how to host a workshop

I don’t know about you, but I love going to workshops to learn a new skill or meet new local friends.  Have you ever thought that maybe hosting your own workshop would be fun, but don’t know where to start?  I think we all have some sort of knowledge on something that can make for a great time if shared with others and being scared because you don’t know where to get started shouldn’t hold you back.  Today I’m going to share a few pointers on how to turn that workshop idea into a reality!

THE OFFER What is your workshop going to offer that isn’t already available to people in your area now?  Are you a food photographer, a calligrapher, a weaver, a photoshop whiz- what is it that you do that other people might want to learn about too.  Make sure that whatever skill you are offering, you feel comfortable sharing & teaching it to others.  Plan out a lesson that could easily be achieved by beginners in a 2-3hr class or decide if you would like to plan multiple workshops that cover this skill over time.  Make sure that whatever you teach is something that others can learn easily in one session and includes the supplies needed to acheive a finished project.

THE DETAILS After you decide what the subject of your workshop will be you need to decide how much time you are willing to put into this with details- specifically the location.  If you do not already have a space of your own or a killer hook up, you will need to search for local venues where you might be able to host such an event (art studios, classrooms, event halls & cafes are a few examples).  Some places require that you use the space for a minimum amount of hours, some require licensing, most require some form of payment.  This is a huge deciding factor on if you will be charging attendees and if you can cover the venue cost (along with supplies, your time, etc).  Other details to think about include: decor, supplies, food/drinks, music, goodie bags & teaching materials.

THE MONEY I know its the icky stuff most people don’t like to talk about, but since we were just on the subject of details, all those things cost something, so lets have at it!   First and foremost your skills & time are valuable and need to be taken into consideration when pricing tickets.  Along with the extras details mentioned about, the costs can start adding up.  If you don’t care about making a profit, that’s on you, but you need to make a budget and not break the bank- otherwise its like giving away your knowledge (and yourself) for free!  Don’t forget to think about things like fees (from selling the tickets), advertising (even if that means its just your time used on instagram sharing the event!) and a cushion for anything that you might have forgotten within your budget.

THE PARTNERS If you want to go all out and make this a workshop to remember you might consider reaching out for help, there are so many people that would love to collaborate that having partners (aka sponsors) could be beneficial for putting on a great event!  Not only will you be networking with other businesses and hopefully getting their name out there too, but their services could ease up some room in your budget.  If you get a florist, a photographer and a restaurant to sponsor flowers, event photography and the food- that covers a large portion of the costs to put the workshop on in the first place.  The more you can work with others the more your event will spread to others, because your new partners will share it too and that means those seats will get filled up.  Consider reaching out to friends in the area that are a good fit, or local businesses that might be interested.  Worse case scenario, they say no and you move on.

THE WORKSHOP You’ve worked out the details, booked your venue, set a time, sold those tickets and its officially workshop day, now what?  Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to set up the workshop- and please give yourself enough time that you don’t get stressed out by rushing.  That energy will only stick around and will set the flow for how you teach.  Having enough time to set up and feel ready will make for a better time for you and your students!  Try to take photos of the set up before your attendees arrive, this will be great for future workshops because you will now have photographs to share with prospective sponsors and students for other classes you might want to hold.  Have fun at your event, remember these students are here to learn something from you and are eager to soak up that knowledge!

THE OTHER STUFF Sharing your event on social media is great to keep a record of it, share it with others who couldn’t attend and start a collection of these workshops you do.  I would suggest creating a hashtag specifically for the event and even mentioning it to your students so they can share it as well.  Believe me, they will share it!  After your event, its nice to check in on your students.  You can email them to send over a quick survey or to just say hi and see how their experience was.  Maybe consider offering them a coupon for future workshops and definitely add them to your mailing list!

I hope these tips are just what you needed to get you started on your workshop hosting dream.  Now its time to rest, enjoy how it went and dream about the next one!   If you would like even more advice and dig deeper into this subject, I'd highly suggest getting a copy of The Meetup Guide by Ciera Holzenthal- its full of so much information and really breaks things down from beginning to end to get you hosting your own events in no time.

 images from the rachel jacobson calligraphy workshop