Have you thought about using events to monetize your podcast?
In this episode of the Women in Podcasting Show, Jennifer Henczel talks about the top 3 game-changing keys you need to know about event planning for podcasters and solopreneurs.
If you’re thinking of using events to monetize your podcast, for example workshops, presentations, networking meetups, summits, conferences, tradeshows, or retreats centered around your message, you must have clarity around these 3 aspects of event planning.
Events can be a magical experience for everyone, when done properly. As everything has fully opened up after the pandemic and people are trying to add events as a revenue stream again, I’m seeing a lot of missteps. It’s unfortunate, because there a lot of talented people with a lot of wisdom to share, and when they fall into any one of those traps, people get discouraged, disappointed or even hurt, unnecessarily. It’s avoidable.
First, just so you know, I have planned and promoted over 600 events of all sizes from small meetups to large conferences. No, I didn’t have an event company, per se. It was just one of multiple streams of income I developed to promote my business. I’ve been involved in many events as a speaker many online summits and collaborations. As an events organizer, I’ve done events through government, corporate and non-profits gigs, and of course my own private events through a large business network that I founded (and sold a few years ago). So, I know a thing or two about events.
Here are 3 rules every podcaster and solopreneur needs to know before adding events as a stream of income:
#1 You need to hold those ticket funds in an account and use those funds for the event:
Period. That is Event Management 101, Business 101, Accounting 101, and most importantly, Integrity 101. That is the number one most standard practice, basic fact and simple math.
Ticket funds are not for paying your regular business expenses leading up to the event. Events can be a beautiful experience that enrich your life and put profits in your pocket, but it’s not free.
If you need to rely on it to fuel your business while you’re promoting it, then don’t do it. You’re not in a position or at the point in your business to have an event unless you’re able to hold the funds until the event. Why? In case you have to refund ticket holders, and any profit you make from the event after paying event expenses you get AFTER the event. After the event. You get your slice A.F.T.E.R. the event.
Don’t plan an event unless you’re willing to hold the funds until the event. That is not an event planning secret. That is not an event planning trick. This is not a rule I made up, it’s just a very basic and essential event planning practice and a business management fact.
You need some capital and a plan to manage the ticket and sponsor income to make it work.
#2 Your event is about your audience, not about you.
I’ve seen the most beautiful events planned and no one shows up, or at least not nearly what they were hoping for. Literally the most stunning, gorgeous, dynamic events you can imagine, and the event organizers dropped the ball, because they focused on their amazing creation more than what their audience actually wanted. It’s the classic 80/20 rule, right. They spent 80% on the planning, such as getting awesome speakers, beautiful booths, the itinerary and outline, working with the sponsors and venues etc. and only 20% on creating a community and attracting ticket sales. Guess what, no one, no one, and no one is ENTITLED to ticket sales or sponsors, no matter how brilliant the message and how beautiful the event. No one. The 80/20 needs to be flipped. It’s not about entitlement, it’s about listening to your audience and true, actual community building…
#3 Foster a sense of community around your message long before your event.
Connect with real people in your community, not just the top players in the industry. Be warm, friendly, responsive, open, and inclusive. Remember, building a community is an ongoing process, and it requires genuine engagement and relationship-building.
One way to do that is to poll your community about what they want, continuously listen to feedback and adapt to the needs of your audience. Never chastise, bully or blame your audience because their ideas or preferences are different than yours. No one here would do that, but you’d be surprised to hear that people have actually resorted to that to guilt people into buying tickets.
Ultimately, with events, podcasts, business and just about everything in life, if what your audience wants is so far off from what you want, then take action and make any needed changes in your own life and business. It’s not up to our clients to fulfill our business objectives or make us happy. You are responsibility for managing your own expectations and outcomes.
If people don’t like your event or program or something else you’ve created, that’s 100% on you.
And that’s okay. That’s how life and business work.
When I had my large business network and was conducting multiple events per week, I found that consistently having networking meetups, was actually more profitable over time than the large events – or I call them vanity events. Because everyone wants to have a giant, beautiful national or international event, but unless you have an audience of millions and can easily fill 500 seats with 2k or 10 k attendees, then the event should just be used to generate leads, increase your visibility and further build your community. So, unless you are crystal clear about your business management and event planning capabilities, plus capital to fuel it, then it’s going to be hard for you to make a profit as a main stream or primary source of income.
Events are kind of like books, in that they are a tool for generate leads, getting your foot in the door, and increasing your visibility. If you’re a podcaster on a shoestring budget, then events are a break-even kind of investment into your promotional and audience building efforts.
One thing is for sure, if you think you can just wing it and try to use an event as a primary income generator, then… well there’s flaws in that plan. That’s not a plan at all, and you and others along the way can get disappointed and hurt.
I know it’s a hard pill to swallow. I just want to save you from making these mistakes. I know, you’re just trying to find a way to make things happen and generate an income, right? I get it. My whole life has been a struggle and I’ve had to do everything from scratch, starting from nothing and bootstrapping every step. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I can tell you firsthand, it takes a lot of shots to get a goal. Be in the game or don’t be in the game, but be responsible for whatever part you play. You are the ruler of your own life, not others’.
“A true leader is continually working on controlling themselves, not others.” Jennifer Henczel
So that’s why I created a series of masterclasses that can help you with growing your communities. My most recent one is called Group Growth Masterclass: Learn how to Build a Thriving Community and Turbocharge Your Traffic. You can find all the masterclasses below.
There are always challenges to putting on events, and there are certainly many more tips I can share with you from my vast event experience. However, most things that arise are manageable and you can fix them along the way, expect the ones I’ve mentioned today. These are key to making it work. There are many aspects to event planning and promotion, and many things that can go sideways, but if you have an amazing event and you aren’t selling tickets, getting sponsors or making the desired income from it, then it’s one of these 3 things:
- You must hold the ticket funds until the event and take any profit after the event.
- You must put the audience needs first and provide an event that they want.
- You must build a thriving and engaged community around your message long before you start planning your event.
If those aren’t fixed, then you’re hooped.
Events can be a magical experience for everyone, when done properly.
If you need help, reach out:
Jennifer Henczel, HOST & Founder of the Women in Podcasting Show
Women in Podcasting Show
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