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I must get this question three times a week.

In our tough economy, less people are working and people are working for less. Self-improvement classes are one of those budget items that seem to dwindle and finally disappear.

This just increases pressure and presents a huge challenge for art instructors, like many of us, to be constantly replacing lost students with new students.

So let’s first review the basics of what it takes to be an independent art instructor ….

You must be a good artist
You must be a good instructor
You must be a good people person
You must care about your students and give them all of the customer support it takes to help them.
You must have a location your students can frequent.
You must be wanting to teach paintings the students want to learn to paint.

With this in mind, it means you must simply find those students who are LOOKING to find classes. Get into the way, is what I say.

So how can I promote getting my name known locally so prospective students will target me?

Here’s a quick list and if you have any additional ideas … comment below and we’ll update this list for everyone’s benefit.

  • Local PBS Exposure. Go to a local PBS station and see if there’s a host for a local arts and crafts show. Meet with the host, show your stuff and see if you can’t arrange to become a guest artist for a show or even a regular guest artist. If there’s no local arts and crafts show, that’s an opportunity for you to host your own show.
  • Public Demonstration. Go close to art students and simply demonstrate you painting. In fact, demonstrate publicly wherever you see lots and lots of people. Have literature available that describes your classes complete with sample photos, schedule, prices and testimonials. I also have an album of my paintings and an album of student paintings. And of course a sign-up sheet. It helps to have completed paintings of upcoming classes.
  • Teach at a local community college or community center. Lots of people want to continue their art instruction after such a class is over. So your the prime candidate for them to continue this education.
  • Public Listings. You may want to check with grocery stores, civic clubs, recreational centers and art centers or galleries to see if you can hang signs or post signs, or leave business cards for people to announce you.
  • Flea Markets. Display, Demonstrate and sell your paintings at local flea markets. And include literature on your classes that passer-bys can take with them. Be sure to demonstrate hourly. Have a schedule of your demonstrations.
  • Public Service Announcement. I keep my classes to 8 or 12 weeks. Before each class series, I send a course announcement to the local papers, radio and TV stations.
  • Charitable Donations & Fund Raisers. I get quite a few requests, especially at Holidays, to donate paintings. What I do instead is donate ˜classes. It’s amazing how many turn into 6 month or longer students.
  • Local Press Release Campaigns. Anything new that happens at your studio, send a press release out to the local newspapers, TV, radio, etc.
  • Visit the Arts & Craft editor(s). Send a letter of introduction and then go down to meet all of the local editors that will meet with you. Bring samples of your work and explain what you do. Ask for their editorial calendar. They’re always looking for two things. (1) Stories that will meet their editorial calendar and (2) a resident expert they can contact whenever they’re doing an article for a quote or information. Supply each editor with a company backgrounder, your company announcement press release, your most recent press release and an FAQ. Doing this says you understand their business.
  • Give Demos at Civic Clubs.
  • Print up and distribute 2 for 1 coupons. This is a goldmine. Even if only one third turn into full time students, its well worth the effort. I find over half of students who try a class on a 2 for 1 coupon continue for a year.
  • Rent the local list of popular art magazines. Most magazines and other media will rent out their subscriber list for specified zip codes. Many even offer email addresses as well. Plan on spending $75 to $125 per thousand names. So map out which zip codes you need, rent out the list, send email or a flier announcing your next classes. In order to own that name forever, so you never need to rent it again, offer something for free. A good example is a document of avoiding the top ten mistakes beginning artist make. Always ask if someone wants to be on your mailing list to receive future class announcements.
  • Use current material for classes. Offer holiday topics, local topics and topics of interests. Students often come to the class not for learning technique, but as a social or recreational activity This is one of the reasons I introduce products like the Three Faces of Santa you can find at

Be sure to list additional practices you use to find new students below and we’ll have a top notch list of promotional efforts for teachers.