So in this article I’m going to address 8 of the biggest mistakes artists make when running workshops. In my previous blog, we looked at How To Create Workshops Teaching Your Art. Unfortunately over the years I’ve seen so many artists not getting the results they should be. That we want to make sure you don’t fall into that trap.

I’m super excited to be writing more about this topic, as it’s so very close to my heart. If you are serious about not just making a living, but making a GOOD living from your art, this is a great income stream.

Let’s not waste another second and get straight into it.

The 8 Biggest Mistakes Artists Make When Running Art Workshops

Number One: Not Doing Any Market Research First.

This is such a basic one in my eyes, how can you offer something when you don’t know what people want. Or in most cases what’s already out there. Do some online research, then pop into your local arts centre or library and pick up brochures, flyers etc.

If you know a few people already that might be interested in learning from you then ask what they would want. Create a poll and get some clear answers. If you don’t do this you can spend a lot of time and money putting together something that isn’t wanted, or is already well covered. 

Number Two: Not Doing Enough (Or Any) Marketing.

A whole other subject really and one I will be doing another blog on. In my day most people I knew just put up a poster locally and hoped that people would come. Needless to say this isn’t going to build you a sustainable art income stream.

You will need to market your workshop for at least 6-8 weeks before-hand, longer if you don’t have any contacts. By that I mean creating a workable marketing plan, breaking this down into tasks, diarising them and of course daily action.

I’ll never forget an early coaching client I had, who said: “I don’t understand why I didn’t get any attendees, I posted flyers all along the high street”. Now that is scary folks.

Number Three: Not Being Clear At What Level Your Workshop Is.

This is easily done in the heat of excitement and creativity. You have a passion for Oil Painting or Watercolour Landscapes, and title accordingly. Most people don’t actually take enough time over their workshop or course titles in the first place. This may well determine whether you get attendees or not.

It’s vital that you let people know whether that’s a beginners level, for those with some experience or for other practicing artists. If it’s not in the main title, then it needs to be in the sub-heading.

Example: ‘Charcoal Drawing In Nature’ – for total beginners.

Number Four: Not Planning Out Your Timings.

Sometimes just getting your workshop together, and then promoting it can seem more than enough. So when the day comes you have an idea of what you want to cover, but didn’t get round to the actual detailed content planning.

You but you didn’t take into account the time it would take to answer people’s questions. Or get everyone set up with materials, or how long they would take eating lunch and chatting.

Trust me I’ve been there and done that! The first time around keep your topic simple, and allow more time for each section. Things always take longer than expected right? Write out your timing on a piece of paper and have it with you, so you can keep a check.

Workshop Timings Example:

9.30 – 10.00am         Arrive, introductions etc and settle in.

10.00 – 11.15            Introduce the media and do 2 practice pieces.

11.15 – 11.30            Coffee break

11.30 – 12.30            Exercise 1 – trees.

12.30 – 1.30              Lunch

1.30 – 2.15                Exercise 2 – rocks.

2.15 – 2.30                Tea break

2.30 – 3.45                Exercise 3 – water.

3.45 – 4.00pm           Review and close.

Number Five: Not Having 100% Control In Your Workshop.

Yes I know you’ll likely be teaching adults and in some cases more mature adults. Just remember most people signing up for a one-day workshop are looking to have a good time as well as doing a bit of art.

You are the teacher in the ‘room’; if you’d like them to be quiet and work then don’t be afraid to say so. Be very clear from the on-set how the day will go, right down to the timings. People like to feel ‘held’, safe and secure. If they know they have to back from lunch at a certain time, they will be.

Number Six: Not Having Materials On Sale With Special Offers On The Day.

Now I have my business head on here. But in my experience a lot of people who come to workshops are not heading for a professional career (unless that’s your target market). They however often would still like to treat themselves to the materials you use.

Find out from your art supplier if you can become an ‘Affiliate’ (you get a small commission of everything you sell of theirs) or buy some in at wholesale prices. Then this becomes another art income stream for you.

Number Seven: Not Having Something To Offer After The Workshop.

Yes I still have my business head on. Imagine now if you are going to learn something new. You attend a one-day workshop for beginners and love what you learnt. The chances are you’d like to continue?

So don’t let people down by not offering an Intermediate Level or Advanced or ‘More on’. Or perhaps you can run a weekly class or two-day event where they can go deeper.

This is hands down the easiest way to build you art teaching business. You have a captive audience, so give them a special offer if they sign up on the day… For me this is the largest of the 8 Biggest Mistakes Artists Make When Running Art Workshops – so please put this right first!

Number Eight: Not Having A Feedback Form To Find Out How You Can Improve.

A lot of people are simply too afraid of failure or what they might hear to do this. But I can tell you that once you do this the quality of your workshops will dramatically improve.

Therefore so will your numbers, as word of mouth works its magic. If you deliver what people want, at a time, place and price that your audience want, then you are onto a winner.

Create a simple form with tick-boxes, and around 5/6 questions where they can select from multiple answers. I always asked for a Testimonial of the day on there too.

Here’s to your 100% success, banishing The 8 Biggest Mistakes Artists Make When Running Art Workshops. Dig into the other articles to get more help with putting your content together, marketing your events and more.