Growing your studio doesn’t have to be stressful, right?
There’s got to be a better way; a better way to streamline marketing and sales, and get more students… right?
Yep, there is…
Hey, I’m Austin Roberson—Founder & CEO of Studio Studio, the all-in-one marketing automation tool for studios, and in this video, I’ll share with you my unique approach to growing your studio & scaling up fast.
Maybe you’re in a place where you’re already successful, but you constantly feel behind…
Or perhaps you’re growing quickly, but so is your to-do list…
Or maybe you’ve got a different problem because, for whatever reason, you can’t seem to get more students than you had last year so every year ends up the same 😩
These 5 pillars will help you build the foundation for rapid studio growth, so that you can stress less, get more students, and scale up fast!
With increased consumer engagement rapidly expanding in the digital sphere, how do we create purposeful boundaries and opportunities for engagement in our dance studios? The line between the personal and professional can often be blurry in this sphere, and it’s caused a serious digital dilemma. If we embrace the strategic potential of the platform versus resisting change, it can result in exciting and meaningful growth for our businesses.
THE DIGITAL DILEMMA:
The ability for us to “be connected” all the time is certainly a recognized dilemma in our society. While it is amazing to have the ability to remotely check-in, it is also putting a strain on our mental health and emotional well-being. Purposeful boundaries are necessary in order for us to continue thriving in our businesses, our creativity, and our personal lives.
In the New Year, try the following:
Schedule Phone-Free Times Each Day
Schedule Email Checkpoints to Refrain from Constantly Refreshing Your Device
Make Your Time Spent Online Intentional: Try to Refrain from Mindless Scrolling.
Set Boundaries (and Enforce Them) re: Social Media Engagement. Business Questions should be handled via email or through the office.
Make Sure You Maintain and Enjoy Non-Digital Activities
Keep Dance Classes a Digital Distraction-Free Space (for students + instructors)
THE DIGITAL STRATEGY:
Want to continue the conversation? Join us on Instagram Live at @stagedoordanceproductions on Thursday, January 30th at 1pm (EST) for digital tips and techniques that have worked for us!
Looking for more great ideas to navigate the Digital Dilemma at your studio? Check out the following articles:
YOUR DANCE SCHOOL WEBSITE = YOUR INTERNET STOREFRONT
The Internet is here to stay, so instead of avoiding cyberspace, dance studios should embrace the endless marketing opportunities available. There are numerous ways to increase exposure, strengthen your brand, and provide insight into your programming. Most online options are an incredibly reasonable expense, especially after doing a cost-benefit analysis in potential for strengthening, growing, and building your brand.
Your storefront defines your business within your community. Your website defines your business within the Internet. Your website should be taken seriously; spend the money to make it look professional, intellectual, and representative of the product you are offering your clients. When you are representing your business, you should have a cohesive graphic identity and that should flow from your print marketing to your website design. It is your responsibility to make sure everything makes sense to the consumer.
Within the dance studio world, there are a variety of websites, some effective and some ineffective, and because we are in the arts industry, studio owners tend to devalue the importance of their web presence. This is a huge mistake! Your dance school website could influence a prospective client’s decision to choose your studio versus another studio or extracurricular activity.
Here are some things to consider during your website design process:
The appearance of your website is the first thing that will catch a viewer’s eye, and it will also influence whether or not the viewer chooses to continue reading the information your site provides. Your online appearance is of vital importance.
Hire a web designer: Free, homemade, or cheap-looking sites are not acceptable for your business. If you want your clients to take you seriously, design and brand your website in a professional manner.
Keep your site updated. An outdated or neglected website is a disservice to your brand and will only negatively impact you. Make sure you have a format that is user-friendly for updates and regularly skim the site for outdated content.
Be aware of the design quality. In the dance world, we love bright, crazy colors and sparkly things. Your website may not be the best avenue to showcase that love, so when designing your site, think “less is more.” Less vibrant tones will be more visually appealing to your site visitors.
Use proper grammar and spelling. This would seemingly be stating the obvious, but there are many dance studio websites with improper grammar and spelling. Ultimately, this is a poor reflection on the studio, so when preparing your written content for the website, please proofread and check for grammatical errors (often, it takes two, three, or more people to sufficiently proofread content).
Make sure your site offers easy, logical navigation options with a sleek and clean design. If your site is cluttered, it will be frustrating for clients to navigate.
Use your own content. Do NOT copy and paste materials from other studios’ websites. Be creative, be original, and create content that exclusively represents your studio and your business. On a similar topic, you should only use photos that actually represent your business; stock photos or photos from another studio are not an accurate representation and should not be used to promote your business.
Dance School Website Content
Your website content should be informative, accurate, and thorough. If a person visits your website, you should be willing to provide all of the information necessary to enroll and be a part of your program. Being evasive with your information is not an efficient way to promote your program or your business. Providing commonly requested information will also decrease time spent informing new or potential clients about your programming (since they will have access to that information).
When building your dance school website, you should include:
Your location and contact info on every page; people should be able to easily connect with you via your site.
Links to your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blog, photo sites, etc.)
Information about the people that currently work at your studio: owners, directors, and instructors.
Information about your business: mission statement, class descriptions, facility photos, testimonials, and contact links.
Class schedules presented and formatted in an easy to read and easy to find format that makes sense to non-dancers (remember, the majority of your parents will not be experienced dance professionals).
Online Registration! Make it easy for people to register for classes.
Information about your studio’s special events (intensives, workshops, open houses), performances, special offerings (birthday parties, private lessons, etc.), community service, and anything else that is important to the culture of your brand.
Your studio’s policies and calendar. (If this information is on your website, people will not have an excuse for not knowing.)
Photos and videos taken from within your studio (with parental permission and acknowledgement).
Contact form that makes it easy for people to communicate with you.
When people visit your site, it should be informative and functional in the following ways:
Visitors should gain a solid knowledge of the overall culture and brand of your studio. They should know your complete expectations for enrollment, tuition, recital participation, etc.
Visitors should be able to register students for classes.
Visitors should be informed about upcoming events, schedules, and calendar.
101 MARKETING IDEAS & STRATEGIES FOR DANCE STUDIOS
2. Ink Pens
3. Lunch Boxes
4. Beach Towels
7. Personalized Folders
8. Dance Bags
9. Car Magnets
10. Water Bottles
11. Sweat Pants
12. Jazz Pants
13. Athletic Shorts
14. Demo Days at Preschools
15. Country Club Programs
16. In-Studio Rewards Program
17. Community Performances
18. Community Choreography
19. Brochures & Posters in the Community
20. Demo Classes to Mothers’ Groups
21. Yard Signs
22. Children’s Books with Studio Labels Donated to Your Local Pediatrics Facility & Doctors’ Offices
23. Cards on Cars
24. Cards on Mailboxes
25. Setting Up Tables at Craft Fairs/Festivals
26. Setting Up Tables at Community Events (5Ks, etc.)
27. Parade Participation
28. Lollipop Tree
29. Email Messaging Infrastructure
30. In-Studio Flyers/Information to Current Clients
31. Birthday Cards/Notes to Dancers
32. Cross-Promotional Opportunities (Theatres, Shopping Center Events)
33. Donate to Auctions/ Raffles
34. Place a Box Outside of Your Studio with Information
35. Promote Complimentary Trial Classes
36. Use a Cell Phone to Be More Accessible Outside of the Studio
37. Respond to Emails Within 24 Hours
38. Promptly Return Calls
39. Have a Website
40. Have a ‘Contact Us’ Form on Your Website
41. Utilize An Easy to Spell URL on Your Website
42. Place Pricing on Website
43. Place Easy to Read Schedules on Your Website
44. Regularly Check and Review Your Website for Current Information
45. Use Facebook Pages for Your Studio
46. Maintain a Twitter Account
47. Consider Instagram & Pinterest for Your Studio
48. Determine What Form of Social Media Engages Your Audience (Photos, Shared Posts, etc.)
49. Have A Personal LinkedIn Page
50. Have a Professional LinkedIn Page
51. Claim Your Google Place
52. Use Google AdWords
53. Maintain Awareness of Online Reviews
54. Respond to Negative Online Reviews
55. Send Press Releases to News Outlets for Accomplishments
56. Open Houses & Festivals
57. Competitive Performances
58. Step & Repeat
59. Donation Drives
60. Join a Dance Educators Organization
61. Join a Community Service/Business Organization
62. Costume Selection
63. Cleanliness and Appearance of Your Studio
64. Your In-Studio Organization and Strategies
65. Welcome Packets
66. Class Placements and Recommendations
67. Recital DVD
68. Recital Pictures
69. Recital Performance
70. Buttons & Bands
71. Registration Gifts
72. Sibling Discount
73. Brand & Logo Consistency
74. Connect with Local Arts Organizations
75. Flash Mobs
76. Wedding Lessons
77. Birthday Parties
78. Friendly, Helpful, Professional Office Staff
79. Creative Class Offerings
80. Guest Artists
81. Seminars (Nutrition, Businesses, etc.)
82. Partnership with Dance Retailers
83. Staff Logo Wear
84. Staff & Student Dress Code
85. Advance Information and Organization
86. Attend Reputable Quality Events
87. Set Exceptional Standards for Time Management
88. Never Cancel An Event or Class Except Under Extenuating Circumstances
89. Set Social Media Expectations for Your Staff
90. Set Social Media Expectations for Your Team
91. Set Social Media Expectations re: Photography & Videography
92. Be A Role Model
93. Constantly Commit Yourself to Evolving and Improving
94. Re-freshen Your Facility When It Needs It
95. Involve Your Studio In Schools
96. Involve Your Studio with Local Print Media
97. Involve Your Studio with Your Alumni
98. Set a Budget & Maximize Your Cost Per Impression 99. ASK How People Heard About You 100. Keep In Mind that Word of Mouth is HUGE!
101. EVERYTHING IS MARKETING!
You’ve jumped and soared to incredible heights throughout your dance career, but now it’s time to make your biggest leap yet. With a love of dance and a passion for sharing it with others, you’ve decided to open your own brand new studio.
Editor’s Note: Since the publication of this article, TutuTix has created an even more in-depth resource for studio owners looking to take their studios to the next level. It even includes an example business plan for a new dance studio!
Starting a dance studio involves considering a wide variety of categories that concern everything from advertising methods to payment processing systems. It’s a lot to think about, but following a checklist will help make the process a little less stressful. We’ve outlined the major categories involved in how to start a dance studio, and the smaller tasks that they encompass:
Of course, after passion and determination, the most important thing you need to open a dance studio is money! While you can’t predict every expense, try to prevent surprises.
Hiring a financial advisor is a smart move to make sure that you have sufficient savings to not only start your dance studio but continue operating it for the long-term. An advisor can also help you determine if you need to take out loans to help finance your business.
The first category you need to consider when starting a dance studio is location. You need to reconcile your studio’s ideal location with the facility size and layout that best suits your needs.
A studio located in a populated, busy area that’s visible to passing traffic will get you noticed the most and draw in more customers. The location should also be in a neighborhood that’s safe for children. Research the demographics of the area and how many other dance studios are located in the proximity.
When looking at building layout, consider how many rooms you want the studio to have and the number of office spaces, storage rooms and bathrooms needed. Make sure the lobby and reception area is spacious enough to be comfortable.
Your studio will also need to have more than enough parking spots to accommodate not only the daily class load but the added influx of parents and students during performances and other special events.
A strong, well-developed brand communicates who you are and what you have to offer to clients. Branding involves a range of duties, including choosing the decor of the studio, deciding on a name and creating a unique logo and sign.
You should create a business plan early on, and in this plan outline your mission statement, values and goals. Think about what makes you and your teaching style unique and valuable to students. Make sure you dedicate ample resources to advertising, because you will have to rely on it as a new and unknown studio.
Create business cards, brochures, a company website and advertising campaigns on social media sites. Contact local schools and community groups to investigate opportunities for partnerships and collaboration, and see if you can participate set up a table at at town events like festivals and parades. Hold an open house day, and consider offering incentives for signing up for classes on the day, like studio-branded dance gear or a discounted tuition rate.
A strong brand helps customers recognize the value of your services, so don’t skimp on getting your name out there.
Starting any kind of business is a confusing and taxing process that gets even more complicated when you add in all the legal mumbo jumbo. Consider hiring a lawyer to help you deal with these complexities.
A lawyer can read over and advise you on the lease of your building, and can help you make sure that you register your business correctly. Take out an insurance policy and draw up waivers and other necessary forms to help protect and support your studio.
Enlist the help of other legal and business professionals to ensure that your studio complies with all health, safety and environmental standards and that you possess all necessary permits and music licenses.
Order and install the big pieces of your studio, like padded or marley floors, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and barres. Buy a sound system for the studio, and sound-proof each studio room as much as you can to cut down on excess noise and distraction.
Is there sufficient lighting in classrooms, throughout the building and in parking lots? Beyond dance equipment, you also need the basic equipment required for running a business, like a computer system, studio-management software and payment processing system.
In order to accept credit card payments, you’ll have to register merchant accounts with the major providers. Install locks and a security system in the studio to help ensure it is safe and protected. You’ll need to maintain your studio, too, so set up regular shipments of cleaning supplies and restroom products. And don’t forget WiFi!
“Establish your studio policies early on.”
Think about all the things that will be necessary for you to successfully run your new studio. Establish your studio policies early on, including tuition rates and attendance and discipline rules.
Create your schedule, deciding when the registration period for classes will be, how many and which types of classes you will offer each week and when and where performances will be held throughout the year. Create a document including your policies and calendar and make copies.
Determine how many instructors and staff you will need to cover all your classes and what experience and skills you require, and hire those that are a good fit with the culture and attitude of your studio.
For more in-depth information on starting a dance studio, take a look at our Studio Start-Up blog category, or choose from any of the articles below:
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?
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!
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.
Nothing sells your dance studio to prospective students quite like a perfectly captured photograph. Maybe it’s all your dancers smiling during their final recital number or a great shot of a tumbler in action. Whatever your favorite pictures may be, they’re likely an essential part of your marketing strategy. But sometimes pictures need a little help before they can wow your audiences. Capturing action shots is tricky to begin with and even more difficult when you’re in a dark auditorium. That’s why it’s important for studio owners to learn how to artfully manipulate digital photographs with editing software. Not sure where to start? Here’s a guide with dance photography tips that will help you capture the best pictures and transform them into invaluable works of art.
How to Get the Best Pictures
Just like with choreography or any other work of art, the better your materials are, the more impressive the final product will be. You’re not going to create a breath-taking performance with lackluster tricks, and you probably won’t end up with an amazing photograph if you start out with a sub-par snapshot.
With that in mind, use this tips to get the best pictures possible:
Use a digital single-lens reflex camera, also called a DSLR, if possible. These cameras are easy to use and capture much clearer pictures than point-and-shoot cameras.
You’ll want to put your camera on the highest ISO setting, which will make the camera more sensitive to light and therefore better able to capture quick snapshots of moving subjects.
Try to take photos in quick bursts so you have a number of action shots to choose from. A fast shutter speed will improve the clarity of these pictures.
Don’t get stuck in one spot. Move around to capture different angles so you have pictures from every side.
Try to take pictures both close up and far away. To accomplish this, you can either use the zoom function or simply move closer to the stage.
Choosing an Editing Program
Before you can start digitally altering your photographs, you’ll need to find editing software. There are many great programs available, and there are options to fit just about every budget. Software like Apple’s Photos is free for Mac users, as are online programs like Pixlr and Photobucket. If you’re willing to spend some money for a more high-tech option, look into Adobe Photoshop Elements or Pixelmator, both of which have low one-time fees.
Whatever program you choose, you’ll need a few key feature editing capabilities. Look for software that offers the following tools:
Shadow and highlight adjustment
White balance adjustment
Sharpen and blurring
“Photo editing is often learned through trial and error.”
How to Edit a Photograph Step-by-Step
Now that you have a host of pictures and editing software, it’s time to start learning the ropes. For many amateurs, editing pictures is a trial-and-error style process. You have to figure out the flow that works for you! Here are a few guidelines to get you started.
1. Upload and Store Your Images
You’ll need to transfer your pictures from the camera onto the computer, whether it’s through a USB cord or the Cloud. Once they’re uploaded to the computer, create a file for the original images and label the folder clearly so you can quickly find them later on.
2. Pick Out Superior Snapshots
If you have dozens of images to chose from, you can make your job a little easier by doing an initial run-through of all the pictures. Find five or six photos that are clear and focused, and separate them into a new folder. These will be the images that you edit.
3. Crop and Straighten
Start by using the cropping tool to cut off any empty space in the picture. It’s often better to have a close-up view of your subjects than to have them get lost in a big background. You’ll also want to use a straightening tool to level the horizons of your photo. If the picture is on a slant, tilt it so the dancers are standing tall.
4. Adjust the Levels
Now comes the tricky part. There are many different levels that you can adjust in a photograph, including exposure, brightness, white balance, sharpness, shadows, highlights and more. Some pictures may not need adjustment in these departments, but you can fool around with the aspects to see how you can improve the photo.
In general, you may want to tinker with the white balance so that any white objects appear clearly and aren’t tinted by the stage or studio lights. You can also sharpen the image a bit if it’s unclear or blurry. This is also a good time to remove red eye from any of your subjects and smooth out blemishes on any close-up shots.
5. Save or Scrap Your Edits
The great thing about digital photo editing is that it’s easy to revert back to the original picture if your edits don’t come out right. Keep working at your editing skills, and soon you’ll discover that with a few quick tweaks, your photos look as if they were shot by a professional.
Chances are that, like most dance studios around the country, your cash flow drops during the summer. You may host dance camps and a few summer classes, but you won’t be as busy as you are during the school year. Just because your studio has hit its seasonal lull doesn’t mean you can’t continue to market your business and services. In fact, summer is the perfect time to hone in on some of your marketing tactics and see how you can revamp them for the seasons to come. Here are five dance studio marketing ideas for specific areas that you may want to focus on while you have a little extra time this summer.
1. Work on SEO
Search engine optimization best practices are always changing and evolving. The strategies that may have boosted your website in search last year may actually be hurting it this year. That’s why you should take time this summer to read up on SEO and how you can improve your studio’s site. Here are some of our SEO tips for beginners, but you may also want to look into mobile optimization, keyword strategies and best landing page structures.
2. Set Up a Referral Program
If you don’t have a student referral program, set one up this summer! The Dallas Chronicle explained that referrals are one of the most cost-efficient ways to bring in new students without shelling out a ton of money for advertisements. Think about what you could offer students who refer friends to your studio – discounted tuition? Free merchandise? Free recital tickets? Whatever you choose, just make sure that it’s valuable enough to be appealing to your dancers, but not so generous that you’ll wind up regretting it.
3. Create Testimonial Videos
You probably have some great videos stored on your phone or computer from seasons past, so why not put them to good use? Gather your videos together in one place and work to compile short films that you can display on your website. You may also want to see if a few of your long-time dancers are willing to sit down and talk about their experiences at your studio. A compelling testimonial video will likely perform well on your website and social media pages.
4. Work on Your Brand
Small businesses are always growing and evolving, and it’s essential that you keep your brand consistent across all forms of communication. If you haven’t had the time to upload your new logo onto your email newsletter or are still using outdated class prices on your website, take time this summer to update all these little inconsistencies. It may not seem like such a big deal, but potential customers are more apt to trust your business if they receive consistent messages about who you are and what you do.
5. Keep Up Your Newsletter
Your summertime marketing should ideally grab the attention of prospective students, but you also want to keep your current dancers engaged. That’s why it’s crucial to keep up your studio newsletter during the summer. Send out updates about what’s going on in the classroom during the warmer months, changes that you’ll be making for coming seasons, what other dancers are doing at summer intensives or even just tips on how dancers can stay in shape over break.
Don’t have a newsletter? Create one soon! There’s no excuse not to take advantage of this easy marketing strategy, as free platforms like MailChimp provide you with all the tools you need to put together a professional, polished email blast.
The importance of a strong studio website can’t be overstated in today’s digital world. Potential dance students will likely check out your studio’s online presence before committing to classes, so you should do everything possible to make sure your site can effectively convert viewers. One important aspect of an effective studio website that often gets overlooked is the call-to-action.
This marketing tool, often referred to as a CTA, is a small but crucial part of your dance school’s webpages. If you’re uncertain about how to use CTAs, this guide will explain how to implement them onto your studio website.
Define Your Online Goals
Before you can create CTAs for your website, you’ll need to figure out your goals for the site. Your overarching objective is likely to generate new student leads, but you probably have supplementary goals as well.
Start by outlining how you would like prospective students to interact with the site. Once they reach your home page, it’s generally good if they view your “About” page and maybe then your class schedule. Then what do you want them to do? Fill out a contact form? Call the office? Send you an email? Figure out what your preferred method of communication is with leads and make a note of this.
Your website can also help to keep current students and parents engaged with your school. Think about what you’d like these visitors to do when they visit your site. Have you been trying to get more people to sign up for your newsletter? Or maybe you want to get more parents to connect with you on social media? These are both objectives that you can further with CTAs, so jot them down!
Determine Your Main Call-To-Action
Once you’ve outlined your goals, it’s time to put together your CTAs. HubSpot explained that effective CTAs are buttons or links that capture people’s attention and get them to take action. It’s best to keep the copy for your CTA under five words. That may seem like a tiny amount of text, but it’s easier than you might think. For example, if you determined that you want prospective students to call your studio so you can connect with them quickly, your CTA might be a button that says “Call today for more information!” It’s short, sweet and to the point.
Create Supplementary Calls-To-Action
You’ll also want to figure out a few effective CTAs for your supplementary website goals. If you’re aiming to connect with people on social media, your button might read “Like XYZ Studio on Facebook” or “Get daily updates on Twitter.” Similarly, you can encourage people to sign up for your newsletter with a CTA that reads “Register to receive email updates.” As you can see, these phrases are succinct, actionable and set clear goals for the viewer.
Add the Assets to Your Studio Website
Once you’ve figured out how your CTAs will read, it’s time to place them on your website. If you work with a graphic designer or developer, work together to design CTA buttons that will work with the aesthetic of your site. However, there are also many websites that offer free CTA templates, like these ones from HubSpot, so you can still have professional-looking features on your site if you curate it yourself.
When it comes to the actual placement of the buttons, Econsultancy explained that case studies have shown CTAs are more effective when they come after your product description. So you may want to place your main CTA at the bottom of your “About” page or toward the bottom of each class description.
As for the CTAs targeted at current students and parents, try to place them in areas of your site that these visitors are more likely to use. If you have a parent login page, this would be a great spot for a CTA promoting your newsletter or social media sites. Another strategic placement option would be alongside studio updates or on a ticket-purchasing page.
When you’re in the process of opening a dance studio, there are many, many decisions to be made. While you think about names and locations, you’ll also need to take the general dance studio curriculum into consideration. Today, there are two main categories of dance classes – competition and recreational. It’s important to decide if your studio is going to cater to just one of these types or offer both options to dancers. It goes without saying that it’s a big decision! Here are some considerations to take into account when deciding what type of dance classes to hold in your new studio.
Studios that boast recreational programs often work with a wide variety of students. You can offer lots of different class genres and have different skill levels, but the bottom line is that your dancers aren’t pressured to perform competitively. Aspire Dance Academy noted that in its recreational dance program, students are guided toward their fitness goals in a more relaxed class atmosphere. At the end of each season, recreational students usually perform in a recital to show off their skills to family and friends.
The major difference with competitive dance is that there’s a greater financial and time commitment, both for students and the studio. In addition to offering a set number of competition classes each week, you’ll have to take into account the costs of entering, preparing for and traveling to competitions with your dancers. However, the opportunity to perform in front of new audiences and compete around the country is often appealing to many students. If you’re on the fence about offering competitive dance at your studio, it can often be helpful to talk to other studio owners for a first-hand account of the pros and cons.
Consider Your Target Market
As with any big decision when it comes to your studio, you need to take your target market into account. Think about the students who you believe will attend your studio. If they’re dedicated athletes, chances are there will be lots of interest in a competition program. On the other hand, if you’re catering to mostly preschoolers, it may be best to start off with just recreational classes. You should also take into account the other dance schools in your area and the classes they offer – if there are lots of recreational studios, but no competition programs, competitive dance could very well be a profitable niche.
The more information you can gather about the needs of your community, the better informed you will be when it comes to making decisions about your studio’s curriculum. If you really aren’t sure about what types of classes potential students would be interested in, it would probably be beneficial to do a little bit of research, either by surveying local students or simply talking to parents in the community.
Quality Across the Board
No matter which path you choose for your studio, it’s important to realize that you should focus on providing the best quality instruction possible. The Dance Exec blog noted that sometimes the dance industry views recreational classes as less technical and informative than competitive classes. However, if you want to run a competitive business, it’s important that all your courses offer the same high-quality instruction. A good measure of if your recreational classes are up to snuff with your competitive offerings is if groups of dancers with similar skill levels can perform together harmoniously at an end-of-season recital.
A viral video can do wonders for any brand. However, even if you don’t film the next YouTube sensation, you should still be using clips of life at your dance studio to engage your social media followers and reel in new customers. Video Brewery estimated that website visitors are 64 percent more likely to purchase services or products after they watch a branded video, and many marketers tout video marketing as one of the best ways to engage viewers. That’s all great in theory, but the truth is that some people are all thumbs when it comes to filming videos. If you’re struggling to capture clips that reflect well on your studio and capture the interest of online viewers, use these five tips to produce better dance studio videos.
1. Quality is King
A video that is unfocused, pixelated and shaky isn’t going to be enjoyable for viewers to watch. You don’t need to have professional video equipment, but try your best to shoot high-quality clips. The latest generations of smartphones have impressive video capabilities, so be sure to focus the lens and frame your subject when capturing video. If you’re working with a camera, you may want to pick up an inexpensive tripod to help stabilize your shots.
Que Publishing noted that shooting the right size video can also make a big difference in your results. YouTube’s default size is 320 pixels wide and 240 pixels tall, so this should be your minimum constraint. Whenever possible, shoot clips horizontally so you’re filling up a viewer’s entire screen.
2. Aim for Short and Sweet
10-minute dance studio videos of rehearsal might be enjoyable for parents, but that’s probably the only people who will watch it. Video Brewery noted that you’ll quickly lose viewers after your videos hit the one-minute mark. Short, impactful videos are also shared more frequently. Try to cut your clips down and frame only the highlights for viewers. This will help deliver your message with a powerful punch.
3. Shoot Often
You’ve probably told your students that practice makes perfect, and the same holds true for your video skills. The more frequently you work with your recorder, the more comfortable you’ll become and the more great shots you’ll capture. Try to pick up your camera or phone at least once a day and shoot a few frames. You’ll quickly build up a library of great clips that showcase the best parts of your studio. These are valuable to have stored away if you ever decide to compile in-depth marketing videos.
4. Show, Don’t Tell
The best videos capture some sentiment or activity that wouldn’t be adequately explained in words or pictures. One Market Media explained that you shouldn’t use videos to simply dictate information to viewers. The content should be instrumental in giving people insight into your studio’s culture or services. Some good examples might be a particularly well-executed combination or a great client testimonial. However, be sure that testimonials aren’t overly scripted, or else they may come across as phony.
5. Be Sure to Share
The ways your promote your dance studio videos are as important as the quality and content of the film. Don’t expect people to find your YouTube account – instead, share videos on social media like Facebook and Twitter. If you create longer films, you may want to imbed them in your website’s landing pages to supplement your promotional material. When more people see your videos, they’ll be more likely to share with friends and family, thereby optimizing the impact of the clip. However, don’t forget to have students and their parents sign release waivers so you can use your videos for promotional purposes.