Do you find yourself staying long after closing to file paperwork and answer emails? Does your “downtime” at home consist of scheduling social media posts? If the administrative workload at your studio is running you ragged, it might be time to consider hiring a dance studio manager or office manager. Many studios are hiring additional staff to help out with the day-to-day responsibilities that generally fall to the owner. Here are four considerations you should make if you’re thinking about a hiring full- or part-time dance studio manager.
1. Consider Automating or Outsourcing
The first thing you should do when you’re feeling overwhelmed with administrative tasks is to make a list of all the things you’re behind on. Dance Advantage explained that once you have a list in front of you, it will be much easier to determine if you need a new employee or if you could simply invest in some automation software. If your troubles are related to accounting and bookkeeping, you might need to invest in new accounting software. You could also consider outsourcing to an accounting firm. If you spend too much time wiping down the mirrors in your classrooms, you can hire a cleaning service to come in once a week. Once you have an idea about the distribution of your workload, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about hiring a dance studio manager.
2. Weigh the Costs and Benefits
An office manager will definitely help to reduce your workload, but you’re going to have to write another paycheck each week. Dance Studio Life noted that most studio managers expect to receive between $10 and $20 per hour, depending on the size of the office and the responsibilities involved. Try to weigh the time and stress you’ll save against the cost of another salary. If the cost is within your budget, a studio manager might be the way to go. However, if the money would put a strain on your finances, you should probably look into other solutions.
3. Look for Candidates with Experience
When you’re reviewing candidates for the position, keep that list of responsibilities you made handy. It’s in your best interests to choose a manager whose experience lines up with your needs. If you’re behind on filing and paperwork, a candidate who has worked in an office setting would be ideal. Individuals with customer service experience will do a good job answering phones and emails. If you need help with more hands-on tasks like ordering costumes and creating rehearsal schedule, you might want to look for a candidate who’s familiar with the basics of dance. Hiring a manager with the right experience will be beyond helpful in the long run and ensures that he or she will be an asset to your business.
4. Create a Training Plan
Don’t overlook the fact that anyone you hire will need to be trained before they can be a seamless part of your studio. Unfortunately, no one will be able to walk in and immediately know what to do. Even if the candidate has worked in a studio before, no two business are the same, and there will be tasks he or she needs to be walked through. Take time to create a training plan before your new hire starts. The more specific your plan is, the quicker your manager will get the hang of things. You both will benefit from written policies, procedures and schedules. Dance Advantage also recommended explaining what the manager doesn’t need to do. If you want to be the point of contact for parent complaints or to be the only one posting to social media, explain that to your staff member. Sometimes he or she might try to be helpful and take on tasks that you’d prefer to do yourself.
Including a noncompete agreement in your employee contracts seems like the logical choice to protect your studio. However, if you scroll through popular dance forums, when it comes to the non-compete agreements for dance studios, owners and industry professionals say these legal documents aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. There are certain problems that come along with noncompete agreements, some of which undermine their effectiveness. If you’re thinking about implementing a noncompete with your instructors, use these tips to guide the process.
Do: Thorough Research
Before you jump on the Internet and start digging for a noncompete template, you’ll want to do a little background research. Find your state’s guidelines for noncompete documents – there might be certain phrases or clauses you have to include for it to be upheld. You should also look into any local court cases about similar circumstances to see the results. Dance Teacher magazine explained that noncompete agreements are notoriously hard to uphold in court, as ruling against a teacher would compromise his or her ability to make a living. Use this research to guide your construction of the document and develop a backup plan to protect your studio.
Don’t: Put All Your Eggs in a Noncompete Basket
While a formal document might give you peace of mind, there are other ways to protect your business from competition. Don’t underestimate the benefits of having loyal students and teachers. Dance Studio Life noted that when you rotate teachers every season or every year, you can prevent them from building up a base of dancers to take to a new studio. Students that have the same teachers for years in a row are more likely to develop loyalty to them. Try to interact with dancers and their parents so they feel connected to your school. Another good tactic is to simply be a good boss. If your instructors value your expertise and enjoy working at your company, they’ll be less inclined to start a rival studio. Inspiring loyalty in your students and teachers is a supplement, or even an alternative, to a noncompete contract.
Do: Seek Professional Help
As with any legal document, it’s best to have a lawyer look it over. If you can afford to have a lawyer draw up the document, it’s definitely a good option. You can probably find a template on the Internet to structure your noncompete around, but unless you’ve been to law school, there’s a good possibility you’ll miss something. Sometimes just a few wrong words can make the document invalid. If you take the time to seek professional advice when you’re drafting the agreement, you may save yourself time, money and headaches in the long run.
Don’t: Rule Out Other Options
There are a couple other legal routes you can pursue to deter the teacher turned competitors. Dance Teacher magazine explained that nonsolicitation clauses are much more likely to be upheld in court, even if the noncompete contract isn’t. These legal clauses keep your former employees from soliciting your students and staff to join their new studio. Nonsolicitation agreements are more likely to be enforced because they’re viewed as an effort to protect your business’ goodwill. Another option is to create a nondisclosure agreement, which prevents former staff from disclosing your proprietary information, like client lists or business history. This type of legal document can be helpful, but keep in mind that instructors can legally use information they remember and public resources to open their studio.
If your competition or recital choreography seems a little lackluster, your studio might benefit from a fresh set of eyes. Using dance choreographers for hire is a great way to take a little bit of responsibility off your plate – you surely have enough to go around – and spice up your dancers’ repertoire. It’s a win for all parties involved, because you focus your energy on other tasks, while your dancers have the opportunity to learn a new style of dance and experience different teaching methods. If you’re thinking about welcoming a guest choreographer into your studio this year, here are some tips for choosing the best teacher for the job and being a stellar host.
1. Set a Budget
The first major consideration to take into account is how much you have to spend on dance choreographers for hire. Dance Studio Life explained that, on average, it will cost around $100 per student for a choreographed piece, not including travel and hotel costs. Naturally, you’ll find teachers who charge different amounts depending on their expertise, experience and other factors. Chances are that you won’t be dishing all that money out of your studio’s funds, so it’s crucial that you talk to the dancers’ parents about the expense. Explain why you think the opportunity is valuable for the students and what exactly the choreographer has to offer. Be straightforward about the cost and see if you can come to an agreement on a final budget.
2. Do Your Research
Once you know how much you can spend for some professional choreography, start doing research on teachers that you might like to work with. The Dance Exec explained that your first instinct might be to choose someone whose style is similar to your own, but why pay someone to do a job that you could do just as well? It’s better to choose a choreographer who will bring something new to the table. Explore different genres! It will be beneficial to everyone if you mix things up.
Once you have a few choreographers in mind, delve deeper into your research. The Internet is an amazing tool for “dance dating.” Check out the social media accounts of each teacher. Instagram, YouTube and Facebook can all give you insight into the choreographer’s style, teaching methods, personality and professionalism. You might be surprised to find a lesser-known artist who you like much more than a big name choreographer. The Dance Exec suggested that you reach out to any individuals that you think would be great for your students, even if you don’t know them. You never know if they’re available or too expensive until you ask.
3. Be Welcoming
When you’re hosting a teacher for the first time, don’t be afraid to roll out the welcome wagon. In an interview with Dance Spirit magazine, guest choreographer Lauren Adams explained that it can be nerve wracking to enter a new studio for the first time.
“It’s intimidating for us to walk into a space filled with dancers, all expecting us to create this great energy,” Adams told Dance Spirit.
It’s in your best interest to make the guest feel welcomed and comfortable in your studio. Give your students a little bit of background information on the choreographer beforehand, and encourage them to introduce themselves and be hospitable. The more at ease a guest choreographer feels, the better he or she will be able to communicate with the students and the more impressive the end results will be.
4. Be Strict About Time
When you get down to business, be specific about how much teaching and rehearsal time you’ve allotted for the class and ask what will happen if the piece isn’t finished on time. You’re paying this professional for his or her services, and it’s your right to know what to expect. Dance Studio Life explained that sometimes a choreographer will run out of rehearsal time and the dancers might not be adequately prepared to execute the piece. Talk to the choreographer about taping the last few run-throughs if you’re concerned about time. This will at least give you a guide to work off of once the teacher is gone.
5. Build Relationships
If you’re impressed with the choreographer’s work and think he or she is a wonderful match for your students, don’t be shy about building a relationship. Talk to the guest about coming back the following season and express your feelings about the piece. The Dance Exec noted that not all choreographers will become friendly with studio owners, but personal connections can benefit both parties in the long run. If your first guest choreographer experience is a stellar one, go ahead and express those sentiments. If it’s just subpar, give the guest a firm handshake and your heartfelt thanks, wave goodbye at the airport and then try again next year.
If you’re looking to expand your social media following, use these dance studio marketing tips to learn how to use hashtags for effective posts. Hashtags, designated by the pound sign, are extremely popular on Twitter and Instagram, so much so that Facebook has started using them too!
Social Media Examiner explained that hashtags are used to categorize social media posts with similar content. They’ll help you connect with other people that are interested in what you’re posting about and thereby expand the reach of your marketing campaign.
Use these dance studio marketing tips to educate yourself about the best practices of hashtags and make the most of your dance studio’s social media accounts.
Hashtags for Different Purposes
Hashtags are used primarily to start and cultivate conversations over social media. There two main ways that your studio can use hashtags: to join a conversation or to start a new conversation.
Joining an established hashtag conversation is sure to connect you with lots of other users who have similar interests. For example, dance shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” or “Dance Moms” likely have hashtags that viewers can use to discuss the show while it’s airing. If you want to weigh in with your opinion, craft a tweet or Instagram post using #SYTYCD or #DanceMoms. These are likely very popular hashtags, so you have the opportunity to get noticed by a lot of new people. The downside is that your tweet or picture might get lost in the flood of similar posts.
Your other option is to create a new hashtag to get people engaged in a conversation. This is a good route if you’re hosting an event, attending a competition or offering important advice. The key is to choose a phrase that’s easy to remember and for people to find. One fun option is to post up-to-the-minute updates during your studio’s recital. Come up with a unique hashtag, like #XYZStudioRecital2014, and include it on your Twitter and Instagram posts. Encourage the students, parents and teachers to use the hashtag on their own social media posts. This will help you make new connections in the community, receive valuable feedback and share interesting content with other users.
Interacting with Your Target Audience
Once you create a post using a hashtag, the word or phrase will automatically become a link. When you click through, you’ll be able to see all the other posts containing the same hashtag. Use this to your advantage! Interact with four or five other people who are talking about the same subject. Retweet an interesting post on Twitter or leave a comment on someone’s Instagram picture. When you engage with other users, you’re dramatically increasing your chances of getting new followers and more profile views.
Of this collection of dance studio marketing tips, this step is especially important if you’ve created a unique hashtag. When you thank other users for weighing in on the conversation, you’re making them feel as though their message is being heard. In the future, those same people will be more likely to engage with your social media accounts.
There are a number of hashtags that have become Internet sensations. DanceFit Marketing explained that these tags can be a great starting point for your social media accounts. For example, every Thursday, people around the world tweet and post to Instagram using the hashtag #TBT. This stands for “Throwback Thursday” and is used on nostalgic posts. You could easily use this hashtag on a picture of your studio’s grand opening or first official class. There are also popular tags related specifically to dance, like #TutuTuesday, when you can post your best shots of the adorable ballerinas at your studio.
There are so many audio editing programs on the market, so how are you supposed to find the right one? If you’re looking to take your dance classes’ performances to the next level, you probably want to create some snazzy music mash ups and tweak some recital tunes (just make sure you have appropriate music licensing). There’s a music editing program for just about every skill level and budget that can help you achieve your audio goals. Use these steps to guide you through the process of choosing an editing program.
If you’re new to audio editing, there’s no need to drop big bucks on software. Video Maker explained that you should start out with a inexpensive or free program that fits your most basic needs. Make a list of the tasks you want to accomplish with the music editing program and look for those features. It’s also important to take into account the operating system that you’ll be using to do your editing. There are separate programs for Macs and PCs, and all applications will need a specific processor speed and space on the hard drive. The computer you use needs to be fast enough to run your editing software, else you’ll end up with a lot of frozen screens and headaches.
Try Free Demos
The workflow and design of a music editing program is just as important as its specs. Before you spend money on software, take advantage of any free trials or demos. Most companies will offer a limited version of the program or a timed trial, but you can get a good idea of how user-friendly the software is. You should be able to accomplish your goals quickly and efficiently, with limited help from the instruction manual. Look for a program that feels natural and intuitive for you – those are the ones that are worth spending money on.
If you’re not sure where to start in the search for editing software, ask other studio owners for recommendations. Your peers probably have valuable insight into the pros and cons of different programs.
In an interview with Dance Teacher magazine, Barry Blumenfeld, a dance teacher and professor at New York University, recommended that dance teachers check out the following editing programs.
It might be a process of trial and error, but as long as you take your time and do the necessary research, you’ll find the perfect music editing software. Before you know it, you’ll have the hottest tracks for your students and be the star of your next competition.
As your studio expands and you sign on more students, you’ll have an increasing number of parents to communicate with. Even when everything is great and students are happy, it’s easy to get bogged down by the number of texts, emails and calls you receive each day. If you value your sanity, use these six guidelines to learn how to communicate with parents of students effectively.
1. Outline Acceptable Means of Communication
From day one, you should establish preferred methods of communication with parents, taking into account their own needs and preferences. Outline what types of conversations should be handled through each outlet. If you want questions about class sent to your email but absence notifications to the office phone, note it on the studio schedule or another document that parents will keep handy. If you provide your cellphone number to parents, explain that it’s only for emergency situations. Otherwise you’ll run the risk of getting a text or call every time a parent has a question or concern. Set up similar expectations for your announcements. Let parents know that canceled classes will be relayed via email (or whatever outlet you choose), and that you’ll only call their cellphone in an urgent situation.
2. Build Trusting Relationships
Strong relationships lead to better communication. Does this mean you have to be a confidant for each and every parent? No, but you should make a point to show you’re trustworthy and encourage parents to be vocal about any problems. The first few interactions with new students and their parents are crucial in this step. Scholastic magazine recommended that you handle any issues in a discreet manner and assure parents that your teachers will do the same. Get back to parents as soon as you can, as this will show you value their willingness to communicate. Once you’ve developed trusting relationships with your customers, you’ll be in a better place to address issues and concerns.
3. Talk Early and Often
Another lesson you can learn from school teachers is that you should communicate early and often, and encourage parents to do the same. Stay on top of any problems that arise in your studio and follow through until they’re solved. Bring the issue to the attention of students, parents and teachers as soon as possible. Once you’ve devised a plan of action, follow up until you’re confident the problem has been resolved. TeachHub explained that being honest and open with parents from the start will decrease the chances that your concerns will prompt backlash from the involved parties.
4. Create Concern Forms
If you find that dancers or parents are approaching you at inconvenient times, like between classes or when you’re trying to scoot out the door, you could benefit from concern forms. Create a sheet that allows parents to write what their question or concern is about, whether it’s urgent and how they prefer to be contacted. Make the forms easily accessible, possibly in the waiting room or at the front desk, and have a designated box to collect them in. This process will ensure that you aren’t being caught off guard with problems and have enough time to think each issue through.
5. Follow the 24-Hour Rule
Sometimes issues will be complex and overwhelming, and the worst thing you can do in these situations is make a snap decision. Instead, Dance Advantage suggested that you follow the 24-hour rule. Take a day or two to think over the problem, remove your emotions from the equation and collect your thoughts. The extra time will allow you to see the big picture and find a solution that works for everyone. However, be sure to communicate to parents that you need time to think about the issue and will get back to them in a day or so, otherwise they may think you’re brushing them off.
Choosing a name for your business is one of the most exciting and challenging parts of opening a dance studio. A company’s name is an essential part of its brand, so you’ll want to give the decision some serious thought. Use these considerations to narrow down your list of potential dance studio names so you can get on your way to opening the dance studio of your dreams.
Visualize Potential Dance Studio Names
Your studio name will be everywhere – on your sign, website, social media pages, advertisements and merchandise, just to name a few. Because a company’s name is often tied in with its logo, the Small Business Administration recommended that you think about how your potential names will look visually. Consider the length of each name, the punctuation you use and how it will fit with your logo.
Think About Connotation
Have you ever seen a business with a silly or childish name and immediately written it off? Or perhaps a company that’s name made it seem pretentious? Your studio’s title will often be the first thing people see, so you want to make sure it has an appropriate connotation. The SBA explained that a business name should reflect the company’s philosophy and culture, appeal to its target market and find a balance between corporate and casual.
Do Internet Research
Once you settle on a short list of dance studio names, head to the Internet for a little bit of recon. The fact of the matter is that web presence can often make or break a new studio. You’ll want to set up a website and a couple social media accounts to start networking and reaching potential students. Take your list of names and see if your ideal URLs and social media slugs are available. If there’s another company that already using your name, consider how customers would be able to tell you apart. If you’re located in the same region and offer the same services, that name should probably be nixed. Your studio title needs to be unique in order to stand out.
Be Aware of Common Mistakes
There are a number of common blunders that entrepreneurs often make when naming their business. Two big no-nos are names that are either too vague or too specific. Entrepreneur magazine noted that companies are often tempted to squish two words together in order to stand out. But, the end product seems forced and unnatural. Similarly, you don’t want to pick a name so complicated that patrons can’t remember how to spell it. Lots of dance studios like to use puns in their names, but make sure it doesn’t cross the line into cheesy. When in doubt, ask a few friends and relatives for their opinion on your potential list of dance studio names.
Have you ever wondered how to market a dance studio using promotional products? Dance Studio Boutique noted that most people will keep a promotional product for around seven months and 62 percent of recipients are more likely to do business with the company. There are lots of high-quality items that are relatively inexpensive and easy to customize. If you have a little money left in your marketing budget, you can’t go wrong with customized promotional items.
Offer Registration Gifts
One way to put promotional products to good use to is create gift bags for new students. When parents and children register at your open house or enrollment period, offer them a goodie bag as a welcome present. You can include custom T-shirts, water bottles and key chains, or get more creative and hand out headphones and back massagers. Your new students and parents will love the free gifts and likely talk about your studio with their friends.
Build Brand Awareness
Giving parents and dancers items that are branded with your company’s name and logo is a great way to build awareness within the community. When students wear your studio’s T-shirts out in public or carry a custom gym bag in school, they’re putting your company name in front of lots of potential students. You’ll probably find that the investment is well worth the number of leads it creates. Dance Studio Owner also recommended donating personalized pencils to a local school at the beginning of the academic year or offering free promotional items at a nearby costume shop. The more people that see your name, the more inquiries you’ll have!
Motivate Your Students
Fun branded items are also a great way to motivate your students before a big performance or competition. The prospect of a reward will encourage your dancers to do their best. You can also sell merchandise to parents and fans at performances. Some studios also offer bigger promotional items, like jackets or duffel bags, to students who stay at the studio for a number of years or volunteer to assist with a novice class. These are all effective ways to get students excited about their time at your studio and increase brand awareness in the community. A small investment can often go a long way if you choose useful promotional products.
If your website is only showing up on page two or three of search engines, it may need an SEO boost. What’s SEO, you ask? It stands for “search engine optimization,” and in a nutshell, it’s the factors that help Google, Bing and other popular search sites rank their findings. SEO can be complicated, but there are a number of simple steps to take to push dance studio websites up the search engine ranks.
Focus on Local Keywords
The easiest way to improve your website’s SEO is to include keywords. They should be based on what your company has to offer and what makes you unique. Many times small businesses use general terms, like “dance studio” or “ballet classes.” While these keywords are a good start, they’re not specific enough to be helpful. In this pool, you’re competing with all the dance studios in the world! Hone down your keywords to those that pertain to your target market. Web Developer suggested starting with local SEO keywords. If you’re located in Dallas, your keywords might be “Dallas ballet studio,” “Dallas pointe classes” or “Dallas youth ballet.” You’ll want to incorporate these phrases throughout your website. Try to place keywords in your page titles, text, URLs and meta descriptions. If you’re unsure where any of these areas are, do a quick Google search or confer with a tech-savvy friend.
Increase Your Citations
Another simple way to climb the search engine ranks is to get more citations for your website. Citations are any other website where your business is mentioned. Whether it’s in an online phone directory or on a community blog, each “citation” of your business helps your SEO. Forbes magazine explained that citations are most effective when your company name is linked and accompanied by your phone number or address. The more quality citations you have, the higher your website will rank in searches. Joining your local chamber of commerce, sponsoring a community event, getting featured on a blog or even being listed in a plaza directory will all help increase your citations and SEO.
Provide Quality Content
The text on your website should be neat, clear and specific. Search Engine Watch noted that Google ranks well-written, on-topic content higher than sloppy or spammy text. You should aim to have at least 600 words per page. If some of your web pages are too short, consider combining or rewriting them. Everything should relate to your studio – no tangents! If you have a company blog associated with your website, follow the same guidelines while writing posts.
If you’re looking to wrangle some new students for the upcoming dance season, you’d better make sure your open house is one to remember. Families who are looking to enroll their children in dance class are probably shopping around for a studio, so you need to stand out from the pack. Use these dance studio open house ideas to make the most of your upcoming open house and ensure everyone has a great time.
1. Market to 2 Different People
Your marketing efforts for an open house should be focused at two groups: the parents of current students and of potential students. This means you’ll need a two-pronged approach to advertising. Dance Studio Life suggested sending postcards and emails to your current students to encourage them to attend and invite friends. If your budget is tight, stick to digital methods of advertising like newsletters and social media for this group.
You’ll need to have a more thorough marketing strategy to attract the attention of potential parents. Consider running ads in the local paper, putting your event on town calendars and posting fliers at local schools and community centers. Your ads should be highly visible to both parents and students. If there are any upcoming local events, consider doing a little in-person marketing as well.
2. Designate Times for Each Age Group
If you offer classes for dancers of different ages, it will be beneficial to have potential students come to your studio at separate times. Dance Advantage explained that it’s nearly impossible to teach a 3 year old and a preteen at the same time. Instead, set aside specific time for each demo class, information sessions and general questions. Include the schedule on your marketing materials. Taking these steps will ensure you appear professional and organized to potential parents.
3. Collect Contact Info
Even if parents don’t sign up during your event, collect their contact information. Have visitors sign in and log their email address before their child can attend a demo class. You might need to have a volunteer man the sign-in book to ensure that no one is slipping by. If you have attendees emails addresses, you can stay in contact with them and be available if they do decide to sign up. Send out a short thank-you email the day after your event and follow up in a few weeks. Don’t be too pushy, but make yourself available for any questions and feedback parents have to offer.
4. Make It Fun for Parents
While open houses mostly cater to potential students, you want the parents to have a good time too. Offer snacks and beverages, have ample seating and have volunteers chat up prospective parents. Making the parents feel welcome and comfortable can go a long way in their decision-making process. Dance Advantage also suggested that you play adult-friendly music. If you’re playing “The Wiggles” on loop, it can get annoying and cause parents to leave sooner than they planned. Try to switch up your tunes to include songs that older generations know and love, but that are still appropriate for the children.
5. Offer a Sign-Up Special
To boost the number of signups you get, offer a special deal on dance attire or class costs. Parents are more apt to commit the day of if there are savings involved. You don’t have to require people to pay any money, just take names and detailed contact information to find out who is serious about signing up. This will give you a good idea of how many new students you might be looking at and help you to get one foot in the door before the hard sell.
There are lots of different reasons you may need to write a press release for your dance studio. It’s a great way to let local media know about a big up-and-coming performance, if your studio won an award or if your students are performing at a national competition. If you know how to write a compelling press release, you can get publicity for your studio and build company awareness. Use these tips for writing press releases to hone your skills and get a little bit of free advertising.
1. Research Proper Formatting
First thing’s first. If you’ve never written a formal press release before, get yourself a template. There are lots of rules and guidelines for these documents, and you’re hurting your chances of getting published if you deviate too much. Do your research! Here are a few common formatting errors to watch for:
Use third person only. Don’t use “I,” “my,” “we” or “you.”
Keep it to one page. No exceptions.
Explain who, what, when, where and why in the first paragraph.
Include your contact information at the top and bottom of the page.
Use standard document formatting. Stick to Times New Roman, 12-point font and double spacing.
If you’re sending this to a regional publication, include a dateline.
There are also guidelines for content organization, so stick to a standard format. During your research period, reach out to the media outlets you’re targeting and ask if they have any formatting preferences or specific contacts. This shows that you’re being considerate of their time and will give you a leg up. If you’re not sure where to send your press release, start by reading a local paper. See if they run articles on businesses or human interest pieces, as those are in line with the content you’re offering. You should also look at other local publications that target families, like parenting magazines, organization newsletters, community calendars and popular blogs. Don’t be afraid to reach out to different media outlets and ask if they’d be interested in receiving your news. An article about dance might be just the change of pace they’re looking for.
2. Try to Be Objective
It’s easy to get carried away with promotional language, but press releases are supposed to be informational. You should be writing about something that the general public would be interested in knowing, whether it’s the details of an event of the specifics of an award. Stay away from self-promotion. That means limiting adjectives like “great,” “wonderful,” “can’t miss” and the like. Stick to the facts and keep your release short and sweet.
3. Be Vigilant About Spelling and Grammar
Hopefully it goes without saying, but you should be double- and triple-checking your work. A sloppy press release won’t get published, no matter how compelling the content. Journalists have too much on their plates to take the time to edit your work for grammar and spelling. As soon as they see two or three errors, your document is probably headed to the circular file. Take your time when writing, and proofread often. You would probably benefit from having an extra pair of eyes look over the final product as well.
4. Include the Right Photo
Press releases don’t require a photo, but if you have one, go ahead and include it. When choosing a photo, make sure it’s fitting and formatted appropriately for the publication. Stick to .jpeg images and provide the highest quality you have. The Guardian offered tips for writing press releases, and explained that most publications prefer images that are over 500 kilobites and at least 300 dots per inch. You should also make sure the image fits with the content. If you’re writing about an award your student won, don’t choose a group shot from the last recital. You’re better off with a headshot or action shot of that particular dancer. Finally, always include images as an attachment. If you embed pictures in a document or PDF, you’re creating more work for the journalist and hurting your chances of publication.
5. Write an Awesome Subject
Once your document is flawless and your image is securely attached, the last step is to write an email subject to shame all others. The subject of your email will determine whether it gets opened or sent to the trash, so it needs to be good. It should be accurate, concise and engaging. You want to entice your reader without making any false claims of grandeur. Also, forego using the words “Press Release” in the subject – if you do a good job, this should be obvious. A mediocre subject line might read, “X Studio will host its 25th annual charity recital.” You want to jazz it up without going overboard. A better option might be, “Young dancers from X studio plan performance for local charity.” This adds a little more interest to the title because, in the mind of a journalist, it has the makings of a great human interest piece.
6. Follow Up
Once your press release is sent, wait a couple days, then follow up with the news station to confirm they received it. Thank the journalist for his or her time and ask if there’s anything else you can provide. If your email slipped the journalist’s mind, this is a polite way to remind him or her and boosts your chances of publication. Send a thank-you email or card to any organizations that run your story. Being polite and grateful will help you to build media relationships that will make the press release process easier in the future.
When a potential client puts your studio name into a search engine, the first results will probably be your website, social media profiles and your Yelp page. Right there in the search engine listings, customers can see your star rating – from one to five – and a few key words that reviewers have posted. Yelp is definitely one of the more popular rating sites, and a lot of consumers take reviews very seriously! If you’re hovering in the one- to two-star range and your competitor has four or five, it could seriously hurt your business. Use this guide to familiarize yourself with the basics of this website and learn how to improve Yelp ratings for your dance studio without compromising your ethics.
Setting Up Yelp
If you don’t have a Yelp account, you should definitely consider signing up. It’s free to create a business profile and shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes. The only part that’s different from other social sites is that you’re required to verify your email and phone number. Once you enter your telephone number, you must be available to answer a phone call from Yelp. They’ll give you a code to enter on the website, and then your profile will be authenticated.
Once you’ve set up an account, take some time to fill out all the sections of your profile. According to Entrepreneur magazine, Yelp and other search engines rank pages higher if they’re thoroughly filled out. Include a profile picture, address, contact information, website link and hours of operation, as well as a detailed description and supplementary pictures.
How to Improve Your Yelp Rating
If your account is set up and your profile is complete, the next task is to get some reviews posted. The simplest way to do this is to ask your customers to take a minute and rate your business. Post the link to your Yelp account on your Facebook and Twitter pages so people can click right to it. Mention it to parents and students during class time as well. You can ask your instructors and vendors to write reviews too, as they can vouch for your studio’s environment and customer service. There’s no need to hound people, as your dedicated customers will be happy to do this small favor and you really only need four or five great reviews to put your studio on the map.
Another important way to improve your Yelp ratings is to check your spam filters. Like many other website, Yelp sorts out comments that seem automated or inauthentic. Fox Business explained that you should go through the reviews marked as spam, which are located at the bottom of your business page, and see if any are legitimate. The best way to get these ratings to go live is to contact flagged reviewers and ask them to add to or reword their comments.
Sticking to Yelp Ethics
The methods above are Yelp-approved promotional tactics. However, there are some other ways to improve your ratings that fall into an ethical gray area and that you should probably stay away from. Yelp is pretty firm about its policy that you can’t pay people to write reviews. You can offer incentives, like coupons, but you can’t fork over cash in exchange for a rating. This probably goes without saying, but Yelp will also take action against you, a.k.a. delete your account, if they find you’re writing fake reviews for yourself. It’s easy to create a number of different profiles to get some positive feedback, but that’s misrepresenting your studio and reflects badly on you.
If you have a vision for your dance studio but are lacking the funds to see it realized, you might be looking at grants for dance programs. There are plenty of funding opportunities available for dance studios if you know where to look, but they’re not easy to lock down. If you’re serious about making your dream into a reality, brace yourself for months of preparation and piles of paperwork and get ready to compose some killer rhetoric.
Finding the Right Grant
The first thing you’ll need to consider when you’re applying for grants for dance programs is what makes your studio stand out. Right off the bat, know that nonprofit organizations generally have more funding opportunities. However, there are some grants available to profitable organizations, assuming they are special or exemplary. If your studio works with underprivileged youth, contributes to the community or provides artistic development for children who would otherwise go without, you’re a prime candidate for funding.
When you start searching for a grant or funding program, there are a few places you can look. Large domestic organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts generally have a few funding opportunities at any given time. The NEA give grants to organizations who run special projects that make a difference in their community or field.
You can also look on the websites of national dance organizations, such as Dance USA. They will often compile lists of funding opportunities specifically for studios. Finally, check out any regional dance and arts groups, whether you’re a member or not. Websites like the New England Foundation for the Arts have a variety of funding programs for different performing artists and organizations.
The Application Process
Applying for a grant is pretty similar to the college application process: lots of forms, lots of writing and lots of painting yourself in the best light possible. Every application will be a little different, but there are a couple aspects that will be pretty uniform.
First of all, there will be strict deadlines, especially for national grants. Many times there will be staggered due dates for various parts of the application, so get a calendar and write them down! If you miss one, you’re done. It’s likely that you’ll be required to fill out some sort of federal reporting form, like an SF-424 (Application for Federal Domestic Assistance) to ensure that you really do need the money.
Finally, once you’ve finished the initial paperwork and essays, you’ll need to provide samples of your work, biographies of important individuals and statements from your customers and community members. This will probably be one of the most time-consuming aspects of your application and doing a good job is crucial to attaining funding.
Social media sites are great free marketing tools for dance studio owners. The most commonly used mediums are Facebook and Twitter, but Instagram in hot on their tails in terms of popularity. The picture-centric site can expose your company’s images to millions of dance students, parents and professionals around the world. If you’ve just created a dance studio Instagram account, use these best practices to reach a wide audience and improve your dance studio marketing.
Choosing and Altering Photos
The rules for Instagram content are very similar to those of other social media sites: Use high-quality photos, keep all posts relevant and tailor content to your audience. The need for quality images can’t be emphasized enough. Blurry, unfocused pictures come across as unprofessional and are ultimately uninteresting to your followers. Use the flash, anti-shock and framing features on your phone to take the best pictures possible. Crisp, clear photos will get the most views. Just look at the “Top Images” page on the app if you want proof.
When choosing which pictures to post and how to edit them, consider your target audience. You’ll need to decide whether you want to engage dance students, parents, industry professionals or a combination of the three. If you’re targeting students, they might respond better to dance and stretching tips. On the other hand, professionals might be interested in your marketing tactics. These same considerations should be in effect when you’re editing. Students will respond better to fun digital stickers or filters, while other studio owners might prefer plain images that are to the point.
Making the Most of Captions
A fabulous image and flawless editing aren’t enough on Instagram. Your photo captions are equally important! Top Ten Social Media explained that keywords and hashtags are how people will find your images. To make the most of your text, keep it to a few sentences with four or five hashtags. Do a little research to see what dance topics are trending, and add your input to the electronic conversation. Once you’ve been using the social media site for a few months, you’ll get a feel for what topics garner a lot of interest and which go unnoticed. This valuable insight can help you tailor your future content and engage your followers through your dance studio Instagram account.
When you’re first starting out, you’ll want to spend some time looking for inspiration. Check out the profiles of other dance studios, browse Pinterest for image ideas and research tips on photo editing. The more prep work you do, the quicker you’ll see results. Consider using these five pictures as a jumping off point for your dance studio Instagram account:
An action shot: Whether it’s from class or a performance, a great picture of a dancer in action will catch people’s attention. You can go the cutesy route with a photo of a young dancer having the time of her life or the more serious path of a talented performer executing a move perfectly.
Backstage at a recital: An image from backstage at a performance will be popular with parents and students. You can showcase costumes, makeup application or simply the excitement in your students’ eyes.
A video on stretching: Make the most of those 15 seconds and show viewers a quick an effective stretch that you use in class.
An inspirational quote: If you’re low on images, don’t be afraid to post a quote from Pinterest or We Heart It. Bonus points if you can find a quote from a popular dancer or choreographer.
A popular hashtag: There are lots of photo themes that pertain to different weekdays, like #TBT (Throwback Thursdays), and #instaballet. If you have a ballet class, participate in #TutuTuesday with a cute shot of your little dancers.
Small Biz Trends also suggested posting collages, photos of new staff members and contests on Instagram. Use a variety of content to keep your profile fresh and interesting for viewers. You can also share your uploaded photos on Facebook and Twitter. The app makes it easy to connect your different social media accounts.
Interacting with Followers
Once you have a few photos under your belt, start interacting with your dance studio Instagram followers and other people in the industry. To start out, find 10 to 20 other studios, dance professionals or photographers to follow. Be an active Instagram participant by “liking” and commenting on other people’s pictures. The more you put yourself out there, the more people will be attracted to your account. You should also try your best to respond to each comment you receive – be sure to tag the person’s username so they know you’ve replied. Interacting with your fans will help to build relationships, engage your followers and hopefully translate into some new students!
So you want to open a dance studio. First off, congratulations! Entrepreneurship takes courage and can be incredibly rewarding. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a fresh face in the industry, you can find success as a studio owner if you know what to expect, stay positive and embrace your dream. If you’re still contemplating whether the role of an owner is right for you, read these pros and cons for a little insight.
Do What You Love
Whether you’re an independent instructor or dance school alumni, one big bonus of owning your own studio is that you get to do what you love – every day! You’ll get to work with young dancers, stretch your artistic muscles and organize lots of recitals. When you’re first starting out, you’ll probably end up teaching a lot of your studio’s classes as well. If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you could spend all day in a dance studio instead of an office cubicle, this might just be your calling. However, if the thought of working with kids every day scares you, you might be on the wrong track.
Your Work is Never Done
If you’re transitioning from independent instructor to studio owner, you’ll be shocked at how much work there is to do. When you open a dance studio, you’ll teaching classes, handling finances, creating marketing content, organizing human resources, responding as customer service, event planning and more. The blogger behind Confessions of a Dance Studio Owner explained that she works longer hours than her instructors and always has items left on her “to-do” list. It’s a lot of work, but you also get control over many more things than when you work for someone else. You’ll have the final say on studio aesthetic, class sizes and schedules, fees, performance spaces, marketing, fundraising and more.
A ‘Mom-Friendly’ Job
If you love kids, both your own and other people’s, starting a dance studio is a good option for you. Not only do you get to be around young, vivacious students every day, you also will have greater flexibility with your own kids. No one will bat an eye if you bring your kids to work or let them sit in on your class. Owning your own studio will save you money on daycare and give you more free time during the summer.
Be Prepared for Mama Drama
With all the wonderful enthusiastic kids come demanding parents. The majority of your parents will be happy as long as their dancer is happy, but you’ll definitely encounter some “mama drama” that will make your head spin. As a teacher, you can pass off serious squabbles to the studio owner. As a studio owner, all those issues land right in your lap. Before you open your own studio, make sure that customer service is something you’re ready to commit to. Parents are paying customers and have the right to make their concerns and suggestions heard. It’s not the most glamorous part of the job, but mitigating conflict in your studio is crucial to its success.
Still Not Sure?
If you’re still on the fence about whether you should open a dance studio, Dance Teacher Magazine suggested that you would benefit from working at one. Being an apprentice at a successful dance studio is the perfect way to learn about the different jobs and responsibilities an owner faces. This is also a good way to learn about the “business” side of entrepreneurship, which many dance instructors are shielded from. A mentor can help you figure out whether ownership is the right path for you. However, as a professional courtesy, you should avoid being an apprentice at a studio that would be your direct competition.