Re: Building up a teaching business
- From: "Jim Carr" <jim@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 7 Aug 2006 23:01:24 -0700
"Jonathan" <jonathan@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
With the discussion about how people think instructors shouldadvertise,
My point was that they don't seem to advertise at all, but we've beaten that
horse to a bloody pulp.
I don't teach nearly as much as I would like to, so I'm curious tohear
how successful instructors like John S. are doing things. If I could get
some new ideas on ways to promote myself as a teacher that would be great
First thing, go buy the Guerilla Marketing book by Jay Conrad Levinson.
There are a zillion good ideas there. Second, recognize that however
artistic it might be, you're running a business. Treat it like one.
I don't teach bass, but for a good number of years I made my living being
self employed. The principles are the same for all small businesses (and
large ones for that matter). If you follow my suggestions for six months, I
guarantee you'll have much more business than you have right now. Here's
what I would do:
* Put together a website that includes the basic information:
* Who are you?
* Where do you teach?
* When do you teach?
* How much do you charge?
* What styles do you teach?
* Write a little blurb about yourself that makes you seem like a real
* Write a little blurb about why somebody should take lessons and why
you're a good choice.
* Learn how to properly enter meta data (keywords and such) so you're
easily found in a search.
* Optional items for the site
* Picture of you
* Your influences
* Your gear
* Sample lessons
* Links to your band
* Audio clips
* Print up some business cards. You don't need to spend a lot of money on
them, but get 1,000 of them. A fancy logo and color printing aren't going to
make much of a difference. Include the basic information which is your name,
what you do, your phone number, e-mail, and website. If you're working at a
studio, give the address. Personally, I'd give your address even if you work
* Give a few cards to any friends who will take them. At the very least
you're letting them know you teach.
* Whenever you meet somebody in another band, give them your card.
* Visit all of the local music stores and see if you can display the cards
somewhere. While you're there introduce yourself and see if they can help
* Make and post flyers where people can tear off the number. But be sure to
include more than just the phone number on the tear-off part. Make it two
lines so when people dig it out of their pocket they remember what it's for:
Jim Carr - Bass Teacher
IMPORTANT: The above two things need to be done every few weeks.
* Visit every junior and senior high school in the area. August is a good
time because the teachers are there but not the students. Introduce yourself
to the music teachers and give them some cards to hand out. If you see that
the school has some sort of musical performance, spend the $3 and go see it.
Then visit that teacher again and tell them what a great job they did. Give
them more business cards.
* Put together a 1/2 hour class called Introduction to the Electric Bass and
volunteer to teach it to music classes at the local junior and senior high
schools. Do something cool like playing a bunch of different backing riffs
over the same basic progression to show how bass can change a song.
* Find out who the better guitar teachers are and introduce yourself. Give
them some cards. Ask them for referals if anybody is looking for bass
instruction. If you know of somebody looking for guitar lessons, send them
along to these guys.
* Post on your local CraigsList page at *least* once a week under Services,
Lessons and Tutoring. Write a little blurb about what you do and include a
link to your website.
* If your area has a BackPage site (http://www.backpage.com/) do the same
thing as on CraigsList.
* Look for other free local classifieds and do the same.
* Your band's website should have a link to your page advertising your
lessons. Ask your friends who have websites to link to your site.
* Give your existing students some cards. Tell them they get a free lesson
for each new student they refer.
* If you've got the chops and personality, try to work out a gig with a
local music store to give a free clinic on something. It can be on technique
or even on a piece of gear. For example, volunteer to do a demo on using
various pedals (compressor, chorus, distortion). You do it for free. They
promote it (and so do you by telling your friends and putting it on the
website). I'd try to make it so you spent a Saturday doing three or four
sessions that are 1/2 hour each. Of course, have your cards ready. Try to
make it something you do every few months.
* Does your local music store have a newsletter or website? Around here
there is www.TheBassPlace.com. I don't know why some instructor hasn't
volunteered to write an article about *something* and make it part of their
quarterly newsletter. In fact their site doesn't even list any instructors.
If you have a place like that, nag them to get a link to your site.
Volunteer to write a "Teacher's Corner" page that you update every couple of
IMPORTANT: It might be hard to get an "in" with a music store for various
reasons, including competition. Shit happens. Be friendly, but be
persistent. Maybe your competition will get fired next week and the manager
will remember you. Sometimes success is just being in the right place at the
* Try to find every on-line place that lists instructors and get your name
I don't know what these places cost, but it can't be all that much. I know
some are free. Just be sure to put a link to your web page.
* Set up a profile on www.activebass.com. Create a few lessons when you have
time. Write an article or two.
* Print ads can be effective, but can cost money. I've been concentrating on
items which cost more time than money. Read the Guerilla Marketing book.
Your best bet is a smaller ad run for a longer period of time, preferably
constantly. Be sure to include your web address. It makes a small ad much
* Always be on the hunt for new business. ALWAYS. Try to get to the point
where you're turning it away. Don't *stop* your marketing at that point.
It's the nature of that business that students will drop off, so never get
complacent. Remember that it's an ongoing concern.
* Answer phone calls and e-mails promptly (within one business day). Be
friendly and courteous, but don't be a pushover.
* Try to find ways to keep your existing students. The first step to that is
not *losing* them prematurely. Here are some tips for losing students:
* Showing up late and not apologizing.
* Repeatedly showing up late.
* Canceling an appointment without giving as much advance notice as
* Not apologizing for canceling.
* Repeatedly canceling.
* Doing any outside business during a lesson.
* Looking or acting bored.
* Not praising them when its due. You don't need to gush, and you need to
be genuine. Sometimes just a nod and raising of the eyebrows is all that's
needed. The amount and type of praise will vary by student.
* Not challenging them.
* Challenging them so much they get discouraged.
* Harping on what you think they *need* versus what they want.
* Giving them what they want at the exclusion of what they need.
* Berating them if they don't practice enough.
* Not saying anything when they clearly didn't practice.
* Handing out materials with mistakes.
* Forgetting personal details about them. This is easy to remedy. Jot down
notes on each student and review them every now and again.
* Acting like the lesson is *your* time when in fact it is their time.
* With younger people, ignoring the parents. Even if the parents stay in
the car, every now and again walk out to the car, say hello, and discuss the
* Forgetting that these are your customers.
* The more students you keep for longer, the fewer new ones you need and the
more referals you get.
* Pissed off and unhappy customers love to tell their friends. Remember,
though, it's okay to fire a customer sometimes. Just don't sweat the small
stuff and try to avoid the big stuff.
Anyway, I'm sure people will pop up and say that something I suggested won't
work. That's bullshit. Everything I said works, but *nothing* is a magic
bullet. Building a business takes time and effort. Success is doing a bunch
of little things well and consistently.
I'm sure somebody will say something like, "Nobody looks at CraigsList in my
area, so that's a waste of time." Fine. But it takes less than five minutes
to put up the ad, so do it just once every two weeks. If it's not found by
people going there directly, it will pop up in search engines. If somebody
is doing a search, your name will keep popping up everywhere they look.
Remember, your first goal is to get on the list of people to call. If your
name and number are not in someone's face, they're not going to call. Your
second goal is to be the first one they call. If somebody finds five
potential instructors, they are going to call them in some order. Give them
plenty of good reasons for calling you first. With any luck, they won't call
I think I'm done with this topic.
- Building up a teaching business
- From: Jonathan
- Building up a teaching business
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