Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

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 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?”

When I first started with tiny houses back in 2008, I quickly realized that there was barley any information out there and I had a lot of questions so there must be others out there too that had questions.  Soon after I started a what I called a “mini-conference” so that tiny house folks could connect with each other, find support, get questions answered, and get excited about taking actionable steps to living tiny.  That was where the idea for this event all started, it was focused around bringing tiny house people together and fostering connections.

Today the conference has evolved to still focus on the core idea, but in a slightly different way.  I knew from the beginning that I wanted to create the largest, tiny house gathering ever.  It was a tall order, but I knew that people wanted to connect and learn, so I went all in.  Starting back in 2012 I started looking for a place to have the event and after a very long search of almost a year, I came upon a place that was perfect for the first ever Tiny House Conference.

It Takes A Team:

To put on 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 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 in some cases, power points, how to get the from the air port to the conference,. materials, etc.

It Takes A Lot To Get Tiny Houses

I knew this going in, but I was still surprised at how difficult it is to move a tiny house.  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.  What I’ve discovered is that without a huge truck along the lines of a diesel or f350 Dually you really can’t tow tiny houses and even then, its a lot of work.

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.  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 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.  The truth is that our ticket price meant that not only could I have a great event, but it meant I could host the biggest and the best tiny house event; 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.