I work with a lot of firearm trainers. This industry consists of people who primarily have day jobs and teach classes on the side. Those who are blessed enough to do it full time are still NOT web builders or marketing gurus. They are firearm instructors.
So it is no surprise that a large majority of them utilize Eventbrite to sell their classes. The idea of setting up some sort of online checkout with credit card processing etc can be very intimidating. Unfortunately, Eventbrite comes with its costs:
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Why You Should Get Off of Eventbrite
While Eventbrite's terms of service do not prohibit firearm classes or any other firearm-related event ticket sales, Eventbrite doesn't support your rights. Eventbrite co-founder and CEO Julie Hart is among 46 Fortune 500 CEOs to sign a letter in 2019 asking members of the Senate to pass a bill requiring universal background checks and federal red flag laws. So that is one reason I would try hard to not support their platform.
Taking customers off of your website to a different website to finish registering for your class shows a lack of capability and in my opinion, looks less than professional. Furthermore, it exposes the student to classes being offered by your competitors on Eventbrite.
Then of course there is the literal cost. Sharing your money with Eventbrite limits your business growth.
What is Technically Required to Setup Your Own Event Sign Up
Before I get into the step-by-step process I want to clarify some high-level things that will be necessary to leave Eventbrite. This article is not for super techy people but for those to whom the process feels intimidating. At first, I think it valuable to focus on the high-level requirements.
- You are going to need an Ecommerce-capable website. Effectively you need a way to list a product for sale and have someone pay for it. My preference is WooCommerce (click here to learn some of my why) which is a plugin added to a WordPress site. So if you are currently using WordPress, this is going to be easy.
- You are going to need the ability to process credit cards. That means a merchant provider and processing gateway. For a large number of reasons I'm going to recommend Stripe, which is a tier 2 provider in the firearm industry but is easy to set up, is a one-stop shop of sorts, and is competitive in terms of transaction fees and costs.
- You are going to need a business bank account. You should have one anyway if you are any degree of legitimate but now it's required because the credit card merchant provider needs a place to deposit your money.
- While not completely necessary, I think you are going to really be glad to have some sort of event-selling plugin/addon for your website that is specifically designed to make it easy to sell events. There are several out there for WooCommerce but you can find them for Shopify, Wix, GoDaddy, BigCommerce, etc. In some cases, it might be a native (built-in) capability and in other cases, it may be something extra you need to add or install. You might already be using something like this to display upcoming classes on your site. Perhaps you can use the same thing or you will need to transition in order to integrate it with the sell of products directly on your site.
That is roughly the checklist.
Basic Steps to Setup Onsite Event Sales with WooCommerce
For the purpose of this article, I'm going to assume you have WordPress for your website both because I think it's best and because my experience is more extensive with WordPress and WooCommerce. These steps as outlined aren't extremely detailed.
They are high-level and will require a little bit of research and leg work on your part but you can't hope to maintain your website over time if you aren't willing to invest some time upfront to figure out how to use it.
Step 1: Install WooCommerce if you haven't already
WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress. Just log in to WordPress and click add plugin and then search for WooCommerce. Click install. Now click activate. WooCommerce has its own start-up guide you can follow to set up basic things like preferred currency, etc. There are endless tutorial videos and guides online. Just search if in doubt.
Step 2: Apply for an account with Stripe
Stripe is both a merchant provider and a payment gateway in one. A very popular choice for online credit card processing because the fees are relatively low and they have done a great job of making their software easy to integrate into websites, mobile apps, etc.
To get started click here or go to Stripe.com and click on “get started.” You are going to need your company's EIN and other relevant legal information and bank info.
Step 3: Install the WooCommerce Stripe Gateway Plugin and Configure
Step 4: Choose and Install an Event Sales Plugin
I am going to give you two options to look at. I've used both for different projects over the years.
Option 1: Event Tickets by The Events Calendar: This is a plugin that is freemium. Freemium meaning that there is a free version that will work for most situations but depending on your specific needs you may need to pay for their paid version to access some features.
I think their solution is amazing and very versatile and I can recommend it without hesitation. The Pro version is $99 per year but you might find the free version sufficient for your use.
Option 2: FooEvents. FooEvents is a paid plugin that I've always been fond of. There is a FooEvents core plugin and then various addon plugins that give you additional features. They sell these in bundles so check the site for pricing options.
There isn't a free FooEvents option so that might be a turn off at first but if you find Event Tickets above to not have the features you want or if you don't like the user interface you might prefer FooEvents.
Step 5: Create Your First Event Product
The exact process is going to be different depending on which of the above you chose but either way it won't be difficult and you can follow the tutorials on the respective websites.
Step 6: Retool Your Site Around Your New Product/Class System
Now that you don't need Eventbrite anymore, you need to tweak the way you are displaying classes on your site. Both FooEvents and Event Tickets have built-in ways to display a calendar of upcoming classes for sale. So perhaps you add a new page on your site (or change a current page) to add an upcoming class calendar.
Feel free to post comments or questions below and I'll respond as I'm able.