person fanning out a handful of $100 bills

How to make money with virtual events

In General, Virtual Events by Kat Rembacki1 Comment

It’s a myth that virtual events can’t be profitable. 

Virtual events may have started out as a way to connect with fans when we couldn’t be together in person, but they have evolved into something much bigger. It’s not just opening your phone and hitting “go live” on the social platform of the moment. Event producers are finding creative new ways to replicate, or even improve upon, the in-person event experience with quality video production and live fan engagement.

Fans want more virtual content, and event producers need to find sustainable ways to meet this demand. Here are nine of our favorite ways event producers can make money hosting virtual events. 

three young men producing a video outdoors

1. Ticket Sales

With virtual events, your audience is unlimited. Location is no longer a factor in whether guests can attend and you’re not limited to the number of people your venue can accommodate. Fans can join from anywhere in the world, from the comfort of their own homes. They get to control the volume, lighting, and even the concessions while they enjoy the show. 

First-time virtual events producers often make the mistake of thinking that requiring a ticket to access their event will limit attendance, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Even if you’re offering free tickets, it’s important to secure access to your event. 

Virtual events have opened up a whole new world of possibilities for artists and event producers. For more information on how virtual events have changed the fan-artists relationship, check out our recent blog which covers the new way vs. the old way of connecting with your fans. 

2. Pay-What-You-Can Tickets

A lot of event producers are uncertain what to charge for their first virtual event. Should I charge less than what you’d ask for in-person events? The same? What if I set the price too high and guests won’t purchase?

A good way to test out the waters is with pay-what-you-can pricing. Put a suggested donation in the description (research shows that suggesting a specific amount leads to improved performance), and let your guests decide how much they’re able to contribute. This strategy also works well in our current economic climate, when many folks are out of work or experiencing hardships due to the pandemic: everyone has an opportunity to enjoy your event. Make sure your ticketing provider offers pay-what-you-can tickets on their platform. 

tip jar with "pay as you wish" written on the side

3. Donations

Adding a virtual “tip jar” to your livestream is a no-brainer. If you’re using Passage as your ticketing partner, you can display an Instant Donate button right in your livestream, under the live chat feed. Guests can donate in two clicks using the payment information they have on file. You could even host a free event and ask guests to donate during the live show (don’t forget to remind guests about the tip jar, though!). 

We’ve seen virtual events bring in thousands of dollars in tips and donations during one show, sometimes exceeding ticket revenue. This can be a great way for fans to show their love when an artist plays their favorite song or to support a cause they care about.

4. Products

If you were hosting a live event, you might have a merch booth on site with t-shirts or other items for guests to purchase. It should be no different with a virtual event!

Look for a livestreaming platform which allows you to sell products — not just ticket access — for your event. This could include existing products you offer, or something exclusive to this event. 

If you’re using Passage, products can be sold as bundles (combined with ticket access) or as standalone items. Fans still want to show their support for their favorite artists, whether they’re joining you in person or from home, and products are a great way to help them do that. 

blonde haired woman singing while playing piano

5. Upsells

Upsells are part of the normal checkout process for many of our everyday purchases, from ordering food to purchasing clothes.The key is when these items are offered: in the customer checkout flow. When a guest clicks “checkout” for your event, you have the option to show them an upsell opportunity which they can easily add to their cart or skip if they’re not interested. 

Upsells can be experiences (like access to a VIP chat before the event begins) or products like t-shirts and laptop stickers. Working these into the checkout process is a great way to boost revenue for your virtual event. 

Want to see how upsells can work for your event? Schedule a demo with our team!

6. Video on Demand

How many times have you wanted to attend an event but had to miss out due to a scheduling conflict? Even in this new digital world, it seems like we have more work and social obligations than ever before. 

You can make sure your guests never have to miss one of your events by allowing them to access a replay of your event at their convenience. You might be surprised how many people will want this option, it’s one of the fastest-growing features on our platform. 

two men filming a breakdancing video in graffiti filled room

7. Sponsorships

Whether your event is online or in person, the opportunity for sponsors to gain brand recognition among your followers is valuable. Sponsors may be willing to financially support your event in exchange for any number of benefits, such as including their logo and message on every ticket sold (yes, guests still receive tickets event for virtual events), a sponsored message played during your event or read by one of the hosts, or even an email blast to every attendee. As the event producer, you get access to customer data including email addresses which can be downloaded any time and incorporated into your email marketing platform. 

Click below for more ideas on what you can offer potential sponsors and the best way to get them to say “YES.”

8. Hybrid Events

A virtual event doesn’t have to be 100% online. As COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, in-person events will start to return to our communities. In some areas, smaller events are already permitted. 

Having a smaller crowd on site gives the virtual component of your event a different energy: it really feels like an event rather than a video performance. If it’s safe and legal in your area, consider adding virtual access to your in-person event. You’ll unlock unlimited attendance and unlimited revenue potential. 

happy woman watching tv with a bowl of popcorn

9. Subscriptions

We subscribe to practically everything these days: streaming services, podcasts, news sites, monthly treat boxes. Subscriptions are convenient and make monthly household budgeting simple.

If you plan to host regularly scheduled events, give guests the option to subscribe to your content with a subscription. It’s easier for guests: they don’t have to grab their credit cards every time they want to attend one of your events, they can set it up once and forget it. And it’s regular revenue for you!

Passage is releasing a brand new subscription model very soon. Stay tuned for more details on setting this up for your event, or request a demo and we’ll walk you through the set up. 

Ready to set up your first virtual event? Schedule an onboarding call with our support team. We’ll set everything up for you!