Looking for the tech solution to get your classes online?
This is a (somewhat unexpected) project that many pole & aerial studio owners around the world have suddenly found themselves faced with! Figuring out how to host online lessons, how to accept payments for them, set a cap/limit on spots, distribute the link, and then somehow share the replay is enough to leave anyone with a headache the first time you try!
That’s why I’m here to help cut through the confusion, and get your digital solution up and running ASAP.
Please Note: This article is best read as a counter-part (or sequel even) to Getting Your Studio Set Up Online – so I recommend you start there if you haven’t already! There’s a few broader concepts you will want to have wrapped your head around first, before we dive into the nitty gritty today…
Recommended Tools for eLearning and Online Communities
There are SO many ways to make this work! Let’s look at a couple of my favourite solutions for this kind of thing:
SCHEDULING / BOOKING OPTIONS + PAYMENT PROCESSING
You’ll want one of these if you intend to take online payments and/or bookings for your classes
👉 You may find your existing studio booking software – like MBO, PoleBuddy or DanceStudioPro – might have an embedded solution, so check there first (especially if you’re already paying, and also because it might save the need to export/import your student lists if you can work from your primary customer management tool anyway!)
👉 Acuity* is a great scheduler/calendar management platform that will let you accept 1:1 bookings or group sessions, where you can set your available times, limit seats per class, require payment or use credits/coupons, even integrate with your video solution, like Zoom, to automatically generate a meeting link and send it to students!
👉 Calendly is an alternative option similar to Acuity
👉 Or if you’re using WordPress you might find that an event booking plugin (or a ticketing extension to your eCommerce plugin) will do the trick!
ONLINE MEETING / VIDEO CONFERENCING
This is the part where you actually stream your videos, or hold live classroom sessions
👉 Zoom* is the crowd favourite for 1:1 and group video calls (with optional screen sharing) and comes with lots of very handy features of online meetings – check out my other post ‘Zoom 101’ for some tips and tricks I think you’ll love! This app is free for 1:1 videos and free up to 45 mins on group session, but I highly recommend the paid plans as you will most likely want to take advantage of the Cloud Recording feature, and be rid of the 45 mn maximum limit on your sessions
👉 Google Meet (formerly known as HangOuts) is a similar tool and a great alternative especially if you are using G Suites as Google Meet is included free with these plans
HUBS & PORTALS
This is where your students can find everything they need – it’s where you upload replays, or pre-recorded videos, and can even double-up and cover some of the other requirements (like subscription payments, or communication tools, if you go for a fully-featured membership solution as your ‘hub’).
Here’s a couple of different ways to house and provide access to your content:
👉 Facebook Groups/Events or Facebook Workplace
– Workplace is basically like an entire copy of FB just for you and yours (no really, it’s pretty cool, think of it like your school/office intranet except a better design and everyone already knows how to use it!) – free and premium tiers available
👉 Membership and/or eLearning plugins installed directly on your website
– there’s LOTS to go into here and I think might need a separate post to break it down! A dedicated members area your website is often the most time+cost intensive to set up but can be a fantastic solution in the long run – it makes a great home for everything, plus it’s what we call “traffic you own” (ie sign ups will grow your email list, visits will add to your ‘pixel data’ for tracking & retargeting visitors with FB, page hits will help boost your SEO and the average time people spend on site will likely increase which is good for your ranking too) – awesome!
👉 A third-party membership platform
– using a service like MemberVault.co*, Kajabi, Teachable or MembersPro is great because it takes the stress away of installing and maintaining it all yourself, as long as you are happy with the specific set of features and design tools that are made available to you
👉 Or even simply a manual method!
IMO – there’s nothing wrong with a quick and dirty solution a lot of the time! If you’re looking to get something up and running, like yesterday, then “it’s ugly but it works” might be the mantra for you! Here’s a few ways you can get your distribution set up almost immediately:
- Google Drive + Google Sheets with links to the videos
(optionally password protect the Google Doc and update regularly)
- Vimeo + share video links via email to specific groups or individuals
- Facebook Group with native-uploaded videos, or links to G Drive/Vimeo/YT etc
COMMUNICATION & AUTOMATION
👉 Messenger, WhatsApp or Voxer are popular choices for 1:1 or group threads
👉 Good old fashioned direct email – Gmail/Outlook etc – works fine in a pinch too!
If you’re looking for something a bit more sophisticated…
👉 Slack is a great messaging tool that let’s you create public & private channels for different topics, and integrates with lots of other tools like Zoom, Google Calender
👉 ActiveCampaign* is great for both email marketing and as a CRM solution (customer database) thanks to it’s extensives ability to automate emails and SMS, segment customers and track marketing activity across different platforms
BONUS: Automating Integrations
Got some tools or systems that you wish could “talk to eachother” to make your life easier? Even when there aren’t specific integrations provided, there is often a way to automate things between different services you use – if you know what to look for!
Zapier is a really fun and powerful tool if you want to start ‘zapping’ data from one service to make certain things happen based on different triggers – you can think of it like “if A happens then do B” – for example: “when someone fills in contact form X, add their name to spreadsheet Y and email them with message Z”) – the sky is the limit with this one, but it does take some tech savvy so it’s perfect for those with a more complex setup or those who are used to integrating services and configuring automations.
That’s all for now!
Of course – there’s a whole world of solutions out there, and if you’ve found something different that works for you – GREAT!
If you’re still struggling to make the choice, or to actually hook things up and GO LIVE – let me know. I’d be happy to help!
PLEASE NOTE: A few of the links in this post may include my referral code – indicated with a * – which means I may receive a small ‘thanks’ commission if you register based on my recommendation, of course, I only suggest tools I use and love myself!)