I’m not a businessperson. Have never been. In my little world, people hire me because they want something I can offer them. It pays me money, that’s wonderful. Build it and they will come.
That worked for my entire career until I launched out on my own to teach Alexander Technique. After a very short amount of time I realized I had no skills, zero, in marketing myself. I was in a new city. How in the world was I to reach people?
I hated shameless self-promotion. What do you mean people won’t just come find me? I thought the studio I hired on to would market for me. No. Not at all. At a loss, I tried all the standard marketing ploys that I saw in ads that came to me. Nothing appealed to me, and my business was stalling. I added piano teaching to my roster and realized that that steady income would pay my studio rent, taking some of the pressure of the Alexander Technique side of the business.
In 2016, I heard about Megan Macedo, who was talking about new ways to sell your business creatively and authentically through writing. I did several workshops with Megan, stopped worrying about building my business and started blog writing instead.
2019 was the best year my business has ever had. I was often working four weekdays a week instead of my stated 3. My regular AT class for actors at lunchtime was pulling people in and I had a waiting list. I had between 3-4 AT private clients a week in addition to my piano students. I was moving steadily forward. The heck with slow!
I turned 60 that year, and there was a part of me who was thinking “now or never.” I said “yes” to way too much. Dave was retiring and he started saying “yes” to a lot more music gigs on top of all the other things I had going on, and my calendar looked like this:
Then came March 2020. The world came to a crashing halt. My in person, hands-on business effectively collapsed. There was no “forward” for a while, there was only “slow.” There was only go outside and be in nature. Hang with the birds and squirrels. Find mushrooms. Identify trees. Vibrate with the boulders.
The whole world seemed to be in collective shock.
During the next two years, I spent a lot of time evaluating where I was and what I wanted. I wrote a blog series about it to try to process what was happening inside and outside during lockdown. Working online from home made me realize how many hours a week I spent in the car. Maybe slowing down would not be that bad. I let go of running the summer Kodaly program I founded in Virginia. I made an exit plan.
I moved my office to a smaller location, fully reopening in 2022. I have more piano students and less Alexander students, and I’m firm about those 3 days a week now. I don’t advertise, I let my website and blogs do it for me. I’m as busy as I want to be. I taught 3 university workshops for musicians this school year. Life is good. I may never earn what I did in 2019 again, but that’s ok.
Retirement is in view. I’ve said for years I’d never do it, but after my knee surgery I realize I can enjoy going forward even more slowly than I am now.