My teaching website

November 2, 2011 at 02:11 PM · Hey guys, long time lurker and first time poster. I'm a viola/violin teacher in the Sacramento area. I have had trouble getting any significant amount of students. The ones that have tried me, however, have ALL stayed with me and confessed I'm their best teacher yet, but I suppose publicity is what I lack. So, I finally made a website! I was hoping you guys might critique it and perhaps even mention it to people you might know in the sacramento area:

SacramentoStrings.com

Thanks so much in advance, guys!

On a side note, I've been looking for a really good violinist to play Symphonia Concertante with me, just for fun. I just recently got back on the playing bandwagon, and I realized something I missed in my earlier playing years was getting the opportunity to play a duo with someone equally passionate/skilled as me (that reads very arrogantly, but it's not intended as such).

Replies (24)

November 2, 2011 at 05:11 PM · I visited your site. Nice work -- easy page navigation; narrative easy to follow.

I don't design Web sites for a living, but I know a good deal about this work. I built my site in June 1997, just over a year after I went into business for myself -- not the music business -- and have been the sole site manager since then. So I can definitely relate to what you're trying to do.

I don't know how long you've had your site, but I know from experience that longevity helps. Just a couple of things I noticed right off:

1. The source code doesn't have the keywords meta tag. This tag helps a lot -- but if you add one, don't use more than about a dozen keywords.

2. On the home page, if you've set up an audio file to kick in when someone lands on the page, I would seriously consider resetting it as a clickable link instead. My system blocked a pop-up -- that can be a distraction.

Unless you've already done this, check out Website Grader. BTW, at this writing, violinist.com has a 99/100 rating.

The Web definitely works; a lot of my customers find me this way. If you don't have a Yellow Pages ad yet, get one. But don't let some hard-sell ad rep buffalo you into buying expensive ads. Mine are quite economical -- they work just fine.

Finally, word of mouth is very powerful. I get a lot of referrals that way. Take care of your customers, and they will take care of you. My first violin teacher -- a great fit for me -- was a word-of-mouth referral. If you can get administrative approval for flyers on bulletin boards at libraries, local colleges, or laudromats, this is a good way to get your name out there, too.

November 2, 2011 at 05:12 PM · Duplicate post -- deleted. -- JH

November 2, 2011 at 10:45 PM · I actually read that a keywords meta tag has no bearing on the google ranking system anymore. Rather it's based on links from reputable websites that relate to the subject matter (like this one!)

How much was your yellow pages ad? Did it really work, and how long did it take you to start seeing business from it?

And yeah, my site has 3/100. But I probably made it less than 2 weeks ago, so I wasn't expecting anything too spectacular.

Thank you so much for the informative response!

November 3, 2011 at 03:38 AM · Yes, I faintly remember hearing the same report about the keywords meta tag from a fellow in California who helps site managers with SEO -- search engine optimization. I see the violinist.com home page uses the keywords meta tag -- just viewed the source code.

"How much was your yellow pages ad? Did it really work, and how long did it take you to start seeing business from it?"

AT&T book: 172.00 a year -- or 14.33 a month. Yellow Book: 468.00 a year -- or 39.00 a month. I pre-pay the whole year; so I get a slight discount. YB includes online advertising. I may go online again with AT&T -- tried it once but seemed to get better response with YB -- YMMV. Same ad will have different rates in different metro areas.

Did it work? Yes. First ads ran in spring 1997 -- immediate response -- before online advertising as we know it now. I use only YP and Internet -- for me, they're tops.

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Final thought: Unless you already did, you might like to add a link on your site back to violinist.com. I finally did this tonight myself. Hesitated to do it before, because 1) I'm not in the music business; 2) my profile link is to a completely non-commercial page -- whereas v.com has ads. Then I remembered my link to CSO's training school, which has some ads. Quandary resolved. Laurie will be pleased.

November 3, 2011 at 03:48 AM · I'll definitely give the Yellow Book Ads a try once I procure a few more students so I can actually afford it :)

November 3, 2011 at 11:12 AM · Erik

I have sent you a message on your website.

November 3, 2011 at 04:53 PM · You're definitely doing the right thing getting a website up - almost all my enquiries come via mine. Or, more specifically, via Google. As well as doing things to improve your appearance in general search results, such as meta tags and increasing the amount and variety of content on the site, look into advertising with Google Adwords.

It means that, for example, when people in your area search for 'violin teacher', or 'how to play the violin', 'beginner violin sheet music' or whatever other keywords you pick, adverts linking to your site will appear alongside the results. You only pay when somebody actually clicks on the advert, and you can control the budget so that you spend as much or as little as you like.

Additionally, if you don't mind your address being publicised, Google Places is also useful, because your contact details and a map pointer can appear prominently when somebody searches for violin teachers.

November 3, 2011 at 05:17 PM · hello, here are some things that come to mind:

1. it comes across that you are excited to be in the teaching profession, but think again to leave it in writing this thought: " Upon discovering how proficient I was at teaching, I also learned what many other teachers lack. Here are people that have been "teaching" for years upon years, and yet their students barely progress at all! As a student, I never realized that I was, at times, being "had."" i think everyone can identify with that on some level, but it is not a good idea to be this explicit imo. how about: Each teacher has his/her unique style and set of strengths. I believe my passion for music and teaching makes me a very supportive and encouraging violin teacher for many beginners out there,,, or something like that.

2. why describe in words when you can show a teaching session in a video (with a student that consents to it)?

3. do you have particular interests in adults or children? never hurt to be more specific since some adult beginners have been complaining that no one likes to teach them.

4. i find your "timeline" not a strong point. you may want to discuss with some violin pros how to bullet point it in a more relevant way.

5. can you really play well? show couple updated videos then.

6. i saw this pic of 2 dudes one standing one sitting with the violin. why sitting down in the lesson?

7. perhaps time has changed so much that some are really googling for teachers. i think the best route is via word of mouth locally. so the site is more of an info center (to save you breath to repeat some things again and again). you may want to list the books that you usually use and the timelines for some students of yours. if they went on to do better and bigger things, list them.

November 3, 2011 at 06:39 PM · 2. why describe in words when you can show a teaching session in a video (with a student that consents to it)?

Except that search engines find things through text, well, perhaps things are evolving so that image recognition is going to be more current too, but anyway I personally wouldn't really discourage anyone from having lots of text on a site, of course taking into account the amount per page for mobile phones etc. In any event it should be possible to have both options.

November 3, 2011 at 09:11 PM · i meant to have the video embedded into his site.

i mean, come on, how many students does a teacher really need in order to be super busy?

if each student is crazily happy, i can see any least 2 word of mouth referrals. within half a year, the studio should be packed, if the teacher is really any good.

but if we are selling burgers, i think getting some media coverage will be helpful. groupons?

violin teaching is really not a number game, is it?

November 3, 2011 at 10:21 PM · Unfortunately, my timeline is weak because my experience is weak. I am an extremely capable player, as well as a good teacher, but my experience does not prove it.

Also, I'm fairly certain no potential students will be concerned with why a student is sitting down.

I don't mind the idea of posting a video of me teaching, but it's difficult to tell if a teacher is good from a video, compared to actual personal experience. That's why I offer a free first lesson. I may, however, eventually post a section of "What to expect," which will show videos of how far each of my students has come in their playing abilities. I may also post some of me playing.

November 3, 2011 at 10:23 PM · I've heard the "If a teacher is any good, they don't need to advertise" argument before, and it doesn't make sense. Some people are by their nature good at cultivating the word-of-mouth market, without even realising it, and some have strong local connections with childrens' schools, etc. Other people don't, and I can tell you that there most certainly are a large number of people whose first port of call is Google, or perhaps second after their own word-of-mouth network has drawn a blank.

Different locations will mean there's more or less competition, as well. I'm in a city which has two professional orchestras and a conservatoire, so there's no shortage of musicians willing to teach.

Maybe you still assume that because I don't have a waiting list, my pupils aren't happy, but since moving to this area just over two years ago I've not had a single pupil leave, except for one who emigrated, and I regard that as a measure of success and of satisfied customers.

And yes, when we're talking about people for whom teaching is a main or only source of income, it is in someways a numbers game!

EDIT: definitely my experiene is that the more information you put about what to expect, including 'frequently asked questions', the better. Trying to anticipate questions which people might be worried to ask because they could sound silly or ignorant, and answering them in a friendly way, is a good idea.

November 3, 2011 at 11:32 PM · "If a teacher is any good, they don't need to advertise"

actually that makes a lot of sense to me, particularly when referring to fields where there is a long term relationship. as the saying goes, true gold can test fire.

a good teacher does not need to even think about spending time doing so called marketing, networking, or advertising. it is done right in the lesson. the students see it and feel it. every word and deed counts. the parents can spot a caring, helpful teacher from a mile away.

what i meant by word of mouth is referral from current students, the most powerful and reliable form of marketing out there.

one time i brought my kid to a golf teacher not for lessons but using his machine to verify some swing data. i found him low key, genuine and caring. even though he never taught my kid, when people ask me who is my kid's teacher, i told them no one but if i have problems i would go to this guy. in the past 5 years, i have referred to him imo about 60-80k dollars of biz. looking back, i think the reason i did it is because one, he is competent, two, he did not try hard to sell himself, unlike others who tend to jump onto this marketing wagon and promise everyone the world.

you cannot stop happy customers from talking. just can't.

November 4, 2011 at 12:14 AM · I guess that's why the advertising business has never made much money, then ;)

Seriously, why should we assume it unnecessary to market certain services, but normal for others to work in that way?

November 4, 2011 at 12:15 AM · because teaching violin is not the same as selling violin on ebay. artists vs scam artists?

imagine finding a spouse that has been heavily advertised:):):)

November 4, 2011 at 12:23 AM · Al Ku, I STRONGLY agree with Owain here. I hate to be rude, but are you even IN the music teaching business? Word of mouth is fantastic, but none of my students know other people who want to learn violin or viola. They ALL brag about me, so you're right about the whole "can't stop happy customers from talking" thing, but that hasn't brought me any new students. I advertise/have a website because I KNOW it's necessary. I teach at a music school that has dozens upon dozens of students. They're so popular because when you search them on google, they show up first. That's where I got the idea.

I'm not sure where you're getting this one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to business, but I know that limiting myself to word of mouth would simply yield me the same amount of students that I have now. Maybe you live in a wealthy area where people are just DYING to spend their money. I don't. I live in an area where I NEED to put myself out there as a legitimate teacher.

November 4, 2011 at 12:27 AM · "imagine finding a spouse that has been heavily advertised"

Did you really just compare recruiting violin pupils to that?

November 4, 2011 at 01:05 AM · eric, i am just a random guy off the street that earlier gave you some critique. since you are doing what you are doing, yet still need more students, i thought you may need to consider things from another angle. just saying. good luck.

owain, um, never mind. a little dense up there somewhere :)

November 4, 2011 at 01:06 AM · But I'm genuinely curious, are you in the music teaching business?

November 4, 2011 at 01:14 AM · as a teacher of music? well, not exactly because that will depend on your definition of teacher and, particularly, of music, haha.

getting paid for my effort? hell no.

need more students? oh god please no.

seen good teachers in action? yup.

November 4, 2011 at 02:16 AM · So what exactly do you do?

November 4, 2011 at 02:36 AM · what i do is irrelevant. what i don't do is saying things i don't mean.

i think you need to be encouraged to pursue something you love which i happen to consider to be meaningful.

i hope you grow with your experiences. i have given some thoughts--in specifics-- on your website. if you think one needs to be a music teacher to give opinions, no problem with me. but be aware that you cannot control who will visit your website and chances are most of your visitors will not be fellow teachers, but prospective students or their family members. your first impression on them, before their first free lesson, is how you present yourself with what you have written. On that, i have noted that your description of other teachers not ideal.

i wish you continued success and find more students who appreciate your expertise.

November 4, 2011 at 03:03 AM · Well it's not that I believe one has to be a music teacher to give opinions on this subject. However, you seemed to have a VERY strong opinion on how one should go about it, and how powerful word of mouth should be. Thus, I am curious what you do for a living, because I would expect such a strong opinion to be based on some form of experience with the business in question.

November 4, 2011 at 03:22 AM · well, i think some businesses will respond to online advertising better than others. perhaps v.com can do a survey to see how members use online marketing for their services and to what extent. i understand that your circumstances are different from my experiences because all the teachers i have known do not have much web exposure from their own initiatives.

as i said earlier, perhaps time is changing faster than i thought. up to know, a lot of things i get involved with is via word of mouth from friends and relatives, say, teachers of various things, doctors, lawyers, accountants, even house sitting/cleaning. to have a reference from a trusted source is very important to me. how powerful word of mouth is to me as far as violin teacher is concerned for my kid? as important as the choice of her pediatrician. it is a very big deal because this person will influence my kid in so many ways for a long, long time.

further, i think it is a good idea to develop good relationships with teachers in your area. some teachers may have spillover that you can get busy with.

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