When we first dreamed up of The Paper + Craft Pantry, the intention was to become a destination stationery and paper shop in Austin, as well as the go-to spot for all things workshop. The business was always built with these two parts in mind.
I’ve personally always loved workshops, hosting them, teaching them and taking them- and I really felt like there was a lack of a space that suited the kind of experience I wanted to offer our community.
Workshops have now become very popular and dare I even say, a trendy thing for a lot of businesses to dabble in. I personally think it’s an amazing thing because there is now no shortage of ways people can get creative and learn! The only downside is there can be some oversaturation and also a potential discrepancy in quality that may skew someone’s mind on workshops.
A lot of people ask me all the time on how we host workshops. It’s something that I’ve learned and evolved with over the years- through trial and error (a lot of error). And I’m honestly still evolving and learning how to better serve our workshop community!
Want to know what the top thing I wish I would have done differently in the beginning of hosting workshops (back in 2013!)?
Properly valuing my time.
I grossly underestimated the amount of time it would take to prepare for a workshop, the amount of time it took to source out material, build a curriculum, find a location, time needed to create material for marketing…
A 2.5hr workshop ended up being over 12hrs (give or take) to pull off. That’s A LOT of time to value and translate into a ticket that a paying student will understand the investment for. When someone is paying for a workshop ticket, they often just account of the actual time they will be in the class and the materials. If I’m being really transparent, we do source very high quality materials- but the cost of the workshop materials is actually a very small portion of the total workshop ticket.
You can 100% go to your local craft supply store to pick up supplies + watch a youtube video to learn. But I truly believe that you get so much more when you get to experience it alongside others, and when you are being led and instructed by someone who is incredibly knowledgeable.
The bulk of the workshop ticket really goes towards the instructors time, years of hard work to be a pro at what they do, the time they are taking away from their own businesses/family to be here to teach. I stand very firmly on compensating our instructors (and myself when I’m teaching) and truly valuing their time.
Things to consider and questions to ask when hosting a workshop:
Where will you be hosting this class? How much is it going to cost you to rent the space? If the space is being provided to you at no cost- keep in mind that you may at some point have to allocate money for a space (which means you’d have to increase your workshop ticket) Does this place accomodate your needs? Does it have tables, chairs, a bathroom, parking, wifi or anything else you might need for your workshop?
What do you want to teach? If you aren’t the one teaching, what kind of classes does your community want? Have you had a lot of interest in a particular topic? Keep in mind that when you host a class on a specific day and a specific time, there are going to be people who say they want to go but can’t make that date.
Also take the time to do some research as to what else is out there, are there other studios or places offering what you want to offer? Is it something you can partner with them on? Or are you able to pivot and shift so you are not over saturating the market?
Calculate the cost of your ticket based off of every factor!
Cost of ticket = Cost of supplies/ Cost of time (before the workshop, during the workshop etc.)/ Overhead cost (location)/ Misc. costs (ticketing fees, snacks, drinks etc.)
You can still make a workshop ticket fee accessible and of value to a student while still being mindful of your actual costs!
*Another thing I feel is important to address is to price your ticket (and your business) competitively. Sure you can offer it at a cheaper option that what else is out there, but keep in mind you will be doing not only yourself a disservice, but you are also doing a disservice to other small businesses. I also really think it’s important to attract people because they align with your business, not just because you’re the cheaper option. Just some food for thought :)
MARKETING + PROMOTION
People are visual beings- having clear visuals for your upcoming class and workshop can really help in getting people excited about your workshop or class! You want to give people enough time to plan ahead for your upcoming workshop yet want to be sure it’s not too far out that it gets lost in their busy schedules. Finding that “sweet” spot can be tricky and truly is something that each person needs to figure out on their own. I’ve seen fellow creatives who have massive followings and a loyal following who can sell out a workshop that’s listed many months in advance as well as some who have sold out a workshop in hours.
LEARN- BE OKAY WITH AN UNCERTAIN OUTCOME AND LEARN FROM EACH EVENT!
Not every class will sell out. You can host two of the exact same workshops where one sells out in a matter of minutes and the other is a struggle to fill. There are SO many variables when it comes to someone’s life and schedule it’s truly hard to predict or really know. You can make your best guess based on some trends or habits you might see, or even based off the season and what else is going on around your specific city or town- and trust me, you’ll still get those curve balls.
I personally love when classes are more intimate, it allows you to go above and beyond to create an incredible experience for your students. We’ve hosted classes with 4 students and classes with up to 50 students. They are both great in their own way! So don’t be discouraged if you try to host your first class and aren’t able to fill it.
If you read this post through the end, I hope you found value in what I shared. There really is no simple solution or formula to hosting a successful workshop (or event!) I hope these things will at the very least prompt you to consider some of the things I feel are important to consider when hosting a workshop!