If you want to get started teaching music, or you already have a few students and want to start teaching more, you have to learn how to advertise yourself. Teaching music is extremely rewarding, and if you do it right, it can pay your bills too. For a lot of teachers finding enough students to make a living can be the hardest part, but it doesn’t have to be. If you use all of the resources available to you, you can fill your studio in no time.
Where to Advertise
If you’re a private music teacher, you’re a business owner. I bet when you started music you didn’t think you would end up as an entrepreneur, but if you’re a private teacher that’s exactly what you are. You spent most of your life learning your instrument. Now that you got a handle of that you need to put some energy into becoming a profitable business owner. The first thing you need is customers.
Word of Mouth
Even with all of the online advertising being done now, word of mouth is still the single best way to get your name out there. The first thing you need to do is tap your network. Let your former teachers know that you plan on teaching. Often teachers with full studios will get a lot of requests for taking on new students. If your old teacher was fairly successful, people want to take lessons from them. Your teacher likes you right? Odds are that your teacher would be happy to refer students to you.
For some new teachers this is all it takes. If you’re good, and you have a handful of students, your name will spread and you’ll get more. Eventually you’ll be the one sending referrals over to friends that you know who teach.
If you were a parent looking for music lessons, and you didn’t know of anyone who taught, where would be the first place you looked for a teacher? You would probably open up google and do a quick search right? That’s where a lot of parents are looking for teachers. In order for you to make sure you’re visible in these searches you have to have a website!
Build a Website
The first thing you need to do is actually create a website. Long gone are the times where you had to be an internet expert to even think of creating a website. Today there are many different online website creators that are made for people with absolutely no experience. Here are some of your choices:
- Wix – Wix is a great website builder that gives you great templates and tons of options. There is a free plan, but you’ll likely want to upgrade so you don’t have ads on your site. At the time of writing it only costs $10/month to remove the ads and get some other great features. (We do receive a commission if you use this link to sign up)
- Squarespace – Squarespace is another great website builder. Some people think it’s a little more search engine friendly than Wix (but the jury’s still out on that one). It’s a little more expensive than Wix. At the time of writing it costs $12/month if you pay for a full year or $16/month if you pay month to month.
- WordPress – WordPress was originally a blogging platform, but now it is used for all kinds of websites. It’s likely the most capable of all of the website builders mentioned and it’s also the cheapest at only $35.88/year. Yes, a year. If you have absolutely zero tech knowledge, though, Wix or Squarespace may help you end up with a nicer site with less of a headache. WordPress isn’t difficult to use, but it’s not quite as user friendly as the other two options.
Google My Business
Now that you have a great website, make sure to add it to the local search results of Google! You can do this by going to Google My Business. Once you list your site in the directory, it’s not quite as easy as sitting back and waiting for your phone to ring, but it’s a good start. You’ll need a little bit more work to do well. Make sure to read this article through for some tips on how to improve your visibility.
No business cards are not online advertising, but you should definitely include your website on your business card. Your website should be full of your credentials, videos, pictures, teaching styles, recordings, and whatever else you can fit there. You want students to be able to get to know you directly through your website. Whenever you meet people in person you should hand them your business card and make sure to tell them to visit your website!
Don’t be afraid to spend some money on advertising yourself! The point of advertising is to increase your client base. Money that is spent in this way is not the same as money spent buying and iPad, a TV, or a new car. All you have to show for buying a car is a car. It’s not an investment (at least not usually). When you buy ads, you make more money. The students that you acquire then pay for your ads. Once a new student paid you enough to pay for the ads you bought, you’ll start making pure profit. Sounds good? Let’s see where you can spend that hard earned money of yours.
If you haven’t tried Thumbtack yet, you should. They rank number 1 or 2 for just about every music lesson search term there is. Try searching for “piano lessons” and then add your city. Thumbtack will be right up there. The good part is, though, that they want to give the students they find to you. All you have to do is sign up for Thumbtack and start sending quotes.
Once you sign up you’ll get emails from Thumbtack with information from potential students. You then pay Thumbtack about $3.34 for the right to contact that potential student. 4 other teachers will also contact the student. It’s your job to try to convince them to take lessons with you.
If you’ve tried Thumbtack without success, you’re probably doing it wrong. You need to get reviews (you can get them from past clients), and you need to make a great profile. Then you need to be persistent.
You’ll likely find that quote after quote gets you no reply. That’s ok. Remember you’re competing against at least 4 other people. The potential client may also be looking other places online and may be even talking to friends to find a teacher. Even more students may end up changing their minds completely and not taking lessons at all. You’ll find that you spend a lot of money sending quotes to people that don’t start lessons.
It’s ok though! How much money will you make by teaching lessons to one person? Most of the time lessons continue for months and sometimes years. If you don’t get a student after sending 10 or even 20 quotes, you’ll still likely end up making money in the end and recouping your investment. If you really need some more students, give Thumbtack another try.
Another great source of students are online marketplaces. An online music teacher marketplace will allow you to set up a profile and then they will do all of the marketing. These sites want to give you students because they will often take a percentage of every lesson. They don’t make money until you make money.
If you’re worried about spending money on advertising before you get students, these online marketplaces will cost you nothing up front.
How to Actually Succeed With Online Marketplaces
Sometimes sites like these can get a bad rap because many teachers don’t get students from them. It’s true, quite a few teachers sign up and quite a few teachers don’t ever get a student. But some do. Why do some teachers get students and others don’t? There are a few reasons.
Some instruments just don’t have the same demand that others do. If you’re a piano teacher, there is a never ending supply of piano students. If you’re a harp teacher, your opportunities may be much lower.
These sites rely on mass marketing. Search engine marketing is at the core of their advertising strategy. For less common instruments often students will already have a network to go to to find a teacher. Fewer will search for lessons online, and the ones that do may start with a different teacher. If you teach an instrument that isn’t taught as often, your best bet is to likely go through your network and word of mouth to find students. Online marketplaces can’t hurt your chances, but don’t expect to get tons of students from them.
Make a Great Profile
The other reason that teachers tend to do poorly on these sites is because they don’t take them seriously. They fill out the minimum requirements, a couple sentences here and there and a bad picture, and they expect they’ll receive students.
It just doesn’t work like that. Put yourself in the perspective of a potential student. For the most part these students have to schedule and pay for a lesson completely online without ever talking to you. If the student only knows that you “love teaching piano” you really think they are going to hand over their credit card? They’re not. If you have a sub-par profile on these websites you’ll never acquire a new student.
Log in Often
Even if you haven’t received a student from one of these sites yet make sure you log in to your profile often. Most sites will lower your place in the search results if you haven’t logged in in weeks. They want to place students with teachers that can actually teach lessons. If you haven’t logged in and updated your schedule in two months, odds are much lower that you’ll accept a student they send to you.
Logging in just takes a minute. Set a reminder to log in at least once a week. That’s really all it takes.
Some of these sites won’t send you students for months, and then all of a sudden you get one. After you get a student or two you’re more likely to get more. You’ll end up with more reviews and the website’s search algorithm will make you do better in the search results because they know you’re a good teacher and can attract students.
These are obviously not the only ways to advertise you teacher, but they are a great place to start. If you’re diligent you’ll definitely find enough students to fill your schedule.