Written by: lcoutts
Due to moving around a couple of times through the years, I have had to build my studio from the ground up three times. Each time it has been quicker and easier to do so, due to the trial and error of my previous times, and also through a bit of business savvy that has been passed to me through mentors and friends. As teachers or musicians, we know how to do what we are good at – teaching and creating music – but what about the exposure we need to share our passions? You can be the best teacher out there, but if no one knows you exist, you’re still going to be lacking students.
There are a few gems in the online world that have not only taken me from zero to 32 hours of teaching within six months, but have ensured an ongoing online presence and waiting list. I know that a lot of people think that word of mouth is the best form of advertising, and of course, I agree that it is extremely effective. However, in this day and age, everyone uses the internet to search for anything they need, whether it be information, services, or shopping. Why not capitalize on it with the following online marketing tips and watch your studio grow?
We all have one (don’t we?) Through musicteachershelper.com and studiohelper.com, there is absolutely no excuse not to. Be sure to update your website regularly. A website should be organic and constantly changing to reflect the goings-on in your studio. There’s nothing worse than a potential client or student going to your website and seeing stories or calendar events that are months or even years old. Even including simple phrases such as “Watch this space”, or “Check back soon” can prompt people to return to your website to see updates. This simple psychology of calling people to action gives them a sense of involvement. Even if they’re simply pondering on starting lessoons, when they are ready to commit, yours will be the first site they think of checking back to.
Having a website may be well and good, you might think, but how can you make people find it? Unless you’re an IT whizz, or friends with one or two, the coding and processes to make your website visible on search engines such as google.com are overwhelmingly difficult and out of reach for a lot of us. There are websites out there where all of that has been done for you… you just need to know where to look.
In Australia, the go-to online database for music teachers is www.musicteacher.com.au. I’m sure that each country has such a database where teachers can register their details. There are several great things about this database:
- It’s free – or can be. Basic registration will cost nothing. Generally it will be filed alphabetically, so if you’re clever and have made a studio name beginning with “A”, you’ll be close to the top.
- The ability to upgrade to be seen. I paid AUS $240 for 12 months of prime real estate on the site. I am listed at the top of the page and my search result includes a description and photo, rather than just a name and contact number.
- If someone in Australia types in “Piano lessons Brisbane” into google, this website is the number one spot. When the potential student clicks on the link, my entry is on the first page they see. From there, the student can click straight through to my website.
- Low to no maintenance. Once you’ve set it up with your details and any description of your services, you can forget it exists if you like. Of course, like your website, you may want to update to reflect changes in your services, but apart from that, there’s nothing left to do.
This site alone has been responsible for about 60% of my students.
In Australia, there are two main Classified websites – gumtree.com.au and hotfrog.com.au. Once again, I’m sure each country has their versions of these websites. The benefits are similar to databases:
- Free. Some may let you upgrade to premium positions, but I’ve never had to do this or felt the desire to.
- If someone types in “Piano lessons Brisbane” into google, my ad on gumtree and hotfrog are often on the first page. Definitely if they type in my specific suburb within Brisbane.
- Link to your website to drive traffic there from google searches.
- Ads are general valid for one to three months. Once your ad expires, however, you can just repost and once again it is free.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of them, and hopefully some of you already use them. For those who don’t know what AdWords are or how they work, here’s a quick run-down:
The search results in google that come up in the box at the top of the page, or down the right hand column are all AdWords. Basically, people have paid to have that position on the page. While using AdWords does cost money, you only pay per click to your website. You have full control over how much money you would like to pay per click (obvioiusly the more you pay, the better your position) and also your daily limit, so you stay in control of your budget. They do also have promotions where they give you a $50 credit to start with them (don’t quote me on that, but that’s the deal I got when I started with them).
The great thing about AdWords is that you also choose when you would like to come up, through choosing keywords that people type to generate your ad. You can also choose the radius around your location that it comes up in, so you won’t have people an hour away from your studio clicking through to your website if your target area is within 10 minutes, for example.
The support for AdWords is also fabulous. A Customer Service Officer calls you and talks you through the whole process and gives you advice to maximise the effects of your ad. You can also see all the statistics through a login to your account online, including daily spend and number of clicks to your ad/website.
AdWords has been responsible for about 30% of my students.
Online presence to me is all about your visibility on google. The three above strategies are all about making you and your website discoverable on google via sites that are already set up to do just that. By capitalizing on these databases and advertising strategies, you are guaranteed to lift the profile of your studio and grow your business.
Here’s a link to the current search results for “Piano lessons West End”. My results were the top AdWords position at the top of the page, then the musicteacher.com.au directory, and down the page both hotfrog and gumtree are there. “Piano lessons Brisbane”, which is a wider and more common search, still had my AdWords at the top and musicteacher.com.au as the first normal result.
I would love to hear about any other online strategies that people use, and also if you have found the above strategies successful for yourself or not.