Over the last year, we’ve truly missed out on in-person events and conferences. As we slowly ease back into some sort of normalcy, we’re beginning to see more event planning happening in our industry!
In episode 75, Kat Schmoyer, founder of Creative at Heart, joins us to share what impact and changes COVID brought to her annual event, her advice for building successful educational events, and what event planning looks like in a post-pandemic world.
Get to Know Kat (1:28)
Offering a Virtual Option for Your Event (2:19)
Advice for Creating Events (10:40)
The Current State of Virtual Events (15:58)
Unpopular Opinion (21:15)
Review the transcript for this episode below.
Review the Transcript:
Laylee Emadi 0:05
Welcome to so here’s the thing where we share candid conversations that lift the veil on what it takes to find success, even if that means sharing a few unpopular opinions. I’m your host, Laylee Emadi, grab some coffee or cocktail. And let’s get real.
Laylee Emadi 0:21
Hey, friends, welcome back to the show. We have a lovely guest with us today who has actually been here. Oh, gosh, I don’t even know two three times. Well, we have Kashmir with us count. How many times have you been here? I have no idea. Multiple times we have a multiple returner with us. And I’m so excited because today Kat and I are going to be talking about the state of in person events in the creative industry and how much they’ve changed. And like how we’re both approaching these changes, as as things are starting to open back up and how we’re trying to really conscientiously follow what are best practices. And it’s really hard to do that when there are no quote unquote, best practices put into place. And we’re kind of making it up as we go. So I’m excited to have this conversation with Kat, she is actually hosting. This is the 10th round of Creative at Heart. So exciting. I will be there. I’m very honored and very excited to be there as one of her speakers and educators and I cannot wait. So I’m going to like Kat has introduced herself so many times on this podcast. But tell us about like what’s new with you what you’re working on. And then we can we can get the ball rolling on this conversation.
Kat Schmoyer 1:29
Well, thanks for having me back. Again, not quite sure how many times this has been now but always love to hang out and chat with you. Biggest thing that I’m working on right now is of course the conference, we’re so excited to finally get to have round 10. We were supposed to have it last year. And I know we’ll talk about all of those things and a little bit but very excited that in July, we will have creative at heart round 10. And so it’s crunch time right now final two months, like leading up to the conference. So it’s definitely a big priority for me and my team just finalizing details and things like that for creative at heart, both for in person and virtual attendees. So really excited about the two dues on my flight. and can’t wait to have the conference in July as amazing.
Laylee Emadi 2:12
So you mentioned this already, but you are doing a hybrid version of your event this year. And this is the first time you’re doing that. Correct? Correct?
Kat Schmoyer 2:19
Yeah, we’ve actually gotten requests, even like pre COVID, we would get requests for virtual tickets. But I have such a heart for in person education, right? There’s a time and a place for virtual. But I just there’s something about being together in person, that zoom call can’t really replicate. And so I have always struggled with should we have virtual? What would that look like? How would we do it? And then COVID happened. And so honestly, that was like a kick in the pants for for us as a conference to say, okay, we need a virtual option. This is unprecedented. This is a whole new ballgame for large scale conferences like creative at heart. And so having a virtual option has allowed us to not only open up that inclusivity door for those who aren’t able to attend in person because of COVID or anything else, right? Whether it’s a mama or somebody that works a nine to five and can’t take the time off. Like they’re just, we’re really excited about the possibilities of those who have the option to attend now.
Laylee Emadi 3:18
I love that outlook on it. Especially i just i do think that there is so much benefit to be able to offer things in a hybrid model in this way. But I also know that it must be just exponentially more work, which is or maybe just like a whole different kind of work, I don’t know. But it does seem overwhelming. And I think a lot of people, at least the people who I get to work with, you know, through the creative educator Academy who want to become educators, or some of them want to host in person events and virtual events and they get overwhelmed. Like how do you feel about that? Do you think that it is exponentially more work? Or do you think it’s just a different type?
Kat Schmoyer 3:55
Right now I’m gonna say it’s a different type. But as we get closer and might be like, lately, let’s edit that podcast slightly, maybe we need to say it’s like way more work. Right now it just feels like different type of work I for us, This is the 10th round. And so there are certain systems and processes that are have been rinse and repeat for me because we’ve done this conference so many times. And I love the in person aspect of it. So the virtual is just new. It’s learning like, Okay, what should we do in the virtual space? And I said this before, but there is a difference between a zoom call and an a conference. And so how can we replicate the magic of creative at heart and the in person field on a zoom call? Like those are some of the conversations that like my husband and I are having when it comes to just the culture that we want for the virtual attendees. And then on the tech side, like that was a huge reason why before I was like, Nope, never this sounds way too stressful. What about all of these like potential things that can come up with dealing with the tech so for us We decided that the tech was not something we were going to DIY. And so we have an expert like we have a professional videographer, a professional team behind the scenes that will be working dedicated to the tech of the virtual aspect. Because again, that’s something that we were like, you know what, I’m not going to try to DIY this and have something go wrong when I’m physically at the conference. And I can’t make any changes at that point.
Laylee Emadi 5:25
Yeah, I love that idea. I think that’s definitely like, I mean, I’m trying to think of a better word to use here. But like, I feel like that’s the responsible thing to do is like, if I can’t figure something out yourself, or you feel like it would just add to the chaos, outsource it, like, how do they have an expert come in? Who can handle it? And then you don’t have to worry about it quite as much. I mean, I’m sure you still have to worry about it a little
Kat Schmoyer 5:45
Right. And so then some of that work, like, yes, it’s a different type of work, but I am outsourcing some of that work, right. So like making that to do list and being like, okay, they’re gonna tackle X, Y, and Z. So I need to focus on these other things that like, are more in my wheelhouse to focus on.
Laylee Emadi 6:00
Yeah, absolutely. So I know that both you and I have our own mastermind programs. And within those masterminds, we have like, we both have the option of doing like an in person event or an in person, like couple days together. And both of us this year, I love that we’re like on the same path of this both of us had some had like at least one virtual attendee and and the rest were in person. And for me, it was I had to have two of the women had to like zoom in whenever they could. And then there were some obviously some parts of the in person that was just like not, it didn’t lend itself to being like done over zoom. So they didn’t get like the full experience. But I think we did our best to like, so make them feel included. How do you feel about that? Like, was it? Did you feel like it took away from it? Do you feel like they still got things out of it? I know that there are just so many people, I think that are thinking through, okay, I want to offer something in person. But am I really feasibly going to be able to get enough people signed up for it? Like, can I? can I provide people this experience? Like, how do you feel about that? Yeah,
Kat Schmoyer 7:09
Mine was very similar, just like you said, I had two ladies that zoomed in. And we did it sounds like, again, a very similar feel where there were certain parts of the retreat where it made sense to zoom them in. And then there were other things that just because of the nature of, you know, the style of a mastermind retreat, and that like implementation time, things like that, like it didn’t make sense to zoom them in to do that. Um, so we zoomed them in a handful of times throughout my retreat was two days. So throughout that time, and obviously, you know, I think that it went well, I hope that they did, I’m like, if they’re listening, hope, Christmas and Amber, I hope you liked it. When we zoomed in, I feel like it went really well. One of the ways when they zoomed in, we had a guest expert who was also zooming in. And so I think that’s something that for those of you that are potentially thinking about hosting something in person, whether it’s for a mastermind situation, like what lately and I are talking about or an actual like an in person retreat where that’s the point of it, and there’s not virtual in terms of zoom calls and mastermind, you know, time leading up or, or after, you can zoom in some of the educators. And that could potentially work, whether COVID, not COVID, maybe it’s like budgeting reasons, there are just other ways you can go about like zooming in. And so with ours, we zoomed in an educator, and then had the two members that couldn’t be there. We’re also on zoom. And so that added to like the extra zoom part and like the feel, and we had it up on the TV, and you know, all of that. And then we also zoomed them in for part of a workshop style, where I’m asking questions, and everybody’s like, kind of silently working on some things and then able to brain dump and able to brainstorm. I think that our industry is way more used to zoom and virtual conversations than ever before. And so while Yes, there is that tech element, and I think that for anybody who’s not tech savvy, like myself, that’s our first reason to not want to do something hybrid like that. And it shouldn’t be the first reason why, like, you can watch a YouTube video or hire Dawn from tech savvy or something like that to like, make it easier for you to be able to do some of those techniques, and you shouldn’t let that deter you from taking part in that.
Laylee Emadi 9:20
I love that answer. I think I totally would agree with that. I do think that it’s so easy for people to get caught up in like the I don’t know what I’m doing. So I’m just not going to do it. Yes, kind of trap. So what would you say to somebody who maybe they are interested in pursuing like their first event, whether it’s in person virtual or combination of both? And they feel like they’re hitting that trap of like, what comes next? Like do you feel like people reach out to you with this question a lot because I do I host the next level retreat and I feel like all week I have two types of messages popping into like my dm, and I’m not even managing the Instagram at that point. I pass it off to our photographer, and we’ll feel that like one or two Kind of dams. One is like, I really want to do this, like, I want to make one of these, like, how do I do it? I feel like I can’t move forward. And then the other one, of course, is like, oh, FOMO I’ll be there next year. So I always feel like, I can give some generic advice. But like, I do feel like the people who are messaging and reaching out are very much stuck in the, in the dream of it. And so like, what’s what’s a couple of things that people can do to kind of go past the dream and into the actual like, outlining aside from obviously taking my creative educator Academy, which teaches you this, but I would love to hear from you the expert, the conference Queen, like how do people make this this an actual reality?
Kat Schmoyer 10:40
That’s such a good question. I always feel like it comes down to this sounds super fluffy, but I’m just gonna say it anyway, it comes down to like, why why do you want this dream to be a reality? So when we’re talking specifically about an event, why do you want to host the event? Like what is the purpose for hosting the event? Think about the revenue behind it. Think about the ideal, like a person that ideal creative, who you would want to attend? And then you’ll be able to determine like, okay, yes, this is viable and realistic right now? Or no, maybe this is something in the future, are you? You know, are you thinking about an event for 12? People? Are you thinking about something for 200 people, right, there’s just you need to understand like your vision a little bit better, to then be able to make a move to bring that dream to life. So once you feel like you understand that, like vision, and that dream a little bit better, really than trying to understand like, who the audience is. And I know, we talked about this before we went live lately, but like for you with next level, there wasn’t a hybrid option. Like you said, No, next level is in person, like that’s what it is. And it’s okay to take that stand and say that for creative, we said, okay, for the first time ever going to have a hybrid option. And so, again, it’s there’s no right or wrong, it’s you and your audience. So then really understanding what does your audience want? And how can you best make sure that the dream that you’re bringing to life is something that your audience is asking for?
Laylee Emadi 12:07
I love that. I think that just even being able to answer a few of those questions, if you’re like listening to this, and you’re like, Well, yeah, I really want to do something, but you can’t answer those questions, I think it’s definitely a time to pause and go back and reflect and kind of figure out what that looks like. Even I have had, like several ideas for Okay, in the coming years, I would love to do like an in person component to my Academy. What would that look like for me, and for me, it’s like, okay, I probably wouldn’t bring in external educators, it would probably be a low cost and more for the experience of the course members, versus something that’s like, an event that is made to be profitable. And that is, you know, higher cost and maybe has a few more educators involved and makes it like more appealing to other people. So there’s so much thought that goes, that goes into it, that I think taking it down to that like basic, like, you know, foundational questions is so important.
Kat Schmoyer 13:01
Absolutely. Well, it sounds it’s like being an educator, right? Or being a host, like people are like, Oh, that sounds so cool. Like, I want to do that. Well, first of all, it’s not that cool. It’s like, I don’t know if it feels like weird to be like, Oh, the conference, I’ll stir up, you know, retreat hosts, whatever. No, we’re just like normal people. Second of all, it’s a lot of work. And so being able to answer those questions, and then know like, okay, yes, I’m willing to put forth this work, hosting an event. There’s a lot of variables, whether it’s all in person, a hybrid of in person, and virtual, whatever it might be. And so, I mean, lately, and I learned that the hard way, Who asked you with COVID? of like, oh, canceling this one? Okay, what about this fun, like going back and forth, back and forth with it. And so having, you know, if you decide you’re going to do something like this understanding, like, yes, it might look really cool on Instagram when the actual event is taking place. But there’s a lot that goes in behind the scenes a lot financially, that goes on behind the scenes, and so making sure that you’re fully prepared to take on that risk, and do all of those things is important, too. Yeah, absolutely.
Laylee Emadi 14:01
I agree. I mean, I definitely think it is easy to look at, like the beautiful, aesthetically pleasing Instagrams and be like, Wow, what a fun glamorous job. But at the end of the day, I think hosting anything, whether it’s virtual, whether it’s in person, any kind of like educational event, you are really more of a service provider slash like you were there to serve your attendees and your members more than you are to be some kind of like, glamorous person, quote, unquote, at the top, like, You’re, you’re serving people. So absolutely, it’s a lot less glamorous than it sounds, but it’s definitely rewarding. And I love it. I think that anybody who is interested in creating something like that should definitely like, think through and pursue it if it’s something you’re passionate about, but I love the concept of thinking through like, Well, why is it because it looks pretty and fun and glamorous, or is it because it looks like a place to create impact and really serve people and get them you know, to wherever it is that They want to get, I was gonna say get them to the next level. But that’s a little on the nose for my next retreat. I said it anyway. Anyway, back back to the topic. Okay, so as we wrap up, of course, I need to hear what well, I want before I ask you your unpopular opinion, I want to know like in general, how do you feel about the state of in person events moving forward? Do you feel like they are, we’re back like it’s here to stay? Do you think that we’re going to be sticking to a hybrid model? Do you think there’s going to continue to be an uptick in virtual conferences and summits we’ve seen? Oh, my gosh, we’ve seen so many of those. In the past year, I even hosted one myself, and it was super fun. But like, I feel inundated with the amount of emails I get every day about a new virtual summit. So like, how are you feeling about the state of these things? as somebody who’s hosted 10? Beautiful, giant conferences?
Kat Schmoyer 15:54
This is such a good question. So I do think that in person is here to stay like I think that life will continue to open back up. And so in person education in our industry is something that we can hope to see more of. I also though lean towards that, there will still be a lot of virtual because we realized the quote unquote, ease of virtual people can watch from their house, watch from their car, go, you know, do whatever. Again, that doesn’t like there’s so a lot of work on the back end, if you’re thinking about hosting something virtual. That’s not to say like, it’s so easy to just throw out the sales page with some videos like no, I know, lately did so much work with our virtual summit. I didn’t do one in 2020. I’ve done one in the past, though. So I understand. It’s so much work. But I just think that there are a lot of other things vying for creatives, time and attention, just in life in general travel, all of that stuff. And so I think virtual is is going to continue to be here. But I do believe that in person is back in here to stay. And honestly, even for us with the conference, like I don’t know, if we’re going to have a hybrid conference again, in 2021. For in person, like there’s beauty in in person education. And there’s a time and a place for virtual education. Yes, absolutely. But I said this when we first you know, opened up registration for the conference, that genuinely I don’t know if we’ll do a hybrid model next year. Because I just wanted to try I knew because of COVID. We wanted to offer it this year. And that was like I mentioned that kick in the pants to like, Okay, let’s do this and see what our people think, see what I think as a host perspective and all of those to dues, right. Is it going to be exponentially more like the week? And I’m like, nope, absolutely not. I can’t serve all the people and serve them well. So maybe we just go back to just the in person part in 2022. I have no idea. We’ll see what happens. But in person is 1,000%. here to stay.
Laylee Emadi 17:55
Yeah, I love that. I agree. I mean, I think that there are very few things that can replace what it’s like when you can connect with somebody in person face to face. And I know. Yeah, I like I just think it’s it’s so hard to replicate that I’m not to say that it’s impossible by any means. And actually, I really do love like the inclusivity that comes with being able to offer that virtual See, I know a lot of like, the creative at heart attendees who have shared in like your Facebook group, it’s been really fun to see them be like, I haven’t been able to come yet. But now I can because I can come from home. It’s like maybe they have like chronic illnesses or something like that. I know, one of the attendees that I connected with, that was her exact case. But she was like I you know, I’m high risk. So I can’t really go a lot of places. And so this has been so exciting for me. So I love that aspect of it. But I do think that it’s it is hard to replicate it long term in like, in larger environments, like larger settings recently, I think it might be a little bit easier to do so in a small setting, although I say that having not done a large setting myself, so I don’t know.
Kat Schmoyer 18:55
Yeah, I guess it’s it’s a learning. It’s a learning experience. And, and like I mentioned in the beginning, I felt like when we met and I literally made a list of like the pros and cons of offering, you know, a hybrid model. And then when we looked at some of the cons, those were the things we were like, let’s outsource this, like we’re worried about the tech, we’re worried about some of these things. So it is our responsibility. We’re taking payment for this, like, I’m not just going to haphazardly hope that I set the tech up correctly. Like we’re going to make sure this is done. Correct. And now I can try to focus on the culture and the atmosphere for our hybrid attendees. Because I think that’s what we’re saying here lately is like, there’s something so great about those off the stage conversations that take place when you’re in person. And so for us it creative, like I’m trying to figure out the best ways to duplicate that for my virtual people like for those new conversations, so that even though they can’t come in person, they still get some of that magic and that’s where I do think it can be tricky, trying to make sure that you’re navigating that really well.
Laylee Emadi 19:55
Yeah, I love having watched you kind of like figure that out and like it I have noticed, I have taken note that like, you have put somebody in charge of like that group, like, there’s an educator designated to the virtual attendees, which I think is so beautiful, because it’s like, they are not a secondary thought to you like you are being really intentional about including them, because like you said, you are, they are paying to be a part of this, and you want to make sure that you’re delivering and I think that’s awesome. So I wanted to say like props on that. But also like for those people listening, like, don’t just say like, oh, there’s a virtual side of it. And it’s the easier side, like, you’ve got to be intentional, like take that extra step like Captain.
Kat Schmoyer 20:35
Absolutely. Right. Well, and I’ve had other people say, like, you know, oh, just bring in an extra revenue stream, like have a virtual assistant. And I’m like, it’s not like that’s there. No, like, could it be maybe like, but there’s also costs and things associated with virtual and again, like wanting to be really intentional about, I want virtual to feel like they’re in person, if that means it’s like a pretend cut out of like their face or something. I don’t know. But we want to do things to really like make them feel loved and cared for. Yeah,
Laylee Emadi 21:03
I love that. Okay, so if you have an unpopular opinion about like, the state of in person events or in person and virtual, what would your unpopular opinion be?
Kat Schmoyer 21:14
My unpopular opinion, and I don’t I don’t know if this is truly unpopular. It’s just me feeling like, in person events aren’t going anywhere like that, like, that’s what my opinion is, they were forced to stop in 2020. And I absolutely understand, like, why and the reasoning behind that. But the world and even though like, normalcy is going to look different for the whole world, because of 2020. Like, we can gather in person safely moving forward. And so like, I believe that in person events are not going anywhere.
Laylee Emadi 21:46
Yeah, I love that. And I think I mean, even to add on to that, I think that people in general kind of see the value even more now than they did before all of our worlds were turned upside down. Like I feel like even I just feel like even more so now people are going to crave being around one another and community so much more than than they would take the time and the effort to make that happen in the past. So yes, I love that. I’m all about it, obviously. Yeah, well, thank you so much for being here and chatting with us about this cat. I mean, I’m sure you’ll come back for like episode four or five, six, whatever, however many more we need, because we have like 14 topics that are I know we have. So thank you so much
Laylee Emadi 22:34
For show notes and resources mentioned on today’s episode head to so here’s the thing podcast.com and if you’re enjoying the podcast, I’d love to read your review on iTunes. Thanks so much for listening, and I’ll catch you in the next episode.