Oh, how the world has changed since I started teaching 25 years ago. Building a studio was a slow and steady process – word of mouth, print advertising, public masterclasses. And while all of those techniques still apply, the internet has changed everything. Your potential students have become smart consumers and they want to know more about who they may hire than ever before. If you do not have an established online presence, you will not be as competitive as others. So it is time to learn about marketing your music studio online.
You must have a website
As stated in a previous article, you must have a website for your studio in order to be competitive. Yes, you can attract new students from “cold” searches for private music teachers but even those referrals you may get from other students or colleagues will go online to search your name and find out more about you and your teaching studio before calling you. Your website is an opportunity to really sell yourself, share your vision and promote your successes. You must have a website.
So what do you if you are not technologically savvy and the thought of building a website is as terrifying as meeting a pack of wild monkeys in a dark alley? Well, luckily that is no longer an issue. There are several companies online that offer completely free website builders. You sign up, choose a template from hundreds of possible sites and start customizing it. Three of the most popular sites are:
These programs are pretty simple to use and some templates are more customizable than others. Weebly and Wix offer very good step-by-step tutorials on how to create the site and WordPress does have extensive online documentation and forums for you to reference. WordPress is also a powerful blogging platform so if that is important to you, that may be the program for you.
There are only two issues with these “free” sites. First of all, your website is going to be heavily branded with the company’s name, usually at the bottom of each page of your website. You will see text like, “Get your free website here at Wix.com!” That may not bother you. The other issue is that when you create your site, the site’s URL will be a subdomain of the company’s URL. That means that your website address will be something like http://www.myusername.wix.com/mystudiowebsite. The address is a little cumbersome. If you would like a personalized domain, you have to pay for it. That is a two-step process.
First you need to buy the domain name (the domain name is your website address like www.mymusicstudio.com). And then you need to host the domain with a server. Basically you rent space on a server for a year by paying a yearly fee. Weebly does offer a service that you can buy your personalized domain and pay for 1 to 2 years of hosting when you sign up with them. You may be able to do that more cheaply by purchasing your domain from the cheapest online service (www.godaddy.com sells domain names for 99 cents) and then forwarding your domain to another host like www.wix.com. And the reason you want to do that is so that you can design your website with the powerful templates the companies up above offer.
And if all of this still scares you, you sign up for Music Teacher’s Helper which is a complete studio management system and membership includes a free website!
What to include on your website
You should have the following on your website:
- Your studio name, your name and your contact information (phone and email)
- Bio – a bio about you as a teacher and as a performer
- Services – what kind of lessons you teach (private or group), how often they occur, how long they occur and any other information on what happens in the lesson
- Studio policies – include your cancellation policy for all to see
- Student accomplishments – you can list this in your teaching bio or dedicate a whole page to it – prospective students want to see how successful you are as a teacher and one way they can gauge that is through the successes of your students
- A Music Teaching Philosophy Statement
Other things you can include:
- Your prices – this is optional but I think you should post your prices. It puts everything out there upfront so people know what to expect
- An events page – if you do regular studio recitals or other studio events, it might be nice to have a page to give information or post pictures. It shows a prospective student that your studio is busy!
- Helpful links – providing a list of links to resources that your students can utilize is great and linking to a local business might also be a reciprocal business opportunity
- Resources – you can upload documents (worksheets, practice guides) or mp3s or videos that you want your students to have access to
Now that you have a website, get it found!
There are many ways to promote your website. You can do one, or preferably all of the following things:
- Use search engine optimization (SEO) on your website. SEO is the process of structuring the front end (what the public sees) and the back end (the code that is the architecture of your site that the public does not see) of your website so that the major search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo) will list you on their first page when someone does a search for private music teachers in their area. This is a fairly complex subject far beyond the scope of this article but it is worth looking into. A Google search will provide you with lots of information about SEO.
- Create a blog and add to it often. Search engines love busy websites that have helpful and meaningful content. This is an opportunity for you to share your knowledge about everything having to do with teaching, your instrument(s), students, and anything else that applies to your business. You can write blog posts or even create a video blog. Encourage people to comment on your posts. The more interaction on your blog the better.
- Advertise with Google Adwords and Google Local. This is a bit of a process but Google has good documentation on how to run a successful campaign. You set a budget (for instance, $10 a day) and Google will place your ad on the first page of the search results that are determined by the keywords you set. Keywords are phrases that people typically type into the search box like “piano teachers in Rochester, NY.” If those are your keywords, your ad will be listed and if anyone clicks on your ad and is directed to your website, you pay the advertising fee. You only pay when someone clicks on the ad and is directed to your website.
- Social Media marketing – You can do a similar ad campaign on Facebook as you do with Google Adwords. And you should also become a social media expert (see below).
Becoming a Social Media Expert
Contrary to popular belief, social media is not just a way to showcase pictures of you drunk at a party and ranting about the latest political campaign. Social media is a powerful medium to engage the public and the more you engage, the more people will trust you and eventually hire you. Start a Facebook fan page for your studio. Open a Twitter account dedicated to teaching and music. Sign up for Google+ and complete your profile. Start a Pinterest board that features all the things that inspire you about teaching and music.
You should post something in social media everyday. Share a blog post from your website, tweet an inspirational quote, pin a favorite music related poster, encourage people to visit your website, ask the public a question that directly pertains to music or teaching and encourage them to comment. But there are a couple things to remember:
- Social media is SOCIAL. Don’t just promote and sell. Engage with other people, include pictures and fun posts that people will enjoy looking at/reading and they will wait to see what you have to say everyday
- Be very careful about polarizing subjects. Of course many people use social media as their outlet to post their controversial views on everything from politics to religion to social issues. But you are representing yourself as a business person and you should be as neutral as possible. Think about how an employer would view you posting your opinion on abortion on their company website.
- Every time you write a blog post, share it on every social media account you have with an engaging subject line. You should also share that link on bookmarking sites like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon and others. The more people who click on those links and go to your site to read an article, the more traffic you get to your site which will eventually lead to more business
The learning curve is big, but…
Worth it! Don’t avoid it, jump in and commit to creating an online presence. And if all of this scares you, hire someone to do it for you. You can have someone else design a website, optimize your site for search engines, maintain your website, and even manage your social media accounts. But however you go about it, market yourself online starting today!
What other marketing ideas have worked for you? Leave a comment below!