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Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Burning Question: So You Want to Teach...How Do I Prepare for a Class Proposal?

Did everyone survive "Tax Day" ?  Phew..I'm glad it has come to pass and I can continue moving forward in 2015!  For today's post, I wanted to talk about a few  things.  First off, I am having a fun 'Tax Relief' sale over at Creative Workshops (or in my online shop) featuring all of my Creative Workshops online classes. I do offer classes in other venues so not to confuse anyone but the sale is for the CW classes only.  Save up to 25% off all of my classes including my Podtastic class (featured at 20% off the regular price).  If you are looking for some inspiration using mixed media painting applications, techniques galore, abstract, collage, faces and more--stop by HERE or click the image to be taken to the shop.

Perhaps online classes aren't your thing...I have a couple of spots open in my Funky Little City Scapes this Satruday, April 18th at Jerry's Artarama, in Raleigh, NC.  The class is a full day mini city painting extravaganza, full of great techniques and of course, tons of fun!

For registration and more information, click HERE to be taken to the class page.

Grunge Ink coming to the Art More Place in Melbourne, Florida this June!
Okay...On to the topic of the day:

How Do I Create a Class Proposal

Speaking of classes,  recently I was asked by a past student of mine about sending in class proposals to teach at a small shop. What was involved? How do I price my classes and how do I ensure I make a profit in doing so?  I  thought that if one person had this question, perhaps a few others of you may have this same question, so today I'm going to share a few tips to help you gather your thoughts and wrap your arms around what you need to do get started teaching what you love.

Disclaimer-this list is in no way all inclusive nor does it mean that this is the only way to do this, it merely is a sharing of my own experiences. I've been teaching online for over 7 years and I have taught at large national retreats, mid size galleries and shops, and local and small shops/venues, so while not all inclusive, it is well rounded. 

First Things First

Make sure you are ready to teach your processes. When you embark on a teaching career as an artist, you are inspiring and guiding others to go down a creative path as well. You in a sense, have to be willing to let go of what you do and not hold back the information the students need to be successful. There is a high  likelihood that your designs will be replicated by many and you have to be okay with that as it is the way students learn until they find their own way. If you are not at peace with that thought, than don't teach that what is still too close to you.

1 1 /2 day extended version of Funky Little Beach Scapes at the Art More Place in Melbourne, Florida this June. 

How Do I Price My Classes?

Similar to pricing your work, your creative class offerings evolve based on your experience, your credibility, the demand for your services,  and the uniqueness of your class/you in the field you are teaching. One of the best things you can do is to research on your own, artists/instructors that you feel are on the same peer level as you and see what they are charging for their classes.  Be mindful of the length of class, location (is travel or overnight stays required),  size of venue, and what supplies the teacher is expected to provide (if any) to the students.   

All of these factors can effect your prices slightly, however once you have a class outline in place-be very careful of not changing the prices of your class by the venue unless there is a significant reason why you would do so.   

Remember when pricing your classes, to include the prep time it takes to create the class, the samples, travel if needed, the uniqueness of your workshop, and of course profit.    Be very careful when agreeing to do a class that pays by the hour or is asking for multiple days of instruction over a period of weeks.  There's not only a time commitment on your part,  you need to know how many students you will be teaching  and if there are any guarantees for you as an instructor.    I personally do not teach by the hour for a one time event.   The reason is that financially it doesn't make sense to do that nor is it competitive with other classes that I offer both in person and online. 

Twinks on Yupo, an online class over at

Know What Is Included and Is Expected

Is travel required?  Who pays for any food and lodging that you will incur as an expense?  Is the cost of airfare your responsibility or the venue?  What marketing will you both need to do? Who covers the expense? Do they have a marketing plan in place to promote your event?  You also have to have a marketing plan to be successful.   Will you be providing the supplies? Will the students be bringing their own supplies? Or will the venue be providing the supplies for a cut of your overall class fee? Is there an exclusivity agreement that is required (can you teach your class elsewhere in the area or for a period of time)?  Are you able to charge a fee for supplies you are asked to bring (remember, your supplies used are not free!  Even if you get a sponsor,  and get free supplies, or some samples...there ALWAYS is an expectation for you to do something for those supplies in return which takes time (like sample projects, videos, blog posts, social media promotions).   Be sure to take this into account when pricing your classes at least as an underlying cost of doing business.

I'll be honest, this is an area I am trying to do better in and be more realistic myself.  My inclination in the past is to say YES to everything and figure out the details later, which has left me in a not so great position in some cases.    I've even gone in the 'hole' teaching at certain venues because of not truly figuring out all the expenses before hand.   With that said, there can be reasons why you choose to take a chance on teaching in a location that may not be financially lucrative (long term opportunities, to build your resume, to break into a new market,  to build a student following, to view it as a marketing opportunity, to test out a class process in a small market that you will take and bring to a larger market with additional opportunities).

One of the things I feel I can do better at is having clear expectations on my travel engagements especially and to have an outline on my minimums, expenses, and other variables that I can just send to prospective venues when I am asked to teach.   Some places have very standard contracts in place and they already have those factors outlined, that's not to say you can't negotiate those items if you are called to do so, and other venues sit quietly and let you make the first move  when discussing the financials.  The standards  aren't necessarily even or the same across the board per instructor.  I don't feel this is a bad thing, after all everyone is looking to make a living, but I am saying, that the more prepared YOU are and the more YOU know what you can and can't do...and why, the better off everyone will be and the likelihood everyone will be happy with the arrangement.

Extreme Portraits, an online workshop over at


There are many times when you are called upon to teach what you love that may fall out of the realm of all these guidelines.  For example,  volunteer projects,  demonstrations,  blog post tutorials,  lectures, interviews,  donations, etc.  Many,  if not most, of these opportunities are very worthy of your time, but remember before you say yes to everything, choose your projects wisely and go with what your heart tells you to do. You can get very burnt out by saying yes to it all because as creatives, our hearts are so big and empathetic to all causes and requests for our time and talent, we forget how much energy (time and money) is expended going in a different direction that is not aligned with our goals and aspirations.  Don't make the mistake of undervaluing what you do and come to your agreement to doing something for 'exposure' or for a cause out of fear....make the decision out of love, love for others as much as a love for yourself and your family.  

Teaching other artists to do what you do should also come from a place of love and true desire to share.  Yes...I've talked a lot about the financials and expenditures because I think that artists need to understand & take into consideration all of  these things just as any small business should.  Beyond the financials is the underlying core of your calling. Are you compelled to pass on the torch of creativity?  If so, then proceed on with all that you have within you!   It doesn't make you any less or anymore of an artist if you teach or not teach, it just puts you on a different career path-one that I hope you proceed on with open eyes, an open heart, and a passion that fuels not just you..but all of your students.

Podtastic-one of my newest online classes on sale over at Creative Workshops

Free Worksheet For You To Use:

If you would like additional guidance on how to compile a basic teaching proposal, please check out my PDF worksheet created for you below.  It has tips and suggestions for you that you can amend based on your situation or the request of a particular venue.    

Click here

I hope you found this article insightful. Asking the right questions and knowing what is expected or needed is truly an art in itself!

Do you have a 'Burning Question' around art, the art business, living the creative life?  Drop me a line here in the comments or send me an email at :

I'd love to hear from you and will be featuring as many questions as I can in upcoming posts, articles, and down the road, classes!

Artfully Yours,

Jodi Ohl


New in the shop:  Family Matters!

Family Matters 11 x 14 original painting

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