This is going to sound really weird, but go with me here… I’ve always treated myself as my very own guinea pig.
I will always try and test something for myself before recommending or teaching it to anyone else. So I’ll be using myself as a test case this year and sharing the results with you here. I’ll be sharing what worked, what didn’t, and what I’ll do differently next time - so you can learn from my wins and stumbles, and try these things for yourself.
In 2019, one of my goals is to take my business offline and connect with people by hosting events and workshops.
And so, I set myself the challenge of planning and hosting my very first event in February - wearing my blogger hat, as Sonia Styling.
The event itself - the Sunday Style Session - was inspired by a real life experience that happened to me late last year (you can read about it here) and before I knew it, the wheels were in motion and this event was actually happening!
Here’s a little timeline of how it all came together…
Step 1: align with brands
At heart, this was a fashion event so it needed clothes and jewellery… naturally.
I approached two businesses I have strong relationships with and who immediately sprang to mind when this concept came together in my heart (Blush & Co and Primp Style Co) and pitched my idea to them. Both said yes without hesitation.
Brilliant! We’re on our way…
Step 2: write the copy
The next thing I did was sit down with a blank Word document in front of me and I poured my heart out onto it.
I wrote down what inspired the event, what it was going to include on the day and what my intentions were for the day.
This would be the copy that I would use for all promotional material.
Step 3: crunch the numbers
I knew the next logical step would be to set a ticket price, but before I could do that, I needed to know how much this event was going to cost.
Let me make this very clear: my intention was not to make a profit from this event. I purely wanted to cover my costs - if I could.
I listed the main things I would need to pay for in a spreadsheet:
food (grazing boards)
printing and stationery
I contacted the vendors I knew I wanted to use (Amazing Grazers for grazing boards, Wine Please for wine, and Wilderstems for flowers) and I estimated the remaining costs for printing, stationery and gifts.
Then, I decided how many tickets I wanted to sell.
As I was hosting this particular event at my home, I knew how many people we could comfortably fit in our open plan back room, so the number was set at 16 tickets.
Honestly? This felt like a stretch goal and in my heart, I’d be if 12 tickets sold. Heck! I would have been happy if ONE ticket sold.
And so I set the ticket price at $49.
Why? It felt like a “no-brainer” price point. Like, if someone saw the event, got excited about it and clicked through to buy a ticket, the amount would not stop them from completing their purchase.
And, if they wanted to bring a friend along, it would not be one of “those” events that cost a packet - so their friend would say yes and buy a ticket too.
Also? It just felt right. In my heart. Because yes, I’m woo woo like that!
Step 4: create the Eventbrite page
I had the copy written. I had an image I wanted to use. So it was time to create an event in Eventbrite.
Eventbrite is such an easy, user friendly platform to navigate. Literally, within less than 10 minutes I had created and completed my page for my event.
I selected the option to add it as a Facebook event to my Facebook page and then closed to lid to my laptop and didn’t give it another thought, because promotion was going to come next.
But then this happened…
The next morning, I opened up Eventbrite to discover I had sold 2 tickets without even trying!
Clearly some of my followers had seen the Facebook event pop up and just went ahead and secured their spots.
My thought? “Holy shit, this is actually happening now!”
Time to get down to the business of promoting this thing.
Step 5: promoting the event
I decided that I would announce the event to the world on Friday 1 February.
So here’s what I did that day:
sent a newsletter to my mailing list
did a Facebook Live
did an Instagram Live
added the Eventbrite link to my Instagram bio
In my two x live videos, I shared the inspiration and intention behind the event, explained what people could expect on the day and asked them ever so nicely to grab a ticket if they would like to come along.
The following week, I wrote a blog post and did 1 x Instagram post and 1 x Facebook post on both my Sonia Styling accounts and my Scribe and Social accounts.
What happened next?
IT. SOLD. OUT… WITHIN A WEEK!
Yep, that’s right - all 16 available tickets sold out within a week of me officially announcing the event.
During that week, I had conversations via DM about it. Answered questions. Got excited with people. Rode that wave all the way through until Sunday 24 February.
Step 6: communicate with attendees
The first piece of communication someone received from me after buying their ticket was an automated email from Eventbrite, confirming their purchase and had their ticket attached.
But I took it one step further.
I personalised that email by adding a message from me, thanking them for coming along and letting them know my address and what to bring.
I then created a separate mailing list in MailChimp for my attendees.
Once I’d done this, I drafted 3 x emails:
email 1: sent out 5 days prior to the event - reminding them of the details and asking if they had any dietary requirements
email 2: sent out 3 days prior to the event - reminding them of the details and I also gave them my mobile number and said that I couldn’t wait to see them on Sunday
email 3: sent out the day after the event, with a link to complete a short survey and a list of all brands that were involved in the event with their social media links
Step 7: host the event!
The day itself was amazing. It was more than I could have hoped for and everyone was so lovely and so warm and so excited to be there.
Everyone was welcomed with a glass of bubbles, rosé or sparkling mineral water and encouraged to mix, mingle and nibble.
We then had a style Q&A panel, followed by showcasing 2 x different outfits on 2 x different models (friends I’d roped in to help me!) and then the opportunity to eat, drink and shop if they wished.
And boy did they shop!
Before I knew it, the last of the guests had departed and the event was over.
Step 8: seek feedback
As I mentioned in step 6, I created a survey of 10 questions using Typeform and included a link to it in the thank you/wrap up email sent out the day after the event.
I asked attendees to rate the overall event, the food and drinks, the content and the clothing and jewellery selected.
I gave them the opportunity to provide long form answers to the following questions:
What did you enjoy about the event?
How could I improve for the next event?
I then asked them to vote on which topics they would like to see covered at future events AND asked them to vote on which days/times worked best for them.
To finish, I asked them to leave a short testimonial about the day.
I’ve received 10 x responses - which I’m happy with.
So… what worked?
The day, time and concept - the most common piece of feedback was that Sunday afternoon worked perfectly with schedules. Also? It was a rare opportunity for many women to do something just for them and even attend an event with a friend.
The venue - for the size of this event, my home worked perfectly. I didn’t have to pay venue hire, which was a bonus. And it made for a very relaxed vibe.
The food and drink - grazing boards are the bombdiggity! People just go nuts over them! I had 2 x medium sized boards and there was hardly any food left over. Also, bubbles and rosé were the perfect accompaniments for a summer afternoon (it was 37 degrees that day!) - I had 2 x bottles of bubbles left over and no rosé.
The brands I aligned with - both Primp Style Co and Blush & Co are known brands to my audience as I’ve worked with them on numerous occasions. They are also both affordable, which is appealing to my audience. On the day, we offered 20% discount on both brands for any purchases made at the event.
What didn’t work?
There were no disasters, but some of the feedback received via the survey asked for even more styling - so that has 100% been taken on board.
What would I do differently next time?
Create a landing page to capture the details of people who missed out on tickets or who live rurally/interstate.
Have a follow-up event ready to go, ready to sell tickets for.
I freakin’ LOVED hosting this event! I loved meeting and connecting with people I’d only ever conversed with on Facebook and Instagram. I feel like our bond is even stronger for this - which is pretty amazing considering some attendees have been following me from the beginning (we’re talking nearly 6 years).
For Sonia Styling, my intention is to host an event quarterly, tying in with the seasons.
But I plan to change up the concept each time, to keep it fresh and interesting.
I also plan to change up the venue, so I can accommodate more people - but never say never. I might host other, more intimate events at home in the future.
Hope you enjoyed reading about my event hosting experience!
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.