Last year it felt like I taught more than I usually do. It was still a pretty low amount relatively (teaching made up 8% of my turnover) - having been there and done that with full time teaching and the inevitable burnout, I've always been adamant that teaching will only be an occasional thing for me.
Going forward, I'm going to be doing less. Over the next year I've got 4 weekends, possibly 5, booked and that's the limit. Last year I squeezed in around 12 teaching days, which was only a day or two above my annual average, and they were pretty spread out - this year I'm making sure those teaching days are grouped into whole weekends, not single days or evenings. In reality it won't be that much less teaching, but it will be that much less travelling.
One of the hardest things about this is that I won't now take bookings for a venue unless I'm booked for a minimum of 3 x 3hr workshops, not including Hat Clinic. It's tough because I want to support smaller shops and venues yet they don't always have the budget for a weekend of workshops, and I feel like I'm letting them down. But logistically for me, it makes so much more sense.
Besides the day lost (minimum) travelling to a venue and the day lost travelling back, there's a heck of a lot of preparation that goes into planning new workshops, or even preparing for existing ones. I like to turn up with well presented notes and lots of samples, and continually add to these. Once the teaching is done, I need a good few days to recover, and all in all a weekend of teaching can cost me a week in time, easy. I love meeting folk and sharing new skills and seeing that moment when it all clicks into place, but it's also exhausting. And lugging luggage around is painful!
If I can make my teaching weekends more effective, they will feel a lot less disruptive.
I've been wanting to change how I approach teaching for some time, and going over my figures last week helped me see things a little more clearly. Right now, I can afford to not teach at all. If I took the teaching aspect out of the figures my turnover would still be way up on previous years. Self publishing is my strength, and hiding away in my cave with my head down and focussed does me the world of good.
When the trend in this industry, and likely many creative industries, is to diversify and have different income streams, it feels bold to be doing the opposite and be trimming down. For a good few years I was lacking confidence in what I should be doing, in how I should be trying to earn more. And when I'm adrift like that I'm more easily persuaded to try things I don't really want to try, and I end up going round in negative circles. At some point last year though things fell into place, and I've never felt more confident about the direction I want to be going in, and what I don't need to be doing. And it feels so good.
So what does this mean for you? I'm still going to be getting out and meeting knitters and teaching new skills. It means that you'll meet a less tired, more focussed me, which can only be a good thing, right?