13 Honest Truths Why You’re Not Earning the Event Planner Salary You Want

Are you happy with the salary you’re making as an event planner? If not, there’s something you can do about it. But first, we have to be honest about why you’re not getting what you want.

It’s easy to look at high-paid athletes and lament that your salary will never compare to what they bring in. But it’s a lot harder to look at other event planners and wonder why you’re not commanding the high salaries that they are. It can be an ugly truth as to why your salary doesn’t measure up but it’s necessary to address if you’re not happy with your income. Are you ready?

13 Honest Truths Why You’re Not Earning the Event Planner Salary You Want

1. You Work for Someone Else

You have very little say about your salary when you work for someone else. Your raises will likely be limited to a few percentage increases each year. You can work your tail feathers off and your salary will still be in a conservative range. The real money is in event planning entrepreneurship where working harder will show with the number of clients you bring in. Plus, when established you can set your own prices, hopefully getting into a position to give yourself a raise whenever you see fit.

We are under no circumstances encouraging you to immediately quit your event planning job to set up alone or suggesting that this is a quick or easy solution. This is a decision that needs deep thought and careful planning. It takes many years of hard graft before most people dream of seeing any profit and more likely than not you will be paying yourself a pittance in the meantime. Also, many fledgeling businesses don’t even last more than 3 years. The rewards can definitely be achieved but only with a lot of risk and sacrifice and heartache to get there. This is definitely not a quick win but could be your best long term strategy..  

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2. You Don’t Look and Act The Part

Positioning yourself to take in top dollar requires branding as much as it does a high client fee. If you don’t look the part and don’t handle the details the way high-end planners do, you’ll fail to command those higher fees. Everything about you should say professional, and not economy. If you can secure top clients paying top dollar for your company you have a stronger case to ask for a pay rise. Actions speak louder than words.

3. You Don’t Have the Portfolio

While the details behind event planning aren’t all visual, your client thinks they are. They want to see the parties and events you’ve hosted. A lackluster portfolio won’t help you bring in the revenue and new clients your company needs and therefore not offer the high salary you’re hoping for. Give them what they want in visual form, and they’ll be more likely to write a large check. And this isn’t just limited to images, this could be through video footage and social media activity.

Likewise gathering a strong portfolio is the best way to sell yourself to a new potential boss at interview. Get them excited about your achievements and what you could achieve for their organization.

4. You’re Lacking References

Someone may take a chance on an unknown event planner if their rates are cheap, but no one wants to gamble on an expensive planner without references. Take some time to build up a loyal client base in the price range you want to work in and you’ll be more likely to get referred on and recommended to their friends.

5. You Haven’t Priced Your Offerings Appropriately

There are only 24-hours in a day. You can only work about ¾ of them on a consistent basis without being hospitalized for exhaustion. That means if you’re not charging appropriately, you’ll never make what you want to earn. Charge what the market, your experience, and your expertise can bear. Don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth. When you’re branding is spot-on with what you’re asking, someone will pay it.

6. You Don’t Have Any Upsells

Assuming your fees are at the high end of what you can ask and fetch, the next step in your business is to create upsell opportunities. This could mean consultations for non-clients or markups for managing it all (as in creating a one-stop shop for everything for your client). Get creative with upsells because it’s easier to upsell an existing client than find a brand new one.

7. You’re Not Making Money When You’re Not Working

If you look at millionaire event planners, most of them eventually offer something on the side. This allows them to get off of the limiting salary treadmill of exchanging hours for money. Instead, they create opportunities for themselves to make money when they are not working. Examples of this include books, online courses or certifications, and retail product lines. While a product line with a well-known department store may not be in the cards right now, creating and self-publishing an ebook is very doable. Even if it only makes $30 a month, that’s money you’re not actively working for.

8. You’re Not Asking for It

If you work for someone else, you may need to ask for a raise in order to see the salary you’re hoping for. If you’re not investing time and effort in professional development and you’re not tracking your worth to your company, you need to start doing that immediately. After you have those figures in place and you’re able to show through data what you’re worth, you should approach your employer for a raise, bringing you more in line with what you’d like to make. Don’t forget that the company you work for needs to be making good profits from the work you do, before it can think about raising your salary.

If what you’d like to make is much higher than what you currently make (as in more than 25%), you may be better off looking for other opportunities. It is extremely difficult for an employer to increase your salary by that large of a percentage unless you landed the event planning behind the Super Bowl.

9. You Don’t Know What Event Planners Make

I’d like to make what an NFL player does for the hours he works but that’s simply not likely in the career I’ve chosen. If you are unhappy with your salary, make sure you’ve done your research and know what people in the industry make. There is nothing wrong with comparing yourself with the Preston Bailey or Colin Cowies of the world but… they are the exception, not the norm. If you want to make what they do you’re not looking at being an event planner, you’re looking to create an event planning empire. Those are different undertakings.

10. You Have Nothing to Offer

If you want to command an extremely high salary in event planning, you have to offer something others don’t. Maybe you’re an expert in a particular industry, niche or solution or maybe you handle last-minute events like no one else can. You need a market differentiator or rock star luck to command top dollar. Which will it be?

11. Your Marketing Can Do Better

Your marketing must be targeted to your ideal customer. If it doesn’t resonate with them, it will be difficult for you to bring in top salary. Take some time to personalize your approach to bring in more ideal clients. For example if your company specializes in business conferences your marketing needs to be attractive to the corporate market – it needs to use the right language, tone, imagery and objectives as those you are looking to attract.

12. You’re In the Wrong Industry

Some niches within event planning pay very well. Others, not so much. If you’ve leveled out in your industry, you either need to enter another one by broadening your market or offer additional services and upsells.

13. You’re in the Wrong Community

Large city event planners make more than small town ones so don’t be tempted to compare your salary with that of an event planner to the stars living in Manhattan. If you can work anywhere and you want to follow the higher salaries, do so. Just know that those higher salaries usually come with high costs of living as well.

In Conclusion

If you’re not satisfied with your salary, do something about it. That may mean going off on your own or revamping your branding. Whatever you decide is the reason behind your lack of salary happiness, it’s important you don’t feel helpless. Research the options out there and start making your salary dreams come true.

About The Author
Christina Green
Christina R. Green is a digital storyteller and writer for associations and businesses, including journals such as the Midwestern Society of Association Executive's magazine and industry blogs. She's a voracious reader but has been known to stop reading if there are too many exclamation points used.
Julius Solaris
Editor, Julius Solaris

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