It may come as a surprise to many people that you can actually make money as a musician. It’s not uncommon for me to go to some social gathering and be asked, “What do your do for a living?” My typical response is, “I’m a musician. I teach voice and guitar to students interested in learning.” Their typical response is either, “Can you make money doing that?” or “I have a friend that plays guitar.”
Music was not always my profession. I used to work in a lab for a pharmaceutical company until I decided that I liked music better. But, how was I going to support myself without a job? That’s when I came across the perfect solution. I can teach people to love music too. I started building my business out of a spare bedroom in my apartment and eventually it turned into my hiring a team of teachers and running my own music school.
So how did I build a successful teaching business? Keep reading.
1. Don’t Be Afraid To Take Risks
I had so many people trying to convince me that I was doing the wrong thing. I had a good secure job with great benefits. How would I pay for my medical insurance and rent? Well, shortly after, some of these people got laid off from their “secure” job and I have made my rent and insurance payments just fine. When starting a business, do not be afraid to go against the grain. It is tough in the beginning, but always worth it in the end.
2. Define Your Business Goals
How much money to you want to make? How much will you charge each month? How many students will it take to get you to your financial goals? How much of your time do you want to commit to teaching each week? Having specific goals is very important. If you want to make $50,000 a year, write it down on a piece of paper and come up with a plan for how to get there.
3. Charge What You Are Worth
Do not be tempted to charge a lower rate. Low prices are seen as lower quality. If your competitor charges $100/hour for lessons, you should also charge $100/hour. See what your competitors are charging and make sure to charge on the higher end of the scale. This will set you apart as a professional that values their time. Also, you will need fewer students to reach your financial goals.
4. Write Out Your Studio Policies
Make sure you are clear about your cancellation, make-up and payment policies. This should be written out in a document and signed by all your students. Make sure to enforce your policies. Remember, these are in place to protect your business, not your client’s time.
5. Build A Website
You would be surprised at how many people forget this important step in the process. If you are not on the web, you might as well not exist. Just because you open up shop does not mean that people will come knocking on your door to take lessons. You need to get yourself out there and market yourself. Not only should you build a professional website, you should flyer your neighborhood and post in public spaces like libraries and grocery stores.
6. Create A Neat And Professional Teaching Space
Like I said, I started in a small spare bedroom in my apartment. I framed some albums and hung them on the walls and made sure I had access to the equipment I needed to perform lessons. Make sure your space is neat and dedicated to music. Your students need to feel comfortable in their learning environment and free of distractions. Having dirty laundry lying around and family members or roommates popping in and out of a room will not work in your favor. If you do not have a spare room, think about renting a room.
7. Learn What Makes Your Clients Happy
Too many times teachers get caught up in providing new material to students and teaching things that are not necessarily important to the student. As teachers, it is our responsibility to teach students what the need to know to be successful. But, we also have to give them a large dose of what they want to learn or you can kiss a large part of your clientele good-bye. You should be looking for ways to keep your students coming back week after week. If you are losing clients quickly, you need to re-examine your teaching approach and ask your student what they want from their lessons.
Follow these steps and you will be on the way to building a successful business yourself. There are many steps that you will learn along the way, but in the beginning, the most important step is getting started. There is no better time than today to start building your business.
About the Author: Lauren Bateman lives in the Boston area and is a professional musician and has been earning a full-time income from music related activities since 2010. She teaches both voice and guitar lessons via Boston Voice And Guitar Lessons as well as LB Music School in Medford, MA. Lauren manages many teachers that provide lessons at her school in voice, guitar, piano, drums, violin, ukulele and bass.