How to start teaching online: A quickstart guide

Updated: Apr 15




Invest in a revenue stream that can continue to pay off long after we're all back at our dance studios.


Contents:

  1. Marketing for online dance professionals

  2. Online class prep for dance professionals

  3. Streaming for online dance professionals

  4. Getting paid for online dance professionals



(By the way, none of the links or recommended services below are paying us for your clicks! We just genuinely think they're useful.)



Marketing for online dance professionals


Guided by | Courtney Mansell | Web designer at courtneymansell.com


I [am online]; therefore I am.


Right now, there's no convenient and stable job-finding option for lindy hop teachers seeking work. The standard job sites don't exactly have listings for lindy hop instructors and dance companies don't often post jobs for them. Until now, your main avenues are restricted to (1) your immediate social media circle/word of mouth and (2) exposure on youtube.


It's time to place yourself on a more strategic, practical, and integrated path to getting jobs.


The following tools will not only help you get hired, they'll help you look like the stunning true professional that you already are while making communicating about that profession so much easier.



Use Swing Hire. (😉 of course)


I can't tell you we're not biased, but getting on Swing Hire is the first step in counting yourself among those ready to keep the dance going! The more dance teachers sign up, the more Swing Hire can be considered the go-to place to find the right instructor. It provides all kinds of ways to stand out in the crowd, get discovered, and get back to work. Sign up for a free instructor membership now.

Make a website


Website Builders

You can make a free, and quite-nearly-free website on

You can also host recorded classes, earn income, and display basic info about yourself on these online teaching platforms:

Great scheduling and booking tools that you can link to or embed on your website:


Wix (where this website was made) is my favorite. What's great with Wix:

  1. Wix is a lot like swing dancing: In just a few hours, even brand newbies can master enough of it to have a good time. So it's great for those with zero web experience. Likewise, it offers enough artistic freedom and advanced capabilities to keep a seasoned web professional learning for years.

  2. Wix has the most extensive network of free quality tutorials of any website builder I've ever seen. 98% of the times that I google "Wix how to [scary complicated task]" there is a ridiculously easy tutorial showing how to get it done.


Other tips for web design: make it organized, actually include contact information, and test it on mobile.

Engage with Social Media.


Meet people where they already go. I recommend creating a professional dance page on facebook, instagram, youtube, and twitter.


Build the relationship.

A professional social media presence isn't about hunting for likes; it's about cultivating honest, meaningful, and brand-relevant conversations in order to build trust with your customers. That doesn't mean you shouldn't straight up advertise on your page (you should); it just means you need to keep the main thing the main thing: Building the relationship with your customers.


The 80/20 Rule.

The best rule I've found for keeping the relationship the priority is to use the 80/20 rule. That means that 80% of the stuff you post contains zero advertising, but instead offers something useful, relevant, or entertaining to your readers. For example: a video of a performance you're in, a blog you wrote, or just a high-quality dad-joke. This shows people who you are, builds trust, and only serves to amplify your message when it finally does come time to advertise your classes.

Hootsuite.

Used by professional social media managers across the globe, Hootsuite has a great free plan and makes your social-media-life easy by giving you the power to

  1. post to multiple social platforms all from one place at one time.

  2. schedule your posts in advance so you can do a whole month's worth of posts in a just few hours.



Start networking.


Net. WORK. IT. honey.


Get people rooting for you. Tell your friends and family how you're just starting out on your online marketing journey and you're trying to get noticed; ask them to share your website or reshare something you've posted.


Cross-promote: Identify the dance schools, dance venues, and other teachers whose work you really believe in. Ask them how you can cross-promote for mutual benefit. This might take the form of anything from you both simply making a post about the other, or that you offer classes under the banner of a school (eg "Check out DanceSchool because I'm teaching a class for them!" and "Check out InstructorPerson because they're teaching our class this week!").



Online class prep for dance professionals

Interview with | Kevin St Laurent & Jo Hoffberg | Lindy hop instructors at joandkevin.com and iLindy.com



1. How does your approach change when teaching is streamed or pre-recorded, versus done in-person? Are there any differences you didn't expect when you first started?

This biggest difference is the energy that the video can project. If you think you’re being overly happy/excited/positive it’s probably not enough. Kevin filmed an entire DVD in 2003 and only a week later after viewing the footage realized that it was all unusable. So be sure to do some tests and then watch yourself afterwards before releasing.

2. What advice might you give to long-time teachers, new-time online teachers?

Embrace the technology you are using. Recorded classes don’t need tons of repetition. Do it/say it once and then move on. If the student didn’t get it, they can rewind (that’s the power of recorded technology). Shorter is better.

3. What does your own process for lesson-planning and preparing online teaching material look like?

We found that it’s typically better to go with “mature” material. Teaching new concepts and ideas for the first time on video, especially if you are new, is an almost guaranteed fail.

4. Whether it's online or offline, what makes an effective teacher?

Know your shit, communicate it in an organized consistent fashion, and give energy to get energy.



Video Tech Tips for online dance professionals



Guided by | Paul Riding | Dancer and twitch broadcaster at www.pauldances.tv

If you'd like to dig in more from the content below, this is the TL;DR version of my original article at PaulDances.tv here.



Video Calls

for live one-on-one private lessons


  1. Discord is my preferred app for video calls. Discord is a free text, voice and video app marketed to gamers, but I really like their user interface and service. You can also create a “server” on Discord for free where you can communicate with your community of students or dancers.

  2. Facebook would probably be second on my list just because of how many users are already on that platform.


There are other viable options like Skype, FaceTime, and Whereby, but I haven't found them to be as useful as the above. As with all things, it's a good idea to get familiar with many options so you can be ready to accommodate your students' and your own preferences.



Video Conferencing

for live group lessons


Many video call platforms allow you to have multiple interacting users, but with some limitations. Facebook allows a max of 6 users. Skype allows 50. Discord allows 10. However, almost ALL of these platforms limit how many video feeds you can have displayed at one time.


  1. Zoom is the only video conferencing platform I’ve found that can display up to 100 video feeds all at one time. This has been of particular importance to me as I've been hosting the Global Online Social. When it ended up receiving thousands of RSVPs, I knew I needed a video provider that I could really ask a lot from. I want to see everyone dancing, and I want us all dancing to the same music feed. Zoom lets me do both It has a free plan that limits you to 40-minute meetings, or a $15/month plan without the time-restriction.

  2. There are a lot of other conferencing apps out there, but I'm not familiar enough with them to make a good recommendation. But it's worth mentioning other options: Google Hangouts, gotomeeting, webex, and Join.me.



Broadcasting

For one-way live group lessons


Broadcasting is more of a one-way solution where many users are tuned in but you cannot view them. Most interactions will occur from reading “chat.”


  1. Facebook Live is an easy solution built right into facebook. You simply select “go live” from a mobile device when making a new status. HOWEVER, if you are dancing to recorded music you run A VERY LARGE RISK of your live broadcast being muted by their copyright enforcement. The benefit of facebook is that they very much prioritize broadcasts in their algorithm. So if you have a lot of dance friends on FB, your live broadcasts will be seen.

  2. Twitch, Youtube and Mixer are all platforms that are better choices than Facebook in my opinion. You can “go live” from both Twitch and Youtube’s mobile apps (I’m not sure about mixer).

  3. Open Broadcast Software. Regardless of the social platform you use, most broadcasters stream from their computers using software called Open Broadcast Software. OBS ties all the components of your stream together (mics, video, screen sharing, audio capture devices, images and more), makes it internet-ready, and then sends it to the platform of your choice. If you’ve watched an official ILHC or Camp Hollywood stream within the last couple of years, you’ve seen OBS. There is a steeper learning curve with OBS, but there are also many tutorials available on youtube. You can also hit me up with any questions you have at PaulDances.tv.



Pre-recorded, monetized videos


If you'd like to diversify your options and give your students more choosing-power between the interactivity of live classes and the on-demand convenience of pre-recorded material, then recorded lessons are a great addition to your offerings. In fact, this is the main event for many teachers right now like iLindy, and Rhythm Juice. But that doesn't mean you have to invest in a web development team and create a full online dance school. There are plenty of tools available for small-scale productions.


  1. Patreon. I'll explain the financial side of this one below, but Patreon is a great all-in-one stop for distributing both pre-recorded videos and live-video access, all while getting paid for it. It's turn-key, user-friendly, and loved by just about every YouTuber you follow. A couple examples of teachers already taking advantage of this option are Natalia Eristavi at patreon.com/Follow_Focus and Peter and Naomi at patreon.com/peterandnaomi.

  2. Skillshare and Teachables are both dedicated platforms for hosting specifically educational, monetized content. Here is an example of lindy hop on Skillshare (my lindy hop skillshare page). Teachables is similar, but lets you set up your own custom branded Teachables Website.

  3. Your own website. You can host a library of your own pre-recorded content behind a paywall on your own website. There are cheap(ish) ways to do this using Wix "Paid Plans" (tutorial here) and "Wix Video" (tutorial here). There are ways to do this on Wordpress and Squarespace as well, but I'm not familiar enough with those to make reliable recommendations.



Equipment


Your main pillars of equipment are: video, audio, and lighting. Here is a look into my own equipment tool case.


Video

  1. Smartphone - Don’t take it for granted, smartphones are incredibly versatile and a lot of cell cameras have great image quality. I’m a fan of my Google Pixel 2.

  2. Logitech C920 Webcam is a great webcam for about $70 if you need one or need to replace a really crappy laptop camera.


Audio

  1. Blue Yeti - This is a great USB Mic if you’re looking to capture voice or instruments and for it to be hassle-free. I use it to capture my music and voice when I’m dancing on my regular streams from my home studio.

  2. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is an audio interface device that takes signal from an XLR or 1/4' cable and converts it to USB. This is basically a requirement for musicians that plan on streaming. For dance teachers that already have a headset or lav mics, this will seriously up your game sound-quality-wise.


Lighting

  1. Lighting is even more important than a nice camera. Seriously. Get the brightest light you can find and place it at a 45° angle to your body. Then either allow ambient room lighting to light the other side of your body, or bring in natural sunlight by teaching with a widow behind your camera. The Vlog Brothers beautifully demonstrate the importance of lighting in this recent video. (This video begins where he mentions lighting but really - just watch the whole video.)

Also, shout out to Brett Dahlenburg's article on Yehoodi detailing even more of the techy side of dance-streaming.




Getting paid for online dance professionals



Guided by | Paul Riding and Courtney Mansell | pauldances.tv and courtneymansell.com


Integrated payment systems

Payments automatically collected when a student signs up for lessons


Patreon. I think Patreon is the best option for recurring revenue for artists online. You can provide subscription “levels” and customize what you offer at each level. For example, your $5 patrons get access to all of your online lessons, while your $40 patrons get that plus a half hour private lesson each month. It takes a cut of somewhere between 5-12%.


Skillshare is free for teachers and pays 5 - 10¢ (USD) per minute that students watch. The average Skillshare teacher makes $1,600/year, with the highest earners making $100,000/year. (source)


Streamelements and Streamlabs are incredibly useful tools for generating money and encouraging community contributions. If you’re using OBS these tools “pop up” to notify viewers when someone subscribes and/or tips on your different platforms. This keeps users engaged and tipping more front-of-mind.


Youtube, Twitch and Mixer also have “in house” subscription or channel membership options. You usually have to meet a requirement to turn on these options but they can be lucrative.


Your Own Website. We outlined this in the Marketing and Streaming section above, but keep in mind that you can accept integrated payments on your own website.


Timify not only offers a calendar where people can schedule and book you for everything from one-time private classes to ongoing pre-planned courses, it also provides a payment portal so that your student's can truly commit to their booking by paying upfront, all in the same place that they book it.



Standalone payment portals

Payment apps that can be used with or without automatic charges, suitable for one-time payments.


Online payment portals that you can link to from just about any website, teaching platform, or social media channel.

  1. Paypal (charges ~3% fee)

  2. Stripe

  3. Venmo (for US users. has less fees.)

  4. Transferwise (for moving money internationally)

  5. Revolut (for users in EEA countries, Switzerland and Australia.)

  6. Google Pay




What would you add to this guide?


What do you personally recommend for marketing, class prep, streaming, and getting paid? Share in the comment below and we'll add it to our post!



#CantStopTheLindyHop

#LindyGoesOnline


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