What I Want in a Retreat: Creative Advice from Your Attendees (aka Your Target Market)

Hey y'all! Today I'm introducing a new series called "What I Want: Advice from Your Attendees" to help YOU, creative ladies, decide how best to structure your retreat, workshop, or conference. The truth is that there's no right way or wrong way to run a live event (although there are some pretty easy ways to make a client's experience phenomenal), but you want to hear from YOUR target market without all the back and forth emailing, right? Behold! A series that talks to other entrepreneurs who love attending workshops, retreats, and conferences, and who aren't afraid of telling you what you should be doing to cater to them, and what mistakes NOT to make.

First up, Sarah Biernacki.

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Introduce yourself! Tell us where you live and what you do!

I was born in and live in Washington D.C. (where I can be found reading in the Library of Congress). I am a technical writer by day, but I am a young adult book editor by night. It is exhausting to live a double life, but I love it.

You recently attended a workshop and had a wonderful experience. Which workshop was it and how did you come to find it?

I went to April Bowles-Olin’s “Creating Digital Products that Sell While You Sleep” and “Make Your Creative Business Uniquely Irresistible” through CreativeLive. I found about it through her amazing blog, Blacksburg Belle.

When you found this workshop, what made you want to sign up? The topic? The speaker? The way the sales page was presented?

I have always loved April’s work, and I really wanted to learn how to make digital products. Also, it was in San Francisco.

In the weeks leading up to the workshop, what made you the most excited to attend? Was there any pre-workshop communication like emails or a Facebook group for attendees?

CreativeLive did set up a Facebook group, but I was most excited about the meet and greet she arranged at a hotel before the event. It was amazing to get to know people  before the event, and it definitely calmed my nerves.

Tell us about the workshop. What was the topic and what did you take away from it?

The topic was on creating digital products. I basically developed an e-mail subscription on how to write a novel in a year (coming soon!), and I made some new friends. I also learned how to implement what I learned by actively filling out the workbooks in real time. It was nice to be forced to do that.

What made your workshop experience so special? Was it the information? The communication? The food?

The best part by far was meeting people in real life. There is no faster way to make a connection with someone than to talk to them in the same physical room. I met some really fun new friends who have helped me immensely with my business. The food was also really fantastic, which never hurts.

Was there anything that could have been better about this workshop?

I know this is epically unhelpful, but it was pretty perfect. I think what made it so wonderful was the attention to detail. For example, the music songs played at the studio were fun and dancy (who doesn’t love David Bowie’s Heroes?). Also, the workbooks were even in color!

If someone came to you and asked how they could make their workshop the best experience yet for their clients, what would you tell them?

I would definitely have a meet and greet before the workshop. It makes people so much less nervous, and it is a great opportunity for people to make friends. I would also really encourage individual interaction; I really believe that personal connections are really what helps the most in the long run.

Thank you so much, Sarah, for sharing your experience!

Your Turn!

Have you ever attended a live event that was just spectacular? If so, let me know what was so great about it in the comments below!

Sarah Biernacki is a consultant and editor for young adult novels at www.sarahbiernacki.com. Her past editorial projects have included Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, Life is Messy Kitchen, and, of course, various young adult novels. When she is not reading John Green or Rainbow Rowell, she is watching everything involving Muppets or checking out the Andy Warhol paintings at The National Gallery of Art. Watch her squeeze herself into a 140-character box over on Twitter.