Rank Up Podcast: Make $100 an Hour Teaching

By Michael Hodge | Instructors

Aug 28

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About This Episode

In this episode, I break down exactly how I run my part-time, private academy with only 6.5 hours a week. And how, even when you account for marketing, management, billing, accounting, teaching, and communication – it comes out to $100 an hour. Included:

  • My weekly breakdown of tasks
  • My monthly tasks and why they are important
  • Which holidays I close for, and the importance of vacation time
  • Actual income comparison from my current school and my previous full-time academy
  • Why you should be the best at one thing
  • Exact tools that I use to run my private academy
  • Question of the Week: What is the best way you have found to market your kids classes?

About Becoming a Certified Martial Arts Teacher

Welcome back to another episode of Rank Up where you’ll learn how to become an elite instructor and grow your martial arts school. My name is Michael Hodge and I’m the founder of the Global Martial Arts University and I’m also a leading contributor to the CMAT, the Certified Martial Arts Teacher course and certification. Speaking of that, if you’re looking at leveling up as a martial arts instructor or actually becoming a professionally qualified, internationally accredited instructor, definitely take a look at the Certified Martial Arts Teacher program.

It’s actually like an online university course. It actually takes you through everything you need to know to be a world-class instructor. Class planning, working with different age groups, doing warmups, doing drills, disguising repetition, working with parents, anything that you run into and before it happens. So you’re going to be very well prepared. And throughout the process you actually get to interact with myself and the other CMAT instructors and you’re going to be submitting in mock teaching exams and discussing things on a discussion board. And it’s a very good university level course and once you graduate, of course you’ll be a CMAT and you can actually start teaching professionally. So highly recommend checking that out at our Global Martial Arts University website.

In today’s episode, we’re looking at how at this point in time I’m able to make $100 an hour teaching. Now you’re like, okay, doesn’t seem like that’s a big deal. Now let me tell you though, that’s including all of the management and marketing and other tasks related to running a martial arts business or martial arts school. So that’s something that’s really important to realize. But I’m going to show you how that’s happening right now through my private academy. I run a kids only private academy just twice a week. And the rest of the time really my day job is running the GMAU and doing things like this podcast and like creating educational materials to help you guys out as you’re on your own journeys, learning and improving.

My Weekly Breakdown of Work

Today on this episode I’m going to show you my weekly breakdown, like what I actually do within a week, what does it take for me to run my kids academy, run my private academy model. And again, keep in mind this is my side project sort of, you know, a school on the side. It’s not what I do full-time per se, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important to me. It’s still incredibly important to me. It just means that I’m much more efficient with my time because of that. It’s funny that whenever you have more time to fill you’re like, okay, I need to work today and you know 10 hours you have all this busy work and you waste a lot of time and and since I have this very focused mindset about the kids academy, it allows me to be ridiculously efficient with it, which is why I wanted to discuss that. You could actually apply that to your own full-time operation or part-time operation or if you’re about to start your own school. I’m going to discuss in detail exactly what I spend my time on and why. I’m going to give you an actual breakdown of numbers from my previous larger commercial school that I operated, that I no longer operate, and then also my current smaller private academy. And I’m even going to go over the exact tools I use to run my private academy.

Teaching – 5 Hours

Okay, so what does a week actually like for me regarding my kids only private got academy? So I spend five hours a week teaching. Like actual teaching periods. Currently I teach a one hour class on Tuesday morning and then I have a two hour block Tuesday evening and a two hour block on Thursday evening. I teach two classes on Tuesday and two classes on Thursday evening. So five actual hours of teaching and what I call show time.

Cleaning – 1 Hour

I spend one hour cleaning. I do a full cleaning of the entire mat and facility on the weekend generally. Now if I had adults and we’re doing a lot of fitness and classes where there’s tons of sweating, I clearly need to be mopping the mats a lot more often than that. But we do it once a week, good cleaning. And yeah, it just takes about an hour, even a little under that.

Class Planning – 15 Minutes

I spend 15 minutes planning classes each week. Typically on Tuesday morning I actually take a look at my curriculum rotation. And just since I’m on the topic, let me tell you how I actually do this. Because I do a rotating curriculum right now in the kids academy and I have the rotation for three months. What I do is I take half of the curriculum and it goes into month one. I take the other half and that goes into month two. And then month three is performance review, testing month.

So if I’m planning a class, there’s even more of a breakdown and there’s an actual diagram I could show you, but week one is going to be the first half of that month one curriculum. Week two is the second half of it. Week three is a review week. Week four is a review and testing week. Strike testing. That’s exactly how it works. So it’s very simple and like, okay, this is my half that went to month one. Okay, I take half of these techniques and I’m going to put them on A day and B day and it’s that simple. So it’s a very nice formatted model that you can kind of lean against. And you just choose techniques to teach as my core techniques that are taught in the techniques section of the class. And then of course the warmup will be different. The drill for skill will be different. We do a drill for skill or a black belt skill drill that changes each month with the theme. We have six themes such as focus and intensity and power and we choose it there and make a different black belt skill drill.

And then I choose the technique and then an end game as well. And then for black belt training class, I plan what we’ll do for our sparring drill for the sparring section and what are we going to do for weapons. And what I did, I currently teach a once a week homeschool class. It’s a one hour class and since they only come once a week, I actually combine A and B day and we just do it all in that class. And then I already have my a and my B day classes made for Tuesday and Thursday nights. So it’s a very simple process. It’s been working for me the last couple of years. When I say 15 minutes class planning, it might take a little longer than that. I obviously have ideas that I kind of think about sometimes throughout the week. Again, it’s not that I don’t care or anything, I care deeply, but I’ve been doing this a long time and I have a large wide ranging set of drills and warmup ideas and things that I can rotate through that you can kind of build up over. That’s why we do things like the CMAT and you want to do your own personal improvement education. You want to be learning new things as an instructor to keep things fresh.

Accounting – 15 Minutes

And I spend about 15 minutes a week on accounting because whenever someone does pay … It could be even less than that. But whenever someone pays and buys a T-shirt or equipment or enrolls as a new student or pays for their graduation fee, I literally manually enter that stuff into a Google sheet. It’s not automated and I’ll talk about why I do that a little later on. But again, it’s very little. So that’s a pretty typical weekly breakdown for me. That’s actually six and a half hours spent a week.

(Monthly) Create Homework, Calendar, Prepare Rotation – 2 Hours

Now I’m going to talk about some monthly tasks, things that I do once a month. Right before the beginning of the next month I create a new character homework assignment. I think of the theme we’re going to do and I edit my document with the new image and with the theme and I create new questions on the back and then I create a new action assignment. This is really important to me. I put some thought into what that character homework topic is going to be, what quality it is that I want to bring out of the students that next month, and then kind of really thinking about a different type of assignment and how they can prove that they did it.

Our most recent one was actually called change the world and they had to do something that literally changed the world. And it was so wide ranging. Someone made a video about how they adopted a shelter pet, put it on social media. Someone put some videos on social media about how they need to collect batteries so that they can … The fire department needs these nine volt batteries so that they can replace senior citizens’ smoke detectors for them for free, but they need the batteries. So it was, it was really cool and he got like $400 worth of batteries. But yeah, just as an example, the character homework assignment is very important to me, but really taking the time to do it and then I make a calendar for the next month. I print out the homework sheets, I print out the calendars, and then I prepare the next curriculum rotation if needed. If I need to print out rotation number four, I just have it on hand if it’s at the end of a three month cycle. Clearly if it’s testing and graduation month, I have a couple of hours that I also need to take out to prepare the ordering of belts and printing of certificates and things like that. That’s only once every three months.

(Monthly) Social Media Posts/Marketing – 2 Hours

Also I spend about, let’s say two hours a month on marketing. So maybe making a video or a social media post or setting up a referral program. Little things like that. Again, this is a private academy where I have limited number of spaces. If you do it right with something like this and you have a limited number of spaces, you hope to fill it up fairly quickly and then you’re full and then you have organic things dripping in. You have people finding you on the web, you have people finding you on Facebook, and they kind of reach out to you and you might just have to put them on your waiting list. And that’s a really awesome thing. It’s a really good position to be in. But so yeah, that’s six and a half hours a week. And then on top of that would be four hours a month is the way I’m looking at that. Now to be completely fair though, I like to take quite a few holidays off and and breaks. I think it’s really important to take vacation time or just to not always be in the middle of it. Not just for yourself but for the students.

You Need to Close for Holidays

One unique thing about martial arts schools and martial arts training as an activity for kids or even for adults is that it’s year round. Now, I actually did close the kids academy for the first time ever this summer. We took three months off. The summer before we ran all the way through the summer. I’m probably going to do this summer again next year, but it was just sort of a test in a way. But typically throughout my entire career, I’ve always taught throughout the whole summer and actually attendance is usually quite good still. But what I’m trying to say is that it’s year round. You can get burned out as an instructor. You can get burned out as students too. They’re used to doing like two, three months straight of soccer or baseball and then taking a long time off and so it’s a unique thing. They really do need this time off and the parents do too. Whenever they have a week off they’re like, “Oh great, we don’t have to go to martial arts this week.” It’s not that they don’t like coming. It’s just really nice to have a couple of family nights where they’re just kind of hanging out watching some TV together. I totally get that with my own kids and my family, so I appreciate it even more now.

Regarding holidays though, we take a week off for fall break, which is a week in the middle of October usually, which a lot of school districts don’t have that, although, universities, colleges tend to have it. We take a week off for Thanksgiving. Again, these holidays are going to be very specific to the United States of America, so if you’re an international listener, perhaps these aren’t relevant. We take a week and a half off for Christmas break. Sometimes even up to two weeks. We take a week off for spring break and summer break, we take about a week and a half off in June. Again, if we’re open during the summer. And then if I have staff training such as I need to go and train at one of my friends or instructors programs or seminars. Like I’m actually about to go to train with my Okinawan instructor who I went to Okinawa with and worked with on bojutsu who back in April and I’m going in a week to a four day seminar in Minnesota. That would be an example of that. Things like that. So definitely taking time off.

I just want to point out that the numbers I’m going to give you in a moment aren’t actually exact. They would actually be higher than that. I’m not even taking into account holidays is what I’m saying. But I highly encourage you to have holidays. You shouldn’t feel ashamed about it. It actually re-energize you. It re-energize everyone and make it something that people are used to. Like if you never take any days off and you might have to make a big change, you might have to rip off the bandaid, but what I’m saying is, you know, even if you want to take a week off for spring break and you never did before, people are going to like, “Oh, do I still have to pay for that week?”.

First of all, yes students still have to pay for something. Even if there’s a holiday. It’s just like going to a private school or anywhere else. Your tuition covers the school year and if you decided not to pay for the whole tuition up front, you do monthly payments. It’s payments for the entire year for the entire program. They’re not specifically paying per class. Now if you charge per class, that’s a different story. I do not recommend that you charge per class. It’s a bad idea for a lot of reasons. Charging per month or per program or per year or whatever you wanted to call it makes a lot more sense for situations like this. Just wanted to point that out.

Absolute vs. Relative Income

Okay, so earlier I hinted at how I’m making $100 an hour right now teaching. I want to give you the actual math on how I came to that number and just kind of explain absolute versus relative income. If you’ve heard of it before, let’s just talk about it again anyway. This isn’t just about finances and money and everything else. It’s about being effective with your time, being intelligent about what you’re actually spending your time on, doing things that you love, doing things you’re passionate about, doing things that you’re talented in, your God given talents, and not filling your days up with pointless things. Okay, that’s really what I’m talking about here. So with the kids academy, let’s say on a typical month we bring in $3,500 in revenue right now, and then let’s say roughly $500 in expenses. That’s $3,000 as net. And then the numbers that I gave you is 30 hours. So that would be 30 hours in a month, so 3,000 divided by 30 is $100 an hour. That’s where I got that number from. That again, it’s all in. That is everything related to billing and marketing and management and teaching classes and communicating with parents and everything. That’s why I wanted to give you that number.

It’s extremely simple. Currently with the kids academy I have absolutely no employees. I’m the only person that teaches classes and I’m pretty much running the academy my way. And I want to point that out. Like I specifically wanted to do something with kids in this case because I have three young kids myself. I wanted to first of all teach them and have them surrounded with other kids because there is no martial arts school around here anyway and clearly I’d like to teach them and work with them. And beyond that I really do feel like I have a gift working with younger kids. It’s something that I’m very passionate about. With my commercial full-time school, we were primarily a kids school. I mean, we did have an adult class and we even did MMA and some fitness and different things in the past. But that’s really something that I think I have a skill and a gift in. And for me it’s really meaningful because I know before the age of 12 you can actually mold and change their personality for the better. Like you know you can actually help them become the type of person that you know they could be. I’m not saying you can’t transform adults and teenagers, it’s possible. It’s just way harder as you know.

At those ages you’re a little bit more set in stone, but whenever they’re kids you’re actually getting to help mold them and be this incredibly important driving force in their life. So that’s really awesome to me. But yeah, I actually was running a five to seven year old class and an eight to 12 year old class. This is just an example of, I guess, doing things my way is that my five to seven year old class was dwindling a little bit. It had less students for, I guess a couple of reasons, but it had less students and my eight to 12 year old class was completely full and it had like five people on the waiting list that wanted to be in that class. I just ended up combining my current five to seven year olds and turning that into what I guess you could call like a six through 12 year old class right now and then I only enroll eight to 12 year olds now. And that’s just because with the eight to 12 year old age range, I’m able to go a lot deeper with some of my concepts regarding service, leadership, community development, the martial arts training itself is much more higher level and realistic. Again, nothing against five to seven year olds. I have a six year old myself at this moment in time and I love him. I love training with him.

Be The Best at One Thing, Not Mediocre at A lot

But I just want to point out that that’s just a choice I made. You might absolutely love Brazilian jujitsu and only like working with adults and you’re like, “Oh, you know, I have to run the kids program. I’ve got to run the teenagers, I got to do all this stuff. I got to have a three year old class because I got to make extra money in all of these off times.” No you don’t. If you absolutely love teaching the Brazilian jujitsu class with adults and if you can do three classes a week, and do what I’m talking about, make a hundred an hour with really low overhead somewhere and you have another full-time job or you have passion projects, like you’re an artist, you’re doing creative things that maybe also make you money, but they’re just enjoyable, there’s nothing wrong with that. The American culture is so much about more and more and more and more. And not just the American culture of course, but I’ll say the Western culture probably in general. And it’s a fallacy. It’s really a fallacy.

So let me give you an example of the absolute income that was higher but relatively was lower. So back when I ran my commercial full-time school, let’s say an average month we did 30,000 in revenue. We did 20,000 in expenses so that we netted 10 grand. You’re like, wow that’s pretty good. It’s a net of 10 grand, which that is, that’s a pretty good number. And then I did 60 hours a week, which honestly, I probably work more than that weeks, perhaps a little bit less some weeks, but not very often. That’s 240 hours. So $10,000 divided by 240 is $41.66 an hour. So my relative income was more than half less than it is at the moment in time with the kids academy. You’re like, oh, that’s $10,000 though. Okay. I understand. Absolute income that is higher, but there’s a lot more to it. That was 41 bucks an hour. And that’s with employees. That’s with having to do a lot of marketing and a lot more higher pressure, more stress. You’re always striving. It always felt like we were striving, we had to keep pushing, we had to keep pushing because there’s natural attrition, you’re going to lose students, you’ve got more overhead, you’ve got more things, you’ve got more classes, you teach 24 classes a week. There’s a lot to it.

Nothing against everyone who’s running a full-time school. I think it’s awesome and I am very blessed to have had the opportunity to do it. And again, I run the GMAU now full-time, which is a full-time online school but with a very different model of course. But of course you can increase your relative income by being more intelligent on where you’re spending your time and your money. And hopefully this episode is going to help you rethink a couple of things. So there’s a quote that goes something like this, successful people are defined by what they say no to now what they say yes to. I’m just paraphrasing, but this is really powerful because you get inundated by things like, oh, you need to start an Instagram. You need to start Twitter. You need to have a Facebook page. You need to be putting things on YouTube. You need to be teaching three and four year olds. You need to be teaching 90 year olds. I mean you need to consider how much value that’s going to add. Is it really what you want? Is it really aligned with everything? You want to be the best in the world at one thing, or even if not the world, but in your community, in your region, like be the very best at it.

You will have people knocking on your door. You want people to knock on your door. You don’t want to have to always go out looking for your clients, for your students. You don’t want to be mediocre at a lot of things just because that’s what other people do or because it seems logical that I should be filling my schedule with as many things as possible so that I can maximize the amount of money I’m spending on my lease. Now I’d rather have less classes and have less stress, less employees. Even if we are only open a few days a week, we can actually do that. I mean there are restaurants that open up only on the weekend. There’s a furniture store called The Dump here in Dallas Fort Worth area that does huge business and they used to only open up on the weekend. I don’t know if they open up during the week now, but it was really interesting and it’s because they know they bring in like 80, 90% of their revenue and their profit on two days. Why waste money with staffing all these other days for no reason? So I want to point that out. Like with the kids academy, we’re just focused on ages eight through 12 being the absolute best at personal development through martial arts and having a very unique program that develops out proactive community leaders.

Those are real things that we do. Like we have lots of photos and videos and proof of the things that kids have been doing over the years and their growth beyond just the fighting and the self-defense for example. And the previous school that I had, we were really about being the best place for character development through martial arts for ages five through 12 in the DFW area, the Dallas Fort Worth area. And that’s really what we’re all about. Again, we did have a teen and adult class. We did some fitness kickboxing that parents would do. We had an MMA program at one point in time. Later on before I ended up selling that school though I actually closed my adult program because of the things I’m telling you. Not because I don’t like working with adults because I teach ultimate Bo and almost all the students are adults. And almost all of our students in the GMAU and the online school are adults because of the nature of it. And I teach seminars and things like that with adults. Absolutely nothing against adults. I don’t want that to sound the wrong way. It’s just something that I’m skilled at and something that I really like to do when it comes to my personal local classes. But it’s really important that you figure out what you’re great at, what you love to do, and kind of build around that.

Tools I Use to Run My Private Academy

Okay, so I’m going to take you through the actual tools I use to run my private academy. Again, this is a small kids only private academy that we’ve been talking about today. The first thing is billing. Typically people are like, “Okay, I need a membership management software that does billing as well. People can scan their cards and we can keep track of attendance, all those things.” Totally lots of options out there. So many options. I used to have something like this. We used Member Solutions back in the day for our billing and our software. They were full service billing. They charged a pretty high percentage. Something like, I don’t know what it was, six, seven, 8%. I remember us paying them like $900 to $1,000 a month. They were full service billing meaning if someone wasn’t paying, they had people that called them. They sent letters, they sent emails, they did collections. We didn’t send people to collections but they take care of all that for you.

Recurring Billing

Honestly, especially in this day and age, people are so used to just recurring billing, credit card, debit card, checking account. It’s so simple. I don’t know if you need that full service billing. I think it might be overkill and you might be spending too much for no reason. Beyond that there’s some really good membership management softwares that you can look into. But again, I’m just telling you what I do right now in a very simple format that allows me to operate this thing at six and a half hours a week. That’s what I’m talking to you about right now. I use Rerun. Rerunapp.com. They have recurring billing. It’s very simple. You just add the customer, you add if you’re billing them monthly or twice a month or fortnightly as they call it every two weeks, and the amount.

It’s just really simple. So once I set up billing for someone, they’re done. If someone needs to update their debit card or credit card or their payment is declined, they get an email directly from Rerun. They’re able to log in and do that on their own. It’s self service. This is incredible. I do not like being a bill collector. I can’t stand it. I don’t do cash promises. I don’t have things like, “Well, I’ll pay you next week. My tuition didn’t go through. Can I give you a check?” I don’t do any of that whatsoever. They just literally have to log in and change it on their own. It’s so easy. It’s a better customer experience and it allows me to just be the instructor. It allows me to have that role. I don’t want to have to be a bill collector. They don’t want that for me either. Super simple.

Membership Management Software

I use Google Sheets for my “membership management software”. So Google Sheets is the free version of Microsoft Excel, essentially spreadsheet software. I have a sheet that’s called leads and students. So I have one tab, any lead that I ever get someone that calls in emails in wanting to ask a question from our website or from Facebook, I add them there. I add any notes about them and I just have them in the system there. And then I’ll add a tab for my homeschool class and for each of my evening classes. And these are the actual enrolled students. Basic information about them, of course their name, date of birth, rank, belt size, address, phone number, email. I have emails for both parents. I have both parent names. I have notes such as where their parents work, the siblings’ names, little things like that because I like to get to know my families, but I don’t always remember and I like to be able to refer back to these things so that it looks like I care because I do care. I just have a bad memory sometimes, so I have to take those notes.

Accounting Software

And I also have a revenue sheet. It’s simple where anytime I have someone pay a fee or a retail purchase or anything like that, I just entered it in. Now I don’t enter in each recurring billing that happens. Just at the end of the month I go into Rerun and I see the total amount and I just type it in right there. So it’s really simple. It doesn’t take very long. I’m not using some sort of automated accounting software. It would just be overkill. Not even necessary in this case. I use Square for local payments. So I set up a Square account and if someone’s going to pay me when they enroll or do a paid in full or buy equipment, I use Square for those payments locally. They can just swipe their card rather than having to key enter it into Rerun later. Things like that. It just isn’t as smooth.

Email & Phone Communication

I use MailChimp for email communication just for my active enrolled students. Now clearly I could put all of my leads into a MailChimp list as well and be sending them out emails and this and that. Due to the nature of it, I don’t have any open spaces right now anyway, so it doesn’t really make that much sense. But clearly if you’re running a full-time school it makes sense to kind of keep in touch with these people. But yeah, MailChimp’s very easy to use.

I use email as my primary form of communication with my parents. So if I’m going to be closed for a break just to remind them a few weeks in advance, I just go to MailChimp and I make an email and I schedule it to go out a couple of days before that day and I don’t have to think about it again. You know, just any time I want to do something like that, MailChimp is great for communication. I do have a Facebook page for the kids academy and we put things there sometimes and it’s really great for marketing as well because … I’m going to talk about that a little bit later. But doing marketing boosted posts and ads through Facebook, people use Facebook Messenger to contact you and it is really common. We get contacted through Facebook Messenger at the same level as our website I would say. We have a phone number. I just have a Magic Jack for our business phone number. It’s very inexpensive. It’s a VOIP for any incoming call inquiries. I don’t actually have my current students call very often. I sort of train my parents and let them know in advance if you need to get in touch with me, just talk to me before or after class or send me an email and it makes it much more efficient. I don’t personally text my students.

Don’t Mix Your Personal and Business Communication Lines

I want to point this out because I know a lot of instructors who do, they kind of just use their phone number. They’re kind of mixing in personal and business all the time and they’re always on their phone. It’s crazy. I don’t want to do that to myself and my family and I want to be able to have a life that isn’t just always reacting, reacting, reacting. So that’s why email is better because I can batch that out and do it once a day and I’m able to be more focused. And really you shouldn’t be giving out your personal phone number to customers and clients and students. I think it’s crossing the line for both sides actually. But having your own phone number is good. And with the Magic Jack phone number, sometimes people accidentally text it because they assume it’s a cell phone and luckily Magic Jack has an app and you can actually text back on it, which is really nice. So I just want to point that out. It’s not a traditional landline whereas if you text it they might get an error or it just doesn’t go through. Which is problematic because people are very used to texting these days.

So that’s pretty much all I can think of when it comes to business level tools to run the private academy. Clearly I am myself the main tool because I’m the product people are coming to learn from. I’m teaching classes, doing the very best that I can out there. I use a Bluetooth speaker. Having music in the class is important. We have some mats and we have some stuff like that, but otherwise we’re going to go ahead and move on to the question of the week.

Question: What is the best way to market your kids classes?

This is from Jonathan Martin from Toccoa, Georgia. Thanks again Jonathan for another awesome question. “What is the best way you have found to market your kids classes?” Now I’m probably going to make an entire episode over this in the future, but I’m going to give you some quick answers right here.

Boosted Facebook Posts

So first of all, Facebook posts specifically boosted and targeted to geographic areas. So putting up a quick post of you giving a student a high five after class or even just a great … Hire someone to come and take photos, professional photos of one of your classes. And also some quick videos of your class. Please do this. Okay. If you have not yet, spend a couple hundred bucks to have an actual photographer come photograph and takes some short snippet videos of your class and then you’re going to have great material to use for a few months or a year even on Facebook and marketing and things like that. That’s something that most people don’t do. I’m serious. They’ll just use pretty bad looking photos that they get from some random parent that took it while they’re in class and I don’t know. Just want to point that out. Quality does matter.

But having a good post, just talking about your program. Again, maybe you have a few spaces open, you’re enrolling right now, you’ve got this deal going on. Don’t make it too salesy but do a post and then you can boost that post and target it on 15 mile radius around your location. Maybe for example, women only if you’re really wanting to focus in on the a kids program, I’ve done that before. You obviously can target men or women, but I’ve found that women are more likely to respond for these sort of things for their families because they’re often looking for new activities and things, but you could try both. And you could try ages such as like ages 25 through 38 or whatever you think might make sense depending on the kids class you’re promoting.

Maybe it’s a five to seven year old class. I mean you don’t have to promote to 45, 50 year olds generally. You can be a little bit more focused on your ad spend is what I’m saying. So good boosted Facebook posts. Also, quick videos that you make of just you talking about the program, overlaying it with some footage of you teaching in a class with a little bit of music in the background. I just did one of these yesterday for my homeschool program and the video is called Five Benefits of Martial Arts for Homeschoolers. I recorded myself talking about the five benefits, then I overlaid some footage again that I had from a professional photographer come and take at my school, and put some music in the background, rendered it out. The whole thing took me like an hour and a half to do. It’s a really nice video on Facebook. I boosted it and that was just an example of it.

Referral Program

Next is a referral program. Having a really good fun referral program that you do a couple of times a year, give all the kids special VIP passes or cards where if the student brings it in, on the back it already has that student’s name written on the back so you know who referred them and maybe it’s worth a free month or a free uniform or something. They get some sort of special value out of it. The person who comes into enroll. But they only get that value if they sign up for your full program, your six month program, your 12 month program. Don’t have it to where they’re like, “Oh, I get a free month now, right?” No, no. Once you enroll your first month is free. You still have to pay the registration fee and your equipment, but that first month of tuition you don’t have to pay at all. You don’t have to pay any tuition for a whole 30 days or whatever. Just an example referral program.

You can do things like, if you refer one new student, you get a $50 Amazon gift card. If you refer two new students, you get this awesome tablet. Use cool prizes, fun prizes are always good. Next is Google reviews. Google reviews are really important. I mean Facebook reviews are obviously helpful too, but Google reviews are extremely important for organic SEO. You want to have good organic SEO in general. You want to have a good website that’s ranking high on Google. But Google business listings are already going to show up even if your website listing is not showing up on the first page. So one way I’ve gotten more Google reviews is I created this really cool parent T-shirt that says parent of a future black belt and I got a really cool design on it and I had them made and any parent who wrote a review as a thank you, I gave them one of those T-shirts. So most of my parents all wrote the reviews and now they always wear it to graduations and class and they’re wearing it around town. It’s just really cool and they appreciate it because they want to do stuff like that. They want to support it. I actually had a parent that was like, “Can you make a shirt that says grandparent of of a future black belt?” Because the grandma wanted one really bad.

Google Reviews (and organic SEO)

But you need more Google reviews. You need more Google reviews than anyone else around you. That’s extremely important. Just want to point that out. You can do Google ads, you can actually promote your local business listing on Google. Doesn’t cost too much. Again, it’s like doing Facebook ads. Well actually, earlier I talked about Facebook boosted posts. Boosted posts is what I do more often. I haven’t done any Facebook ads specifically. Just boosted posts. And then Google ads that you can actually promote your local business listing. Something that’s worthwhile, especially if you’re in a heavily trafficked metropolitan area. And again you’re being very focused on your kids program. Do an ad just for the kids program.

School Talks

The last thing is a whole episode for sure. School talks. One year I went to one school every single week and I believe I did presentations to about 20,000 students. So I’ve done a ton of school talks. I was a children’s bilingual published author as well, so I went for one year and went to 80 elementary schools doing author visits and have a lot of experience going to elementary schools and doing visits and presentations is what I’m saying. But being a guest PE teacher for the day is an amazing way to do this. So you contact the PE teacher, you send them an email first and then you call to see if they got the email and just follow up saying, “Hey, just letting you know that I actually wanted to be a guest PE teach for the day. I’ve got this special presentation called Goal Setting Through Martial Arts.” Or The ABC’s of Success or Karate Teaches You Concentration or whatever your program is called, whatever you want to do with that.

Making it educational, community oriented, making sure it’s not scary and fighting and self defense oriented too much. Schools are very afraid of those sorts of things. But you’re actually attributing it to things that will benefit them in their academic setting. And giving them good information, having a great web page or flyer and everything like that and doing what it takes to set those up, whether it be meeting in person, if you have to go to the the district administration building and talking to someone and getting something approved. I mean I’ve done a lot of those things and it’s always worth taking those steps. But being a guest PE teacher for the day, you can go and you can see pre-K, kinder, first, second, third, fourth, fifth for example, all in one day and ideally you do get to send a card home with everyone that you have. They get to come and take their second lesson that Saturday morning at 10:00 AM and then they actually can do that second lesson, earn their white belt, break a board, get to do more with you and then you can offer a special to everyone who enrolled and then enroll them with a special offer that day.

So that’s a whole ‘nother episode. I just wanted to point that out. Those are some quick things you could start with right now and hope you guys really enjoyed this episode. If you’re having a really good time learning a lot with Rank Up, please do take a moment out to write a review from wherever you’re listening to this podcast. If I see a new review show up, like I’m just going to probably roll over at 3:00 AM and check Apple podcasts. If I see any review right there, I’m going to run outside, I’m going to leap up, I’m going to give thanks and praise to the Lord for this review that was bestowed upon me. And really, it’s a huge help though because it will help more people find out about this podcast. It will help me be more motivated to continue to make more and to continue to help everyone on their path on this journey. So you guys continue to train hard, keep learning, spread abundance. I’ll see you next time.

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Simply ask your question in the comments section below, and I will do my best to answer it in a future episode. Thanks for participating!

About the Author

I am a Lead Instructor at the Global Martial Arts University. I live with my three energetic kids on a prairie in Texas. I also lead The Abundance Projects.

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(5) comments

Daniel August 28, 2019

Great episode as usual in rank up! Keep up, great work.

    Michael Hodge August 28, 2019

    Thanks for letting me know!

Kurt P August 29, 2019

Just wanted to let you know that I enjoy all of these podcasts. They are very informative and educational. Keep up the excellent work!

SEBASTIEN GIRARD September 1, 2019

All interesting! But what about your own training, you teach kids but you train where, when and with whom? Ultimate bo, karate, krav maga… etc Interesting to know how you manage your own training time in tipical week or mounth!



    Michael Hodge September 2, 2019

    I live in a rural area, the only legitimate schools are about 45 minutes to an hour from my house. And, since I have three young kids, it is not easy for me to regularly attend someone else’s school right now. I do a lot of solo training, and also meet up with other GMAU instructors to train, I go to seminars (like I went to a 4 day intensive Okinawan Kobudo seminar last week). I do what I need to, in order to stay active in my own space. I am a big proponent of actually doing GMAU classes at in my own studio, as they can be a great way to train.

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