How to Build Your Event Planning Portfolio

Building your event planning portfolio is an important step toward getting more clients and higher budget events. There are 8 things to include in your portfolio to have the ultimate professional look to show clients.

Watch this video for an overview of the steps and read below for more details:

A portfolio is an important piece of what you bring with you the first time you meet prospective clients.

Your portfolio helps give a sense of how professional you are in the work that you do: It can be a traditional book that you bring to your meeting with clippings, pictures, style boards, press articles, etc or it can be a page on your website that you can show on your laptop or tablet, like a slideshow.

Bringing a laptop is our preferred way to show a portfolio since we live in such a digital age. Showing a nice, clean portfolio on your iPad or laptop looks very professional and is easy to switch out pages depending on which client you’re meeting.

You want to make sure that you personalize your portfolio for every client you meet depending on the type of event they need planned. If your client meeting is for someone who is having a wedding and you know their approximate budget, the amount of guests, or maybe you know the venue beforehand it’s great to add bits of information that can be beneficial to this client so they get the sense that you came prepared and do beautiful, organized, custom work.

Let’s get into the 8 things you need to include in your portfolio for the ultimate professional look:

1. Take ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of your venue

We love and recommend using before-and-after photos. If you can get venue photos before before the event, with nothing in it and then after photographs using a wide-angle lens that is perfect.

If you don’t have much photography or planning experience you can do a mock photo session or styled photo shoot. You can partner with vendors for their services, let them know that you want to do a styled shoot, and can trade ideas with these vendors (or venues). Usually these vendors will help you for free or in exchange for copies of the photos because they want to build their portfolios as well.

Examples of things you can do are set up a buffet table that has a nice place settings, a backdrop, a desert table, dinner settings, floral arrangements, etc. Make sure you get nice professional photos during this styled shoot that you can use for your portfolio and your website.

Another opportunity to get event photos for your portfolio is to help a friend or relative that is planning an event. Offer to help them for free or at very little cost in exchange for professional photos that you can use for your client materials.

2. Get client testimonials

Including client testimonials in your portfolio is highly recommended.  After every event you plan for a client (whether paid or unpaid) you want to get a testimonial. Even one little sound bite is fine with their photo into your portfolio or your website is a great place to start.

Recommendation letters are also powerful to show prospective clients so if you have a particularly good relationship with a client, you can ask them for a full recommendation letter.

A great tip is to type out a list of bullet points of everything you did for this client and have them comment about the items that they have feedback on. This helps ensure they know everything you did, plus will address any area you want to be specifically recommended for.

Great things to mention in a testimonial are how you helped the client overcome a struggle or meet their bottom line.

3. Do a styled photo shoot

Styled photo shoots were covered in the first point above.

4. Include press clippings from your local media

If you or any event you have participated in has been covered by the local media or major website you can include the press clippings in your portfolio. These can make you look very professional and as your career grows you will want to specifically pursue media opportunities.

5. Include sample timelines and inspiration boards

Including a sample timeline from a past event can be a great touch to your portfolio. One of the most common questions clients ask is what the day of their event will look like and by including a sample timeline you will have addressed their concern proactively.

The sample timeline doesn’t have to be from a past event. It can be a quick sample you make from everything you know about this client and their goals. If you don’t have sample timelines or need help with them, we have a few you can have in our event planning course found here.

Managing your clients expectations during a stressful time in their lives makes having a timeline important. It will show the client exactly how the day is going to breakdown.

Inspiration boards are important to show prospective clients what your style looks like. We recommend you go to Pinterest and start creating style boards for different types of events to communicate your inspiration and style. You do this by pinning images that appeal to you and these photos don’t have to be from your events.

While you’re on Pinterest, be sure you follow our page too 🙂

6. Show your certificates and education

If you have any planning certifications or related education that you completed, be sure to include it in your portfolio.

7. Include your personal biography and photo

Including a short bio and professional photo of yourself makes you relate-able to the client. Try to include a simple smiling photo of yourself; or one of you working / setting up an event.

8. Include examples of times you have solved problems

This part of your portfolio is rarely done by planners but it’s very important and can help you stand out. Prospective clients want to hear about how you deal with difficult situations. Everyone knows that an event never goes as smoothly as you want so by giving examples to your prospective client of times and ways you handled difficult situations and helped your clients reach their goals, are very powerful.

Examples of this can be times you saved your client money, saved a problem from happening when something went wrong at the venue or with a vendor, increased customer engagement or helped brand awareness about a product for corporate events, etc.

If you can make a portfolio that has all 8 of these items, you will really show prospective clients why they should hire you and you’re business will grow!

For help with pricing your services, we have an article and video about that.

And for help with writing your proposal – which you also need in order to land good clients, be sure to read that article.

How to Build Your Event Planning Portfolio / Event Planning Career / Event Planning Tips / Event Planning Courses

5 Comments

  • Kristen - Bright Lights Planning

    Reply Reply January 2, 2017

    Love these points! I only have 5 of them in my portfolio now so I’ll be adding the remaining 3.. thanks!

    • Holly

      Reply Reply January 2, 2017

      Thanks Kristen! Glad you found these helpful.

  • Jill Stevens

    Reply Reply January 4, 2017

    I like to bring my iPad with a slideshow to show prospects. This really helps especially with anyone looking for a higher budget event.

  • The Event Hire Company

    Reply Reply January 13, 2017

    I can imagine saying “I’m a newbie in this, no clue what I’m doing” can be hard to swallow but hey, everyone in the hospitality industry was a newbie once! I reckon it’s most important to be honest and upfront admit it’s one of the first receptions or banquets you are planning. And aiming for a totally personalised service assures the couple will be uber grateful for all your work. Developing long term relationships with e.g. event furniture hire companies and other event suppliers and vendors make it easy to organise events in the future.

  • Patricia

    Reply Reply June 23, 2017

    Great info!

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