Over the last year, we’ve had the pleasure and honor of working with violinist Nathan Cole on developing his online teaching business.
Today, we’re sharing the process of our coaching work, and the astounding successes that Nathan created over the course of a few short months.
First, a Quick Introduction
Nathan is a highly accomplished violinist, undisputedly at the top of his field. He is the First Associate Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Before that he was with the Chicago Symphony and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
On all accounts, you could say that Nathan has already achieved career success at the highest levels. But, not surprisingly, Nathan aspired to do even more.
Nathan’s Goal: To Get More Students
In addition to Nathan’s passion for being a performing violinist, he has long had a passion for teaching, specifically to reach and help as many violists as possible, regardless of age or playing ability.
Not long ago, Nathan was given the opportunity to teach violin on the new platform ArtistWorks as the sole classical violin teacher. Eager to grow his violin studio on ArtistWorks, Nathan approached us to see if we could help.
Nathan had three main roadblocks:
Lack of clear direction
He had a picture of the desired outcome, but he didn’t have a clear sense of how it would work and what would be required to get there.
Not knowing exactly which steps to take
He knew that he was willing to roll up his sleeves and get going, but he didn’t know where to to begin.
Uncertainty around growing his audience
Not having done much in the social media sphere, it wasn’t clear to Nathan how he could reach prospective students outside of his network. He knew he needed to grow his marketing and business skills to help drive students to his online studio.
The Strategy to Get Him Where He Wanted to Go
Working with Nathan, we developed the following strategy to achieve his goal.
— Build and strengthen his online presence through his personal website (which he did not have when we started our work with him)
— Actively blog to share about himself as a teacher and violinist, and to give useful insight to people looking to improve their playing
— Create and capture a base of people looking to follow his writings and learn from him by energizing his social media presence and newsletter
Making It Happen
Many of our clients struggle with getting into action at first, because much of what we set out to do is out of their comfort zone, and they feel uncomfortable exploring new technologies and systems.
Nathan, however, was fearless. He dove into creating the website right away.
He set up newsletter widgets, and he started writing. (Surprise! Nathan is a fantastic, fluid writer!) His blogs get lots of reads, shares, and comments. Nathan is also comfortable with video editing and creation, so he adds useful video content into the mix.
Plus, Nathan has an active network of supporters who praise his writing and are eager to follow his journey.
Nathan’s Grand Idea
Soon after working together, Nathan had a big idea: to launch the New York Philharmonic Audition Challenge, a 14-week initiative that would take violinists through the rigorous process of preparing for a top-level orchestral audition—whether they actually planned to do the audition or not.
Nathan’s idea was spurred by the novel circumstance of the New York Philharmonic releasing all of the audition information, including the schedule, musical excerpts, and processes.
The unprecedented openness about a usually secretive process gave Nathan the opportunity to walk any interested violinist through a regimen with which he has become intimately familiar.
As excited as we were for Nathan’s idea of doing a major content program to mirror the audition, we knew this would be an enormous amount of work.
Nathan committed to writing weekly blog posts, creating weekly videos where he demonstrated techniques, AND inviting anyone interested in submitting their own videos of the weekly assignments.
Violinists who participated in all the assignments would have the chance to win a prize. (Nathan was in charge of administering and judging the “competition.”)
Participants also had the option of joining ArtistWorks during the course of the competition if they wanted personalized feedback from Nathan.
His Amazing Results
The results of all these initiative were astounding. Nathan’s success was catapulted by the creativity which inspired him to created the audition challenge. Plus, we helped him implement a basic strategy to accommodate an influx of interested followers.
As a result of these efforts:
— Nathan’s ArtistWorks studio doubled in enrollment
— His email newsletter from zero subscribers to over 500 in a few months
— Private lesson requests have increased significantly
— NY Phil Challenge was a major success with dozens of active participants, and several hundred more passive followers
How You Can Achieve the Same Success
One of the most rewarding parts of working with any client is, for us, discovering their many strengths and talents and seeing how they can “awaken their business brain.”
Everyone we work with amazes us in this capacity, especially as they appreciate the skills they might not have realized were so very useful (everyone has them!).
How can you emulate Nathan’s strengths and set yourself up for success?
#1 Take action.
In addition to a very demanding full-time orchestra job, Nathan teaches actively at two music schools in the LA area. Plus, during our work together, he moved houses AND his wife gave birth to twins (in addition to having a 2-year-old).
Despite all of this, Nathan got major stuff done. He made his dream a priority, and it paid off.
He also excelled at experimenting with his content. Many artists that we work with (and sometimes we ourselves) fall prey to the idea that something has to be at a high level of perfection to be launched into the world.
Instead, you can test things in small doses before doubling down and giving it an extensive amount of time and energy.
#2 Embrace technology
Nathan is a tinkerer who is not afraid to play around with new tools and skill sets. The fact that Nathan was familiar with web design, video editing, and photography made it easy for us to jump into action, and it contributed to his ability to get things done.
This is not to say that good things only come to musicians who are tech wizards—-but it points to the fact that these skills are learnable and valuable in the music industry today.
If you are wondering what skills might be worth bolstering, consider WordPress websites, video editing, and photography (to enhance your social media presence).
#3 Trust us!
As Nathan could tell you, working with us is an investment of time and resources. For the process to succeed, there needs to be trust between us in the client.
Nathan was willing to trust our guidance (even when we suggested things that sounded unfamiliar to him) and give things a try. Often times we’d suggest a course of action that Nathan had not heard of before and he shared his surprise. But he was willing to dive in and experiment.
#4 Get comfortable communicating
Nathan is a fantastic writer. It seems that he is able to write quickly and his writing exudes a sense of joy.
If writing isn’t your preferred method of communicating, what is? What flows easily for you? Consider art and graphic design, videos, lists, emails…find what works for you and strengthen it.
#5 Be open to opportunities
Keep your eye on the market and remain open to opportunities around you, just like Nathan did with his Audition Challenge.
You never know what you can leverage to expand your audience and grow some buzz around your brand.
#6 Lean on your network
Remember to reach out to your network from a place of value. What do you have that your audience needs to hear? How are you helping advance the music industry—-and everyone in it?
Be clear about the value you provide, and your network will jump at the chance to help you.
#7 Excel at what you do
Your skills matter. Nathan was even more effective because his content is interesting and informative, and he’s a great teacher.
Continue to refine your expertise–and communicate it clearly.
Does It Sound Like a Lot?
The truth is, creating a successful arts career takes work. The good news is, your competition might shy away from working so hard to get where they want to go.
That means YOU can stand out simply by doing what they’re not willing to do: set your goals, surround yourself with people who are ready to help move you forward, and take the actions required to get where you want to go.
If you do that, there will be no stopping you.