Establishing an online presence can definitely help with advertising. Even if you don’t have your own website, there are several sites where you can promote your classes for free or at low cost.
Social Networking Sites
On Facebook, you can use your personal profile or set up a page for your teaching business. You can promote your classes as events or via your status updates. This article by Kandice L. Day talks about how to use Facebook effectively for a small business.
LinkedIn is a professional networking site. You can include your needlecrafts resume in your profile. This post by Dan Schawbel gives you tips for creating your personal brand on LinkedIn, including integration with your blog.
Hopefully, if you are planning to teach knitting, crocheting, spinning, or weaving, you are already aware of the existence of Ravelry and are a member, too. You can post about classes in an existing group and/or create your own group so your fans can hear about your latest classes, designs, and creations.
Other social networking and media sharing sites where you might want to establish a free presence to advertise your classes are MySpace, Twitter, Flickr (if you take super awesome photos), or YouTube (if you have wonderful videos).
If your community has Craigslist, that can be a great free resource for advertising group classes or private lessons.
Other Web Resources
Of course, if you have your own website or blog, you can also advertise your classes and post tutorials or “teaser” lessons.
Sign up for Help a Reporter Out and respond to media requests for expertise. Think outside the box here and consider all of the “hats” you wear when responding. You may respond to a request for a mom, a small business owner, someone who can speak about relaxing local activities, etc. Do not expect that many reporters are writing articles about how great (insert your favorite needlecraft here) is and looking for a list of local classes. But you may have the opportunity to build a reputation and get the word out about your classes this way.
Good Ole Fashioned P.R.
Let’s not forget about the regular old, pre-internet ways of spreading the word about your classes.
- Word of mouth. Satisfied students can spread the word about your classes faster than most other methods.
- Local press. Classified advertising or clearly written press releases to your local paper can help.
- Local guilds. Your local needlecrafts guilds may allow members to list their classes in their newsletters. (They may also allow you to teach at their meetings and events.)
- Fliers. Remember those paper things? Yep, a concise and attractive flier can help recruit students. You might post it in a community center, a large workplace, your local library, a college, or another setting where you think it may reach potential students.
- Alumni groups and membership organizations. Don’t forget to talk about your teaching as you interact with other organizations where you already have an established reputation (even if it is not as a needlecrafter). People may already trust you in these settings so now you just have to convince them they want to learn (insert name of needlecraft here).
The Teaching Venue
If you are partnering with an organization or site to offer classes, they will often be involved with recruitment as well. The expectations about student recruitment should be discussed when establishing the connection. For example, are you as the teacher responsible for all advertising, a portion, or none at all (except what you do anyway because you are an awesome professional needlecrafts teacher)?
If the organization is taking responsibility for advertising your classes, look over their materials. Are you being presented accurately? Do the classes sound interesting? Perhaps you can provide pictures or a bio which would be helpful for recruitment, even if you do not have the ultimate responsibility for bringing in students.
I’d be interested in hearing from other teachers and students about other suggestions for recruiting students and/or getting the word out about classes.