Congratulations! You finally are given the chance to choreograph your own dance. However, choreographing isn’t as easy as it looks. While you may have watched your dance teacher choreograph your performances with ease for several years, it can be scary to get started on your own. Many dancers experience the same pitfalls when choreographing their first dances. Consider these tips to avoid those issues.
When dancers think of beginning to choreograph something, they may get worried about walking into a room full of people who are looking at them for guidance. As a result, they plan out every single step and movement to a tee before even entering the room. While this might seem like a good idea, usually it’s not. When dancers aren’t following your direct lead and mastering every move and breath right away, you may get angry and become over controlling. This could lead to disarray among the group instead of making the practice about having a fun time, which is most important.
Many dancers forget how critical it is to go with the flow when choreographing a dance. As this is such a creative act, people need to listen to their changing thoughts and alter the dance as they go. Otherwise, it might not be as great of a collaboration as it could be.
Don’t Forget About the Audience
Some choreographers tend to be a little narrow-minded when starting out. They might be eager to start and choreograph, but only have interest to create a dance that pleases them, not anyone else. This is a seriously faulty mistake. When crafting a dance, it’s important to think of the audience along every step of the way. What do they want to see? What music would excite them and cause them to really pay attention? How can you draw them in?
Understanding and answering these questions before you begin creating your dance is critical. If you go into the dance only looking to please yourself, you may create a dance that isn’t interesting to anyone and essentially wastes the audience’s time when they’re watching it.
Don’t Forget About the Learning Curve
You might be the kind of dancer who can pick up a new dance within a day. However, not every dancer is like you. Others need a few practices before they can really nail down a whole song, and even then it might not be perfect. As a choreographer, it’s important to understand the learning curve that comes with dancing.
Even if you’re working with a group of advanced, experienced dancers, not everyone will pick up the moves as easily as you created them. Have patience with your dancers and help them along the way to allow them to understand certain moves better. Don’t get frustrated or upset with your dancers, which can only make the whole process worse for everyone.
Don’t Copy Someone Else’s Dance
Of course, as a dancer there were most likely some dances you watched that you loved, and probably some others that you hated. However, when you look for inspiration, it’s important not to mimic those beloved dances to a tee. While you can pull some moves from them, use your creative spirit to come up with a few new moves or reframe them in a new, refreshing way. You don’t want your audience to see the dance and believe that they’ve seen this routine before.
Instead, you want to wow them with pizzaz and originality and think a little bit outside the box. Look at several dances you like and pull from those to make sure you don’t end up reverting back to one performance you love. If you’re having a creative block, ask your dancers what they think. They might have a favorite dance too that they want to pull from or will suggest a new move they saw that helps take the dance in a new direction, instead of a familiar one.
For the second year in a row, we are excited to present the survey results collected from our most recent dance studio management software survey. We asked dance studio owners to answer questions about their dance studio management software. This year we’ve definitely noticed some recurring trends about how studio owners choose their dance studio management software, how they utilize it, and what they like and dislike about it.
You can see the results of the dance studio management survey here!
If you’re considering opening a dance studio, you may have a lot of questions. Well, you’re not alone. There are plenty of other aspiring dance studio owners with the same concerns. Consider a few of these frequently asked questions if you want to start a dance studio.
1. What’s the best place to open a studio?
Picking the right location for your dance studio can have a lot to do with your success rate. Of course, you want it to be in a spot that’s easy for parents and dancers to find and see—it shouldn’t be tucked away out of sight. It should also have adequate parking space—enough for staff, students and parents, Dance Exec stated.
It’s also a good idea to look at a location that has a space for a drop-off lane. That way, it won’t disrupt traffic flow but dancers can come and go as they please. The location should also be safe or else parents will not feel comfortable dropping off their children. Look for a space that is local to a park, a school or another establishment that welcomes children. It shouldn’t be near bars or other areas that are adults-only.
Another location consideration is your proximity to other studios, and whether you’ve taught or attended at those locations. Most studio owners would take offense at a former teacher or student opening a studio in a location that would place them in direct competition. Even if you were not previously affiliated with nearby studios, you’ll want to consider whether you’re willing to go head-to-head with those already-established businesses.
2. How can I afford to start a dance studio?
Owning a dance studio can certainly come with its expenses. Between leasing or buying a space and utilities and maintenance, costs can quickly add up. All studio owners need have a business plan, which should include an analysis of these and all other costs, before considering opening a studio. Again, it’s important not to skimp on the studio’s location to try and help your budget.
Instead, choose a smaller space at first that you can expand on later. Look into bank loans and see if there’s one you qualify for that’s reasonable for your budget. If you’re incredibly passionate about opening a studio but can’t afford the space, think about opening one in your basement or garage to help build clientele before moving to a bigger spot.
3. Where should I look for potential staff?
As an owner, you may attempt to run the studio on your own at first, and that’s OK. However, as your clientele grows, you’re going to need a little help. Consider posting ads for local college dance students to see if they are willing to take on an unpaid internship, Dance Teacher suggested. That way, you can save money and have an experienced staff.
If you’re impressed by their teaching skills, offer them a job down the road when you’re completely financially stable. If you are ready to hire instructors right away, the administration of those nearby college dance programs may be able to recommend suitable candidates. If there are any semi-professional dance companies in the vicinity, you might also want to send them information on open positions. Whichever route you take, make sure you are hiring staff with the right qualities for the job.
4. How do I come up with a good name for my studio?
If you’ve always wanted to open a dance studio, you may have a few names in mind. However, if this is a recent initiative, it might be more difficult for you to think of something. Picking a name is one of the very early steps in the process of opening a studio. Regardless of what you choose, it should be easy to remember. That means it shouldn’t be a long name, DanceStudioOwner.com noted. It should also be a name that clearly indicates you’re a dance studio, whether it has dance in the name or not. You can choose something simple, like Jenny Smith Dance Studios, or something that has a play on words, like At the Barre.
Finally, make sure that your name is easy to say AND easy to search for on the web. You don’t want a name that you have to constantly spell or explain—those can be hard to remember. On the other hand, you also don’t want to choose a name that’s too generic and risk people being unable to find you in an online search. Find a good balance!
Pointe classes are something that shouldn’t be started without the go ahead of an experienced teacher, and only when a dancer is developmentally ready, strong enough and well-versed in foundational technique. When you do get the go-ahead to enroll in pointe or pre-pointe class, you’ll likely be chomping at the bit to put on those silky pink shoes and start pirouetting like the pros. Starting pointe class is a big step for any aspiring ballerina, but it’s not something to be taken lightly. Being prepared both mentally and physically is key to making the most of your first pointe classes, so here are some things first-time students should keep in mind as their initial class approaches.
“Your pointe shoes must match the size and shape of your feet.”
Respect the Pointe Shoes
There’s a lot more to pointe shoes than meets the eye. Think about it this way: Every dancer’s feet are different, so pointe shoes need to be chosen carefully. When you’re dancing in them, you’ll be resting your whole body weight on your toes, so it’s essential that the shoes conform to the shape of your foot as closely as possible. When you go for your pointe shoe fitting, the salesperson will help you determine the best shoe type for your feet, whether it’s a square box, a tapered box or some variation in between.
The video below, from the New York City Ballet, shows just how specific pointe shoe measurements are for professional ballerinas – plus, it shows some great clips of Megan Fairchild in action.
Fit isn’t the only thing you need to think about when it comes to pointe shoes. You’ll also need to learn how to properly sew your shoes, and you’ll want to decide what supplementary materials you need to comfortable dance in them. For example, some ballerinas choose to tape their toes, while others prefer to use toe pads as cushioning. There’s no “wrong” or “right” way to wear your shoes – it’s all about how you’re most comfortable.
Your First Pointe Class
When it’s time for your first pointe class, you’ll probably want to immediately do chaînés and grand jetés across the floor. Not so fast, though! The first thing you’ll learn is how to properly don and tie your pointe shoes. Chances are that you’ve been prancing around your house in your shoes, but you should pay careful attention to your teacher’s instructions. You could cause serious damage to your body if you don’t wear your shoes properly.
You also won’t be set free to prance around the studio either. During your first class, you’ll likely work off-pointe to improve your foot strength and mobility. If you do get to try some exercises in your shoes, your teacher will have you start slowly at the barre. Be patient, as the instructor will likely need to give students individual attention to correct their posture, stance and foot position.
As you probably realize, dancing on pointe is a whole new challenge for your feet. It may be uncomfortable for the first few classes, and you’ll likely have some blisters or sore spots after your first few classes. Michele Wiles, former principle dancer with the American Ballet Theater, explained to Capezio that her biggest challenge when starting pointe was balancing out her skills on each leg.
“I remember really noticing differences in my right and left foot,” Wiles explained. “The left foot was strong and able to do fouette turns from the very first class, but it didn’t look as flexible as the right. My right foot wasn’t as strong. The hardest part was dealing with these differences and the blister pain.”
It just goes to show that no one is automatically a natural. Even some of the most talented dancers had to overcome the challenges of pointe before they excelled, so be patient with yourself and stick with it! The efforts will pay off in the end.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include more accurate ballet terminology.
Do you ever wish that you could get a little more dance studio promo going for your business? Or that you could increase your brand awareness in your community? These are both common goals for small businesses, and in many cases, the easy solution is to increase your public relations efforts and work on some dance studio promo.
What is PR?
Many people don’t quite understand the difference between PR and marketing efforts. After all, sometimes the same tactics – press releases and social media posts, for example – can be used on both sides of the spectrum.
Kay Pinkerton, a PR consultant at Pinkerton Communications, explained on LinkedIn that the most basic difference between the PR and marketing is your focus. When you’re promoting your classes and trying to bring in new customers, that’s marketing. However, when you’re working to build stronger relationships with existing and future clients, that’s when it becomes PR. So to put it simply, marketing is about services and PR is about relationships.
When do You Need PR?
Large corporations often have full-time PR employees who are constantly planning ways to improve the public’s perception of the company. Luckily, you likely don’t need around-the-clock PR for your dance studio. There are some instances when you’ll benefit from good PR, including:
If you ever encounter bad press.
If you want to promote community outreach you’re doing.
If you want to build interest about an event.
If you want to build brand awareness in your market.
When trying to establish thought leadership.
PR Tips for Studio Owners
If you’re in need of some dance studio promo, whether for one of the reasons listed above or another objective, most of the work is probably going to fall onto your plate as the studio owner. There’s no need to stress, though, as most of PR is pretty easy to master. Here are a few tips that will help you become a PR maven in no time:
Build media connections: If you ever are in a position where you want to be featured in a local newspaper or magazine, you’re going to need media connections. Many small business owners choose to cold call or email press members when they want exposure, but your chances of getting a response are much better if you have an established relationship with a media contact.
Master the press release: One of the most important PR tools is the press release. These short statements will come in handy when you’re trying to get people interested in your new classes or a community outreach program you’re holding. Practice writing a few before you attempt your first official release.
Leverage social media: Before sites like Facebook and Twitter became popular, small business owners relied on newspapers to spread the word of their news. However, these social media sites have become instrumental in low-budget PR efforts, as you can reach a wide audience without spending much money.
Establish community partnerships: If you feel like your studio is too small to attract attention on its own, don’t be afraid to establish strategic partnerships with other businesses in your community. Reach out to local retailers, clubs or charitable organizations to see if they’d be willing to co-sponsor an event or partner up for a community outreach program. These are both valuable PR tactics, and it won’t cost you nearly as much to do it with another business.
Foster relationships: PR is all about building healthy relationships with your customers and community, so don’t get so wrapped up in “PR efforts” that you neglect the essentials of relationship building. Keep in touch with your professional contacts, help out other businesses and provide great customer service. These are the building blocks of an effective PR strategy.
Remember when your high school math teacher told you that you’d need to understand algebra to get by later on in life? You probably scoffed, as many kids do. But we’re here again to go over more calculations that are essential to your dance studio’s success. Hang up your dance shoes and break out the calculator, and get ready for part two of our “Crunching the Numbers” series.
Any small business has to do a fair bit of marketing, and your studio is likely no exception. The fliers you print, the ads you run and the referral program you promote are all ways that you market your dance school in hopes of drumming up new business. But how are you supposed to know if your marketing efforts are working? That’s where metrics for marketing for dance studios come in. Read on to learn how you can calculate marketing return on investment, customer acquisition costs and more.
Marketing Return on Investment
First up is return on investment, commonly referred to as ROI. The concept is simple: You need to figure out how much business you’re gaining in relation to what you’re spending on marketing. For this calculation, you’re going to need your gross profit. You can refer back to part one of this series if you need a refresher on how to find this number.
To find marketing ROI, subtract your marketing investment – how much you spent on marketing services – from your gross profit. Then, you divide the answer by the marketing investment. So if your gross profit is $5,000 and you spent $1,000 on marketing, ROI would be $5,000 minus $1,000, then divided by $1,000. This gives you a marketing ROI of $4 – that means for every $1 you spent on marketing efforts, you got $4 worth of business.
This calculation is essential when you’re evaluating your marketing strategy season over season. It’s always good to try new campaigns – whether it’s direct mail, sale sites or something else – but you should evaluate the worth of a strategy after a given season. If your marketing ROI dips, chances are your new marketing efforts aren’t paying off.
Customer Acquisition Cost
Another important marketing metric is the customer acquisition cost, also called CAC. This is essentially how much money you have to spend on marketing in order to get one new student. The calculation is a simple one.
To find your CAC, set a defined time period. A good measure might be over the course of one dance season. Take the total amount you spent on marketing and divide it by the number of new students you acquired. So if you spent $1,000 on marketing and 20 new students signed up, your CAC is $50.
This metric by itself just tells you that you need to spend $50 to get one new student in the door. However, you can use CAC to calculate other more revealing numbers that will help you adjust your marketing and prices.
Time to Pay Back CAC
One way to use CAC to your advantage is to calculate how long it takes you to make back the money spent on acquiring each customer. You can calculate this in terms of seasons or months, whichever works for you.
To calculate time to pay back CAC, start buy subtracting your seasonal cost per student from the revenue per student. Divide your CAC by this number for time to pay back. So working off the example above, if you earn $500 per student per season and spend $300 per student, you’ll need to divide $50 by $200. This leaves you with an answer of 0.25, meaning you break even on a student’s acquisition cost after 1/4 of a season. Easy right?
When you stay out late and neglect your studies in school, you’re hindering your ability to perform well academically. The same holds true for certain bad habits that dancers have. If you’re skimping on sleep or eating poorly, you could unintentionally be holding yourself back from your true performance potential. Here’s how to improve as a dancer by breaking these five bad habits.
1. Not sleeping enough
Sometimes it might seem like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Whether you’re a high school student trying to balance dance and homework or a pre-professional struggling to maintain relationships while attending a conservatory, it’s absolutely essential that you stick to a strict sleep schedule. Aim for at least seven or eight hours per night – otherwise, you’ll be sluggish, easily distracted and impatient.
“People who don’t get adequate sleep – an hour or two fewer than what they really need – have a much harder time achieving a healthy body weight in the long term,” Emily Harrison, a dietician for the Centre for Dance Nutrition, explained to Dance Spirit magazine.
2. Eating poorly
Cupcakes at school and greasy pizza on the weekend are tempting, but dancers need to adhere to a healthy diet, just like any other athletes. Ensure that you’re eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as foods with protein and fiber. This doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a sweet treat once in a while, but it shouldn’t be a regular habit.
On a related note, it’s important that you’re eating enough to support your active lifestyle. Skipping meals in an attempt to lose weight will surely backfire – it’s better to eat smart than to not eat at all.
3. Skipping warm-up or cool-down
If you’re late for class, you may be tempted to do a few simple stretches before jumping into the action. Or if you have big plans after rehearsal, you may rush off without letting your body cool down. Both of these bad habits can seriously harm your body in the long-run. Skipping warm-up makes you more prone to injuries.
“Warming up increases blood flow to all muscles in the body, which makes them more pliable,” Julie Green, physical therapist for Pennsylvania Ballet, told Dance Spirit magazine.
Similarly, taking the time to cool down will give your muscles and heart the time they need to return to normal after a long workout.
4. Dancing through an injury
According to a study by Safe Kids Worldwide, 42 percent of athletes have hidden or downplayed an injury so they could continue performing. While you probably don’t want to take time off from dance, even small injuries can become big problems if you don’t give them time to heal. If you’re ever in pain during class, don’t just push through it. Talk with your teacher and visit a doctor if necessary. You need to give your body time to recuperate if you want to be able to dance to the best of your ability.
5. Not hydrating
Many people are guilty of not drinking enough water on a regular basis, but you shouldn’t be one of them. Because dancers lose water through their sweat, it’s easy for them to become dehydrated. When this happens, you’ll be tired, nauseous and prone to cramping. Protect your body – and your performance – by drinking at least eight glasses of fluid each day. Most of this should be water. Steer clear of sugary drinks or caffeinated beverages.
In the first part of this series, we discussed the benefits of starting a blog for your studio, as well as the considerations you should take into account before jumping into the blog-o-sphere. If you’ve decided to go ahead and launch a dance blog for your studio, this article will help you create compelling content from day one.
Arguably the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re blogging for your small business is that your goal is to attract readers. This may seem obvious, but many bloggers forget to write for their audience. Your studio’s blog needs to populated with content that dance students, parents and teachers want to read, as this type of traffic is what will make the effort worthwhile for your readers. Here are some tips that will help you pick engaging dance blog topics and craft readable articles.
“Make a list of questions that dance students and parents ask you.”
Picking Article Topics
It’s often a good idea to keep a running list of article topics what you want to publish on your studio’s blog. This will be helpful when it comes to writing consistently – on those days when you’re feeling less-than-motivated, it will make the blogging process easier if you have a topic ready to go.
But how do you come up with ideas that will engage and inspire your audience? It’s easier than you might think. One of the best ways to come up with topics for your studio’s blog is to make a list of questions you get asked on a regular basis. Chances are that the questions parents and students ask you are also topics they’re searching for online. So if you can’t go a day without someone asking about the proper age to switch to pointe, it would likely make an engaging dance blog topic.
Another way to come up with interesting article ideas is to look at other dance blogs for inspiration. See what posts on your favorite dance websites get a lot of attention – but be sure not to copy these articles. You can use other people’s work for inspiration, but you should always make sure your posts have a unique spin to avoid upsetting other bloggers.
The Blogging ‘Formula’
Got a topic and ready to write your first post? The video below outlines a basic formula that will help you create visually attractive, engaging posts for your studio’s blog.
One good point that Beate Chelette makes is the importance of linking. You should aim to link to one external webpage and one internal webpage in each post. This isn’t a firm rule though – you can link to more or fewer, depending on what you’re writing. When you include links in your posts, it will encourage readers to move around your site, and it will also improve your blog’s search engine optimization.
Building Your Readership
Once you have a few blog posts live on your site, you should help people find the content by strategically promoting it. This guide from QuickSprout on building a blog audience is a great free resource that outlines all the different ways you can get your content in front of the right people. It’s definitely worth a read!
In general, make sure you’re taking advantage of social media when promoting your dance blog. Share your best posts with your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram followers for a bit of free traffic. Once people know that you’re writing good content, they’ll be more likely to visit your site without prompting. This is how your readership will grow and your blog will become one of your best marketing tools!
If you aren’t a big fan of math, you’re not alone. An article in Psychology Today explained that almost 80 percent of college students described math as a skill they felt they couldn’t figure out. Even if math isn’t your thing, there are going to be quite a few instances where you need to crunch numbers as a dance studio owner. Yes, your calculator can help, but it’s important to understand the basic formulas and processes behind some standard small business profit calculations. Here’s some must-have math that studio owners need to know.
Calculating Gross Profit
Here’s that illustrious word that all studio owners hope for but many fail to achieve: profit. If you’re going to run a business and keep your doors open, you’ll need to know how to calculate gross profit, or the money you’ve earned from selling a service. The seemingly simple equation for gross profit is sales minus cost of services sold.
For studio owners, profit calculations are usually quite simple. Your revenue for a given season – or the money you collected from students – is your sales, and then you subtract any variable costs. Since you’re selling a service instead of a product, your variable costs will likely only include the salaries of hourly teachers, materials used in class and other expenses that incur as a direct result of holding class. Leave any fixed costs – such as full-time employee salaries, rent or mortgage payments, insurance, marketing costs or office expenses – out of this calculation.
So for example, if you charge $500 per student, and you teach 20 students this season, your revenue will be $10,000. If you spend $4,000 on variable costs, your gross profit would be $6,000.
Finding Your Gross Profit Margin
The next step in the important financial calculation is to figure out your gross profit margin, which is your gross profit expressed as a percentage of your revenue. Don’t worry – it sounds harder than it is!
To calculate gross profit margin, simply divide your gross profit by your sales, and then multiply by 100. Following the example above, $6,000 divided by $10,000 is 0.6. Multiple this by 100, and you get your gross profit margin of 60 percent.
Using Gross Profit and Gross Profit Margin
You may think that you’re in the clear if your gross profit increases year after year, but this isn’t always the case. Your gross profit margin is actually a better indicator of how efficiently your business is performing. If you notice that your gross profits are increasing but your margins are on the decline, this indicates that your spending is outpacing your revenue growth. Be wary of this trend! If your costs grow too fast, you could be heading for financial trouble.
Crunching Net Income Numbers
As you may have gathered, gross profit isn’t equivalent to the amount of money your studio is left with at the end of the year. You still need to take into account those fixed costs that remain stable from month to month. According to Entrepreneur magazine, these expenses include:
Wages of full-time workers
Once you’ve added up all these fixed costs, you’re ready to find net income. Subtract this number from the gross profit you’ve calculated. So if your fixed costs are $5,000 and your gross profits were $6,000, your net income would be $1,000. This may not seem like a lot of money, but it’s always a good thing when your business has a net gain at the end of the year. If your net profit turns out to be a negative number, this means you’ve sustained a net loss, and you’ll need to find a way to lower your costs or increase your revenue.
Check back soon for more math-related tips that are key for studio owners!
As a consumer, you’re probably a big fan of Groupon. After all, who doesn’t love getting 25, 50 or 75 percent off services from their favorite stores and restaurants? While this site is very popular with consumers – it boasts 70 million subscribers – Groupon isn’t always a win-win experience for business owners.
A study from Rice University showed that Groupon promotions aren’t always profitable. Of the 150 businesses surveyed, 66 percent said their promotion generated money. Despite more than half making money, just 42 percent said they would consider running a deal again. Keep these numbers in mind while you’re deciding whether to use the daily deal site.
If you’re considering offering a discount with a dance class Groupon, here are some pros and cons that you’ll want to weigh before clicking “OK.”
Pro: Groupon Helps Create Your Deal
No need to fret if you’re not a whiz with words. Groupon will not only help you pinpoint services that will sell effectively, but an associate will also give you a hand with the web copy. This comes in handy if you’re not so great at crafting compelling advertisements.
Pro: Bringing New Customers In
Getting new dancers in the door is always a good thing, especially if you’re the new studio on the block. If you choose to run a dance class Groupon deal, it’s safe to bet that you’ll see some new faces in the studio. People love discounts, so this is a good way to edge out some of the more established studios in your area and give your school a competitive edge.
Con: Having to Discount Your Services
While you’ll likely get some new students out of your Groupon promotion, you’re not going to make the same money as you do from regular dancers. No one is going to purchase your deal if you only discount 10 percent – the appeal of daily deal sites is that businesses offer services with steep discounts.
Because you’re only going to be making a portion of your usual revenue from Groupon deals, make sure you will still be bringing in enough money to pay your fixed expenses. Otherwise, you may be better off using traditional marketing tactics to bring in customers who’ll pay the full rate.
Con: Groupon Takes a Cut
After you discount your prices to attract customers, Groupon is going to take a portion of the money you make. The New York Times explained that Groupon usually takes 50 percent of the revenue, so if you sell $500 worth of classes, you’re only going to receive $250.
This can be problematic if you had to discount your prices a lot to begin with. If you offer your services for 40 percent off through your promotion, then Groupon takes half, you’ll end up with 30 percent of the money you would have made if the customers paid full price.
Pro: Getting Paid Immediately
However, one upside to the Groupon method is that you get paid right away. Even if the Groupon buyers never show up to redeem their classes, you’ll still get your money from the site.
Con: Attracting Bargain Seekers
Inc. magazine explained that another less-than-desirable outcome of Groupon is that it attracts people seeking deals. Many of the students who come in as a result of your promotion may only be looking to redeem their classes – not to sign up for more. As a studio, one of your long-term goals is likely to build a solid base of returning students, and if Groupon buyers are only interested in the bargain classes, they’re not going to contribute to this objective.
Blogging is all the rage nowadays. Moms have blogs. Huge corporations have blogs. Dancers have blogs. All the blogging that’s going on may lead you to think, “Should I start a dance studio blog?”
There are definitely benefits of creating and maintaining a blog for your studio, but there are certain notable downsides as well. Here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about expanding your dance studio’s online presence to the blog-o-sphere.
Benefits of Blogging
Ask any marketing guru or SEO wizard and they’ll tell you that a good blog can only help your small business. It’s true that blogging can give you a leg up against the competition while boosting your marketing efforts – when done correctly, that is.
“A well-maintained blog can only help your studio.”
Improve Your Online Presence
SEO is often a challenge for small businesses, especially when you’re in the middle of a saturated market. In many communities, there are a number of dance studios competing against one another. This competition doesn’t just involve snatching up students though – you’re also vying for the top spots on Google when a prospective dancer types in “dance classes near me.”
Here’s where a blog can come in handy. HubSpot explained that thanks to Google’s new algorithms, websites that have fresh content often rank higher in searches. The more frequently you’re putting new content up on your website, the more your site will get crawled and indexed. This is a good way to gain a competitive edge over non-blogging studios in your area.
Solidify Your Brand Image
A well-maintained dance studio blog can also help to improve your brand. Dance Advantage noted that studios with blogs often come across as more personal and welcoming to prospective students. Blogging is a way to show website viewers your studio’s environment and atmosphere, and this often comes across as more appealing than a cut-and-dry informative site.
Connect with Students and Potential Customers
Finally, blogging can serve as a great means of communicating with your current students and parents, as well as with prospective dancers. If you often find yourself sending out a barrage of emails, notices, social media posts and more, you can condense your studio’s communications by posting all this information on your blog. Not only will this drive traffic to your website, but it will also reduce the number of calls your studio gets from parents wondering about recital tickets, class schedules, audition attire and more.
Common Blogging Pitfalls
As mentioned above, your studio’s blog will only be as useful and effective as you make it. If you’re going to commit to blogging, be sure to avoid these common pitfalls.
Many small business owners claim that they simply don’t have the time to post regularly on a blog, and this can be a problem. There’s no denying that studio owners are notoriously busy, but if you can’t commit to posting at least once or twice a week on your blog, it may not be worth your while. Consistency is key when it comes to blogging, and you need to post new content for your readers. Otherwise, the endeavor may not pay off.
“Don’t limit your topics to studio-related posts.”
Running Out of Topics
Another common woe when you’re trying to get your dance studio blog off the ground is running out of topics. After all, there’s probably only so much studio news that you can write about. Don’t let this deter you though! You can come up with fresh content ideas by browsing the Internet, talking with your students or simply reflecting on your own interests. Write about anything and everything dance-related, and you’ll find that your audience quickly grows.
Lack of Promotion
As with any new endeavor, you’re going to need to promote your dance studio blog to get it off the ground. Chances are that your students won’t find your new blog on their own, so promote it within the studio, on social media and through newsletters. With a little bit of strategic marketing, you’ll soon get the traction you’re looking for.
Take these points into account when you’re launching your dance studio’s blog. Be sure to check back next week for Part 2 of our Blogging Basics series! We’ll be talking about general tips for an effective and readable blog.
You may think that you know what you’re getting into when you decide to open a dance studio. After all, you’ve likely been involved in the industry for a good part of your life. However, there are definitely some tough lessons you’ll learn when you enter the business side of the dance world. Here are 8 things you’ll come to understand throughout your time as a dance studio owner.
1. ‘No’ is a powerful and necessary word
As a new business owner, you’ll likely want to say yes to everything. It’s hard to tell people no, especially when you are just starting to build relationships with your customers. However, make sure you balance the needs of your students and parents with the needs of the studio. It’s a delicate scale, and you’ll occasionally have to use “no” to keep the balance in check.
2. You need an written, actionable plan
You probably have goals, plans and aspirations for your studio, and that’s great! But you should really be putting them in writing, otherwise they’re easy to forget or lose sight of. This is where an actionable business plan comes in handy – write a detailed roadmap before you open your studio and make sure to update it every year.
3. Your dance know-how isn’t enough
Your pirouettes and plies will come in handy when you’re teaching young dancers, but they’re not going to help you much when it comes time to pay taxes, send invoices or market your studio. Small business owners of all sorts need to have some business-savvy if they’re going to excel, so you may need to purchase a how-to book or sign up for a seminar to fill out your skill set.
4. Customer service isn’t a cakewalk
No two mama dramas are alike, and you’ll be faced with a host of problems throughout your time as a studio owner. It’s important to figure out how you’ll deal with problem parents, diva students and other issues that affect the atmosphere at your school. Your customer service can make or break your studio, so be sure to give it the attention it deserves.
5. Your support system is key
Because you’re serving as a teacher, marketer, book keeper, administrator and more, there will be days when you’re exhausted and overwhelmed. This is when you need your support system more than ever. Whether it’s your spouse, friend, partner, child or fellow teacher, you should have someone who’s there to lend a hand on your toughest days. If you go at it alone, chances are that you’ll wind up with more gray hair than you bargained for.
6. Not everyone will like you
It’s human nature to want people to like you, but very few business owners go through their careers without stepping on a few toes. Sometimes you’ll have to say “no” – as mentioned in No. 1 – and this can lead to upset parents, dejected dancers or disgruntled teachers. Do your best to mend the relationship when this happens, and continue on your way.
7. At the end of the day, you’re running a business
The reality of the business world is that only 50 percent of companies survive for five years and just 30 percent last 10 years or more. If you’re in this for the long haul, you need to keep in mind that you’re running a business! Each decision you make should be beneficial to the studio if you want to make it in the competitive world of dance.
8. The hard work is worth it
You know the happiness that fills you up when you do something you love? Well you’ll probably get to feel that way every day you’re in the studio. Teaching people to dance is amazingly rewarding, and you’ll find that even on your longest days, you have a smile on your face.
Millions of people around the country struggle with eating disorders each year, but there’s one group of individuals that are at a higher risk for developing these conditions. Research from the Journal of the Eating Disorders Association showed that dancers are almost three times as likely to struggle with eating disorders than their peers. This number is even higher for ballerinas, who often feel pressured to remain thin. It’s an unfortunate reality that many dancers battle with weight loss and eating disorders. You may think that you’ll never have to deal with this type of problem because your students are young or just recreational, but the prominence of eating disorders in dancers suggests otherwise. Studio owners need to educate themselves on the signs and symptoms of eating disorders in dancers, as well as on the proper way to intervene if a student is going down an unhealthy path.
What Leads to Eating Disorders in Dancers?
It’s important to understand the atmosphere and attitude that cultivate eating disorders. CoachUp explained that dancers sometimes spend too much time in front of mirrors in skin-tight clothing, comparing themselves to other students. This competitive atmosphere, coupled with dreams of being a professional dancer, can often lead students to unsafe weight-loss methods.
“Every day before class, I would enter the studio and study my reflection in the mirror, wondering if my tummy bulged too much,” Sarah Badger, a lifelong dancer, explained to Dance Spirit magazine. “Sucking in my stomach, I’d vow that I’d become a perfect ballerina – no matter the cost. This early commitment to perfection planted the seeds for what would soon become a life-threatening battle with calories, the scale and my own reflection.”
What Signs Can Dance Teachers Watch For?
Sometimes students may feel pressured to lose weight outside of the studio as well, and the development of the condition is often outside of your control. However, the best thing you can do for your dancers is keep an eye out for any signs of eating disorders.
Keep in mind that individuals with eating disorders will go to extreme lengths to hide and deny their symptoms. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, it’s better to voice your concerns than to let it be swept under the rug.
How Should Teachers Intervene?
If you think that something needs to be done about a student with unhealthy eating or exercising habits, the ANAD recommended that you create a plan for confronting the dancer. This should likely involve speaking to the student’s parents or guardians beforehand and finding a quiet and convenient time and place to talk. You’ll also want to gather some resources that would be beneficial to the student, such as local organizations that specialize in treating eating disorders.
When talking to a dancer who you suspect may have an eating condition, it’s important to express your concerns for his or her mental and physical health. Try not to focus on the dancer’s weight or appearance – instead, discuss nutrition and overall well-being.
More than anything else, it’s essential to be open and understanding when speaking to a dancer who has an eating disorder. Chances are that you have experience with the pressure dancers feel to be perfect, so be empathetic and listen to what your student has to say. Once you’ve established a level of trust with the dancer, you can work with their parents to get the help the dancer needs.
You probably have a system for planning classes for dance season. Maybe you have some tried-and-true methods that you’ll be repeating or perhaps you’re going to revamp your class structure to better your studio. Either way, you should make a point to create class syllabi for the different courses you’ll be offering in the coming season. Here are some of the benefits that studio owners can reap from a structured dance class syllabus and a few pointers for drafting these documents.
Benefits of an Established Syllabus
A carefully crafted syllabus can benefit not only the teachers, but the students as well. When you take the time to create these documents for your classes, you can ensure that everyone will have a better experience at your studio.
The perks for instructors include:
Syllabi help teachers prepare for classes.
The document helps teachers keep the course on track throughout the year.
Syllabi serve as a reminder of the skills teachers need to cover.
It helps staff enforce studio policies.
It clearly establishes behavioral expectations for students.
According to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, the benefits of syllabi for students include:
The document can help students establish educational plans. In this case, it helps them to plan their growth as dancers.
It provides essential information, such as contact details, class times, rehearsal schedules and the like.
A syllabus serves as a remind of studio policies on behavior, dress code, attendance and more.
It informs students of what they’ll be learning, when they’ll be learning it and what they need to do to succeed in the class.
What to Include in a Syllabus
When you first sit down to create a syllabus, you may be tempted to simply jot down all your thoughts and goals for the class. This is a good way to get your thoughts down on paper, but you’ll want to create a document with a little more structure.
Start by writing the static parts of your syllabus – these sections will likely remain unchanged between courses and seasons. If you have a studio contract, you may even want to simply copy and paste the sections about classroom behavior, attendance, proper attire and other studio rules.
Next, you’ll want to create sections like:
Instructor info: Note who will be teaching the class and his or her contact information.
Class description: A general description of the course, genre and skill level.
Course goals: List the skills and techniques that students will ideally master over the course of the season.
Class timeline: Lay out the major events and lesson plans that will take place in the class. Include the topic for each class, as well as dates for performances and dress rehearsals if you know them.
Once you have these sections written, you may want to have the instructor look over the document and make changes or suggestions. This will ensure that the syllabus is a team effort and that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the class.
Don’t Forget to Revisit Old Syllabi
If you have syllabi that you’ve been using for years, it’s a good idea to revise them each season. After all, there are likely things that your studio could be doing better and you’ll want to reflect those changes in the document.
“We constantly reassess what we are doing, but it’s the team effort that makes it successful,” Peter Stark, dance department chair at the Patel Conservatory, explained to Dance Teacher magazine. “Star students come and go, star teachers come and go, but a methodology can maintain through that.”
Once you’ve written, revised and reviewed your syllabi, you’ll be ready to distribute them to the students, post them on your website and jump on into the new season of dance.
What makes a dance teacher great? Yes, knowledge of the art form and technical ability are important, but what sets the dancers apart from the teachers? Here are a few qualities that you may want to look for when you’re hiring dance teachers.
As is important in many other careers, passion is a necessary quality in a superior dance instructor. Not only will love of dance make even the toughest classes enjoyable, but a teacher with continually positive energy will pass that same joy on to young students.
Another important characteristic is flexibility. Dance teachers need to be able to go with the flow, and this is something that poses a struggle for some professional dancers. You never know when a lesson is going to fall flat with students or when a class will be particularly rowdy. A great teacher will adjust on the fly and make the most of each class, even when things don’t go according to plan.
Great dance teachers are often set apart from mediocre instructors by their dedication to the job at hand. Teachers who aren’t fully committed to explaining the necessary skills and molding young dancers often let little things slide in the studio. Maybe they aren’t willing to help out at dress rehearsal or won’t commit to extra hours with a struggling student. The once-in-a-lifetime teachers are the ones who are willing and ready to go the extra mile in the name of teaching.
Patience is a necessary virtue for all types of teachers. There will more than likely be difficult days with challenging students, and an awesome teacher will overcome these obstacles without losing her cool. Patience is doubly important for instructors who will be working with young or inexperienced dancers, as these students sometimes need a little extra time to grasp concepts.
Even great dancers with natural teaching ability will benefit from training geared specifically for dance education (as opposed to performance). While there are college programs in dance education, there are also other opportunities for instructors to hone their skills, like the teacher training schools offered by Dance Masters of America or Dance Educators of America. While there may be some positions, like assistant teachers, that may not necessitate a certification, requiring your teachers to have some more advanced credentials will greatly increase the quality and safety of instruction provided by your studio.
Finally, a truly top-notch teacher is one that you can count on to handle parents and students with the utmost grace and professionalism. When you have a great teacher on your staff, you won’t worry about him or her sullying the studio’s reputation by acting inappropriately.
Editor’s note: This article was updated to include additional information on dance education programs.