Free to Paid: The Guide to Growing and Selling Your Events

Lets make things clear from the start, if you organize semi-regular to regular get-togethers in any shape or form, you are an event organizer. Whether those meets are social or sports-related (sometimes both), you, hey you, you are an event organizer! And did you know that event organizing is a profession, and a well-paid one at that? Of course you did. What you didn’t know is that you can actually sell your get-togethers as events, and here is what you can gain from “selling” your event:

  • Growth and popularization of an activity you already feel passionate about;
  • Personal growth coming from a feeling of accomplishment, responsibility and action;
  • Professional growth from learning new skills in event organization and the related activities;
  • Better events. Paid events are generally planned, organized and executed more efficiently and effectively (more on that below);
  • Last but not least, even more good times with like-minded individuals.

Where to begin

Before you start charging friends and existing attendees you need to begin providing something extra that will be appreciated by them. This extra something will be your value proposition and the justification for charging the new fee. To find “it”, follow the three-step process below:

  1. Think about the activity or purpose behind your get-together. Is there a product or service you can provide which will ease everyone? ‘Something’ that everyone must do, pay, buy or bring to your events anyway?
  2. Can you offer it? You can also be clever about it and find a sponsor to provide that service or product for free but shhh!
  3. Offer that special something and make sure it’s of the best possible quality.

Now, consider everything that you are currently doing for these get-togethers, that ‘something’ you are planning to provide and put a realistic value on everything. How much would you be willing to pay to attend an event like that? Put a price high enough to be worth your time and effort for doing this in the first place, while at the same time low enough to not cause serious damage to your attendees’ wallets, purses and motivations to attend. A basic way of formulating a price is to cover expenses and add 10%-20% markup on top. If you have no expenses just think of a reasonable price.

Bank on the return purchase or membership renewal and not the one off sale or attendance!

Tickets and registrations or membership?

Depending on the frequency and size of your events you can charge attendees by selling tickets and registrations prior to each event or via a periodic subscription fee.

Memberships offer your club stability in terms of creating a fixed member base. They are more suitable for private events, where members need to screened before being accepted to join and attend. However memberships are unstable when it comes to the event planning and execution. As your club is more exclusive, you will have less members and less certainty on how many people will attend each of your events. This will make the event planning very tough.

Registrations and ticketing offer more flexibility for your member base, as anyone with a keen interest can register to join and attend. If someone has paid to attend, they will be more likely to attend and not lose out, which makes your event planning and execution measurable.

To pick the right method consider how private you want your events to be and how much you want them to grow. How will you deal with guests with a keen interest, how will they be charged?



Get organized

Set up a virtual community for communication with attendees and members. Choose a website or tool that most of your attendees are already using and set up a communications hub there. You can create a Facebook group, or in case there will be a lot of team collaboration start a Slack community for your group’s communication. As for the event registration, organization and ticketing, ahem, Weemss ring a bell?

Give back

Remember the quote “with great power comes great responsibility”? It is actually by Voltaire and not Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, in any case once you are making money, you need to start thinking about giving back. Bigger and better events are a good start. You can order apparel with your group’s insignia, logo and brand to give to members; provide some form of catering at your events; organize a paid dinner or night out; start a competition with prizes; book a teambuilding trip. Depending on the size of your events and the fees you are collecting you can also get involved in a social responsibly project or a charitable cause. You can find a number of fundraising ideas here, or have a look at our guide on planning the perfect fundraiser here.

Final thoughts

We focused heavily on event organization, selling and marketing in this post, and you truly can move from informal get-togethers, to official social club, to small business, but remember to preserve the fun in your events. Keep the passion lit and as any event organizer will tell you, if things start to get a little hectic “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

P.S. – Don’t have a club yet?

Having a club with like minded friends is not just a potential “bonus stream of revenue”, it is a place to practice and get better at your hobby, discuss your interests, learn, grow, and at the same time relax and get away from it all. If you haven’t started or are not part of one yet, I highly suggest you give it a thought.


Viktor Hanácek