Here are a few creative ideas for growing your new business:
Start with low-cost or free advertising
Determine your target audience. Is it homeschool, preschool, elementary, high school, anything in between or all of the above? After you determine which age group you want to focus on, then go where those students are!
Start your marketing at preschools (especially church-based programs), moms/early childhood groups, library, public schools, private schools, scout groups, churches, and community recreation centers.
Make up an easy to read flyer that you can print inexpensively at the local copy shop. Put copies at the library, ask preschool and school directors if they will send it home in their students’ backpacks. Call the leaders of local moms/early childhood groups, PTA groups, and scouts and ask if you can distribute your flyer at their meetings.
Hold a demonstration of your skills
Partner up with the previously mentioned facilities and groups to demonstrate your talents and teaching skills.
I have done everything from teaching ten preschool kids at a MOPS meeting, to instructing 85 kids at a PTA art enrichment camp. Sometimes you get paid. . . sometimes you just get new students! Always always always make sure that you can give out your art school information at the event.
And even if you don’t get paid to teach at an event, you can usually get all of the art supplies paid for by the sponsoring group. Another options is to ask for donations from the parents!
If you can be flexible with your teaching space, give alternate locations a try. I love my studio classroom but one homeschool co-op needed an art teacher that could come to their site. Luckily I was able to structure my projects to make the traveling work for me, and then just charged a little more to cover the additional prep time and gas.
See if area preschools or daycares need a once-a-week or every-other week art teacher. You may also be able to partner with libraries or community center for art classes or one-time projects that complement their themes and schedules.
Get involved with your community
Get active in your community, especially where art or kids are the focus.
For example, my neighborhood’s HOA puts on an annual Fall Fest with entertainment and food each year. The residents are allowed to put up a booth and sell their wares, whether it be Avon or the neighborhood elementary school’s PTA.
In the past I have set up a booth with an inexpensive art project for kids to do. I enlist my own kids (you could enlist your top pupils) to help me keep multiple kids on track and pass out information to parents while their children are busy creating.
If your community has an arts & crafts festival, holiday festival or any occasion that draws in crowds, offer to be a guest art teacher or at the very least display some of your students’ artwork.
Another great way to get involved is through scouting organizations. Research badge requirements for the different groups (Cub, Boy & Girl Scouts) and put together a class for each group. Work with the leaders of the local groups to either offer the class or distribute your marketing material.
I helped my own son’s Cub Scout den earn several of their art requirements. We put on an art show at the Pack Meeting which led to several other dens wanting me to work with them.
If you are active in your church, offer to be the VBS art leader. When the parents marvel over the amazing projects, point out that you do this for a living and the fun does not have to stop just because the week is over!
If you are comfortable working with a variety of faiths, put together a program for various church youth groups that incorporate faith and art. Youth leaders are always looking for new ideas to keep their teens’ interest.
Take advantage of the latest trends
Sometimes fads can boost to your business. Just think about the latest trend in birthday parties: unique themed events. If you have the space to host, you can offer the complete package (project, cake, etc) at your own location. Or, you can just be the main event at their location.
One of my students wanted an art party, so I came up with a simple watercolor project based on her theme and traveled to her home for the event. I was able to set up on a table cloth on the floor while the guests arrived and I cleaned up and left during cake and presents. And in any event like that, be sure to leave your business cards for the other parents!
Of course, there are many more ways to market and grow your art business. Get creative. . . you ARE an artist after all! Look around your community, and whenever possible, go out on a limb to enlighten both parents and children about the joys of art.
Put a few ideas to work, and before long, not only will all your classes be full. . . but you will have a waiting list of prospective students clamoring for more!