STG 116: 5 Methods For Mastering Money In Your Guitar Teaching Studio


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Many guitar teachers have a love/hate relationship with money. It’s awesome to get paid for doing something you love, but it’s no fun working hard doing something you love and not getting paid what you should be. Too many guitar teachers have hangups about money, are getting paid less than they’re really worth and have to deal with too many hassles when getting paid for their services. The answer is to give yourself and your studio a “money makeover”.

In this episode I’ll talk about some of the most common hang-ups and wrong beliefs many guitar teachers have about money, and I’ll talk about what you can do about them if you discover that you’re a victim yourself. I’ll also give you 5 cool methods you can use for mastering money in your personal life and in your teaching studio so that you can finally be more successful. Making peace with money makes room in your life for abundance, and the only thing keeping you from experiencing what you really deserve is you.

To call in with a question, a comment or to leave feedback for the show, call the Listener Feedback Hotline at (719) 428-5480 and leave a message! I just might include your recorded message in a future episode.

Items Mentioned In This Episode

Link – Guitar Teaching Income Calculator

Podcast Transcript

One of the big things I like to focus on with Start Teaching Guitar and the podcast is helping you get paid what you’re really worth. I talk about that all the time, kind of in the tagline for the show, and it’s something that’s really important to me, because money can be a sensitive subject for some guitar teachers. Some of you listening to this episode right now may be afraid to ask for money at all. You’re teaching people, but you don’t feel like you deserve to be paid for it. There are probably others of you that may be afraid to charge what you’re really worth. You’re collecting tuition money, but it’s not as much as you should be collecting for the value that you bring. And then some of you may have problems with getting paid on time or getting paid at all, or have some other kind of money-related headaches.

So, these things are all tied together because they’re all related to money and collecting money in your teaching studio. So, if you want to reach your potential as a teacher and you want to make a good living, teaching guitar lessons, you have to overcome the money issues that might be holding you back. So, in this episode, I’m going to try to encourage you about money and dispel some of the stupid things that we tend to believe about money and about ourselves in relation to money. And I’m also going to give you some practical tips for improving the flow of money coming into your teaching studio so that you can finally experience the success that you really deserve, and that’s a big reason why a lot of guitar teachers are not successful financially; is because somewhere deep down inside, they don’t believe that they deserve it, so we’re going to blow that myth right out of the water and also tackle some very practical aspects of collecting money from your students in this episode today.

Why Guitar Teachers Have Trouble With Money

So let me start out with a couple of the reasons why guitar teachers have trouble with money sometimes.

1) Poverty Mentality

The first one is a poverty mentality. Some of us were raised to think poverty all the time. We view the world through a lens of poverty. Poverty is like glasses that we look through and everything we see around us, we see through the eyes and the lens of poverty. So, if you have a poverty mentality, then you think things like the glass is always half empty. There is never enough money to go around. Every time you look around, you only see scarcity and lack. You see the world through this framework of lack, where there’s never enough of anything. There are always scarce resources available. And whenever you look at prices, all you see is how expensive everything is compared to what it used to be. And you know, when you’re shopping, you’re always looking for the absolute cheapest price because money is scarce. Money is rare. Money is not easy to come by.

And these are all symptoms of a deep belief that a lot of people, myself included, call a poverty mentality. Now, if you go into any kind of business with a poverty mentality, there’s a good chance you’re not going to make as much money as you should be making, or could be making. You’re going to always question things and you’re going to always make your decisions based on this mentality of poverty, and it’s going to hold you back from being as successful as you deserve to be. That worldview, that poverty mentality worldview, is one of the biggest reasons that guitars seem to have hang-ups with money. It limits everything that you do in your teaching studio.

You could take the big risks that would help you be more successful, help you grow, help you take things to a new level, but because of that poverty mentality, you never take those big risks that could change your fortunes for the better. Your mindset, your poverty mindset makes sure that you never even try because hey, what’s the point? Why should I try if there’s not enough to go around anyway, right? But think about this with me for a second. What if the opposite was true? What if the glass really was half full? What if there really was plenty of money to go around? Even if it’s not in your bank account just yet, but what if there was plenty of money floating all around you and all you had to do was reach out and grab it and it would be yours?

What if there was abundance all around you instead of scarcity and lack? What if everything that you ever needed was just an arm’s length away from you? What if the world around you had unlimited resources, unlimited opportunities, and unlimited potential that was available to you if only you would take advantage of it? What if all you could see around you was the value you receive for the money you spend on the things that you buy? What if you began investing in value instead of looking for the cheapest price and the cheapest thing? What if the opposite was true? How would your life be different? How would your circumstances change? How would your teaching studio change if all the things I just said were true?

Well, guess what. They are true. All of those things are true. The difference between having abundance all around you and having scarcity and lack all around you is all about what you choose to believe. This is all a matter of shifting your beliefs and choosing to see the world in a different way, and anybody can do this. It doesn’t matter how bad the economy is. You can find value to provide and a market for that value in the worst economy. Sometimes you have to think a little harder. Sometimes you have to do a little bit more digging. The things that you’ve done in the past may not work in a down economy, but that does not mean you can’t make a living.

Anyone can shift their mentality and see opportunities that other people don’t seem to be able to see. The economy doesn’t matter. Your circumstance in life doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you’re crippled and in a wheelchair. It doesn’t matter if you have all these other external limitations. Your circumstances don’t matter because you can shift your mindset from a mindset of poverty to a mindset of abundance and you can be more successful. The people around you don’t matter. All of us are surrounded by naysayers and people that always are pointing out flaws and telling us the reasons why the things we want to do aren’t going to work, but you know what. They don’t even ultimately matter, as long as you don’t listen to them and believe what they’re saying.

If you believe that you have the capability to be successful, to have more than enough money, to have abundance, then those things are going to start to come true for you. Is it really as simple as just choosing to believe? I’m not going to say that it’s like magic. I’m not going to say that there’s this supernatural change that instantly happens as soon as you shift your mindset, although at some level I believe that it’s true. What happens is you open the door to your life, to your business, to your family, to your finances for all of this abundance whenever you choose to refocus yourself on the positive instead of the negative. It doesn’t cause all of this to happen instantly, but it makes it possible.

So, choosing a different worldview, choosing a different view, instead of poverty, choosing abundance will help to drive poverty from your life. It will open the doors to the success that you want to see and it’ll start attracting that abundance, that prosperity, that money, the finances, all the things you want to see. The blessings you want to see in your life. They’re not going to come if the doors are shut. They’re not going to come if you don’t believe they exist. So, your poverty mentality is a huge thing that can hold you back in your business from being successful financially, and a lot of people deal with it. I know I’ve spent a lot of years dealing with it myself. And sometimes still I have to bring a car into the mechanic shop or something like that, I cringe and I’m like: “Dang, I don’t want to spend this money,” but I’ve got to realize: “Hey, if I release this money and I get my car running good, I’m going to have a better running car. I’m going to have more reliability. I’m going to have less stress in my life, and there’s plenty more money where that came from.”

So, choosing a different worldview will help to drive poverty from your life and help you to attract abundance. So that’s the first big reason why a lot of guitar teachers have money trouble; is that they just don’t believe there’s enough money to go around in the world, or in their lives.

2) Lack Of Self-Confidence

The second reason is a lack of self-confidence. This is one of the biggest reasons why guitar teachers are underpaid. The reason they’re underpaid is because they don’t believe in their own worth. That’s quote worthy right there. The biggest reason why guitar teachers are underpaid is because they don’t believe in their own worth. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else is going to believe in you either. I’ve said that before, and it is so true. The beliefs that we have about ourselves are that we project onto the people around us, and they more often than not will adopt those beliefs themselves, concerning us. So, what have you got to do?

Well, you’ve got to stop thinking less of yourself, you have to stop standing in your own way, and you’ve got to start believing that you are really worth being paid adequately as a guitar teacher. And again, you have complete control over what you believe about yourself. This belief stuff, this attitude stuff, this mindset stuff that I’m talking about – nobody can control that, but you. And even though it’s hard sometimes to go against your emotions, it’s hard to go against preconceived ideas and things that you’ve believed and held on to your entire life, you have the power to do it. You can control what you think. You can control what you believe. It all comes down to a choice.

And once you choose your feelings about yourself, your feelings about money are going to change and fall into line after the fact. Okay, you can’t just say, “Well, that’s not what I feel.” You make the choice first, and then your feelings come into line afterwards. So, what do you do? You choose to think better of yourself. You choose to expect more from yourself. You choose to reevaluate your own value and worth as a person and as a guitar teacher. Once you do that, then you start to envision yourself operating on a higher level, where you have more respect, where you have more income, where you have better quality students and more attention and more authority and expertise in your community, and a more thriving and successful business. But none of that can happen unless you believe in yourself.

That one simple choice can change everything for you and start giving you the courage that you need to take the bold actions that will bring you success. So, do it. Start believing in yourself. All of that head trash, all of those negative voices and tapes that keep playing in your head – turn them off. Tune them out. Start believing the truth about who you are and about your potential, and you’re going to start to see some amazing things change. For some of you, it might take more than just a choice. Some of you might have chronic problems with poor self-confidence and stuff. If it takes more than just making a choice, then you’ve got to start looking for ways to prove it to yourself.

Start looking for easy ways to increase your level of confidence. And some easy ways to do that is to identify what some people might call low-hanging fruit. You know, some easy wins that you can shoot for in your studio to help you build your confidence. So, if you’re really having a lack of confidence, dealing with your students or dealing with your business, or something like that, then find some easy ways that you can get wins under your belt and start to build your confidence one step at a time. Also, you can find someone that you can talk to about this, who believes in you and who’s going to encourage you to reach for more, and who will tell you the truth about what you’re really worth and who you really are as a person and as a guitar teacher.

So, one of the things that I love to do with the people that I work with is I just love speaking truth into people’s lives. Sometimes that truth is correction and constructive criticism and things that they need to improve and ways that people are holding themselves back and standing in their own way. Other times it’s just speaking the truth about who they are as a person and letting them know that they have value and worth, and something amazing to offer that people are willing to pay them money for, and that it’s more money than they think that they deserve at this point. And I love to just pour truth into people’s lives so that they can start to believe that truth and see positive change take place. It’s one of my favorite things to do for people, and it’s one of the most powerful things that you can do for your students too.

Alright, so I’m getting into a different topic here. I should do a totally different podcast episode about that, but another thing you could do to boost your self-confidence is to write out a detailed description of what you want out of your teaching studio, and then describe the kind of person that you’re going to need to be to get those things. So, visualize and write out exactly what you want out of your business, and then start describing the kind of person you’re going to have to be to get it, and that’s going to show you the path forward, the things that you can start working on. And then get a mentor or start reading books, or do things that will help you develop those areas of your life until you have confidence in them.

The point is just to shake yourself out of your old self-limiting beliefs and start to expect more. More. Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity. Don’t be satisfied with struggling to get by and barely making enough money to pay your bills. Start to expect more out of your life and more out of yourself and more out of your teaching studio. If you can do that, chances are you’re going to get more. All right? You might never reach one hundred percent of all of the things that you want to see, but if you can expand yourself and get 50 percent of the way there or 75 percent of the way there or 90 percent of the way there, you’re going to be so much better off than if you would’ve just settled for whatever it is you had at the time. So, believe in yourself and start to expect more, and chances are you’re going to get it. This is good stuff, man.

3) Lack Of Appreciation And Respect From Others

And then the last reason why that I want to go over today is why a lot of guitar teachers have trouble with money and with things like that. It all ties together, but they have a lack of appreciation and respect from the people around them. So, as of the week that I’m recording this – this is actually Teacher Appreciation Week, here in the United States. This week, for five days, students in school are supposed to bring gifts and presents and cards and write nice notes to their teachers to show how much they appreciate them. And I honestly think that guitar teachers should be included in this Teacher Appreciation Week too.

I think that, as teachers, we deserve to be appreciated by our students. And if it’s not happening in your case, if your students don’t appreciate you and they don’t value and respect your time and your experience as a guitar teacher, this is usually a result of the other two things that I just mentioned: the poverty mentality and the lack of confidence. You know, you could tell whenever your students don’t respect you because they don’t pay you on time. They don’t show up for their lessons on time. When they are in their lessons, they don’t pay attention to things that you’re saying. They’re not engaged. They don’t completely the assignments that you give them. They don’t practice at home. And then, ultimately, they don’t stay with you as a student as long as they probably should.

And honestly, I mean I know that there are problem students out there. I’m not taking the blame off of them completely, but this kind of stuff, a lot of times, is the natural result of not respect yourself. Do you remember how I said a few minutes ago that the way you feel about yourself is the way that we project that onto the people around us and then they start to feel the same way about us, but we’re the ones who started it? Well, that happens a lot of times in your teaching studio. If you want your students to respect your time and your expertise, then you need to start by respecting yourself. That aura of self-respect, if I can use that word, will get subconsciously communicated to your students and everyone else you come into contact with. The same is true if you don’t respect yourself. If you don’t have confidence, if you don’t believe in your abilities as a teacher, that is going to get communicated subconsciously to everyone else, too, and they’re going to adopt whatever you project a lot of times.

So, improving your self-respect will open the doors for you to take on leadership roles in your studio and in your community. If you respect yourself and you project that self-respect to other people, other music teachers in your town are going to look up to you with respect, which opens up a bunch of doors and opportunities for you. Your students are going to feel lucky to be able to study with you and they’re going to view their lesson times as a privilege instead of a chore. Doors for more prominence in your local community are going to open up for you so that you can start to take leadership roles and do things that will give you more respect and success as a business owner in your town. Your value and your lesson rates accordingly will keep increasing. The more you respect yourself, the more leadership you assume, and the stronger of a person you become, the more value you’re going to have to offer other people and the more you’ll be able to charge for that value.

Okay, so I hope you can see how these things all tie together, how they’re all based on your mindset and how they are all things that are within your sphere of influence to change. All of these things stem from our inner beliefs about ourselves, and good news: this is something that you can control and change. Nobody else has the power to define who you are and what you are worth. Listen to me right now, as I say that one more time. Nobody has the power to define who you are and what you are worth. Nobody outside of yourself. A bad student can’t define it. Your parents can’t define it. People that you respect that don’t treat you the way that they should have no power to define who you are and what you’re worth. Only you can do that, and you have complete control over who you are as a person.

You get to write your own price tag. Think about that. You get to write your own price tag. So, since you get to write it, you get to determine your value and your worth, what will it be? How much are you really worth? You get to decide. So, become the powerful, engaging, and successful person that you were born to be. Choose this for yourself, and your teaching studio and your life will never be the same. I hope you’re catching a vision for this. I believe this stuff so much and it’s changed my life, honestly, over the last ten or 20 years. If you would’ve met me ten years ago, honestly, I was one of the most insecure people that you would probably ever meet. And I’ve done a lot of work on myself over the years.

I still deal with some insecurity and I still have problems with this, but my value and my belief in myself has risen to an entire new level over the last ten years, and the same thing can happen to you. If I would not have done that work on myself, if I would not have chosen to believe differently about who I am and what I’m capable of, and what I’m worth and what I deserve, then Start Teaching Guitar would not exist today, because I never would’ve had the courage and the self-confidence to attempt something like this. But because I changed my beliefs about who I am, it made it possible.

5 Methods For Mastering Money

Alright, so I’m going to get down off the soapbox now and I want to teach you a few things. There are five methods for maximizing money in your teaching studio, for mastering money in your teaching studio, and they’re five things I want to give you as I wrap up this episode. And if you do any one of them, they can help you. Okay, some of them can be done in a progression. Some of them can be done on their own. But wherever you are in your journey here as a guitar teacher, just take whichever one or more of these five things apply to you the most and start working on them.

Method #1 – Work On Your Mindset

To summarize everything I just said, work on your mindset. You’re never going to feel confident about charging what you’re really worth unless you believe that you’re really worth it. So, what do you do? You root out those negative beliefs that are sabotaging your success, you start believing in yourself, and you replace those negative beliefs with the truth. What is the truth? The truth is you are worth a lot more than you think. The truth is your services are more valuable than you think they are. The truth is you no longer have to stand in your own way and sabotage your own success. Believe the truth, work on your mindset, and it’ll make all these other things possible.

Method #2 – Expand Your Horizons With The Guitar Teaching Income Calculator

The second thing you can do is you can play around with my guitar teaching income calculator. So, I’ve put together this calculator that’s available for free on the Start Teaching Guitar website, and I’ll put a link to it in the show notes so that you can check it out, but all you’ve got to do is you type in different numbers for how many students you want to teach and what your tuition rate is, and then it’ll show you exactly how much money can make as a guitar teacher. Why am I telling you to play around with that? Well, some of you listening to this don’t see how you can make a prosperous living, teaching guitar lessons. You don’t see how you can attract enough students. You don’t see how you can charge enough money to possibly be as successful as you want to be.

So, use this tool to prove it to yourself. Go over there and type in 30 students and then type in the hourly rate that not what you’re charging now, but what you think you should be charging, and then see how much money you could make when you reach that goal. It might just blow your mind. So, check it out and let it expand what you believe is possible for yourself.

Method #3 – Do A Rate Survey

Okay, and then the next thing – number three – is do a rate survey of your local area to see what the other teachers in your area are charging for lessons. Some of you have never done that before, so you don’t know how much you should be charging because you don’t know what other people are charging. The way you fix it is you do a survey. You find out what they’re all teaching, whether it’s 30-minute lessons, hour-long lessons, classes or whatever, and what they charge, and then figure out the hourly rate that’s average for everyone, and then position yourself accordingly. So, if you’re a beginner or intermediate-level teacher, you want to be somewhere kind of just above the middle of the average of everybody else in your town. If you’re below average, then you’re underselling yourself. You’re not getting paid what you’re really worth.

Even if you’re a beginner, as long as you have something to offer, or you’re an intermediate-level teacher, you want to be somewhere above the middle of the pack there for tuition rates. Now, if you’re an advanced-level teacher with a strong reputation in your community or if you specialize in a certain area of teaching guitar, then you should be towards the upper side of the range of lesson prices in your area, maybe even the most expensive at some point. So, what do you do if you’re charging too little? Find out what you should be charging and then raise your rates. Okay, that’s number three.

Method #4 – Make It As Easy As Possible For People To Pay You

Number four: you want to make it as easy as possible for people to pay you. These are all things that will help you with money. Make it as easy as possible for people to pay you. We live in a convenience-driven culture. People don’t carry their checkbooks around like they used to. People don’t carry around a wallet full of cash like they used to. So, what do you do? You start accepting credit cards. Check out or check out Square or some other good solution like that, that will let you swipe cards right into your smartphone in your teaching studio. It’s inexpensive, there’s a slight fee that you pay for each transaction, but it’s well worth it to make it easy for people to pay you. And then the easier you make it for people to pay you, the less trouble you’re going to have to deal with, trying to collect payments. It’s just that simple.

Method #5 – Eliminate Money Hassles Before They Begin

And then number five. The fifth thing that you can do is eliminate your money hassles before they even begin. How do you do that? Well, that means you just become proactive and you deal with the biggest irritations related to money and payment in your business before they even happen. These are all things that are based on your lesson policies. So, redefine your lesson policies to eliminate the money hassles for you as much as possible. Go with a fixed monthly tuition rate instead of doing what everybody else does and charging by the hour or charging by the lesson and getting paid every week when the student shows up. Instead of doing that, charge the same amount each month. Figure out what that would cost if the student stayed with you four weeks.

So, just divide 52 weeks by whatever you would normally get paid in a month. Make it the same amount of money each month to make it easier for your students to budget, and charge them the same amount per month no matter what. Instead of charging by the lesson or charging by the hour, charge by the month and make it a fixed monthly tuition rate. And then you want to collect the money for the whole month in advance. At the first of the month, you collect the money for the next four or five lessons. Why do you do that? Well, this is the only real protection that you have against people not paying you on time or not paying you at all.

If you already have the money and they don’t show up, you don’t lose. See, it also protects you from no-shows and last minute cancellations. But unless you have the money upfront, you have no protection against those things, and you have to deal with stress and you have to deal with hassles and you have to deal with heartache from students who aren’t paying you. Now, thankfully not all of them do that. Most people do have a little more character than that and they pay on time and they show up, but for the ones that don’t, you want to have a way to protect yourself, and this is the best way to do it. And for the ones that do, they’re not going to care. They already pay you on time. Whether they pay you once a week or pay you once a month, it’s not going to really matter to them. You just communicate the new policy and then that’s the way you do it from then on. And all of a sudden, most of your money problems go away.

Another thing: you want to set up automatic billing, if you can, so that you don’t have to ask your students for money ever again. So, auto-charge their debit or credit card, or do auto bank drafts from their checking account. If nothing else, do an automatic PayPal recurring payment for their tuition amount every single month. You don’t have to send out invoices. You don’t have to track down payments. You don’t have to mess with any of that stuff if you set up auto pay for them. And it’s easy. It doesn’t have to cost a whole lot of money and you just make it one of the conditions of doing business with you. It’s just the way you operate so that you can focus more time, energy, and attention on teaching good guitar lessons.

And then another thing you could do is you could offer discounts for people who commit to multiple months at a time. So, if someone says, “Yeah, I want to sign a three-month commitment or a six-month commitment or a one-year commitment,” you can lower their tuition rate a little bit for each additional commitment level they take. And that helps with student retention and a lot of other things too, but those are some examples of how you can eliminate your money hassles before they ever even become a problem in the first place, so be proactive.

Alright, so in conclusion, you may be a victim of your own negative beliefs right now, but you don’t have to stay that way. Poverty, lack of confidence in yourself, and disrespecting yourself are all learned beliefs that you can unlearn. You can figure out how much you should be charging and then you can raise your rates. And if you raise your rates, you’re going to raise your fortunes along with them. You can change the way that you run your teaching studio and you can eliminate many of the money hassles that I just talked about by being proactive. If you tackle your studio’s money problems from all of these different angles, you can really see the success you’ve been looking for in your money and in your life.

Thank You For Listening!

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Feel free to use the comments section below to let me know what you think about this episode, to suggest a topic for a future episode or just to join in on the conversation with other guitar teachers.

STG 116: 5 Methods For Mastering Money In Your Guitar Teaching Studio was last modified: May 13th, 2014 by Donnie Schexnayder