It might have escaped your knowledge (lol jk) but last month myself and some blogging pals embarked on an organisational marathon; to attend and organise our first bloggers event. I mean hey, why not decide to organise a bloggers meet up before you've even been to one yourself?
As smoothly as it went and as successful as it was I definitely learnt a thing or two about planning a bloggers event that I'd bear in mind next time so if you're planning your own or even it's just a pipe dream, here's a few little hints and tips to help you on your way!
1. Start Planning VERY Early.
You might think this is self explanatory but really, it's so true. You need to start planning at least a month in advance, I think we started about 6 or 7 weeks and it was imperative. Trust me, we were still working away right up until the day and honestly, we probably would've been fine with more time too. Don't leave it too late and don't make it one big rush at the end, chances are you'll mess up, forget something or everything will fall apart. Sods law.
2. Ask For Help.
I know some bloggers organise events on their own and honestly I don't know how they do it. Sarah from ItsSarahAnn was the brains behind our bloggers event; she was the one who first suggested it, first suggested the date and was the one with all the plans who we referred back to with questions. However, from the outset she messaged a group of us asking if we'd be up for it and by the end we all had different roles, responsibilities, were in charge of different elements of the event and were all decision makers and there for advice when Sarah needed a second opinion. We did it together as one big group message and it made such a difference to be assigned one job instead of letting Sarah get on with the whole thing. Ask for help, get a couple of your blogging pals involved and the stress will be shared.
3. Work Out Your Overheads.
Pretty early on you need to know a budget for your event. As our event was a picnic in the park we'd have been pretty mean to charge our guests, instead we just asked them to bring along a jar or bottle to drink from, something to sit on and some grub and boy did they deliver. We were also lucky enough to get a lot of stuff sponsored and gifted but I'm sure we're all happy to admit a lot came from our own pockets and that was ok, we were fine with that. If you need a venue that you didn't manage to secure as sponsorship you might need to think about charging people for the event, similarly if you have any kind of entertainment or people you need to pay. Just work out your finances and make it clear for your guests what you require early on to save you spending £££££££.
4. Approach Brands.
Like I actually can't recommend this enough. Having brands sponsor your event or send you some things really makes the difference on the day and it's not as scary as you think. Sarah and Mel organised the brands for our event but I know myself and some of the group had also emailed brands and didn't manage to secure anything. Like it's fine, they just say no or don't email back, they aren't scary, they aren't rude or pissed off to be bothered, you never know what you might get just by asking. The best thing to do is send out emails or tweets asking brands what they can offer you, rather than asking for something specific. It was amazing to us how many brands wanted to get involved and the range of products we were sent, all of which related to the event but weren't necessarily foodie items. At the end of the day having brands at an event is good for them because of the potential exposure and good for you because you're one foot in the door to working with them again.
5. Find Out What's What.
Similarly, with brands, you need to know where you stand and what they expect in return. Do they want the gifted items back? Do they expect a tagged photo or share on twitter? Do they have a specific hashtag they want you to use? Do they want a blog post in return? Just find out where you stand and what they want and then make it clear to your guests. We provided brand cards for our guests with all the companies, social media handles, websites and hashtags and made it clear to our raffle winners which brands expected a blog post and which expected an Instagram tag.
6. Decide On Goody Bags.
Ahhh the old to goody bag, not to goody bag debate. It's kinda seen as a bit of an expectation at bloggers events now and is a pulling factor to why some people attend meet ups because the freebies are so good. We decided we did want to give out goody bags because we wanted to say thank you to our guests and give them something to go home with but we set out some ground rules for the day. We had all read reviews of the Bloggers Tiki Party before our picnic where some people had turned up uninvited, taken freebies, some had taken more than they should have and some things had even been stolen so we were pretty cagey with what we had. We decided to attach a name label to each bag as we had personalised cards in each, we put them to one side at the event, we didn't advertise them anywhere before hand and we didn't give them out until the guests were leaving, at which point we helped them find their name label so we could easily see what had been taken and what hadn't.
7. Take A Guest List.
Being pretty firm with your guest list is quite important in my eyes. Make sure people 'sign up' in some way to confirm their attendance, ours had to email Sarah to be added to the guest list spreadsheet but you could do a sign up form, whatever. Make sure your guests know if they can or can't take someone along with them, whether people can just turn up on the day and what's the limit on guest numbers. Take a guest list printed out and on your phone on the day itself to avoid any confusion on who showed up and who didn't.
8. Don't Be Annoyed When People Don't Show.
It happens- you may as well expect it. People will drop out in stages along the journey to the event from double booking to illness to work to all kinds of reasons but people will also drop out on the day, often with no explanation or no word as to why. Don't get annoyed, don't send out passive aggressive tweets or indirect someone, just accept it and expect it. It's frustrating, it's rude, it's annoying when you've made up their goody bag or kept something aside for them but just think, you can share the leftovers out anyway right?
9. Set Up Early.
We thought we had looooads of time to set up having got into London a good 2 hours before the event but uhm, I was still labelling goody bags and we were still furiously laying blankets and throwing about food when our first guests arrived. You will not have enough time. Begin VERY early.
10. Enjoy Yourself.
I think as the organiser there's a lot of rushing about, doing admin, fixing things, sorting things, helping guests and taking all the photos for your brand commitments and not actually that much time to enjoy your event. Because there were so many of us who'd planned it, whilst some of us were organising and sorting event stuff out, the others were mingling and chatting. Just make sure you try and speak to everyone, take lots of fun selfies and snapchats and enjoy your event as if you were a guest, not panic about everything that needs doing.
Legit I could have written an essay on how to organise a bloggers event but these are my top 10 tips, you can always tweet any of us or leave a comment below if you want some advice or a question on something you have planned!