Studio Blog + Social Media: What's Right For You? with Megan Desmarais
Over the next several weeks, we’ll dive into a hot topic for teachers: blogging and social media for your studio. You’ll learn about the pros and cons of blogging and social media - and how to choose the right fit for you.
This series features guest blogger Megan Desmarais. Megan is an expert in the field of studio blogging and has kept a long-time blog for both students and other teachers at Very Piano. Megan’s blog is filled with high-quality content, and she shares with us from her wealth of experience.
If you’re teaching music lessons in the 21st century you need some sort of online presence; whether it’s a studio website, social media accounts, a blog, or all of the above.
People are so connected online these days that if you’re ignoring all of these forms of communication you’re hiding from nearly all of your current and future clients.
While blogging definitely has its place in many successful businesses, it’s not for everyone.
If you’re trying to decide whether a studio blog is right for you, keep reading.
A blog vs. other forms of online presence
A blog is essentially an online journal where the author has the capability of posting content that is usually either entertaining or informational in nature.
A blog is different from a website and other forms of social media. The main difference is the frequency and quantity of content that is posted.
Here’s a rundown of some of the different online communication tools we’re discussing:
Website: A website is a fairly static site that houses information. Your website is going to be the place people go to find all of the facts and information they are looking for about what you are offering. (Details about your program, your policies, possibly your rates, ways to get in touch with you.)
In the case of music teachers, you probably update your studio website each school year, and possibly seasonally or monthly. It’s unlikely that you make changes to it on a daily or weekly basis.
Blog: A blog is a more dynamic site that you would plan to update frequently, at least weekly or monthly. Readers of a blog expect the information on a blog to be helpful or entertaining.
For piano teachers a blog could include weekly happenings of things going on in your studio, reviews of resources you enjoy using, your thoughts on teaching philosophies and approaches or information you want your students to see such as how to buy a piano or your best practice tips.
Social Media: Social Media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube are the most fast-paced online presences. If you plan to use one of these platforms for your business, you’ll want to be committed to keeping it up to date at least on a weekly basis. But, for best results, daily use of these sites and regular interaction with your followers is ideal.
Social media posts are best suited for pictures that give a snapshot of what your studio is up to, inspirational or helpful nuggets of wisdom, funny or entertaining images or videos you think your audience would enjoy, quick, relevant bits of news or current information.
(You can read a more thorough description of studio websites and blogs here: http://verypiano.com/2018/01/03/blogging-piano-teachers/)
My Own Blog
In 2011, I moved my studio back to my home state and I was getting a fresh start. I was making some changes to my teaching format.
Without having any students in my new home, I knew I needed to be proactive about communicating with potential clients. I had a 3 week window of time before my move where I had already stopped teaching my former students. I decided to use this 3 week period to teach myself anything and everything about how to create a website and blog.
I knew that in my new city, I’d need to have a strong online presence so that people could find me - and I also wanted to be able to communicate what was unique about what I had to offer. At this time I didn’t have a smartphone and, although social media sites were a prominent form of communication, they weren’t quite at the level of relevance that they are today.
As I built my new website, I decided to add a blog to it so that I could publish regular updates about my growing studio and create a hub for piano-related topics. I posted recaps of recitals, information about scheduling, studio-wide challenges and incentive programs, videos of my students playing and all kinds of piano-related tidbits I’d find around the internet.
This blog was useful for a couple of years but I quickly discovered that my blog was outgrowing its original intention for a few reasons:
→ I became connected with a network of piano teachers and their blogs and enjoyed interacting with them and sharing piano-teaching topics with them. This type of information wasn’t relevant to my current students or potential clients.
→ With the growth of social media, the types of posts that I was posting on my blog were more appropriate for social media channels. Things like cute videos, inspirational quotes or little nuggets of wisdom aren’t really substantial enough for their own blog post and are better received on Facebook.
→ I discovered the potential of my blog as a business by monetizing it.
In 2014 I moved my blog away from my studio website over to its own unique site. I made it a hub for piano teachers, parents and learners and focused on using it as a way to supplement my teaching, both with something additional I could offer to my students and with additional income.
Currently, I have found that the most effective way to reach my current clients is to email them directly with very specific and pertinent information.
Maintaining an active presence on Facebook has helped my to acquire new clients and give parents a peek inside my studio each week, but I can’t count on it as a reliable means of communication. Changing algorithms, people who simply don’t use Facebook daily and the quick pace of social media make it hard to ensure that information is being spread.
Today, I view my blog as an entirely separate entity from my piano studio. I point parents to articles that would answer questions that they ask me, but I don’t expect that parents would check it regularly.
This combination of communication tools works really well for me, my situation and my goals, but you may find a different approach that works better for you.
If you’re thinking about starting a studio blog, here are some things to think through:
What are your goals with your blog?
Who is your intended audience and how will they find you?
How much time are you willing to spend online? With a website, you can set it and forget it, but a blog and social media sites need regular attention.
What type of information do you plan to post? Do you foresee yourself running out of things to post or getting bored with posting?
Next week, we’ll discuss how to choose the best fit for your style and studio.
Questions for Megan? Thoughts about blogging or social media? Please share below!
Megan has created an early childhood music curriculum, “Teach Preschool Music,” where she mentors teachers as they gain confidence in working with their littlest musicians. Megan loves using technology to reach everyone who wants to learn to play the piano. She’s created an online piano course just for adult beginners.
Megan is married to Brian and they have two kids, Sophie and Paul.