How to get a Free Venue for your workshop!
Every day on your way to work, or school run, you pass this stunning cafe, with maybe two or three guests - tops! Now imagine these guests are only grabbing a coffee each. That's under $12 that the cafe is making. Now consider the running costs. There are staff paychecks, rent, equipment costs, etc, etc, etc. Sydney is overflowing with cafes and restaurants. Just like your local one, you pass or stop by, each day.
I am pretty sure, you have just found a free venue for your workshop.
If the cafe has a table that can accommodate 6-8 people, who are coming to do a quiet workshop, such as calligraphy or knitting, and those 6-8 people each have a coffee and a snack, the cafe owner will be kissing your feet for wanting to book a table during the cafe's quiet hours. Which business owner in their right mind wouldn't? A crowd attracts more people, so others will stop to grab a coffee just to see what you're all doing. Then if the people doing your workshop enjoy their time at the cafe, they will be back. Future customers through the door - and you brought them.
So when you pitch to a cafe to host your quirkshop, make sure you're pitching it not as them doing you a favour, but, you doing them a favour. (Just don't be over-confident and rude, but do make a point of confirming why it is a brilliant idea!) At the bottom of the page, you'll find a print out you can take along, "Six Reasons to Hold Workshops at Your Venue" when asking the venue if they'd be interested in collaborating.
Or let's say you're wanting to do a fashion workshop. And you know the owner of a fashion store. She closes at 6pm. What if you organised an exclusive fashion workshop from 7pm-9pm in her store, and people are offered fashion advice, and have the opportunity to buy clothes afterwards? You're bringing a target audience (people wanting a new wardrobe) to the shop owner's feet. Think you're her new best friend.
Or you're wanting to host a poetry workshop? Why not do it in a cute little bookshop - again during the quieter hours or after hours, when they would usually close, and promote a few specific books. The book store might sell more during your workshop than during the rest of their opening hours.
So, you ask, how can I find a Free Venue for my specific workshop?
Firstly, ask yourself what type of workshop you are running, what the venue requirements are, space wise, will workshop participants need laptops (and therefore access to power points) or will it be messy, (an art workshop) or will it be loud (a singing workshop), etc. Then think of all the places you would imagine as being the perfect fit. Chances are high you will think of a place that would be happy to collaborate with you.
"I really can't find a free venue" I hear you say?
If your type of workshop definitely requires a venue that you will need to rent, try to think of ways of keeping costs down. If the rent fee is for the full day or several hours, then why not team up with someone else wanting to host a workshop and run both workshops on the same day, after each other (leaving more than enough buffer time in between for cleaning and setting up!) or consider running 2 or 3 workshops on that day, so you can make more profit.
Some venues might have minimum spend, and you will need to factor that in to your workshop costs. If no one wants to buy anything from the bar, the full minimum spend fee will need to be covered by you. If you have a minimum spend, and are planning on buying a round of drinks and snacks, make sure you advertise what is included, eg "Free glass of wine and cheese platter included!" People love "freebies", so make sure to let workshop participants know about these things. In some cases, it is what helps people justify the workshop's cost, and be what encourages them to sign up.
If you have any other suggestions on how to find a free venue, let us know below in the comments section! Looking forward to helping you set up your own Quirkshop soon!
...and as promised, here is the print-out: