Tuesday, December 15, 2015

8 Awesome Art Making Classes

As an artist and a teacher, I take many classes for inspiration and education.  I learn not only from the content, but how the teacher delivers it, the platform that's used, how content is released and what styles I prefer. I look at how classes are priced and what's included in the price.

I also believe in supporting local artists. With the holidays approaching, here are some classes you could add to your gift list or give to an artsy and very lucky friend and you don't have to worry that it will arrive late.

Here's a round-up of classes that would make a perfect gift for that artsy someone in your life. (I am NOT currently an affiliate for any of these classes, just spreading a little love around.)

$100.00 or less:
Carissa Paige's Messy Mavens Self-Paced Adventure Train $99.00
I just signed up for this class and am so excited to dive into the first lessons. So far I've watched Carissa create the first maven and love her intuitive approach in creating faces and listening to what each visage you create has to share with you. I like Carissa's gentle, free-flowing manner. She hosts the class on a private Blogger site which I find easy to use and economical. All of the sessions are available right away, so you can watch the videos and create at your own pace. I haven't explored the Facebook group as of yet-wanting to spend my time making some art before I do.

21 Secrets $98.00
This is a collaborative art journaling class with 22 different teachers, a few of whom I know personally and adore. This long-standing class, now in it's eighth iteration, always has an expansive collection of lessons. I took it a few years ago and it's like creative candy. When I took it, it was hosted on Ning. I'm not sure if that's still the platform Connie uses, but she always gives tons of information on how to interact and track what you've done so far. She's also been packaging the class up into an e-book format as an additional resource for people who want to keep the content after the class closes. This also serves as additional income, if you're able to package your content in different ways.

Making Art Medicine Currently $50 for the first session.
This a new offering in 2016 by Hali Karla. Hali and I were in an intensive teacher training class together (Ignite) where we created our own workshops and shared them with the group. I know first hand how much love and care goes in to what Hali does.  Hali's art making and teaching is deep, insightful and healing. This would be a true gift to give yourself.

Tracy Verdugo's Mini Mojo Classes $59
I love everything that Tracy does and her fun, vibrant use of color in her paintings. She currently has two mini courses posted: "Pattern, Color, Texture" and "Animalitos". These are self-guided courses with video lessons and a facebook community that Tracy checks in on. Taking a live Paint Mojo class with Tracy is on my wish list.

Other Favorites of mine that are $100+
(keep in mind you can often get discounts during the launch or enter contests to win free tickets, maybe you'll get lucky!)

Bloom True-$297.00
I took this course in 2012 and it changed the way I paint. I wrote a blog post about my experience here. The class has evolved over the years as Flora updates it and adds new content. The Facebook group has been one of the best and longest lasting that I have experienced. When I took the class, a module was released 3 times a week over a six week period. Topics like being brave and learning how to listen to your intuition were shared. Flora also includes some yoga instruction to help open you to the painting experience. She shows how painting can be a mirror. Taking more risks on the canvas can help you be brave in other areas of your life as well.

Alena Hennessy-A Year of Painting $229.00
I'm currently taking this class and am enjoying Alena's lessons.  She releases a new lesson every 3 weeks.  I joined later in the year, so I still have many to go back and watch. She's introduced me to some new techniques-masking tape being one, and using acrylic inks in new ways, which I love.

Kelly Rae Roberts-Hello Soul, Hello Mixed Media Mantra's $199.00
I feel like I have a lot in common with Kelly Rae.  For one, I'm Kelly Raye (with a "Y") and we both worked in human services prior to beginning our art making. I love her style and her podcast as well.

The class consists of written lessons and videos of Kelly Rae and her student Lynx, creating a painting. Kelly Rae creates it in her style and Lynx uses the same information but creates a totally different painting in her own style. The videos are professionally produced and easy to follow. All of the material is available right away and I have to admit I binge-watched the segments back to back.  I then made a little painting of a butterfly that says "Courage Does Not Always Roar".  My daughter snatched it up and put it in her room. Kelly Rae also has a new class out that I would love to take called "Spirit Wings" where she will be creating Angel Paintings with her famous winged ladies-also $199.00.

Lifebook 2016-Approx. $120
I signed up for this and CANNOT WAIT for it to start in January.  Some of my favorite teachers mentioned above will be presenting, along with some new artists that I'm looking forward to learning more about.  This is a perfect way to get exposed to many different styles, tons of inspiration and to connect with like-minded artists.  I'm sure I'll be taking some of the instructors individual classes to add to my list for next year as well. I'm excited to learn from the different styles and presentations of each artist, as well as soak in the creative content they'll be sharing.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Think Greatness

You are greatness.  You might not see it yet, but it's there, all the same. 
It's not an arrogant, braggy, "look at me, I'm better than you, I am sooo fabulous" kind of thing.  It's just who you are.

We all have greatness, but we're trained to look instead for flaws, problems, things to fix to make us better.  We assume that we're broken.  We focus on what's wrong.  There are all kinds of ways to "fix" us.  Liposuction, face lifts, therapy...  The thing is...

You are not broken and you never were.

You don't need fixing, although you might see it that way.

If you want to make a HUGE SHIFT in your life, turn away from problem-based thinking.  From thinking there is always something wrong that has to be fixed.

Like, "Nobody is visiting my Etsy site or buying my work.  It must be because my work is no good.  Why did I ever think I could sell it? How ridiculous. I didn't even go to art school!"  And this type of thinking goes on and on.

That my friend, is negative, beat-yourself-up, destructive thinking.  You do it to yourself, you do it to others and it doesn't do anything but make you suffer.

Greatness thinking, based on the work of Howard Glasser of the Nurtured-Heart Approach, goes something more like this: "Hmmm, nobody has visited my Etsy site.  I have heard that this is a problem with Etsy because there are so many people selling on there.  I know my work has potential, I just have to get it in front of the right people.  Now, how can I do that?" 

See the difference?  The same situation has happened-no sales.  What you do with that little nugget of information in your brain is where the difference lies.

One response will shut you down, maybe even cause you to give up.  The other removes the negative self-talk and focuses on the issue at hand.  This is a grand shift in the way you talk to yourself and others. 

Here's a fun little exercise:  Pick someone you're less than thrilled with at the moment and write a list of their greatnesses.  Here's one that I wrote about my husband on a day I was feeling not-so-very loving toward him:

He has a very good heart
He washed my car
He made my dinner (I'm starting to soften now...how lucky am I?)
He makes sure everyone is taken care of
He's a good friend to others (even though he's annoying me right now...greatness, think greatness...)

Then I looked for those qualities in myself.  Oh yes-I can be a good friend to people and I too try to make sure everyone is taken care of-ok, we're both doing pretty well here....

If you start to make this into a practice, watch how your interactions and confidence in yourself start to shift.  Notice how that way you judge others begins to slide from negative judgements to seeking out their greatness. It's a practice, remember.  You have to intentionally keep coming back to looking for greatness again and again.

Sooo, how does all of this greatness stuff help you in creating the life you envision?  Well, when you begin to see your own greatness, to feel it, to really believe in it, you begin to radiate it.  

You begin to build real confidence in yourself.  And that is HUGE. For me it has made the difference between moving forward and getting stuck in my tracks when things don't work out the way I thought they should. 

Like when I was first approaching places to sell jewelry, someone was interested in carrying my jewelry in her salon (per a phone call) and then after I sent her pictures, she was less receptive. Now, in my old way of thinking, I would flog myself mentally, thinking my work was no good and no one wanted to sell it.  I would really start to go into a negative vortex.  

In practicing greatness thinking I instead say to myself, "You know what?  Maybe it's not for her.  You've never been in her salon.  You have no idea who her customers are.  Maybe it's just not a good fit.  Look at all you are selling in other places.  You're doing great.  People like what you make.  Keep going."

If you're coming from a place of seeing your own greatness as well as that of the people you serve, you'll begin to see where your talents meet their needs in some way.  Where can your gifts solve an issue that's keeping them from stepping forward in their greatness? Where you can help them move forward or get what they want in some way.

Everyone has greatness.  You are it.  Own it.

I'm going to start spreading a little greatness around. Come back and see, it might just be about you.

Monday, November 23, 2015

5 Teaching Mistakes I've Made

I've been teaching art and jewelry classes for a while now and I've learned a few things that you can now avoid as you're getting ready to start teaching.

1) Calendar Planning Skills-Double check your calendar before you commit to anything. I've been guilty of saying yes before I checked what else might be going on that day.  This led to booking a class on Super Bowl Sunday and double booking myself with two classes scheduled at the same time. It helps to have a calendar you can access anytime, anywhere like Google Calendar or the Calendar on your phone.

2) Setting it and forgetting it. This happens when you book a class and then neglect to properly market and promote it. ALL classes need to be promoted, no matter how famous you get or how large of a following. If people don't know you're having a class, they're less likely to show up.

3) Not planning enough material for the times when students move quickly.  Sometimes you get a group that surprises you and flies through in record time.  Be prepared for this with extra add-ons so that you're keeping people challenged for the duration of your time together.

4) Time Zone Changes. I recently set up a Skype class and neglected to consider the time zone change.  This resulted in me showing up for class 2 hours early.  Make sure you're studying your time zones prior to booking.

5) Giving way too many choices or way too much information that results in overwhelming your students. I love giving people choice and lots of good information, but when I bring too many fun beads and materials, the students get too caught up in trying to decide and it can cause frustration. This is also true with bombarding people with too much information all at once.  Break it down into easily digestible pieces.  Clean and uncomplicated.

Whenever we're beginning something new, we're going to make mistakes and learn from them.  I've worked to correct these things and continue to grow and evolve as a teacher and so will you. If you're already teaching, If you're already teaching, leave a comment below and tell us where things didn't go exactly according to plan.

ps: If you're looking to learn some basic jewelry making skills, I've just recently added 2 project classes that you can find more information on here.


Monday, August 10, 2015

4 Different Ways to Earn Income through Teaching

If you've been thinking about teaching your craft, you may be wondering what type of teaching is right for you and will get you closer to building the life and business that you want.  

Which of these most closely aligns with the vision you have for your business and your life?

Do you dream of your own light filled studio filled with the energy of aspiring students?  Where you can make your art, sell your products and  that serve as a home base for your business? Artists like Alena Hennesey, Donna Downey and Kelly Rae Roberts have such studios where they  build real-life artistic community. You might choose this path if you want physical space to make your art, sell your art and teach + have control over when and what you teach.  

The financial upside: You have the opportunity to offer as many classes as you want each month on whatever topics that you choose.  You can have guest teachers, partner with other artists to rent space from you or have a co-op store within your space that helps pay the overhead.

Would you rather travel and spread your creative light world-wide? You can make a successful living and fund your travel this way. You can teach nationally or internationally if that is the way your heart leans. Artists like Tracy Verdugo and Flora Bowley support their passion and their wanderlust through teaching in drool-worthy locations like Bali, Italy, France, Greece, Australia...you might choose this path if you don't mind being away from home for long stretches of time, or maybe you opt for an annual retreat in another country. 

The financial upside: Getting paid to travel. Exchange rates in other countries may make venues and accommodations much lower than in the US. You can charge higher rates for an extended class in a desirable locale.

If you prefer staying closer to home, a great way to get started teaching is right in your own community (or even your home!)  In person classes are a perfect way to dip your toe in the water, practice your content and delivery and get immediate feedback from your students. Many of the students in my classes say they prefer hands-on learning from a real person who can show them exactly what to do.  They don't have to watch a video and then try and figure it out for themselves.  Another bonus is a limited investment for students-they don't have to go out and buy all of the tools and equipment before they even know if they like something.   
The financial upside-Keep overhead low by utilizing community spaces such as library's, cafes, boutiques and community centers. You don't have to make rent, pay utilities of have the lawn mowed and driveway plowed.

Rather teach from your pajamas? Online teaching might be just the thing for you.  Online classes are exploding with artists inspiring and educating others in everything from marketing your business to healing through art.  The options online are virtually endless.  I've taken "online" classes where all of the content was delivered via group conference calls and other classes that were exclusively videos and PDF's.  You get decide how you want to connect with yours students. 

The financial upside: Online classes can have low overhead costs and you can teach many more students at once. Your income possibilities are exponentially larger here.

When you're deciding how you want to teach, ask yourself:

What do you want your life to look like?  Do you dream of traveling, prefer being home every day when your kids get home, or looking for a little more connection with the outside world? Do you want to work nights and weekends?

How do you want to interact with your students?  Do you prefer to be showing them hands on in a class-type setting or do you prefer to guide from afar?

What are your financial goals for your business?  How much money do you want to earn from teaching each month? What type of teaching will help get your there? 

These answers will start to lead you in the right direction when it comes to building classes into your bigger plan. Have questions on where to begin?  I'd love to help, just contact me.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Create Your Own Classroom

In one of my earlier posts, I talked about partnering with existing businesses when you're just starting out, to help with getting your class off the ground.  This has it's advantages in helping with marketing and promotion but you're also limited to teaching what they want you to teach, when they want you to teach it.  They may set the price of the class and pay you a wage.  If you want more control over who, where and what you teach along with how much money you earn, consider offering independent classes, workshops or retreats.

You will need to find a space that suits your needs, fits well with feel of what you make and attracts the right students to join you. Here are some  practical things to consider when choosing that ideal space:

Flooring-When I'm teaching painting classes, one of the first things I look at is the floor.  I typically steer clear of space with carpeting as just a little paint can damage a carpet quickly. I look for easily flooring that won't mind a little paint and can be easily wiped up.

Ventilation-If you're working with anything involving fumes-like paints, sprays, sealants, torches, etc... you want to insure you have windows that open to allow ventilation.

Light-Consider the type of lighting you need.  I prefer bright, natural light for painting classes.  For jewelry classes it's important to have good overhead light.

Electricity, Running Water and Bathrooms: Although this seems like a weird thing to include, I have taught classes in a yurt in the woods where there was not electricity, running water or bathroom facilities (except for nature and an outhouse.)  If these are things you need, you may want to have an indoor class.  If you don't need them, you could consider throwing up a tent at a park or public space for a class-opening up a world of possibilities.  For painting classes, we need access to a sink or we need to bring our own water for cleaning brushes. For jewelry classes, it helps to have a place to wash your hands.  We also have tools that we may need to plug in to an outlet.

Temperature Control-Will you need air conditioning or heat?  Don't assume these are available in the space.  If you're planning in the winter and your event will be in the summer, it might not occur to you to ask if the space has air conditioning.  We recently taught in two spaces that did not have air conditioning.  You want to make sure in warmer months that if air conditioning is not available, that you at least have fans at the ready.

Room Size-How big of a space do you need?  Is there room for tables and chairs?  Are they provided or do you need to bring them? How many people could you reasonably fit for your class in the space?  The space can also be too big for the size of your group and the atmosphere you want to create. Does the layout suit your needs?  Are you able to keep the whole group together or will people need to be in separate areas?

Access-Is the space accessible to people with limited mobility?  First floor space or access to an elevator is best. If there are stairs only, let people know. When I teach at the yurt I include in my description and make sure people are aware that there is a 15 minute uphill hike on a wooded trail to reach the space.

Parking-Where is the parking in relation to the space?  Is there enough to accommodate your class? Consider the time of day of your class and what else might be happening at the same time that might impact parking spots.

Entrance and Exits-How many access points does the room have?  Will the public be passing through the classroom space and does this matter to you?  Some people have classes in a food court at the mall, where others prefer quiet, uninterrupted space.

Length of Class: If you're holding a two day class, you want to make sure the space is comfortable and inviting with room to move around and spread out. If you're having a two hour class, you can use a smaller space as people will come and go relatively quickly.

Meals: The length of the class can impact the room size and accommodations that you need. If you plan to cross over meal times, do you need a kitchen for storing and preparing food?  Do you want to have food prepared and delivered for you during your event?   

Ambiance, Environment and Feel-What kind of feeling do you want to create for your students and how will the physical space help you create the right atmosphere? Do you want a large, light, bright and open space with fresh air blowing through and lots of room to move around? Or, do you want a small, intimate space to facilitate group closeness and connection?  Do you want to be outside and connected to nature? I recently found a quaint little cottage-space that looked like a perfect artist studio.  I inquired with the owner and she agreed to let us host an intuitive painting class.  W
e were able to create just the right mood, beginning with the space.

Rental fees:  What is the charge for room usage?  Is it hourly or a flat fee?  What is included in the price and what is expected of you in terms of clean-up? Is a deposit required?  What is the policy in the event of cancellation?

Insurance: Are you required to have separate insurance?  Some entities require you to carry your own policy to protect them in the event that someone is injured during your class.

Need some help getting started?  Here are some ideas:

Libraries-Many have private rooms that can be rented.  In our area, many reserve these rooms for non-profit entities, so check their policies.

Churches-Often have public space available for a small fee or donation.  In most cases, you do not have to be part of the congregation to utilize this space.  The photo above is a beautiful church where we recently taught in Clinton, NY.  It has lofty ceilings, giant windows, hardwood floors, a kitchen, tables/chairs, no air conditioning and limited parking.  People coming into the church may walk through the space as well.

Recreation and Community Centers-Often have public space available to rent

Malls and Stores-Makers have reported using the food court or public space in Malls, coffee shops, Panera and other businesses where it is typical for groups to gather (and make a purchase of course.)

Businesses: Consider approaching businesses to use their space in the off hours.  Many businesses have conference rooms or open space they may make available to you.

Parks:  Many parks have pavilions and public spaces both indoor and outdoor, available to rent.  These are often used for picnics and parties.

Hotels, restaurants and other facilities where wedding receptions or conferences are held:  Hotels often have a variety of public rooms available and can provide food for longer events as well. Check wedding advertisements for places that offer showers and receptions to get the ideas flowing.

Private Homes: Your home or your student's  homes can often be a great place to host classes.  There are pros and cons to weigh, especially if bringing people into your own home or studio, such as privacy, liability and safety against low cost and convenience.

Retreats, Cottages and Lake houses:  These are my favorite for longer retreats, but don't rule them out, especially in the off-seasons, for shorter events.  Retreat centers may be willing to rent just one room or a cottage owner may allow you to use the space for one day in the winter months.

Vacant Businesses, Homes and Apartments:  Although I have not tried this, we have considered approaching businesses that had space vacant and for sale, to find out if we could rent it for a short duration.  

Have other ideas on teaching space?  Post them in the comments below.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

You Don't Have to be an Expert to Start Teaching

Yep, it's true so embrace it.  If you make and sell something successfully, you can likely start teaching right now because you already have two key pieces of what you need.

1) You know how to do something really well.
2) People have shown that they like what you make through buying it-so you make something of value.  You have a track record of successfully producing a quality product that there is a market for.

If you're able to explain things in a clear way that is easy to understand and follow and you're enthusiastic about the topic-you have everything you need to begin.

When I first approached our local Adult Education Program to start teaching jewelry making, I only knew how to make one thing:  Earrings!  I had made and sold hundreds of earrings.  Nothing else.  I had focused exclusively on learning to make different types of earrings and I could explain to beginner jewelry makers exactly how they could do this too.

Necklaces?  Nope.  Bracelets-I hadn't gotten that brave yet... but I knew how to make one thing well so the class I proposed was-spoiler alert....Earrings!  My students made at least 3 pair of different style earrings over 3 class sessions.  I still teach this class and my students often want to keep learning more when it's done. (I have since learned to make many different types of jewelry, but this is where I began.)

The key here is not to focus on what you don't know.  You aren't going to try and teach people how to make necklaces if you don't know how to make them.  You are going to teach what you know how to do well and share your success.

Don't let what you don't know hold you back from sharing the gifts you have right now.
Don't compare yourself to other instructors who have been making and teaching for years.  Start with what you are able to share with confidence.

The other key in starting where you are is to target the right students.  I would not target my Earring class to advanced jewelry makers.  It is for beginning jewelry makers and this is clear in the class description. Gear your descriptions and content to the level of maker that you feel you can comfortably teach. Teaching kids is also a great way to get started (and where I began with teaching painting classes) when you're not 100% comfortable yet.

The bigger questions to ask yourself than are you qualified to teach is do you want to teach and are you able to explain things in a clear way that people can understand and follow? I think the best way to figure that out is to test it out by teaching a real class and then decide if it's for you.

You don't have to already be an expert to begin, but teaching is one thing that does help build your reputation as an expert as you grow.

Ready to get started crafting your own classes?  Join our mail list below:


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

7 Ways to Be a Great Teacher

I've taken lots of classes and have been lucky enough to have a few very gifted teachers. From their greatness, I learn not only the content of what they're teaching, but also what gives them that  certain something that makes students want to keep coming back again and again.

What I have found is that you don't necessarily have to be an expert at what you do.  You don't have to be perfectly polished and 100% together. Your students are not seeking perfection, they're looking for information, inspiration, connection and maybe a little entertainment for good measure. 

So, how can you create classes that get your students fired up?  Here are seven qualities I've gleaned from my teachers that you can consider for yourself:

1) Great Teachers are genuinely interested in your growth.  They can set aside their own personal issues, self-consciousness and "need to be right" to truly reach you.  They are passionate about their craft and want to share that enthusiasm with you. They want you to truly get it and become as excited about your own possibilities as they are.  They see you as a person with the potential for growth and help you to see it too.

2) They inspire you to think in new ways and make new connections.  They create a shift in your thinking and a sense of possibility for what you can create yourself.  They get your mental gears cranking so that you're eager to run home and try what you've learned on your own.  They give you the skills you need and encourage your belief that you can do it.

3) They seek to connect with you, often by sharing personal stories that show they are a real person too and not just a talking bobble head. They can be entertaining and humorous which makes learning fun and engaging.  They understand that making it fun helps people learn better.

4) They are confident and project confidence. They speak with belief and assurance, which builds your confidence in them and your trust in them as your guide. There is no wishy-washy indecision. (As a student, be wary of people who may just be confidently projecting crap-you should always question things that don't seem right no matter how convincingly offered.)

5) They use their powers of perception to "read" the class.  They are in tune with where each person is and what they might need to slow down with or revisit. They adjust accordingly and often offer extra support outside of class to those who might have trouble keeping up.

6) They're clear and concise. They make the outcomes of the class known ahead of time and move you toward those outcomes. In the hugely popular B-School, Marie Forleo outlines exactly what you'll get over a 6-week period and then adds bonuses on top of that.  For each segment she delivers, she outlines precisely what you can expect to learn and gives you action steps to take after each segment to implement in your own business.

7) They create an environment where everyone feels open to share.  This can be done by laying "ground rules."  In Dirty Footprint Studio's "Ignite" Teacher Training Class, we called them "Lodestones" and they were actually rules of engagement with your fellow student's.  The Lodestones helped members of the group to know how to give feedback and respect where each person was on her own journey.

Don't let these qualities scare you. None of us starts out great-it's something we aspire to. Teaching is a practice which means we might trip and fall on our faces before we improve, but it's worth working toward if you want to establish yourself as a trusted teacher in your craft.  

Over the next few weeks, think about who you've learned the most from. What stood out about your greatest teachers that you connected with or appreciated? How did they make you feel? How can you incorporate a little of what you loved into your own classes?  

Also think about the not-so-good learning experiences you've had. What do you want to avoid?  How did you feel as a student in these environments?  I think it's as important to explore what not to do as it strengthens your practice. Steer clear of that which does not serve your students well.

Your teachers are all around you.  They're in the blogs and books you read, the posts you follow, the people in your life. Be investigative and notice who and what speaks to you.  
They are little gifts on you own teaching journey.  

Come explore your own potential to teach.  Join our free email list below:

Friday, April 10, 2015

Finding Places to Teach Your Craft

If you're just getting ready to start teaching your art, craft or talent, one of the first things to do is find a location from which to impart your wisdom.

Where do you begin? 

The easiest place to start is to sign on as a teacher with an established business that already offers classes. The advantage being they already have access to potential students so you will not have to do ALL of the marketing and recruiting yourself. 

Of course, no matter where you teach, you always promote your classes and let your people know when and where you are teaching. When you're just dipping your toe into the teaching whirlpool, you might not have much of a following yet, and could likely use the extra help from established businesses.

You could start with places like:
Adult Education Programs-I teach through my school district's Adult Education Program. They send out brochures of all of their courses to everyone in our HUGE school district.  They register people for the class, collect payment and they pay me an hourly rate and allow me to build my prep time in.  I also charge a minimal supply fee for the beads and wire the students use to create their projects in the class.

Continuing Education Centers-We have a center called BOCES that offers Adult Education Programs. They have a range of classes from cooking to website design. If you have a similar setup in your area, you could review what they already offer and see how you might create an offering that fits in well.

Community Centers-Your local parks and recreation department may have a smattering of youth and adult education classes they offer. Search for them online by googling your town+parks and recreation

Art Co-op- I co-teach a painting class with another co-op right in the boutique where we sell our work.  We clear out a space, set up tables and the Co-op helps promote it, registers people and collects the money.  As an added bonus, people also usually buy from the store while they are there (it's hard to resist when you're sitting amongst so much amazing art!) If you have a place where you sell your work, you could approach them to teach a class, maybe renting the space after store hours if they don't have a designated classroom.  We hold classes in the evenings and Sundays when the store is typically closed.

Big Box Craft Stores-places like Michael's and AC Moore are often recruiting instructors to teach in local stores. I've taken cake decorating at Michael's with my daughter in the past and it was fun and informative.

Museums-Here is a link to our local museum and the classes it offers. Keep in mind that you can "pitch" a new class that you'd like to teach. Class coordinators are always on the lookout for fresh ideas to draw people in.  I'll talk more about approaching venues in an upcoming post.

You also have Online teaching options like Creative Live and Craftsy where you provide the content, or go to their offices to be filmed. They do the promotion and marketing of the class. You will likely need to have demonstratable expertise in your area and a solid audience for your work to land a teaching opportunity with one of them. Another option is Udemy where you create content and they host and promote it. They also have a tendency to put classes on clearance, which means you make far less money.
Creative Live (link is to how to submit to teach)
Udemy (No teaching Experience required!)

Here are a few of the online platforms where you create the content, upload it and market it yourself:
Teachable (is a popular learning platform where you can host your own online classes)

These sites provide the platform and handle payment collection, you provide the content. They each offer different features from pricing to student experience, so you will want to compare them. I have heard very positive things about Teachable and have set myself up with a free page for hosting classes with them.

Do you have places you teach or would recommend, either online or through an established business? Feel free to share in the comments.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Is What You Make an Extension of Who You Are?


Yesterday I spent several hours reviewing the top 100 Etsy sellers of 2014 compiled by Handmadeology. My agenda was to check out products that are in high demand and what sets these shops apart from the rest.

What I found was a very bizarre mix!  There are many shops that sell headbands for babies with little flowers on them, one that sells buttons with words and sayings, one that sells junk jewelry for .99 cents, that they find at flea markets...

Contrary to what you're taught in every Etsy class-the photos for some of these sites are far from spectacular.  So what them makes them special?

The thing that I found they each have in common is that what they sell is a reflection of who they are.  What you make and sell must tie in to something you believe in and actually enjoy doing. If you're not genuinely into multiple piercing, selling nose rings probably isn't going to work for you, no matter how good your photos. Will you be able to write genuine posts about piercings that drive people to your site if piercings give you the creeps?

There was someone who sells sage and stones and energy kits which appealed to me in my "chasing shiny things" kind of way for a few hours, but then I realized that although it is a great idea for the artistic community I love to work with, it isn't "me" and what I include in my own daily life-but you bet it is for the shop owner.  Her products are an extension of what she practices and believes in.

There is a couple who sells jewelry made out of Scrabble tiles. They incorporate their love of reading and teaching into the images and quotes they select for each piece. Their unique personalities and interests are reflected in what they make and this was true for many of these shops. (The "about" pages on the site is where you tell your story and where you can connect who you are to what you make.)

If you're interested in having a look at popular Etsy sellers, I recommend you click on "sales" and go back to the very first sales to see how products evolved and changed over time.  This will be a mighty boost to your confidence.

Rather than getting deflated by comparison, I was actually really encouraged and excited by this exercise. I felt strongly that if they can do this (make and sell something they love + grow and evolve over time) then so can I and so can you.

Continue to develop your skills, work on your photography and share more of what you're doing.  When you get stuck about what direction you want to move in (like if you should add nose rings to your product line?) you can weigh this against who you are and what your ideal customer would want. 

I'm studying Etsy to learn as much as I can, but I'm not convinced it's the right platform for me.  We just had a local platform open up called "Folk You" and I may try that instead as I have had far more success with selling in local shops and I'd like to connect with other local artists.  
If you'd like to check out my own beginnings of an Etsy shop, stop over here.

If you're looking for some help with your Etsy Shop, here are some resources for you:
Creative Live Class-Etsy 101- Launch Your Handmade Shop with Marlo Miyashiro
The Art of Selling What You Make-Tara Gentile
Etsy-Australia-Tons of Good Info.