The Power Of Running Writing Retreats by Karen Williams

In 2014 I decided to develop my first writing retreat in Spain. I found that my clients had good intentions to write their books, had inspiring ideas and great content, and not enough time to get it done.

When one of my clients said that she’d love to get away last year, and another, Rebecca Adams (in Spain) expressing that she’d love to run retreats, the perfect match was created. Together we developed my writing retreats. And this article comes from my hand on the last day of my latest retreat in a village nestled in the beautiful Andalucían Mountains in South West Spain.

The definition of retreat is ‘a place affording peace, quite, privacy or security’, and another definition I found is particularly lovely ‘to undergo change in one’s thinking or position’. Both of which are apt here.

Now you might be wondering why run a retreat?

For me personally, what I love about running writing retreats is giving people the time and space to get away from it all, where there are few distractions that get in the way of what they actually need and want to do, in this case writing a book. It’s also a great time to recharge, and spend time with like-minded people. The most taxing thing that you need to do is decide what to eat for breakfast!

One of the reasons that I got Rebecca on board is that it gives my clients and I safety and security as she organises everything on the ground, from breakfast to dinner, with local knowledge and language, so that everything is looked after. I know that I can do my thing without having to worry about learning the lingo, sourcing a venue in a foreign land, or worrying about how to cope if things went wrong.

How to run a retreat

If you’ve thought about running a retreat for your clients, then here are some tips to help you.

1. Get clear on who your clients are and what they’ll get from attending the retreat. Then it will make it easier to find them.

2. After you’ve sourced your venue and confirmed the details, create a one page squeezepage for your event, focusing on why people need to be there, the benefits and how you can add value – and also how to book!

3. Tell people why you are the person to listen to in your area of expertise and why people should go with you. Make sure you share your retreat through your community and contact those people who you think need to be there.

4. Share testimonials from your clients, ideally from other events, which give social proof to back up your claims. Once you’ve run retreats, video testimonials are extremely powerful.

5. Like with any event, make sure you have a marketing plan to promote the retreat, and you may choose to share it with your community through your list, via speaking or a webinar is my favourite way to generate interest.

6. If you’re running a retreat, there will also probably be the exclusivity factor as I’m sure that you’ll be working with a small number of people, so tell people about this to ensure they book up before it’s too late.

7. If you’re unsure about what you’re doing or the results that people will get, run a pilot programme, like I did in 2014 with my first writing retreat. Then you can learn what works and what doesn’t before you do it again.

8. Don’t try and do everything yourself. It’s a huge responsibility, especially if you are running retreats abroad, so getting help is essential.

Why run a retreat – here are some hints and tips from Rebecca Adams from European Coaching Retreats

Working with Rebecca on this idea led to her creating European Coaching Retreats, running her own retreats and also supporting other coaches and personal development experts to do the same. 

So whilst I’m here and actually in a conversation around the pool(!), I asked Rebecca to share why she thinks that more people should run retreats.

“It allows you to give your clients time and space, and it really adds extra value to them. There´s no rush because your session is up which means you are able to give clients that VIP day feeling of luxury. You can enjoy downtime in an informal environment, and your clients end up loving you even more.

The beauty of retreats is that your clients learn from each other and you, and as you take time out, it doesn’t feel like you’re working! I think it helps if you run a programme before everyone arrives, so that people can get to know you first, and of course, I’d recommend getting the help of a facilitator with local knowledge as it adds safety and security to your clients. Wendy Wyatt, a regular participant on Karen´s retreats, sums it up perfectly; ‘as women it´s a gift to ourselves to be in our own headspace without anyone interrupting us.’ ”

Of course, you could always take some well deserved time out by arranging a pre-visit to your location.  This gives you the chance not only to experience the surroundings, so you know what you are selling your clients, but to take advantage to plan your retreat and your programme ‘in-situ’ with Rebecca.

So if you’ve ever thought about running retreats for your clients, it’s a great chance for you to do something different and really stand out from your competitors.