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What's Better, a Live or Recorded Creative Workshop?

Updated: Apr 10

by Tori McElwain

Grab Your Free eBook, Design Your Workshop, here. 

This question can stop any quilting or crafting instructor in their tracks! Are you jumping back and forth and not making any progress? You're not alone.

This is one of the top questions I get asked by my students and clients, should they prerecord and sell their workshop as a digital product or host the workshop live or only teach their workshop in person?

The answer is…

woman on a computer taking a zoom workshop

It depends! You may have seen that coming, but it’s true!

There are pros and cons for both, but the real answer lies in the purpose of why you’re even creating a workshop. The purpose lies in the ‘why’ that’s deeper than the objective or goal of the workshop.

My favorite activity to do to figure out the purpose of a workshop is one I learned in the book The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker, where she asks “why” until you get to the true purpose of the gathering you’re hosting.

In our case, we’re looking at a workshop. I would invite you to go at least three “whys” deep, deeper if you need to. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to host a workshop?”

I want to answer all these Frequently Asked Questions that all students ask me


To take work off my plate, but still keep the students wanting to learn more with me


I want to grow my main workshop attendance and move them from the FAQs to my main workshop where I can teach them my unique technique (or pattern!)


If your purpose is to move them quickly to the next step, your unique technique or pattern, then you need to decide whether you need to host this live or recorded.

quilter preping for sewing

Pros to hosting Live or In Person

  • Builds connection with your students

  • Builds Community

  • Can be more discussion-based and bounce ideas off each other

  • Get to answer all their questions and provide unique examples and tweak your content based on who present

  • Takes less time in front of a camera

  • Can cost more or less depending on where you’re hosting

  • Can be a great revenue stream, if you’ve chosen to charge for it

Cons to hosting Live or In-Person

  • You have to block off time

  • Choosing a time, some clients are in different time zones or they have crazy/full schedules

  • Cost depending on where you’re hosting

  • A lot of work for you to set up each time you host

  • A lot of energy with each workshop

woman purchasing a recorded workshop on an ipad

Pros of Creating a Recorded Workshop

  • The brunt of the work is upfront

  • Students can take it at any time, or you can open/close it at any time

  • You can send clients back to the workshop if they need to review information

  • Can be a stream of revenue with little work

Cons to Creating a Recorded Workshop

  • No discussion opportunities

  • You can’t provide a unique experience or examples to

  • less connection and trust develop (there’s still some, but significantly less)

  • Learning about different platforms and choosing where to host

  • You have to keep it updated

  • Editing

  • Perfectionism tends to get in the way of so many when they’re creating a recorded workshop

There may be more to add and consider for yourself, but from the list above what sounds like it’s going to fit your purpose?

Our example’s purpose was to move your students quickly through the FAQs to your main workshop where you want to teach them your unique techniques or pattern. This sounds like a recorded workshop. However if you had dived deeper and decided that you wanted to use this workshop as an opportunity to build your community that is spread around the world, a live workshop where discussion and connection can happen may be the best way to follow your purpose.

Considering your purpose and then matching that with the format of your workshop is a great way to help you figure out which format would fit your workshop.


Need help? I offer Strategy Sessions to help you plan and get moving forward on your workshop.

To keep in touch, you can sign up for the monthly Newsletter here! 

For time management, check out my blog post: Making Time For What You Want to Do. 

Grab Your Free eBook, Design Your Workshop, here. 


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