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What Happens When You Have to Cancel a Workshop

What happens when you need to cancel your lovingly planned workshop


Cross-legged. Red geometric comforter. Brisk fall breeze. Warm sun. Relaxation station. Portland is turning out to be a passionate friend.

Last time we talked about the Get Booked Out! Workshop I was in Brooklyn typing late at night at a Mexican restaurant. I had cancelled it but was still hoping that the lovingly planned workshops in DC, PDX and SFO would pull thru.

I’m proud to say that I got to run the DC workshop and these two lovely ladies attended – Jennifer and Mallie. It was a day of laughs, great strategies and friendship. It was something that I’d love to do again. It’s such a nice change being able to see your clients face-to-face and feed them while you dish out business advice.

Unfortunately the SFO and PDX workshops got only 1 sign-up which meant I had to cancel them. I came to a point where I could have pushed more, written more posts, and tweeted my brains out but…

I was tired of hustling them.

Part of the reason I love my job so much is that online services are so easy to experiment with. (And I ran an impromptu Sales Page workshop and was one away from selling it out!)

No one signed up to your online program? You’re out 10 hours and $100.

No one signs up to your workshop? You’re out 50 hours and $850.

I’m lucky that I had this fantastic workshop specialist on my side to help me organize these and I’m really glad that I tried something new and daring for my business.

New experiments are crucial in business.

Try it. Try putting together a workshop (or hiring Lauren).


This is what happens IF you need to cancel it. 

1. Call it before you invest more. 

I cancelled the workshop venue stuff two weeks before it happened. I still needed to buy swag bag stuff, order food, and supplies. So for me it made sense to call it before I bought all those things. 


2. Understand your legal responsibilities.

Most venues will have you put down a deposit and if you cancel before 30 days you lose it. (Depends on the business though.) Some venues will allow you to use it for another date. Keep that in mind when you’re weighing up whether to run it or not. This is why it’d be better to host it at a local fan’s house or an inexpensive public venue. 


3. It all adds up.

Know the minimum amount of people you need to run the workshop. Supplies, food, venue – all of these things add up and that’s not even including your time. I wanted to run the DC workshop but it ended up costing me to do so. I’m happy about that because I knew that going into it. 


4. Consider your clients. 

If you’re canceling a workshop, think about your clients – have they bought plane tickets to your event? If so, think about how much notice they’d need to change their plans. 


5. Refund, refund, refund.

Because in this case it’s the right thing to do. Your clients took a risk in buying this new product and if it doesn’t work then you need to take the hit not your clients/customers/fans. 


6. Make sure to learn from it. 

You’re paying for a real-life education. I realized that my audience reach isn’t big nor broad enough to make this work… THIS TIME. I’m not beaten but for right now, the only thing I can do is learn from this and take a nap. 


Have you tried running and in-person workshop? How’d it go?

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Why Attending a Workshop is Like Fanning Your Business Flame.

It’s workshop/retreat/conference season.

(Oh, you didn’t know there was a season for these things? Well, fall is it. Something about kids going back to school and adults feeling like they should probably do the same.)

Five years ago, telesummits, e-courses, online workshops, virtual insert-creative-synonym-for-workshop-here were all the rage. And people raged. Raise your hand if you ever participated in one of those online classes?

And tell me, how much of that class did you check your email, refresh Facebook, pay your bills, and multi-task?

Guilty as charged. (Don’t worry. I did it, too.)

Which is why I’m begging you, imploring you, holding your hand and shaking it vigorously: do yourself a favor and sign up for an in-person class.



You’ll be more engaged.

Stuck for two hours/two days in a room with 11-200 other people who are similarly enraptured humans? You’ll be less likely to check Facebook, pay your bills, and ignore the speaker (because what if she calls on you and you were writing love notes to your crush? THE SHAME!).

2. You get more bang for your buck.

Live workshops mean that you’re in a conference room (or studio or…) for an allotted amount of time. Instead of taking all the time on your own to write your sales page/formulate a marketing plan/design your logo, you literally have no other distractions to prevent you from getting your task done. Try sitting at home and doing all that with Netflix just a click away. #FAIL

3. You get a real life, built-in community.

People to giggle or guffaw with, have cocktails with, drink wine after class with. Not just tweets of encouragement and internet high-fives (I mean, what’s more awesome than REAL LIFE, FULL-BODY HIGH FIVES?!).

So what are you waiting for? Sounds like it’s time to find a workshop/conference/retreat that fills you up.

Lauren Caselli is a workshop and retreat planner for small businesses and entrepreneurs who want to attract their dream clients and create a supportive and creative community around their products and services. She can be found (in September 2015) on her website lenaandaggy.com or on Instagram @lenaandaggy (beware. There will be glitter). Need a workshop planned? Email her at lauren@laurencaselli.com.

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Are You Talking to Me?

Screenshot 2014-08-12 21.11.53

“Optimize your web design for mobile responsiveness.”

“Use A/B testing to see if your copy is converting.”


Who are you talking to?

This is something that I routinely trip on when helping peeps with the way they talk about their stuff online.

They get bogged down in a quagmire of coach, dev, designer, strategist-speak that totally turns off their potential clients.


Are you talking to your peers or your possible clients?


Your peers will expect industry jargon that is all sorts of complicated and technical.

Your possible clients will want it pared down to the nitty gritty and spelled out why they should give a damn.


Drop the hot-air mumbo jumbo and start speaking like a newb would. Your clients are super smart but they do not have time to learn all the special code words you have for ‘people click the button’ and ‘your website changes size’.


Because if you want to be an expert (who gets booked out) you have to talk to your clients in their language not yours. 



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Stop the Circle Jerk


Stop the Circle Jerk

Having peeps in the same industry as you is tremendous. They level you out, commiserate and add a new layer of perspective.

I am 100% for it.


But for god’s sake, please stop the circle jerk of words.


This is when you get so hyped up with your peer-to-peer talk that you start writing like that on your website:


“Live big, live better, live GRANDE.”

“Drop the excuses and fall into the center of your gooey being.”

“A beautiful UX-friendly design is the only way to go.”

“Never fear, our heart-centered copywriting course will set your soul free.”

“Coaching for the adventurous and daredevils!”

“Marketing that attracts your best-fit client.”


This is a word circle jerk.


You get jazzed up on these terms you use with your coaching/code/biz peeps because they make you all so excited that you don’t stop to think… “Have I heard this before?”

And… “Do I sound like everyone else?”

Instead the same words go up and no sales come in.


I can’t stand by and watch anymore.


Here’s what you’re going to do – you need to be tangible and specific about how you’re going to improve other people’s lives.

Drop the emotive language where you talk about feelings + aspirations in long winding paragraphs (it’s ok in short bursts)- which really is only pleasuring yourself – and think…


Why would my (super valuable) fan who has limited time on this Earth give a shit?

What would make them happier or richer and what would that look like?


“Live bigger, better, GRANDE.” —> “Have that ticket to Zurich in your pocket and ask the cute barista boy out.”

“Drop the excuses and fall into the center of your gooey being” —> “Stop dicking around on the internet at 2am and finally start going to that 6am yoga class again.”

“A beautiful UX-friendly design is the only way to go.” —> “New readers will stop setting their laptops on fire after the painful ugliness of your website.”

“Never fear, our heart-centered copywriting course will set your soul free.” —> “Remember that coworker who always has the last putdown? Never lack a comeback.”

“Coaching for the adventurous and daredevils!” —> “When other people are researching 401Ks and talking about mortgages you’re researching the best hostels in Brazil.”

“Marketing that attracts your best-fit client.” —> “Consider yourself free of clients that fit the following: A. late with payments B. show up 15 minutes late C. don’t think you’re hilarious D. disbelieve that you’re a genius.”


(Hint: You can have the emotive talk but it needs to be 20% to 80% tangible, specifics. Tough love cuz you’re worth it.)


Get specific and stop yanking it.



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