Monday, December 29, 2014

Is Fear Keeping You From Teaching Your Craft?

I had to muster up some chutzpah to teach my first class.  Even though I have been teaching in many forms for years, teaching for myself-for my own business, was really scary.  I did not have a team or an agency or a boss to go to for support.  Just me. 

When you teach for yourself, the success of your class depends on you to plan it, market it and teach it.  That can create a teeny bit of anxiety-yes indeed.

You may feel like you're not ready to teach yet.  Like you don't know enough, you don't have the technical skills, people might ask questions you don't know, things could break down and you'll look less than the prepared, competent creative that you are. 

You may feel like you're not a good enough artist or maker or that people wouldn't be interested in what you have to share.

These are all very common fears and I still have them all time, as do many of the artist and makers I know, even the ones that make it all look so easy. 

After the first jewelry making class I taught, I completely panicked. I couldn't believe I had signed up to teach 2 more sessions and had no idea how I would go back again. I felt I was in way over my head and I needed to figure out something fast which turned out to be the magic fear antidote.

I invited another jewelry maker to come to the second class with me and I was instantly cured of my fear.  Having another jewelry maker in the room just put me at ease.  Getting her input and ideas made the class stronger. I knew she was there if I stumbled and would keep me from any potential disaster.

Collaborative teaching is my favorite kind and a great place to begin. Having someone else along  benefits your students by creating an even more interactive dynamic. Your students get more input, more ideas and more support in creating.  

When you collaborate with others, there are many perks.  You have someone to share the planning, the expense, the technical details and the clean-up with. You each bring different strengths and skill sets that ideally complement each other. I see it as a benefit to everyone involved, as long as you have a partner that's a good fit for you and your teaching style. 

You see collaborations all over the art world.  Wisdom circles, Retreats, Lifebook and 21 Secrets style classes that bring many artists together to share.  These online collaborations also have the added bonus of reaching thousands more people than you could reach alone.  And don't forget the amazing energy that comes from bringing creatives together in the same space.

If you don't know of any other artists you could co-teach with, consider bringing a trusted friend to your first class or two.  I have done this with my kids classes because I was concerned about the extra support kids sometimes need.  My friend (who also happens to be an elementary school teacher) helped with distributing supplies and encouraging the kids.  She also gave me useful feedback for the next session.

If fear is keeping you from moving forward with your teaching plans, co-teaching may be just the boost you need to get started.  It can give you the confidence to continue on your own and to stretch into even more challenges. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Thinking About Teaching a Wine and Paint Class?

Teach Your Own Wine and Paint Class
Have you ever been to a wine and paint class and thought, I could teach these? This looks like a great way to make a living?

Teaching wine and paint classes is both fun and profitable. You can earn between $200-$700 per class depending on the class size and your pricing structure and have a blast doing it.

So, how do you get started?

1. I always recommend that you start with the art. Create sample paintings of your work that can be shared with potential customers, venues and on your website. A good place to start with deciding what to teach is Pinterest. Search for wine and paint classes and create an inspiration board.

Some wine and paint classes teach the classics like Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet.  Others teach their own style.  Whatever you decide to teach, you will want to prepare a sample painting that will entice your target people to join

2. Speaking of which, who are the people you want to teach? Couples? Bachelorettes? Ladies on a Night Out? Red Hat Societies? Seniors? Restaurant Patrons? People who are serious about art making? College students, non-profits or a combination of these groups?

When you're planning your classes, figuring out who you want to teach is important in marketing your classes and getting them filled up with happy students. You will want to target certain groups and promote your classes to those people.  

If you want to teach wedding parties or Bachelorette Parties, then teaming up to promote your classes in Bridal Stores and Bridal Shows would be a great way to reach that group.

If you want to connect with non-profits, looking to host fundraisers, then contacting them and determining places where you connect with them will be very different than bachelorettes.

3. Once you know who you want to teach, you can find  venues that cater to those groups. Approach places you'd like to teach with a sample of your work and emphasize the benefit your class will bring to them

Will it give them more exposure, sell more wine, bring in potential shoppers? Focusing on what they can gain will help when contacting sites in your community.  Remember, many business owners are looking for unique experiences to offer their customers so you may be just what they were waiting for.
4. About the wine part... States can get funny about serving alcohol to people. You'll want to check the laws around alcohol service and consumption in your State. If you are holding the class in a bar or restaurant that has a liquor license they will cover this for you. If you're holding the class in a boutique or similar setting, you'll want to check on what the law allows in your State or region.

5. Charging for your classes. Comparison shop what the prices are in your area. In Central New York, prices range from $30-$45.00 per person with higher prices typically charged for smaller class size or longer duration classes. You may want to consider setting a minimum number for the group (to make it worth your time) and a maximum based on the space and what you can handle.  You'll also want to really keep expenses low and consider buying in larger quantities to make the most of the time you'll put in. 

Here's a breakdown of some of prices in my area if you want to see what others are doing:

Paint, Drink and Be Merry
Locations Vary. Up to 32 people, $38.00 per person, locations vary

Paint Nite Syracuse
Locations vary, up to 40 people, $45.00 per person

Painting With a Twist
Has two studios where they host classes, one holds up to 40, the other up to 20 guests
2 hour classes $35.00, 3 hour classes $45.00, family friendly classes $25.00

I charge $35.00 per person for a 2 hour class and offer discounts for non-profit agencies.
Ready to start teaching sip and paint classes of your very own? Grab the Free Worksheet to get your first class booked in the next 30 days.


For more posts on teaching wine and paint classes, you may want to check out:
Create Your Own Classroom
Where to Buy Supplies for Your Classes   


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Is Teaching in Your 2015 Plan?

As much as I keep pushing it away, teaching keeps boomeranging back to me as something I feel called to do. I'm a perpetual student-in love with learning.  Teaching is one of the best ways I know to truly push your own learning to new and deeper levels. 

When you share what you love, you have the opportunity to genuinely empower others with tools they can use to create and even build a source of income. These two things are vital to me: sharing my enthusiasm and giving women real power they can use to change their lives if they choose.

I recently had a chat with another artist who was noticing that many artists who are building sustainable businesses, teach. Offering classes is a great way to build consistent income over time, if you can pull all of the pieces together well.

So, my artsy friends, what is stopping you from teaching your craft? Are you ready to include teaching in your plan for 2015?

I've been teaching over the past two years and I would love to help you get started, so here is where we'll begin.  Over the next few weeks, we'll dive into these topics on the blog:
  • How to design classes that are a perfect match for you
  • How to find and land places to teach
  • One of the biggest mistakes new teachers make and how to avoid it
  • Nervous about teaching?  I'll share a secret to make it much easier.
If you're teaching in 2015, you won't want to miss any of these, so sign up for my email list below and you'll get them right in your inbox.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Preparing for a Show at the Last Minute

I have a show coming up on Friday in my hometown of Ithaca, NY that I decided to do only 3 weeks ago, so I've been frantically creating jewelry with my daughter to get ready. My to-do list is getting shorter, but more pressing as it's only a couple of days away...

I still work full-time and have a family so I'm really stretching the minutes I have available.  Here are some things that have helped when time gets squishy:

I shop for supplies on my lunch hour.  I make a list the night before so that I know where I need to go and what exactly I need to get.  That way, I don't get sucked into browsing and take too long.  I also use this time for mailing orders (there is a post office right down the street from my office) and sometimes replacing inventory in stores.

I recruit my daughter to help.  She's 13 and she has things that she likes to do.  Making jewelry is actually at the bottom of her list unless it involves a torch.  Her favorite things are pricing/labeling the jewelry, taking inventory and helping me with income and expense entries.  I LOVE her for doing these things (and well, just in general).

I maximize my weekends.  By "maximize" I mean I do little else but make jewelry.  I actually have calluses on my hands from the Thanksgiving-break-making-frenzy.  I pretty much neglect things like vacuuming or anything resembling cleaning. My family joins in or at least visits me at the dining room table, so I don't miss too much.

I added a "Build Your Own Bracelet" offering for the show.  I think this will work well as I can make jewelry right there.  I can demonstrate what I do and give people a customized piece before they leave.  I don't have to take as many pre-made items with me, so less to do ahead of time and I won't have as much down time at the show if I'm making while I'm there.   

I've made a conscious decision to just get done what I can. I could stress out and stay up until 3am every night, but I'm not going to.  I'm choosing how I want to live as I build this business and "stressed out" is not on the list.  I did set goals for how much I wanted to bring and I made them in the realm of what I knew I could reasonably do in the time that I have.

Every night I review what I accomplished and I take some time to appreciate all that I was able to get done-even with a very busy life.  I write down what I was able to do and I just take a few minutes to celebrate it.  I do this a lot and sometimes I look back at all that I have done, especially when I feel like things are moving too slowly and it makes me feel better to see it all in the pages.

I focused on slowing down and keeping the creative joy alive. In my evening reflection/celebration, one thing I noticed is how much I really love making my new mixed media bracelet (like the one in the photo above.)  I use different types of materials in each bracelet.  Crystals, metal, stone, charms...whatever calls me and I am totally loving them.  This style takes me much longer to make because I keep mixing and matching to get them to a happy place.  One of my customers said they have "good energy" which is what I'm feeling for when I assemble and re-assemble them. One of the stores said "Oh yes!  Bring me more of those" so I think I'm on the right track.

Happy Handmade Holiday!

ps: If you're doing your first show this holiday season and need help with what to bring, email me and I'll send you a free list of what I always bring with me. You can also check out Kari Chapin's Book, The Handmade Marketplace for the chapter on selling at craft shows as a great place to start.