The events industry in the UK is worth billions of pounds. Are you excited by creating beautiful, engaging events, and want to work for yourself? Then a career as a self-employed event organiser could be for you.
Breaking into the events industry can be daunting. To help get you started, we’ve created this guide to becoming an event organiser.
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What do event organisers do?
Event organisers are responsible for delivering events, often of diverse types. You’ll oversee entire projects, from conception through to the event itself.
Your exact work will vary by project, but these are some common tasks and responsibilities:
- Liaising with clients to understand their requirements and keep them updated
- Developing creative event ideas from initial briefs
- Negotiating with and booking suppliers
- Arranging licenses and other legal requirements
- Working with contractors
- ‘On-the-ground’ management during the event itself
How much do event organisers make?
Salaries in the events industry can vary. According to the National Careers Service, event organisers make between £17,000 and £80,000 a year – a very broad gap.
But as a self-employed event organiser, you’ll set your own rates. Learning how to price yourself is a crucial part of any self-employed career or small business. You’ll need to understand the market rates in the events industry, and learn how to calculate margin on your services. Much of this is down to your relationship with suppliers, which we’ll explore later.
How to become an event organiser: step by step
So you know what events organisers do, and how much they make a year. Ready to take the leap? Read on for our step-by-step guide to becoming an events organiser.
1. Make sure you have the right skills and experience
There are no formal entry requirements to become an events organiser. However, degrees and qualifications can be really practical, potentially making you more appealing to clients.
You could also get on-the-job experience, particularly by working for a period for an existing events company. If you’re new to the industry this can help you gain the skills you need, and may help you expand your network.
Beyond that, you’ll need some key transferable skills as an events organiser. The biggest one is excellent organisation abilities, and strong attention to detail. You’ll also need to be creative, while simultaneously quickly understanding clients’ needs and how to turn them into a reality.
Being good with numbers is vital, as you’ll be working with budgets very frequently. You should also be a skilled negotiator, comfortable dealing with both clients and suppliers.
2. Learn the industry inside out
The events industry is worth billions of pounds in the UK, and it’s complex. If you don’t have existing experience in events, you need to make sure that you understand the industry clearly. Of course, on-the-job experience is great for this, but you should also think about reading the trade press to keep up with the latest developments.
3. Find your niche
This large industry has several distinct niches, some of which intersect or overlap. Common specialisms in event planning include weddings, corporate engagements, and arts events. However, you should also be familiar with granular specialisms – for example, there’s a whole sub-industry dedicated solely to catering, and another to venue dressing.
Think carefully about your existing skills and contacts. Do you come from an arts background? Can you leverage your network in that sector? Or do you have a passion for weddings, along with the creativity and interpersonal skills required in that field? Find your niche, and dedicate yourself to becoming the best in it.
4. Build a business plan
Your business plan is one of the most important documents in the life of your business. It might be used to raise funds for your business. But even if you’re bootstrapping, it’s still crucial that you put time into crafting a proper plan. The document will include key details about your finances, and some benchmarks that let you judge your progress over the next few years.
For more on this step, read our guide on how to write a business plan for a startup.
5. Get to know the legals
Depending on the nature of the events you’re organising, and where you’re holding them, you may need a license from your local authority. You’ll also need to understand the rules around alcohol licensing. The license requirements vary by area, so you should contact your local authority or council for support.
Registering your business
As with any new business, you’ll also need to register. You might choose to operate as a sole trader, or to form a limited company. For more on this, read our article on the differences between sole traders and limited companies. You’ll be required to register as self-employed with HMRC, and you’ll have to file an annual Self Assessment tax return.
Insuring your business
Event organisers should also think about insurance.
- Public liability is likely to be your core cover – it can protect you against claims arising from injury or loss suffered by a member of the public as a result of your work
- You should also think carefully about professional indemnity insurance, which can pay out if you make a mistake that costs a client money
- If you end up hiring staff to help you run your business, employers’ liability insurance is likely to be a legal requirement
Simply Business offers tailored cover for events organisers. You can combine all your covers into a single policy, with a single premium. Compare event organiser insurance quotes.
6. Build relationships with suppliers
Suppliers are massively important for event organisers. You’ll work with a range of people and organisations, from venues to caterers, and from printers to decorating companies.
Your suppliers need to be great if you want to put on a successful event, and you should work hard to build lasting relationships when you find the right ones.
As a new business, you may find it hard to negotiate credit terms. However, it’s important you keep checking in with suppliers to make sure you’re getting the best possible deals, both on cost and on payment terms.
7. Find clients
Now that you’re all set up, it’s time to win your first clients!
Marketing is one of your most important business activities. When planning your business, you should have identified key marketing channels that you’re going to prioritise.
Increasingly, event organisers are dedicating much of their resource to online marketing. You should make sure that you have a great business website that demonstrates your unique selling points and, if possible, includes evidence of your previous work.
In addition, you should familiarise yourself with the Google Knowledge Panel and understand how search engines impact your marketing.
Some of the most successful marketing, though, is face-to-face. Think about existing contacts you have, and introduce yourself and your new business. Human connections are crucial for all businesses – but especially in a field as personal as event organising.
Good luck – let us know how you get on with setting up your events business in the comments below.