How to successfully organise a DIY workshop

How to successfully organise a DIY workshop

In recent years, a new type of event has been very suc­cess­ful — DIY work­shops (where DIY stands for “Do It Your­self ”). Pro­pelled by social media where new DIY tuto­ri­als accounts pop-up every day, teach­ing every­thing from how to knit a scarf to redec­o­rat­ing your liv­ing room or how to make your own can­dles or jew­ellery… DIY work­shops are very pop­u­lar.

Con­crete­ly, the DIY trend is the art of tin­ker­ing, recy­cling, mak­ing every­day objects your­self. More than an activ­i­ty, it is a way of life. Sewing, home improve­ment, cus­tomis­ing your clothes, mak­ing cos­met­ics … there is some­thing for every­one!

What does a DIY workshop look like?

There are three types of work­shops: at the cre­ator’s, at the par­tic­i­pants’, or in part­ner­ship with stores or com­pa­nies. It’s up to you to define yours in line with your pref­er­ences.

Your work­shops can attract indi­vid­u­als, busi­ness­es or event agen­cies. Each work­shop is dif­fer­ent, depend­ing on the type of cus­tomer, the organ­i­sa­tion, the dura­tion and the recur­rence.

Organ­ised for small groups (from 4 to 15 peo­ple, depend­ing on the dura­tion of your work­shop and its recur­rence) these work­shops are the oppor­tu­ni­ty to real­ly exchange advice on every­day activ­i­ties. A the­o­ry part gen­er­al­ly come before the prac­tice. It usu­al­ly con­cerns the mate­ri­als, the tech­niques used, the pos­si­ble uses of the tools and the object in ques­tion. The “stu­dents” can (most often) leave the work­shop with their com­plet­ed project in hand.

How to organise a DIY workshop

DIY work­shops are the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty for cre­atives and enthu­si­asts to pro­mote their prod­ucts, earn some extra mon­ey, share a pas­sion or friend­ly moments with inter­est­ed par­tic­i­pants. Many rea­sons can moti­vate you to organ­ise your own work­shops.

1 — Choice of venue

Above all, it is essen­tial to find a loca­tion that is suit­ed to the num­ber of stu­dents you want to host, the dura­tion of your work­shop and the equip­ment you need to com­plete the projects. You will not have the same logis­ti­cal require­ments if you are organ­is­ing for a cre­ative per­son or on your own behalf, for a local gov­ern­ment or a busi­ness.

You may decide to organ­ise your work­shops at home, in which case you will need pro­fes­sion­al insur­ance. This solution’s main advan­tage is that you will not need to move any equip­ment. Nev­er­the­less, it requires a large space to ded­i­cate to this activ­i­ty.

Some work­shop organ­is­ers pre­fer to plan their work­shops in their shop or that of some­one they know. All the equip­ment is already there and it is the oppor­tu­ni­ty to pro­mote their cre­ations and inspire par­tic­i­pants by wel­com­ing them in the uni­verse of the shop. And per­haps sell at the same time.

If you do not have access to either of these options, you can con­tact the local tourism office or town hall. Many pub­lic premis­es have spaces for this type of activ­i­ty. Be care­ful, how­ev­er, and make sure that you will be able to set-up all the nec­es­sary equip­ment and that the cal­en­dars will not be too restric­tive.

Final­ly, you could decide to organ­ise work­shops in pri­vate homes, in places of life (co-work­ing space, café, restau­rant, …) or in com­pa­nies. Some HR depart­ments and employ­ee rep­re­sen­ta­tives make this type of activ­i­ty avail­able to their employ­ees for team-build­ing moments or to cur­rent and prospec­tive clients. This solu­tion saves you from hav­ing to hire a venue, but it can be more com­pli­cat­ed to plan and organ­ise the space accord­ing to your mate­r­i­al needs.

2 — What to ask yourself when you organise your workshop

Once you have picked your venue, there is a number of questions that you should ask yourself before planning any workshop.

Who is your tar­get audi­ence? Adults or chil­dren, busi­ness­es or indi­vid­u­als. You will adjust your com­mu­ni­ca­tion strat­e­gy about the work­shop, its con­tent and its price depend­ing on the tar­get. To decide on the price, analyse what oth­ers do around you, and opt for a sin­gle price per work­shop that includes the equip­ment need­ed, the insur­ance and the val­ue of your ser­vice.

How many peo­ple can you accom­mo­date? The answer to this ques­tion is a com­pro­mise between com­fort and prof­itabil­i­ty. It will depend on the equip­ment need­ed, whether you are stay­ing in one place or not, whether you need to hire a venue or not, etc. You will need a min­i­mum of par­tic­i­pants. How­ev­er, keep in mind that the set­ting should be user-friend­ly, make it an oppor­tu­ni­ty to exchange and allow time for par­tic­i­pants to car­ry out their projects to give them a bet­ter expe­ri­ence.

What equip­ment and how much space do you need? Pre­pare a bud­get includ­ing your fixed costs (your equip­ment, your tools) and vari­able costs (non-reusable mate­ri­als to be made avail­able to each stu­dent), the lat­ter will help you set your rates.

When will your work­shop take place? If your tar­get is made up of work­ing peo­ple, you will have to set your work­shop at the end of the day or in the ear­ly evening. For a younger audi­ence, favour week­ends and Wednes­days or hol­i­days. If you work for com­pa­nies, you will have to adapt to their sched­ule.

3 — Planning your workshop

Plan your dif­fer­ent work­shops and their pro­grammes well in advance. Your work­shop should be pre­pared as a course. Split it into sev­er­al parts:

  • one part intro­duc­ing the tech­niques used (his­to­ry and ori­gins, descrip­tion of mate­ri­als and tools, pre­sen­ta­tion of tech­niques and uses …),
  • one part of Q&A and dis­cus­sions,
  • the prac­ti­cal part, i.e. mak­ing the object. And final­ly col­lect­ing feed­back (e.g. make use of the object’s cook­ing time to dis­cuss around a drink about any dif­fi­cul­ties encoun­tered, par­tic­i­pants’ feed­back on the course etc.)

Each work­shop should be ded­i­cat­ed to a sin­gle object to max­imise the equip­ment need­ed and the atten­tion of the par­tic­i­pants. Prepar­ing ahead of time is essen­tial for the work­shop to run smooth­ly. Remem­ber to organ­ise a first “test work­shop”. Keep in mind that some par­tic­i­pants may need more sup­port and ask a lot of ques­tions, so plan a buffer in your sched­ule.

It is advis­able to pro­vide visu­al sup­port with images and bul­let points sum­maries of each stage of the prepa­ra­tion on which par­tic­i­pants can take notes to bring home. Also, to make the expe­ri­ence both use­ful and enjoy­able, you can pro­vide food and drinks.

How to get people to sign up to your DIY workshop?

Cre­atives are advised to write a blog or cre­ate a web­site on which they can share their cre­ations, tech­niques and activ­i­ties. Com­bin­ing your blog with a reg­u­lar pres­ence on social media is one way to great­ly increase your vis­i­bil­i­ty.

If you have a Face­book page (we strong­ly rec­om­mend it), you should cre­ate events for each ses­sion. These com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels will allow you to inte­grate a tick­et­ing sys­tem and thus link your cre­ative activ­i­ty to your work­shops.

To reach more poten­tial cus­tomers, reg­is­ter with your local tourism office and get in touch with your town hall. You can also cre­ate fly­ers with use­ful infor­ma­tion about your work­shop. Choose colours and images that match your uni­verse. Depend­ing on your tar­get audi­ence, dis­trib­ute them in shops near your work­shop, in day-care cen­tres, schools, DIY stores, etc.

The local press can also serve as a relay. Write a press release talk­ing about the sto­ry, the pur­pose and the specifics of your work­shop. Intro­duce your­self and your cre­ations. If you can, you should add pho­tos or a video … make it as attrac­tive as pos­si­ble, you could get an inter­view!

To retain your par­tic­i­pants, con­sid­er hav­ing them fill out a form at the time of reg­is­tra­tion that will allow you to retrieve their email address and com­mu­ni­cate about future work­shops that you plan to organ­ise or to for­ward the visu­al sup­ports used dur­ing the work­shop.

Ready to organ­ise your own DIY work­shop? Start now with Weezevent:

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