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Ten Tips To Run A Profitable Beauty Pageant

21, November 2022

 

Running a profitable beauty pageant has many similarities to planning any successful event and whether you are a competitor, pageant director, or simply a fan who dreams of organizing and managing your own pageant, there is a lot to learn before trying to run a successful and profitable pageant.  

Keeping your pageant profitable can ensure it’s an event you can keep running for years to come, and many event planners know that once you’ve done the heavy lifting for your first event - each successive one gets easier.

If you’re thinking of running your own beauty pageant follow our tips below to make sure the event is successful and profitable.

1. Begin the Planning Process Early & Create a Timeline

From obtaining state and local licensing, deciding where or when you should hold the event, and detailing the framework of your pageant to marketing the event to your sponsors and participants, it will take long hours and keen attention to detail to find success.  

Events can take anywhere from months to years to plan and depending on your event’s size and scope.  Determining the date of your event and working backward with extremely lenient timeframes can help you get a better understanding of the scope of the project.

Schedule the pageant to be held on the weekend, preferably on a Saturday, to ensure the best possible turnout. Take the time to schedule your event and all the necessary steps required before you begin any next steps.

Pageant Planet offers a custom Beauty Pageant Timeline through our Pageant Management Software. With our pageant timeline features, you’ll know exactly what you need to do and when, every step of the way, until your pageant winner has been crowned. 

2. Create a Budget & Follow It

Before you embark on your journey, you'll need to devise a plan to help you determine how much funding is required to run your pageant and how you'll obtain that funding. From renting the venue, hiring your judges, getting pageant prizes, and marketing the event, running a beauty pageant costs money. While a successful beauty pageant will turn a profit and cover most expenses using contestant entry fees, anyone running a beauty pageant will need funding upfront to get the ball rolling

Some of the most common ways to cover those up-front costs and avoid paying for all of it out of pocket is to ask sponsors to provide prizes for winners or look to others interested in investing in your pageant. Like any other good business plan, ensure you have created a well-planned budget to avoid losing money on your event.

Even using open-source software such as Google Sheets provides a number of pre-made budgets you can use.  Especially important here is to consider that many of these numbers are simply guesswork - especially when estimating how many sponsors, contestants, or tickets you might attract or sell.  

Create a few different scenarios based on your numbers and adjusting those based on your early feedback can help keep this accurate and a document you’ll use for future planning.

3. Get Your Proper Licenses and Permits

Different states have different pageant licensing requirements, so it is essential to investigate the specific rules in your area. For example, in Arkansas, anyone holding a pageant in the state must register as an Arkansas pageant operator.  In addition - you’ll need to make sure that you are registered and using a proper business license in order to fulfill tax requirements.  Below is a list of the most commonly needed licenses or permits you should consider researching. These vary by state - so make sure to talk to a local attorney who can help you understand your state's requirements.

  • Business Entity License

  • Beauty Pageant License

  • Tax Registrations for Beauty Pageants 

  • Website Domain & Email Hosting

  • Worker W-2 or 1099 Registration

  • Bank Account Setup

4. Choose Your Venues and Suppliers Wisely

Once you've chosen the event date, you should start planning your beauty pageant. You should start this process at least four months before the event and getting started even earlier can help you land reduced rates and better choices on prime weekends or holidays.

Your venue is easily going to be one of the larger upfront costs for your event.  While renting a high-end ballroom or theater is an attractive choice this is a step where you can really impact your budget and profitability. 

Consider holding the pageant at a local community center, hotel ballrooms, or church halls. Ensure that your venue has a private area where contestants can do their hair and make-up and change their clothes during the event. 

Similarly - make sure you are negotiating every step of the way with your venue or suppliers.  While venue costs may have less wiggle room with their pricing - consider how you might leverage sponsorships with other local suppliers in order to provide them with some publicity in exchange for a price break.

5. Make Sure You Are Recruiting Cost-Effective Staff & Judges

After your venue, you’ll find that finding and hiring the staff needed to successfully pull off a pageant quickly turns into your second biggest cost.  Similar to the approach with your venue and suppliers you’ll want to see if you can turn to your local community to find volunteers or other community members looking to help in exchange for sponsorships or publicity.

Community leaders, former pageant winners, photographers, models, and local celebrities make great beauty pageant judges. You'll also want to hire individuals to help set up the event and clean up after the event has ended, plus someone who can manage contestant sign-ins and, of course, your emcee.

6. Choose a Theme That Stands Out From The Crowd

When planning the event, consider the number of contestants you'll open the pageant to and which age groups your pageant will target. Of course, you'll also want to choose a pageant theme with a good hook!  Consider something seasonal or pop-culture based, like a "Rock Star Diva Pageant."

Choosing a theme is a great way to boost contestant interest by allowing them to creatively work the theme into their wardrobe choices and talent showcase. You'll also want to consider the categories on which your panel will judge each pageant participant. Popular categories include formal wear, swimsuit, and live interview.

7. Consider Multiple Forms of Monetization

A beauty pageant cannot live on entry fees or ticket sales alone anymore.  You’ll need to think about multiple ways you can monetize your pageant and take advantage of every opportunity no matter how small.  Below are just a few ways you can bring more cash into your beauty pageant.

Entry Fees

Your beauty pageant entry fee will significantly affect your pageant's profitability. If you set the entry fee too low, you could seriously cut into your profit or even lose money on the event. On the other hand, if you set the entry fee too high, you may undermine contestant interest. 

Beauty pageant entry fees range from $15 to $2,500. The correct entry fee for your pageant is to look at comparable pageants with similar prizes. Also, consider an entry fee for those attending the pageant as audience members. It is an excellent way to cover unexpected costs and boost the event's profitability.

Take a look at Pageant Planet’s Pageant Management Software to sell your entry fees.  We can help streamline your entry fee payments and offer interest fee financing for contestants which only helps you recruit more candidates.

Sponsorships

Sponsorships remain a huge part of any successful pageant’s income especially when it comes to finding your larger sponsorship partners.  These kinds of relationships can take time to build so consider starting this process as early as you can.

There are opportunities for sponsorships in almost all aspects of your pageant - and they provide another great way to get discounts from local suppliers in exchange for sponsorships.  Think about some of the following sponsorship opportunities for your pageant:

  • Main Event Sponsors

  • Beauty / Makeup Sponsors

  • Transportation Sponsors

  • Food / Catering Sponsors

  • Special Event Sponsors (ie Breakfasts, Dinners, Cocktail Hours)

  • Digital / Website Sponsors

  • Photography / Video Sponsors

  • Local Community Sponsors

As you ultimately set the price of these various sponsorships, think about whether you’d benefit from volume versus quality in some of these cases.  Does your local community have a lot of smaller businesses but they are only willing to pay $250 each?  Consider making a tier just for those businesses and reserving other spots for high-end sponsors.

Ticket Sales

The size of your venue will ultimately determine your possible ticket sales, so make sure to consider the space you have available and how many seats you’ll have open for public sale.  You’ll need to consider the space your contestants and staff may need - as well as their friends and family.

Working with your contestants and judges to offer these tickets to their friends and family can help you start to gauge your overall expected ticket sales.

Our Pageant Management Software allows you to make eCommerce a part of your beauty pageant revenue package, supercharging your ability to run a profitable pageant. You can offer 0% financing options on contestant entry fees and offer an array of payment options. You can also collect payments for event tickets, pageant appearances, and swag. 

Digital Outlets & Video Streams

In addition to in-person tickets, you should consider whether you can have a digital option as well.  You may find that offering reduced-price video streaming options can expand your reach outside of your local community and even to friends and family of the contestants that can’t make the event in person.

The best part about digital tickets is that there are no space requirements!  Even if your venue only seats 100 people you can easily drive 1000 online viewers without issue.

8. Market Both In-Person & Digitally

There are many ways to market your beauty pageant, including local media outlets, direct mail, hanging up flyers around your community, and online pageant marketing

Depending on the age categories of your pageant, you can even ask local school administrators to help you market your pageant to students. The bottom line is that the more individuals you can make aware of your upcoming pageant, the more successful and profitable it will be.  

Creating even a simple website or portal for your event can allow you to drive potential contestants or sponsors to a page with everything they need to sign up.  You can even use it as a platform to fundraise for prize funds, scholarships, or even starting costs as you get your pageant off the ground.

Pageant Planet offers an exclusive People’s Choice contest that when integrated in your pageant can help you raise thousands of dollars in extra revenue.  Read more about how one pageant director used our People’s Choice contest to raise over $89,000 in additional funds. 

9. Automate Your Pageant Management

If you’ve made it this far in your journey your next challenge will be bringing all of those elements together and starting the management process of running a beauty pageant.  The time your team takes to organize all of your contestants and schedules can easily eat up precious hours and dollars from your event’s funds. 

Quality management is key to a successful and profitable beauty pageant, but that takes long hours, hard work, and focus. Anyone who has ever managed a beauty pageant will attest to the headaches associated with the job, including:

  • Contest recruitment, managing contestant paperwork, and coordinating headshots.

  • Scheduling (and rescheduling) rehearsals and interviews.

  • Juggling contestant communication, ticket sales, entry fees, and People’s Choice tools.

  • Replying to emails, swapping out headshots, and supporting contestants and, where applicable, their parents.

  • Trying to grow your beauty pageant while staying on top of day-to-day tasks.

Consider Software Solutions To Bridge The Gap

Pageant Planet offers Pageant Management Software you can use to help automate the headaches that come when managing a beauty pageant and allow you to save countless hours for both you and your staff.

Our toolkit is completely free and drives potential contestants to your beauty pageant helping further boost your profitability. Automatically connect with contestants looking for a beauty pageant in your area. In addition, with its gamification features, you can earn 8-12x more on your People’s Choice Awards program.

10. Be Clear With Your Deadlines to Staff and Contestants

Once you are clear of the initial planning stages you’ll need to start juggling not only your schedule but the schedules of all the contestants and staff.  Having your team not hit their deadlines can easily impact the performance and profitability of your beauty pageant.

Our Pageant Management Software takes the headaches out of contest management, saving up to 20 hours of time and money. Simply set deadlines for your contestants, and Pageant Planet will remind them to hand in their paperwork, submit their headshots, and arrive at rehearsals. You can easily track which contestants have submitted (or not submitted) what without cumbersome excel spreadsheets.   

Relax and Bask in Your Beauty Pageant’s Success

Running your own beauty pageant can be a real challenge, especially if it is your first time. However, it can also be quite a rewarding experience. With every pageant, so much goes on behind the scenes to ensure that the event runs smoothly. However, hard work, determination, research, and attention to detail can make the process easier and lay the groundwork for a pageant that is not only successful but also profitable.

Every pageant that has ever been held has had to start somewhere, and yours will be no exception. So do not be discouraged if your beauty pageant plans don't take off immediately. In time, the pageant you create will have the same potential as any other pageant out there, from the local to the national stage.

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Aurelia Gooden

Aurelia Gooden

Ms. Michigan Petite USA 2022

I have the ability to transcribe orchestral music upon hearing it.

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