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Coaching or Co-working? The Castle Dilemma

August 24, 2014

One of the challenges I’ve had with the CreativCastle project is planning out what I can offer people.

The co-working model works great for lots of spaces; the monthly membership fees cover the costs of rental and everybody can share the space.

But I don’t want to rent a castle (which would be crazy expensive). And I don’t want to just rent space to do writing workshops (because it’s boring and would be a lot of effort for very little pay). I want to buy a castle and then use it for events and writer training.

The problem with this is that I won’t be able to compete with normal co-working spaces; instead, my castle will be like an all-inclusive resort – which typically cost around $150/day/person. So I may be able to charge around $1000/week. Castle hotels are often much more; it’s not uncommon to see a price of $200 ~ $500 per night for a fancy stay at a historical castle.

So IF I charge $1000 per week, I’d need 1000 people to pre-book 1000 weeks to make 1 million.

Then I’d need room for 20 people a week for one year. But it would almost impossible to book everybody exactly when they want to come, and there would be far too much changeover (people coming and going). It would be too busy, too much work, and we aren’t running a resort or hotel, this is something different.

This is somewhere writers can come and stay to get significant work done.

Sure it will be peaceful and beautiful and inspiring, but this isn’t a vacation – this is challenge and duty: I want to either help you finish your book, or learn enough about marketing and building a platform to help you sell it.

Writing Packages

Plus, things will be so much easier if I can charge for more than just a place to stay. Writers pay $500 for a weekend writing conference and often several thousand for a week or less of “coaching” or a “writing camp” of some sort. I’ve been working with authors to finish and promote their books for several years, and I’m putting together some larger training packages and products that will be available soon.

But I can also offer writers a whole bunch of book publishing services that they will need to buy from someone anyway: book cover design, book editing, formatting, website design, building a platform and marketing.

So instead of trying to make this a “cheap place to stay” I think I’ll position it as a “great value.”

I’m leaning towards a three week program, run every month, based on my “21 days to a bestselling book” coursework. Authors would learn how to build their platform and position their books so that they sell (a crash course in marketing). But we’d have enough time to really do things well, and I could help them 1 on 1 develop their author story and bio, edit their about pages or mission statements, set up their websites or social media platforms, craft their emails to potential partners or reviewers. I can walk them through the theory but then help them actually do it so that they would finish the 3 weeks with a strong platform, ready to launch any book successfully.

I think $3500 for this three week course (including the stay) would be a deal. If I include all the food as well, it would probably be around $5000.

My only fear is that I’ll mostly get retirees (who have the time and money to focus on their writing) – which is fine, but they often need much more help with technology and may need more pampering than younger crowds used to roughing it. The castle won’t be a 5 star hotel, it will be more like a personal home with invited guests. We will make you comfortable and aim to offer amazing service in everything we do – but we won’t have the big staff or resources of a bigger hotel.

If it’s $5000 for three weeks, I only need 500 people to sign up to make 2.5 million (about how much I will probably need). 500/21 is about 40, so I would need 40 people in each 3 week session, or else just split it into 2 years.

I could also add on another $5000 in optional publishing services (editing, formatting, cover design, author website, some marketing and advertising, help with a custom book launch, etc.)

Special guests

One of the ways I plan on making this happen, is to let other self-publishing/publishing/entrepreneurial experts organize their own three week courses (or let me teach mine and just participate as they want, which will be easier for them). They would commit to a certain month they can come, and then pitch the offer to their own communities “20 spaces to come live in a castle with me for three weeks and learn about writing, publishing and selling books.” Their stay would be completely free, and it would be a fun opportunity to give something back to /interact with their followers.

If they wanted to offer a unique course and charge more money, they could earn the difference (for example someone selling a more expensive course on online marketing or sales could charge $10,000 for the three week stay and keep $5000 for each person that signs up for their course.

Co-Working

Some friends of mine have said they would love to come stay at the castle, but they don’t need any extra coaching or courses.

While it may be possible to offer another option at the same time (a price with or without the coaching) this may get too complicated. Probably we will focus on higher-value packages at first to pay off the castle. Once the castle is bought (or the mortgage paid) we’ll be able to run things more casually, as a co-working castle where people can pay an annual fee perhaps for a set number of weeks a year.

As you can see I’m still brainstorming, but I’m very positive that we can make it happen.

Let me know if you have feedback!

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