My name is Albert, I'm 30 years old, and I live in Maryland. In early August of 2014, I decided to quit bar managing a nightclub in Washington, DC, to become a full-time entrepreneur.
Instead of being a fly on the wall like I normally am on a few social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram), I decided to share with you how I made over $10,000 in profit in less than two months with my very first event company.
Below is proof via Eventbrite of my revenue. However, I also had two additional payouts that made my profit even higher. One was from LivingSocial, and the second was from my event sponsors – Corona, Finlandia, Bacardi Oakheart, Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey, and Uber – which brought the total to well over $12,000 in revenue.
I'm going to take you through the exact steps I took, from coming up with the event concept to the $10,000 and $12,000 in revenue. Just one disclaimer: My previous work as a bar manager did make things a little easier – but anyone with enough hustle can pull this off as well. After all, this isn’t rocket science.
Let’s get started!
Look for the opportunity – There are obvious opportunities right in front of your eyes.
I saw huge potential in the event industry and especially the pub crawl business from working with a few promoters who worked at the nightclub that I was bar managing a few years back. One day, those promoters decided to quit promoting for nightclubs and start a pub crawl event company. From an outsider's perspective, I believe this was by far the best business decision that they could have made. Starting their own event company gave them control over the experiences that they could bring to their participants and how much they could earn in ticket sales and sponsorships.
Watching this unfold right before my eyes, I had a light bulb moment...why not do the same and start an event company as well? These guys did it, so why couldn’t I?
After closely observing their business model, collecting marketing materials from their events, and doing a ton of research on event companies and pub crawl businesses, I made the decision to quit my job and take the plunge as a full-time entrepreneur. This was not an easy decision, but this is how I do my best work – by having my back up against the wall.
What’s in a name? Everything. Especially if no one else has the domain.
After quitting my job, I started brainstorming event ideas. Since Halloween was less than two months away, organizing an event around Halloween made total sense. Now that I had the general idea of the event and a date in mind – Saturday, October 31st – now came the hard part: the event name.
Coming up with an event name isn't easy. Well, at least it wasn't easy for me. I decided to research horror movie names to see if anything stood out, and that's when I had a breakthrough. I landed on a movie titled Night of The Living Dead. I thought, now how can I steal this name to make it my own? After a long day of brainstorming, and looking for names that had a .com domain name available as well, I ended up with Night of The Undead.
You need a team, and sponsors will support a good idea.
After I decided on the event name and had the .com domain name secured, it was time to reach out to sponsors. I’ve worked with numerous liquor distributors over the years, and I figured, why not ask one of them for sponsorship? I reached out to Chris, a local rep who distributed liquor to the nightclub I worked for, and presented him with the event name and idea. Chris was interested, and immediately offered up Corona, Finlandia, Bacardi Oakheart, and Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey as sponsors. Was this luck? Support for my entrepreneurial venture? Or was he sincerely interested? I couldn’t tell you exactly which one of these it was, but Chris did end up coming through.
Image is everything.
Now that I had the hard part out of the way, I took another whole day to write the copy and look for a designer willing to work for no money upfront. Having a great network of friends made this easy as well. I reached out to a friend who ended up becoming my business partner, and he was able to find me a designer who came on board at no money upfront, and I had the event logo in less than 3 days. Now that I had the event name, the event copy, and the logo, it was time to design the marketing materials.
Having taken Adobe Photoshop classes in high school and fiddling with the program for years, my knowledge was finally going to pay off. Within a few days, I had the event poster and affiliate marketing materials done. So what was my next step? Releasing the event into the wild, and using the email list that I had built over the years of working as a nightclub manager. Let me say this –
No matter what you’ve been told before, email marketing is still king.
My very first email had an open rate of close to 30 percent! How did I manage to get a 30 percent open rate when the industry average is 18 percent? That’s an easy answer, a great subject line that peaks curiosity. My very first email that went out to my email list had the subject line “Something exciting is coming to U Street.”
After launching the event to my email list with a 50% off tickets offer, which made tickets $5 instead of $10, I had well over 20 tickets sold. Making $100 in one day was not a bad start, especially considering this was a cold email list. The second day, I sold another 15 tickets, and by the third day, I had more than 50 tickets sold. This brought my total to well over $250 in revenue.
Attract patrons and never settle for “enough.”
For the rest of the eight weeks, I decided that I would be running special offers each week. Using my sponsors as leverage, AKA social proof helped a lot. I ran email campaigns with ticket offers from all of my sponsors, with each having an exclusive week with an exclusive offer.
This strategy took my ticket sales from less than 60 tickets to over 400 tickets.
The next questions was, how could I go from 400 tickets to 1,000? That was the question that I had asked myself, and the answer was staring me dead...reach out to past promoters with whom I’d worked and ask them if they would be interested in becoming affiliate marketers for my event.
Outsource marketing to increase sales.
Because I had worked with so many great promoters over the years, I brought two on board and offered them a 20 to 50 percent commission on ticket sales based on how many tickets they sold. If they sold less than 100 tickets, they would earn 20 percent, and if they sold over 100, they would earn 50 percent. The offer was enticing to the two groups I approached, and they immediately signed up.
With two affiliate marketing teams on my side and the continuous email campaigns that I was running, it helped me take my ticket sales from 400 to 550 tickets. For the price of giving up a little commission on each of the tickets, I increased my sales by 150 tickets or almost 40%. The strategy of hiring help in exchange for commission meant no out-of-pocket costs up front, and more revenues for me. I call that a win for everyone.
Reinvest revenues into paid advertising.
Now that I had a boost in ticket sales, I went back to the drawing board and started spending money on Facebook Ads from the revenue I had generated from the ticket sales. I used PPE (Paid Post Engagement) ads alongside a Facebook Conversion Pixel to drive traffic to the Eventbrite sales page, which netted me another 100 or so ticket sales. The additional ticket sales came from both the PPE ads and also from the traffic I generated to the Eventbrite sales page – within a few days, thanks to the PPE ads, my event had landed on the Eventbrite home page, and together, this increased ticket sales.
As I was running email campaigns, and having my affiliate marketers promote the event, I reached out to LivingSocial to have the event sold on their platform as well. This turned out to be a great idea, and I ended up selling an additional 73 tickets at $10 a pop, which netted me an additional $438 in revenue after LivingSocial took their cut. The combined ticket sales from Eventbrite and LivingSocial brought my total revenue to $7,038.
Not a bad payday so far for less than two months of work.
It starts with a network.
Of course, as I stated earlier, I was a little lucky in that I already had a network of connections and an email list. But not to worry – I’ll be posting part 2 soon, and that will cover how I went from $7,038 to $12,000 in revenue, and more on building networks and aggregating email lists from scratch. Stay tuned!