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How to teach a calligraphy workshop

How to teach a calligraphy workshop

Wondering how to teach a calligraphy workshop but have no idea where to begin?

There are several steps to teaching your first workshop, many of which can seem daunting at first when you're dealing with imposter syndrome, or maybe just feeling overwhelmed with logistics.

The good news is that it’s easier than you might think AND once you’ve done the hard work initially, things will be much easier in the long-run as you can repurpose a lot of things such as venues, workbooks, pricing and advertising materials.

The only thing that you really need to do each time is show up and promote your workshops using materials that you created for your first one.

Calligraphy workshop nerves

Before we get into the logistics, I want to address those that feel nervous about teaching a calligraphy workshop for the first time. If you feel that you're not professional or experienced enough to teach, know that this is known as imposter syndrome. It's something a lot of people feel at some stage in their professional careers.

My imposter syndrome was so intense that I procrastinated on teaching my first calligraphy workshop for almost a year!

The feeling isn't something that you can switch off but have to work through. After the workshop and everything goes smoothly, you'll realise that you did it and that you can do it again. Imposter syndrome reduces with experience.

Calligrapher organising a calligraphy workshop

Step #1 - Decide on a date

Setting a date prompts movement. Once you know that you have a date to work towards, you’ll be more motivated to get planning and see things through.

In terms of how far in advance you should plan your workshop, I’d say that the sweet spot is in 8-12 weeks. If you have an iPad to create your materials I’d lean more towards the 8 weeks whereas if you will be outsourcing the graphic design I would lean more towards the 12 week mark as this will allow for you more wiggle room as you’re dependent on someone else.

I’d highly recommend weekends as this is when most people are free to join activities such as this.

In addition to your main workshop date, you should also book in a test workshop 1-2 weeks before your main workshop date. This is a way for you to practice your workshop to get more comfortable with teaching, get initial feedback and to ensure that your timings are right.

Step #2 - Book a venue

For your first venue I would highly recommend a local coffee shop. An independent coffee shop is preferred as large chains will have less flexibility.

The reason why I recommend a coffee shop as your venue is because clients like being able to have a drink and cake whilst participating in the workshop and local venues like the extra traffic to their shop. They tend not to charge, though I would recommend proactively offering to include a drink and a cake.

However, if you’re hosting an art workshop that could cause damage due to mess, I would consider a local art studio instead. They typically charge in advance though, so try to stick to a coffee shop if possible.

When looking at coffee shops, do a little bit of research. Can you scope out pictures of the venue? Can you check it out in person? Ask yourself if 1) there’s enough space for 10 or so people to sit together and 2) is it big enough for the noise of the coffee machines not to disrupt you?

Happy students at a calligraphy workshop

Send an email first as in my opinion this looks more professional, or message their Instagram account if they’re active on there and their email address is difficult to find. Alternatively, go in person! This depends on your confidence levels but sometimes going in person is the quickest way to get your answer and it will help you to feel more comfortable running a workshop there as you’ve met them previously.

No response doesn’t equal a rejection. Follow up! A lot of coffee shops are busy and/or don’t often check their emails so it could just be that they’ve missed it.

If you’re confident, give them a quick call. Sometimes quickly knowing an answer is easier than waiting around, even if you’re not confident on the phone.

If you’ve followed up and there’s still no response, try elsewhere. If the first venue ends up coming back to you once you’ve booked in at the second, give them an alternative date and book in with both of them.

Ask for how things would work with the venue, particularly if they're taking bookings on your behalf. Remember that:

1) You don’t need to be embarrassed to ask for clarification

2) You’re within your rights to change your mind if you don’t like a venue’s terms

Step #3 - Shop for supplies

Now, you don’t necessarily need to buy supplies but you definitely need to price them up so that you can price correctly for your workshop.

If you’ve seen pictures of workshops by competitors, you may see them providing students with lots of supplies. You don’t have to supply too many resources, it can just be enough to get them started.

In my workshops, I provide them with a workbook, a single pen, some blank greeting cards and a place card with their name on it. It makes preparing for the workshop more straightforward and I can upsell additional art supplies following the workshop.

What supplies to provide in a calligraphy workshop - Calligraphy workbook, placecard, coffee

Where do you get them from?

Well it depends on your country, but from where you buy your own supplies is fine. Although it is not the most cost effective way, it is a fairly straightforward way to order them. You can look into getting direct from the supplier at a later date.

Let’s talk printers!

If you have a printer at home, it’s likely that will do for now but if you don’t have a printer and don’t plan to purchase one, you’ll have to outsource the workbooks to an external supplier.

If you want to get a printer yourself, this will be something else to add to your shopping list.

Getting workbooks printed elsewhere can be expensive, especially at low quantities. It’s therefore most important to get this estimation right so I recommend creating a page outline for your workbook at this stage.

Step #4 - Set a price

This bit can feel a bit scary, but if you’ve worked through the imposter syndrome resource provided in The Class to Course Method, you should feel more confident.

Here are some things to remember about price:

#1 If you price too low, you undermine the industry as well as your abilities

#2 You can always change it at a later date

#3 What you deem as expensive isn’t necessarily expensive for other people

#4 Check in occasionally to see if you price needs to rise

Pricing can bring about imposter syndrome and there may be fear that no-one will buy or that people may even say “it’s too expensive” but every time that someone makes a purchases further validates you and the more workshops you run / tickets you sell, the more confident you become in what you’re offering as you have social proof.

So how do you set the initial price?

First, write down the number that first pops into your head. What’s that number?

Next, start researching competitors locally and nationally to see what price points you see cropping up again and again. This can give you a guidepost for where to start pricing your class.

Remember that this will give you a guidepost but should not be the sole influence. What you can’t judge from this initial research is how much they pay the venue, average number of tickets per workshop or how much confidence they have (they may undervalue themselves too!).

Next, consider what your costs are as they can add up!

Costs to consider:

  • Supplies

  • Cake and drinks

  • Transport

  • Order processing fees

  • Other

Costs should ideally be no more than 25% of your ticket price.

There may be some costs associated with starting to run workshops such as a printer or iPad if you don’t yet have one. Don’t price these into your ticket price per se, but ensure that your profit margins are decent enough per ticket that you can start recouping the costs of these investments.

Step #5 Set up a way to process orders

Before you even start creating the content or marketing material for the workshop, you want to set up a way for people to be able to buy tickets from you.

Whilst long-term, selling tickets from a website is best, you can use third party sites such as Eventbrite to process orders for you. They will take a larger fee than a website provider but they are great if you don’t yet have a website.

Something to also consider is that on certain event hosting sites there will be an additional payment processing fee e.g. PayPal charges a fee.

Step #6 Create a Facebook event

You want this set up as soon as possible so that people can start finding your event whilst you’re working on other things in the background such as creating the workbook.

You will need a business Facebook account to be able to set this up.

Step #7 Create marketing materials for the venue

This may include posters and signage such as chalkboards. I’ll go more in depth with this in The Class to Course Method, including providing templates.

Step #8 Create the workbook

In my opinion, this is the most logistically challenging aspect so I have dedicated an entire lecture to the subject. See the next lecture on different ways to create your workbook.

Please note: don’t wait to start the other steps until this is done, this should be created in the background whilst you’re organising these other steps.

Calligrapher smiling with an iPad next to her. A calligraphy workbook design is open on her ipad.

Step #9 Invite friends and family to test workshop

For your test workshop, you want to have family and friends join you as it’s good fun and they’re likely to give you honest feedback. I believe that you should offer spots for free or charge just enough to cover your supplies as this is your “first pancake” workshop.

Step #10 Order supplies including workbooks

Don’t leave this too late as you want plenty of time for supplies to arrive.

For the workbooks specifically, make sure you get a visual/proof which is basically a way to see what your workbooks will look like printed, often via a PDF given by suppliers.

Step #11 Promote your workshop

Do this on your social media channels and in Facebook groups. Don’t just post to Facebook groups once, you should be doing this fairly regularly in the lead up to the workshop. Check Facebook group rules though as some groups don’t allow it or only allow it on certain days/posts.

Step #12 Setup a way to take email addresses

Convertkit (affiliate link) is a great option for setting up landing pages to take email addresses and you can manually add subscribers after workshops.

How to organise a calligraphy workshop. Workshop follow up email on Convertkit.

Before the workshop you should create a registration sheet for their email addresses and then take people’s email addresses on the day. They may have potentially signed up already if they came via your website but you likely need to take them down if they came from Eventbrite, etc.

Now sites like Eventbrite provide you with attendee email addresses to contact them about the event. This is NOT the same as permission to start contacting them for email marketing. Data laws will vary based on where you live but you can’t go wrong if you get explicit permission from the attendees.

Step #13 Message the venue with a reminder

This is to remind them that you’re visiting so that there’s no nasty surprises on the day such as having no seats ready for you.

Step #14 Set up the venue

Arrive early to set up your materials. I discuss the on-the-day logistics in The Class to Course Method.

Calligraphy Gems - how to set up a calligraphy workshop

Step #15 Teach the workshop

After going through all of the setup this will actually feel like the easy bit once you get into the flow of things!

Calligraphy Gems teaching a Calligraphy Workshop

Whilst you may feel nervous beforehand, I promise that you’ll get into the flow of things.

I’ll get more into the running of the workshop later in The Class to Course Method.

Step #16 Pay the venue for refreshments

If you’re including the price of a drink and cake in with the ticket price, you will need to pay for these at the end of the workshop.

Given that the venue has been given a sufficient heads up, the refreshments will all be on one tab.

Step #17 Follow up with students via email

This is a crucial step for The Class to Course Method. To increase your revenue you need repeat purchases and it’s going to be a struggle if your customers don’t know how to buy from you again!

This is another step that has its own dedicated lecture as it’s really important to get right.

Step #18 Send invoice to venue

If you are working with a venue that has taken bookings on your behalf, you will need to send an invoice to ensure that you get paid.

You should have discussed payment terms in advance to ensure that there is no confusion or nasty surprises (like a 90-day payment term).

What to include in the invoice:

  • Your details (name, address)

  • Their details (biz name, address)

  • Date

  • A description of what you’re charging them for, the price and the quantity if applicable

  • Any extra deduction from the invoice amount if applicable e.g. with one of my venues we agreed that I give them a £10 cut per ticket. So I deduct £10 per person I book out of the final amount to cover this payment

  • A thank you in the notes

  • Payment terms (e.g. immediate payment or 30 day terms)

Workshop to-do list summary:

  • Decide on a date (actual workshop and test workshop)

  • Book a venue

  • Shop for supplies

  • Set a price

  • Create the workbook

  • Order supplies including workbooks

  • Set up a way to process orders

  • Create a Facebook event

  • Invite friends and family to test workshop

  • Promote your workshops on social media

  • Create physical marketing materials

  • Teach the test workshop

  • Create reminder email for attendees

  • Message the venue with a reminder

  • Setup a way to take email addresses

  • Setup the venue

  • Teach the workshop

  • Pay the venue (if applicable)

  • Follow up with students via email

  • Send venue (if applicable)

Want extra resources and support?

The Class to Course Method is your go-to resource for running your first calligraphy workshop.

It not only tells you how to run a workshop, it provides templates, video guides, community support through Facebook groups and calls, a workbook to get you started, helps you find dream venues, and more.

Support for teaching a calligraphy workshop


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