As you sit at your desk or or in your favorite coffee shop planning your writing retreat, what’s going through your head?

The rustic mountain cabins you’ve always loved that your guests will stay in? Or maybe your retreat will be in an historic area and your mind is on the sightseeing excursions you’re planning.

What about the topic? Are you dead set on hosting a retreat for writers of gothic horror and thinking of all of the themed-notebooks and swag you'll give to guests?

Before you go any further, answer this question: have you asked potential retreat attendees if they would pay to attend the retreat you've envisioned? Or are these ideas part of your retreat because you want to go there or do those things?

While there's nothing wrong with including your personal preferences, remember that without paying guests none of your great ideas and hard work will matter. Here are places where you can find out what your audience of writers wants before you get too far into the planning process–and spending money you may not recoup.

  1. Ask Newsletter Subscribers
    If you have a newsletter, poll your subscribers. It could be an email with a few questions in the body, or a brief overview of what you’re asking for and a link to a survey.
  2. Ask on Social Media
    Create posts and polls in your social media feeds. If you run a Facebook group or other online membership group, ask your members what they'd like to experience at a writing retreat.
  3. Ask in Writer's Groups
    If you're a writer, ask in your online and offline writing groups, if the rules allow it. Just make sure to keep it focused on market research and not trying to sell something.
  4. Schedule Information Calls
    Use a calendar platform like Calendly to schedule your availability, then send the link to newsletter subscribers, post on social media, and in groups where appropriate.
    With a phone call you can get so much more information about what someone is looking for. Just remember this is NOT a sales call. You are simply asking for their feedback.

Armed with feedback directly from potential writing retreat guests, you'll increase the chances of building excitement about your retreat and filling up your slots.

Your turn

What would you add to these ideas to find out what writers want from your retreat?

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