Boss Lady

How to become a freelance event planner


Event planning can be an incredibly lucrative career. That’s because not that many people think they can just plan events. And so, the competition isn’t that great even while the need remains high. After all, people still get married and they still throw retirement parties. Similarly, there are still tons of companies launching products and celebrating milestones. All these events need successful event planners.

Of course, just because they need event planners doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily good event planning material. And that is a big question if you’re just starting out. Here are some things that will signal that you’ve got a freelance event planner inside of you:

  1. You’ve successfully planned events in the past. These generally went well and were widely praised by the attendees.
  2. You are stress resistant. This is an important one, as a big event will creep steadily closer and you have to be able to deal with all the moving parts without having a burnout. In fact, take steps to become more stress resistant even if you already are.
  3. You like people. Even planners need to engage with people. A lot of people. For that reason, you have to be able to enjoy interacting with people and creating an ever bigger roster of connections and useful individuals.
  4. You’re a good negotiator. The money you make often depends on being able to get good deals so that you have to pay less than people otherwise might.
  5. You are flexible and good at planning alternatives. The more people are involved in a project, the more likely somebody will screw up. That means you have to have a plan in place, so that your event is still a success.
  6. You’re good at marketing. Freelancing is marketing. Most people don’t realize this, but it’s true. After all, only if you successfully market your skills and your previous experiences are you going to find clients. And only then can you actually make any money.
  7. You can work to a budget. That’s important as often you’ll have only a certain amount of money to spend on an event. If you spend any more you will either have an unhappy customer or go out of pocket. And that can’t be the point of planning other people’s events, can it?

Are those all skills you’ve got? Well, then you have what it takes to be a freelance event planner! The big question now is how you go about becoming one. That’s what the rest of this article will be about.

Watch how it’s done

The best strategy to get some vital skills is to learn on somebody else’s dime. In other words, get a job with somebody who is already doing event planning and spend at least a little time learning the ropes under them. In this way, whatever mistakes you make are their problem and not yours.

What’s more, if you pay attention you’re liable to learn a lot of strategies and tricks that you would otherwise need years to learn.

Then, when you’ve learned the ropes, have a good idea of the standards of the industry and have a big network of suppliers and agents to help you out, you can hit out on your own to start freelancing events!

Start locally

If you don’t yet have a lot of experience as an event planner then the first step is to build up that experience. The best place to start is in your own backyard. Now, I don’t mean literally you backyard (though that’s not necessarily a terrible idea). What is mean is in your social network. Find out if any people you know are running events and need an event planner.

All you need to do to find out who is having an event is a scroll down your wall every day and you’ll find people having birthdays, getting engaged, or getting promoted. Write those people, see if they’re planning anything special and offer your services if they are.

Another strategy is to actually launch your own events and invite people. You can have a launch event for your event management career. This will let you showcase your skills to friends and family so that they know you’re out there and what you’re capable of. Yes, this can put you out of pocket a bit – but if you time it well (as in just before people are about to have events) and do a good job there is a good chance you’ll land a few gigs and hit the ground running.

Start small

Now, it is important you don’t bite off more than you can chew. This is particularly true as the first events you’re launching are to be a springboard to bigger and better things down the line and if you screw them up, well then they probably won’t be.

Besides, event planning is a skill which you learn over time. It’s about learning what the pitfalls and the dangers are. It’s about understanding what mistakes you and people you hire are likely to make and taking steps to make sure they don’t happen. It’s about increasing the complexity only as quickly as you can actually handle it.

For that reason, start small and then scale up. Yes, this might crimp your initial income somewhat – though it doesn’t have to as many event planner work on an hourly salary. It will, however, means you’re more likely to be successful and (just as importantly) are a great deal less likely to suffer huge amounts of stress or even a burnout.

It’s all about the network

Being a successful event planner means having people you can depend on. For that reason, you need to know the right people. So start working on that immediately. If you’re working for another event planner, then their address book is a great place to start. After all, you’re probably building up relationships with these people anyway, so why not take that with you?

Of course, if you want to make use of your previous boss’ network it’s a good idea to leave on good terms as otherwise you have no idea what they might try to do you. So bear that in mind as you make you exit.

Whatever the case, make sure you build up relationships with photographers, caterers, MJs and everybody else you’ll need for these events. Also, reach out to other event planners to see if you can’t get tips and tricks about who to trust and who not to in your world. Yes, these people are the competition – but they can still be a very useful source of information (and can be incredibly important in the case of an emergency).


The thing about events is that unless you get really lucky and end up on the books of an event company or something like that, you’re going to constantly be looking for new clients. After all, how many events do most individuals and companies plan in a year? Not enough for you to live from.

For that reason, always be marketing. This means making sure people are aware that you’re an event planner, handing out cards and having a great website for people in your area to find. Also, you’ll regularly want to share the success you’ve booked online or on your website. Yes, even if you’re busy.

This is a huge part of the job when you’re a freelancer as people lead their own lives and if you’re not on their radar, then they will quickly forget about you. For that reason, you need to put out a constant drip of information so that people know you’re out there.

As an extra advantage, if you constantly put out a little bit of information like this, then it won’t become obnoxious. And that’s vital if you actually want to get in touch with people.

Last words

Being an event planner can be incredibly rewarding as you’ll get to help create some of people’s most important days for them. If you do it right, they can be eternally grateful and send tons of work your way.

But you do have to be able to get it right. So make sure that you actually have the skills you need to pull it off and that you have the idea for detail that enables people to really enjoy their special days.

Also, be aware that initially event planning can be quite stressful. That’s because there is a lot to learn and people have a low threshold for annoyance when they’re trying to have a good time. So be sure that you can gain your satisfaction for a job well done. Then, later on, when you’re more experienced and more renowned, you’ll be able to enjoy the adulation you so richly deserve.

About Ashley Kornee

Ashley Kornee is a blogger and freelance writer. She always tries to write about ordinary things in a creative way. She's currently working at The Word Point translation company. You can find her on You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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