We live in exciting times for musicians! Compared to a few decades ago, much more is possible when it comes to picking a career. Technology has changed everything. Not only do you get better music equipment these days, but you may be able to turn your hobby into a business.
Do you wish your hours of playing guitar could turn into a revenue stream? This guide will show you how to start a guitar teaching business.
1. Get Marketing Right
The reason some music teachers don’t succeed in building a business is because they think too small. Just because your audience is your local community doesn’t mean large corporations’ marketing rules don’t apply.
Important tip: thanks to modern communication and technology there’s no reason why you can’t teach students around the globe.
So, how do you operate your small business like a professional company?
Here’s the secret: consumers want to be part of ‘the next best thing’. If you can portray yourself as the best guitar lesson tutor around, you’ll draw students. Creating the right public image is the first step.
Do it Like the Pros—Get a Logo
Brands like Apple and Coca-Cola have easily recognizable logos that are unique to them and that can easily be added to merchandise or marketing. You can do the same. If your logo gets seen around town at events and on marketing material, you’ll quickly gain respect from locals.
Take your time and pick a logo that will help you with the next step in the marketing process (building your brand). Use these guidelines when picking out a guitar logo.
- Make sure it suits your target audience. If you mainly want to teach children, a logo with bright colors can work.
- Let your logo create an atmosphere. For newbie players who dream of performing on stage, communicating the excitement of live performances can draw their attention.
- Don’t let your logo limit you. If you want to expand in the future and teach other instruments too, rather use general music icons than a guitar.
- Show your personality. Branding is all about connecting with your audience and showing them who you are. If you’re an outgoing individual, a fun logo will draw like-minded students you’ll easily get along with.
- Make sure the logo is easy to use whether you want to use it online or print it on merchandise. A simple design using a minimal number of colors works best.
Create and Build a Brand
Along with your logo, you need to build your brand as most businesses do. This is much more than simply designing your logo:
- Do people know your personality as a teacher? Communicating this via social media will tell people if they will easily connect with you as a teacher.
- Can you prove that you’re trustworthy? Parents have to trust you enough to leave their children with you. Posting reviews from other students and telling something about yourself via LinkedIn or on your website are vital branding techniques.
- How fast can you get people to notice you? Utilize modern marketing methods to get the word out about your business. Branding can happen through printed media, social media posts and YouTube videos.
- Do you have proof of being an expert? Show off your skills as a guitarist or ask a student’s permission to record a lesson. Post this online to showcase the quality of tutoring you provide. This shows potential students the value they’ll get for their money.
Get Creative with Marketing
While offering guitar lessons is a viable business option it may be a while before you have enough students to be profitable. You can speed up the process by using innovative marketing methods:
- Launch an online webinar to get known as a leader in the music industry.
- Offer discounts for new students or for learners from a local school.
- Host a competition for local musicians to discover new talent and offer to help them hone their skills.
- Write guest posts about music for relevant websites. These can link back to your website to generate more leads and if someone wants proof of what you have to offer you can simply send them the links to the articles.
2. Create a Quality Learning Experience
The best way to draw clients—students—is by word of mouth. You must make sure your students can’t stop talking about what they experience during their guitar lessons. Here’s how to ensure a quality lesson experience.
What Does Your Curriculum Look Like?
Decide which level of guitar lessons you want to offer: beginner, intermediate, advanced or all of them.
Take some time to create a quality curriculum to use during lessons, incorporating:
- Music theory, chords and scales
- Guitar playing techniques, riffs and licks
- How to use techniques and theory in playing songs
- Writing music
Firstly, a curriculum will save you time as you won’t have to prepare for each student’s lesson. Simply use what you’ve prepared that’s appropriate for his or her skill level.
Secondly, having a curriculum will prove to your students how valuable it is to have you as a teacher. You can show them how they progress along with your lesson plan and reaching a milestone will motivate them to keep going.
A lesson plan also sparks trust in you as a mentor as you seem organized and skilled at what you do.
What is the Student’s Experience?
It’s your responsibility to create a positive experience and for some students, this will start with the equipment you have on hand. Yes, they need their own guitars to practice on at home—make this clear to them. But for those who can’t afford the best on the market yet, you need to set a standard. Make sure your guitars and sound equipment are on par, tuned and capable of producing quality audio. This is how you show them what to aspire to.
Learning how to play may not be enough for many musicians. They probably dream of performing on a stage and if you want to keep them committed and motivated you need to create opportunities for them. Can you incorporate the following?
- Talent competitions
- Tests and exams where they can prove their skills
Go Digital—Use Multiple Lesson Options
When you have a good product there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make it public. Online public.
Thanks to Skype, Zoom, and other online tools you can easily communicate with students around the globe. With video and audio features, you can provide quality lessons to anyone. This improves your chances of obtaining enough students to make your business financially viable.
3. Develop a Viable Financial Structure
Remember to register your business and adhere to necessary tax and license requirements applicable in your area. Since you’re likely to make a lot of noise, get permission from landlords and neighbors beforehand so you don’t run into legal challenges later. After this preparation, how do you make sure your music tutoring business will be financially stable?
How Much are You Asking for Lessons?
You should offer both 30 and 60-minute lessons as most beginners and younger students won’t be able to concentrate for long periods of time.
Determine the minimum monthly amount you need to earn and divide that between the number of hours you can host lessons in a month. Now you have an hourly rate but at the start, you may have to drop your rate slightly just to gain momentum. When you have a reputation that your lessons are worth the expense, you can increase your rate.
Lesson costs must also suit what your average student is able to pay. You can charge more if you operate in larger cities where people earn more. But remember you’ll also have more competition in big cities; a lower rate may be a selling point when you start off your business.
You don’t have to stick to individual lessons. Having group lessons can boost your revenue. The students can pay a little less than they do for private lessons. You’ll draw more students because it’s more affordable and you’ll still meet your expected income for that session.
Especially with beginners, you can still provide a quality learning experience for a group of players. The competitive vibe in the group may even prompt them to learn faster.
4. General Tips
You may not get it all right from the start and you’ll learn what works as you build your business. But these helpful tips will help you avoid a few challenges other music teachers had to face:
- Don’t be too lenient with your students when it comes to money. You’re allowed to ask for payments upfront to ensure you get paid for your services. You can also charge no-show fees if students cancel within hours of a scheduled lesson.
- To supplement your income you can record your lessons and sell them as downloadable videos.
- Contact other music schools and enquire about acting as one of their teachers. This can expand your network and help you earn enough while you build your own brand.
- If you know you’re more experienced in a certain niche such as bass or classical guitar it may be an excellent selling point to mention in marketing. Students may be drawn to a mentor who is an expert in the same instrument they want to excel at.
If these tips excite you about the possibilities of using your hobby to benefit your pocket, don’t waste time. Start planning, get your brand and lessons in order and give it a try. There are other musicians out there waiting for you to mentor them.