Creating a student base

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    I'm finally in a personal place where I feel ready to start teaching. Problem is, NO ONE else in my city dances ATS(r) or has even heard of it.  How do you, for all intents and purposes, create a student base from nothing? There are several studios I could choose from (only one established belly dance studio – but they don't seem too receptive), but how do you get people in the door for ATS(r)?



    It's hard to get started in a place that doesn't have a thriving dance community, but it's not impossible.  I scoped out local dance studios and quickly realized that I was going to be unable to do all the promotion myself and try to bring in business.  Then I contacted my local Parks and Recreation.  They do all the advertising and provide me with a space – I choose my price point.  I make pennies on the dollar – I have to keep my price point incredibly low just to get people to try it, but that's a decision I was able to make due to having another job – YMMV.  I recommend contacting YMCAs, Parks & Rec, gyms, or community centers and starting there – it gives you some support and is easier than knocking on studio doors.  When you get established, you may be able to branch out into a studio.  Good luck!



    Sorry, I just now saw your post.Creating and maintaining a student base is always hard.  I think you have a really incredible opportunity to work on a blank canvas, if you will.  When you are first starting to establish your classes, you have one major advantage: novelty!  The community doesn't know much about you or the dance. You can mold the messages.  Think of your strategy as "friend-building" along with getting people into your classes.  To find a place to teach:1.  Contact the rec center or community education for your community. I agree that is the easiest place to get your name into the community.  Sometimes you have to offer to teach the first class at a discount or for free for participants, but it is well worth the advertising.2.  Contact the other dance/yoga studios and see if they have space to rent or would be willing to host you doing a demo.  When I moved to Rochester, I did a Mother/Daughter belly dance class at a local dance studio for Mother's Day. They got participants and I began building a contact list.3.  Check with the library. They often have space for things like dance lessons or have programs that you can offer to get your name into the community.Here are some ideas for introducing dance into your community:Once you have found at least one place to hold your class,1.  Contact your local paper by calling a reporter or writing a press release announcing that you are starting classes.  They love human interest pieces, especially when you are introducing something new to the community. 2.  See if any of your local newspapers or Chamber's have an article on new businesses.  When I moved to Rochester, I got lots of free advertising via our women's magazine, newspaper, parent's groups, etc.  When I was new, people really wanted to learn more about belly dance.  I booked demos at many different community groups and found a lot of students that way.  Even a public access TV show is a good idea for generating more interest.3.  Find local festivals and perform.  Even though it is just you, performing in the community is one of the best ways to generate interest and students.4.  Bring a friend promotions- Once you have a few students, give them a discount to bring a friend.  Personal referrals are also a really good way to populate your classes.I have lots and lots more ideas but no more time to type right now.  I hope these were helpful!

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