Today I was privileged to chat with Frances Wilson who is a London-based pianist, piano teacher, writer and blogger on music and pianism. A keen concert-goer, she writes music reviews for international concert and opera listings site Bachtrack.com, and is a regular contributor to ‘Pianist’ magazine’s online content, and other classical music websites. Some recent initiatives include co-hosting and organizing the London Piano Meetup Group as well as co-founding and curating the South London Concert Series.
These days she runs a few very successful websites on her own and the moment I contacted her about the interview she was more than willing to share her online experiences with First Site Guide. We are thrilled to publish the following interview where she tells us her real-life story.
How are you involved with music? Please list your activities.
Piano teaching, performing, blogging, CD and concert reviews, running the London Piano Meetup Group and the South London Concert Series.
What inspired you to get your online presence?
Firstly, I think it’s very important to have a virtual/online “shop window” to promote my activities and to offer potential and existing clients an easy-to-navigate introduction to what I do. Not to have online presence in this day and age seems a little crazy to me. Being online allows me to share my musical activities with a much wider audience, all around the world, and has put me in touch with teachers, pianists, students and other music professionals, which offers a regular forum for discussion and sharing ideas.
How long did it take to have your first website running and were there any major costs involved?
It probably took me about an hour to set up my WordPress blog (the blogging platform which I use for my studio blog; http://franspianostudio.me/) and an afternoon to design my studio web page (http://www.franceswilson.co.uk/Frances_Wilsons_Piano_Studio/Home.html). I purchased a domain name for my studio website, which costs me $30 per year. I also paid for an exclusive domain for my WordPress site, which costs me $20 per year. These were the only costs involved in setting up the sites.
Did you make it yourself or have someone else to help you?
I designed both sites myself. My studio website uses a template from the Apple iWeb application which was preloaded on my Macbook. WordPress offers a wealth of free templates. I had a fairly good idea about the kind of design I wanted before I embarked on the studio blog.
How did you choose the names for your websites and in your opinion, is it important to pay attention to a domain name?
I feel it is very important to pay attention to the right domain name, and I selected names for both my studio website and blog which reflected who I am and what I do. My other blog, The Cross-Eyed Pianist, has a more esoteric title, as I felt it would encourage people to visit the site out of curiosity. As the site has grown in popularity, so I have become more well known in the classical music world and I regularly introduce myself to people by my ‘nom de plume’!
What software (CMS – Content Management System) do you use for running your website?
I use WordPress for my blogs and Apple’s iWeb application for my studio website.
What was the feeling when you had your first visitor or first comment?
I was delighted! It was proof that someone had actually found my site and visited/read it.
What improvements you had to make in order to attract more visitors?
Last year I changed the design of my Cross-Eyed Pianist site to make it more contemporary and eye-catching. I think it is important to have an unfussy design which is not over-loaded with sidebars and widgets, and which is clear and simple to read and to navigate.
Was there a visible success after improvements?
Not noticeably, though people do comment favourably when I update the design of my site.
How much time do you spend blogging?
A couple of hours a week. I have got into the habit of writing regularly and now I think my readers expect several new posts every week.
How do you promote your blog posts and website through social media?
My blog automatically streams to Facebook (including the site’s dedicated Facebook page as well as my personal profile page), Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn. There are sharing buttons on the site and on every post to allow further sharing via sites such as Pinterest, StumbleUpon and Reddit.
Who is your intended audience for your blogs?
Piano students, piano teachers, musicians and music lovers.
Is there a way to monetize your blog?
I could accept paid advertising and links, but I choose not to as I do not want the site to have a commercial element at the moment.
What inspired you to make your second website?
I wanted a site where I could share articles on various aspects of piano teaching and piano study, in particular a place where my students could go for information related to their lessons with me.
Do you feel your online presence has helped you in any way?
Definitely! I hope it makes me appear to be a teacher and musician who is “out there”, with an understanding of the importance of having an online presence and a willingness to share information and articles across a variety of social media platforms. I cannot imagine not having an online presence and I think it would be far more difficult to encourage new business/students without such a presence.
Do you suggest all music teachers should have their own website?
Yes — get one! Everyone expects one to have a website these days and they are not difficult to create. You do not need to be an expert in web design, programming or HTML to create an attractive and easy to use site. And there is no need to spend a lot of money creating a site with platforms such as WordPress, Wix and Blogger etc.
Your tips for a successful website?
Keep it simple. Choose an attractive design template and make sure your website/blog is easy to use and navigate.
If you are still not sure how to do it yourself, check out our website and download the free step by step instructional guide for music teachers. Find out yourself how easy it is to publicize your music teaching skills!