We’re enjoying the Peak District’s contrasting landscapes this summer: brooding moorland grit and bright limestone dales.
Just minutes from Sheffield, Stanage Edge sails the mauve moors, riding a wave to the Hope valley. Further south, the Wye meanders through Cheedale and Water-cum-Jolly. To explore here is time travel. With each step the rhubarb grows and the cliffs hang further over the bubbling river.
South again, Stanton’s moorland is gilded: gorse threads through purple heather under silvery birch tunnels. Hidden on the moor there’s a stone circle, a nine-point crown built 4,000-years ago.
Lessons from the Bronze Age
I made my way up to the Nine Ladies stone circle on Stanton Moor on Saturday. I knew there was a stone circle somewhere but if I’d just walked onto the moor and hoped for the best…well, I might still be there. I’d looked at a map beforehand and on the moorland itself there are natural and human-made signposts, subtle waymarkers to help Bronze-age travelers on their quest.
It reminded me the adage “build it and they’ll come” only goes so far. You can know something exists without knowing where it is. Waymarkers, maps, signposts and paths enable people looking for something to find it. And so it is with music teachers and their websites.
Imagine someone new to a city and seeking a violin teacher. It’s a reasonable assumption there are violin teachers there. So they know the violin teacher exists and probably has a website. But if you are that teacher, just having a website does not mean this new potential student will find you. You need to make it easy for them.
Many teachers’ websites don’t deliver the results they could or should:
…Bringing you new students, building interest, generating a waiting list.
It’s a considerable investment of time (always) and money (often) to build and manage a website. So if you have a website to support your music teaching business, don’t restrict its potential.
I’ve spotted six common mistakes affecting many music teachers’ sites. The “build it and they’ll come” error is the fifth. Here they are – and what to do about them:
1. Websites with an http address rather than https.
Google in particular does not like websites which are not secure – in which the address doesn’t start with https. Sites without this “secure encryption” are penalised and won’t show up highly in search results for teachers of your instrument in your area. If your site address starts with http then Google will be reluctant to send traffic your way. And – depending on the website browser visitors are using – they may see security alerts when they visit. Even if you don’t see them when you are looking at your website, your visitors might.
If your site is still using an http address, get this changed. Otherwise it’s like Nine Ladies Stone Circle existing but not appearing on any maps. There’s no point paying for a site people can’t visit or are discouraged from visiting. Your website host should be able to help with this. Some include a free https certificate in their hosting plans; for others it’s an add-on at a modest cost. It cost Claire £50 to install https on her teaching website a few years ago. Once installed, your website address – your domain name – remains the same, and anyone who uses your website address via http gets automatically redirected to the secure (https) version of your site.
2. Giving more importance to your qualifications than what a potential student wants from learning an instrument.
Loads of teachers’ websites include an “about me” page crammed with qualifications, without any explanation of what this means. Professionals should be proud of their qualifications. But they aren’t the first thing a potential student wants to know about. What does your ideal student want from lessons? How do your lessons make their musical dreams come true? Focus on this first in the words on your website. Make your qualifications support this.
3. No clear “call to action.”
What do you want people who’ve come to your website to do next? Do you want them to book a free trial lesson with you? Then make this clear and prominent, and ask people to do it (you could even include it in a header or footer on every page). How do you want them to contact you? Be specific.
4. No news or updates.
Your site isn’t an ancient manuscript on a dusty shelf. It’s a hungry beast which needs feeding with a news or blog section. Google likes to send traffic to sites which are updated regularly with new content – words and pictures (video too if you want).
News articles can vary from short updates to longer articles. You can post about musical opportunities, your teaching approach, students’ achievements, their performances, tips about practice, comments about the music education landscape, your own thoughts on something you’ve listened to or heard, and more. Add photos. These updates also give you material to post to your own email newsletter, if you have one, and to social media.
5. A “build it and they will come” approach.
Addressing this goes well beyond the crucial elements of optimising the site so Google and other search engines like it and send traffic there, which we’ve covered above. You need to plan how you will bring people who are looking for lessons on the instrument you teach to your website. And they need to be the “right” people – if you teach face-to-face (or want to go back to teaching in person) then they need to be from within a certain geographical distance.
Of course, you can (and should) go beyond this: do you want to primarily appeal to adult learners or to children and teenagers? Where are they hanging out, online and offline? You need to plan how to get your ideal students (or parents) to your website rather than thinking they’ll just find their way there.
Your own “waymarkers” and maps for this could include:
- A free profile listing on Google My Business.
- Social media (directing people to your website).
- Paid social media posts (to custom audiences you choose) and pay-per-click ads on Google – directing highly specific people to your website.
- Leaflets which include a call to action and your website address.
- Articles in your local newspapers and magazines.
- Appearances on local radio and on podcasts.
- Referral mechanisms designed to encourage existing students or their parents to direct people to you or your website.
We cover marketing for music teachers, effective ways to secure media coverage about your music teaching business, how to write your leaflets and ads, and ideas to help generate referrals and testimonials in our free 29 Tips for a Thriving Music Teaching Business.
6. Not measuring the traffic, and not measuring what matters.
However you host your website, your website host will usually offer an analytics (measurement) package. And Google Analytics is free and can be installed on most sites.
Spend 30 minutes or an hour every month checking where your website traffic has come from, what search terms people use, the performance of paid ads, traffic from posts and maybe ads on social media, what visitors do next, such as go to a contact page to set up a trial lesson with you, and which parts of your site are most effective at generating traffic.
It’s time well spent: it means you can invest more of your future effort into what works and less into what doesn’t.
- If you are thinking about how to increase your student numbers in autumn then it’s likely your website will play a key part. Perhaps you’re working on your website right now. Please don’t fall into the six traps above. And get in touch if you want any help!
- Why not sign up to our email newsletter to hear about new interviews and advice, and all starting with our free 29 tips for a thriving music teaching business? We promise that our 29 ideas will give you things you can do immediately to boost your music teaching business. They’ll also make you smile.