A party planner just 30 years ago would mostly be associated with Robert Isabell dumping 4 tons of glitter at the floor of famous Studio 54 for the New Year party at the end of the 1970s. The favorite place of Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, and many other global jet setters of the time in New York was the quintessential party place.
In our days, this kind of planning activity is usually performed by professionals called event planners. In contrast, party planning mostly refers to private parties like birthdays, kid parties, and even pet parties. Yes, pets also get their own parties planned by humans! So, if you are interested in producing more significant events and celebrations, you may want to consider event planning or wedding planning career paths.
Of course, there are plenty of exceptions. Some party planners are producing huge social parties in Hollywood and New York, or full-scale events in other destinations. Some event planners do small birthdays. The terminology is discussable, and all planners do approximately the same thing – bring their clients' dreams and visions to reality.
But what exactly do party planners do?
What does a party planner do?
Apart from the glam that surrounds the profession, every party planner is foremost a project manager and designer. On the organization side, a party planner needs to be able to keep under control hundreds of details and manage dozens of vendors working at the event. Pure joy for the right side of our brains. The left side can enjoy itself too. Putting together the vision of decorations is a rare pleasure. It is a creative process that is later brought to life in the most beautiful form – what can be better than balloons and flowers?
Process-wise, a party planner starts with booking a job. To make a living, we need a paying client to work for. The planner analyses the client's preferences, aspirations, and limitations, and together they create a vision of the party. It includes different elements like sketches, venue options, and budget drafts. The planning stage comes next, as soon as the project is approved. Planning activity fans out of the initial project in all directions:
- Agreeing on food and beverages with the catering,
- Working out the decorations production with rentals company and florist,
- Booking the entertainment and meeting the entertainers' technical and hospitality riders,
- Along with dozens of other tasks and continuously keeping in touch with everybody to make sure you are aligned on all details.
When the D Day comes, everybody needs to be ready to deliver in the right place at the right moment. A party planner is morphing into party coordinator, playing the role of mediator, facilitator, and ruthless army corporal at the same time. Making everything work flawlessly is always a challenge. But the sense of accomplishment and the feeling of victory after each party are well worth all the previous stress.
Of course, as every self-employed person or a small business owner, a party planner must wear all the hats. From marketing and sales, through the core of project management, to negotiations, client relations, finances, and every other business responsibility you can think of.
So, where do we get started?
How to become a party planner from home?
The only skill you can't practice at home is the actual onsite production of parties. To become a successful party planner from home, you need to focus on 3 core areas of activity:
- Sales and marketing
- Network building
- Processes development
Let's start with sales and marketing. If people can find you, they can't buy from you. So first, make sure that your services can be found through all the main channels. In essence, search engines bring clients to your website, social media accounts grow your audience, service marketplaces, and review platforms generate leads for you. When the basics are covered, focus on proactive marketing. Start pushing your services in front of potential clients' eyes via content marketing, paid ads, fostering word of mouth about you. You can even do cold reach out to those who fall under the description of your perfect client.
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Marketing and sales efforts will bring you first clients. At this stage, you need to start learning what to do with them. Focus on building a database of potential partners in every category. From decorators and florists to catering and DJs, from different entertainment acts to stationery. Know your market and build your network. A reliable team around you will take 80% of the weight off your shoulders.
The first experience will allow you to validate all the process recommendations that you will find online and to tweak them to your personal style. Make sure you document every process thoroughly and improve them with each event. In case you are looking for a shortcut, the EventBiz course includes all the processes and templates that you will need along with explanations of the whole journey to success.
In any case, start small and learn by doing, continually referring to all knowledge sources that you have. There are various niches that a party planner can choose at the beginning. Choose one that resonates best with you, for example, kids' parties.
How to become a kids party planner
To become a kids' party planner, you will first of all, need to cover the basics described in the previous section of this article. Your next step is building your portfolio. Every potential client looking for a party planner will expect to see some examples of your previous projects before booking your services. But how can we have them if we are just starting out in the business?
We all have friends with kids. Find those whose kids have birthdays in 2-3 months and pitch them an idea of throwing a themed party at a reasonable cost.
Theme the party around the kid's interests and focus on decorations and entertainment.
Produce the party and make sure you have a photographer and videographer to create great content for you.
QUICK TIP: Reach out to new photographers and videographers aiming at breaking into the party niche just like you. They will be willing to work for their portfolio for free instead of charging you.
Post everything you do on your website, social media, and platforms where you have profiles. 3-5 different kids' parties with cool video and photo materials to display will be enough to make your business seem credible in the eyes of new clients.
How to become a birthday party planner
To become a birthday party planner, follow the same approach described in the kids' parties niche. Birthdays niche is broader and offers more opportunities. Just spread the word that you are ready to help, and soon your friends and their friends will be getting in touch about their birthdays. 3-5 beautiful birthday parties in your portfolio will start generating the first wave of interest in your business. Make sure to amplify the effect with consistent posting on all your accounts and profiles.
How to become a pet party planner
The steps of becoming a pet party planner are the same as for kids and birthday party planners. In all these three cases, focus on delivering picture-perfect setups, decorations and aim at having at least one entertainment act at each of the parties. Having 3-5 parties with different decorations, various entrainment acts, and nice-looking clients will help you launch your business. In case you decide to get a job, they will also prove your experience to a potential employer in no time.