Download: MP3 (9.2 MB)
It’s the episode you’ve all been waiting for: how to host a workshop.
A while back, we talked about why you should host a workshop before you do an online course.
This seems somewhat counterintuitive because you could put in a similar amount of work, create a course, and get revenue on auto pilot. Why in the world would you want to do an in-person workshop first?
An in-person workshop is kind of like a beta group. You could take what you teach in a workshop and turn that into an online course, because it’s actually something that is validated.
You’re not just going straight to creating a course and guessing at what people want or what people struggle with, you have hands-on experience with real people that you were able to work with.
You can take their feedback and turn that into a course that’s going to be stronger than if you started with that course in the first place.
Promoting Your Workshop
The first thing you want to do is set a date several months in advance before you actually do the workshop, because if you give just a couple of weeks notice, no one is really going to notice.
You need that time to build up to promoting your event. Now, we’ve talked about good ways to promote things and bad ways to promote things here on seanwes tv.
The bad way to promote your workshop is to constantly spam a link to your workshop. That’s just going to annoy people and put a bad taste in their mouth. They’re not really going to like your workshop because every time they hear about it, it’s just you spamming your event.
To promote your workshop, you want to write educational material around the topic that you’re going to teach on.
What should you teach on? Well, you need to teach on something that you know. What is something that you have already done and how can you help people get from one point to another? How can you help people level up in any area?
You don’t have to cover everything, you just need to give people some sort of win. People need to come out of your workshop having learned one specific thing.
In fact, you don’t want to give them too much. This isn’t an online course and it’s not a master class. It should be one very clear objective: how to do your first speaking engagement, how to create your first lettering piece, etc. It’s got to be something simple, but hands-on that they can come out of having learned something they can apply.
Once you have your topic, once you’ve figured out what you want to teach your workshop on, now you need to create promotional material around that topic. This could come in the form of blogposts, podcasts, videos, newsletters, images, or art, but you need to create something to promote your workshop.
I would recommend having a landing page for your workshop where you explain everything that’s going to go on, what people are going to learn, who it’s for, when it is, and where it is.
Give people an email signup where they can at least indicate that they are interested even if you don’t have a preorder available yet. If you don’t have a pre-sale, at least capture their interest with an email signup. That way you can follow up and tell them when preorders are available.
Preorders allow you to validate any interest. If nobody preorders, you don’t actually have to do the workshop.
Preorders tell you if people are interested in your topic or if it’s something people trust you to teach on.
Now, you can capture their payment using something as simple as a PayPal button or whatever eCommerce system you have, but you simply take their payment as a way of guaranteeing them a spot in the workshop.
There’s different ways you can create a sense of urgency for people to sign up by saying something like, “There’s going to be a limited number of seats available.” This isn’t false urgency or false scarcity, because it’s an actual, physical, in-person event.
If you’re only going to have a certain number of slots, I would recommend no more than 20 or 30, depending on what it is that you’re teaching in the workshop.
If you have more people than 20 or 30 people, you’re not really going to be able to take advantage of working with people one-on-one and, especially, getting that feedback.
Yes, it is beneficial to the workshop student to get your one-on-one participation, but it’s also beneficial to you for research purposes to be able to work individually with people and figure out what they’re struggling with.
Those struggles are things that you can refer back to later if you want to create an online course. You don’t want to create something that’s unvalidated and you don’t want to create something that’s not based on people’s struggles.
Limiting the number of people that can attend your workshop incentivizes people to sign up. It also ensures that people get quality time from you and you get great feedback.
Another way to create urgency is to run an introductory price or an early bird price. Say your workshop is $99, you might charge $69 for the early bird price. This rewards your loyal buyers, so the early students get the best price. Then, maybe a few weeks before the event, you go up to full-price.
Pre-sales are also a fantastic way to get some upfront capital so you can afford to rent the venue. Now, there is one thing you could do here, you could try to collaborate with the venue and see if there’s something you could work out with them. If it’s a good fit, you may be able to leverage cross-promotion to get a better deal on the venue.
Give 3 Assignments
If you’ve ever spoken before, you may be naturally inclined to treat this as a presentation, but you should treat it as an interactive event, because that’s the point. It’s called a workshop, not a presentation shop.
You’re there to do work with people.
You’re there to show them how to do something. They need to produce a result after they come out of this. They need to learn how to do something, which means, they actually need to do work in the workshop.
Since it’s not a presentation, I recommend breaking it up into three assignments. Have different sections of the workshop.
Sure, you can start off by giving some kind of an orientation. That could be like a little mini presentation, but don’t have 100 slides, just get people on board and establish a goal.
Your workshop should have a goal.
What are the attendees going to come out knowing how to do?
Right off the bat, as quick as possible, you want to get to the point where they’re able to do work. Give them an assignment where they can do something and they can apply what you’re talking about as they do it.
Before you go on the second assignment, give some feedback, walk around the room, and critique what people have done with the first assignment. Share that with the room so that everyone gets to learn from it, then have them apply what they learn to the second assignment.
The third assignment is just going to be more refinement. Make sure, before people leave, you give them some homework. Give them something they can do and hopefully follow up with them.
What if Only a Few People Come?
Don’t feel bad if you had a number of students in mind that you wanted to come but you didn’t reach that number. I want you to think about it differently. Think about it as personalized consulting.
If it’s a small group, don’t think of it as a failed workshop but as a successful consulting gig.
Say three or four people show up, then you’re getting three or four people to pay you for your time to help them do whatever it is that you’re teaching! That’s actually a really great thing.
You want to invest in these people. These people are your ambassadors. They’re going to spread the word about you. They’re going to tell a friend or bring someone the next time you do a workshop, and they’re going to give you a testimonial.
They just had a great time, they got a ton of personal attention from you, so they’re going to be more than happy to provide a testimonial. This is going to be very useful for setting up your next event.
There’s a few ways you can get this testimonial from them. You can have them write it down, send it over email, you could send them a newsletter after the event, or you could just get it right there while they’re at the event.
Maybe someone said some statement during the workshop, you can ask, “Hey, can I use that as a testimonial?” They’ll just say, “Sure!”
Maybe you take a video of them while you’re at the workshop—that is going to help you promote the next event. I would recommend, at the very least, taking some photos during the workshop.
If you can’t get someone to take video of the event, at least get some photos because you can use those in your case study.
Writing Your Case Study
The case study is the writeup that you do after the event talking about how it went. You can include testimonials, finished creations, and show the process.
The case study will tell the story that future workshop students will be able to see themselves in.
That’s going to help you promote your second workshop and eventually, an online course.