How to Offer Upgrades for Your Teaching

When you offer services, such as teaching, mentoring, or coaching, seize the opportunity to enhance the experience for your students and clients. This may also be a chance to create extra income for yourself.

I’m talking about offering upgrades to your services.

©Jennifer Akkermans house sculpture
©Jennifer Akkermans, Stuck Inside. MDF, polyfilla, plexiglas, paint, sandpaper, digital photo frame. 17 x 15 x 5 inches. Used with permission.

An upgrade is an offer that adds value to the service for an additional fee.

The most important reason to offer an upgrade is that it improves the experience for your students. The additional income is a bonus for you.

Upgrade Options

Your upgrade offer is limited only by your imagination. Here are some ideas to help get you started:

  • An additional, but different, workshop or class
  • Printed and bound copy of your notes
  • Audio recording of your notes
  • Video lessons
  • “Club” membership
  • A lifetime Facebook group that includes club-only email tips
  • A package of programs and bonuses, like the Art Career Success System
  • Personal coaching, mentoring, or critique sessions (live or via video conference)

If you are hosting a multi-day workshop, consider adding:

  • Private tours
  • 30-minute coaching/critique sessions before or after instruction for the day or an additional coaching-only day at the end
  • Meals

What can you offer to a large number of people at a reasonable price?

Pricing The Upgrade

You can give a small price break for the upgrade, especially if people buy early, but an upgrade is NOT a sale or a bonus. Don’t give things away! Gifts are different than upgrades.

Never price the upgrade too low because you want students who are committed to you, your teaching, learning, and, most importantly, implementing what they’ve learned.

©Stephanie Hartshorn, Skyride. Oil, 12 x 36 inches. Used with permission.
©Stephanie Hartshorn, Skyride. Oil, 12 x 36 inches. Used with permission.

Your offerings aren’t for everyone and the sooner you realize that, the more personally, professionally, and financially fulfilled you will be.

When students are serious – when they implement what you teach them – you look good to potential students and feel gratified and confident in your abilities as an instructor.

When To Extend The Upgrade Offer

Don't assume that people know the additional options are available. Spell. It. Out. Extend the offer.

There are two points at which you might offer upgrades.

The first is when the initial purchase is made. Don't miss this opportunity because that's when your student is most excited to work with you.

The second is near the end of the class, when the program is winding down and people are wondering what's next for them. Don’t make them guess. Let them know that they can continue working with you and what the options are.

This is a service! To NOT extend an offer for deeper learning is a disservice.

Be very clear that you are adding value to your students. If you only think about the money, you are missing the point and you won't be satisfied with what you are offering.

The Mechanics – How To Extend Your Offer

How you extend the offer of an upgrade depends upon the format in which you deliver the content.

Take any or all of the following actions:

  • Send an irresistible email. This might be an autoresponder near the beginning of the course or private emails to your favorite students near the end.
  • Create a thank-you page that is highly personalized. After the purchase, they are taken to the thank-you page and it is full of your enthusiasm about working with them. At the same time, it mentions the upgrade.
  • Make a video explaining the offer. Include a link and screen capture of the video in an email or add the video to your thank-you page. If you're a teacher, video is your best friend for helping to build trust with students.

You might also:

  • Mention your additional offerings throughout your program – not in a sales-y way, but just as reminders that they are available. For example, “If you want to go more into depth on this topic, I teach it in X workshop.”
  • Send letters or invitations in real mail. This is a special touch.
©Lynn Goldstein, Look Closer. Pastel, acrylic, and watercolor on sanded paper. 24 x 24 inches. Used with permission.
©Lynn Goldstein, Look Closer. Pastel, acrylic, and watercolor on sanded paper. 24 x 24 inches. Used with permission.

Final Advice on Your Upgrade Offer

Don’t offer too many options. Multiple options require people to make hard decisions and their decision-making muscle might be spent at the moment they see the offer.

In my experience, a single-step upgrade works better than extending several choices. With a single option, it's either Yes or No. Students and clients are prone to ignore an upgrade offer if it is not straightforward and concise.

Along with this: Make sure your offer is extra clear. When people are confused, they don't buy.

Never post your offer as soon as you think about it. Let it percolate for days or weeks. Read your offer out loud. Walk through the steps for yourself. And, finally, get a second and third set of eyes to look it over.

Your Turn

How do you offer upgrades to your teaching or services? Do you offer upgrades when people purchase your art? Please share your experience in a comment below.

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9 thoughts on “How to Offer Upgrades for Your Teaching”

  1. A good topic Alyson. With organization, teaching is fun. Any of your suggestions are great tools to build community and awareness as well as demonstrate knowledge. It increases revenue and and an avenue to be a resource. Good share. Always, Vicki

  2. Hi Alyson
    Super concepts.
    I have had a remarkable response to offering 3 workshop packages on my website. Each group workshop is offered at $50 per person or 3 for $135. Was not sure anyone would care, just started offering it in January. Now have people signing up for multiple workshops every week. Some want to offer them as gifts for family and friends when they visit.
    You never know what will trigger a response.
    Thanks Eric Fetsch

  3. Thanks Alyson! As always, great ideas and reminders. I just recently became aware of a major error I made in failing to charge for an upgrade. My book arts studio is in my home, where I host a number of workshops. I also – as a separate entrepreneurial activity – rent rooms in my house through Airbnb. I am hosting a 4-day workshop on rag papermaking in April and offered to let one student who is coming from a distance stay for free. Not only am I not charging her for this upgrade, I am losing Airbnb income. Duh!! Now as I write this it seems so obvious and yet as the invitation played out I was in the mindset of “how can I make this easy for her?” rather than “what do I need to do for my business?” I don’t think I will make that particular error again.

  4. This is very timely for me. I’ve been percolating this idea for more than a year, still not sure what I’m going to do with it, but I’m glad to have some external validation for the concept. Thanks so much for talking about it.

  5. Interesting and informative. I especially appreciated the distinction between an upgrade versus freebies and giveaways. Similarly, the philosophy of pricing upgrades was very enlightening for me. Thanks Alyson.

  6. Upgrades are not just for information products!
    There are also a lot of ways to offer upgrades to sales of fine art ( not just art classes!)

    Here are examples of upgrades I have successfully done:
    – prints of the commissions or sale
    – notes cards of the commission or sale
    – (if a portrait) photos from the photo shoot
    – matting, framing

  7. Thank you Miriam for offering some upgrade suggestions for fine art sales. I think the idea of an upgrade versus a bonus is a great idea. It ensures the client really WANTS what you are offering.

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