How to Win a Pageant on a Budget
Just because you’ve got a little budget, doesn’t mean you can’t dream big pageant dreams. Winners know that it’s not about how much you have or don’t have, it’s about how well you use what you have. I know a contestant who had a $20,000 budget for her state pageant. She blew $15,000 on her Evening Gown. After paying for her registration fee, headshots, and hair/makeup at the pageant, she had nothing left over for coaching. She had a great dress, but no skills. The judges didn’t even notice her in that expensive evening gown, and she didn’t make the Top 15.
So, if you’re competing on a limited budget here are a few tips to help you get the most from what you’ve got.
The Early Bird Catches the Crown
When you start your pageant prep early, you have more options. You have time to check out pageant resale options for a gown and can do online courses to learn interviewing skills. When you wait, there’s no time to explore creative options. Start earlier than you think you need to. Create a well-thought-out plan and then work your plan. Don’t wait until late in the game. It’s almost always the early bird who catches the crown.
Spreadsheet Your Way to Success
You won’t know what you’re doing if you don’t know what you’ve got. At the very, very beginning of your pageant prep create a budget on a spreadsheet. Identify what you plan to spend on each aspect of your prep and then track your spending along the way. You don’t want to be in a situation where you run out of money before you’re ready for the competition. If you set up a budget, track your spending, and adjust along the way, you can go home with a crown and sash that are priceless.
Tell People What Your Budget Is
There is absolutely no one that you will come in contact with during your pageant prep that hasn’t been on a budget at least once in their life. So, there’s no reason for you to feel embarrassed about telling designers, makeup artists, or coaches how much you can spend in one of the areas of your prep. When contestants tell me how much they have to spend I suggest options on how they can get the most coaching bang for their buck. If you’re working with a pageant professional who’s focused on you, not on selling to you, they will be happy to discuss options that work for your budget. If someone’s pushing you to blow your budget, run, don’t walk to the nearest exit.
Resourcefulness Pays Off
You don’t need someone to hold your hand every step of the way during your pageant prep. Sure, there are areas where you need individual, personalized help, but for other areas, you may be able to use a little creativity. Do you have a strong personal interview, but bomb every time on current events questions? Then don’t buy a huge interview coaching package, just buy time for current events coaching. Are you a whiz at your own hair and makeup, but can’t walk a step in high heels? Then do your own hair/makeup at the pageant and hire a walking coach.
You can also access a treasure trove of information on the Internet. Recently I received a very detailed question from a contestant in Denmark. Based on her question, it was clear to me that she’d probably read every blog post I’ve written. I was impressed with her resourcefulness. She didn’t have the funds necessary to hire a coach, so she used the Internet to find out what skills she needed and how she could learn them. I sent her a detailed answer that got her pointed in the right direction. There really is more than one way to capture the crown.
Competing on a budget boils down to starting early, being resourceful, and knowing what your budget is and sticking to it. One of my favorite contestants competed for 3 years in the same gown. She bought it at David’s Bridal on clearance. She won the Evening Gown award and title every time. If she can do it, so can YOU.