HOW TO TEACH A CLASS

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Are you thinking about teaching a class in your community and want to know how to get organized and prepared to do it? Say no more.

Teaching has helped me promote my business and build confidence in what I do. 

This January I taught my first calligraphy class. I had a little experience teaching - a few years back I taught some art classes to children and a few hair cutting/styling classes when I was in cosmetology school. But this felt different.

I had to come up with a description to sell the class so people knew what to expect, I had to create a step-by-step process to follow so my class had a good flow, I also had to source and order the materials in order for each student to participate. Basically, I was on my own to teach this class and that's what made it different.

I was excited to teach, especially to adults who were really passionate about learning, but a little nervous because this was a big step for me. 

I don't know if I would've known to prepare for the class without the help from The Skillery, a co-working community of classes and workshops for and taught by creative entrepreneurs. They helped me organize my ideas, create a class/workshop page online, organize a space to teach in, and promote and sell tickets to the class. Because I am new to Nashville, I am certain that I would've been teaching to an empty room if I didn't have the contacts and promotional help from them.

I'm now going onto my 5th class - DIY Brush Lettering - and want to share with you 10 easy steps on how to teach a class yourself.

Step 1. Identify what you want to teach, who you want to teach it to and why. Consider your skills and what you know how to do really well. What are those things? Maybe you're a photographer and you want to teach beginners how to use their first DSLR or maybe you're a songwriter and you want to teach how to write a song to children. Whatever it is you want to teach, consider who you want to teach it to and why you want to teach it. As Stephanie mentions in this article,

the best courses weave together four distinct areas -core skills or information, a strong sense of purpose, the creative process or philosophy of the instructor, and a great finished product or end result – to create a one of a kind course that is truly distinctive

Step 2. Write a brief description of the class.  In 3 paragraphs or less, write out what your students can expect, how long the class will be, what they will be given (worksheets, materials) and what they will leave with. Think about the materials that will be used and if they get to take them home or if they are theirs to use during the class only. Students will want to know what they're paying for. So try to be as specific as you can but keeping it simple so they can imagine themselves at your class, enjoying it, loving it and finding value in it.

Step 3. Decide if you'll be teaching it alone or through an organization. If you're just starting out, I recommend teaching your first or several classes through an organization. The reason why is because these organizations/businesses makes money through your class so naturally they want you to succeed. They will help guide you through each step and will also help you sell the tickets. If you're going to teach it alone, know what you're doing, how you plan to sell the tickets and be prepared. The upside to teaching alone is you get to keep all of the ticket sales.

Step 4. Name your price. Consider your time, how long it takes to not only teach the class, but to organize the class, set up and break down the class. Price out the materials you will need for yourself and for your students. Now combine your hourly rate with the material costs and divide into how many students you want to attend. For example, if you're hourly rate is $75 and the class is 2 hours long, that equals $150. Add 2 hours of class prep, promotion, organizing, etc that equals $300. Now add materials costs - let's say $200, that equals $500 in total costs. Now divide that price into how many students you want so in this case lets say 10 students. That would be a ticket price of $50. Now don't forget that when you work through an organization, they will take a cut of that or charge you a fee. Let's say they take 50% - this would mean my total profit would be $250. So again the ticket price would be $50, total profit would be $250.

Step 5. Nail down a date and place. When choosing a space to teach in, consider your audience and what they might like, think about logistics (is there enough space for me to walk around in), ask if they have equipment essential to class (do they have a blackboard to use, projector screen, etc), think about lighting (is there enough lighting for people to see what they're doing), pick a time of day that's best for your students, and so on. When considering a date, do some research. Check out what days other successful classes are being taught and do the same. For example, The Skillery suggests I teach on Tuesday or Thursdays because they have the best turnouts those days.

Step 6. Order materials. You've already done a rough estimate of what materials will be needed in Step 4. Now order/buy those materials making sure to give yourself enough time to have them shipped to you in time or to pick them up from the local store.

Step 7. Promote the class. Create a Facebook event, talk about it on your blog, tweet it, whatever you can, announce your class and all of the details that make the class great. Be sure to not sound too salesy, you want your potential students to find value in this class. So mention what they'll get if they come, why you love this class so much, how long you've been doing it, etc.

Step 8. Create a syllabus and checklist. Now that you've launched your class and people are buying tickets, create a step-by-step outline of exactly what you'll be teaching so that when your class comes and you're standing there you don't blank. For example, the first thing I do when I start a class is introduce myself and share why I teach, why I am passionate about teaching and how long I've been doing it for. Once you have your class plan down, create a checklist of things to remember to bring with you. For example, if you're teaching a painting class, you not only need paint brushes, paper and paint, you also need cups, water and rage to wash their brushes.  Try to really envision the class from start to finish and jot down everything you need to remember to say and bring.

Step 9. Show up and crush it. Now all you need to do is show up. Keep in mind you might need to show up a half hour or 45-minutes early to set up. And a tip from The Skillery Teacher's Handbook is to surpass your students with something. So every class I come up with some way to surprise them. My last class, I surprised the students with a blank envelope with a stamp on it, challenging them to write a hand-written note to someone they know. Other times I've shared cookies or cheese and crackers with them.

Step 10. Build relationships. One of the most important things I like do when I teach is share my story, how I got to where I am today and then ask the students the same. Some are a bit shy at first, but once a few people break the ice, most join and share what they do, why they do it, how they heard about time and my class, and more. I do this not only because I selfishly want to learn all about them, but

I also do it to help build a community. I want these students to be friends with each other.

My last class, I jotted down any websites or blogs that the students had onto the chalkboard for everyone to check out. I encouraged them to stay in touch the other students and to email me anytime. I also put my social platform info on the chalkboard for them to share any photos they may have taken during class. This step was a gift that I was not expecting and is now one of the major reasons why I love to teach.

What's your experience teaching a class? Do you have any steps or tips to share for us? Have any classes you want to share? Wanna take a class with me but not sure if I teach it or will travel to where you are? Email me to see meredithcbullock@gmail.com

WHAT IS A CREATIVE COACH?

what-is-creative-coaching When people ask me what I do and I respond with I'm an artist, designer and creative coach. Without fail, the followup question is what is a creative coach? I'm happy to answer a creative coach is an expert/teacher/mentor that helps guide creatives, artists and musicians to achieve their goals. 

Think back to all of the teachers that have taught you something. In my experience, there are two types of teachers; one that guides you through each step, and the one that does the work for you.

Back when I was a teenager attending cosmetology school, there were two classrooms (each with their own teacher) that us students were divided into. One teacher that was rumored to be sweet, nice and easy and the other teacher was rumored to be a hard ass. I had the latter and I wouldn't change it for the world.

Because although at the time it seemed harder to be with this particular teacher and way scary to mess up a haircut, my teacher never leaned in and finished my work just to make things easier. She would stand next to me, guide me through the task, remind me of my knowledge, give me confidence to complete it. Eventually her style of teaching allowed me to feel confident enough to teach a few cosmetology classes while I was still a student. As for the students in the other classroom, lets just say most of them never went on to cut hair professionally.

So when I say I am a creative coach, I mean I am your rock standing next to you, supporting your ideas, reminding you of your courage, helping you over hurdles, empowering you with confidence and equipping you with the tools to successfully accomplish your goals.

Whether you need a single session to get over a creative hurdle, or a 6 week session to prepare you for your big business launch or brand overhaul, I am here for you. Email me today  meredithcbullock@gmail.com to find out how we can work together to accomplish your goals and start 2014 on the right foot!

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5 WAYS TO PAVE YOUR OWN CREATIVE PATH

how-to-pave-your-own-creative-path People often ask me how I learned to be a successful business owner, a money-making artist, and a girl who chose to pave her own creative path.

Growing up in a family full of entrepreneurs helps, but mostly I pay homage to lots of reading, watching and planning.

After briefly attending one semester at a community college, I realized that I was disinterested in paying thousands of dollars for an education when I already had everything I needed in order to educate myself. Don't' get me wrong, I loved that I was learning when I was in class. But I couldn't help thinking, I could teach myself this and not pay all of that money.

So that year I dropped out of college with a commitment to grow, read, observe, plan and most importantly to always believe anything is possible.

6 years ago I started that trek and today I am sharing with you 5 ways that help me make it happen:

1. LEARN - although I chose to discontinue college, I never stopped investing in ways to learn new things. I truly believe that a constant stream of fresh and new ideas is the best way to stay on top of your game. When I first opened my Etsy shop several years ago, I had no idea how to scan images onto my computer, edit them, then print them as high quality pieces of artwork. It took a lot of time and a lot of practice. A year or so later, I learned how to navigate the Adobe Creative Suite and now have several years of experience translating beautiful hand-made art into graphic art. The easiest and cheapest way I learn new things on my computer is to google it. But googling things does not give you all of the answers and advice you need. When I need more thorough explanations and more inspiring people teaching it - I go to my monthly lessons, podcasts, blogs, magazines and newsletters. My top 6 fav's are:

  1. Braid Creative (newsletter + ecourses) - have you guys seen their new website? it's amazing!
  2. How (magazine)
  3. Fast Company (blog)
  4. Be Free, Lance (blog series) 
  5. Music Business Radio (podcast)
  6. Entrepreneur on Fire (podcast)
  7. Lesson Learned (blog)

2. GROW - Self-growth can only happen when fears and obstacles are diminished. So what fears or obstacles are keeping you from growing? Is it failure, is it a past experience, is it the fear of losing money? So intend of imaging how you can grow, think about what is keeping you from growing and start eliminating it from you life. To me, self-growth isn't just about learning and making money, it's about being the best version of yourself. It's about finding balance, peace, happiness, love and diminishing those fears and obstacles that get in the way. One way that has helped me get rid of fears is working with a coach. I offer creative coaching and recommend it for anyone looking to overcome and conquer those hurdles.

3. GOAL-SET - You've heard me say it before, and I'll say it again goals are dreams written down with a deadline.I know you have thousands of dreams swimming in your head and heart, you're a creative person, of course you do. But until you write them down and give them a deadline, they will only ever be a dream. So get yourself a notebook and start jotting down your dreams and when you'd like to achieve them. Grab some tips from this blog post on how to get your dreams on paper.

4. READ - I can't say enough about how much reading books has helped me grow my expertise and guide me through running my own business to managing my day-to-day routine. At first I read more instructional books on how to screen-print, how to paint with acrylics, etc. Then I found a deep passion for self-help books. Books that shared techniques on how to prioritize your goals, how to dream big and how to make money doing what you love. Some of my favorite books are:

  1. Focal Point
  2. Manage You Day-to-Day Routine
  3. Launch
  4. Start Something That Matters
  5. The Magical Path

5. BELIEVE - None of these tips matter if you don't' believe. To achieve your biggest dreams, you must believe that it's possible and that you have the power to make it happen. Otherwise, it will never happen. Sometimes believing is hard because of fears, but what if you didn't have those fears, would you believe? Fears are only hurdles in our creative path. Jump over them and keep going, I promise you that your biggest dream are on the other side.

Are you paving your own creative path? If so, what tips you do have that have helped you? Any recommendations on resources or blogs, I love a good blog!

MY DAILY ROUTINE

my-daily-routine Do you find your days full of emails, meetings and the requests of others leaving you no time for yourself and what matters most?

This was me less than a year ago. I would check and send emails at any hour of the day, I'd work until my husband dragged me out of office (metaphorically, not physically). I would fill my day with work projects and let my personal projects and goals slip yet again. There were even moments that I found myself so busy and stressed out that days would pass before I went outside. I was too stressed to go for a run, hike or do yoga - all I could think was "if I just spend one more hour on this or that, then I can get it done and I not think it about any more - or If I take on one more project than I can make that extra money - or If I just check my email one more time, I could do...". I was a victim of my own terrible self-discipline and I felt drained and a slave to my work.

Something had to give, I couldn't let work rule my life. So, I made a conscious effort to plan each and everyday with my work goals AND personal goals. I wrote down what I wanted to do for myself, then what projects I had to work on, then how long each goal would take, and it's rank in priority. This more simple and precise, the easier and more accomplished my day was. I use a very simple and approachable technique that I talk about HERE and have a free download for HERE.

I started to make time for meditation and reading each morning, I scheduled in time for exercise, I made an effort to get outside at least every other day, I scheduled in my personal projects and I stopped working on the weekends - no exceptions.

I feel pretty lucky to have the ability to make my own schedule, especially now that I have a handle on it. I feel more accomplished, clearer and healthier.

I started to read this book Manage Your Day to Day and have found some great tips and inspiration - like creative triggers. As Mark McGuinness suggests in the book "Stick with the same tools, the same surroundings, and even the same background music, so that they become associative triggers for you to enter your creative zone." That's all I needed to create a Morning Routine mix on Spotify, you can listen to it here.

Here is an example of what my daily routine looks like:

  • 8:00am - wake and make tea
  • 8:15am - mediate
  • 8:30am - read and drink my tea
  • 9:00am - confirm my day
  • 9:15am - go for a run or do yoga
  • 10:15am - shower
  • 10:30am - eat breakfast (which usually is a nutrient rich shake)
  • 11:00am - I start my work day with the most pressing projects (this is a recent change in my schedule that I am testing out, typically I blog before I start my projects)
  • 1:00pm - write & blog
  • 2:15pm - return emails
  • 2:45pm - lunch with the hubby
  • 3:15pm - meetings
  • 4:30pm - social media
  • 5:00pm - personal projects
  • 6:00pm - return and send any last emails
  • 7:00pm - finish work, start cooking dinner
  • 7:30/8pm - dinner
  • 9:00pm - my hubby hangout and typically t watch some TV or movies
  • 11:15pm - I start to wind down and head to bed

I am so inspired by reading other people's daily routines, especially this one here. So what does your daily routine look like? What can you do today to make your routine better? What tip or victories have you discover that make your day-to-day awesome?