There are lots of new online dance classes popping up recently, which by the way is great to see because it shows that many Dance Instructors are quick to adapt to the crisis, but noticeably many of those classes are offered for free! Now, I’m not against offering free classes per se, but I believe it needs to be done with the right intention.
Please consider these when you plan to offer free classes:
You could be perceived as not believing in the value of your own classes
Ever heard of the phrase “you get what you pay for”? Whilst it’s true that not all more expensive stuff equals better quality, people would still expect it to be. So what does it say about your free classes? Why shouldn’t you charge for your classes? Don’t you have cost to run? Do you take your business seriously? People understand that you are running a business when you charge for your classes. And people will buy if they see the value in the product/service you offer.
You’re doing a disservice to your industry
You might be thinking that you’re helping your students in difficult time by offering free classes, but have you thought about other dance instructors who can’t afford to do this, who could lose their only income if their students choose to do the free classes? Remember that the social dance world is interconnected with each other. We rely on other dance studios to keep producing dancers to keep the whole industry alive.
People who ask for free lessons normally never come back
Even at normal times, we don’t think offering free trial classes is a good idea. Based on experience, if someone is actually serious in pursuing dance lessons, they usually wouldn’t mind paying. There are better ways to attract new students without giving in to time wasters. For example, you could offer a money-back guarantee if people find your classes aren’t quite right for them after they commit to trying.
Online Classes are not less valuable than in-person instructions
First of all, it creates more work for you as the lesson provider, right? You need to learn new technology, practise teaching in front of the camera, and have to work extra time for video editing, fixing technical glitches, and more admin stuff involved. Yes, online classes are not the same with face-to-face instructions, but it doesn’t mean they’re less valuable for your students. Online classes offer flexibility and diversity you won’t find in traditional classroom settings. You can add a Q&A session to the class, teaching the history of the dance, add a link to a music playlist, etc. You can also have the class recorded and students can replay and rewind, or even slo-mo the video to watch a specific technique more closely. Communicate to your students about all the added value to your online classes, including the convenience of not having to commute to class, and they would not question why you don’t charge less than your usual rates.
Of course, there are occasions when it’s absolutely fine to offer free classes. Perhaps you’re doing it for a project, a community-based event, or a cause that is aligned with your own personal commitment of giving back. But that is an exception, not a rule. Keep reminding yourself of your worth. Nothing of real value is free, and that includes your time, expertise, and knowledge.