31 May Online Marketing for Educators
Great teachers often learn their art from other great teachers, and the Greek philosopher Aristotle was no exception. Starting at age 17, he began learning under the tutelage of the celebrated philosopher Plato. After training at Plato’s Academy, Aristotle went on to tutor Alexander the Great and later founded his own school and library, the Lyceum, in 335 BC.
Meanwhile, in 2016, many modern educators wonder about their own schools or private practices. People flocked to study at the Lyceum, but current competition among educators is stiff. Teachers of all types wonder if online marketing might help them attract potential students and clients.
I’ve never been mistaken for a world-renowned teacher (though it is on my bucket list), so I’ll borrow some wisdom from Aristotle to back up these five basic tips about online marketing for educators.
1. Start a Website Now
”The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”
As Aristotle points out above, education requires hard work. If you don’t already have a website or company Facebook page, you might worry that the process of learning and building an online presence won’t be worth it. However, the fruits are truly sweet in this case.
Whether you’re a yoga instructor, a music teacher, or a biology professor, a website will help you establish your presence and your credibility online. Before potential clients hire your services, they will likely check for more info about you online. With the popularity of smartphones, customers and students can Google you at any time. What will they find?
Companies like WordPress, Wix, and Weebly (website companies love their w’s) offer free templates and hosting to get your website started, and they also provide expanded features—such as custom domain names—at a price. You can also create a professional page on Facebook for free.
2. Share Your Credentials
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
As mentioned before, a well-built website tells potential clients that you’re a credible educator. Start with the basics, such as your contact information and any services you offer. After you have the basics, you can use your website as a type of resume or CV and inform site visitors about your credentials.
Share all relevant details that you’re comfortable sharing. A potential piano student will love to know that one of your students is now a well-known local musician. Clients searching for a reputable professor to help with their research project will want to see your published academic papers.
When you repeatedly provide site visitors with high-value information, you create a positive feedback loop that will immediately build trust and confidence in your credentials. You’ve already demonstrated a capacity to respond to their unvoiced questions (Who is this person? How can he or she help me? How do I contact him or her directly?), and they will trust you to provide answers to further questions.
3. Post Content That You’re Passionate About
“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.”
One of the most common concerns for any website is what content to post. After you have the essential information up, how do you fill out the rest of your website or post regular updates? Similar to the modern mantra “do what you love,” Aristotle reminds us that passion for your pursuits produces perfection.
Find things that interest you and share them on your personal website or on social media. Just remember to provide appropriate attribution.
Even better, post your own original content. Consider writing frequent blog posts that relate in some way to the subject you teach. The relationship can be tangential—for instance, potential yoga students might be curious to see which movies you think are the most relaxing for the soul. Don’t limit yourself to posts, status updates, or tweets advertising your business—in fact, you might alienate students that way.
4. Connect With Like-Minded People
“A friend is one soul abiding in two bodies.”
Establishing an online presence as an educator requires more than simply an informative website. Learning is hard, and students want to know how their teacher interacts with other people, or they risk a painful—or even painfully boring—experience.
Interact with both teachers and potential students online. Answer questions and respond to feedback. If you do post regular blogs, consider allowing comments so you can display how you interact with others. Join online groups for educators, and follow the thought leaders in your particular area of expertise. If you’re a science tutor, clients will likely notice if you follow other known scientists.
In addition to enhancing your credibility, connecting with others expands your network. If a colleague in a neighboring city gets a question about teaching in your own city, he or she might recommend you.
5. Stay Consistent and Keep Content Current
“These virtues are formed in man by doing the actions.”
Essentially, this Aristotle quote emphasize the importance of habit. It’s the repetition of “doing the action” that slowly builds prowess or virtue. Very few small businesses gain success overnight. Most succeed thanks to consistency and effort.
You might be able to start a website, post a fantastic article, and share that article on your new professional Facebook page all in one weekend flurry of activity. But web-savvy clients know if you haven’t posted in a while. Students desire an indefatigable instructor who will stick with them even when they struggle. An outdated website or an unused blog are red flags that people will notice.
Set apart a small amount of time each day or each week—depending on the activity of your website and social media accounts—for online marketing. Make it a part of your routine. Don’t forget to reply to any comments you receive, and if you have time, visit other educator’s websites and comment.
Educators of all types are essential for a hopeful future. Whether you teach large groups of students or tutor one, whether your students sit in a classroom, on a yoga mat, or on a piano bench, your instruction can enrich their lives. Follow these five tips, and become a Plato for the future Aristotles of the world.