10 Things I Learned From Planning an Event

About a month ago, I hosted my first ever Junto Experience event as a conclusion to our 60-day Junto (also known as mastermind).

Photo by Anna Lee edits by Pam Covarrubias

Planning the event was a little stressful because I had never done it before. I had to find vendors and reach out to sponsors. I had to have calls, set expectations, and pay deposits way before the event happened. All in all, I succeeded, people were happy, and I also messed up and learned. I’m still learning. Here are my 10 takeaways from the event. I hope they help you if you’re planning an event soon: 

  1. Secure the venue and visit it.

  2. Have a budget and allow a cushion for last minute stuff.

  3. Write a mission statement. Get clear on the goals for the event.

  4. Create a marketing plan ahead of time.

  5. Write a solid curriculum/schedule AND run of show.

  6. Hire an Event Manager.

  7. Make sure vendors eat.

  8. Hire a photographer.

  9. Set expectations. 

  10. Plan a self-care cay after.

Secure the venue and visit it.

As a recovering procrastinator, I wanted to make sure the event actually happened. Many times I’ve thought about hosting something and it stayed just a thought because I didn’t put a plan into action. So the first step when you plan an event I’d say is to secure the venue.

Think of the feel you want your attendees to experience. I love W.D. Dickinson because it’s an urban farm, we get to connect with nature while also being in the city. I love their story and their passion for good food. Our values definitely align with the purpose. 

Once the venue is secure and you have a date in place, it’s on! 

Photo by Anna Lee edits by Pam Covarrubias

Have a budget and allow a cushion for last minute stuff.

Since it was my first one, I didn’t know what I was going to spend, so I looked for food vendors, got quotes, and thought of all the materials I’d need. If it’s your first event, start with the end in mind. Imagine if today is the day: 

  • Are you providing swag bags?

  • Name tags?

  • Office supplies?

  • Are food vendors supplying cutlery and napkins?

  • Do you need parking passes?

  • Are you going to do social media ads? 

  • Vendor fees and deposits?

  • Do you need to order any signage?

  • Are you going to send Thank You cards to your vendors? How about postage and card fees?

You see, things add up quickly. If your event is free, then definitely try to keep expenses low. If you’re charging, what percentage of the ticket sales will go to you, to paying vendors, and to marketing expenses?

Write a mission statement. Get clear on the goals for the event.

What do you want your attendees to get out of your event? In my case, we were closing the 60-days we had spent together so it was a mini-retreat and I wanted them to feel like they were also celebrating their hard work. 

My mission statement was: Creating a like-minded heart-centered community who inspire, uncover, and uplift each other to elevate their brand and business.

In my case, my event mission statement was tied to the Junto. If you are just hosting an event, an easy way to create a mission statement is to ponder on the following questions:

  • Where are your attendees before the event? You can use emotions, feelings, frustrations.

  • Where are your attendees after the event? You can use the future emotions, feelings, and the results they’ll obtain from attending the event. 

  • Craft a sentence that answers how you’re going to create that transformation. Make it positive and exciting.

You can use the mission statement as you present your event and as a short description on social media platforms. Also, as you bring up the event to vendors you can say “My event’s mission is -insert mission statement-” so everyone is aligned and clear on your ultimate goal. It also makes it easier for you to memorize one sentence and elaborate as people ask questions.

Photo by Anna Lee edits by Pam Covarrubias

Create a marketing plan ahead of time.

I had a roughly planned marketing plan. This is a lesson learned for me. I didn’t promote it enough, and therefore I know I could’ve gotten a better response. I’m not going to get into the details of how to do a marketing plan, I use Trello and love it. My lesson learned was when I didn’t set specific dates of when things were going to happen. I knew I wanted to send a newsletter, create a blog post, and upload an image on social media, I didn’t add it to my calendar, and guess what? Life happened and a lot of the things on the plan didn’t happen. It is imperative to take this step seriously, especially if you’re working with vendors and sponsors who are expecting to see/hear from you within a certain timeframe. We will talk about expectations later. 

The main things I’d recommend for your marketing plan are: 

  • Channels of distribution: Email, social media, blog posts, guest posts, etc.

  • Post dates. Add them to the calendar.

  • Post-event activity and posts. Add them to the calendar.

  • Marketing materials: 

    • Social media graphics

    • Past event photos (if available)

    • Landing page

    • Eventbrite (if the event is public)

    • Story template

    • Graphics

      • Event announcement

      • Tickets on sale

      • Flash sale

      • Sold out

      • Vendor shoutouts

      • Sponsor shoutouts

Photo by Anna Lee edits by Pam Covarrubias

I like to keep things simple. Perhaps I’ll do a post of my marketing calendar I use on Trello so you could get an idea. I create a marketing calendar per event and link the board to the main marketing board. Let me know if you’d like to know more about this. 

As a graphic designer and recovering procrastinator, you want to batch create all your graphics so you don’t have to get into that design mood again. You’ll just have them ready to go and post. 


Write a solid curriculum/schedule AND run of show.

Another lesson learned for me. I tried to add everything to the schedule and we ran out of time. I also feel like I underutilized the beautiful venue because we were doing stuff the whole time. Allow for breaks, alone time, and cushion time. During my event, we had to completely skip an activity because the previous activity ran over. It happens, it’s better to have cushion time than have a super tight schedule. Less is more even with event schedules. I learned I’d rather do 3 meaningful activities than 6 rushed ones. 

The run of show is probably the most important list you’ll need the day of the event. This includes arrival time, set up time, the schedule including breaks, and tear down. This is what you and your Event Manager will have at ALL times. This is NOT the schedule you hand out to attendees. If you were to hand out the ingredients to a recipe to your guests that’d be your schedule, you’d have the recipe, that’s the run of show.

I printed three: One for me, one for my Event Manager, and one for the venue (though, I don’t think I ever handed it out to Stepheni, but the intention was there). 

Photo by Anna Lee edits by Pam Covarrubias

Hire an Event Manager.

I would not have been able to do this without Anna from Synchronistic Life. We met a few times before the event to run through the schedule, she came to visit the venue with me and asked the questions I didn’t think of like: are we going to have electricity?, what happens if it rains?, and where can vendors park when they arrive? 

Also, the day of the event she was the point person for every vendor that arrived, this way I was able to focus and give my undivided attention to my attendees. Even if you don’t hire a professional like Anna, assign a friend/volunteer who has extreme attention to detail to be your Event Manager. I’d say this is a must especially if you’re required to speak and host during your event.

Photo by Anna Lee edits by Pam Covarrubias

Make sure your vendors eat.

I also learned a lot on this one. While both of the Chefs at the event provided plenty of food and we had leftovers, I was worried when vendors were there while we were eating because I grew up with the mentality of always sharing your food. If one eats, everyone eats. 

Even if you don’t provide the same food as your attendees (believe me, feeding people is expensive) have snacks and small bites for your vendors. I’ve been on the other side as a photographer and it sucks when you’re working and seeing everyone eat. 

Hire a photographer.

As a photographer, I’ll say there’s nothing like carefully curated photos of your event, after all that’s going to be the seller for the next one.

As an event host, I’ll say not having to worry about taking pictures and making sure everything is documented is a stress saver. 

And as an event attendee, knowing there will be photos I could re-share is always good because I can always repost those and be present during the event.

Photo by Anna Lee edits by Pam Covarrubias

Don’t forget to secure the photographer as soon as you have a date. Look at their portfolio before hand. There are a lot of styles of photography and you want to make sure the photographer also aligns with the feel you want to deliver. 

Also, provide a list of must-have photos for your event. I ended up having to do a second shoot of each of the sponsored products because we didn’t get individuals. Lesson learned here.

Photo by Anna Lee edits by Pam Covarrubias

Set expectations

This one is a huge lesson for me. Make sure all of your attendees, vendors and sponsors are aware of what’s happening and when. 

Expectations must be set ahead of time. It’s your job to make everyone aware of what is happening.

I knew I was going to be traveling and watching my niece and nephew after the event. I knew I was going to take my annual “summer break” from the podcast, and I knew I wasn’t going to start posting until a month later. The issue is I knew, the rest of the people involved did not. I learned saying “I’ll be posting soon” is not enough. “I’ll post on xx/xx/xx” is what everyone deserves to hear. When you build your marketing calendar, make sure you spell out when everything will happen and communicate the plan with everyone you’re working with.

Think of what your vendors and sponsors are waiting for, as well as your attendees. When are you going to ask for feedback and continue the conversation with everyone? After all, you’re building relationships with these people and you want things to go as smoothly as possible.

Plan a self-care day after.

Last but not least, you deserve a self-care day. Allow yourself to recover from the event the day after. Disconnect, go to the spa or explore nature. Allow your cup to be filled again. Make sure this self-care day is added to your marketing calendar, meaning start working on the post-event stuff two or three days after the event and schedule a thank you email to go out two days later so you have time to review it and tweak it after your self-care day. 

Photo by Anna Lee edits by Pam Covarrubias

BONUS: Make sure your vendors and sponsors align with your mission

A bonus takeaway is to make sure you align with everyone in your event. I had met Perla from Elevation Eating before, I’d tried her food and loved it. I learned about Christina from Chinitas Pies and her passion for food. I had a meeting with Sarah from Naturally Yours Yoga and we talked about the importance of moving and her commitment to providing yoga for everyone. 

If you hire someone before making sure you share values with them, your experience might not end up being the best. The same goes with sponsors, make sure their product aligns with your event.

Scout Books is a B Corp business, their work expands to more than notebooks, they want to build a better world and that’s totally my jam. Plus their notebooks are awesome!

Elba Vegan Cosmetics is a local vegan brand. Given that I’m plant-based and all of our meals during the event were vegan, the lip balms they provided were super fitting. I carry mine everywhere.

Abuelita Handmade creates handmade products that are eco-friendly and reusable fabric items. We absolutely loved the packets she carefully created for us. I personally love the reusable eye makeup removers.

Pisqueya is my new favorite hot sauce. I am Mexican and I know hot sauce. I love that Pisqueya is Dominican! Also, vegan, no sugars added, no preservatives, kosher, low sodium, gluten free, and zero calories. I’m grateful for the little bottles we received because I carry one in my purse and add some flavorful spice when I eat out. 

RawLove by May provided us with amazing Zero Waste Kits. Maydelli’s passion for low waste living, food that heals, and high vibrational food is completely aligned with what we did at the Junto Experience. I carry my awesome kit when I have food with me and go to the office. It’s so helpful to know thanks to Maydelli I am now helping the environment one less straw and plastic utensil at a time. 

Baja Stretch provided us with awesome ECO-PVC mats, straps, and blocks which are environmentally friendly. They are committed to providing beautiful, durable, and comfortable yoga products for everyone. I love their eco-friendly-fair-trade approach, and they’re local to California.

Snoozet provided a Snoozet to each attendee. It is important to live outside our phone whenever possible. Snoozet employs women in Tijuana to cut and sew the product to provide them a better life after living in the U.S.

Yipao Coffee gave us the best pour-over experience ever. I thought they were going to provide coffee, but they went above and beyond by really walking us through the process of making a delicious cup of coffee. Jairo and Maria truly believe in bringing coffee from farm to cup, and their commitment to maintaining the relationship with the farmers is incredible. Also, Yipao is the only coffee shop in San Diego that provides Colombian coffee exclusively. 


It’s worth taking the time to explore your options and making sure who you select is going to provide the best experience for your attendees.

I’m so grateful for every vendor and sponsor at the event. I appreciate you believing in me, my mission, and your amazing products. 

And for you reader, I hope the takeaways help you create an incredible event. I’d love to read your comments below. 

Stay shining! 

XO Pam