Create a website
Yay! You have gotten through a lot of the backend management activities and are now ready to start finding students, which means you need to make a website! Having a website dedicated to your school establishes trust with the potential families you’ll be trying to attract. In the 21st century, we assume that every business has a website. If they don’t, they seem less like a “real” business.
Never made a website before? Don’t worry, you don’t need to be nearly as tech-savvy as you might think. There are a ton of content editing tools that will help you in the process, even if you’re a beginner. Some of our favorites are Squarespace, WordPress, and Wix. You’ll start by picking a theme, or a general layout for your website. Remember that some of your visitors might be on their phone when they visit your site, so make sure the layout looks good on a phone as well. Then, you can use a visual editor to add in pictures, headings, text, and links, and the service will write the code for you. They cost about $20 – $25/month.
You’ll also need to choose a web host for your website. A web host is where all the cool stuff you create with your content editor (WordPress, etc.) lives. Think of it like renting space to store your files. There are services for this as well, like HostGator, available for a few dollars a month.
Finally, you’ll need an address for your website: a domain. A domain name is the main part of the website URL that doesn’t change, like google.com or microschoolrevolution.com Ideally, your domain name is the same as your school’s name, so people don’t have to remember a different name for your website. In fact, it’s a good idea to check availability of domain names when you’re deciding on the name of your school. A service like GoDaddy can check the availability for you. Once you’ve found a domain name you like, you can purchase it through the service. The cost of domain names vary widely depending on the demand for the name, but you should be able to find one for just a few dollars a year.
Take a deep breath. Once you get the domain name and hosting set up, you shouldn’t have to worry about them again. You’ll get to spend time in your content editor, putting up pictures and videos of your school in action, and isn’t that what it’s all about?
It’s great to have a website because it makes you look like the credible business that you are. But it’s not enough just to have the website. You have to get people to look at it, and for that, you need advertising.
The key to advertising is thinking about who you want to target. If your business is a car wash, you want to target people who have cars, right? Advertising in a parking garage gets the attention of people who have cars, while they’re near their cars.
Think about who your ideal students and families would be. Are they homeschooling now? If so, go talk to some homeschooling groups in your area. Those groups might meet in-person or they might be online. If your ideal students might currently be in school but having a hard time, search for popular online forums in your area and see if there are any parents who would be interested in your school as an alternative. We’ve found that Facebook ads are an effective way to spread the word, too. Of course, we’ll also feature you on Microschool Revolution’s website. Our goal is to help families looking for microschools find their way to you. Our goal is to match families looking for schools with schools looking for students.
Targeting your customers by location is also a good strategy. Advertise on neighborhood boards in the target area for your school. Some neighborhoods have a physical board near their mailboxes where you can put up a flyer, and others have online groups you could post to.
Host an info session
However you find these people, you should leave them with a “next step” to continue exploring with you. A great option is to ask them to come to an information session. If you’ve already established your location, this would be a great opportunity to have them come see the space. If not, it’s still valuable to get them to come meet you in person and hear more about your school. Scheduling regular info sessions once a month before school starts allows potential families to continue trickling in. Of course, once you’ve opened your doors and have students in the classroom, the best advertising is to give a simple tour so potential families can see the school in action.
At the open house, a sign-in table can ask them to give you their name and email, so you can follow up. The table could also have little items like stickers, keychains, and pens that have your school’s branding on them. This does the double duty of reminding them about you and expanding your reach by advertising to their friends. Zazzle lets you custom design and order these items, even if you only need a few of them.
Have some materials to hand out at the information session as you talk. What makes your school different? How does it solve the problem they’re having? A simple flyer can quickly highlight why their child should attend your school. You’re the biggest influence in your school, so be surprised if parents want to spend time talking one-on-one with you. Mix and mingle time would be a great chance for them to talk not only with you, but also with other like-minded families and start building community.
Get the word out!
However you decide to get the word out, the most important thing is to get started. If nothing else, tell all your friends and ask them to tell their friends. There’s always a family in need of a better education solution somewhere. Go find your students!