As part of our ongoing making money case study series, here we look at creating an online course around teaching music or a musical instrument (albeit from the point of view of someone who doesn’t play an instrument).
Teaching someone can earn you income on several levels. At the basic level you can earn income from your labor on an hourly or per session basis. At the highest level you can earn residual income from selling courses online as well as earning income through affiliate recommendations inside these courses or through other means such as email marketing to your music student email list.
Depending on your level of investment and the quality of instruction will determine whether you stay at the basic level or get to the top level of income from teaching music or a musical instrument.
Below we go through some of the steps of earning additional income from teaching a musical instrument all the way through to building an online business around teaching a musical instrument or instruments.
Introduction to earning an income from teaching a musical instrument
One on one instruction
In a previous article we’ve talked about the active/passive income pyramid and how the lower part of this pyramid reflects income that is less passive and more active and as you ascend the pyramid the income becomes more passive than active. This can also be seen through teaching a musical instrument. In this case study we will focus on learning acoustic guitar however you can use this approach for any musical instrument or even singing, music production or something else entirely relating to the music industry.
At a basic level it’s easy to earn some extra income if you know how to play a musical instrument, you are relatively competent as a teacher and you have a pool of willing students looking to learn said musical instrument. Figure out the rate you are going to charge (a rate you believe potential students will be happy to pay) and find a way to reach these potential students through advertising (such as through social media, using the local community paper or even putting up flyers in your local supermarket).
Ideally you would teach online or if that is unavailable at the chosen location by your students (looking to avoid any potential liability insurance issues or regulation issues in your jurisdiction). You could teach at your home (check if this is legal in your city/town and if you need any additional certification in your city/town if you are teaching children in your home) or you might be able to rent a small area to teach.
You can start with a low tech approach, essentially offering up your mobile number and get potential students to call or text to book in via your mobile or you can add a little technology and set up a simple website and or use an online booking system such as Timely or Calendly.
If you are lucky enough to be teaching guitar lessons virtually Zoom, Google Hangouts or Microsoft Teams are your best video communication options. If you are looking to turn this one-on-one instruction into a more passive online business then it’s probably worth your while to build a strategy or process around your teachings and more importantly look to record (with their permission) and track your students’ lessons and progress.
Building an online business via a course will take significant time and resources so put some planning into this to see if you really want to go down this path. Whilst this can be a lucrative revenue stream if you are successful, there are many people who have invested significant time and resources into these endeavors only to find out they struggled to find students to purchase their online courses.
Level of effort needed to start: Low. Essentially you just need to find customers willing to learn the guitar.
Level of effort needed to find customers: Low/Medium. As mentioned above, flyers, community newspapers, online or through simple word of mouth are easy ways to advertise your music tuition.
Level of technology needed: Low. As mentioned above, all you really need is a phone. You could set up a website and or use an online booking system and payment system. If you are teaching online there are simple video programs such as Zoom that are low cost and easy to use.
Level of costs needed to start: Low, basically all you need is your guitar and maybe invest in some low cost learning materials such as music books.
Ability to scale: Low/Medium. We discussed an extension on this model in group teaching however you will reach a limit of how much you can scale individually.
This has the basic blueprint from the above one on one instruction example however in this example you are scaling the amount of students you are teaching at the same time. This form of income is slightly higher up the passive income pyramid however even though you are scaling the students you are teaching per session, you are still having to use 100% of your labor to earn this income.
Whereas you might be teaching a young person one-on-one in the above example, in this example you might be teaching a group of school friends at the same time. Depending on where you are teaching from you may need to rent/hire a larger space (if teaching in person) or alternatively you may need to spend more on technology (ie Zoom) if offering group teaching online.
In most cases your costs will likely be a little higher if you were teaching in person as you may need a bigger space to teach a group of people. Alternatively your ideal outcome would be to perform your instruction online through a group video program such as Zoom.
Marketing and finding students is similar to the above example however friends or relations through word of mouth referrals is your best bet to scale your teaching.
This option (like the one-on-one instruction above) can also be started using a low tech approach, only needing a mobile phone for taking bookings. You can use technology for advertising (social media and a website) and for taking bookings such as Timely or Calendly or if you are lucky enough to attract students you can teach in an online setting, online teaching programs include Zoom, Microsoft Teams of Google Hangouts.
As mentioned above, if you are teaching online it might be worth looking at trying to turn this into an online course (discussed later in this article) and in that case look to record your group sessions and track to see what style of teaching or tips seems to get the best student progress from one session to the next.
Again if building an online business and creating a guitar teaching course is what you are looking to expand to then you’ll want to structure your teaching outline and look to build your teaching around a certain amount of lessons or around a certain timeframe, i.e. learn a song within a 4-6 week timeframe.
Also as we touched on above, building a guitar teaching course (or at least a quality well produced course) will take significant time and resources so ask yourself is the juice going to be worth the squeeze in this case. If you are looking to go down the course creation path, map out your ideas, timeframes, marketing ideas etc and approximately how long you think it will take to build your course. We go through this in more detail in the last point of this article.
Level of effort needed to start: Low. Essentially you just need to find customers willing to learn the guitar in a group setting.
Level of effort needed to find customers: Low/Medium. Ideally you would get word of mouth referrals such as a group of school friends or you can use methods discussed above such as pamphlets or flyers, community newspaper or online/social media.
Level of technology needed: Low. As mentioned above all you really need is a phone. You could set up a website and or use an online booking system and payment system. If you are group teaching online look to use a program such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts. You may be able to offer your students some education aids to improve their guitar progress or even offer guitar accessories such as a guitar tuner and receive a small commission from the sale of this product.
Level of costs needed to start: Low, again you really only need your guitar, however we suggest you put together a basic curriculum or at least some music books for the students to follow.
Ability to scale: Low/Medium. We discussed an extension on this model in group teaching however you will reach a limit of how much you can scale individually.
Setting up a bricks and mortar guitar teaching school
This scenario would see you look to take on additional instructors to scale either your one-on-one instructions or more ideally your in person group instruction classes. This path is going to cost a lot more money given you will likely have to find a place to teach from.
You will have to pay for instructors (and spend some of your potential student teaching time getting these new teachers to teach your preferred way), likely have increased insurance and other employment costs as well as having to fund additional education aids.
The benefit that this method has compared to a pure online model is that in person instruction (providing the instructor is of high quality) is usually a better learning option than the online one as it is highly personalized to the student. The issue is costs and ability to scale.
The more instructors you need to hire the more your costs rise (admittedly your revenue will also hopefully increase) however your quality of instruction could also drop given the new instructors may not have the teaching ability or attention to detail that your teaching offers.
Depending on the size of the school you are aiming to create, you may need to hire additional admin staff to help run the show. Whilst this style of teaching can be quite lucrative (if you can successfully navigate the growth from one instructor to many instructors whilst maintaining education quality and have plenty of students) we feel that the last option in this article, building an online business and creating a guitar teaching course (discussed in more detail below) is the preferable option.
Creating a hybrid method (in person instruction with an additional learn from home online option) could be beneficial however your pricing would obviously need to be higher and you would be targeting a more affluent section of the community.
Technology spending would likely be needed for booking systems, payment systems and would need to set up a website with a social media presence. If you were building an online music teaching school online you would also have to set up a video communication software such as Zoom, Google Hangouts or Microsoft Teams and make sure your computer equipment is up to scratch to handle this.
Depending on how far you are looking to improve your education quality you could look at technology to help track/monitor the performance of your students
Other ways to boost income under this model (either in person or online guitar/music school) could be to expand into teaching other musical instruments (provided you can get the teachers) while you could also look to sell guitars, guitar accessories and other musical instruments either in person or via affiliate sales.
Level of effort needed to start: Medium to High. Substantial resources will need to be invested in securing a location for your school, building sufficient systems to run and grow the school, and training your students and your teachers. You’ll need to invest money in advertising to build up your students and there are other costs such as insurances needed to run your school.
Level of effort needed to find customers: Medium to High. Given the likely additional costs needed for location, additional teachers, systems, etc, you’ll need to have a steady stream of students to fund these costs and help turn a profit. Finding several guitar students is a lot easier than finding hundreds so more effort is obviously needed when setting up a school. Yes you can grow organically (and we’d probably recommend this) however this usually means it will take longer to build a larger revenue producing business.
Level of technology needed: Medium to High. Depending on the size you are looking to start or build your school to, will determine what and how much technology you will need. If you are looking to grow organically then make sure your initial choices will enable you to grow rather than need a complete technology overhaul once you reach a certain size.
You will likely need a CRM/booking system, internal admin, website, social media and potential course creation software when setting up your school.
Alternatively you set set up an online music school (either set up a exchange where you can add potential music teachers and they can get hired through pricing/ratings of which you get a percentage of each tuition) or you teach yourself (then grow organically and employ several people under your banner) for your online school, however we think you’d be better off just building a website and creating courses yourself and if there is demand for your online teaching on an hourly basis then charge an exorbitant amount (to force potential students to your online courses) or they will pay this fee and will be worth it for your financially to spend an hour instructing.
Alternatively if you are that good at online lead generating and you weren’t interested in spending too much time with one on one online instruction you could also refer these potential students to another online instructor however we suggest you try and keep these potential students inside your ecosystem and either teach yourself, hiring instructors or direct them to your online courses (as per point 4 below).
Level of costs needed to start: Medium to High. If you are going to grow organically there are options that will enable your costs to be reasonable and only increase when you grow and build your student numbers.
However you will need to spend a decent amount on technology, space to teach, additional instructors, etc when building a school so make sure you do the sums before you embark on this endeavor and always take a worst case scenario when planning your revenue goals and targets. If you plan for the worst (and your cash reserves/debt levels can handle extended periods of low or irregular income) then your chances for success are significantly higher.
Ability to scale: Medium to High. If you pull off a successful guitar/music school in one town or city then there is no reason why you can’t scale this model and roll it out into other towns or cities. Again if this is you, take the organic approach and grow within your means however if you have success with one school (as well as the appetite to grow) then why not look to expand.
You’d like to take on additional management help when looking to expand however test the waters, plan around a worse case scenario then go out and build your music empire.
Building a course around music or teaching how to learn a musical instrument
Now we come to our preferred option on this list. Ideally this is the level you would look to get to as it is the most passive form of income (at least after your initial work to build your course and sales funnel) in this case study however it is also the option that will likely take the most time to build in the short term as well as take up the most of your resources in the short term.
Again as mentioned earlier we have no experience in teaching in this area nor do we know how to play a musical instrument however below are some suggestions and what we might do to build an online guitar teaching course/online business (simple and basic ideas and suggestions).
1. Build a plan and map out what goals you wish to achieve
What is your monetary aim with this online course? Do you want to earn a couple of hundred dollars a month or are you looking to make something in the thousands?
How much time do you have to invest in building a course? How much money can you invest? What technology do you have access to to build this course?
Write all this down and temper your hopes and plans particularly if you have little time, money or technology to embark on this endeavor. The great thing about modern technology is that it is reasonably cheap so as long as you have access to a computer with a camera or laptop with inbuilt camera, you are most of the way there to build your course.
Sure there are video recording software, graphic design and course platforms that you will need to invest in however the cost isn’t that high and there is no reason you can’t be up and running with your own course within a few months.
Don’t be afraid to set big goals however make sure there is a touch of reality to these and more importantly you build strong systems and procedures around these to make sure you can achieve these goals rather than dream about these goals.
Also don’t get too caught up on creating the perfect course. Yes you want your course to be good and yes you want it looking professional however if you are obsessing over every little thing and this is stopping you from finishing the course and then selling the course you need to reassess this.
Create a course that looks good but remember this is going to be revised over time. You will get feedback on your course to make changes and adjustments and it can always be improved. Set an approximate time frame to create your course then take action and get to work creating your course.
2. Create a Curriculum/Course Outline
Obviously you need to be able to play an instrument well and also have an ability to pass on this knowledge to others before embarking on your course. Be honest with your level of competence and if you feel you are capable enough to teach a course then go with it.
When building your course, we’d look at mapping out on paper the journey to learning the guitar starting with understanding the guitar and its makeup, learning about strings, types of chords, etc. Break this journey into modules and then map out your module finishing with a goal for the student to complete before embarking on the next module.
If you are currently (or were a previous) guitar instructor how did you approach your lessons? Were there any specific techniques that got results quicker or worked better than others? Do you remember how you were taught (if you learnt from an instructor)? If you are still teaching, maybe use these students as course guinea pigs and test these draft modules/course outline on them and get feedback.
Using this feedback, figure out what works, what doesn’t, what you learnt from the students, what they appear to like and dislike, what they took onboard quickly, what they struggled with then review these results, refine your modules and start building your course.
A very rough draft example of a course outline over 6 modules plus a bonus module (from a non guitar player) could be as follows:
Course name examples: Ideas such as How to learn the guitar in 6 weeks or Play your favorite song like a pro in 60 days
What the course will aim to achieve
What level of commitment will be needed
Go through the types of guitars and any nuances to learn
Famous or popular guitarists to listen to or songs to listen to (either electric or acoustic)
Basics of selecting your guitar, (or other instruments)
Guitar accessories, picks, amps, foot pedals, tuner, guitar strap, etc
How to hold a guitar, hand positioning, tips to get used to, etc
How to tune a guitar
Talk about how the guitar works and creates sound, design of a guitar, ie strut, strings, chords, different songs to make, etc
Basic chord selection and best way to learn and practice these
List all the songs that can be played with the most basic chords
First song to learn with the basic chords
Next chords to learn, revisit basic chords and tips on how to join both lots of chords into practise and song
Tips to learn the chords and tips to make these chords stick in your mind
Examples of songs that can now be played with the new chords and the basic chords
New song for the student to learn that has both the beginner chords and the new chords from this module
Rest of the chords
Combining new chords to the previous chords
Tips to remember all these chords
Example of songs that cover all the chords covered so far
Lesson Six (Final Lesson)
Putting it all together
Practicing the main song that the person wanted to learn
Final tips to leave the student with
*Potential Bonus module (if applicable)
How to read music to play with your guitar
Basic info on how to record music using computer, software, best microphone, etc (set up affiliate links for people to buy your recommended equipment). This bonus module could act as an introduction to other course you could record such as recording music, sampling music, learning other instruments, etc
Also when completing your course outline give thought to how you will record each module such as camera angles/lighting on your guitar while filming chord structure, graphics you can add to each module (highlighting chords), how much “you time” is to be filmed each module, etc.
3. Recording and editing your course
Now that you’ve outlined the modules and lessons, you are now ready to record your course. So how do you do this? You will need video recording software (there are several course recording programs that you can use to do this both for Microsoft and Apple computers), you will need a computer with a video camera (laptop with inbuilt camera can work though you’d probably want another camera, such as your phone, to film guitar close ups and finger positioning)
You’d probably want to invest in a quality microphone that can capture your audio clearly and can also capture quality audio from your guitar playing. These microphones aren’t too expensive and you can get away with spending under $100.
You’d also want access to a graphic design platform (such as Canva) or alternatively you can outsource design tasks to a freelancer through a platform such as Fiverr or Freelancer.
As we mentioned above we recommend planning out how you plan to film your modules (ie lighting, camera and microphone positioning). Simple planning like this can make your course much more professional looking and lead to a better learning experience for your students.
Also once you’re set and ready to film, film your first module and check early on how this appears to make sure it looks good, sounds good and is at a high quality. After checking early and everything is working well, move on to completing your first module then the rest of your course.
Recommended recording and editing products:
We recommend: Camtasia, Ezvid and Microsoft Stream
We recommend: Quicktime player, Screenflow and OBS Studio (also available on Microsoft computers)
When it comes time to record yourself in your course (if applicable), make sure you have a suitable camera, suitable audio and suitable lighting.
Camera: Depending on the computer you may have an inbuilt computer suitable for your recording and in nearly all cases this is the preferable option. You can test this with your recording software and if suitable, film the whole course. Alternatively you may have a quality smart phone that is also suitable to record. If not, we recommend either a webcam such as the NexiGo N60 or the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 or if your budget allows it a dedicated video camera (DSLR) such as the Canon 70D or the Sony HDR CX405.
Audio/microphone: Again depending on your computer you may have a suitable microphone to record your course audio. Note that most webcam and video cameras have suitable audio options (such as those mentioned above). If you are looking for a microphone we recommend either the Samson Meteor Mic or the Blue Yeti. Some microphones come with stands, booms or brackets/mounts however check for this before you make your purchase. You may also want to purchase a filter to go with your microphone for better sound quality.
Lighting: When filming yourself for your course it’s important to have suitable lighting to make your course videos look professional. If you don’t have sufficient home lighting, there are plenty of low cost options available.
When looking for lighting you may need a ring light (particularly if filming from a laptop or mobile phone), desktop lighting such as the Neewer 2 pack desktop lights or if you are looking to create a mini filming studio you may want a full lighting suite such as the Andoer Professional Lighting Kit.
Course graphics: You can take either the DIY route or you can hire someone to handle your course graphics. For those wanting to go down the DIY path, popular graphics programs include Canva, VistaCreate (formerly Crello) or Adobe Express. For those looking to hire a freelancer for your graphics work, look for websites such as Fiverr, Freelancer or 99 Designs.
4. Marketing and selling your course
Now that you’ve completed your course, it’s time to market and sell your course.
One of the first questions you will ask yourself is how much should I charge for my course?
The easy answer to this would be to do a quick google search or a search on popular course platforms for course providers that offer something similar to you (in this case courses on learning the guitar).
Whilst it’s hard to get an in-depth feel for what their course offers without enrolling in said competitors course, you can offer a similar price to your competitors and leave it at that or you could get savvy in regards to building multiple income streams through your paid course offering, which could enable you to undercut your price (relevant to other competitors) and make this money up through your other income streams from your course.
Ultimately you will find your right pricing model and be confident with your pricing particularly once you know you have created a killer course that is the one of the best on market and offers your students a guaranteed (providing they follow all your course outline) way to learn the guitar in a reasonable time frame.
Other income streams available through your course and website
Obviously the main revenue stream is going to be through any revenue earned from your course. However whilst this should be making up the lion share of your earnings, it’s not the only way to earn you an income. Other potential income streams could include:
A potentially lucrative revenue stream with your course is through affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is referring a student or reader to a product or service that they purchase and you get a percentage of the purchase. This could range from guitars to guitar accessories such as tuners, cases, amps, one on one in person coaching in specific cities or even referring students to others course providers to learn an instrument that you don’t teach.
One on One Coaching
You might find some of your students would prefer to get some extra lessons from you on a one-on-one basis (either online or in person). Whilst most students should be directed to your course (as basic coaching isn’t an effective use of your time), there are some students who are prepared to pay significantly for your time. Don’t be afraid to charge massive hourly rates that will be worth your time.
Website and YouTube Advertising
If you generate enough traffic to your website you can set up advertising options on your website that can generate an income. Whilst you want to make sure any advertising doesn’t take away from the main revenue stream (course students) sufficient traffic can provide an easy 3 or 4 figures per month on top of course revenue.
Additional revenue through advertising can also be made through your YouTube Channel. The more viewers (and subscribers) to your videos and channel the more money you can make through advertising. Again depending on viewers this could add another nice income stream.
Email List Marketing/Advertising Options
Building a vibrant email list is a crucial way of increasing and maintaining your revenue streams. This could be as simple as upselling a basic email subscriber to a fully paid student or even offering your email list specific deals such as cheaper musical instruments or even other course offerings.
If your email list is in the thousands (and you have a good email opening rate) you can also make money from offering advertising on your email newsletter. Whilst this is unlikely to make you rich it will help boost your income streams.
If you are talented enough to play several instruments you can obviously create a course around other instruments. This means that successful students of yours in the acoustic guitar course can enroll in an electric guitar course or even learn another instrument. You can offer past students a discount to enroll in another of your courses or if you have sufficient course offerings you can offer a bundle option.
Other potential course offerings could include music production, reading and writing music, understanding the music industry (royalties, ownership, management, etc)
Now let’s move onto how to sell your course.
The two ways you can go about selling your online course is to sell the course through your own website or personally designed app or you can host and sell your course through a specialist course platform such as Coursera or Thinkiffc, who will handle all things related to your course.
Selling your course through your own devices
In this example we will use a website as your primary method to sell your course. In this example, you obviously need your own website. Even if you choose to use the option of selling your course through a course provider such as Coursera and Thinkific we still recommend creating a website for marketing and branding purposes (which we will touch on a little later in this article).
We’ve previously written about creating your own website here however in summary you will need to decide whether you build and host your website under your own domain and selected website host or will you set up a website through a website builder such as Wix or Squarespace (who also host your website) or even an e-commerce website provider such as Shopify or BigCommerce (who also handle the hosting of your website as well as all the infrastructure involved in selling products).
There are pros and cons to these above options however in a nutshell if you are tech savvy enough we suggest setting up your own website with your personally selected website host (one that is built on a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress.
Using a CMS such as WordPress gives you a lot more flexibility to build your website through easy drag and drop website building tools and easily editable themes even if you don’t have a web or computer design background.
Steps to build your own self hosted website:
- Selecting a domain name
Once you’ve decided to build your own website, you need to come up with a domain name, preferably one that hasn’t been used previously. To check if your selected domain name either hasn’t been used before or has a clean backlink profile (and no previous Google penalties) add the domain to the website Who Is or Wayback Machine Internet Archive.
Once your selected domain name passes these tests and is available you will need to register this address through a domain name registration service, the one we recommend is Name Silo.
- Selecting your website host
Once you’ve got your domain name registered, this will need to be hosted by a hosting company and you then need to build your website on this domain. Depending on what you will be looking to do with your website will determine the quality of host however in this example we are assuming your website will be hosting your courses we would recommend the higher end hosting option. If for some reason you only wanted a budget hosting option we would recommendedSiteground. For a higher end hosting option we recommended WPX.
- Selecting a WordPress Theme and relevant plugins
Now that you have your domain name and you have selected your domain host, now you need to find a WordPress theme to build your website on. The great thing about WordPress is that there are so many tools to help you build a website with little to no design background.
The WordPress theme we recommend is Generate Press and the great thing about Generate Press is you can either use their basic theme (if you wish to expand upon your design chops) or you can use one of the many They have many different website examples if you only want to make small tweaks or if you want a full design you can build your own site using the blanket Generate Press theme.
Another benefit of using WordPress when building your website is that there are many plugins that help you build your website. This could range from an SEO plugin all the way through to a membership plugin (to allow people to login to your course).
Some examples of basic WordPress plugins that you should be looking into include
SEO – Examples include SEO Press, Yoast or All in One SEO
Security – Examples include Sucuri or Wordfence
Website Backup – Example includes Back up Buddy or UpdraftPlus
Cache – Caching plugin for a faster loading website such as W3 Cache or WP Rocket
Images – Fast loading image plugin such as Imagify
Forms plugin – Example include WP Forms
And if you are selling your course through your website you will need a WordPress plugin to enable this such as Member Press, Paid Memberships Pro or MemberMouse.
- Building relevant site content
We touch on this a little later, however one of the benefits of creating quality content is that you have a big chance of improving your chances of ranking high in Google for relevant keywords.
Set up a content plan (this should also include a plan for your email newsletter as well as planned content for your social media subscribers and this content should be intertwined.
Do some detailed keyword research when looking at building quality content that will rank high in search engines.
We also recommend that you use an email service provider to enable you to expand your email marketing both for potential and current course students. We recommend Convertkit, Klaviyo or Mailchimp (we touch on selecting the right email service provider for you later in this article).
Selling your course through a dedicated course platform
In the above example we focused on using your own website to sell your course (or courses) in this example we will be highlighting specialist course marketplaces that sell your course to students. They also handle all payments as well as marketing and emails to students (and potential students). That’s not to say you should leave all this to your course provider website, you shouldn’t and when it comes to promoting your courses this is something you should be taking the lead on starting with your own website and social media channels. We touch on this a little later in this article under the Marketing Your Course section.
What to look for in a course provider?
The main point to look for is to look for a platform that helps you earn as much as you can from your course offering. What platform makes it easier for you to upload your course, for your students to complete the course easily and for you to maximize your earnings.
Customer service must also be a big benefit of the provider you select. If your students have lots of technical issues then this blows back on you. Little to no technical students on a seamless platform make for happy students and this means more money for you.
What are the costs or splits that you need to give up to host your course on a course provider platform?
Some course providers offer a flat fee, others offer a fee percentage model or even a freemium option. Do your own sums on what works for you and what budget you currently have available before choosing your course platform provider.
Three of the main course platforms on the market are:
Each of these platforms has their own pros and cons so do your research whether you are suited to use one of the above course providers or you could choose to stick with the previously discussed option of hosting your course through your own website using a membership plugin option.
Marketing your course
There are many different paths to go down to market your course however the main thing you want to do is to build a sales funnel for your prospective students. This sales funnel will likely have several levels (some that are paid) and you will want to track all levels of this funnel, particularly conversion rates
Build your sales funnel
We suggest you set your sales funnel to encompass several advertising and traffic methods and to look at both free and paid options.
Some examples include:
Email newsletter/email subscription
Many people have suggested that email marketing or the use of email is dead. This is far from the case. Even though social media engagement has risen year on year, email use has remained relatively constant and is still one of the most effective forms of marketing.
As long as employers use email, email and email addresses will remain a very popular form of marketing and communication.
You just need to make sure you are doing it right and give your subscribers plenty of reasons to keep opening your emails. When choosing an email service provider you want one that allows you to easily segment your email list (to allow for more direct promotion options or allowing you to diversify your offerings), one that allows you to set up easily actionable automated email sequences that step potential students through your sales funnel (as well as offering free mini courses as mentioned previously).
Selecting the right email service provider is critical in building a raving online fan base and email service providers we recommend are Convertkit, Klayvio and Mailchimp. Even though email service providers can be expensive, don’t cheap out on cost for a service that can be critical to you building a lucrative income stream.
Social media is still a good way of sending traffic to your website or potential students to your course. Whilst the traffic isn’t anywhere near what it was once like, social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are well worth the effort and should be part of your social media strategy.
Building a quality YouTube channel is a great way of building subscribers, potential students and anyone looking at learning an instrument. For beginners in social media for their brand/website look to experts in this field however this should be part of your plans.
Posting through your brand’s Facebook page and building an interactive Facebook Group are the two most popular methods of using Facebook to drive traffic. There seems to be a bounce back in free Facebook traffic so monitor your posts to see if you are getting suitable traffic rewards for your effort.
Have a look to see what other successful entrepreneurs are doing on Instagram to promote their brand and build traffic. In your case it might be simple posts that work or it might be some of your cool Instagram Reels that are a hit with your social media followers.
Whilst the popularity of Pinterest is waning and the effort to drive traffic isn’t always worth your time, this may be a suitable option for potential students however if you try this make sure you are tracking your time and traffic/conversions.
The relatively new kid on the social media block, Tik Tok is proving to be rather popular particularly with the younger folk. With this strategy make sure you have a plan in place and that you are getting traffic that is converting. Whilst it could be fun putting together these Tik Tok videos only persist if you are getting value for the time and effort you are putting into this.
The trick to all of the above social media examples is that you want to refer or entice clients to visit your website to keep them in your ecosystem rather than the social media platform ecosystem. Usually this is through an opt in or re direct that they need to visit your website to obtain or view.
With all the social media options, try one of two channels initially to see how you go and if you are getting lucky with convertying social media posts into subscribers and or students. If you manage to stumble across a successful social media strategy, scale this and put more resources towards this. Remember the law of diminishing marginal returns when you scale and there will be a point where scaling won’t be worth it so don’t blindly put resources towards scaling, continually testing and doing suitable due diligence.
Free Course Option
A teaser or basic course should be part of your plans to introduce potential students into your sales funnel and ecosystem. This could be in the form of a free email course or even a short YouTube hosted short course to introduce people to your brand and show off why they should become fully fledged students. By getting students to enroll in your free course you are showing these people how good your product is and even if they don’t buy initially, you have these people in your ecosystems and on your email mailing list.
If done right SEO can be a great form of evergreen traffic to your website. The main drawback against a SEO strategy is that it can take time to rank in Google and search engines and it can also take dedicated resources that could be worth allocating elsewhere. While we recommend you create regular content you will need to determine what resources you have available and the time frame you have with these resources to get a return.
Simple SEO practices should be followed for your website and a basic content strategy should be implemented.
This should be looked at once you’ve tried several other options on this list. The reason for this is undertaking a paid advertising option can be expensive and you really need to know your conversions and your product to determine how effective this advertising is and how efficient your sales funnel is.
Your main paid advertising options are Google (either in Search or via YouTube) or through Facebook ads. You also have other paid options such as sponsored posts or advertising through someone’s email newsletter or even on someone else’s YouTube channel or podcast.
If trying a Google or Facebook paid advertising campaign, make sure you know your conversion numbers first. Look to then run a lost cost Google or Facebook ads campaign (maximum spend of $10 or $20 a day for a week) then gather the data to see how it went and what the outcomes were. If it works and converts, great, scale this (while still keeping track of budget and conversions).
Another paid advertising option is through the use of social media influencers however the jury is out as to whether you will get sufficient bang for your buck in advertising your course this way. You might be able to get a musician with a certain level of social media following to promote your course however it is highly unlikely you would get a highly successful musician to promote your course as the costs to do this would be prohibitive.
Word of Mouth
Start with your in person students (if you are teaching students in person), friends and family who are interested in learning an instrument. Offer incentives to these people to refer students to you and your course.
Create a small intro course that is free to get people to enter your sales funnel.
Reach out to social media influencers that are in an overlapping industry and you can piggy back from their
Get on podcasts on overlapping industries
Other forms of advertising
- Help A Report Out (HARO) and simple online press releases. HARO can be a great option to get free advertising and get big websites linking out to your website. You can also use this as a testimonial to add to your website.
- Advertise in old school newspaper classifieds, super markets, university bulletin boards even in music magazines and music websites.
- Online business podcast that feature content providers particularly with providers you are using such as Convertkit Interviews and WPX interviews
- Indie music websites and forums
- Quora, Reddit, etc
- Offer prizes to your mailing list, i.e. first 30 people that sign up for a course go into a draw for a brand new guitar.
Having a Website for Marketing and List Building Purposes
We’ve previously mentioned how important having your own website is when promoting your course. Not only is a good website important in building your brand it’s also a fantastic way to build up your community and your raving fans.
A website should be full of great advertising information for why your course and brand are worth investing in and your website should have plenty of opportunities for all potential students to join your email marketing list. Other suggestions for your website could include:
- Have a Start Here and About page that offers detail about your skills, experience and results.
- Have an area dedicated to your course as well as course content such as an FAQ page or testimonials. You should also have a course landing page with plenty of great course content. Your website should also have a section that students can click on to access the course (even if the course is being hosted by a 3rd party course provider).
- Have a testimonial page outlining what people will get from being part of your community
- Have a blog with plenty of articles around learning the guitar. These articles could revolve around a video (linked to your YouTube channel) and are a great way to building organic SEO traffic.When looking at targeting SEO traffic we suggest you take a focused approach to this by engaging in detailed keyword research and ideally targeting relevant long tail keywords that revolve around learning the guitar and will drive traffic to your website or to your course.
- Have a resource or recommendation area. This could be for equipment (of which you can organize an affiliate commission for any sales), for additional coaching or to learn other instruments or courses.
- Offer plenty of options for potential students or subscribers to join your email mailing list.
These are just some ideas for a great marketed/branded website that can help build demand for your course. Don’t be afraid to look at rival websites in this area to get some ideas from, however don’t do a blatant rip off of your competitors. Don’t be scared to borrow ideas but build your own course and brand.
For those of you who can play the guitar and are looking to make a little extra money hopefully you get some inspiration and ideas from the above information. If there is one thing you should at least take out from this case study is that providing you are experienced with the guitar you should be able to earn money by teaching this skill. If you only take out one thing from the case study, you can earn extra money by teaching a skill that you are experienced in.
Whilst this case study is built around teaching the guitar, you can use it to teach the piano, the drums, the saxophone, any musical instrument you can think of. It doesn’t even need to be a musical instrument, it can be any skill that someone wants to learn such as teaching woodwork, cooking or even gardening. The amount of money you can earn is up to you however back yourself that you can earn extra money and take that leap!