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Michael's Has A Maker Teaching Program And Makers Should Avoid It.

I was at the register at Michael's picking up a few supplies and I saw a small flyer encouraging me, as a maker, to check out their program which would allow me to make extra money teaching what I knew to classes in the classroom at my local store. That sounded right up my alley since I've been told I have a good way about me when it comes to explaining stuff, so I grabbed the flyer and headed home. I forgot about the flyer until I emptied the bag later in the evening, and when I went to the site to see what was involved, I was informed I needed to accept an agreement to proceed. For once in my life, I decided to read the agreement. To say I'm glad I did is an understatement. For reference, here's the agreement. Let's go over some of the more "interesting" parts of it.

" Michaels hereby engages Instructor, and Instructor hereby accepts such engagement, as an Independent Contractor to teach classes in relation to Arts and Crafts, while using and highlighting Michaels products which have been mutually agreed upon in advance between Instructor and Michaels (“Services”). "

That's fair. You're teaching at Michael's, and you have to use supplies they sell. No problems there.

The Instructor shall be responsible for any and all expenses incurred in the course of providing the Services, including but not limited to any tools or supplies required to teach the class or that must be provided to students in the class.

Wait, what? So I have to use and promote your stuff, and simultaneously I have to pay for those supplies to provide them for my students? And note, they don't even mention a split or a discount, just that the instructor is responsible for the supplies related to the course they're teaching. At this point, anyone with any kind of self-pride in their name or business should check out, but let's assume you didn't and keep reading.

During the Term, the Instructor shall be entitled to 70% split of total class fees from each class taught. Payment will be made directly to Instructor through AnyRoad. Additionally, existing Team Members who are also Independent Contractors, shall also be paid their hourly rate of pay for the time they spend teaching.

30%? For the privilege of being in a room with a folding table, folding chairs, and supplies you bought to teach people who paid to be there? It would appear that this agreement just gets worse.

The Instructor may not teach or bring to the store, any project that uses power tools, soldering tools (over a certain temp), weapons, excessively sharp or dangerous items.

No power tools? Limited soldering tools? And what are excessively sharp items? I mean I get that Michael's doesn't sell tools, but tools are an integral part of making. If you don't want makers, have an open call for scrapbooking, knitting, papercraft, or any of the other arts and crafts things. Don't call yourself a place for makers to teach what they love then artificially restrict nearly everything they can do. Or teach.

The Instructor may not use Michaels social platforms to promote, comment their class.

Translation from terrible English: You're on your own and Michael's will not promote your class. But just so you're aware, you're not allowed, under this agreement to promote yourself either.

Instructor agrees that while instructing at Michaels locations, Instructor will not advertise products or classes for locations other than Michaels. In the event an Instructor does not meet this standard of professionalism, Michaels reserves the right to terminate the Instructors assignment at Michaels.

This particular part makes me want to punch a wall. It is typical industry practice at things where independent contractors are brought in to teach to allow that teacher a reasonable (and I do say reasonable) amount of self-promotion. Part of the value for self-employed makers in doing something like this is the idea that it will generate more business. It's nice to make money, but making one off money for teaching a class or two isn't where our bread and butter comes from. It's the idea that the people we're teaching may want to learn more from us or buy our products. Every maker markets themselves. The idea that you wouldn't be able to simply because you're teaching a class is overly restrictive and grossly unbalanced.

And don't think that you're covered by Michael's insurance just because you're doing this in their stores.

During the Term, Instructor shall maintain in force and effect during the term of this Agreement, all insurance coverages required by law. Instructor shall forward a certificate of insurance verifying such insurance upon Michaels written request, which certificate will indicate that such insurance policies may not be cancelled before the expiration of a thirty (30) day notification period and that Michaels will be immediately notified in writing of any such notice of termination

You have to maintain your own insurance to teach there. So now you have to lay out for materials, tools, supplies, and insurance. How much more can you squeeze my margins before I laugh at you for thinking your stipend (of around $15 a class attendee (or $10.50 if you count what you take after Michael's takes their 30%) from what I've gathered through the magic of Google) is even worth it?

None of this agreement benefits makers. Not a single lick of it. While you can make money doing this, they won't promote you, you can't promote your own business, you have to shell out a lot of money upfront just to get into the program, and I haven't even gotten into what they look for in the application process, namely a full lesson plan, a full bio from you listing off your "qualifications" to teach. No thanks, Michael's. I think I speak for a lot of self-employed makers when I say the reason we're self-employed is to avoid the kind of crap you're pitching here as a good idea. If I wanted to get screwed, I would not keep pushing so hard to make my side hustle into my main hustle. Avoid this "wonderful" program and Michael's flowery promises. The agreement is grossly one-sided and you definitely shouldn't get involved.

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