Music Teacher Branding: Essential Guide
When stepping into the online music teaching world, you’ll need to spend time developing your website, social media platforms, and email newsletter.
These technical items are essential to getting your business off the ground, reaching potential followers, and students.
But, having a good looking website, well designed social media pages, and a regular newsletter won’t guarantee you success.
These are only the platforms from which you’ll build success.
But, there’s one item that’s more important than all of these in regard to finding this success, your music teacher branding.
Music teacher branding is how people view your business, and to a great extent you as an online music teacher.
It’s the reputation you build through your online interactions with followers, your articles, your videos, and your products and services online.
In today’s world of total Internet connectivity, where even our appliances are now hooked up to the net, your online brand and reputation is more important than ever.
And, it’s something that many people ignore, or don’t put enough effort into, when building an online music teaching business.
This lack of effort leads to negative effects on their business, and can often lead to websites that had great potential becoming neglected or shutting down completely.
As everything you do online will affect your brand in a positive or negative way, it’s important to have a clear vision of your music-teaching brand from day one.
Then, you can spend your time and efforts building a brand that you’re proud of, rather than letting things happen by chance, or not happen at all.
As you’ll learn, music teacher branding means your logo and website design, but it also means how you interact with others, and how you present yourself to the online community.
Your brand is how you look online from a visual perspective, but also, and more importantly, how others perceive your online teaching materials and output.
In this article, you’ll learn how to plan your music-teaching brand, how to use online platforms to turn that vision into reality, and how to be consistent with your brand.
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Music Teacher Branding You’re Proud Of
One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting an online business is creating a brand they think people will like, rather than one they’re proud of.
This is the same as writing a pop record when you’re a classical pianist because you think people will like it more than Bach.
Or, if you’ve decided to switch to electric keyboard because you think it’ll reach more people than a piano, even though you don’t really like keyboard that much.
Making decisions based on what other people might enjoy more is never a good idea when it comes to music, and the same goes for your online business.
Instead, by building a brand that you’re proud of, you’ll not only have a better chance of success, you’ll enjoy the process of building your brand that much more.
If you think about it for a minute, what would you rather sacrifice for, something you love, or something you think other people will love?
For the majority of people, they’d give up their evenings and weekends, get up early, and sacrifice their social lives for something they love.
Though it’s tough to make those sacrifices, they’d feel better in the end for doing so if they can build a music-teaching brand and business they’re proud of.
For these reasons, it’s important to define what your want your brand to be before setting off and launching your business.
By determining your focus early, you’ll be able to build an effective blueprint for how to proceed with your business, rather than playing it by ear as you go.
This section of the article will break down different ways that you can find your uniqueness, showcase your excellence, and build a brand you’re proud of online.
No matter which way you decide to go with your brand, if you stay true to yourself, believe in yourself, and don’t compromise, you’ll sleep a lot better at night.
And, you’ll have a much better chance of building a lasting online music teaching business in the process.
What Makes You Unique as a Music Teacher?
One of the toughest things you’ll do as a music teacher is find what makes you unique in your teaching approach and philosophy.
This is especially difficult when teaching an instrument such as classical piano or violin, as there are teaching methods that have been around for hundreds of years.
Being able to distinguish yourself, and your method of teaching, will give your music-teaching brand a huge boost both online, and offline, during your career.
While you may know that finding uniqueness to your music teaching is helpful, you may not know how to go about finding what makes you unique.
Finding uniqueness to your teaching doesn’t always mean reinventing the wheel and staring a completely new approach to teaching your instrument.
Yes, it can be helpful to your brand if you can come up with the next Suzuki method of teaching your instrument, and you should pursue that angle if you do.
But, you don’t have to invent a new approach to teaching to be unique.
For most teachers, finding new approaches to old teaching techniques, or coming at material from a slightly new and unique angle can be the uniqueness you need.
First ask yourself:
“Is there something I do in my teaching, even something small, that’s different from what I’ve seen other teachers on my instrument do?”
If so, no matter how small that difference is, that can by your uniqueness.
Once you find that something, that one thing, no matter how small, that makes you unique, expand upon it and use it to build your online music-teaching brand.
If you have a unique way of teaching scale fingerings on piano for example, an exercise or system that you’ve developed that’s effective and yours, brand it.
You don’t have to make that scale system the sole focus of your online music teaching output, but it should be a big part of it, as it makes you unique.
Write lessons based around that method, record videos demonstrating it for viewers, and create your first product based around that scale method.
If you can associate your name and your business with a unique and effective way of learning music, it’ll grow your music-teaching brand faster than anything else.
Then, over time, as your teaching grows and you develop more unique approaches to your teaching, you can use those to expand your online brand and output.
It can be difficult to find a unique way to teaching music, especially in systems that have been around for hundreds of years.
But, finding something that you do differently, no matter how small, and using that as the focus of your music teacher branding can build a business that lasts a long time.
Students don’t need another product on how to play pentatonic scales on guitar, for example, there are already too many of them.
But, if you have a slightly different way of teaching pentatonic scales, that’s been effective with your students, this is worth showcasing.
Spend some time early in your business development stage to brainstorm and really look closely at what you do as a teacher that is unique from others.
Then, make that the initial focus of your business.
Again, it doesn’t have to be the sole focus of your music teaching output, but building a business around a unique idea is easier than a general idea every day.
If You Can’t be Unique, Be Excellent
For some music teachers, especially those who teach within a structured system, being unique might not be the best option.
An example of this would be a teacher that follows a specific method of musical development, such as the Royal Conservatory grade system.
While there’s some room for uniqueness, a system like RCM is very structured with pieces, scales, and other technical devices pre-determined for each grade.
When teaching in a system such as RCM, or where you need to teach specific requirements for exams, being excellent is usually better than being unique.
In these cases, focusing on achieving excellence in your teaching, such as a 100% success rate for students on exams, can quickly grow your online teaching business.
Rather than finding unique ways to teach the material, as it’s pre-determined, finding ways to achieve excellence, with consistency, in the exams is better.
Another example would be if you specialize in preparing students for post-secondary music program auditions.
Again, in this case being unique might not be the best approach, as Universities, Colleges, and Conservatories usually have specific requirements for their auditions.
Instead, building your brand as someone who knows how to prepare students for these auditions, and has a high success rate, is more effective than being unique.
There are times when reinventing the wheel is necessary, and a boost for your music-teaching brand if it becomes associated with you and your teaching.
But, in other instances, producing consistent results is what makes you stand out in the online music-teaching crowd.
Don’t be afraid to avoid invention in the face of excellence.
If you’re good at something, becoming great at it won’t hurt your business, even if you don’t develop a totally unique approach to teaching music.
Excelling within a system such as RCM or audition preparation, will allow you to grow your online music teaching business as much as anyone else.
So, if you teach in one of these systems, focus on producing consistent results with your students, and then showcase those results to build your brand.
As you need people to see your excellence as a teacher within these systems to grow your business, you’ll need to highlight your successes on your online platforms.
This could mean having the words “100% RCM Exam Success Rate” in big, bold letters on your website and social networks to inform readers of your excellence.
Or, it could mean having a page where you list the achievements of your students on various exams, with quotes from students about how you helped them succeed.
It could also mean having a page on your website where you layout how you prepare students for their exams, and why that’s been successful for others.
You could even film a few videos of you preparing students for exams, showcasing the mastery you have over preparation for these particular requirements.
Or it could be any combination of these ideas and more.
However you decide to showcase your achievements will be fine, just make sure you keep things informative and avoid bragging for the sake of bragging.
If you can back up claims of excellence with examples of your students that are consistent achievers, then this isn’t bragging, it’s stating the facts.
But, if you make bold claims without evidence, or go overboard on your statements, it could turn some potential students off from your teaching.
So, find the right balance between showcasing and bragging, then put that information front and center on your website and social networks.
Being an excellent teacher can build your brand just as quickly as being a unique teacher, so don’t be afraid to build your business around this aspect of teaching.
Be Consistent With Your Music Teacher Branding
One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting an online business, teaching music or otherwise, is to constantly be changing their brand.
Whether it’s a new logo, moving to a new website theme, moving menus around on their site, or other adjustments, people can hurt their business by being consistent.
If your business stays around for many years, there’ll come a time when you want to change the look of your website, social media, and other online platforms.
You may even want to change how you present your material online, such as moving focus from written to video lessons, or launching a podcast, etc.
While change over time is good, it shows evolution; too much change too often can have a negative affect on your business.
This is why it’s best to spend a lot of time at the start of your business ventures, even before you’ve launched, planning how you want to present yourself online.
By carefully planning your website design, social media platforms, lesson format, and products and services, you’ll create consistency for your brand online.
There’s room to experiment, especially early on in your business, but once your business is up and running, the consequences for a failed experiment are greater.
If you test a new website design when you have 10 visitors a day, and 50% don’t like it and leave, that’s not going to do much damage to your music-teaching brand.
But, if you run the same experiment when you have 2000 visitors a day, and 50% leave, that has a serious impact on your ability to survive as a business.
Once you’ve settled on a color scheme, logo, lesson format, and other music teacher branding items, stick to them for a while before you make changes.
As well, be consistent with the material on your website and the products and services you offer.
If you’ve started out as a blues guitar website, but recently found a love of jazz that you’re pursuing, that’s great.
But, mixing in jazz guitar lessons to your blues site might be confusing, and irritating, to your audience.
So, if you’re getting into jazz guitar, it’s better to make that a separate site and keep your blues guitar site focused on the blues.
It’s perfectly OK to explore musical genres in your teaching.
But, if those multiple genres aren’t a part of your brand in the beginning, or once your brand is built, it might be best to have that as a separate focus online.
If you really want to have a multi-focus website and brand, that can work, you just have to introduce it carefully to your audience to avoid any negative experiences.
As well, make sure those various elements are easy to see on your website, so you aren’t mixing jazz and blues lessons in the same section on your website.
This’ll allow you to have a multi-focus site, and followers can easily find the information they’re looking for in the genre they want to explore on your site.
And, just as important as being consistent on your website, be consistent across your different online platforms.
Make sure that if you use a logo on your site, you use that for your social media platforms, on your products, and on your video lessons as well.
Same goes for colors and other design elements, keep them consistent.
This type of consistency is key to developing a recognizable brand online.
If someone recognizes that a social media page is yours by seeing the design, or recognizing a logo, that’s solid brand recognition.
But, if they have to dig around the about section to figure out it’s you, that experience has a negative effect on your brand.
So, be consistent.
Whether it’s the format of your lessons, the colors and design elements you use, or your logo, make sure those elements are the same on all your online platforms.
If you can do that, you’ll build brand recognition, which’ll be very helpful in growing your online music teaching business.
You are Your Brand, So Be Yourself
As most online music teachers will be one, or at most, two-person businesses, your name, and who you are, will become mixed in with your image online.
While the line between personality and business has become more blurred in recent years, especially with the rise of social media, that’s not always a bad thing.
You have to be on guard to protect your personal privacy, and make sure there’s a line between personality and business, but there’s more room to be yourself.
Because your brand will be tied in to your business and who you are as a person, fans will want to get to know the real you, beyond your teaching output.
By allowing your personality to shine through in your writing, videos, and teaching, you’ll allow your followers to get to know you through your business.
This can be very helpful when building trust between you and your followers, students, and potential students.
As there are many other sites out there selling music teaching products and services in your field, people are rightly cautious about buying from new sites online.
Because of this, building a positive relationship with your followers will go a long way to show them that you’re a genuine, knowledgeable, and trustworthy person.
The side effects of this trust will be the growth of your devoted fans, and an increase in your income through the services and products you offer.
The key to letting your personality shine through your business in a positive way, for both you and your followers, is knowing where to draw the line.
If you’re an energetic person, you want that to come through in your teaching videos, or your podcast, or in your written lessons.
If you’re naturally encouraging, you want that to come across to your followers, and not tone things down and take your personality out of the equation.
Is your favorite color blue? Include it in your website, logo, and social media designs.
Let your voice, your personality, and what makes you unique as a person shine through in your online music teaching presence.
But, you’ll want to allow your personality to come out in your music teacher branding in a way that maintains a professional quality to everything you do.
Because people see celebrities posting very personal images, videos, and posts about their personal lives, they might think that’s a good way to build a brand.
While it may work for the Kardashians, it’s probably not going to work for the rest of us, especially those building an online music-teaching brand.
Finding the right balance of allowing your personality to create a unique brand for your business, but keeping it professional, is key to success as an online teacher.
Experiment when you first launch your business, see how your followers react to allowing more of your personality to shine through in different scenarios.
If you get some pushback from followers at any point, it’s fine; you can just adjust and move forward.
With rebranding, changing your entire brand online isn’t recommended as it can confuse followers, but adapting over time is perfectly fine.
Your personality is the most unique thing about you, and translating that into your business is a quick and easy way to make your business stand out in the crowd.
Just make sure you’re comfortable with the amount of your personality, and you the person, that you’re putting into your online music teaching business.
If you find that right balance, you’ll build trust with followers, have fun being yourself in your business, and maintain your privacy at the same time.
Show the World Who You Are
Once you’ve worked out a vision for your online brand, you’re ready to expand that brand through various online channels.
Below are examples of the most common ways to build your music-teaching brand and reputation online, including blogging, vlogging, and social media.
While you may not have time or the interest to do all of these, it’s important that you do participate in at least some of them.
The reason for this is that if you aren’t building your brand online, someone else could be doing it for you.
This could be a rival website being negative about your site, or a few negative posts from readers for whatever reason.
Everyone gets a negative post or review about their online teaching site once in a while, you can’t make everyone in the world happy with what you do.
But, you can tip the balance towards the positive side by maintaining an online presence where you, and your followers, build your reputation online.
Without an online presence on some of these platforms, potential readers and students might only find a few items, perhaps negative, in Google searches.
But, with a strong online presence, you can showcase your expertise, build a positive reputation online and grow your followers the right way.
When doing so, you’ll create hundreds, if not thousands, of positive and beneficial results in searches for potential readers and students to find.
This is one of the best ways to grow your online music teaching business and develop your music-teaching brand online.
So, explore these options, find a few that sound interesting to you, and dive in.
Blogging For Music Teacher Branding
Every online music teaching website should have a blog section.
But, what you include in that section can be wide reaching and not necessarily what you’d think of from a traditional blog.
When most people hear the word blog, they think of personal opinion articles, sort of like online diary or journal entries, or rants about specific topics.
But, in the music-teaching world, a blog can be many things.
You’re reading a blog post right now, which takes the form of an article.
As online publishing has grown, the line between blogging and writing articles has blurred to the point where they’re almost the same thing.
Depending on your website, personality, and how you want to express yourself on your site, blogging can be as formal or informal as you want.
Because you’re looking to build your reputation as a teacher, your blog should showcase your knowledge and ability to teach music to students.
But, how you showcase your knowledge can take many forms and be as creative as you want it to be.
You can teach people by telling stories that they can relate to, be it a fictional story or a case study from your personal experience.
Or, you can post educational lessons about a musical topic with audio, video, text, and notation to education people through a multi-media platform.
You could write in a very formal manner, or very personal, or any mixture of the two, even switching between articles depending on the subject matter.
There are no boundaries to how you showcase your teaching skills on your blog, so take some chances, try things out, and see what works for you.
Because you’re using your blog to build your brand and reputation, keep it related to your online music teaching business, at least for the most part.
If you want to blog about your day, your other interests, sports, movies, etc., it’s best to start a new site and include that material there.
Keeping a focus on your blog, and website, will not only help your readers know what your site’s about, it’ll help search engines know what your site’s about.
This can go a long way in drawing new readers to your site, and keeping them there once they’ve found your site through social media, a friend, or a Google search.
Vlogging For Music Teacher Branding
Vlogging is the video equivalent of blogging, where you post videos to your YouTube channel that can range from educational, to personal, to everything in between.
When vlogging, keep in mind that you’re doing so to build your online music teaching brand, which is different from your personal online presence.
To help keep those two worlds separate, many people have a YouTube channel where they talk about their lives in a more personal way, and one for business.
That’s not to say your vlogs should lack personality, but your business channel should have most videos geared towards your music-teaching brand.
Then, you can have a personal vlog where you discuss other interests you have, such as sports, books, movies, etc.
Vlogs can take on all shapes and forms when it comes to the content you can produce for your channel.
While vlogging sounds informal, it doesn’t have to be.
You could use your vlogs to give music theory lessons, advice on performance techniques, to help people learn tough pieces of music, for example.
Or, you could use it as a bit of a diary for your daily teaching, helping people overcome their struggles through stories of your own student’s struggles.
Just remember, if you use examples from your real life, use different names from your students, or get their written permission to include them in your vlog.
Some people are OK with being used as examples; others aren’t, so it’s always best to ask ahead of time to avoid any conflicts after the vlog is published.
As far as the quality of video recording for you vlog, what you’ll find is that many teachers use a more formal setting for lesson videos, and less formal for stories etc.
This could mean using an HD external camera for lesson vlogs for higher quality, but using your phone or tablet for a quick “update” vlog to make it more personal.
You don’t need to have a lot of expensive equipment to run a vlog, so use what you have, and you might be surprised at the reaction from your audience.
We often feel the need to spend a lot of money to create a worthwhile video lesson, but in reality many viewers are concerned about the content not video quality.
Now, there is a limit to this, but any newer phone or tablet will have a camera and mic good enough for an HD video, so no need to buy a new camera right away.
If you’re channel grows, and you want to do more advanced videos with multi-angels etc., you can branch out from there.
But, many vlogs, and music businesses, go under very quickly because they spend too much money up front, burning through cash before they make any money.
Start small, use what you have to record your videos, and focus on the content and creativity of your vlogs.
When things grow, then you’ll have the resources to expand in a way that won’t harm your business and your bottom line.
Vlogging is an effective way to build your music-teaching brand through showcasing your teaching, performing, and personality online.
While writing articles can achieve the same thing, there is something more personal about a video, where the viewers see you and hear you speak.
Plus, they’re not as time consuming or as difficult to start compared to a blog.
This is because in videos, you’re speaking in your natural way rather than learning how to translate your thoughts onto the written page.
Podcasting for Music Teacher Branding
About five or six years ago a funny thing happened, podcasting became cool again.
After initially launching with much fanfare, podcasting seemed to lose its “hipness” after a year or two, fading from the forefront when social media blew up.
But, with the rise of Joe Rogan’s podcast, among others, all of a sudden podcasts were not only cool again, they were bigger than ever before.
Think of modern day podcasts as the audio equivalent of a YouTube channel, it’s a radio station run by one person, as YT is a TV channel run by one person.
Podcasts can be an effective way to reach your audience when they’re away from their computers, or are offline, as podcasts are downloadable to any device.
This allows people to listen to your podcast in the car, when they’re running or exercising, or just about anywhere, without the need for an Internet connection.
They’re a great way to build your online brand and reputation as an online music teacher, as you can showcase your expertise through different podcast formats.
You could use your podcast to teach people about your genre, such as a music theory podcast, or use it to interview experts in your field.
You might think outside the box and come up with a music related game show or weekly quiz that your listeners participate in for prizes.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to being creative with your podcast, and so if you’re interest in starting one, go for it, have fun with it, and give it your all.
There are a few things to keep in mind with starting a podcast, so that you avoid hurting your music-teaching brand or receiving negative attention.
The first is to keep the audio quality as high as possible, especially if you’re teaching music, an audio related field.
Having a decent mic and audio interface is usually enough to achieve this goal, as well as software such as Garageband to record into.
Secondly, creating a short intro for your podcast will go a long way to building your brand, especially if it contains a snippet of your own music or performances.
Speaking of performances, make sure that you only use original music in your podcast or obtain permission from artists to use their music.
Or, be prepared to pay royalties like any radio station would if you include audio in your podcast that you don’t have permission to use for free.
Lastly, keep a regular schedule with your podcast, and be realistic about it.
If you want to post a new show each week, go for it.
If once per month is better for you, do that.
But, most importantly, once you find a schedule, stick to it.
This’ll insure that your followers know when to expect a new podcast, and they aren’t left waiting for long periods between shows.
While they almost died off, podcasts are back in the spotlight, and have become one of the best ways that you can grow your online music-teaching brand.
Social Media for Music Teacher Branding
By now, most people realize how important social media is to building an online brand and growing your online music teaching business.
While you may have started using Facebook, Twitter, and other channels for personal use, at some point your business became a part of your social networking.
As you launch your online teaching business, and build your reputation online, you’ll need to separate your personal and business interactions on social media.
The easiest way to do this is to have one page for you, the person, and one page for your business, keeping your personal and business social media separate.
Many of us post items about religion, that contain adult language, or about politics on our personal pages, and you should have the freedom to do that.
But, when you start posting about your business, not all your readers will share the same interests and sense of humor as your friends.
So, you’ll want to ensure that your personal posts don’t interfere with your online brand if followers confuse your personal ideas with your business ideas.
An example of this is US politics, where just about half the population is Republican and half the population is Democrat.
Because of this, if you post something that supports either side of the political aisle, you risk alienating half of your followers on your page.
If it’s a post to your friends, this might invoke some spirited debate and that’s it.
But, if you also have business followers on your personal page, this could turn people off your music teaching business for no real reason.
Having your own business page on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social networks will prevent this type of misunderstanding from hurting your brand.
Once you have your business pages up and running, make sure to spend time on the social side of social networks by engaging with your readers.
This could mean posting questions, starting conversations, answering questions from followers, or any other interactive activity.
Too often businesses will use social networks as a digital billboard to advertise their products and services, without interacting with their followers.
But, social networks aren’t billboards, they’re spaces where followers want to interact with their favorite pages, personalities, and other page members.
Interacting with your followers in a meaningful way will not only help grow your social networks, it’ll help grow your music-teaching brand online.
Then, when the time is right, you can promote a product or service you offer, or post a new article from your site on your pages, and it won’t feel spammy.
Having a balance of promotion and interaction is the key to running a successful online music-teaching page on any social network.
Forums for Music Teacher Branding
Lastly, though they may seem a bit old fashioned, forums are a great place to meet other people in your field, as well as interact with music students around the world.
The key to using forums to build your brand, is to be as helpful and interactive as you can on the forum, without promoting your website or teaching material.
There’s a time and place, such as your forum signature or when you publish a new article, when you can do a bit of self-promotion.
But, people spend time in forums to engage with people who share their interests, post questions that they need help answering, and to socialize with online friends.
So, becoming a part of that community, engaging with forum subscribers, helping to answer questions, and conversing with people, will help build your online brand.
On the other hand, constantly posting links to your website, or answering questions with offers for your online lessons, will turn people off your teaching quickly.
In order to not spread yourself too thin, pick one or two forums in your genre that you can join, if you haven’t already, and participate in.
For example, if you teach classical piano, you could join a piano forum, as well as a Bach appreciation forum, if you feel you can contribute to both equally.
Once you’ve joined a forum or two, introduce yourself, and begin to interact by joining conversations and helping to answer questions people post in threads.
While forums tend to be more about community and sharing interests, they’re not immune to trolling and negative behavior.
So, to help protect your brand, and build it in a positive manner, avoid getting involved with trolls on forums in any fashion.
Simply ignore them, or block them as most forums allow you to silence other members so you never see their posts.
And, if things get out of hand, you can always report the stroll to the moderators who will hand the situation for you.
Forums may be old fashioned, but they’re still a great place to build your reputation as a top-level teacher in your industry, as well as meet potential music students.