I’m glad to welcome Carol Eaton back to the blog to continue our interview. In the first part of this interview, I talked to Carol about her journey into the creative arts. It’s always interesting to learn the different paths we all took to get where we are in our creative lives today. That was certainly a fascinating story of her journey into the arts. In this second part of the interview, Carol will give us some business tips to help us run our businesses better.
Being that textile art is a physically demanding endeavor and not a very scalable one at that, we want to learn about all the possible income streams we can use to make our businesses profitable. You do deserve to be compensated for all the work you do. Don’t you agree?
So let’s start the interview.
Carol, I know you teach surface design workshops. What’s involved in organizing textile art workshops of this nature?
Carol Eaton’s Business Tips on Running Profitable Workshops
My approach to workshops is to really focus on teaching through hands on and verbal instruction. My goal is for students to take their new found knowledge home and feel confident that they can keep creating on their own.
With that being said I spend a lot of prep time making sure the materials are user friendly and ready to go. I organize the workshops so the steps flow smoothly from one technique right into the next. I do my best to be prepared right down to the smallest detail. When the unexpected happens we just keep a sense of humor and figure out how to embrace the “oops”! It’s fabric – it’s fun – it’s ok to go a little sideways!
Benefits of Running Workshops
Carol, what do you see as the benefit in teaching textile art workshops?
As a business owner who sells fabric, the more exposure and brand recognition gained, the better. Developing a personal connection with other fiber artists is invaluable for marketing and networking.
As an artist, I get a thrill out of seeing students get excited about their work! Being with happy people who are expressing themselves creatively – what’s not to love!
Obviously, you’ve been running workshops for years. Would you say, they’re profitable? What are some business tips to help teachers make their workshops profitable?
Workshops are profitable because the teacher determines the value of their acquired knowledge, skill and time and can charge accordingly. The teacher determines how many students will attend the class and can be confident they will meet their compensation goals.
To Charge or Not to Charge Materials Fee
I handle payments in 2 steps. I charge a workshop fee which takes care of my personal compensation. Secondly, I charge a student materials fee to cover the costs of supplies. Charging a separate materials fee provides the teacher with cash flow to make purchases and ensure the students have plenty of materials that are in good working order.
Carol, can you give some business tips on how a teacher determines the right price for their workshops?
Business Tips on Pricing Right
- The first business tip is that the teacher needs to determine the value of their knowledge, skill level and time.
- Then, the next step is to research similar workshops to understand industry standards.
- Once you have a feel for pricing, you need to step back and take a long look at yourself. Do you have national name recognition? Do you have a history of successful teaching behind them? What qualifications do you have? A teacher just starting out might consider less compensation until you have a track record of success and then adjust your fees as you gain more experience.
- It’s important to set realistic fees based on actual teaching experience.
- Like learning any craft, it takes time to become proficient and you have to put in the hours to get to the top of your game as a teacher.
Getting Booked to Teach
So now, after you’ve designed the workshop, carefully planned the steps involved and priced it right, how do you get booked to teach in different venues?
For me, vending fabric at shows, presenting at quilt guilds, and word of mouth works best. I mentioned networking earlier and I’m proof that it works and it’s instrumental to reaching your business goals.
Thanks so much Carol. You’ve given us so many useful business tips. Right from crafting a workshop to how to get teaching engagements – you’ve covered it all. Thanks for all the business tips. I’m sure a lot of us will move our businesses forward as a result of this knowledge.
Here are 7 more tips for organizing multi-day workshops.
Question: In what areas do you struggle most when creating and teaching workshops? Join the conversation below.
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Also published on Medium.