As a creative, you normally need to have multiple income streams to keep your job exciting and the money coming in. Lots of designers run creative workshops or classes, but if you’re new to teaching you might not know where to start. Beki from Print & Press outlines some of the main things to consider when planning and promoting your new class.
“I am SO pleased with my lampshade, I honestly can’t believe I made something so professional looking myself. Thanks a million 😄😄😄.” Logging onto my Instagram and seeing a message like that is quite simply the best thing, and one of the main reasons I love running creative workshops.
I’ve taught various classes on and off for years, but this year I started to seriously create and develop classes, which I now host throughout Kent and London. It doesn’t generate a full time income (and I love Print & Press far too much to leave!), but as a creative it’s a great additional income stream, and one of the most rewarding things I do. If you are an expert at making something and like talking to people, I’d thoroughly recommend you try teaching your own class.
Planning Your Creative Workshop
Start by making a list of some of the skills you have, and then break these down into individual activities. Do you know how to make clothes? Your activities might be altering a bought pattern, sewing a skirt, or upcycling clothes. If you’re a printed textile designer, your activities might be putting a pattern into repeat, painting with watercolours, or creating a colour palette.
Look at your activity list and think about the logistics of teaching that activity to a group of 5-10 people. Ask yourself:
- Do you need any particular equipment? Could you buy/hire enough equipment to run the class/ask attendees to bring their own equipment/hold the workshop at a venue with equipment provided?
- Is this an activity that you as a customer would be interested in taking part in? Is there a tangible skill attendees will learn, or something they will make and take away with them? Your class has to be interesting if people are going to sign up for it.
Considering equipment and learning outcomes will show you if your class idea is feasible or not. If you think it is then great, now’s the time to flesh out your idea into something really exciting.
Your class needs to have a specific aim, so instead of ‘watercolour painting’, what about ‘learning to paint flowers with watercolours’? I teach a lino cutting class where attendees learn to make a lino printed tote bag, and they practice printing leaves to try out different techniques. The more specific your class, the easier you will find it to plan the format, and your customers will know exactly what they will be learning. Think if there are any fun or on trend details you could add to your class – pom pom necklace making? ‘Stranger Things’ 80s style screen printing?
Make a list of everything your students will do during the class, and practice doing this yourself, at the same time as explaining out loud what you’re doing. If you can, film yourself so you can watch it back, or ask a friend to watch you. Work out where you should pause to let everyone try for themselves, where you need to show closeups, and where you might need to give people extra help. The ‘Tell, Show, Do, Review’ is a good method to follow when teaching creative projects.
A top tip is to give all of your equipment and materials a proper name in advance. I realised halfway through my first class that I was so used to making something on my own that I didn’t know the proper name for one of my tools, and looked a bit silly trying to explain it to everyone!
How Much To Charge For Your Creative Workshop
There are lots of ways to work out your prices, but my preferred method is to create an Excel document and add up the following costs:
- How much will all of the materials and single use items cost (things you need to buy for each student, every class).
- How much will any multi use equipment cost (things like paint brushes, tubes of paint, scissors, etc). Work out how many single uses you think you will get out of this product (remember if you have a class of 8 using a tube of paint, that’s 8 single uses). Things like scissors you may buy once and not need to replace for years, but make sure a small contribution of a few pence from each ticket is included.
- How much will the venue cost (some venues will charge a flat rate for the room, others a set cost per person who attends).
- What is your hourly wage, and how many hours work will each workshop take. For every two hour class you will probably spend at least two to three hours preparing (most likely more for your first few classes).
- Do you have any additional costs (eg. poster printing, Eventbrite fees, a taxi to the venue (with all of your equipment), etc)
Once you have a total cost for running each workshop, divide it by the number of people you expect to attend to work out the cost per person.
Now you need to set your selling price. I normally look to see how much similar workshops cost, and match my prices to them, so I know I’m charging a fair price. Remember to charge more than your cost per person, so you are making a small amount of profit. This is also your buffer in case less people book onto the course, so that you don’t end up out of pocket.
Promoting Your Creative Workshop
I’ve found that the best way to promote workshops is through word of mouth. Unless you live in a big city, it’s unlikely people will travel a large distance to attend your class, so the best thing to do is make some flyers and head out into your local town. Ask cafe and shop owners if you can put up a poster, and talk to them about what you’re doing so they can promote it to their customers. You could make a few of the things you’ll be making at the class, and ask to display them in a local cafe/shop/heritage centre/art gallery. I’ve sold tickets to my next class sitting in a cafe with the lampshade I’d just finished making at a class an hour before – people love to see what they will be making and what’s possible to achieve in a few hours.
There are lots of online sites you can use to sell and promote your tickets, but below are some of the ones I have had the most success with:
It’s also a good idea to find any local facebook groups and twitter hashtags. Maybe you have a local textile group, art collective, or creative studios who could advertise your event to their members.
I hope this has encouraged you to try teaching your skills and running your own creative workshop. I am so pleased to have started doing this regularly, and I’ve realised that teaching people new skills is now one of my favourite parts of my week. Good luck, and do let me know how you get on with your class.