Wow you guys! Thank you for all the awesome feedback about this article series! When I wrote Part One of this series I wasn't even sure if it was worth posting so I am really happy to hear that you are finding this interesting :)
In this series I am talking about how I crochet to earn extra income without running an actual business. In Part One, I talked about the differences between running your own crochet business vs. working for a paycheck, I shared the story about how I found my teaching job, and I also touched briefly on some crochet certifications you can take if you want to expand your teaching skills. If you missed this post I highly recommend you start with it before reading on!
So in this post I promised to talk about planning courses, writing course descriptions, and also to share some handouts that I use in one of my courses. I will do all those things, as well as share some comments from some of you who contacted me with your teaching advice!
I want to start this article with a disclaimer like I did last time. I am writing from my own personal experience. There are MANY ways to make money with crochet, and there are MANY different ways to teach. This is what I do, and this is what works for me. I will be completely honest about my successes and failures (because of course, I have had both) and I hope that you find a way to apply this information in your own way if you so choose to try teaching crochet.
The second thing I want to talk about before I proceed is using patterns for teaching. I am sharing one pattern (the Stitch Sampler Dish Cloth) in this series as a .pdf download for you to use as you like for teaching. You are allowed to use that pattern, print it, and distribute it to students. I ask that you do not print and re-distribute any other patterns from my blog (even if I reference them below) or from other designers. Nearly all bloggers who post free patterns have this same protocol. Traffic to my blog is the only way I earn an income from the patterns I design, and if my patterns are printed and shared it definitely has a negative affect on me and my blog! I truly appreciate you respecting this request :) Thank you, thank you!
Planning Your Lessons:
As I mentioned in Part One, my teaching job came on quickly, and the very first thing I was asked to do was to write course descriptions for the classes I wanted to offer. That meant I had to know what I wanted to teach... Uh oh... I didn't think ANY of this through.
So I sat down and thought about where I started when I was learning how to crochet, and these were my thoughts:
- My very first crochet project was a scarf. Learning to crochet in rows - class number one!
- But what about mittens and hats? Learning to crochet in rounds - class number two!
My very first two classes that I decided to teach are the two classes that I still teach the most. And they were also the reason that I ended up writing my "Crochet Basics" patterns on my blog. I needed something simple for people to learn with. These classes have been a success for me and have always had positive feedback! This is what those classes roughly looked like:
Crochet in Rounds:
- Two- 2 hour crochet sessions (one day per week for two weeks)...I have now extended this class to be 3 sessions based on student feedback
- One simple project (a basic hat with no embellishment)
- Goal: Learn to crochet in rounds
- Options for adding embellishments or extras (ear flaps, brims, appliques, etc)
Crocheting in Rows:
- Two- 2 hour crochet sessions (one day per week for two weeks)
- One simple project (an ear warmer)
- Goal: Learn to crochet in rows
- Options for learning multiple stitches (SC, HDC, DC) but NOT necessary
Along with these two classes, I also submitted course descriptions for two advanced classes. A Valentine's and Easter inspired hat (my classes would be running seasonally with these holidays, so I thought it would be a great idea!). In those classes, I had planned to focus on techniques like BLO crochet, adding embellishments and a few other techniques that were beyond the most basic "basics".
So to break it down, here was the good and the bad about my first set of classes:
- Neither of my "advanced" classes ran because I didn't have enough people enroll in them. I think it was a combination of the project description and simply having the word "advanced" in the course title. It scared people away!
- My basic hat class was a bit too short. I have taught it in 3 weeks the past few times and that it much more adequate!
- I planned my course descriptions without even having materials planned or patterns written. I HIGHLY recommend doing it in the other order ;)
- The Crochet Basics classes were a hit! I was right to start simple.
- It is really good to have "optional add-on" skills planned for the over achievers ;)
- I liked having the classes split into short sessions. This allowed the students a brief taste of crochet without a huge monetary/time commitment. If they like it, they usually end up registering for a few more of my classes. If they don't, they aren't out much! You could certainly consider long duration classes, but I can't give any tips on those because I have been happy teaching shorter classes.
General Tips and Advice for Writing Course Descriptions and Planning Courses:
- Have your pattern ready before even writing the course description! That way you really know what you will be teaching in your class and how to describe it in your course description.
- Write a welcoming course description and mention the level of experience required for the course. If a course is for beginners, mention "no experience necessary". If the course would be better for someone with crochet experience, mention "previous crochet experience recommended". In my experience, the word "advanced" is too scary for course descriptions ;)
- Add project photos to your course descriptions if possible so that people can see what they will be making.
- Keep your courses seasonal! In my experience, "warm and cozy" doesn't go over well in the summer months.
- Plan your preferred class size. Everyone learns at a different rate and too large of a class gets complicated! I max my classes at 8 people.
- Plan your age range. I once had an 8 year old and a 12 year old attend one of my adult classes (registration error on the School Districts part). It wasn't impossible, but it certainly made teaching a bit more difficult! I highly recommend teaching ONLY children or ONLY adults.
- Keep projects small. I taught a C2C class and made the mistake of selecting a project that was just too big to be completed within the class time.
- Have a pattern sample made and ready to take to the class.
- Think about how long you want the class to be. This will take a bit of trial and error on your part because everyone's teaching style is different! Like I mentioned above, I favor teaching several different, shorter classes as opposed to one big class.
- Only teach what you know very well! Last winter I taught a Tunisian Crochet class, and while it went fine, I didn't feel like I was able to answer some of the questions I was asked in class because I only know a limited amount about Tunisian Crochet.
- If you make the choice (and not who you are teaching through) decide whether you will ask students to bring their own supplies or if you will provide them. I find it easier to ask students to bring their own materials. That way, I don't have to shop for them and they get to pick out colors they like. I do make a note most of the time to avoid black or fuzzy/textured yarn for beginners in my course descriptions.
Sample Course Description/Handouts/Lesson Pattern
Here is a sample of a course that I am currently teaching this spring. It is Very. Basic. The most basic you can get! But it has also been wildly popular, and I have had people on the waiting list every time. People really seem to gravitate towards "very simple" when they are learning something new.
Crochet can be a year-round hobby! Washcloths, baby blankets and tote bags are all perfect summer projects. In this class you will learn to crochet in rows. Bring at least two skeins of worsted weight cotton yarn and learn several different crochet stitches while making dishcloths perfect for gifting or using in your home. Please also bring an I/9 (5.5 mm) crochet hook. No prior crochet experience is required for this class.
The pattern that I have been using in this class is a very simple one that I designed recently (not up on my blog yet...I'm getting there....). I call this pattern the 'Stitch Sampler Wash Cloth' because it uses SC, HDC, and DC stitches. Perfect for teaching and still so simple! You can get a free PDF of the pattern by clicking this button:
In my first few classes, I found myself writing some of the same information on the board over and over again. So I decided I may as well make a quick handout for the students to have in front of them. The first handout includes step-by-step descriptions of the stitches they might use in class. The second handout breaks down the process of reading a pattern. It doesn't go into too much depth because, remember, these are brand new crocheters. Too much info is overload! Get the free PDF of the handouts I use by clicking this button:
A lot of you have asked about how I price my classes, and the short answer is that I don't. I am employed through a local school district and the school district decides how much to charge for each class (I think it is about $25 per two session class).
If you are looking to teach through another company/entity like I do, I am suspecting you will not have to set your own course prices. If you are thinking about running your own classes that enters the realm of running your own business and comes with a whole lot of other things you need to think about as well (See Part One)!
Ok you guys, what other questions do you have about course prep and course descriptions?! I feel like this is a lot of info again, so there will be a third (and final?) post coming about actually teaching a crochet class, how I teach mine, and Tips for Teaching. If you are a teacher and have anything to add let me know and I would be happy to include it in these resources! Remember, teaching may not be for everyone but if you want to try to earn a little extra with your crochet talent it is worth exploring as an option :
I'll plan on having Part 3 up next week, and in the mean time come back to my blog tomorrow to enter my May Yarn Giveaway! If you are enjoying these articles or if you like free patterns, I would really appreciate any social media follows on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram.
Thanks you guys, you're the best!