Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

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What It Takes To Put On The Largest Tiny House Event Ever

Now that the first Tiny House Conference has come to a close and I’ve had some time to reflect on how it went, what I’d like to do differently next year etc.  I thought it would be good to share a little bit about what goes into one of these events.  I wanted to do a post like this in part to share how much time, money and effort goes into the Tiny House Conference and to answer some common questions such as: “why do I have to register?”, “why does it cost so much?”, “could you just send me a video link?”

It Takes A Team:

To put on this event I tried to do everything myself to keep costs as low as possible so I could pass that savings on to the tickets resulting in a lower ticket price for you all.  Even though I did a lot of the work myself, I couldn’t do it all.  This entire event took over a year of work to organize and it included some other folks to make it all happen.  In total there was a team of 8 people who directly worked on this event; from a graphic designer, web designer, photographer, videographer, writers, and a few others.  All these folks came at a cost that was fair, but added up very quickly.

It Takes A Lot Of Time

To make the event possible, in addition to the team mentioned above, it takes a ton of my own time.   Over 2,000 hours to be exact, which is in addition to my normal day job.  While I give a lot of my time freely to the community, there are times where I need to be compensated.  What I realized a long time ago was that any money I earned allowed me to deliver the best of what I could offer.  If I didn’t earn some money from this, I’d have to get another job.  If I did that, I don’t think the conference could have happened.

It Takes A Great Location:

The location was the first hurdle that I had to overcome and it was a big one.   Knowing that I was going to have so many people come and a whole bunch of tiny houses meant that I needed a place that could handle 60,000 lbs of tiny houses rolling in and a couple of hundred cars.  Looking around, the going rate for a venue that fit these needs in my area the cost was running about $10,000+ a day!  That wasn’t an option because ticket prices would be too high.  So I looked around at farms, parks, hotels, etc etc. and finally I found a venue that could keep the ticket price low-er, but was still very expensive.  I decided then and there that if this conference was ever going to happen, I’d have to make this work.

It Takes A Lot Of Great Speakers:

I had made the goal to have some of the best speakers I could find and also afford, while tiny housers are very reasonable in what it costs to have them speak, I had 13 speakers, so it added up very quickly. The logistics for all of this was staggering.  I need a place for them to stay, we had to feed them, cover travel costs, power points, how to get the from the air port to the conference,. materials, etc.

It Takes A Lot To Get Tiny Houses

I think a lot of people don’t realize that to get a house to our event, it costs a lot.  Tiny houses get about 5 mpg and we have to arrange a truck, buy gas, insure the house during transport and sometimes, hire drivers.  We had tiny houses come from 4 different states and in the process no less than 4 transmissions where destroyed trying to get a tiny house here.

It Takes A Lot Of Money

It seems when you say you’re putting on an event, everyone just sees dollar signs; its crazy how expensive it to have an event.  If you’ve never put on a conference for more than 300 people, you’d be floored at the costs involved.  The biggest hurdle for me personally was that to put on an event like this was that I had to front a lot of my personal money to reserve things and secure contracts.  Because this event was so big, because we charged for tickets, I knew I had to make this event the best I could.  As I mentioned I had to work over a year on this event to make it happen and that meant that I reserved the venue a year and a half ahead of time, which meant I had to pay for the venue before the website was even live.  The videographer, the photographer, the tent reservations, the chairs, projectors, screens, food truck deposits, microphones, laptops, speakers, etc etc etc. all of these things had to be bought, secured or contracted about 6 months or more before we even sold our first ticket so that when I could confidently say, “this is going to be an awesome event!”

Could I have Done If For Less?

Looking back at how the event went and trying to think if I could have done it for less and thus charged less for tickets, the answer is honestly “I don’t think so”.  Every step of the process I tried to balance having a great event with the costs involved.   This was very true because when I planned all of this and spent all of the money for the event, it wasn’t money from ticket sales, because tickets hadn’t sold yet, almost 100% of the money that initially was spent was from my own pocket on the hope that they’d come back to me once the event took off.  While that money did come back to me much later, spending those dollars was very real to me.  After all of that spending, I then determined the ticket price because I knew what it would cost to put on the event.

Anything Less Would Have Resulted In Less

Could I have done it for less or for free?  Could I have done this in someone’s backyard?  Could I have had only local speakers? Could I just “winged it”?  Could I just do it all online?  The answer is yes.  If I wanted to I could make this event only $25 a ticket, but I could only have 50 people show up to listen to only me talk in my backyard with only a single tiny house.  In fact, there have been events like that and the people who went didn’t learn much, didn’t get to see houses, and in many cases people felt cheated because they had paid the going rate at that time which was $400.

The truth is that our ticket price meant that we could deliver an event like no other.  People learned more, they saw more houses, they came in larger numbers and they made better connections because of it.  If you’re reading this post it’s probably because you want to come, why is that?  Because we do it better than anyone else.  To do anything less would mean I didn’t make it the best.  Since I’m not about doing “just okay” and instead I do “that was awesome” that is why the ticket prices are as such.

Quick Tiny House Conference Recap

The Tiny House Conference was a total blast this weekend.  So many amazing people, houses and a ton of fun.  I am going to do a quick recap now, but later on I’ll get more into the details once we get all the photos in.  We had people come from the west coast, the bottom of Florida, all over Canada and even Alaska!  So here are some fun photos from the conference and we will have many more photos and videos to come.

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Photos from: Radford Univ. http://dsn400.tumblr.com/  Lina Menard http://www.nichedesignbuild.com/  Christopher and Malissa Tack http://chrisandmalissa.com/ Tiny House Family http://www.tinyhousefamily.com/  Laura Lavoie  http://www.120squarefeet.com/  Adrew Odom http://tinyrevolution.us/  Kelly Ross http://justrightbus.blogspot.com/

Charlotte, NC Tiny Houses Meetup

So I have been thinking and thinking about this idea of a meetup for Tiny House people.  I have figured out a few things all of which are free or cheap, this is still in the planning stages.
What I have figured out:

  • Location to host in Charlotte, NC
  • Tour of an off-the-grid container home
  • Tour of first LEED certified Hotel in Charlotte
  • Green / Eco-Friendly expo with a series of talks
  • Possible tour of a micro farm
  • A short list of speakers (not yet approached)

What I still need to button down:

  • A Tubleweed style home brought to Charlotte, NC for tours
  • Print Materials / guides
  • Finalizing the above
  • Volunteers
  • Marketing / Promotion
  • Group to webcast talks and video tours

What can you do to help?

Have a Tiny House?

Want to volunteer?

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