I Left My Thriving Group Studio. Here's What Has Happened. (Starting Over Pt. 2)


Happy summer!

Are you having a hard time believing that July is around the corner? Wasn’t it just recital season? 

Since my last blog post, we sold our North Carolina home, purchased a new home in Washington, moved across the country (with three cats), and are now settling into our new city and neighborhood.

We are about two months away from the fall semester starting, so I have 8-10 weeks to have my new studio up and running.

In my last blog post, I shared my plan for starting over with a new studio this fall. 

In this blog post, I’ll give you an outline of my progress, an update on our situation, and a look at what’s coming next.


Pre-Moving Steps

Before leaving North Carolina, I took several steps to get the ball rolling for my new Washington studio:

Step 1: I chose an online marketing plan

After careful consideration, I decided to make Google AdWords the primary focus for my online marketing plan. I’ll use other marketing techniques as well, which I’ll share soon, but Google AdWords will be where I spend my money.

Because of my website’s tremendous effectiveness in bringing in students over the past few years, it’s vital that I’m able to continue to use it as my primary tool for marketing. I’ve put a great deal of effort into having a high-quality website and want for my target audience to easily find it.

To ensure that my website is seen quickly in a new area, it made good sense to put my marketing budget into Google AdWords. 

Several months ago I sent out inquiries to people or companies who build and manage AdWords accounts, and chose the one that felt like the best fit for me. 

Step 2: I updated my studio website

Because I’m reaching out to a brand new audience for the first time, I couldn’t take my website success for granted.

The families in my new community may not have heard of group piano lessons. 

The adults in my new community may have worries about how intimidating piano lessons would be.

I knew that I needed for the language on my website to be clear, effective, and immediately engaging for potential studio families and adult students.

I went back to the drawing board and tried to see my website copy with new eyes. 

How would I describe group piano lessons to someone who had never heard of them? What are the biggest benefits of learning to play the piano in a group? What hooks my students on playing the piano with a team?

I also looked at the flow of my website. Where would visitors go after arriving at the homepage? Was it easy to contact me? Were there any points of confusion in finding information? Were my calls to action clear and consistent?

Finally, I want my website to stand out from every other website in my new city. I made sure that the design was fresh, attractive, and simple. I rearranged some elements to maximize the attention span of each parent or adult student.

Step 3: I activated Google AdWords

Once my website was refreshed and ready to work for me, I reached out to the Google AdWords company I’d chosen and gave them the green light to get started. 

They set up an account for me and got everything ready to go. They shared a list of keywords they wanted to use, created several ads, and together we tweaked things until they were exactly what I wanted. 

Once we got all keywords and ad wording just right, my AdWords person launched my campaign. 

For the next few weeks, I put everything on the back burner while we moved. My AdWords campaign was off and running (I knew it would take time to gain traction so I wanted to get it started), but everything else needed to wait.

Fast-forward to today. It’s time to get to work.

Post alert: I’ll share the full scoop about my costs, experience, and results with Google AdWords in a coming blog post.


Current Challenges

Big life changes will always bring circumstances we don’t anticipate, and I’ve learned that it’s vital to remain flexible with my plans.  

Our new home is beautiful, and will be a great fit for us, but it has brought several surprises.

First: We live on a very pretty block, directly across the street from a lovely pocket park. As we’re getting to know our larger neighborhood, though, we are realizing that families may not be completely comfortable bringing children to our new area for piano lessons. Our city is one where development is happening quickly, neighborhoods are changing, and things look very different from one block to the next. 

This may not prove be a legitimate concern down the road, but it’s a factor to consider for now.

Second: Our home is not as conducive to a group piano studio as we’d expected. There are challenges to my studio space that we weren’t able to see before purchasing the home. Some of these can be worked around, while others bring significant hurdles.

Potential Pivots

Unforeseen challenges are inherent to major life change. We want to flex and grow with the challenges, allowing them to shape our future in ways that bring tremendous gifts and positivity.

While my goals for my studio remain unchanged for now, I am aware that I will likely need to be creative and find variations on my goals and how I reach them. 

Here are some possibilities:

  1. Marketing more heavily to adult students than to families with children. A strong adult group program would be a lot of fun for me (Adult groups were a big teaching highlight for me this past semester) and would provide unique value in my new city. 

  2. Offering more online lesson options. Our new home has plenty of space for a great online lesson setup, so this might be another excellent solution.

  3. Finding an alternate teaching location. There are a number of large music stores or other spaces in the city where I could potentially rent space. My keyboards are light enough to travel with, as well, which gives me greater flexibility in finding a space.

Fred fully approves of the bird-watching options in our new home.

Fred fully approves of the bird-watching options in our new home.


Looking Forward

The exciting thing about this season of unknowns is the potential for huge growth and surprising new direction. Don’t get me wrong; it’s daunting! But I can also look back and see how every season of studio hurdles that I’ve experienced has ultimately led to a more fulfilling chapter in my teaching career. 

I know I’m not alone in this. What major life changes have you experienced that have caused you to pivot in a direction you weren’t expecting? How did you handle those changes and pivots?

I’d love to hear from you. So many of you reached out after my last post with your own experiences, and it was great to hear your questions, insights, and encouragement. 

Thanks for reading, and I’ll share another update (and details about my marketing plan) very soon.