Location, Location, Location (Part 3: Getting started as a local needlecrafts teacher)

You know you’re ready to teach.  You’ve made a decision about whether to pursue needlecrafts teaching or master certification.  But now that you are ready to teach, where (physically) do you get started?

Getting Started as a Local Needlecrafts Teacher, Part 3: Location, Location, Location on Underground CrafterUpdate: This series is a great introduction to teaching, but since I originally wrote it in 2011, it has become outdated. If you’re looking for a more robust (and updated) approach to teaching, check out my book, Make Money Teaching Crochet: Launch Your Business, Increase Your Side Income, Reach More Students.

First, consider your space requirements.  If you are teaching knitting, crocheting, hand sewing, hand quilting, rug hooking, or embroidery, you are pretty portable.  That opens up many options.

Some teachers get their start at a local library.
  • The local library.  Remember that classes in the library generally must be open to the public so you can’t “pick and choose” your students.  Oftentimes the library has a budget for classes, but you might also volunteer your time to gain experience or build a reputation.
  • Senior centers.  Needlecrafts keep people active – using their motor skills and minds.  Needlecrafts classes also make great social events.  Many senior centers, naturally occurring retirement communities, and related spots welcome needlecrafts teachers.
  • Yarn/sewing/quilting/craft shops.  Obvious, of course.  Some shops use someone in-house to teach and others bring teachers in so their employees can focus on other things.  Chain stores generally require certification.
  • Community or recreation centers.  Many community centers offer creative classes for children and/or adults.
  • Continuing education programs.  Many colleges have expanded their continuing education offerings to include “wellness” or “personal enrichment” classes.
  • Museums or galleries.  Museums or galleries with a textile focus are an especially strong fit.
  • Your home.  Some people enjoy teaching in their home.  Perhaps they didn’t grow up in New York City in the mid ’70s to early ’90s like me.  I’m just too paranoid to invite someone I don’t know into my home.  But if that doesn’t worry you, remember to consider allergies if you smoke or have pets.
  • The student’s home.  Some people feel comfortable inviting a teacher into their home.  This can be a great option, especially for private lessons or private group lessons.  If you have pet or smoke allergies, you may want to check into the environment before agreeing to teach there.
  • An office, union, or professional organization.  Many companies are open to the idea of employees using their facilities after hours or during lunch for classes.  In my experience, the students paid directly for the classes, but I have heard of instances where the Human Resources department might be willing to pay for classes.  Unions or other professional organizations may be willing to pay for classes for their members, assuming that certain enrollment requirements are met.
  • A coffee shop.  Any conveniently located establishment which allows people to hang around for a few hours at minimal cost can be an ideal location for an individual private lesson.
  • Your local guild.  Many local guilds allow members to teach lessons during meetings or can arrange for lessons with discounts for members.  It helps if you are teaching something unusual or more advanced.
  • Schools, camps, and after-school programs.  If you plan to teach children, you can also explore these options.
  • Public parks and atriums.  When the weather is mild, a public location (outdoors or indoors and unheated) can be a fun spot for a class.
  • Your website: If you are tech saavy, online teaching is also an option.  Some people really need the teacher at their side to help out with the mechanics, but others can learn needlecrafts easily from videos and pictures.

In addition to these locations, there are local events where you might consider teaching.

  • Baby shower.  People often get crafty when babies are about to be born.  How about a workshop on a pieced blanket that everyone can work on together?
  • Bachelorette party.  Maybe you can work your garter belt pattern into the program before the stripper gets there :).
  • College and high school community service events.  Many schools are interested in service learning and community service projects.  For many charity projects, the work can be divided up among many students of varying skills levels.  Similarly, a charity that is the recipient of donated handmade items (like a hospital NICU) might be interested in sponsoring classes off-site to increase their donations.
  • Heath fairs and wellness events.  If you don’t believe it, just check out this CBS News video at Annie’s Attic.

Once you have some more experience under your belt, you may want to consider needlecrafts conferences, festivals, and retreats.  Some events are themed and others are willing to consider many types of class proposals.  This can be a way to reach a wider audience and get to travel.

If you are teaching machine sewing or quilting, spinning, weaving, or dyeing, you may need special equipment or facilities.  This limits your options somewhat.  If you need a sewing machine, you will generally be restricted to a store or specially equipped continuing education program or community center, for example.

Each location has its own advantages and disadvantages.  Existing teachers or students, please chime in about your preferences!

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