It's a myth  that you can't make money with virtual events

Virtual events may have started as a way to connect with fans and supporters when we couldn’t get together in person, but they have evolved into something much bigger. Now, they have become part of our new reality. As an event producer, you have the chance to get the most out of it!

 

Hosting online events is 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 we know what you might be thinking, but it’s a myth that virtual events can’t be profitable. Want to learn nine of our favorite ways you can make money by hosting virtual events? Read on!

 

Virtual event producer hosting an online event

1. More Ticket Sales

One of the many pros online events have is that your audience is unlimited. Location is no longer a restrictive factor. You don’t have to worry about the limited number of people that can fit inside your venue or even about the legal requirements to host a multitudinary event. 

 

When hosting a virtual event, your fans can join from anywhere in the world, right from the comfort of their own homes. They can sit tight on their couch, order some pizza, invite their friends over, and enjoy your show even if they’re thousands of miles away from the event location. 


You know what this means, right? You can sell event tickets to as many attendees as you want! Or at least as many as your livestream platform allows you to (which will certainly be more people than the ones that can be accommodated in a theater). With virtual events, you’re tripling the size of your venue capacity, which translates into more ticket sales.

 

Online events have opened up a whole new world of possibilities for artists and event producers. The fact that more people can attend your event means you’re capable of reaching even more fans! Two years ago, this was a total challenge, but now, it’s at the reach of your hands.


Virtual events are pretty cool. Not convinced yet?

2. Pay-What-You-Can Tickets

Pricing your event tickets can be tricky. A lot of event producers are uncertain what to charge for their first virtual event. Should you charge less than what you’d ask for in-person events? Or should both tickets cost the same? What if you set the price too high and guests won’t purchase? Or too low and end up losing money? Too many questions! But we have the answer. 

 

A good way to test out the waters is with pay-what-you-can pricing. How does this work? Simple: you just have to put a suggested donation amount in the checkout and let your guests decide how much they’re able to contribute. Might sound crazy at first, but research shows that suggesting a specific amount leads to improved performance. If you’re hosting an online charity event, this one is totally for you! It’s the perfect way to encourage donors to contribute a little bit more.


The most important thing here is for you to check if your ticketing provider offers pay-what-you-can tickets on their platform. There are plenty of event ticketing platforms out there, so you better get all the information you need before making a choice. Luckily, Passage’s ticketing software includes this feature and more! You can sell tickets online and choose pay-what-you-can tickets for your online events without any trouble.

 Event producers can add a tip jar to their virtual events to increase donations during the livestream

3. Donations

Adding a virtual “tip jar” to your event livestream is a no-brainer. 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. And it’s an amazing strategy to earn a little extra money without pressuring your attendees. 


If you’re using Passage as your ticketing provider, you can display an Instant Donate button right in your event livestream, under the live chat feed. Guests can donate in two clicks using the payment information saved on file when they purchased their tickets. And within two business days, all donations will be transferred to your bank account. It’s that easy.

 

The virtual tip jar is super useful for fundraising virtual events since you can display a running tally of the donations made during the livestream. By doing this, every attendee will be able to see the impact of their contribution.  

 

This feature is also great if you’re hosting a free virtual event. During the live show or seminar, you can ask your guests to donate and contribute if they want to. This way, you can cover your costs and even make a little revenue. Just 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. If you want to learn more, check our blog on how to increase donations during your livestreamed event.

4. Products & merchandise

When hosting a live event, your merch booth sales might play a considerable part in your event’s revenue. And it should be no different with a virtual event! Many event producers think that selling t-shirts or other items to their guests won’t be possible in an online event, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

You can sell your event’s merchandise while hosting any type of event. It all depends on the functionalities of your chosen ticketing platform. This is the reason why you should ALWAYS learn and ask about all the capabilities your event partner has. In this case, you need to look for a ticketing provider that allows you to sell products — not just ticket access — for your virtual event. 

 

When choosing Passage as your event partner, you can sell your products as bundles (combined with ticket access) or as standalone items. During the checkout process, your fans will be able to select any of your merch and pay together with their tickets. 

 

Remember, fans still want to show their support for their favorite artists and events, whether they’re joining you in person or from home, so products are a great way to keep earning revenue despite not hosting a live event.

blonde haired woman singing while playing piano

5. Upsells

Another way to earn money with your virtual event is to offer add-ons and upsells. 

 

Upsells can be experiences (like access to a VIP chat before the event begins) or products like t-shirts and laptop stickers. Some guests always want to upgrade their tickets and get additional experiences. So these are great opportunities to boost your revenue. 

 

But there are two important things to take into account here. 

 

First, is WHEN these items are being offered. Our recommendation? In the customer checkout flow. When a guest clicks “checkout” for your virtual 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. 

 

Second, HOW you’re going to offer the upsells. Again, be aware of the capabilities your ticketing software has. Passage can show your upsells and add-ons during the checkout and, even better, help you send reminders to your guests before the event and let them know about any available upgrades. Learn more about upsells and how they work with Passage here.  


Still not sure which is the best ticketing provider? (Psst! We are.)

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. 

 

But one of the best advantages of virtual events is that they can be recorded. You can make sure your guests never have to miss one of your events by allowing them to access a replay of your online event whenever and wherever they want. You might be surprised how many people will want this option! Actually, it’s one of the fastest-growing features on our platform.


So, besides selling tickets for the actual event, you can also make extra money by selling access to the recording once your virtual event is over.

two men filming a breakdancing video in graffiti filled room

7. Event Sponsorships

Whether you’re hosting a live or online event, the opportunity for sponsors to gain brand recognition among your followers is valuable. 

 

Sponsors may be willing to financially support your virtual event in exchange for any number of benefits. For example, including their logo and message on every ticket sold (yes, guests receive digital tickets for virtual events). Maybe a sponsored message played during your event or read by one of the hosts. Or even an email blast to every attendee. 

 

While using Passage, you get access to customer data including email addresses which can be downloaded any time and incorporated into your email marketing platform. 


If you want to know more about event sponsorship, check our blog on what you can offer potential sponsors and the best way to get them to say “YES”.

8. Hybrid Events

Did you know that events don’t have to be 100% online or in-person? Not everything is black or white!

 

Hybrid events are the perfect mix of the best of both worlds. You can have a smaller crowd onsite and other attendees seeing your show from the comfort of their homes. 

 

Now that states are reopening, in-person events are coming back. But still, massive gatherings might not be allowed in some places. So it can be cool to host an in-person event with fewer attendees than usual, and yet get the revenue you were expecting by selling tickets to virtual attendees. Adding a virtual component to your live event lets you unlock unlimited attendance and unlimited revenue potential.

 

What’s more, you’ll be giving your guests the option to choose if they want to attend online or in person.

Friends gathered at home watching a virtual event together

9. Subscriptions

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

 

If you plan to host regularly scheduled events, you can give your guests the option to subscribe to your content with a subscription. Event subscriptions are a win-win for everybody. 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 just set it up once and forget it. And it’s consistent revenue for you! 

 

When choosing Passage, you can set up your event subscription in just a few minutes. You just need to customize your subscription options and subscription customers will start to be billed monthly. You can learn more about it here

 

Event subscriptions are great. But just before starting your own, we recommend checking our blog on the do’s and don’ts of starting an event subscription.


So, we’ve shown you a lot of ways to earn money with a virtual event. Did we convince you? Sign up for Passage and start right away for free:

 

Create your Event

If you need help planning your incoming events, download our Event Organization Checklist:

 

Download our Event Organization Checklist

 
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