6 Tricks for Website & Social Media Efficiency

This last post in the Ship Shape Pianist series is a little different because it's for the piano teachers & small business owners out there who follow the blog. Before I dive in, I feel it is most important to say that if the idea of running your business' online presence doesn't bring you joy, outsource it. Do the things in the running of your business that you really like doing and hire someone else to do the rest. Don't burn yourself out.

On the other hand, If you're like me and you like the creative challenge of running your online brand, but are having a difficult time keeping all the pieces moving, in this post, I am sharing the things that have helped me go from a twice a year blogger to being able to keep to a once a week schedule. The tricks that helped me move from a meager handful of student videos & photos on the Dawn's Piano Facebook & Instagram accounts over the last several years to several per week this past year. So, here goes:

1. Have a why. My business' online presence was always an afterthought to my weekly to-do's. Lessons, curriculum planning, professional development, accounting & keeping up with general administration are all a higher priority on my time than keeping my website & social media up to date, and that is still true. I am first and foremost a music teacher. But sometime last year I realized that I wanted to have a stronger sense of studio community. The challenge was that being a traveling teacher, I didn't have a physical studio to use to curate this. I decided to try making a stronger online presence & community that my students' families could join by following. And with that, I had a good reason for maintaining an online studio. I was excited by it, and by the response that I saw from both in and out of the studio. So first, Find a motivating reason. Otherwise, you don't need to do it.

2. Take photos, a lot. A photo is worth a thousand words, and only takes a few seconds to snap. I pull out my phone to grab pictures during lessons all the time. It's gotten to the point where several of my students will even ask if they can have a brag photo when they've achieved something special. At first I felt a little uncomfortable needing to have my phone so visible during lessons, but the value that the content has added in the form of an online community & student interest has long since pushed that aside.

3. Schedule blog posts. I dedicate one morning a month to blog articles. I type them out, schedule them for the following month, and it's done. When ideas for future articles occur to me, I jot them down in my bullet journal so that when I sit down to write I have a whole list of things I can refer to. Plan ahead, and prepare your posts in batches.

4. Schedule Social Media Shares. More consistent posting makes for greater visibility & interactions because of the algorithms used by social media companies. Facebook allows you to schedule out posts within it's own app or website, so that one's easy. However, Instagram doesn't and this was causing me problems until a photographer friend of mine (she's amazing, check out her website) mentioned that she uses Planoly. Total. Game. Changer. Now, when I get home with 3 awesome photos from the day, I can schedule them over the next few days, and don't have to "dump" them. Keep your audience interested. 

5. Canva. . . Canva. Canva. I'm not a graphic designer by any stretch. But I heard Tim Topham mention this free, online software for graphic design a few times on the Creative Piano Teaching Podcast and it still admittedly took me a while to finally check it out. Now it's probably my favorite thing on this list. Easy to use, comprehensive & flexible, and completely free unless you choose to use certain copy-righted images, I've been using it for everything from graphics to recital programs & flyers. 

6. Instagram Website Widget. Want awesome up-to-date photos on your website like those below, but don't want to go in to update your website every few days? Make a responsive widget! This was another idea I gleaned from my photographer friend. Now my website always has a little something new with zero extra effort on my part. I used Light Widget, paid a one-time $10 fee so all that awesome Instagram content I've curated & scheduled out automatically shows up on my website too.

And if you've actually read this far, you get a bonus. Here's my blogger routine:

Once a month, I make a pot of tea & sit down to type up my blog posts using the ideas I've jotted down in my bullet journal. Then I open Canva and put together graphics for each of the posts. After that, I pull up Facebook & Planoly, schedule out the posts for each of the newly written articles and voila! the next month of formal studio community work is done all in one morning. I can easily add other photos to the schedule in Planoly as I grab them in lessons, and with very little effort have managed to build what looks like a well-curated online studio. Parents & students love it. Instagram brag photos were actually one of the major prizes in our practice challenge this fall, and our students had a great time with it!

Like anything, find the process that will work for you keeping in mind that the real trick isn't to be more busy. It's to be more efficient.

Thank you for following my Ship Shape Pianist series to help us get 2018 off to a terrific start. If you missed any of them & want to catch up, they're all here

And stay tuned for next month, where I'll be launching a series of games for beginning students!