Planning parties might sound fun, but it takes more than booking a caterer and DJ to make a living at it. It also requires diplomacy, salesmanship, multitasking, and above all, a desire to help other people enjoy themselves. Party planner engagements can range from weddings and product launches to corporate seminars and awards dinners. Tasks can include renting a hall, mailing out engraved invitations, coming up with a theme, booking entertainment, deciding on the food, and hiring waitstaff.
The median income for event planners is over $61,000 according to Salary.com, with the range being from $52,901 to $72,329 per year.
There is no specific education or training required to become a party or event planner, but experience can go a long way in helping you know what to do and what to expect. Further, having a network of professionals from caterers to entertainers will be important in having the resources to supply what clients want for their party or event.
Starting a parting planning business offers many perks including:
- Can be started with little investment
- No formal training is required
- You can start from scratch or invest in a franchise event business opportunity
- Can be run from home
- Ideal for people who are outgoing and enjoy working with others
- Doing business with people and businesses out to have a good time
- Job variety
- Potential new clients at every event
- A six-figure income with the right clientele
It's not all party balloons and confetti in the planning business. Some negatives about the business include:
- Long or odd work hours. Party planners need to be on-hand during the event, which often runs evenings or weekends. Some may be multi-day events.
- Every event can be stressful as you only are as good and popular as your last party.
- It can be difficult to get your first clients.
- Clients can be difficult and unreasonable in their expectations.
- Reliance on subcontractors.
- Pressure to look your best whenever doing business.
- The client always comes first.
What You Need to Get Started
While there's no specific education or experience you need to get started as a party planner, there are a few skills and to-dos that are involved, such as:
- If you've never planned a party or organized an event, volunteer to do one to make sure you have the stamina and interest in event planning as a business.
- Write a business plan outlining your service, prices and financial projections. This is the time to decide if you're going to focus on a specific type of event, such as weddings or conferences.
- Although not required, you might want to get the Certified Meeting Planner certification as it can increase your marketability. Clients will feel more comfortable working with someone they think has been vetted. This can also allow you to charge higher rates.
- Determine what and how you're going to charge for your services. Keep in mind your clientele and the event. Weddings and large corporate events have high expectations and lots of work, whereas an office party usually has less.
- Create your contracts. Consider having a lawyer to help you to make sure you cover every possible legal ramification.
- Obtain the needed business license and liability insurance.
- Create your marketing plan and promotional materials, such as business cards, brochures, and a website. Determine your ideal market and how you'll reach it to get clients. Consider including videos of successful parties, with your clients' permission, of course.
- Gather images and testimonials of your events to create a portfolio of your success. Also, develop a plan for generating referrals.
- Develop a network of reliable suppliers and professionals needed to help you pull off your events, such as florists, caterers, photographers, and DJs.
- Get active in your community, especially with your local chamber of commerce and other business-to-business networking. Not only can you generate business from these events, but also, cultivate referrals.
If you have trouble getting your business off the ground or want more experience before going on your own, consider getting an event planning job.