In 2009, I remember my Mom looking over at me and saying "Michael, why don't you start teaching the violin again?" At the time, I had only taught a few students in high school, and never thought that teaching would become a full-time job. I remember wondering how I would even find students without already having a reputation in the area? I couldn't imagine leaving my job as a leasing agent at an apartment complex, and giving up the rights to my 20% discount; actually, that wasn't so hard. Wow, have things changed since then! Three years later, I was teaching how to play violin both in person and online.
In person, I had 82 students, many of them on Skype and other online platforms. By 2012 (all from the comfort of my Mom's home), I went from a teaching nobody to one of the busiest in the area, generating an income of $75K/yr. just from teaching lessons. I was also getting additional money from my violin shop, where I have violins for sale, violin bows, violin cases and more.
So, how did I get into a position where so many people call me and book lessons? I’m not Joshua Bell, so it wasn’t because I had name recognition. It was because I took advantage of the many resources the internet has to offer. Keep in mind, you have to be a decent (preferably good) teacher to keep the students, but it has to start somewhere, and that’s by getting the students to find you. The Internet is such a great place for people to learn the violin, and it isn't as difficult as you might think to get them to find you.
If you’re looking to find more students in your area, focusing on online marketing is the way to accelerate. For anyone interested in this path (which is how I found 95% of my students), here is a progression of the things you can do to give you the best chance of success. This progression is what ultimately led me to quit my job as an apartment leasing agent, and make teaching violin my career and my sole source of income. All the tips I have for you below are related to generating the emails and calls you need to start building your teaching studio.
1. Start an online page - To get started, you want to establish an area where you can post information about yourself, to ultimately get students to contact you. This could be in the form of a website (Weebly or Web.com are examples of hosting), or even a Facebook page. Make sure that your contact information is easy to find so people can easily reach you. It's also great to create quality content to improve your credibility. I've created beginner violin lessons on anything from the difference between a violin and fiddle, how to hold a violin bow, and more. These resources give students a taste of what your teaching style is like, which will help them when deciding to contact you and/or continue with your program.
2. Build a professional profile - First impressions are everything in getting someone to call you and inquire about your services. Make sure you have a professional picture, preferably one of you with your instrument (smiling doesn't hurt). Write a professional bio, and keep in mind it is all about selling yourself. Even if you don't have your degree, you can still tell people about your passion for teaching, and that you would be a great fit to help them achieve their goals. Maybe you are great with kids or have the ability to connect with adult beginners. Aim for being professional with your writing, and be confident about anything that you say (no sob stories or concerns). Keep it under two paragraphs unless you really think there is more that brings value. Have someone review your profile to make sure it sounds professional, is easy to read, has no grammar errors, and is convincing enough for them to take the next step in contacting you for lessons.
3. Get out of “word-of-mouth mode” - Even great credentials don’t put you in the best situation to find students. You can try doing things such as hanging flyers on doors (I did this when I first started), or telling everyone to tell their friends about you. The problem is that these sorts of things really don't work for finding a lot of students. I learned pretty quickly that I had to try other options, and the ones that worked were ones that revolved around something Internet related. If it wasn't for the Internet (online marketing), I'm certain I would only have a few students right now and probably still be living with my parents (sorry if this is where some of you are at). So what kind of marketing strategies should you be doing when it comes to finding students? I'll try to highlight some of the important ones below.
4. SEO - When I first started teaching, I was developing videos in my Mom's basement (for Violin Tutor Pro), and this led me to have interest in how to market DVD's. The most important concept that I stumbled across was "SEO", which is the abbreviation of the phrase "Search Engine Optimization." This is a fancy phrase for how Google ranks you on their search engine, based on many different factors. By really understanding how this works, you can start understanding how different things lead people to your website or landing page which is ultimately how you can develop situations to find new students. When I first started studying about SEO, I learned everything from SEOMoz, which is a great tool to learn about SEO.
Take the time to learn about SEO—you won’t regret it. People will find your articles and a good written article can provide good violin tips, and help when students that may contact you for your advice. It is good to rank high on Google for keywords that are purchase mindset related like when they are interested in how to buy a violin. Currently I rank high for some violin purchase related keywords including Topa violin, Dorfler violin bow, carbon fiber violin bow, handcrafted violin, used violins for sale, European violins, violin trade in, violin backpack case, intermediate violins, and more. Do you see how these are all violin purchase related keywords?
5. Google listings - Make sure you have your information updated properly on Google, Yahoo, and Bing listings. When you search for a service on a search engine and the provider assumes it is local, they will include those listings ranked first before any of the others. Try searching for a restaurant in your area on Google and you will see what I mean. This is a prime way to get exposure when someone is searching for "violin lessons" or any other service in your area. Make sure to always keep these listings updated.
6. Create a video - The best thing you can do to establish credibility online is by creating a video. You can do this on smart phones these days, and all it needs to be is you talking about your services. It can be as simple as your name, what instruments you are able to teach, your credentials and where you are going to be teaching. You can post this video on your website or landing page to attract even more attention. A good place to post videos is YouTube, and you can also record directly to YouTube from your webcam.
7. Post on free classified websites - The #1 website that I used when I was trying to build a local studio was Craigslist. Most likely, this is a website you are familiar with. I developed a lot of leads just by posting my information about my services and lessons there, and you can also post on other classified sites. Go to Google and type in "Top Classified Websites 2015," click on a link that brings up a nice list, and choose maybe 4-5 of the best ones to post on. I wouldn't recommend paying anything since you can find free ones that are effective. Examples of articles I have written that have been effective are articles on violin vibrato, violin scales, violin tuning, and more.
Like I said earlier, these are only the first steps. Once they find you, you still need to convince them that you are the teacher they want! If you find you are not a good talker on the phone, I would suggest having someone else filter leads for you. This can be done in a way that is still professional, but puts you in the best light. That is a very important part of the process. I hope this was helpful for you. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through my website.Tweet
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