Craft Workshop 101

As a small business owner, you are the jack of all trades. Production, inventory management, finances, marketing, CEO...this list goes on and on.

But you may want to also consider adding “professor” to your resume. In this blog, we’re going to talk through everything there is to know about leaving your personal work space and running your very own craft workshop!

Reasons Why You Should Run a Craft Workshop

There are lots of benefits to running a craft class. For starters, there’s in-person advertising. Creating a product and teaching others how to create that product live in front of an audience creates exposure to attendees (which will create word of mouth exposure to their friends and families) as well as other people who are incidentally in the same area as your class (more on this in a bit.) In other words, think of your workshop as another tool in your marketing toolkit

This actually is a very unique marketing tool because your other marketing efforts generally show off your finished products. And while you’ll likely have a finished design at the end of your session, a workshop instead focuses on your charisma and creative expertise. Attendees will literally see the step-by-step that goes into creating your craft.

Another reason to run a workshop is to establish a rapport with local businesses. If you decide to host your workshop at a local venue, that business will benefit from the traffic that your class brings in. This serves to increase sentiment towards your business, which in turn increases your local reputation and likelihood of working with your host venue again.

Ok! So you’ve decided that running a workshop is in line with your current business goals!....Now what?

First, How Do You Monetize Teaching?

Charging for a craft workshop allows you to create another revenue stream for your business. Your time, talent and expertise is worth quite a bit! With additional revenue comes additional flexibility for planning for down times in the year. For instance, if a particular season is slow for you, you can increase your workshops and keep your cash flow steady. This method can also keep your cost of supplies down (you can use leftover greenery/filler bits and bobs, previously dyed flowers and many other crafty scraps). Finally, when people are financially committed, they’re more likely to feel a sense of ownership (which will limit your amount of absences!)

But – if you’re going to charge money, you need to really, really know your stuff! People will ask questions and you should be prepared to answer them!

If you are nervous about how your first workshop will go: invite over some friends and family, reach out to a community group (like a mom's group or a retirement community) and offer a workshop for free! This can help you to booster your confidence while building some great support and marketing material for future workshops!

If you are ready to charge, take a look at your per person cost (supplies needed, marketing time to fill the seats, drink ticket, etc.) to determine your break even price and figure out what kind of profit you want to make.  

Next, Determine a Venue

Ok, so you’ve decided to run a workshop, and you’ve determined whether or not you’re charging. Now, the big question is: where? For this, there are three typical options: your home, a client’s home, and a local venue. Here are the considerations for each:

Your Home

This is obviously the most convenient. Roll out of bed, get dolled up, let everyone in, and start crafting! But, this method isn’t without its downsides (besides making sure your home is squeaky clean).

For this option, you’ll literally be inviting people inside where you and your family live. If that’s the case, we highly recommend having a history of trust established with your guests. As a result, this choice is better for friends and family workshops. That makes this an especially attractive option for those working on their presentation skills.

One final consideration: if you, yourself, are hosting a workshop, the marketing of the show, the selling of tickets, and the maintaining of the reservations, is on your shoulders. 

A Client’s Home

The key benefit to running your workshop out of a client’s space is that the selling of seats is now their responsibility once you two have gone over the minimum and maximum amount of attendees. After all, they’re the host. You’re the presenter. 

However, the caution here is the same as the above: if you don’t know the client super well, you may want to consider an alternative venue.

Another Local Business

Hosting your event at a local business (think: local brewery or winery) is what we’d recommend for the perfect intersection of safety and marketing benefits.

There are likely a lot of local businesses nearby that would love to host an event like yours. Your workshop will not only increase foot traffic to their business, it also increases likelihood that they stand to benefit financially (heck, if I attended a craft workshop at a brewery, I probably would be tempted to patronize the business!). 

This also takes care of the need for a high degree of pre-established trust between you and attendees. Meanwhile, the hosting business will likely help with marketing and ticket sales, and, if your show is a success, you’ll have established strong rapport with the hosting business.

Then, Figure Out How to get Butts In Seats

Determining how to drive attendance is entirely dependent on where you’ll be hosting your event. If you’re hosting at your home, you’ll want to take advantage of the usual routes: Facebook, Instagram, and any other social channels where you tend to get a high degree of engagement.

If a local business is hosting your event: again, they’ll likely handle a fair amount of the marketing. After all, they want their business to be known for being a cool place to congregate! However, this is your livelihood so there are still actions you can and should take to increase attendance. For instance: add an incentive to ticket sales, such as “one free beer with your ticket” (if you’re hosting at a brewery.) Sometimes that is something you can work out with the venue for them to cover but if not, simply bake in the cost of the freebie to your ticket.

Now, Pre-Plan Your Class

At this point, it’s time to start preparing for the big presentation, so to speak. Here’s what you’ll need ahead of time in order to make the day go off without a hitch:

    1. Plan the Theme Of Your Day
      Wreaths? Centerpieces? It doesn’t matter – so long as you have an idea that both you and your attendees are aligned on ahead of time, this will help set clear expectations ahead of time.
    2. Send Options to Confirmed Attendees
      While the theme of your workshop should be fixed, you should allow for some flexibility with the crafts themselves. For instance, if you’re using 4x4x4 wood boxes for centerpieces, allow attendees to select their preferred finish of wood. This will help personalize the day, and encourage that much more ownership over the final product. Plus, this will help you plan out how many supplies you’ll need for the workshop itself.
    3. Prepare Your Materials.
      Once you know which box finish or what color story your attendees want for their flowers, start prepping them! The best way to know what materials you will need and get a good estimate of the amount of each material is to create the craft yourself (which will also help you to prep what you are going to say while teaching). Take notes of how many flowers used, how many filler bits and bobs, number of glue sticks, can people take turns with a glue gun, or share a silicone mat...whatever that list is, use it and try to bring everything. Oh - and always bring plenty of paper towels!!
    4. Practice Your Presentation. Then Practice It Again.
      Public speaking is hard! And the only way to get good: practice. Know your material up, down, left, and right and try to prepare for as many questions as possible. Then practice again.
    5. Bring Extra!
      Even if the confirmation from step 2 and creating the craft from step 3 helped you get an idea of how many supplies you’ll need, you absolutely need to bring extra. At worst, you can just throw the leftovers back in your car for another day. At best: there’s plenty for everyone who needs it.

Finally...Teach Your Class!

After all this prep work, it’s finally time to teach some star pupils! At this point, your presentation should be down pat, you should have extra materials, and everything should feel pretty darn good.

Here’s what we recommend for the actual workshop:

  • Start On Time. Even if a few folks are late, you don’t want to punish those who potentially paid money who also showed up on time. Get going at the agreed upon time!
  • Know your material and prepare for curveball questions. What’s that? That’s been stated in some form throughout this blog a couple of times? It has, and with good reason. This is quintessential for your class.
  • Understand the WHY of all your techniques. Don’t just understand what you’re doing. A teacher who can teach “what” is...fine. A teacher who can teach “why” is superb. You’ll be better suited to make students understand your concepts, which will make their experience (and word of mouth and likelihood of future attendance) that much greater.
  • Consider Group Instruction vs. Individual Instruction. Of course, you’ll need to let your students create their own crafts during your workshop. Think about if you want to teach everyone in one fell swoop, or if individual instruction is better suited for your class. Alternatively, you may want to do both! Why not start with some group instruction, then disperse everyone, and make your way around the space giving hands-on tutoring? 

Schools Out for the Summer! (Or: What To Do After Your Class)

The workshop might be over – but the work isn’t! You’ll want to continue outreach to two key groups: your attendees, and the owners of your host business (if you went via the local business route.) 

For your attendees: we suggest the following steps:

  1. Take a few pictures of your attendees while they’re crafting, after crafting is completed, and finally, you’ll want a group photo of everyone together! Sidenote - ask permission for these photos ahead of time. You can have attendees sign a release allowing you to use photos of them for your marketing and advertising purposes if you want to be sure you can use the photos for your business with full permission from each person in attendance.
  2. Next: make sure to send a thank you email to all attendees
  3. A thank you is a perfect time to continue outreach. It’s not only a kind thing to do, it is an opportunity for additional outreach. For instance, you can use this opportunity to pass along dates of future workshops, special promo codes, and more!

For Your Host Businesses

  1. A thank you email is also common courtesy
  2. If you’re posting your photos to social media (and you should! Use those marketing pics!) you should definitely tag your host business and link to their social pages. This is fantastic for maintaining a positive relationship and encouraging the likelihood that you can work with them again in the future.

And there you have it! As you can tell, workshops can be a LOT of work but the benefits can potentially be HUGE. 

See you all in the classroom, and happy crafting!

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