I’m sharing my 10 tips for hosting your first (or second, or third!) calligraphy workshop!
I was soooooo nervous when I hosted my first workshop. I remember honestly having butterflies about it for WEEKS beforehand… being afraid that I’d forget something, afraid that I’d screw up in front of everyone, and just generally overwhelmed by all of the things I needed to think about to get it all set up.
So I decided to talk you through TEN quick tips for hosting your first workshop. These are all things I figured out myself when I started, and I can save you some time on. Truthfully though, I feel like this is going to require more than one post, so feel free to ask questions in the comments below that I can keep in mind for a Part 2!
First Things First…
The links below may be affiliate links where appropriate. This means that your purchase through these links may result in a few cents in payment to me, to support creating further resources like this one! That being said, I will never suggest supplies that I do not personally use and fully recommend.
Prefer watching over reading? Feel free to skip right to the video and see these in real-time! ??
Tip #1: Run a workshop for distant friends or friends-of-friends, first
This can even be at your dining room table! Send a message to some key people that you know might be “crafty.” I actually recommend that you don’t do this for close friends or close family. Instead, try and curate a group of people you know but that aren’t your best friends.
When I did this, I reached out to a couple of Facebook friends I knew were into crafty stuff, and told them I’d love for them to be my “test group.” Then, I asked them if they had any friends who would also be interested. This way it’s a nice mix of comfortable with familiar faces, but it will also push you outside of your comfort zone with strangers.
Also, I don’t mean that you should run this workshop for free, but you will be giving them a significant discount. Essentially, you need to figure out what your costs are and have the participants pay for their supplies. You can let them know something like, “This workshop will be $100 when I launch it to the public, but I’d love to give it to you at ‘cost’ in exchange for your feedback!”
Tip #2: Keep it small
I recommend 6-10 people when you’re starting out. It’ll feel like less pressure and more time to chat with each participant. You also want to make sure each participant has enough SPACE. If that scares you, there’s nothing wrong with going even smaller at first.
Tip #3: Script it all out
I suggest writing it exactly the way you know you would speak so that you’re comfortable. But, don’t be afraid to rejig and veer off course during the workshop. Practice and make bullet points – and no biggie if you have your notes on hand to refer to during the workshop!
Tip #4: Use a flip-chart
You can use this as your guide for teaching the workshop as you go, kind of like your class is using their workbook. It helps you as the instructor to stay on track with everyone, flipping pages with key points as you go.
Tip #5: Don’t go overboard
Reign yourself in on the decor and the refreshments. People are there to learn calligraphy and don’t care too much about all of the extras – which can keep you overwhelmed trying to plan all of these extra things perfectly. The same goes for supplies – don’t stress having to have a super-luxe toolkit! Bring your two main pens, a pencil, and some loose Rhodia sheets. And. That’s. It.
Tip #6: Get wholesale pricing on supplies
Usually, all this requires is a business number and approaching the company. If you can’t find the spot on the website for the retailer you’re looking at ordering with, you can find their contact info and reach out directly asking for wholesale pricing. You don’t need to be some fancy influencer to get this stuff!
Tip #7: Bring extra kits
Especially one for yourself! True story – my first one, I forgot to bring my own and had to use participant number one’s ?. I’ve also had instances where extra people showed up to the workshop who “thought” they had signed up, but I never got their registration. In these cases, I’ve been soooo grateful that I bring spare kits! Instead of turning them away, I was able to get them a spot set up and invoiced them later.
You also never know when someone’s pen is going to accidentally explode! So, just always have extras, okay?
Tip #8: Don’t be afraid to charge a high ticket price
When you’re running your workshops more frequently down the line, don’t be afraid to charge for your time. The toolkit may have not cost you more than $15 to put together, but you’re also charging for your time and experience, as well as the atmosphere of the event! And, don’t forget all about the setup and clean up.
I actually teach all about how to properly price in my Panic-Free Pricing Course. I walk you through EVERYTHING.
Tip #9: Invite a photographer
Give them a seat at your workshop (for free, of course!). This might not be applicable to your VERY first workshop, but as soon as you have a “proper” workshop where you’re decorating the tables and setting things up, a photographer is KEY. Even in the beginning having one can be a good idea, because it helps you get promotional photos that you can then use when you start planning your next workshop! It will definitely help sell them more.
Tip #10: Ask for feedback at the end
I don’t mean ask at the end of the workshop in person – I mean, send out an email afterward and give people the option of filling out an ANONYMOUS survey. Ask things like, what did they like, what did they dislike, what they felt was necessary or unnecessary, etc. Then take that feedback, and implement it to make future workshops even better. You should also ask for non-anonymous feedback too, for testimonials, if people are willing!
Bonus: Have wine at the workshop, and have some yourself so you don’t feel as nervous! ?
So, these are my tips for your FIRST (or first few) workshops! Once you’re more comfortable, you can expand on all of these things. I promise, after the first few, you’ll notice things you can do to improve and you will get into a rhythm.
And that’s a wrap!
Again, if you have follow-up questions, please feel free to ask in the comments below or head on over to the video version of this and leave a note there! I might not necessarily be able to answer them all but I will gather them all for a 2.0 version of this episode!
Good luck with your workshop!