Craft experts share their tips and tricks to help you host your own successful craft workshop.
You have the skills and you want to share them, but working out how to host your own craft workshop can be daunting. From what to charge to first-time teaching nerves, we’ve gathered together workshop experts to talk you through everything you need to do to host a successful (and fun!) workshop.
What to teach
When deciding on a workshop, make sure it’s a skill you know inside out, whether that’s making a macramé wall hanging or planting a terrarium. Take account of whether you can complete your project in one session and if attendees will need longer to get the best results.
“It can be pretty intimidating when you first stand up in front of a group of strangers and do a demonstration,” explains Zoe Bateman of Too Cute To Quit.
“Try it out on a group of friends first to get a feel for how long it takes to teach someone who has never tried it before. Doing a test run will also help highlight any difficulties, and help you to create a lesson plan to ensure you stay on track.”
Jane Gois of Tea and Crafting agrees, “Sometimes keeping it simple is best. As crafters we want to show students everything they can do, but sometimes you can overwhelm a student if you give them too much to remember in one go.”
Location, location, location
The location of your workshop is really important. A venue that already runs workshops will have most of the kit you need, but if it’s somewhere not traditionally used, check it out first to make sure there’s enough space, tables and chairs. “If it’s in a pub or coffee shop make sure it’s not too noisy,” says Jane.
“Lighting is so important when doing crafts — visit the venue in advance so you can see what the lighting is like or if you will need to bring some of your own.”
Also consider transport, parking and disabled access. If you have your own workspace you may want to think about hosting it there for a more creative atmosphere. Jane says, “I went to a craft workshop in Portugal a few years ago, which was based in the tutor’s house that overlooked the sea. It was so incredibly relaxing and made for a perfect workshop.”
What to charge
Once you’ve picked your craft and your location, you need to work out how much to charge for it. Take a look at what similar workshops cost as a starting point, but there’s a lot more to consider.
“Start with your day rate and break it down into hours, then work out the number of hours you will spend teaching, sourcing the materials, planning and prepping, as well as travelling time,” says homeware designer and workshop tutor Zeena Shah.
Jane adds, “Take into account how many people you’ll need to make it financially viable, but if you feel the price is too high look at the costs and see if anything can be reduced.”
Make up a sample before the workshop to decide how much material each attendee will need, which you’ll also need to factor into the cost. “Whatever you think you’ll need, be sure to have plenty of extras because the last thing you want is to run out of something mid-workshop,” says Zoe.
“Remember you don’t always have to have enough tools for each person — if it’s something they don’t use often during a workshop (e.g. scissors during a crochet workshop) then one between two people is totally fine.”
Spread the word
So you’ve sorted the big stuff! Now you need to let everyone know about your workshop.
“There’s nothing worse that rushing it and ending up not selling any tickets as it’s too short notice. I’d suggest planning at least three months ahead,” says Zeena.
If you already have a mailing list make the most of it, and post on social media too. “You have to be much more targeted in your promotion for a workshop, as most attendees will come from nearby,” says Zoe.
“Although online advertising is still extremely important, ‘real life’ marketing is crucial too. Put up posters or leave leaflets in local businesses and hand out flyers at stations. Although you may get a few guests who will travel from further afield, most of your business — particularly repeat attendees — will be from locals.”
Zeena agrees, saying “Hit up all of your friends and ask them to share a beautiful visual of the workshop. Planning events up to six months in advance gives you plenty of time to get your workshop featured in publications and on websites.”
Avoid the pitfalls
The key thing to remember is to be prepared. Check your supplies and pack them up the day before and don’t forget to leave plenty of time to travel to the venue and set up.
When it comes to first time nerves, Zoe suggests a quick chat is the best way to stay calm. “I try to chat to the guests as they arrive so that they don’t feel like total strangers when it’s time to talk in front of them,” she says.
“I also bring my bag of emergency supplies, which includes things like sticky tape, scissors, pens and pencils, wet wipes and string, which ensure that I can deal with most issues that may arise.
“From scalpel injuries to misbehaving toddlers, I’ve had it all, but 99% of attendees are lovely. Usually the most difficult part of a workshop is getting people to leave on time because they don’t want to stop!”
Jane also advises making sure your class know what to expect from the day. “If it’s very technical let them know that at the beginning,” she says. “Always have something up your sleeve for any attendees who finish earlier than expected – this can be as simple as teaching them a more advanced technique or just embellishing an item they have made.”
Give a little extra
Everyone loves getting something extra for their money, which is especially true at a workshop. “I like to give attendees something to take away with them to ensure they can continue with what they’ve learned,” says Zoe.
“Sometimes it’s just providing full instructions and a supply list, so they can easily order everything they need, but wherever possible I try to give them the tools and materials they will need to repeat what they’ve learned in the workshop.”
Zeena also likes to give her guests a little extra so they book again. “I always set their place setting with their name and giving postcards out is simple way to share your details afterwards,” she says. “Your attendees are your best marketing tool, so make sure they have an experience to remember and they’ll tell all their friends.”
First image © Zeena Shah, second and third images © Tea and Crafting, fourth image 4 by Keila Hötzel on Unsplash, fifth image © Zeena Shah, sixth image © Tea and Crafting and seventh image © Zoe Bateman.