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Three tips for running your own craft workshop


Inspired by the Folksy Summer School and want to take that next step? How about running your own craft workshop? Eva Shackel runs courses on Workshop Skills for artists and craft makers who would like to run workshops and want to make sure they’ve covered all bases. 

Here are her three top tips .

1. Know Your Customer

Think about who you will be aiming your workshop at, have an individual in mind: She’s great. When you’re designing your course thinking about venues and marketing etc. have her in mind. Think about what she would want and expect. When you are marketing your workshop speak directly to her. 

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make (and it’s one I’ve made too) is to try to appeal to the broadest number of people they possibly can. Its intuitive the feel that this will increase your potential audience and customers. I have seen workshops advertised as being suitable for ‘individuals or groups, both creatives and corporate clients’. You may well know that all these people may get a lot out of your workshop, but in trying to appeal to everybody, you can end up appealing to nobody.

Choosing an individual and ‘speaking’ to her increases your chances of making a real connection with a real person who actually exists.

2. Relax - People want to hear about your career.

There comes a point at the start of the workshop when you will need to tell people a little about your career, or how you came to be delivering this session. This is generally time for a massive internal cringe and a feeling of ‘I don’t want to look like I’m showing off’. Everybody hates this part.

It can be useful to mentally reframe this part of the day as ‘putting the group at ease’.

This isn’t about you boasting just for the hell of it. People wont think you’re a daft ninny who doesn’t understand social etiquette; you’re not introducing yourself at a party. The story of your career will help them relax and feel they are in safe hands. 

Tell them about how you started and how you learned your craft.  If you are self taught then this is just as valid and worthy of discussion as any other form of education.

Tell them as much as you feel comfortable with about your inspiration and your working methods. Tell them what you enjoy and what you don’t enjoy, and tell them why you have chosen to run the workshop they are on.

If you have any clients, collaborators or colleagues that people may have heard of, then mention them. People often tell me they think this will look like name dropping, but here’s why you can relax about this: People like to feel part of a group, they like to know that they belong. Letting them know that they are a part of a group who’s other members have some credibility or status isn’t about making you look good. It’s about making them feel good. And that’d what the best workshops do. 

3. Run a Pilot

I go on about this all the time. Far better to make your initial mistakes to a group composed of friends and family, or (even better) strangers who are paying a nominal amount.

I am currently working on a distance learning ‘Workshop Skills’ course with someone who runs calligraphy workshops in France. The fact that she has paid (even though it will only just cover expenses) means I feel far more pressure to ‘get it right, and on time’, than if I were just trying to motivate myself. 

You will find out things you didn’t know that you didn’t know. Usually that things will take longer that you imagined they would.

A pilot will give you a chance to get your processes right. When will you ask for payment, how will you word it so you don’t sound money grabbing? How much pre course info do people need (clue, more than you’d think), when should you send them it? (depends). 

All sorts of things that you might not have considered can be ironed out so that when you launch your workshop you can relax about the technicalities and focus on inspiring people.   

If you want to find out more about the services I offer, or book yourself on the next ‘Workshop Skills’ course then have a look at