2023, here I come …

Lest you think I’ve been “resting” for the past month, I want to give you some updates. Hold tight, there’s a lot of info coming. Want to skip ahead? Jump to Patreon, In-person Workshops, or Website updates rather than slogging through the general Workshops updates (but honestly, read the workshop updates — it’s exciting stuff, at least to me).

BuildingBlox & Workshops in general

The biggest news is on my workshop front. For a long time, my workshop offerings have remained approximately the same. Earlier this year, I added a couple of new workshops and taught each of them once — then I put everything on hold. It was clear that I needed to make some big changes, and I was never going to be able to do so if I didn’t take the time, pause, rethink, rework, and restart. This has meant a lean quarter, but I think in the long run it will be well worth the lost revenue from these 3 months.

The new workshop offerings are now up on my website! There are 35 of them, as opposed to the previous 10 or 12! Only a handful have anything scheduled, as I’ll be doing a couple of live shows in February 2023 but nothing else is announced yet — still, you can get a preview of what’s going to be offered in 2023 and beyond.

I have deliberately held off applying to teach anywhere else until this step is complete, and have missed a couple of opportunities in the meantime. Still, my priority right now is getting ready to schedule my own virtual workshops.

So, about that: the BuildingBlox virtual workshops will also be restarting in 2023, although dates and precise selections of workshops have not been selected yet (stay tuned for that — and sign up for my workshop interest lists to be among the first to find out). But I do have some good info that you may have been waiting on about the pricing and other infrastructure stuff that’s changing.

First, you may have noticed that the workshops are all listed by Tiers (previously “levels”). Each new tier builds on the previous ones in some way, and there are four tiers, including the Foundations workshops. There are now four Foundations, but only two of them are really meant to build most of the next Tier of workshops on top; the other two are specialized Foundations for specialized skill building. This is important because the Tiers inform the new pricing structure. Rather than all workshops being the same price, workshop prices now rise with each new Tier.

In addition, all workshops are recorded and made available to those who enrolled for a year from the workshop date (previously 6 months). But these recordings will also be sold (at a discount) to those who can’t or didn’t make it to the workshop.

Without further ado, here are the prices by tier (for a 3-hour workshop; multi-session workshops will have different prices):

  • Foundations: $39.95; $34.95 for the recording only ($5 savings)
  • Tier 1: $59.95; $44.95 for the recording only ($15 savings)
  • Tier 2: $79.95; $54.95 for the recording only ($25 savings)
  • Tier 3: $99.95; $64.95 for the recording only ($35 savings)

So, let’s talk about the “why” of this change. It’s a pretty radical change; my previous workshops were based on a sliding scale starting at $35, across the board — so I’m sure you have questions about why the big jump. As I mentioned in previous posts, the old price was based on faulty math, and here’s why. I have been teaching for the big shows for about a decade. I have come to expect payment of a certain amount per workshop, and if it’s more, I feel extraordinarily fortunate. When I started offering my own workshops, I based the price I required on those payouts. When I started doing the virtual workshops, I set the price so that if a workshop filled halfway with people who only paid the minimum, I’d get approximately what I’d have been paid if I taught that workshop for one of the big shows. You can do the math, but I’ll do it for you: a typical payout for a 3-hour in-person workshop at one of the big shows is around $350. Obviously, if I got more than 10 people, or people paid more than the minimum, I’d make more than that.

But here’s the thing: when you pay for a workshop at one of the big shows, only a portion of it goes to the instructor. Typically, quite a bit more of it goes to the show and all of their overhead. This is fine — the show needs to pay its bills and still show a profit or there’s no point in them running it again. But even though there’s a maximum I can expect to get from a workshop taught for a big show, it’s important for me to remember that that amount does not determine my value as an instructor.

What I should be doing when I run workshops myself is to charge something similar to what you pay when you enroll at one of the big shows. So that’s what I’m doing. I did some research, talked to some people whose opinions I trust, and made the changes I needed to make. Typically, I’d have sent out a survey, asked my existing customers how they felt about the proposed changes, and used the responses to decide on a set of prices. But multiple people advised me not to do that, and just to make the prices reasonable based on what others were offering for similar products. I got advice that I could easily get $90-125 for most of my workshops. This seemed like too much of a jump, and the people who advised me thus will probably roll their eyes at my relatively modest increase — but the math works well, and offers room for increases over time if needed.

The issue with my research was twofold: first, almost nobody is doing anything as robust as this virtual workshop series, at least as far as I could tell. Second, there’s no way to compare the content of my workshops to others. Why not? Well, I am the only person on the planet running workshops on the vast majority of what I teach. That’s one of the reasons behind the Tier-based increases. There are plenty of people teaching Foundations-level double-knitting, in-person and virtual. With each successive Tier, there are fewer other people teaching these techniques (and at Tier 3, there’s really nobody else doing anything remotely that advanced). In addition, there are fewer students who are both willing and able to take workshops in the higher Tiers, so a higher price covers lower expected enrollment. But I found prices, and found that the prices I am charging here are reasonable based on what others charge per hour, whether independent or through some other venue.

I also don’t intend to cancel workshops for low enrollment. Even if I only get a handful of people taking a Tier-3 workshop, I’ll still run it because I will get a recording which I can continue to sell for most of the next year (although I expect fewer people will purchase them the longer they sit, given the finite end date).

So here’s the bottom line: My virtual workshops are longer than average, have access to a recording for much longer than average, are mostly on topics you can’t learn anywhere else, and are still less expensive than many of the big shows’ fees. Do you need any more reasons to be willing to enroll?

There is one caveat, however. The BuildingBlox workshop experience will be somewhat different (better, I think) — each workshop will have a dedicated page where homework, links, Zoom links, and (later) the video recording will be housed. Everyone who enrolls in the workshop will get access to this, although those who buy the recording only will get access only to certain parts of it (no Zoom link, for example). This means that everyone who enrolls in one of these workshops will need to have an account on my site (as that’s how I can control who gets access to the page). You can make an account at checkout by simply choosing a password, or you can get a head-start by creating your account now.

Patreon updates

If you’ve been keeping track of my Patreon, you might know that the highest tier had a free-workshop-per-month perk. This was based on the fact that the tier price and the workshop base price were the same. This is no longer the case, so that perk has been removed. However, in its place there’s a benefit to almost all patrons in the form of a monthly workshop discount coupon. The coupon will work on any one virtual or recorded workshop per month, and (like the workshops) the value is based on the Patreon support tier. Now here’s the neat thing: the discount you get is more than the amount you pay monthly for Patreon support. So this is the one and only way you can get regular discounts on my workshops! If you think you’re likely to want to take a bunch of my BuildingBlox workshops in 2023 and beyond, maybe think about joining my Patreon! Here are the discounts:

  • Slip-Stitch Tier: $5/month gets a $10 coupon ($5 savings)
  • Modern Tier: $15/month gets a $25 coupon ($10 savings)
  • Extreme Tier: $35/month gets a $50 coupon ($15 savings)

Sorry Tubular backers, the lowest tier doesn’t get a lot of perks and also doesn’t get a discount here.

One other change, only affecting the Extreme tier backers: I removed the “office hours” perk because in over a year of offering it, only one person has ever used it, so it wasn’t worth it for me to keep paying for the booking system. If there’s more interest in that in the future, I’ll look into reinstating it some other way.

In-person Workshops

Yes, as I mentioned before, there are in-person workshops scheduled, and you can sign up for them now if you’re in (or traveling to) NYC or Tacoma, WA next February for Vogue Knitting Live or Red Alder. Red Alder even has a couple instances of new workshops I’ve never taught in person before!

Because this post has gone on pretty long already, I’m just going to refer you to my handy Events Calendar, where you can get all the info you need. You can also (of course) look me up on the individual event pages. I’ll do another post later with updates on all my upcoming workshops once I’ve scheduled my first set of BuildingBlox workshops, and have even more virtual workshops aside from those to share as well.

Website, Blog and Social Media updates

You may have already noticed if you’ve been following my blog for a while, as well as if you’ve followed many of the links from earlier in this post, that I’ve been doing some heavy work on my website and blog.

The work on the website has mostly been focused around the places one might visit while looking for workshops, while the books and patterns have been left alone for a little longer. I’ve made a lot of aesthetic changes along with the structural ones. One of the changes you might not immediately notice is the one you’re using right now: the fonts! The fonts have been changed to web versions of the same ones I use in my books and patterns. I’m excited that I’ve been able to figure out how to achieve this, and I hope you like the look of them. Fine-tuning continues, so please let me know if anything is broken.

The blog is a separate, less-complex site, but I was also able to import the fonts here, and with some CSS wizardry I’ve been able to customize this theme to use the same fonts my website uses.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you have probably noticed I haven’t been doing much in those spaces. I made a post a while ago about this — in the absence of my former social media manager, I have had to choose between “production” and “promotion” weeks. I have been deep in production and have had no time for promotion — but as time goes on I will need to do both, so I have hired a new virtual assistant. I’ll introduce you to her in a future post, but you’ll start seeing more from me on social media if you follow Fallingblox Designs in those places.

What about knitting?

Among all of these time-consuming projects, what about knitting? This is the season for knitting, where I live. It’s getting colder, and I really, really want to get the needles and yarn out and make some stuff. I hope I have the time, after all this workshop prep is done but before I actually have to start teaching them. I miss the simplicity of just knitting, whether for myself or for a new pattern. It’s hard to find the time for it now, but I hope that after all this infrastructure is done, and I have someone to help schedule workshops and take some other work off my plate, I’ll be able to get back to the basics of this craft I love so much.

Thanks for your patience with me, and for reading this far in such a long post.

Alasdair Post-Quinn, “Softwear Engineer”, Fallingblox Designs

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