When it comes to wedding invitations, you might find that it’s hard to select a design that perfectly embodies you and your partner's specific style. We are determined to provide details for your custom wedding invitations that further serve your event and wow your guests!
When you make the decision to customize your wedding invitations with a designer and take a step outside the box, it allows you to find invites that use a little artistic flair allow you to show off your personal style in a completely unique way.
Custom wedding invitations, especially those that include a venue illustration, can elevate your invitation suite in such a personal way!
If you take a look at previous work by ElisaAnne Calligraphy, you’ll noticed that venue illustrations might be a favorite around here :) Below, we’ve shared a few reasons why we love them so much:
venue illustrations provide A SNEAK PEEK
Venue illustrations give your guest the perfect taste of what’s to come. It sets the scene of a beautiful church, elegant cathedral, country club or outdoor setting. Providing a sneak peek of the venue can build excitement for the guests, give them an idea of the dress code, environment and more! Think of it as a teaser-trailer for your big day.
venue illustration of delille cellars by elisaanne calligraphy. all illustrations are property of elisaanne calligraphy and may not be used in any manner without written permission from elisaanne calligraphy.
venue illustrations can be used on a wedding map
If your weekend has multiple locations, you might want to include a map of the area or venue to help your guests know where they should be. You can include locations like the ceremony, reception, cocktail hour and more to provide a layout of where each phase of the day will be.
Or, if the location of your wedding is somewhere special or symbolic to you and your partner (like a town or college campus) your map can also include special or memorable locations of your relationship as well!
photo by lauren bailey photography. This showcases a gorgeous welcome weekend map & itinerary we made for our client’s guests to enjoy in their welcome baskets. The map features 2 wedding venue illustrations - one for where the ceremony was held, and the other for where the reception was held!
venue illustrations act as a special keepsake
The venue is likely the first detail you picked for your big day - which means you probably fell in love with it! Including this illustration as a detail on your wedding stationery is a wonderful way to remember it forever, not to mention guests will definitely be pinning theirs on their fridge!
Check out this beautiful rustic barn illustration!
your venue is where you say “I DO”!
The venue is the starting place of the rest of your lives! When you leave your venue, you’ll be a married couple!
Your wedding invitation is the most impactful and fun way to leave a beautiful first impression on your guests. And we think that the best way to do this is with a hand-illustrated invitation that tells your unique love story. Whether you’re planning a black-tie wedding or a whimsical, backyard wedding, take a little bit of control back on this detail and use an illustration to let your personality and excitement shine through!
As a client of ElisaAnne Calligraphy, we love ALL illustrations! Past clients have included pet portraits (because we love our furry family members), monograms, crests, and more! What special details do you want to include on your invitations? Inquire below and let’s chat about it!
Weddings cause sticker shock, I totally get it. And the thing that makes weddings so tricky is the fact that many wedding vendors charge MORE for their items if they are for a wedding, as opposed to some other event people might be hosting. I am NOT a vendor that does that. I believe that my prices should be even across the board, regardless of the type of people or event I'm creating them for. But, with that said, my prices are still high and a lot of people will ask me, "Why are your wedding invitations so expensive?"
This is a question that I get a lot and it totally makes sense why! Compared to a lot of shops on Etsy or other online retailers that offer wedding invitations, my prices seems to be crazy. I get jaw-drop reactions when I tell people the price range for my packages ($2,500 - $5,000+). However, believe me when I tell you this: my prices are well thought out and they are the way they are for a few reasons, I'm not just charging you an arm and a leg because I can.
Here are a couple reasons why I charge the way I do:
1. I have to incorporate a DESIGN FEE in my packages. You may be wondering what that is! It's actually fairly simple. I need to charge for the time it takes me to consult with you, create your custom artwork, digitize your calligraphy, render artwork in Illustrator/Photoshop, send the invitation to print, etc. There are SO many details behind the scenes that you don't get to see. And these details take hours of work. If I don't charge for my time, I don't make a profit, and then I don't have money to pay the bills... and that's never a good thing!
2. I'm offering something of VALUE. As a creative, it's extremely important for me to place monetary value on my art and the service that I am providing you. I'm offering a service that is rare & not offered by many people (calligraphy) and I have paired that with my design experience to create wedding invitations that are one-of-a-kind. Not to mention all artwork created for each suite is custom, personal, and unique to every couple!
I also pride myself on my extremely diligent customer service, as well as the programs I am using to ensure you have a smooth experience with me. I want you to feel that working with me was one of the best parts of your wedding experience!
When you hire me you are essentially adding another “mini” planner to the experience because I’ll be the one that keeps you on track with your wedding invitation timeline while making sure that everything gets mailed out in time (preferably 8-10 weeks prior to your wedding date). Instead of making a huge checklist of to-dos for your wedding invitations and slogging through the process yourself, I make it super easy on you!
3. There's no way I can avoid charging for MATERIALS. Part of the expense you are paying for is the materials involved in the process. Everything I am paying for such as envelopes, printing, ribbons, paper, ink, calligraphy, nibs, etc. are expenses that come out of my pocket and are included in your wedding package.
4. And, last but not least, I have to pay TAXES AND FEES for running a small business. That's something that's definitely a factor in my prices, but I won't bore with you with intense details ;)
You may be asking, is it really worth it to hire a custom wedding invitation designer?
Yes, I really think so! But I'm biased of course ;) Trust me when I say this: your guests will rave about their wedding invitations if you decide to make the investment to have something beautiful created just for you. They will be even more excited about your wedding because of it!
The other question I often get it, do you offer discounts?
The simple answer is no, I do not. I'm a strong believer in the fact that if someone finds VALUE in my services that they will be willing to pay full price because they respect my work & highly desire to work with me!
Interested in having your custom wedding invitations designed by me? I would love to be a part of your big day! My design process starts 6 months prior to your wedding date, so inquire sooner than later!
While it might be convenient for a stationer and calligrapher to share the many reasons why paper is an important part of your wedding day, I fully understand that I’m also speaking to future brides and grooms here! So, we’re changing things up a little bit with this blog and bringing in a recent bride to share her thoughts on why you shouldn’t skip out on paper when you’re planning your wedding. Without further adieu, I’ll let Madison take it from here!
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Hi there! I’m Madison Emanuelo, a former client of ElisaAnne Calligraphy and a newlywed of six months strong. Our wedding was in October 2018 and it was truly the best day of our lives and an absolute dream come true. When we became engaged, I made the decision that we would forgo a wedding planner and handle every detail of our big day myself, because I’m obviously a crazy person. So, with my vision in mind and strategy in hand, we got started. As we put the plans in motion - my, then fiancé, now husband, and I were decently apathetic about having an actual invitation suite for our wedding.
Sure, you can call us “millennials” or the product of a digital society, but as we began planning our big day, paper wasn’t a part of it. We were on the fast lane to saving that money for the bar or a few additional hours with the band. Hopefully my parents never read this (LOL), but if it weren’t for them and their persistence of tradition - we likely would’ve passed by on what rapidly became our favorite detail and project of the entire wedding.
Photograph courtesy of Daisy Moffatt Photography
Invitations Are the First Impression
Here’s the bottom line, before they catch a glimpse of your venue, before they awe at the beauty of your dress, your guests will see your invitations. Throughout my planning process, I learned that wedding stationery is like a window into the future and is also a first impression of you and your spouse-to-be. It gives a taste of what’s to come at your wedding and can elicit emotion and excitement from the moment your guests open the envelope.
The amount of text messages, Snapchats and Instagram stories we received as people opened up our invitations was enough to obliterate my data and make me smile even on the most stressful day. And yes, there will be guests that simply toss them aside, but there will be PLENTY who hang on to them because they’re just that excited for you! There were a number of guests who loved receiving a calligraphy addressed invitation to their home and they’ve kept them on display in their house.
Our guests LOVED receiving the calligraphy addressed invitations in the mail!
Paper Helps With Planning
Say that ten times fast! With all of the features that electronic invitations that come with, I will say that our decision to go with paper gave us an extra level of control over who was actually being invited and the RSVP process. Sending our hand-addressed invitations provided exclusivity that didn’t allow for confusion in who the invitation was intended for.
Additionally, by customizing our RSVP card, we were able to fill in the number of guests each invitation included as well. While the method isn’t fool-proof, it still provided a barrier for the inevitable questions and sneaky RSVP’s.
Coming from a bride who has seen both options, seeing the dollar amount that you are investing in paper invitations for your wedding is an easy way to put a cap on the guest count and last minute invitations. (Specifically that last minute guilt or a parent trying to add a guest to the list). When all of the invitations are gone - they’re gone!
Sure, you might have some extras if someone is invited last second, but it’ll be noticeable that they don’t have the hand-addressed envelope. It’s not as feasible to have that cap when you can send another email out. You catch my drift here?
Our customized RSVP cards allowed us to fill in the number of guests each invitation included with each invitation
We’ll Treasure OUR WEDDING INVITATIONS Forever
Taking the time to sit, create, envision and work with a stationer, like ElisaAnne Calligraphy brought so much joy to a stressful and chaotic season, especially with the super personal and intimate details she was able to include in these pieces of paper. My hesitation in creating a traditional wedding invitation suite came from worry that it would be “too formal,” which wasn’t the vibe we were going for at our wedding.
After sitting down and explaining my vision, we were able to mold tradition and personality together into an invitation suite that was unique to us as a couple and shared some subtle elements of our relationship. From a venue illustration and portraits of our sweet animals (LOOK AT THEM), our invitation is something we will treasure for the rest of our lives.
They’re also the gift that keeps on giving! I’ve had friends turn my invitations into ornaments, friends have framed their envelopes for decoration, we were able to put them in frames for presents and so much more.
The animal illustrations were our favorite detail about our invitations!
Will I Care About Them Afterwards?
While the day has come and gone, the cake has been eaten and the thank you notes are completely finished (I’m lying), I’ve had many details to reflect on and so many memories from our special day. There’s a few elements that I would probably have done differently, like skip the cocktail hour or not stressed so much about the color of the table linens that nobody noticed.
However, I can say from the bottom of my heart that investing in paper was one of the best decisions that we could have made. My parents have their invitation framed in their house and I’m dearly looking forward to doing the same with ours for safekeeping!
Our wedding invitation suite was so, perfectly, us.
You’re getting married! The big day is rapidly arriving, the budget planned, and you have started looking for vendors to help bring the big day to reality. While this is a very exciting time in your life, it can also be the most stressful as you journey into an industry full of ever-changing etiquette and tradition. As your details come together, the wedding invitation is easily one of the most important elements.
I’ve collected some of the most frequently asked questions about wedding invitations that I see as a stationer and provided my honest to goodness answers:
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When should we plan to send out our wedding invitations?
Traditionally, invitations are put in the mail six to eight weeks before the wedding. This gives your guests plenty of time to make any changes to their schedule and travel arrangements as necessary. Couples have started sending “save the date” cards to guests up to eight months out from the wedding to give them a heads up and allow for more planning time.
If you are planning to skip the save the date, there’s no harm in airing on the side of caution with a plan to send your invitations out eight weeks prior, especially if guests will need to make overnight plans.
A full, customized wedding invitation suite with all of its pieces.
When should I begin working on my invitations?
This question comes with a two-part answer! First, I would always recommend working with a stationer (like ElisaAnne Calligraphy) six to eight months before the wedding.
Second, designing, producing, addressing, and delivering your order can take quite some time, especially depending on the materials and style you select, which can affect the timeline of your project. If you’re planning on working with a stationer, it’s never too early to start talking about what you have in mind!
This is the perfect example of an invitation that captures the “3 W’s”
What should be included on my invitation?
Easy answer - let’s call them the 3 W’s:
Who: Who is getting married
When: What time it is taking place
Where: Where it is being held
And maybe a venue illustration, pet portrait or crest :)
What pieces should be included in my invitation suite?
Simply: the invitation, the RSVP card, and the respective envelopes. These two pieces together should provide all of the important details, RSVP instructions, and who is invited.
However, as stationers, we have seen clients add other pieces such as details cards, maps of the venue property, menus, and more!
How do I clearly state the guests that ARE invited?
I might be jumping to conclusions, but I think what you actually meant to ask is:
How do I make it clear that we are having an “adult-only” wedding?
How do I make it clear that a guest has a plus one, or doesn’t?
How do I make it clear that my friend can bring her current boyfriend, but if they break up she can’t bring some random guy or person we don’t know?
This is where a professional can come in handy, because we’ve seen it all before! The way an invitation is addressed, or RSVP card is created can often lead to confusion, awkward phone calls and additional stress upon the bride or groom. In all honesty, there will always be guests who believe they are an exception but making these details as clear as possible will give you tremendous support when a family friend INSISTS that their kids were actually invited and RSVP for seven guests instead of two - true story there.
This is an example of clear addressing on wedding invitations.
STEP 1: Address by name
Address your invitations correctly – to each guest by name, not “and guest.” Guests should understand that the invitation is meant for only those mentioned. If their kids aren’t on the invitation, they aren’t invited.
STEP 2: Avoid “and guest” when possible.
If you include “and guest,” this leaves the invitation open to any plus one or date to fill the seat.
If the invitation includes the boyfriend by name, then they break up, his invitation does not transfer to a new date or random person.
This is also an easy way to note who who receives a plus one or not.
STEP 3: Include the number of guests invited on the RSVP card
If the recipient has made it this far and still needs one last barrier, include the number of intended guests on the RSVP card. For example:
The invitation is addressed to: Mr. and Mrs. Michael Emanuelo.
The RSVP card says: 2 guests included in this invitation; ____ guests accepting this invitation.
Their 3 kids are not included in the total - BINGO.
How much postage will I need per invitation?
So, you’ve set a budget for your invitation – but many couples don’t factor invitation and save the date postage into their budget – and it can actually cost a lot. (Like, make you question if it’s legal to charge that much for stamps, a lot.)
The amount of postage you need per invitation depends on the shape, size and weight. If you choose to handle postage yourself, (without your stationer) make sure to take a fully assembled invitation suite to the post office and weigh it to determine postage.
Look at this beautiful postage selection!
Should I hire a custom wedding invitation designer?
Is that a question after reading all of the answers above? :)
Weddings can be stressful, and flexibility is required, but hopefully this blog post answered some of the starter questions or added in a couple of details you hadn’t considered yet. Using a stationer who handles invitation details professionally can alleviate the potential for mistakes, unexpected costs and worries. Did I mention that designing your own custom invitation suite can be super fun and add the perfect, personal touch to your big day?
If this still hasn’t convinced you – check back for a blog post next week discussing the importance of paper in your wedding day!
Everyone is told they should have an email list; it seems to be “common knowledge” in any industry that if you build your list, then you can build your audience, gain more leads, and get more business. But if you’ve never built a list before, then you might be wondering, where the heck do I start? There are so many online email marketing platforms to choose from, and it can become overwhelming!
Perhaps one of the best known email marketing platforms is MailChimp. Truth be told, if you are going to start a list and don’t want to pay for it, then sign up for MailChimp - it’s free until you hit 2,000 subscribers (or you want to send 12,000 emails per month). Let’s say you do have exactly 2,000 subscribers on MailChimp… that means you would get to send 6 emails a month. If you can manage that low of an email-sending threshold, then great! You can stick with their free plan.
BUT, once you have to pay, please (for the love of all things good) switch from MailChimp to ConvertKit, because you will get SO much more for your money and your time, not to mention the sheer power of the ConvertKit platform compared to MailChimp.
I first heard of ConvertKit years ago though, to be honest, I was nowhere near being financially sound enough in my business to pay $50 a month for an email software. I was more focused on making enough money to just pay for my Adobe Creative Suite (something I use on a daily basis in my biz).
Anyway, I started with MailChimp because it made sense to me at the time. All I needed was a simple email list and the ability to email people that were on it. MailChimp was the perfect solution… however, I slowly but surely started to develop some growing pains as I realized that the platform didn’t fully allow me to do what I WANTED with my emails.
Without any further ado, here’s the reason why I finally made the switch:
#1. ConvertKit is much better suited to emails that will include a lot of text!
As I started to turn my email marketing strategy towards automations & educational topics, I realized that MailChimp just doesn’t look great for a lot of text-heavy content. Sure, the drag & drop feature makes it easy to place photos into an email template, but I actually realized I preferred to have an HTML based email with plain text instead.
There’s also a little bit of sales strategy behind my reasoning for this change as well… people are more likely to delete an email immediately (without really looking at it) if they open it and see a TON of pictures formatted like an ad. Their brain immediately checks out and they delete that email. They’re actually more likely to engage if they start reading and get pulled into the story or whatever information you’re sharing.
ConverKit is HTML based, and I used Spruce Road’s Designing ConverKit Mini Class to teach myself how to customize an email using HTML. That mini class was a godsend and made me feel like a ConverKit pro right away. Jamie gave me a code for y’all to get 20% off the mini class if you want to take it - just use “elisaanne” at checkout.
This is a screenshot of a broadcast i sent to my list! It’s incredibly easy to read, as well as view the stats. I just prefer the overall simplicity of the look convertkit emails provide.
#2. MailChimp can, quite honestly, be clunky AF. ConverKit’s interface is stunning and makes a lot more sense.
When I think about navigating around MailChimp to find everything I get slightly queasy… it was a treasure map of sorts. I was always poking around trying to see if I could find what I needed and where the HECK it was. I had to Google things constantly to try to achieve what I wanted.
ConvertKit is SO stinking easy and straightforward with how it’s laid out that I actually haven’t had many questions!
ConvertKit sends you a welcome email series after you sign up (and I bet they use ConvertKit to do it haha) that guides you through all the key things you need to know in the system. The email series lasted about a week or so and it taught me EVERYTHING. And that was a resource they put together for free for their customers! How cool is that?
I also love that it’s easy to get in touch with ConvertKit for technical difficulties & support via the chat button they have in the bottom right corner. MailChimp doesn’t have the best customer service (lol).
It’s SO easy for me to see the email sequences i have right in one place, as well as an overview of the stats!
#3. MailChimp stores subscribers in multiple lists, causing your numbers to be duplicated. ConvertKit stores subscribers on ONE master list & then allows you to tag/segment them.
Let me start by saying that MailChimp does allow you to tag and segment your subscribers, but it almost seems pointless because of the way their current system is setup. Let me enlighten you.
Let’s say you want to create a free download as an incentive to get people to sign up for your email list & newsletter. YAY! In MailChimp you have to create an individual list for every single free incentive you have. If you’re like me (someone who has multiple download incentives and free email series) then you’re going to get really frustrated with MailChimp. This is due to the fact that you might end up having 1 subscriber on all of your incentive lists, and if you have 3 incentive lists then that subscriber is getting counted 3 times towards your limit of 2,000 on the free MailChimp plan.
In my opinion, MailChimp’s organization for this is nonsensical. Switching to ConvertKit allowed me to breathe a sign of relief, as tagging/segmenting your list is SO easy and I know exactly who is interested in receiving what. I can even allow them to remove themselves from a sales funnel email series but remain on my general mailing list, a feature that I’m not sure MailChimp even has (or if it did I wouldn’t have no idea how to find it).
I currently have 2,451 total subscribers on my email list - and not one of them is a duplicate because convertkit houses them as one overall list, which i can then tage & segment to my heart’s content.
#4. Automations, Automations, Automations! ConvertKit wins BIG with this!
MailChimp finally allowed users to access the automation feature for free back in 2017, but their system is a bit of a joke compared to ConvertKit. At the time, I was happy that I could use MailChimp’s automation feature for free without paying to upgrade my plan… BUT during Black Friday weekend of 2017 I was required to upgrade my plan anyway because I hit the “sending more than 12,000 emails in a month” threshold (ug).
MailChimp’s current policy now is that you can’t downgrade your plan back to free once you’ve upgraded…. so that STINKS. And it’s just one of the many reasons paying for ConvertKit made so much sense to me! I knew exactly what I would get & why I needed it, and their visual automations are simply stunnnning.
As someone that likes having things run at all times behind the scenes without me lifting a figure (aka it’s automated), ConvertKit was the perfect fit for me. Back at the end of 2018 I wrote a free email series called The Stationery Biz Crash Course (you can join it for FREE here) and it’s a 14-day email series that runs completely on its own without my touching a thing. When someone signs up, they receive an email from me every day that discusses a different topic about running a stationery business, and my emails include links to all sorts of cool things that generate revenue for me, like affiliate products, my amazing shopping list, and more!
The automations are my saving grace! They allow me to automatically divide into different tags/segments so that i can send them the sequence that best fits what they need! The pricing guide path is especially handy, because i send different emails to brides & grooms vs. creatives that download my guide because they’re interested in running a stationery biz.
Here’s the important thing to remember. I view MailChimp as the perfect newbie platform for people just getting started building an email list, and I view ConvertKit as the perfect step UP when you’ve grown out of everything MailChimp offers (or, in this case, doesn’t offer).
The point of having an email list is to continuously remind your audience of your presence. Emailing someone is a DIRECT point of contact that can be incredibly personal when leveraged correctly! You want to stay at the forefront of your audience’s mind, and email marketing is the perfect way to do that, even if you only manage to send out a couple emails a month.
Comments or questions about ConvertKit? Leave me a comment! :)
DISCLAIMER: I am a ConvertKit affiliate, so I will earn a commission if you decide to purchase & use ConvertKit through my link! Thank you so much for your support, I wouldn’t recommend a product unless I 100% loved it! I use ConvertKit for my own biz, as well as Biz Birthday Bash.
Deciding what to include in your wedding invitations (especially if you want to personalize them) can be tricky! Take this fun quiz to determine what your style is, then head over to the inquiry page to fill out your personalized inquiry so I can deliver you a free customized quote :)
HOW I CAN HELP YOU:
There are so many customizable elements to choose from when it comes to creating your custom wedding invitations. This includes paper types, printing methods, wax seals, envelope liners, a tie-around such as a belly band, twine, or silk ribbon, illustrations, calligraphy, vintage postage and so much more!
If you are feeling overwhelmed by all the custom wedding stationery options and simply don’t know where to start, I recommend inquiring here so that I can help you build a custom quote and guide you through the process. My average couple spends $5,000 with me, but I have invitation packages that start at $2,045 if you’re interested in pursuing a more cost-effective route (though this route involves more DIY).
My true passion in custom wedding invitations is taking all the responsibilities off the couple’s hands during the planning process. All you have to do is submit your inspiration to me, then I do the rest by sending you sketches and design rounds via email that you get to review and give feedback on.
I also offer a variety of addressing methods. I love handwriting and calligraphy, and would love to calligraph all of your guest envelopes. However, this is a more expensive option ($3.50 per envelope on average), so I also offer variable printing. All you have to do is upload your guest addresses to an organized excel sheet (I provide you with the template) and then I print all of your guest addresses directly onto the envelopes I order for you.
If you are worried about purchasing postage and how much you will need, I am also here to assist you. The US post office is a fickle beast and we want to ensure that all of your beloved custom wedding invitations make it to your guests. With my knowledge of USPS guidelines, my in-house scale, and multiple USPS post offices close to my studio, I am able to ensure that you will have the proper amount of postage on your invitations.
Let me assist you with all your custom wedding invitation needs! If you have more questions, feel free to reach out directly at email@example.com or INQUIRE HERE.
If you’ve been around long, you probably know my blog posts are catered around a two main themes: weddings and business. I’m either trying to help y’all succeed at something you’re working towards in your biz, or I’m offering advice to anyone who is getting married and planning a wedding.
Rarely do I take much time to talk about anything truly personal or behind the scenes….
But I got an email in December 2018 that I had literally no idea how to respond to, and I finally feel ready to talk about it. I think it’s important to talk about it too.
And it’s not that this email was mean, cutting, sassy, accusatory, or anything of the sort. It was the fact that I did not have an answer. I was completely stumped. And then I was angry, because how dare they ask me something I can’t answer.
First of all, not their fault.
Second of all, obviously I’m sensitive about the topic and my knee-jerk reaction was to be totally ticked off. But here’s the reality: I DON’T have all the answers. I’m not someone that can fix all your problems, or give you any advice you need, because sometimes I don’t have the right words to say, or I simply. don’t. know. *gasp*
In my “Year in Review 2018” blog post, I touched on the fact that my husband is searching for a job and we will most likely be moving during 2019. As of the end of February, the right fit still hasn’t come along, so we are truly stuck in limbo as we continue to extend our lease here in Marietta, GA and wait for the next “thing” (whatever and wherever that might be).
My blog posts usually get sent out in some sort of newsletter or email blast, and I had someone respond to the email about my 2018 Year in Review and asked me, “Just curious if you have or have heard any good advice for this period of time in business?” They were referring to the period of time in business when you literally have no idea what’s next. This person was also going through a similar transition, one where their significant other would be looking for work, and they could possibly be moving anywhere in the country.
Girlfriend, no. I don’t have any advice. I am literally just getting through each day ;)
For weeks I let that email sit there, wondering how to respond. And eventually I told myself, “It’s ok to not respond”, and I moved it into a different inbox folder.
I’m not the kind of person that doesn’t like knowing. There’s a word for this: control-freak. Anyone feel me? It means that waiting is kind of the worst, and not knowing is just outrageously infuriating because there’s all sorts of things you’re trying to plan like flying to friend’s weddings, driving to family vacation, not to mention planning for your own business.
You can’t buy plane tickets if you don’t know whether or not the Atlanta airport will be the closest airport to you in July or August or whenever. Who knows! The closest airport might be in Dallas, TX or San Francisco, CA or freakin’ Alaska (not really, we have no intention to move to Alaska). You can’t tell your own family whether or not you will be at your cousin’s wedding or what day you’ll show up for the wedding weekend because you don’t know if you’ll still be able to drive there in May.
I have all sorts of things I want to do for my business, like turn it into a LLC instead of a DBA (more on the difference here), but I’m not going to do that when I could possibly be moving out of the state of Georgia any moment.
I feel like there are all sorts of verses and mantras about waiting.
Here’s one I found on Google: “Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible”. - Mandy Hale
Beautiful, right? Easier said than done, Mandy!
The truth? It’s hard to go out and be with friends. I don’t know if they’ll be the same friends around us in a few months. It’s hard to go to church and always hear people ask my husband, “How’s the job search?” Yeah, yeah, we can make small talk all day and pretend like it’s fine but when it comes down to it, it sucks. But you can’t really say that to people, can you?
I am lucky, because my job allows me to travel anywhere. The majority of my clients don’t live in GA, so that part is easy. But everything else? It’s really hard.
One of the main things I’ve done is my business is cut ties with anything that requires me to schedule in-person events or deadlines. I completely got rid of wood signs, wedding signage, and day-of goods because most of those jobs are done for local people. I also completely cut workshops out of my business model for 2019. They might come back later, but there’s no way I’m scheduling something for October when I don’t know if I’ll be here then (duh).
There are small changes and tweaks that I can make so I won’t go insane. But there’s also just so much I’m waiting for. Wondering what’s next is currently the biggest contingency in my life, because all of our planning relies on where we will end up living. It could be here in GA (I’d love to stay) or it could be somewhere else.
We just don’t know.
I will say though, my husband & I did buy John Mayer tickets for August 11th at State Farm Arena in Atlanta… so here’s to hoping we really DO STAY here so we can actually go to that concert! And if we can’t go? I guess we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
If you’re reading this and you’re the person that sent me that email, please know it’s ok that you asked… I just didn’t have a single answer or response that I felt would’ve been helpful to you. I barely have enough strength to tell myself on some days that it will all be ok!
But someday I want to be able to look back at this blog post and know that I made it. That WE made it. So here’s to the waiting. Let it end as soon as possible.
One of the first big ticket items that couples research for their wedding day is a venue! The venue is incredibly important, as it is the centerfold of your wedding day. It’s key that your venue has good flow, understandable policies, a great support staff, and beauty (of course). Atlanta is such an eclectic and wonderful city because you can find wedding venues that meet all sort of criteria! I’ve pulled together a list of six Atlanta Wedding Venues that I think are truly breathtaking - I made sure each of them embodied a slightly different feel. After all, every couple will have different feels they are hoping to encompass in their wedding day!
Keep in mind, these are truly in the HEART of Atlanta as best as possible. I might have to create another post for Georgia wedding venue in general because, trust me, there are some breathtaking wedding venues in Georgia and I wish I could share them all!
Not only will I be touching on what these unique wedding venues offer, I will also be including insight into what I think the look/feel of a wedding invitation suite would be when it comes to designing one for each wedding venue.
Some of these venues I’ve been personally fortunate enough to have a real wedding or style shoot occur on location, and I’ve been able to pull some photos from my archives for these venues. I’m also blessed to features some guest photos from friends, and you’ll find that those are credited & linked underneath each photo. A big thank you ahead of time to Michelle Scott Photo, Hannah Forsberg, Lindsey LaRue Photography, and Diana Lupu Photo for photos of the venues.
I’ve been fortunate enough to go to Summerour Studio in person for a breathtaking styled shoot (my favorite of all time in collaboration with Detailed I Do’s and so many other amazing vendors). Summerour is a trendy and modern venue with wonderful wood and brick tones throughout. There are so many set up possibilities for the wedding venue, and perhaps one of my favorite features is a large staircase that leads down into the reception hall. According to their website, event rentals for weddings are between $3,000 - $5,000 and they have a 425 guest capacity. If you’re planning on throwing a bit bigger of a wedding ceremony and reception, this could be a great Atlanta wedding venue for you!
One thing to be aware of is that parking in this part of town is tricky and the venue does not have on-site parking so you will be required to have valet services for your wedding if you decide to have it here. But trust me, I think that could be well worth it!
My Invitation Vision: Summerour is a gorgeous venue that deserves equally beautiful paper goods and wedding invitations. I’ve always thought of Summerour as more of an organic wedding venue space (especially with all the natural light) so I think incorporating calligraphy elements into an invitation suite for a Summerour wedding would be essential. Either whimsical calligraphy, or classic serif text with lots of neutral space. However, Summerour is very versatile, so it would also be fun to go very bold with a wedding invitation for this space as well, such as printing a white ink design on charcoal gray paper and incorporating a liner for the guest envelope with bold floral illustrations.
Funny story, the company Novare Events actually owns 3/6 of the venues on my list, including this one. But I can’t help including so many of their event spaces because they are gorgeous and always impeccably well run (from what i’ve heard)! The Biltmore is perfect if you’re planning an extravagant and classy AF wedding because, gosh, the interior is to die for. It encompasses all things luxury and they have two ballroom spaces that you can choose from.
The average venue rental rate for this venue is also in the $5,000 range with a 50-1000 guest capacity depending on what you’re hoping to accomplish with your ceremony and reception. You can see all of the options on their website, but they have multiple ways you can setup that ballrooms for your guests and reception.
My Invitation Vision: I imagine a wedding invitation design for the Biltmore Ballrooms having foil-pressed printing (so luxurious) with ornate designs. Writing out the entire invitation in calligraphy, for example, would be a perfect pairing for this venue. I also envision a darker envelope colors (maybe even black) with white or gold calligraphy. Can I hear an ooooh & ahhhh?
THE TROLLEY BARN
I was involved in a real wedding that was hosted at The Trolley Barn and was able to visit the property twice! It is a much smaller and more intimate venue, and they have very strict regulations and policies to follow (this is all laid out very clearly for you in your contract). The back garden area is perfect for a small and intimate ceremony and your guests can also enjoy a cocktail hour in the courtyard while the inside reception hall is getting setup for the reception festivities and dinner! Their packages range from $4,900 to $5,600 for weekend wedding dates and the have an entire pricing chart available online.
The couple that hired me for their wedding signage actually opted to have a brunch wedding, which I think is just one of the most fun and unique ideas ever for a wedding. You can see some photos below of the amazing setup at this venue.
My Invitation Vision: I imagine a clean & classic wedding invitation suite for this venue. Gorgeous text and script with minimal art elements and lots of neutral space. I could easily imagine adding some delicate floral line drawings for some framing on the invitation if you wanted it. If any embellishments are added, I think wax seals with silk ribbon would encompass the feeling of this space so well!
Katherine & Grant’s Real Wedding as shot by Diana Lupu Photo. Planning by Detailed I Do’s.
THE STAVE ROOM
The Stave Room boasts an impressive amount of space that can allow you to host up to 500+ guests. Their rates are anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 depending on the time of year, guest count, and many other factors. For example, on Saturdays you are required to pay a beverage minimum of $5,000. One of my friendors, Kate Turner, does a lot of chalkboard artwork for this venue, which is such a fun feature! They have a huge wall with chalkboards that you can customize with visuals of your choice. Not to mention the interior of this venue is very minimalist, bright, roomy, and industrial. It would be the perfect venue for a more muted wedding color palette, as well as a bold and bright palette as well because you wouldn’t have to worry about colors clashing!
My Invitation Vision: Since this venue space is extremely customizable, your wedding invitations would be able to fit whatever vibe you are going for. Whether you want a wedding crest featuring personal life elements, a monogram, a floral wreath, or something else incorporated into your design, I would be able to do it all! Not to mention, you could keep the wedding invitations as bright in color, or neutral in color, as you want. There would be few ways to go wrong, and an invitation suite for this venue would probably be slightly more casual-leaning than formal.
ATLANTA HISTORY CENTER
The Atlanta History Center has many options for your wedding ceremony and reception, the most well-known and coveted probably being that of Swan Gardens (if you take a look at the photo of the Swan House from Hannah Forsberg below, you’ll easily see why). Keep in mind that the history center does not allow ceremonies and receptions inside the Swan House due to its historical status and preservation, but your guests do have the option to tour it during the wedding time if they want. Instead, you’ll be able to host your ceremony & reception in the gardens, which is the perfect option for a gorgeous spring wedding.
Weddings at the Atlanta History Center have a wide price range, and a wedding that includes Swan Gardens will likely range from $5,000 to $10,000 depending on your setup. It is a fee of $2,500 to have a tent on the lawn, so keep that in mind if you’re going to be wanting a tent as an inclement weather backup plan.
You can learn more about weddings at the Atlanta History Center by clicking here.
My Invitation Vision: I imagine a wedding invitation suite for a Swan House wedding being very floral-centric with pale pinks and blushes, delicate line drawings, a classic monogram, and cream or blush envelopes. The options are absolutely endless, but I truly believe a beautiful statement piece for this suite would be an illustration of the Swan House itself, whether on the invitation or a liner for the guest envelope.
I’ve had the privilege of visiting the Wimbish House in person for a Rising Tide event - I was actually a speaker and it was such a cool experience! This Atlanta wedding venue would be the perfect fit for a slightly smaller wedding ceremony and reception, and it features a gorgeous private bridal suite. They can accommodate up to 150 guests total if you decide to host both your ceremony and reception on site. If you choose to host only the ceremony at the Wimbish house (with the reception elsewhere) you could fit 250 guests. From their website, it looks like the average fee for a 12-hour booking is $5,950 for peak days and holidays.
I love how bright the ceremony and reception hall at the Wimbish House is, not to mention ornate! When I was there I spent and endless amount of time just starting at the ceiling and beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows.
Keep in mind, as with many other downtown Atlanta wedding venues, guests will have to pay for parking in nearby lots and parking garages. This is something that would need to be disclosed very early on, either via a details card in your wedding invitation suite (inquire with me here) or on your wedding website.
My Invitation Vision: A wedding invitation suite for the Wimbish House would most likely be a little more formal in appearance and wording. Incorporating letterpress printing (an inked impression in the paper) for a Wimbish House wedding would be absolutely stunning, especially if you were to pair it with some vintage postage and calligraphy envelope addressing. I also think adding a monogram or wedding crest to an invitation suite for a Wimbish House wedding would be the perfect pairing. For me, the Wimbish House brings together the feeling of both modern & classic weddings, and it would be so fun to incorporate that feeling into a suite, with personal and meaningful touches.
PIN this for later! Thumbnail image courtesy of Laura Barnes Photo.
This post is a continuation of PART 1, so if you haven’t read that blog post yet, I recommend you start there! This post, PART 2, focuses on more of the day-of logistics for a workshop, and provides additional insights on all the details you might not think of when planning a workshop. PART 1 focused on a lot of behind the scenes details that you need to get in place before selling tickets for your workshop.
I’m going to pick up exactly where I left off with the numbers from the previous post...
7. Create space in your workshop budget for sips & snacks.
You don’t have to go overboard with sips and snacks, but it’s definitely a courtesy to provide something for your attendees! I generally bring La Croix and/or Coke and water bottles (having a bunch of water bottles never hurts because you can use them to fill water cups for rinsing nibs or brushes). Then I tend to gravitate toward simples snacks such as cheese & crackers with some sort of sweet!
Whether or not people eat at your workshop is a total hit or miss. I’ve had attendees clear out my snacks before, and I’ve also had people not touch them the entire time (I contribute this to the weird group-think phenomenon). Anyway, I see sips & snacks as something that nicely elevates a workshop because it’s an additional layer of hospitality and it makes people feel cared about! Just don’t forget to set aside money in your budget for this; I would plan about $50 to be safe, because you also need to bring plates and napkins.
SHOP THE GUIDE
8. Gather any decorative items you want to take to the workshop.
I tend to have 2 decorate elements in my workshops: first, I have a roll of kraft paper that I use to cover all the tables. You can never guarantee the condition of the tables a venue has, so the kraft paper is the perfect way to cover scratches, stains, and just all-around ugly table tops.
Then, I love purchasing flowers from Trader Joes and making my own flower arrangements in large mason jars that I got from Kroger! Yes, this is a time consuming part of the process, but also a very creative and stress-free part of the process for me. I really enjoy it, and it makes the workshop space even prettier. Plus, the guests love taking photos of them with their calligraphy practice sheets. I spent about $50 on flowers for sure, maybe even a little more depending on how I’m feeling!
Just remember, you’ll have to be extra careful transporting flowers with glass jars & water to your workshop venue!
9. Shop for any extra items you need for the workshop.
There are always little extras here and there that you might need, like plates & napkins for snacks, cups for water or drinks, silverware (if you need it), tape, scissors, etc. Don’t forget to make a list of all the things you’re going to need.
10. Create an “emergency” bag full of back-up items and extras.
I always create an emergency bag for my workshops. You never know when a student’s pen holder will break or, god forbid, you forgot to put on in their kit in the first place. I tend to pack a few extra pen holders, extra ink (for if anyone spills), paper towels, nibs, and anything else I think I might need as backup. This bag is super important because it gives you peace of mind that you’ll be prepared no matter what happens!
11. Transport all items to & from the workshop, and consider time you will need for setup & strike.
When you book a venue (which I touched on in PART 1), it’s important to remember that you will need at least an hour to set up and at least 30 minutes to strike everything once the workshop is over. If you can get a friend, spouse, or family member to help you with this, even better! I can usually manage all of this by myself since my kits are in boxes that are easy to place at each attendee’s spot. The key is making sure you transport everything safely, and you have a enough room in your car!
12. Conduct the workshop (the most important part).
One of the most common questions I get about workshops is “how” I teach them. Do I use a projector or some sort, or overhead? Nope! But I do use a simple standing whiteboard that I purchased at Hobby Lobby. This allows me to draw and demonstrate a few things in front of the class, like drawing out a nib so we can identify all the parts of it and how far they should dip it into the ink before writing. However, I definitely don’t reply on this whiteboard as my only teaching tool.
Most of the time I’m teaching I’m walking around the room and checking up on attendees individually! It’s really important to tell the students at the beginning of the workshop that you are willing to help them as much as they need and answer any/all questions they have. People ask me questions about practicing calligraphy, but they also ask me business questions and behind the scenes questions about working with clients, which I’m always more than happy to answer as well!
I also let my students know that I understand some people love having help, but others love figuring things out on their own (I am personally the later type). While one student might not care that you take their nib & pen holder from them to demonstrate something for them, another student might hate that. Just make sure you disclose to them that they should let you know how they prefer to learn! Turn the workshop into a communication and collaboration just as much of a teaching session.
Before you host a workshop, I highly recommend creating an outline for exactly what you want to say/teach, and then practicing it at home a few times. I practiced mine at least 3 times before my first workshop, and I even made my husband be my test student so he could give me feedback!
13. How to address problems that may occur during workshops.
Workshops don’t always go smoothly… Just ask my friend Cami ;) She said she spilled an entire pitcher of water on her dress during a workshop once and had to teach the rest of the class soaked wet! There was nothing she could do, she just had to keep moving forward and work through it. Knowing her, I’m sure she handled it super well!
Workshops are very intimate, and it’s easy for people to get intimidated or discouraged easily. I’ve had students leave early before. Even though they make excuses why they are leaving early, it’s usually easy for me to tell if it’s because they were discouraged and didn’t feel like they were doing well enough.
To try to avoid this, I make sure to talk about my calligraphy journey and tell them how far I’ve come. I bring examples of some of my very FIRST work, and then I also bring examples of my current work. I instill upon them that becoming proficient at calligraphy and finding your own style can take years and many, many dedicated hours of practice. I never want a student to feel like a failure. It’s important to continuously encourage each and every student, and also be aware of the fact that calligraphy can be done many different ways. Cater to each student’s needs! Every person will want to hold their pen & nib a little differently, as well as angle their paper slightly differently as well. Help them find what works for them.
If any other problems occur during workshops, it’s crucial that you can problem solve as fast as possible. During one workshop I forgot to prep a few nibs for students. Thankfully, I was at a coffee shop and they sold matches! I ran upstairs to grab a pack of matches (which I then paid for later) so that I could prep my student’s nib for her. If I didn’t have that solution, I would’ve had to come up with something else. But now I always carry matches and a potato with me just in case ;) In fact, it’s become really fun to include little baby potatoes in my student’s kits so they can prep their nibs themselves!
Have you encountered any other problems? Drop them in the comments below, I’d love to help you out!
14. Common Sense “Do’s” & “Don'ts” for Workshops.
Bring extra supplies with you
Bring water bottles & paper towels
Walk around and encourage students
Play some music so it’s not deathly quiet (or awkward)
Have students introduce themselves to facilitate connection.
Offer to bring people snacks and drinks to their spot.
Tell students where the bathroom is in case they need to go!
Encourage students to take photos and tag you on Instagram.
Take photos of your students to share to your Instagram stories.
Give gentle reminders of how much time is left in the workshop
Allow plenty of time to practice!
Be an excellent host!
Continuously praise one student over the others
Take someone’s nib holder to demonstrate something without their permission
Force people to eat & drink the snacks you brought
Sit to the side and look at Instagram on your phone.
Rush students to finish right on time (I purposely build in extra time).
Tell long/boring stories that no one asks to hear
Be rude, frustrated, or demeaning in any manner
Whew! That’s a lot to think about when it comes to hosting workshops. But seriously, hosting workshops is not something you should do just because you want to make “easy money”. Workshops are great for networking and making local connections, but they aren’t always a huge money maker, especially if you’re not good at tracking all of your expenses.
I’ve created a resource that you will probably find super helpful if you’re reading this blog post! It’s called The Calligraphy Workshop Planning Guide and it is the go-to resource for planning a workshop. It’s a 10-page workbook that includes a pages for creating a budget, tracking students, tracking supplies, exactly where I get supplies for my workshops, an expense report page and much more! Click here to learn more about the guide, or simply purchase it directly by clicking the “Add to Cart” button on the listing.
Questions about workshops? Leave a comment below! I would love to start up a discussion :)
Pin this for later! Thumbnail image courtesy of Laura Barnes Photo.
I’m here to tell you the real, hard, truth. From the outside looking in, hosting in-person workshops for calligraphy, brush lettering, watercolor, etc. might seem super-duper fun but it is actually incredibly hard. I’m not saying that to scare you, I’m just being honest. This blog post is all about outlining what actually goes into planning a workshop, and the price tag that comes along with it (not to mention the work).
I’ve broken this blog post down into two parts. This post (part 1) focuses on the logistical side of getting everything in place, and Part 2, slotted to be published on Jan. 23rd, will focus on what happens the week-of the workshop and the day-of the workshop.
Hosting workshops for any sort of art medium is definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes a lot of patience, detailed planning, and dedication to get everything sorted out and in place for the big day. The teaching is the fun part, but in order to get there you have to put the work in first.
I’ve had experience hosting multiple in-person calligraphy workshops now during my full-time years of ElisaAnne Calligraphy. My first workshop was in May 2017 at Ambient Plus Studio in downtown Atlanta. I opened spots for 20 students (dang, I got super ambitious) and I ended up with 12 or 13 signups for the class, not bad right? That was my first lesson in the reality of selling out workshops is so. stinking. hard. Teaching for my first time was a wonderful and thrilling experience, but nothing could have prepared me for the work and investment that would go in beforehand. Let’s outline a few things you need to be prepared for when it comes to planning a workshop.
1. Put together education materials, such as a calligraphy student workbook.
This is one of the hardest parts of the process, and can seemingly be the hardest to overcome. However, once you finish it, it’s done and can be used again and again. I’ve placed it as #1 for the process because there’s no point getting logistics in place for location, materials, etc. until you have a handle on what you’re actually teaching and something to give your students.
I decided to design my workshop workbook in Adobe Illustrator, but I had to physically write out every single letter of the alphabet first and then scan it into Photoshop, where I digitized it before moving it over to Adobe Illustrator. I created all the guideline lines, written copy, and everything that my workbook includes. And I did it all from scratch because I didn’t have any resources or knowledge of what needed to go into a workbook! I essentially figured it out as I went.
The process to create my calligraphy workshop workbook alone took me at least a month to complete. And once I completed it, it felt great! But it wasn’t an easy journey for me to get there, especially because I was nowhere near being proficient in Illustrator or Photoshop at that point. I later did the process for my Intermediate workbook, but it went much quicker that time around.
For my beginner’s calligraphy class, my largest focus is on lowercase letters. I also provided my students with warm up shapes to practice in their workbook, as well as pages with full words and blank lines for additional practice. At the end of the workbook I put in a sheet with all the capital versions of the letters and numbers for if they wanted to practice calligraphy more at home. The first few pages of the workbook are all devoted to materials, nib types, paper, ink, etc. so that my students know where to go to purchase more items in the future after our class is over.
I should note that I print my own workbooks from home! I outsource the cover to a printing company and clip it on later with a binder clip. I am currently in the process of revamping this workbook and (possibly) getting ready to license it to other creatives for hosting their own workshops. If you are interested in purchasing my beginner’s calligraphy student workbook so that you don’t have to create your own, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Purchase ALL the calligraphy workshop materials & supplies you need for your students.
Each workshop kit that I create contains at least a dozen different pieces: 2 nibs, 1 nib holder, 1 pencil, 1 brush pen, 1 pad of paper, 1 workbook (with clip), 1 inky-dip with ink, tissue paper for inside the box, 1 box for holding everything, ribbon to tie around the box, a sticker with my brand name for each box, and a little extra goodie for fun, like a notepad. Take time to write out every single thing you will need in your workshop kit - or grab my handy-dandy Calligraphy Workshop Planning Guide (LAUNCHING Jan. 23rd) to keep you organized and give you a head start. This planning guide includes all the places I purchase my workshop supplies & materials!
The nibs need to either be prepped before the workshop or you can include a potato in each student’s kit so that they can learn to prep their own nibs! I’ve found the potato method is more fun and more surprising for students as well.
Planning what you need for a workshop can be time consuming, as well as a dent on your wallet. I prefer to buy all my materials up front before a workshop. If the workshop doesn’t sell out (which is more common than not) then I carry those materials over to the next workshop. I’ll talk more about the marketing aspect later on in this post. I have certain online retailers now that I prefer to give my business to for my calligraphy workshops, specifically because they offer me certain discounts for buying in bulk. Whenever you can, try to purchase your products for a wholesale price because it will help you save so much money in the long run! You need to be a registered business to purchase wholesale.
I use a cute white box to hold all of my materials for students, so that they have something to take everything home in at the end of the night. (Thank you Ashley Craft for this amazing idea & suggestion). If you want to know where I get these, the source will be in my Calligraphy Workshop Planning Guide.
Don’t forget to factor in the fact that you will be paying shipping for every material that you order online. That’s an unexpected cost that a lot of people forget about when estimating costs!
3. Find a space to host the calligraphy workshop!
Obviously there will be no workshop if you don’t find a space to host it ;) This part probably takes the most research and is the biggest investment, unless you can find a space for free or you’re hosting from your home, which is awesome and will make your life a little easier! For my first workshop I looked into multiple different locations, but decided on downtown Atlanta because I figured I would have the biggest reach in terms of finding people that wanted to attend. Definitely a good choice on my part. I paid $50 to hold my place at Ambient Plus Studio, but in the end I ended up paying a total of $375 for the space.
Let’s do some quick math…. If I pay $375 for my space and charge $150 per ticket, then I need to sell at least 3 tickets to even make that money back. Already a lot of pressure! Recently I hosted a workshop where I paid $600 for the space, but more on that later.
Finding a space for a workshop is something you should be planning months in advance, since you need to make sure the venue actually has openings on the calendar! My favorite places to host have actually been small/local venues, such as Markay Gallery in Marietta, GA and Crazy Love Coffee House in Roswell, GA. I also love being able to support other small businesses!
In terms of finding a local space for a workshop, the best thing you can do is start by asking around or maybe doing a “venue call” on Instagram! Ask your friends, family members, and followers for suggestions of local venues that would be a great place to host a workshop. This is how I found my favorite venue. Once you have the names of a few places, begin doing your research. Check their website for rental rates for an event. If they don’t have rental rates on their site, or they don’t even say whether or not they host events, then pick up the phone, call them, and ask! This is the best way to find out information you want. Sometimes all it comes down to is asking.
4. Determine a price for your workshop.
I decided from the moment I started calligraphy workshops that I would never charge less than $150 per workshop seat. There’s a very specific reason for this: when I break down all the costs, I need to sell at least ½ the seats of a 12-seat workshop (so 6 total) to even break even on my expenses and generate income. Planning & hosting a workshop is not cheap. I am frankly baffled when I see people hosting workshops for $40, because there’s no way they can be making any money from doing that. And if you’re going to be adding workshops to your business model, then it is so important to actually be making a profit.
I’ve had friends that have raised their prices over time, but I can assure you that the average calligraphy workshop will cost around $100-$200 for a two to three hour workshop. I’ve settled on hosting my workshops for 2 and a half hours. That seems to be the perfect amount of time for me to teach what I need to, and for my students to make their way through most of the workbook and ask me any questions they need to.
5. Create a way for people to purchase seats for your calligraphy workshop.
No one is going to sign up for your workshop if you don’t have a way for them to pay! I usually put my workshops as a listing on my website, though I have seen people utilize Eventbrite for selling their tickets (some people do both).
On my website listing I specific all of the details for the workshop, as well as making it very clear that I have a strict cancellation/no-show/no-refund policy. If someone cancels, it is their responsibility to sell the workshop ticket to a friend because I do not give refunds for tickets. Like I mentioned earlier, I buy all my materials for the workshop, and if someone cancels last-minute for a workshop that was full, that means someone else missed out on the chance to attend.
I’ve been pretty good about enforcing this policy for all of my workshops, and most people have no problem finding someone else to attend in their place and pay them back for the price of the ticket.
6. Market the crap out of your calligraphy workshop (or whatever workshop you’re hosting).
This section is an absolutely doozy. I do quite a few things to market a workshop.
First of all, I print out little 5x7 notecards will all the workshop info on them. I carry these around with me everywhere I go and I hand them out to friends as well as local Marietta shops!
Second, I send a personal email to about 20-30 local friends letting them know that I’ve scheduled a new calligraphy workshop. I ask them to forward it to anyone they think might be interested in the workshop.
Third, I schedule multiple email campaigns to send out to my list. The tricky part about this is that most of my list is not local - however, I also ask them to forward the email if they have a friend local to GA that might want to come.
Fourth, I try to coordinate with the venue to have some kind of collaborative marketing push. I usually ask to be included in their newsletter (if they have one) as well as getting some sort of post up on social media. Some venues I have had absolutely no luck with this tactic, which can be frustrating, but I’ve learned to let it go. If you want that tactic to work you really have to be on top of it and ask them for promotion as soon as you book with them! And make sure to follow up!
Fifth, I post like a crazy person to social media. And omg this part gets to exhausting. I get tired of hearing myself talk about the workshop over and over and over. Sometimes friends will help me share info on Instagram as well.
Sixth, be ready to talk to anyone & everyone that might be interested in the workshop. Keep a list of emails of people that have asked you in the past, “When will your next workshop be”? They are already warm leads and interested, so follow up with them to tell them that you’ve scheduled a new one!
Seventh, reach out to past students to say that you loved having them at your past workshops and if they would like to attend another (or refer a friend that might want to attend), you have new dates added online.
I’m sure there might be other examples I am forgetting here, but advertising and promoting a calligraphy workshop is no joke. It’s a very niche art and I have only sold out one workshop out of the 5 I’ve hosted through 2017-2018.
Whew! Are you overwhelmed yet? Grab my Calligraphy Workshop Planning Guide (LAUNCHING Jan. 23rd) to help you stay organized when planning your workshop! This is PART 1 of two blog posts. The next blog post will be posted next week and I’ll be talking about managing all the workshop to-do’s during the days leading up to, and the day-of, the workshop!