The biggest problem with workshops, I have found, is promoting them. Shouldn't it be possible to have an online matching service for people who like to promote and people who have something to promote, sort of like a dating service?
There could be a side bar with sample agreement forms, from simple to complex, maybe with open boxes where you could fill in your particular item or terms. And profiles, of course, so one could see what the potential "partner" was like and whether they could do what you need.
Hmmmm.....I see a big opportunity for SOMEbody here-- maybe even a moneymaker if you were smart. If you happen to be that somebody who starts the business, would you please send me a notification when you get it all sorted out so I can join?
I've returned from Idaho (500 or so miles across the Oregon High Desert) with lots accomplished with regard to both workshops and my book The Southern Swamp Explorer. On my way over, I passed through the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, and had the brainstorm while I was there that the curators might like to have a field sketching workshop for their people. So I'm in contact with them now about that and who knows how it will shape up.
Sarah, the director at The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center where I will give a workshop in October, is easy to work with, and I think we're both on the same track about the workshop. She took me into the archives to photograph old items we might like to sketch, and answered my questions about the emigrants (for instance, do you know what "saleratus" is? A lot of the diaries written by emigrants mention saleratus).
Sarah also gave me directions to one of the few places you can still see the actual tracks of the Oregon Trail on my way to my brother's. It was sort a holy grail place to me, and I walked along it a ways, thinking covered-wagon-linsey-woolsey-oxen sorts of thoughts. Here's a picture of it. Would you believe the distance between the tracks -- hence, the width of a covered wagon -- is only about four feet, roughly the distance between the wheels of a 4-wheeler (I know, because we use these in the native plant nursery where I work)?
When I arrived at my brother David's place in Idaho, the press proof for The Southern Swamp Explorer was waiting for me to check. David helped me for one whole evening (what a trooper!) and I spent the next 2 days working on it, making the changes, and (with David's help, since some of the fonts were giving me fits on this different computer) burning a new DVD. With all the illustrations, it had to be burned to a capacious DVD since it wouldn't fit on a CD. And on Saturday we sent it off FedEx, overnight, which meant it would arrive during business hours on Monday. Cost me some $56 for about 2lbs. Yikes! The big hurry was so that my print job wouldn't lose its place in the queue and get further delayed. Still, $56........!
THEN I could relax for a few days and just have fun. I started back on Wednesday at 8am, and hit both the Four Rivers Cultural Center and High Desert Museum, leaving my card and a workshop workbook so that they would have something to look at when I contact them later with a proposal for a workshop. I'll be putting together the rough draft of the proposal today, I hope.
Coming back across the Oregon High Desert, (a quick aside here: I'd say about 80% of my route from my home in southern Oregon to western Idaho is through rough country where there is no cellphone reception. I carry the cellphone, but it's mostly for looks.) about twenty miles out of Bend, my cellphone rang -- gasp -- what's that sound! It was the print company doing my swamp book telling me that they'd sent the corrected pages back to me email (at home) and that they'd need them at 8am sharp (Central Daylight Time -- I'm on Pacific Daylight Time) the next morning to continue to keep my spot in the queue. Well, I was delighted that 1) they actually were able to reach me and 2) that they warned me, because I might not have checked my email when I got home.
But that also meant that after twelve hours and 500+ miles on the road, tired and a bit groggy, I had to sit at the computer with an actively engaged brain (yeah, sure) and recheck the pages they sent to make sure all was copacetic, and then email them back that night so they'd have them the next morning. But NOW, I'm DONE with the book, there's nothing else I CAN DO with the book. Sure feels funny! By the way, I upgraded The Southern Swamp Explorer page with a peek inside the book if you'd like to look. Let me know if you think it helps!
And as for promoting the workshops, I now need to telephone or email the places I left workbooks during my trip and make my pitch. I'm awful on the phone. I hate telephoning (talk about being out of step with today's world!) and I have to force myself to follow through with a phone call.
By the way, I spent yesterday spiffing up my Upcoming Workshops webpage because if I'm about to start promoting my workshops seriously I want the webpage to look upscale so that people will know what happens in the workshops and feel comfortable contacting me about scheduling one.
I hope you'll go take a look (I added lots of graphics) because I need some feedback about whether I was successful in improving it, and also I need to know if anything is off the mark or if something else (or more of something) is needed. Also, I need to know how long it now takes it to come up on your screen, because of all the images. Please go see it and get back to me about what you see. I need you!
Where the heck is that person that wants to promote my workshops?
In the next few days, I'll be inventing my pitch for the workshop. I need something I can send along with my business card and a sample workbook to convince people that they need me to come give my workshop either to their people or to people they promote it to. When I get something together, I'll post it.
In the meantime, I hope you will check out my Upcoming Workshop page. It would be greatly helpful to get your reaction/opinion, and I'd really appreciate it!
p.s. Saleratus is a natural soda formed in drying alkali lakes, and the emigrants picked up chunks to use in their baking on the trail (and afterward, too, I expect).
To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here. I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.
My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!