So you have been practicing your particular creative skill for years, you do it on your coffee break or commute, you fit it in around the kids. You’ve spent time and money on practising and have become accomplished. You wish you had more time to be creative, it’s something that gets put on the back burner because – well, all the things. But you are often surprised that your friends ask you, “how do you do that?” or say “I wish I knew how to do that, I’ve always wanted to learn”. You know that perhaps you could show them, perhaps you could even run your own workshop and show a few people and turn it into a small sideline. And then, bonus, you get to not feel guilty for spending time on something you love doing, because it’s for a purpose!
Maybe you’ve been looking for that little sideline where you can turn your hobby into profit.
But where do you even start?
Well, I can help.
A friend and I ran popular monthly craft evenings for a large group of regular attenders, over a couple of years. Here are some tips that I learnt on how to run a craft event successfully and make a profit doing so. Whilst your workshop content is different, these tips will also apply to any type of workshop. Also – (bonus!) scroll down for a printable workshop planner and a list of mistakes we made that you’ll want to avoid!
Project and Customer
Decide on the project that you want to make available. Decide on your ideal customer and their skill level, this will have implications on how much time they will need from you individually, equipment you’ll need to provide or source, and options on design.
Consider the equipment you already have or can borrow or invest in some if you plan on doing this regularly.
Equipment and Materials
Depending on the number of people attending you will need to consider how much equipment you’ll need so that people don’t get frustrated waiting to use it. You could ask people to bring basic tools with them, depending on your craft/art people often have basic tools like scissors, pins and needles, brushes, pens and notebooks. Always have extra tools with you including, scissors, glue, pencils, kitchen towel, bin bags and a first aid kit. Have table top bins for easy clean up.
You’ll want firm numbers of attendees before you spend money on materials or you could have a lot left over, and this will eat into any profits.
Decide on a venue, hire a hall, or ask a cafe if you can rent it out for the evening. You will need to consider the cost of the room hire and negotiate whether refreshments are included or not. Think about how many people you can realistically host in the space and demonstrate your skill and project creation to.
You’ll need to consider the surfaces you’ll use and provide coverings and maybe aprons for people to protect their clothes.
Welcome and Presentation
Think about how you will welcome people to your workshop, be friendly and help to put them at ease, they could be feeling as nervous as you!
Consider how you are going to present the tutorial, you may want written instructions for people to follow or present to them yourself. How you will describe what you are doing? What is the skill level of people who are attending? Remember you may know words or techniques that they don’t. Be prepared to describe what you are doing as if to a complete beginner. It would be a good idea to have several examples with you including different options in terms of colours, materials, if options will be available. Factor in time to help your participants one on one.
Don’t forget to factor all your costs for pricing; marketing, your time, materials and equipment provided, hall hire and refreshments. Decide on how many people you can realistically host and demonstrate to and sell tickets at the full price in advance.
Think about how to communicate to your ideal customer, what would appeal to her in terms of event advertising design, and where would you be most likely to reach her? Ways to reach her include posters, social media, email. Include good photos of the beautiful item that they can make. How will you accept payment for the event? Perhaps use an online ticketing app or paypal.
How much information will people need sent to them before your event? Think about any potential questions they might have (they’ll come up with more!) and prepare an email in advance. This might include details such as a map, parking details, any equipment they might want to bring.
What you will offer as refreshments? Free tea, coffee and water is often expected. Where will these be served? It is best to keep them away from any project work in case of spillages. Will they be always available or only at a specific time?
Toilet facilities at the venue, check that they are clean and stocked.
Lighting at the venue, will people be able to see well?
Are there enough power sockets available, will people be able to charge their devices? (You’ll want them to share photos of your workshop in action – great marketing!)
How will people transport any project items they’ve created home? You may need to provide bags.
If you are running this as a business you will need to further consider; registering as self employed, insurance, keeping accounts.
It’s worth noting that this is a great sideline or add-on for another of your endeavours, for example if you sell your items on etsy or work on contracts, freelance or are self-employed. It is a good way to raise awareness and add to your portfolio career, as a stand alone it can be labour intensive and you are unlikely to generate large profits.
Mistakes we made
- Having too many different types of craft available. Although this was popular, it made the sale estimating/cost covering difficult because people only paid for what they made on the night.
Have one or two things available to make with limited options on offer.
- Pricing not including our time spent organising and marketing.
Go simple on craft available = less time spent. Price your workshop considering all your time spent working on it.
- Selling tickets at a deposit (nominal) price and then people paying for what they made on the night. (Too many craft options = left over materials) People not showing up on the night.
Work out your costs and profit, and sell tickets accordingly at full price in advance.
- A venue where the set up took a lot of effort and time.
Choose a venue carefully, are tables and chairs are already set up? ie a cafe is ideal. These days there are purpose built workshop spaces or co-working spaces available for hire.
Get my printable workshop planner here: