No one likes to admit it, but getting students into class is a tough business. Overheads are high and class numbers are down from those we saw before the economic dip. I need 8 people a night to cover my costs. Some weeks that is easily achieved, other times not so much. One bad week can off balance the whole month. Many teachers have a wonderful core group, who come to every lesson, every week, and these are the people who keep a class going. However if sickness hits or just one or two students move away, teachers have to find new students to take their place.
Facebook is full of new people !
The struggle is to find local people who might be interested in a dance class in the blurred noise of your hundreds or thousands of friends. Only a tiny % will see a post from you, and those are more likely to be your close friends and core students, who already attend your classes !
I have spoken about advertising on Facebook before, and I do recommend it for finding new students. The great thing is that you can set the limits and fine tune your advert to be aimed very clearly at people who may be interested. My most recent advert was for people who live within 5 miles of the town where I teach, women (much as I love men students - they find me, rather than "discover" belly dance on FB), 18 or above, who list fitness, dance, music, salsa, jive, zumba, running or soccer as an interest. I know these women are interested in doing an activity and live close enough to make it to class. From each advert I collect a list of names who express an interest and send them more info and a friend request. I also write their names in a little green book, and every 2 months I send them the dates of the new classes and courses. Many of these ladies never reply, few ever come to class - but I only need a couple to become core students, to stay forever, and my classes are assured for another 12 months.
In a way I am collecting a mailing list. Its not a mailing list of active belly dancers. Its more of a list of people who thought about attending a belly dance class for about three seconds and then moved on.
So why did I just tell Facebook that I moved house ? Facebook wants you to feel like your social network is also your local network. When you are thinking of hosting a BBQ and create an event, it gives you the chance to remember the friends you want to invite and then it offers you the chance to see a list of your friends who are local. Friends you might want to add to your invite list for your Sunday afternoon BBQ. It will also show you a list of friends from your old home town. Of course if you were thinking about who to invite to your BBQ you would really know these people and want them in your home. If, however, you were looking to invite people to your belly dance classes.... it would be really useful to have a list of people you linked up with last time you send out an advert, and the time before, and three years ago, who had a three second interest in class, accepted a friend request and who might now be free on Wednesdays, or be over their injury or have changed jobs.
Because I teach in three towns (Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin - Everyone Welcome !), I would like a local list from all three. Facebook wont let me live in three towns, but it will let me move about once a year.
So here I go again, all the stress (not!) of moving.... and in a week or two, when FB knows I'm not doing this to cheat the system (*Cough*), I will have a nice new mailing list to help with my quest for new students.
If you would like to increase your student base try this:
- Create an event for your next session of classes (I create one for each month as my classes are ongoing)
- Invite your core students
- Invite "more friends" to access the mailing list of other people who are local to you
- Send them an invite
- If you teach in more than one town or city "move", wait a couple of weeks and repeat
“Sara Shrapnell is that rarest of rare, a full time belly dance instructor. Her career spans decades and continents and her knowledge is encapsulated in her books “Teaching Belly Dance” and “Becoming a Belly Dancer.” - Dawn Devine