If you’re reading this article, chances are you need some event planning backup. Whether you own an event planning firm, are a planner extraordinaire for a company, or you’re a business throwing a one-off event—it’s become clear you can’t manage alone.
Good news! You can hire freelancers to help wrangle your to-do list or plan entire events. Read on to learn how to hire an exceptional freelance event plannes to assist or lead the event design and management.
Freelance workers are on the rise
At one time, freelancing was a side job performed outside of typical business hours. Today, people are making a career of freelance opportunities. Some statistics project that as the number of freelancers continues to increase, more than half of the US workforce will be freelancers by 2027.
Even big business is jumping on the freelance bandwagon. Hiring a freelancer is a sound business decision in many cases for the high-quality work they provide at a cost-effective price. Rather than hire a permanent employee, companies turn to freelancers for project-based jobs on an as-needed basis.
6 key steps to hire a great freelance event planning partner
1. Scout out personal referrals.
Know someone whose cousin does freelance event coordinating? Word-of-mouth is always a great way to begin the hiring process. When a freelancer comes recommended by a trustworthy source, it provides an open door that saves you time and money in your search. You’ll still have to check out references and set up an interview, but personal recommendations give you a head start.
2. Search freelance marketplaces.
Besides the classic google search, there are several dedicated sites for hiring a freelance event planner, including:
You’ll find qualified candidates from across the country and around the world. Browse each candidate’s expertise, rates, and customer feedback to find a match for your planning needs.
3. Check multiple references.
Always check the references provided by potential freelancer before setting up an interview. Make sure the references are for recent events, then talk to these clients about their experience. Were event attendees happy? Did the planner listen to suggestions and accept feedback gracefully? The last thing you want is an event planner who looks good on paper but falls apart under pressure.
4. Talk to your contacts.
Talk to your regular vendors about other event planners they’ve worked with before. Chances are good that you’ll find a freelancer in the mix somewhere. Your favorite caterer, local hotel hospitality manager, even your go-to videographer are valuable resources when it comes to finding a freelancer with experience. And you’ll score big if they already have a good rapport with the vendors you’re using for the upcoming event.
5. Keep freelancer contacts in one, easy-to-access location.
Once you’ve gone through the challenging process of finding and hiring a few outstanding freelancers, keep them in the contact list of your event planning software. Include details about what they do best (e.g., meetings with breakout sessions or F&B design), so you can choose them for appropriate events.
6. Build a relationship and communicate.
Think of every professional partnership as a relationship that needs nurturing. Touch base with go-to freelancers you haven’t worked with in a while so they know they’re still on your radar. And let them know the dates of events you want them to work on early! The schedules of talented freelance planners fill up quickly.
Essential topics for a freelance event planner’s interview
Once you find a few prospective freelance event planners, it’s time to set up interviews. Choosing the right freelancer to coordinate your event comes down to choosing someone with the knowledge and skills you need for a successful event. Here’s are key topics to discuss:
1. Experience and area of expertise.
Though it’s not a deal-breaker, a freelance event planner with experience in your field is a definite asset. Maybe you need someone to organize the check-in for your conference. A freelancer who has managed this before understands what works in a swag bag, how to design the check-in area to reduce traffic jams, and which check-in apps offer the fastest registration.
2. Technology experience.
What technology does the freelancer use? Are they up-to-date and using the best software available? The right technology can make a difference in the organization of your event. If they aren’t using current technology to stay on top of your event, setbacks can occur. Get them on board with your event planning software so everyone stays on the same page from start to finish.
Is there a consultation fee? Do they charge an hourly rate for the event or a flat fee? Is there a vendor commission if they’re the ones who find the vendor? Are travel expenses included, or is there an additional fee? Establishing all of these fees up-front will ensure no surprises throw off your budget later. And always ask when payment is due and what forms of payment they accept.
4. Contingency plans.
What happens if you must cancel or postpone your event? Will your freelancer charge full price or only the hours they’ve already put in? Will they contact other vendors for you, or will this fall under your responsibility? Does your freelancer have a backup if they fall ill on the day of your event? Do they carry their own liability insurance? Answering these questions in advance can save you for future disasters.
Your freelance event planner should offer the services you need to handle the job you require. For example, if your freelance event planner is in charge of hiring a band or a DJ for your trade show kick-off, they should have a list of reliable individuals on hand that they’ve worked with in the past. From acquiring a venue to arranging transportation, they might even be able to secure a better deal using their vendor contacts.
6. Thoughts and questions.
Once you’ve shared a few brief details about your event, a good freelancer should offer their own thoughts about the planning. If they’re really interested in the job, they’ll ask questions about things such as your organization, event attendees, timelines, budgets, and even your personal preferences. A candidate who takes your business to heart will stand out from the rest.
Though an in-person interview is a great way to build rapport and figure out how well you’ll work with someone, it’s not your only interview option. Video chats through Skype, FaceTime, or even Google Hangouts can lend a personal feel to your information session.
What do freelance event planners charge?
The cost of hiring a freelance event planner can vary widely. Annual salaries run as low as $14,000 and as high as $114,000 with the average salary of a freelance event planner hitting $50,208 a year. The planner will provide the fee, but you can get a ballpark idea by doing a little math. The hourly pay for a planner making $50,000/year is about $25/hour. But, you’ll need to keep contingent factors in mind, including:
- Location. Salaries are higher for freelance event planners in metropolitan areas than in suburban or rural areas. Expect to pay more for help with your networking event in Washington, DC than you’ll pay for the same networking event in Roanoke, Virginia.
- Event type. Planning a convention for a large corporation will garner a salary on the higher end of the spectrum. Planning a fundraising activity for a nonprofit might be on the lower side. Take your event into account when planning your freelance budget.
- Experience. A freelance event coordinator who has been in the business for several years and comes with a diverse portfolio of clients will charge a higher fee. Someone who is just breaking into the industry might charge less so they can start gaining experience.
There are various ways freelancers charge for their services. The most common are:
- Hourly rate. Hourly rates can be as low as $25 for a new planner and up to $150 for a well-seasoned planner doing speciality events.
- Flat fee. The most common way to charge a client: planners charge a flat rate for the event, sometimes including a service fee and a percentage of vendor fees.
- Percentage of event. The planner charges a percentage of your overall event budget, typically 15 to 20 percent.
- Vendor commission. Planners charge a minimal fee to their clients and make their money by taking a commission from the vendors they hire.
Additional freelance jobs for assisting with your events
If your event needs more than a few hands to ensure success, consider hiring a few freelancers besides just an event planner. Find them through the same channels suggested for finding an event planner.
- Freelance administrative assistant. These freelancers often provide their services online to organize your event. Hire them to assist you with email distribution, meeting organization, website updates, making travel arrangements, and communicating with keynotes and other event speakers and VIPs.
- Freelance A/V vendor. These freelancers navigate your event through accurate and timely setup, operation, and breakdown of basic your audiovisual equipment. This can include wireless microphones, powered speakers, video projection, PowerPoint presentations, lighting, setting up IP addresses, digital playback/recording systems, and even hanging projection screens.
- Freelance graphic designer. A freelance graphic designer can help get your message across in ways that are memorable, effective, and aesthetically pleasing. For conferences that need a lot of signage, programs, and flyers, hire a freelancer to translate your goals and ideas into design concepts.
- Freelance PR consultant. Depending on the size of your event, you might consider hiring a freelance PR consultant. Public relations professionals can send out event updates to engage with the public. They may manage and update the event website, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. A PR professional can even prepare and supervise the production of publicity brochures, promotional videos, and multimedia programs.
In a world where time is short, and freelance help is everywhere, there’s no reason to manage it all yourself. Everybody needs a little assistance sometimes, so take our hiring tips to heart and find the freelance event planner you need to get the job done.
Now you’re ready to hire the best freelance event planner!
You should hire an event planner if you don’t want to deal with day-of event logistics, which can be very stressful, especially if you are trying to partake in the event, or if you’d like a second-opinion for your event planning. There are many possible benefits of hiring an event planner including their abilities to negotiate better costs, select better venues for the purpose of your event, and identify solutions when issues come up as event plans change based on their previous experiences.
The cost to hire an event planner varies based on location and the specific type of event you’d like to throw. Hourly rates can be as low as $25 for a new planner and up to $150 for a well-seasoned planner for speciality events.
Even if you have event planning help, you still need to find ways to improve productivity. Explore these event planning timesaving tips and tricks to improve your performance. Or, discover how event planning software can streamline your tasks.