You can workshop anything you fancy. Whether you want to dabble in origami, faff around foraging or try your hand at biscuit decorating, there is an event out there for you. But can workshops offer more than that? Are they just for fun, or can they give meaningful training and insight? I have been hoping the latter.
I’m getting back to work after an 8-year ‘break’ at home, CEOing the house and kids. I am hoping to develop a business in writing, communications and social media. It fits with my background (journalism) and my foreground (family life).
The only problem? Six months ago, I knew almost nothing about social media. My experience amounted to a handful of followers on Instagram and virtually dormant Facebook and Twitter accounts. I badly needed to up my game, and have turned to the world of workshops to get me started.
A moment on Google will throw up countless articles and e-courses on every aspect of social media learning. Many are free, some are quite expensive. A cynic would say that all the information you’ll ever need on these topics is out there on the web waiting for you to read it. And they would be right, but that’s not a particularly fun and effective way to learn is it?
I’ve gone for (mainly) real-life one-off workshops. I want to pick and choose courses I am interested in, rather than take a longer more comprehensive one. So far I’ve workshopped WordPress, Instagram, blogging, a bit more blogging, branding and Pinterest*.
The general deal is that you get access, in a fairly small group (20-30 people), to an expert in your chosen field. They pass on all the magic tricks they have learnt from creating a social media empire. It’s relaxed and there is often the opportunity to discuss your ideas, and ask questions about the challenges facing your business.
*The details of the workshops I have attended can be found at the bottom of the page
What are they good for?
They give you a taste of what you need to know, a way to get started or a hand if you are stuck. Social media lends itself to workshopping well. There is little other formal training available, and it is a new and fast-changing industry. In theory, your workshop (if it’s a good one) will be 100% up to date. While there is plenty of reading online, much of it is speculative, and out of date. I also find that everything makes far more sense when you are hearing it from a fellow human.
A big pro for me has been that these courses offered me a way to get back out into a world. They have been fun, inspiring, confidence building and are often held by cool people in cool places.
You are almost guaranteed to meet like-minded people. Often they’ll be working on a similar project, so you can support and encourage one another. You really can’t beat a bit of face to face communication, even when it comes to social media.
Choosing the right event
Not all workshops are created equal. This is a blossoming industry with few if any recognisable certifications. I don’t regret any that I’ve have attended so far (although I know people who have). I’ve learnt something from every single one. However, there have been a couple of gripes. Out of date information in one event. A questionable expert at another.
Your time is valuable, and these courses are not free. I would advise really looking into who’s organising before you book, are they any good? Who’s the expert? Are they an expert? Also, be confident about what you already know, you may not need it.
The workshop won’t do the work
Have I seen my social media knowledge and following grow since I started this process? Undoubtedly. But hearing someone tell you how to create a successful social media strategy, and actually executing it are two completely different things. Workshops are just a taste of what needs to be done. Really pay attention when people are telling you how much time and consistency that’s required to fly on social media. There is no way around it (unless you have a massive stroke of luck). These courses represent a fraction of the reading I have done, and time I have spent trying to get my blog and accounts off the ground.
These are the details of the workshops I have attended.
Learn WordPress in 1 day by Pootlepress. Dates in London, Cheltenham, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh.
How to Build a Brand by Weekend In. Various locations.
Pinterest Marketing for Makers & Designers with Megan Auman for Creative Live. This is an online course consisting of a series of 20-minute video clips.
Have you been to any good workshops? Please share your thoughts and recommendations.