody’s phone in your cellphone number in your cellphone. Like, bring a notebook with an actual printed copy of everyone’s phone number, all the contact people.
Like you said, your plan A, your plan B. I love what you said there about having a second person. For people out there with communities, you could even give away one seat of your live event for free with the agreement that you’re going to help with the live event. People do this all the time for conferences. They’re your fire extinguisher basically.
Amber: Fire extinguisher. I love that.
Shane: Yeah. And at Podcast Movement, they had a lot of people working booths for Podcast Movement. These were all people who got a free ticket to Podcast Movement if they would agree to work like the booth an hour a day.
So, that way they didn’t have to pay for labor but like just bring someone, they get to come to the event, they get to enjoy the event. There’s nothing different in their ticket. The only thing is, if Task Rabbit doesn’t bring the crackers, they understand that if they’re going to do that so, you can keep emceeing the event and they’re going to help you solve that problem.
So, it’s not like you have to hire someone or have a personal assistant in real life to do that. There’s lots of ways even in a DIY environment or on a budget that you can get someone to help you.
Jocelyn: And speaking of that, this just hit me when you’re talking about that. You can also trade services with people when you’re first starting out. We did this for our very first live event. We actually allowed someone to come for free because they were a photographer and…
Shane: Oh, yeah. That worked out amazing.
Jocelyn: …we had them do photography and videography for our first event which was amazing because we have that for the next few live events that we did.
Shane: But we still use those images and videos for all of our marketing on our live events because it was so good and he even gave us a photoshoot like with the day before the event, we went down to La Jolla Beach and we took pictures on the beach. We set at a coffee shop. We have all these marketing images and things now, just huge benefit even two or three years later just because we said, “Hey, let’s trade services, you come to our event, we will take your business to the next level, you get to do everything with us, you just have to do pictures and stuff for you know, 10 percent to 20 percent of the time to give us this stock footage.”
Amber: That’s a great approach. I love that. That way, you’re able to come and use resources that are there. I know that was a great tradeoff so, that’s perfect.
Jocelyn: Alright. This has been a great conversation. Let’s sort of end here with some of the biggest mistakes that you see people make when they’re either planning their own live event or maybe just working with an event planner or just with planning live events in general…
Shane: Biggest mistakes people make.
Jocelyn: …what are some big mistakes that you see.
Amber: I think just not preparing enough in advance. I think people think, “OK, I’ve got the food check.” But just not kind of working through the logistics, I guess because there are things that are in the universe that are going to impede you. There’s going to be a roadblock or traffic or you know, something like that and being able to communicate with your attendees and communicating in advance of the event to let people know just where to go, how to get there.
I think there’s a lot of assumptions that people make that, “OK, I know where I’m going. I know what I’m doing.”
Shane: And so, everybody else does. Yeah, right.
Amber: Yeah. Maybe not necessarily communicating that because you know, just maybe not working through these logistics is probably one of the biggest mistakes that people make. That they just assume, “I’ve all of these on paper. I’ve got my contracts.”
So, you know everything is going to go perfectly. But I think you kind of have to prepare for the unexpected and if you’ve never done events before, you’re not going to be familiar with that so, I think that’s why it’s critical too. If you have the means to do it, to outsource that and to have an event planner on-site that can, you know, just to kind of help you work through some of those things.
Shane: Anything can happen especially in a major city. Like, that’s another thing too, like when you go to Chicago, New York and San Diego, L.A., everything is going on all the time, anyway, but like…
Jocelyn: Especially when you’re from small town America.
Shane: …small town area, right. But, we look out the window and legit, there was a political protest marching down the street and like a thousand people. But, down the way, down Michigan Avenue which was like you know, the main drive there. You can’t prepare for that.
Shane. You know what I’m saying? You don’t know that’s going to happen. But what you can do is say, OK, what if this parking lot is closed, maybe it’s because they’re marching down the street, maybe it’s because there’s construction you didn’t anticipate. But if you have a backup in place, it doesn’t matter why it happens. It doesn’t matter if it’s traffic, political protest early morning that dude didn’t show up for work that’s supposed to open the parking garage.
It’s so important to have all those backup plans in place because like you said, you didn’t know something’s going to go wrong. And people do assume. You assume everything is going to go right and…
Amber: Yeah. And knowing the right questions to ask too, I think that’s something kind of as a novice, you may not think to ask about parking or parking stamping or where I’ll get my parking valeted or is there signage of how to get to the elevator if our room is down the hall. There’s just a lot of details that go into it.
And not to say that you can’t do it, just to be aware that you know, just because you have it on paper and that’s your plan, it’s not necessarily going to go that way. You just kind of have to thank through all of the process of the whole day.
Shane: I love that too and that goes back to hiring expertise. We have seen everything that can go wrong. We have seen everything that can go right. We have seen it in dozens and dozens of dozens of niche markets. And that experience is why you hire people for things. It’s why we hire people like to do our Infusionsoft, which is our customer service manager system.
This person has dozens and dozens of clients. They see the in-and-out of the system. They know things that we would never even think to ask and that’s why I think it’s good to resurge it and don’t just assume, room check, food check, see you at Saturday. You know what I’m saying?
Jocelyn: And you know, it’s like we were saying before, something is always going to go wrong. There’s something that you’re not going to anticipate. There’s something that even your event planner can’t anticipate. It’s just the way that life is and you have to just overcome and deal with that one, it happens.
But overall, I would say, that working with you has been just you know, totally different than when I did it myself. I mean, there’s so much better. I don’t have to think about all these stuff all the time and we just pretty much put together like a skeleton plan and then, a note that you’re going to take care of it.
So, I mean, thanks for doing that for us. I mean, it’s been awesome for me.
Amber: Well, I’m glad to hear that. It’s been great working with you guys. And I think once you get kind of through the nuts and bolts of it, you know, we’ve gotten to a place where we can kind of take your all’s events like change it with the fun in it.
So, we’d have food and have a great place but it’s got to be you. It’s got to your personality and your branding so that when people walk away from it, they are like, “Wow!” You know, you’ve got to have great place, great food. But you’ve also got a kind of work in those details too and I think that’s something that an event planner also brings to the table, sourcing out your swag. I mean, that takes time you know, to figure out where do you get the best rates for your you know, coffee cups…
Shane: Coffee mugs. Yeah and all that stuff.
Amber: …and all that kind of stuff like, who, that what you don’t necessarily want to be spending your time to, but that’s something an event planner can do and kind of create these pieces that are unique to you and unique to your venue and that kind of resonate with people of like, “Wow! They thought of everything.” And that’s what you want people to walk away from.
Shane: I think that most people aim too big upfront whether they’re starting on, on business having a live event. We rented the law office’s penthouse suite and got a yacht in San Diego. That’s not where you should start. If you’re going to do something DIY, maybe it should be more like a meet-up where you can still charge, you can still cover the cost for the event. It’s just something smaller or you’re not getting so in depth or you can kind of get your feet wet a little bit and then, when you’re ready to go something bigger, I would almost say you need to hire someone.
If you’re going to do a meet-up like, “Hey, I’m going to be in New York and all of you listen to my podcast, let’s meet up here.”
Amber: I think that’s definitely a good way to start though is just doing some of these meet-ups. If you’re not ready to kind of delve into the whole live event, I think that’s a good place to start. But there is some pre-planning and some thought that needs to go into it if you want it to be successful and not end up standing around with no place to sit. I think you’ve got a…
Shane: That would be terrible. Can you imagine that? “Hey, guys meet here.” You know, you’re charging 100 bucks just to cover the cost and then, you show up and like legit the place like burned down or like it’s not there anymore, you know.
Jocelyn: This is totally what happened like if I was not involved in this because I knew…
Shane: If I plan this, I would totally just be like, “Yeah, man, I found this place. Did you call them? Nah! There’s always open, right?” I mean, you know. We’re going to meet at In-N-Out Burger, man you know what I mean. But…
Amber: You got to do a little bit of planning. You got to be prepared for sure.
Jocelyn: Alright. Amber, thank you so much for being here. Thank you for all these awesome information about live event planning. If somebody is thinking about hosting a live event or maybe even hiring a live event planner and they want more information about what you do, where they can find you?
Amber: Yeah. Well, my company is Divine Soiree so, they can find me at divine-soiree.com. My e-mail is email@example.com. So, just drop me a note and like I said, I’m based in Lexington but I plan events all over the country so, if you’re thinking about diving into planning some live events, I’d love to chat with you. And then, I think you all are going to host some of the information how to contact me on your page as well, so.
Jocelyn: Yeah. If you want to know how to spell soiree, you can go back today show notes at flippedlifestyle.com.
Shane: I don’t know how to spell soiree but I’m going to have all my VAs look that up so it will be spelled right once you get on the page you know what I mean. And also, for everyone listening today, we are going to work with Amber and create a DIY live event checklist. We’re actually going to show you a checklist that’s going to be all of the things that were involved in planning our live events. And so, you can head over to Flippedlifestyle.com, check out this episode’s show notes and you’ll be able to download that 100 percent for free.
That will get your feet wet, let you see what it takes to create a live event, to do a live event, maybe even try one of your own or if you do hire an event coordinator, you will be able to work with them with greater information and be able to pull of an amazing live event that is going to help you grow your online business.
And real quick again Amber, just wanted to thank you for being on the show today. I love it when I can bring the family on to the show, you know what I mean?
Amber: Thanks for having me. This has been great.
Shane: If you would like to join our Flip Your Life Community, head over to flippedlifestyle.com/flipyourlife and we can show you how to join today.
Jocelyn: It’s not time to into our Can’t Miss Moment segment. These are moments that we were able to experience recently that we might have missed if we were still working at a normal nine to five job. Today’s Can’t Miss Moment is going to the apple orchard with our daughter, Anna. This is her very first field trip ever. It was the kindergarten fieldtrip and we went out to apple orchard and just got to pick some apples. We played with some friends, and I was really happy to be able to go to her trip to the apple orchard.
Shane: Yeah. This was a cool trip because it just kind of was a day of online business glory because we got up, went ahead and got ready before school started, drop the kids off. Jocelyn and I ran and got breakfast together so, we had this nice breakfast with just us. We drove, it was about an hour to get to the apple orchard. We drove and we met the buses there so, we went to the apple orchard ourselves. Jocelyn drove, I got to check our forums and check Voxer for our private mastermind and serve our community.
We got to get a little work down when we got there and then, we jumped out and met them right when the bus got there, Anna Jo was so happy to see us, hung out with her all day and picked apples. And then, I got to have a nice drive home where we got to talk about some things we had needed to plan for. And then, by the time we got home, we just picked the kids right up off the bus and hit their activities in the afternoon. It was just such a good day, such a stress-free day and such an opportunity to be able to hangout with our kids.
Jocelyn: And again, we were one of the only moms and dads there.
Jocelyn: We got a lot of questions during those situations, people who don’t really know us so, we’re like…
Shane: How are you both here? Like, what do you do?
Jocelyn: Wow! What do you do?
Jocelyn: We got a lot of that kind of stuff so, that’s always interesting to talk about but it was great day at the apple orchard and I’m really thankful that we were able to be there.
Shane: Before we go, we’d like to close, we’d like to close every single one of our shows with a verse from the bible. Today’s Bible verse comes from Proverbs 10:2, and the Bible says, “Tainted wealth has no lasting value.” Keep that in mind while you’re building your online business, guys. Always treat every customer with honesty and fairness. That’s all the time we have for this week. As always, guys, thanks for listening to the Flipped Lifestyle podcast and until next time, get out there. Take action. Do whatever it takes to flip your life. We’ll see you then.