On Sunday I made a pot of not-too-spicy chili. I also wrote out a detailed explanation of each child’s schedule and packed the bags for day camp before packing my own bag for a trip to San Francisco Monday morning to teach at CreativeLive.
I first talked to Elizabeth Madariaga, head of the Craft and Maker channel at CreativeLive, early last summer. She’d asked if I would teach a 2-day softie sewing class, but I decided not to do it. I spoke to Elizabeth again in March, this time in person at Craftcation, and she asked if I might teach a 1-day class on email marketing. My kids are older now, the class was shorter, video instruction is only getting stronger as a form of content delivery online – I decided to go for it.
After a four-hour flight delay and six hours in the air, I landed in San Francisco in the late afternoon on Monday. CreativeLive sent a car service to take me from the airport to the studio.
CreativeLive is located in a loft-style building populated with start-ups. The lobby has a grass wall.
I went to the green room and watched Tara Gentile finish up her day-long class (my class is the second in a five-day series on marketing and productivity for craft business owners).
I met Tara briefly, and I also met Kiffanie Stahl from the artist’s J.D. who was in the live studio audience for Tara’s class. Kiffanie is a lawyer and I’ve consulted her for several recent articles I’ve written here having to do with contracts (including this one about Moda). It was great to meet in person.
Note the cactus wall behind us. This is in the CreativeLive dining room.
Next up was a meeting in the studio with the cameramen, producers, and host, to go over details for my class the next day. I created my presentation in Keynote, but we were also going to go online three times to look at actual email newsletters so we coordinated when that would happen. This is Kate. She’s awesome and in charge of getting everything organized.
This is the set when that big curved screen isn’t turned on. There’s a screen across the room that only the instructor can see where my notes were shown.
And this is Kenna, the host, and Justin, the content producer who had met with me over the phone once a week for two months as we planned the content of my class. They’re both smart and supportive and great.
You have to wear a solid-colored shirt when you’re on TV.
And then they called me an Uber to take me to my hotel. Just on a sidenote, the Uber culture in San Francisco is striking. Everyone has the app on their phone and when you call an Uber it’s there in literally five seconds. I’m not kidding. So five seconds later I was in an Uber on the way to the hotel. (Whether Uber is a good thing is pretty questionable in my mind after listening to this series, Instaserfs, on Benjamin Walker’s Theory of Everything. One Uber driver I talked with told me, “This is a job for kids. The money is the same as you’d get on a paper route.”).
San Francisco is cold in August, at least by Boston standards. I went out for dinner, took a walk around Union Square where there are a lot of homeless people, and got some green tea shaved ice with red bean and mochi.
The food in San Francisco is amazing.
The next morning an Uber took me back to the studio at 7:25 for hair and makeup. There were 10 students in my live studio audience. They came to the studio at 8:00 and everyone got a catered breakfast (and later lunch) in the CreativeLive cafeteria.
In the green room after hair and makeup. The makeup artist has a popular Instagram account where she reviews products and I was helping her strategize how to start getting paid in money instead of lipstick.
All made up and feeling super nervous.
Everyone takes their seats in the studio and we start. “In 5, 4, 3, 2…clapping.” It’s live TV and Kenna, the host, begins. She also manages questions from the chat room throughout the day. There are four segments with a break in between.
I’m sipping some water. I am so sweaty.
Over lunch I reconnected with Ashley Nickels, a quilter I’d met at Craftcation. She’ll be teaching a CreativeLive course on how to teach a craft class (like me she’s a former school teacher) and had come in to film a promo. One of my audience members was Rebecca Saylor, the organizer of Etsy’s San Francisco street team. We planned an upcoming blog post together.
Something I’ve come to realize during this summer of teaching online classes is that these things are team efforts. They’re as much about you the instructor as they are about the camera crew and the editor and producer and set designer. Everyone has a job and every job is equally important. This makes me much less nervous.
Shooting a class live is strikingly different from shooting a highly scripted and edited craft class mostly because there’s only one take. You look imperfect, and natural. The audience asks questions, some of which you don’t know the answer to. You make mistakes and can’t take them back. We all laugh on camera.
My class is airing in the lobby, along with the CreativeLive Twitter feed.
Tara Swiger arrived and while she had the meeting to prep for her class the next day I sat in the green room and worked. It was Tuesday and I had to finish my email newsletter for Wednesday morning. It turns out when you teach a class on email marketing a whole lot of people subscribe to your list. I had to deliver something worth getting.
Justin, Kenna, Elizabeth, Tara and I went out for vegan Mexican and then they called me and Tara an Uber to take us back to our hotel. Five seconds later we were in the car and on our way. Tara and I stayed up way too late talking, as we always do when we’re together. In my hotel room I formatted Wednesday’s blog post, responded to emails (including six in a row from one blog reader who is furious with me for not registering my patterns with the US copyright office) and went to bed.
The car service came at 7:15 am to take me to the airport and I was home, in Boston, with my kids at 7:00 pm.
On most days I live the life of a suburban mom. I run a website from a laptop in my kitchen. On this trip I was treated to glimpse of how another part of the internet is made.
In June when we had our first planning meeting for this class Elizabeth asked me what my motivation was for teaching at CreativeLive. Did I want to make money? Grow my following? Add to my resume? My honest answer was curiosity. I love new media and I want to see how it works. It was fascinating and tremendous fun.
Yay Abby! Your class was so great!
Thanks for the run down on what it’s like being on Creative Live. I’ve watched many courses on there in the last few years and since starting my consulting business it’s been one of my bigger goals to teach on CL.
I’m so happy to hear you had a blast and got the chance to reconnect with so many people you know!
Teresa Ascone says
Another wonderfully detailed and informative post, Abby! I had not heard of CreativeLive before and enjoyed your step by step description of how it worked for you. I actually did go on the site and browse around; I imagine their main competition is Lynda.com except Lynda.com is not live, and there’s no class participation. Having been a subscriber to Lynda made me want to check out CreativeLive. Watercolor being my field, I looked for a class and found one “sample” there. Maybe there are more.
Thanks again for the post,
I caught a lot of your class, despite the time zone difficulties, and it is fun to read your experience of the other side of the screen. I always enjoy the honest way you present the realities and details of your working life.
Your email newsletter itself is the main one that made me decide “I can do this. I can write a newsletter. I know what I would write about.” So it was nice to have the class to add some more ideas and confirm some of what I am already doing.
I work in tech as my day job, have travelled for conferences and spoken to crowds about what I do, like a mini class like you did. So yeah – this post made me smile a lot, because it is so similar to some of what I do, except a different topic.
And it is *always* weird when I come back home again, to a less tech-driven area, where Uber can barely get a toe-hold.
Stephanie W Martel says
Thanks for this behind the scenes peek, Abby! It looks like you did a great job and your attitude is a good reminder to keep an open mind, especially about trying something new.
Your class was so good. On my to do list today: Tweek the design of my homepage a bit, add a hello bar and write that very first newsletter 😉 Thanks for giving me the motivation!
That’s awesome! Please let me know how it goes, especially over the long term. I’m excited for you!
Your class was really great. I learned so much . . . and have so many questions !! as I’m sure many of your viewers do. I hope you will have time to respond in your own busy schedule. You are an excellent teacher and made email marketing seem a little less scary.
Thanks so much.
Thank you so much, Julie. Of course, I’m happy to answer questions! I got both of your emails an hour ago and will respond now 🙂
I hadn’t heard of Creative Live, I can see how that could be a fabulous resource for people trying to make a go of it in blogging, crafts, and sales. I’m seriously thinking of starting to write my blog again. I wrote one with tutorials on different art media and how to best utilize the “not common” items in art. Lately I’ve been quilting up a storm again after years of my sewing machine sitting pretty idle. I have 2 questions for you. Do you have an art or marketing degree? I’m wondering because if it’s necessary I don’t have any degrees. I graduated high school in the late 70s when every young women was put into one of 2 categories. College bound or homemaker Ed. Which included things like typing so you could work as a secretary while waiting for mr right, and DECA so you could work in retail while waiting.
My second question is did you start your blog with a set number of items finished to do tutorials on or you just come up with something each week? I think art, sewing and cooking go along well together and would like to add food as a part of the blog.
Thank you for your insight
I have an undergraduate degree in history and a masters degree in education so no art or marketing degrees or formal training. I started my blog in 2005 with nothing planned except to document what I was making while our daughter was napping. I create most of the posts you see here a day or two before they’re published.
What a fun post to read! I’ve watched several Creative Live broadcasts over the last couple years, so it’s really interesting to see what’s happening behind the scenes. I was able to catch most of your course live last week and honestly, yours was one of the couple presentations for the week that motivated me to purchase the on-demand access – so much great advice and encouragement – thank you! I’ve been on your list for a while and this was the first time I got to hear your actual voice (instead of the one I imagine in my head when I’m reading your written words) so that was kinda fun, too. 🙂 Thanks again for making the trip out to SF and putting together such an enjoyable class!
That’s wonderful to hear, Brigitta!
Jelena Novista says
Congratulations, You did a great job!
We loved it and it was a practical and inspiring. Your talk kept my attention from the very first second to the end, and it was late night hear in Serbia. .Although I had been running email campaigns for years now, and I am a Master of Information Science specialized for the Internet Marketing, you had some great point and ideas, which I have already tried and had a success.
Looking forward to your new blog posts and newsletters.
Yay! Thanks for watching from so far away, Jelena!
Abby, as always your a star from the word go, you keep is straight and to the point, you make total since, and you are just an all around beautifully amazing, human that listens to all and respond in the right way, I was on a blog once, and I had said something, and this person took it wrong and latterly attacked me, telling me she did not like what I was insinuating, excuse me, I am sorry did you not want my oppinune and you did not want it, well then why did you ask in the first place, and I was not insinuating anything, and another lady got on and said she would pray for me, I will take all those you can send, as I am dying, I was so blown away with her odd reaction, anyway I removed myself from there blog list. but you are always so kind, and I know sometimes you want to respond in the same way, but you don’t. Thank you for being you, Thank you for showing kindness when sometimes people don’t deserve it , I figure, you have not walked in there shoes, so you don’t know what they have been through before they got to you, I however don’t find it ok to be mean, and there are really bad people that love that stuff. GOD bless sweet lady
Candy from Candied Fabrics says
Great post Abby, thanks so much for sharing! And now, I’m going to ask something I know I’m not the only person wondering…how much did/will you earn from taping this class? You are most welcome to ignore this question, but I know you’ve addressed monetary issues here before so I just thought I’d ask!
I’ve built my own set of online fabric dyeing classes completely by myself in the past four years; the first one was so successfull money-wise that I was encouraged to keep going. I have a great core of students, and add to that over time but I would really LOVE to have the marketing power that would come with working with one of the big online craft course deliverers (Creative Live, Creative Bug, Craftsy). BUT! I have no idea what kind of income those classes generate for the person in front of the camera and would LOVE to know more about that aspect.
Thanks for any insight you have on this matter! Candy
Candy, I’m working on a post about how much each of the online class platforms pay. It will be published through Craft Industry Alliance after it launches. Hang on! http://craftindustryalliance.org/
Candy from Candied Fabrics says
Awesome, can’t wait!
congrats, Abby! I really look forward to watching your course and sorry I missed it live. (I’m actually in San Francisco right now! My husband and I come here for friends and food. I LOVE the food.) I am very interested in behind the scenes of the online class platforms. Thanks for the peek!
Oh, I would have loved to have met you Amy! Sometime soon 🙂
Katie Clemens says
Dear Abby, I LOVE reading your blog, listening to your podcasts and savouring your books. I’m writing this in the hope that you can point me in the right direction, or alternatively, create a direction for learning to design and construct soft toys online?? I know you have a huge amount on your plate but your so very talented and would be such an excellent teacher to learn from. I’ve read rave reviews from those who’ve been lucky enough to learn from you ‘in the flesh’! For those of us whom are limited by distance, would you consider doing an online course in design and construction of soft toys, you could even make it a collaborative effort with other designers and use a forum such as Crafty… I’m wondering if you can point me in any directions I may have overlooked in investigating this arena?? I’m SO keen to design and dimensionally create my own softies, and perhaps one day make and sell the patterns…there are loads of classes out there for doing this following the garment design and construction route but the softies seems relatively unexplored?! I hope in some small way that my optimistic enthusiasm will spur you on, I can’t wait to hear from you or anyone else with info on this topic! Thanks so much for listening, Katie x
Thank you for your interest. I wrote a comprehensive book on soft toy design that you might like. It’s called Stuffed Animals and you can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Stuffed-Animals-From-Concept-Construction/dp/1454703644/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t
Lucy Jennings says
I enjoyed watching you on Creative Live. I love your podcast, and when I heard you were coming to Creative Live I thought “Someone I know!” I knew you would be great, and you were.
Thanks for this post about the backstage of Creative Live. My daughter loves theater, acting, set, and costume. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes that call for expertise, thanks for showing us these people!
Thanks for watching, Lucy! There really is so much that goes on behind the scenes to make an online class happen. It’s fascinating to be part of!
Cheryl Arkison says
Nailed the experience. It was my first Uber too. Wish we had it here. You looked great in the class too.
Thanks for the amazing insights. I know it’s been awhile, but I am interested in teaching for creative live. I was wondering do you get compensated for your course?