I started teaching music in 1997, when I first moved out of home at the age of 19, while I was studying at University. Without a piano at home at the time (I had a small keyboard that lived under my bed, plus my organ), I taught on a mobile basis, going to the homes of my students. With the internet in its infancy, I build up my student base through Classified ads in the local newspaper.
After I completed my IT / Maths degree and started full time work in the IT industry, I stopped teaching music. However my previous teaching sometimes came up in conversation, with one colleague convincing me to teach his wife for a while, and another one again asking if I’d consider taking it up again as he was thinking about lessons for his son.
I’d kept in touch with my own music teacher, and once I had children, she strongly urged me to return to teaching, since it was very flexible to work around. So when I finally decided to leave my paid employment in the IT industry to have more flexibility being self employed, I did take up teaching again, as well as freelancing in web development. The first thing I did to source students again was to build myself a website!
For many years I had a small, hand-coded website. I put a lot of thought into what to call my business. I opted not to include my suburb in my business / website name in case I moved from Canning Vale (though so far, I haven’t!). And being multi-instrumental, I decided to keep it simply as “Music” rather than again looking at keywords relating to a particular instrument. My final choice of “Music with Simone” gives me plenty of flexibility, as I had considered the possibility of using the site for promoting myself as a performer, should I go down that track.
I had researched extensively the keywords / phrases to use, and it did the trick – I’ve been at the top of search results ever since, and have had no trouble maintaining a full studio with a long waiting list. In fact, on several occasions I’ve disabled my Contact page as I’ve simply not had the capacity.
More recently, I decided to expand my website, primarily to use it as a communication tool for my families as well. Becoming a published arranger, I’ve been able to use my website to promote my music arrangements as well. The more useful information I added, the more enquiries I got! I’ve since moved the Music with Simone website to WordPress, keeping the same branding (it may not be apparent, but the site doesn’t have a solid black background – I’d scanned some sheet music and changed the opacity; if you look very closely you can make out the very faint music!), and with comprehensive redirects in place from the old site to the new, it was a seamless transition that has kept my high ranking.
I find that the prospective student families who take the time to read through my website have been committed to their lessons; the majority of my students have been with me for many years. I use My Music Staff to manage my students, and have its Student Portal and sign up form seamlessly integrated into my website.
Adults can book casual lessons and buy a gift card with a package of lessons online (which is an enquiry I often get as Christmas approaches!). The busier I’ve become, the more important it has been to automate a lot of functions. I don’t advocate brand new businesses to jump in with everything automated – it can be a lot of cost that isn’t being recouped. But for busy established businesses I find it vital to be able to maintain that level of income.
I’m in the process of writing some new online courses relating to website marketing, where I’ll be going a lot deeper into the decision making processes I’ve touched on above. I will be adding them to The Successful Music Studio once they are ready to go!