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The Creative Professional’s Guide to Selling Workshops

Want to make some extra money with photography, design or art? Add this offer to your portfolio website for another source of income.

London-based photographer Claudia Brookes uses her online portfolio not only to show off her work and attract new clients, but also to make some extra money.

Brookes is a university photography instructor, so she decided to try something new: every Saturday, she leads a workshop for photography beginners. At £65 per person, her mini course covers all the basics of digital photography, and has been given rave reviews by participants.

You don’t have to be trained as an instructor to hold workshops, though. As a creative professional, you have a lot of knowledge to share with someone who’s new to your field. Offering casual workshops where you discuss your techniques and offer feedback can be a great way to make some extra income, while also improving your own skills by working with others.

If you have an online portfolio, it’s easy to start offering workshops. You can advertise by clearly stating on your portfolio where you’re located, how much you’re charging, and exactly what your workshop will include. Be sure to mention your workshops on Facebook, Instagram, and all your other social media platforms so your followers will know they’re available.

To help you get inspired, we’ve found a few creative professionals, like Claudia Brookes, who are offering incredible workshops on their websites. Keep reading to learn how they’re doing it.

Make it a party.

Sydney artist Melissa Carey hosts workshops on a variety of hands-own art practices, teaching students how to make terrariums, macrame, candles, and more. In addition to these group workshops, she also hosts private ones:

“Melissa teaches private workshops for people who prefer a more personalised approach, or have a specific project in mind. The class is held in her art studio in Alexandria, and can be tailored to your choice of materials or project. Materials are provided along with refreshments.

Melissa also holds workshops for birthdays, hens nights, corporate team building or any special events, and can travel to a location and style the event to suit you.”

Catering workshops for birthday parties and other group events is a great way to appeal to people who might not have thought of signing up for a workshop alone, but are looking for a fun and different place to host an event. Including photos of the studio space and the workshops themselves is a great way to show customers what’s on offer.

Make your workshop into a creative event.

Photographer Ben Christensen‘s workshops are mini road trips. Here’s his description of a recent workshop which started off in Mesa, Arizona:

“We will all be traveling together in a 15 passenger van so you can ask any and all questions along the way. We will be able to shoot in some of the most beautiful sceneries - from the saguaro cactus in the desert to the pine trees in the mountains. What you will be able to learn is how to work with subjects and create real moments, how to utilize social media, how to use both film and digital cameras and how to use both film and digital photography interchangeably in your projects.”

Christensen makes his workshop appealing by marketing it as an exclusive, one-time event. Being able to travel by car also means that participants will get a chance to shoot a wide variety of subjects, and also keeps the number of photographers limited, which makes for a more personalized, intimate workshop experience.

Catering to a niche audience can help your workshop stand out.

Photographer Kelly Paulson, of Wild Whim Photography, specializes in wedding photography and portrait sessions. She offers workshops for photographers looking to get into shooting weddings. For $750, you get a full nine-hour day of teaching and practice, including:

“Morning Lecture on Pre-Wedding Practices (consultations, booking, managing client expectations, camera gear, wedding prep, etc.).

Styled Mock Wedding (utilizing real wedding vendors and models), wherein I touch on every major component of a typical wedding, from bride getting ready, pre-ceremony portraits, ceremony, family formals, reception details, bride+groom portraits, grand entrance, first dance, toasts, cake cutting, to reception dance floor.

Post-Production and Miscellaneous Q&A (usually over dinner)”

Paulson clearly outlines what the workshop will be like. Catering a workshop specifically to beginner wedding photographers is a great way to attract customers who are looking for specialized knowledge. Wedding photography is a popular choice for freelance photographers, and it’s also a demanding field, one in which clients have very high expectations and gigs can sometimes last for days or weeks. Paulson knows that beginners will have lots of questions for a seasoned wedding photographer, so this workshop is a great way to capture a certain audience.

Include testimonials from participants.

On the page where she advertises her DSLR workshop, photographer Claudia Brookes includes several reviews from people who’ve taken part in her beginner photography excursions. This is a great way to give more information about what your workshops are like (and to encourage people to sign up, once they see all those glowing recommendations). You can easily ask people to write a quick response after the workshop is finished. They’ll likely be happy to share what they thought of the experience, and getting that feedback will be helpful for you as you improve your workshops.

Reach a global audience with online resources.

UK photographer Rosie Hardy is a pro at creating stunning, digitally edited images. So she designed a web tutorial that guides viewers through her creative process:

“Each video is a step-by-step walk through of some of my most popular images of this year, from start to finish. You will be able to watch at your own pace, rewind and replay any bits you may find tricky, whilst all my techniques and tips are explained!”

Hardy’s tutorials start at £20, and include basic tips on using image editing software as well as more specific guides on how to vectors and stock images for editing, as well as other creative effects like adding fog to images. Online tutorials allow you to reach a wide audience. You can also offer Skype workshops, in which you discuss technical skills and offer critique over a webcam. Workshops don’t have to be limited to people who live in your area.

Let your client design their own one-on-one workshop for a unique, personal experience.

Here’s how LA-based photographer Alex Stoddard describes the one-on-one workshops he offers:

“My individual workshops are essentially personalized mentoring sessions, in which I demonstrate my complete process when carrying out a photo shoot. Over the course of a 6 hour period, I will walk the participant through conceiving a unique concept and taking the necessary steps toward bringing it to life. The student will learn techniques for appropriately lighting a scene, creating a character through styling and posing, and developing a distinctive photographic style. We will then take that knowledge and put it into action through shooting on location.

There are no prerequisites, and no experience is necessary to take a workshop. The student doesn’t even need to own a camera! I’d be just as happy teaching camera settings and basic lighting methods to someone new to photography as I would be organizing an elaborate setup with high fashion designs and models, if the individual simply desires new material to boost his or her portfolio.”

Stoddard explains the different skills he’s able to share with photographers, and highlights how his experience can benefit both beginners and more knowledgeable photographers alike. Customized workshops will appeal especially to photographers who aren’t complete beginners but are interested in having a professional help refine their work.

Make use of your location for an outdoors workshop.

Paris-based artist Doug Cushman offers several different workshops, which can be customized to fit participants. Cushman very clearly outlines how much each workshop costs, how long it lasts, and what you can expect from the experience. In addition to individual and small group workshops, he offers a Sketching in Watercolor Workshop:

“This is a unique workshop focusing on how to capture quick and fleeting impressions in our sketchbooks. We’ll paint on site, in cafes, on benches in a park or on the river. I’ll demonstrate how I approach sketching in watercolor in my own journal and then students will work in their own sketchbooks. We’ll move to 2 or 3 different venues, maybe more as time allows.”

Paris is full of picturesque scenes to sketch, so Cushman makes use of that for this workshop, instead of having students sketch in a regular studio. But no matter where you’re located, taking your workshop outside can be a good way to switch things up.

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