If you have any particular hobbies, interests or expertise, this can be applied to a workshop format — where a group of people will pay to learn from you. And, if you’re struggling to pick a topic, take a look at a virtual workshop website such as ClassBento for inspiration.
Workshops can run for as short as 30 minutes as one-off, or weekly sessions over a longer period such as six weeks. While in-person workshops are still somewhat of a no-go, online workshops can have just as much of an impact when done right.
If you’re getting started and wondering how to sell out a workshop, read on…
Step one: Create an online workshop
Whether you’re transferring an in-person workshop to a virtual model, or just getting started, here are some quick tips to get you started with that process.
Choose your target group
Whether you’re running a workshop for crafts, pottery or fitness, you’ll have a target audience. That might be based on demographics such as gender, age and location, by interests, or a combination of the two. Either way, defining your audience will make targeting them with your marketing messaging much easier.
Some people may be tempted to skip this step but it’s crucial. If you don’t know who you want to reach, your messages will not resonate and it will be more difficult to attract workshop attendees.
Choose a great event name
When the majority of your advertising is through online marketing methods, an enticing event name can make all the difference! If you’re running short on inspiration, try Shopify’s business name generator to give you a headstart. Simply input your event type (i.e. paint and sip), and they’ll generate 100 unique (and unregistered) names that you can use.
Think about the logistics
Besides materials and video facilitation, you’ll need to make a plan of action to manage bookings, administer tickets and confirmations, and take payments securely. Consider an intuitive booking system with calendar and automation functions. It will help you take bookings and payments more easily. The automated email functions and reminders help you manage the time-intensive admin tasks and focus on running your workshop.
Set a time and date
Whether it’s a one-hour, two-day, or three-week workshop, you’ll need to set a day or dates that are convenient. For example, if you’re running a workshop on creating a side hustle, don’t set the time for Monday 9-6, when people will be working. Similarly, a Sunday night workshop could be unlikely to sell out. Generally speaking, Friday and Saturday evenings are a good place to start, as well as Sunday daytime.
Set a price
When settling on a price for your workshop, consider the following:
The cost of your materials and relevant software costs
Your level of expertise and relevant qualifications
Prices for a competitor or similar workshops
Profit after all costs (inc. any marketing costs)
Decide on workshop size
It’s important to define how many attendees you can realistically facilitate. Balance the workshop prices with how many people you’d manage to give individual attention or additional support to throughout. Quality over quantity is generally better in these situations. You’re also more likely to have happy customers with a smaller group.
Step two: Sell out your online workshop
Now you have your workshop prepped, it’s time to sell it out! Try some of the following tactics to bring in the bookings.
Make a buzz on social media
Online marketing is an ideal place to start when in-person events can’t take place. Use a mixture of content such as videos, photos, GIFs, polls, and stories on a social media platform (or multiple platforms) to create engaging and shareable content that generates excitement!
The key here is to mix the promotional content for your event with other interesting, funny, or relevant posts that your audience will be likely to share and comment on.
Offer a discount for your first workshop
When you’re starting out, a simple method of driving initial bookings is to offer discounts on your first workshop. Consider running a discount for the first 10 attendees who book.
Alternatively, your first workshop could be a practice run at a significant discount to friends and family. This may also give you an opportunity to get some images to help promote your workshop in the future.
As well as discounts, incentives are an effective way to get customers on board. Consider offering a discount on those who book into your workshop early. You can offer gifts such as access to an e-book or training video, or create a giveaway such as a one-on-one mentoring session with the host.
Use your network
Often, your expertise is one of your unique selling points (or USPs). So be sure to use your network, friends, and family to spread the word about your workshop! You can also use your own social media profiles and followers to share with those who are already interested in your knowledge and expertise.
Make a teaser trailer
A short teaser trailer for your workshop can help drive interest. If you run with the idea of making your first workshop friends and family only, perhaps you could record this and take snippets in the form of video content to share on social media. Alternatively, you could create a short introduction where you talk to the camera about what clients can expect from your live workshop.
Consider a webinar
Running a free webinar on a theme related to your workshop can add value to your customers who have already booked while encouraging potential new customers to sign up. By keeping the topic closely related to your event, you’re sure to reach your target audience with a 30-60 minute webinar. You can run this at no cost using video conferencing software such as Zoom.
Step three: Build relationships
Once you’ve engaged with your ideal customer and they’re following you and/or subscribe to your newsletter, you’ll next want to build a rapport with them. Not only will this help your workshops become more personalized, but building relationships for the long-term will give you plenty of opportunities to sell or upsell in the future.
Tweeting motivational or inspirational quotes based on the theme of your workshop can help drive engagement.
Using social media (particularly Instagram) to share pictures. This can be a range of quotes, teasers, workshop photography, pictures of you, or testimonials.
Hold a contest
Online contests and competitions are a great method of generating organic engagement such as likes and shares. However, get familiar with the rules of the relevant platform before doing so. For example, Facebook has strict competition rules and guidelines for competitions using them. The following disclaimer is generally used by small businesses when running competitions but isn’t entirely comprehensive. So get to grips with the rules yourself to stop your content from being deleted or your page being taken down.
“This competition is in no way endorsed, sponsored or administered by Facebook, nor is Facebook associated with this contest.” You will also need to explain that Facebook isn’t responsible to entrants or participants.
Publish a post-event blog post
After your workshop, consider creating a blog summary. You can share this through social media as well as with your newsletter subscribers. You could include:
Feedback and testimonials
Pictures of the workshop
Videos or pictures of everyone’s results
A breakdown of what was involved and achieved
Once the workshop has ended, it’s a great time to email your participants. You can ask for feedback, images and give them an opportunity to follow you on social media. That way, you’ll have an engaged list of clients for future sales.
How do you pick the topic of the workshop that gets people to show up?
A good place to start with choosing a topic is to think about any activities and hobbies that you enjoy. You may also run a workshop for your business, i.e. if your business has been affected by lockdown rules such as a nail salon, you could run a workshop or a series of workshops to show your clients at-home nail care or nail art tutorials.
How do you figure out how many people you want to attend?
You should think about logistics initially. How many people can you realistically coach through an online activity at one time? Consider buffers too if your attendees are late or need extra help or support. After that, it’s important to calculate your revenue from holding a workshop with that amount of attendees, and whether or not (with costs included) this results in a profit or a loss. Speaking of this, be sure to check our tutorial on how much to charge for a workshop.
If you’re wondering how to sell out a workshop, we’ve shown that it doesn’t have to be a headache. By getting your logistics in check, engaging with your followers, and sharing relevant content, you can build an audience of your ideal clients for the long term! Building relationships, creating teasers, and showcasing your expertise will help encourage them to book a place at your next event.
So, there you have it. Now, go on, do it and have some fun!