Even belly dance teacher deserve a few weeks off over the holidays, but January is traditionally time to build up your classes. If you party for too long, or get sick, you may find you have missed the annual push to connect with new students and get your existing students back to class. Here are ten things you can do today, to gain dancers for 2017 and leave you free to celebrate:
1, Book your venue or confirm start dates with your employer. Make sure everyone knows when you will be back to work and that you will be promoting the classes. Lots of venues plan building work over the holidays, so be sure you wont have to cancel a class at the last minute. Nothing puts off a new student more than turning up and finding the room all closed up.
2, Email your existing students. As well as making sure everyone knows the start dates of the new semester, wish them a happy holidays ! Your current student body is your best marketing tool - make them feel appreciated ! Most of my new students come from word of mouth promotion. My students tell their friends, who then tell their friends... There is no harm in asking nicely if they will pass on the info, or post on their social media sites. Consider giving them a gift, such as a free class, a discounted private lesson, or a beautiful hair flower to make sure they know just how much you value them.
3, Set up an events page on Facebook and announce a free class or a meet and greet for new students. People want to try new things in January, but are often nervous or hesitant to commit. If you can offer a free class it becomes an incentive that few can resist. If you teach in semesters or terms and cant offer a free class, ask your employer if you can set up a desk and offer a "meet and greet". Take some cookies and juice, flyers and video clips. Be prepared to answer all kinds of questions. Invite your existing student body, but let them know you don't expect them to attend. Again its a way they can help promote your classes and make your event appear on their wall. Print out sign up sheets, plan the lesson, set up your music and pack your bag now so you are all ready to teach the first class of the year.
4, Advertise your event on Facebook to strangers ! You can set up an advert now to run through the first few days of January. By linking your advert to your event you can provide lots of info one click away and the chance for them to sign up and connect with you. A few days before your event you can send them a quick reminder. Facebook seems so much less formal that joining a mailing list. I advertise to women who live within five miles of my venues, 18 to 80, who like Zumba, dance, science (ever noticed how many belly dancers are scientists !) and fitness. That advert will go to 1,000s of people, but I pay per click, so I only pay for those who were interested enough to visit the event page. I set my daily target to between $3/$5, depending on how long I let the advert run.
5, Re-order flyers, postcards and business cards. Professional stationary is cheap and easy to create using sites such as Vistaprint. Go for one of their standard designs and ad your own photo. Double check they contain all your info :
6, Fill your car, purse and work bags with flyers ! Over the next few weeks you will be travelling to different shops, parties and hafla. Perhaps you might find yourself performing at different venues and with little notice. You will be meeting lots of new people who may want to do class with you. Don't miss out by not having the info on you. Ask at every store and restaurant if they have a noticeboard. Offer a "free pass" to the staff (so they can attend your free class).
7, Make up raffle prizes and contact event organizers to offer your gift. Prepare a card that offers one or more lessons for free (again make sure it contains all the info). If you are feeling generous, add in a coin belt or some jewelry. Wrap these gifts in clear film and offer them to local events as a raffle prize. At this time of year every organization, every school, club and social group is planning a party with a raffle. Not only will you have the chance to teach a new student, you will also put your product in front of a totally different audience.
8, Write on your car. Or purchase a car sticker. You will be travelling around this holiday season, so use your car as free advertising. Make sure your web site is written large enough for people driving around to see. If you are shopping or eating out, try and park in a space so your advert faces everyone entering the car park. I love to see people stop and take a photo of the back side of my car :)
9, Make sure your web site and social media pages are polished and up to date. Pre plan interesting blog posts, Facebook and twitter comments. Use software to schedule these posts to be automatically uploaded while you are away. You can be an interesting belly dancer and asleep on the sofa at the same time!
By putting in some extra work now, you can fully relax over the holiday season and return to you classes refreshed, knowing that you have done everything you can to attract new students to the wonderful world of belly dance!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS ! - love and hugs Sx
Sara Shrapnell is a belly dance writer, teacher and performer.
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