These Fake-Ass Masterclasses Gotta Go

Fake Masterclass, Bespoke Hogaboom

Some of you may know I’m enrolled in a pretty intensive yoga teacher training for about four months – as if I wasn’t busy enough! But honestly, so far it’s been a blast. Investing so much time and focus on something just for me, has been inexpressibly wonderful.

Even with the increased workload to my week: 10/10 recommend.

One of the results of being even more heavily immersed in this world of yoga, is that I’m receiving an awful lot of class, course, and workshop opportunities. I take as many of these as I can – several are offered at low- or no-cost, and so far all but one have been a valuable use of my time.

What’s this “but one”, you say?

I’m glad you asked.

A short while ago I signed up for a “workshop” on a particular aspect of wellness practice – an event offered by an entity invested in social revolution, a group I had no reason to distrust. I knew the presentation would also involve a sales pitch – for a course to the tune of $__. That made sense to me, and in fact I was pretty interested in the program for $__ and curious to determine if the timing was right for me. I looked forward to learning a bit at the workshop – learning about an hour’s worth, and listening to their $__  offering. So I signed up, marked off my schedule, and when event time came I bopped out of my studio and settled in on the laptop with my giant tumbler of water.

What followed was the classic “masterclass” that’s really just a sales call.

Sweet Jeebus, how can we describe what these are like, to those who’ve not endured one? Honestly, I hope you never have to!

First of all, the damn things rarely start on time. There’s always, “wait for people to trickle in”. Then – once we supposedly get started – the host(s) are back and forth asking people to shout out what part of the world they’re from. And I’m not talking a brief mention, acknowledgement, and celebration – rather a protracted part of the precious hour call. Then the host(s) make sure to call out by name their buddies in the audience – you, know, the kids sitting at the “cool kids’ table”, the kids who already are in the in-crowd, who’ve taken a class before, or who maybe were recruited by the hosts. More back and forth. More expressions of conviviality, inside jokes. Eighteen minutes into the hour and not one substantial bit of content has been transmitted.

And it doesn’t get better from there. 

We went straight to the “content” that these fake-classes employ: lot of slides with vague words, clipart, stock photos – and generalized talk. If you’re lucky, you get a demo. A careful bit of know-how – not too much, of course! – doled out by the presenter. Just enough of a demo, offered less as actual value than a tantalizing morsel wanting to leave us hungry for more.

Not a class, not a “workshop” at all.

Just a presentation.

(You probably know how I feel about “the presentation”!)

So then we’re at the hard sales moment. Those last several minutes. Here’s what they’re trying to get you to buy, here’s how valuable it is, oh my gosh look it’s half price but if you sign up today you get it at the low low cost of whatever!

That sort of thing.

I think I lasted twenty-five minutes. For a while I genuinely believed I was getting a workshop, and that I’d learn something. Any minute now, I was going to learn something!

But as the time ticked on and the chatter was by turns diffuse, vague, and mostly talking about the value I’d get for the low low price of $__  if I signed up TODAY – well then, I stayed just a little longer to be polite.

Finally, I realized I have better things to do with my time. I bounced.

Hard pass.

***

The sad thing is, I was fairly interested in the package they were trying to sell. The sales-y behavior and the iffy promise of a “workshop” rendered the presenters untrustworthy in my mind.

Why not call it an “interest call” or a “Q&A”? That would have been more honest. In fact I went to an “interest call” for the current yoga school I’m in. The owner of the school gave me thirty minutes of time, answered questions, was entirely relaxed – and she wasn’t pretending she was going to teach me something.

(And notice that her truthful behavior got my enrollment!)

I don’t mean to pick on this particular event, this fake class. This kind of thing is not exclusive to yoga, wellness, anything like that. The truth is, there are loads of “masterclasses” and “workshops” like this – everywhere. People truly believe it’s the only way, or the best way, to make sales. While I am delighted by the advent of internet-learning and Zoom classes – I truly am, and in fact my current yoga school is a wonderful virtual program – these fake-classes are the seedy underbelly of easy technology.

One difference in the Zoom age is – unlike the salesman of yore who could get on your doorstep and you’d feel uncomfortable slamming the door on his face – you can click “Leave” in a Zoom call.

Since this is a blog for ethical artpreneurs (not just a space for me to vent, as a potential customer!), let’s get down to the question at hand:

Do these kinds of things work?

Yes, and no.

That is – at a certain volume, at a certain sales funnel size, these on-blast “live workshops” (that are just Sales) will serve to fill or at least partially populate your roster – for a while, anyway. But for the occasional “masterclass/workshop” that can (for a while) get you clients – well there are thousands, millions of person-hours being wasted in these miserable little affairs. Not just a waste of your time, as a potential client or interested party – a waste of my time as the provider, because doing a dog-and-pony show for a few crumbs, is just not my bag.

In my opinion – and this is just an opinion – as an ethical artpreneur it’s better to teach a limited but impactful training – with no sales pressure and no phony “sale” or time pressure bonuses – to establish community, trustworthiness, generosity, and approachability. This kind of powerful, helpful, and sincere no-pressure content is how I built my brand and there’s no downside (as long as I know my boundaries and can manage my expectations – and I can)!

The way I do this, is I think to myself, “What if I only had an hour with this audience – and they never saw me again? What would I like to impart?” This could be something information-heavy and impactful – like my Pricing workshop, which is much-beloved and popular – or something simple and sweet and specific – like my (upcoming) class on how to draft a custom zip yoga bolster.

The point is: if I provide a workshop or masterclass I try to craft:

  • a clear and honest description,
  • a spirit of generosity, and
  • a zero-pressure sales approach.

I trust that if my keystone offerings are valuable (in my case my mentorship and my course), I’ll get the clients I need.

It’s honestly pretty simple.

And peeps:

I promise you won’t have to endure eighteen minutes of chit-chat and hobnobbing!

UGH!

***

If you like what I have to share, and you’re willing to invest time in your dream – I’d love to work with you formally!

You can read more about my course here (or – get my emails).

You can read about, and apply for, mentorship here.