What happens when you put in a whole lot of time and effort into hosting a blog retreat only to have to cancel it?
That just happened to me and I am sad to say that The Elite Women Blogger Retreat has been canceled due to not having enough sign-ups. Even though it is sad and I am slightly disappointed, I get to tell you some lessons I learned along the way and how you can learn from my lessons if you want to host your own event or retreat.
So here are four lessons I learned from hosting a Blogging Retreat that had to be canceled:
Lesson 1: Get Money before Putting Down Money
One lesson I learned (the rather hard way) is that I didn’t get any money down for the retreat before putting it on. I created the event and hoped people would come. I made phone calls, emails, texts, social media posts and blog posts about it.
But without money being put down, I had to wait until someone signed up to get the venue and then had to do more promotion. Some people are VERY interested, but couldn’t go this time around (the original dates were from May 16-18), and asked if I was going to do another one. I said I might hold one in October, but I wasn’t 100% sure.
I know that if I host a retreat in October, I am going to have a goal and the goal is to have five people put down a deposit within 30 days. If I can’t get five people to say yes to the retreat and put skin in the game within that time frame, then I’m not hosting it. This money will allow me to put a deposit down for the venue with the security of knowing I have five registrants who are excited to be part of a blogging retreat.
Lesson 2: Survey the Market
Now I know this is something I preached and I didn’t do it. I did not survey my market before I decided to host a blogging retreat. I just thought the retreat sounded like fun and I created the event.
I will say this: I created the retreat out from coaching the Self-Expression and Leadership Program through Landmark Worldwide over the winter as a way to push myself and create new possibilities within my life and my business. I created and pushed myself in ways that I didn’t know was possible and I had more than enough help to promote my retreat from some awesome (and incredible) people!
However, I didn’t take the time to survey my market to see if a retreat is what they wanted. One way to survey them is to call people and ask if they want this and to get deposits down right then and there.
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Lesson 3: Plan, Plan, Plan
I kinda-sorta had a marketing plan for my retreat. However, looking back, I feel like I should have planned more for it. Perhaps I should have started this promotion way sooner than February. I am not sure if I gave enough time to market my retreat.
Next time, I am going to really work my marketing plan and create one that will sustain what I am up too. This will include:
- Speaking engagements to bring new people into my marketing funnel
- Creating and hosting webinars to bring awareness to the retreat
- Have advertising dollars to put behind both my retreat and my webinars
- Get on podcasts to talk about my retreat
- Create social media posts that will be all about what the retreat is about and how it’s going to answer the burning desire of my audience
- Collaborate more with people to bring awareness to my retreat
- Get sponsorships and/or affiliates from others who are excited about what I am up to
As you can see, this marketing plan needs to happen about 5-6 months in advance, so if I am to host one in October/November, I need to start getting these sponsorships or affiliates up now!
Lesson 4: Have an Advertising Budget
When I decided to host this retreat, I didn’t have any advertising money because no one signed up for it yet. When someone did sign up for it, I didn’t have enough to put back in an advertising budget; all the money went towards putting a deposit on the venue. Hence why if I host one again, I want to have a deposit put down so I can not only get the venue but have money to put towards advertising.
Even though it didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to, I learned valuable lessons and know what I want to do next time. If you’ve been wanting to host a retreat, then you can learn from my mistakes and move forward with creating an effective marketing plan and an advertising budget.
Remember, all of this is a journey and lessons learned are just a way of growing. Don’t be scared of things not panning out, it’s just another way to learn and grow.
So tell me in the comments below or share with me on my Facebook Page what your takeaways are and what you’re going to do if you are hosting a retreat. I would love to hear from you!