[Transcript] Episode 061 – Allie Tyler

Transcript: Episode 061 – Allie Tyler 

Transcript for Episode 061 – Allie Tyler on Building an Aligned Private Voice Studio

Intro

We cover a range of topics in today’s episode: everything from branding and marketing, to starting a new studio in a new state, to building a business model that prioritizes flexible time and passive income.

I think you’ll get lots of inspiration and ideas from this Colorado voice teacher.

Here’s my conversation with Allie:

Interview

[00:00:56]

Andrea: Hi Allie. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for being here today. Can you introduce us and tell us about your studio?

Allie: Yes. Andrea, I am so excited about today. I’m looking forward to it for a really long time so thank you for having me. My name is Allie Tyler. I am a vocalist. I’m a voice coach. I am all kinds of different things. I’m a marketing instructor and I ran a vlog. I do all kinds of different things but ultimately my business is called “The Whole Voice” and what I do for it is I teach primarily adults how to sing as a self-care practice which is so fun. I also have a YouTube channel on the vlog so I got that whole kind of online thing.

What I really love doing with The Whole Voice is particularly looking at the whole voice like exploring what that means in terms of not just singing but using our voice, expressing our voice, listening to our inner voice, how to really connect with ourselves, how to really be grounded and how to really share and express what we came here to do. That is so my jam. I love helping people with that and I had quite a long winded journey of getting here. This is my 11th year teaching voice lessons and yeah, that’s kind of me in a nutshell that I can talk like all through the process if you wanted me to.

[00:02:10]

Andrea: Awesome. I love it. And I’ve been following you on Instagram for a while and I’ve seen a little bit of the iteration in your studio over the last few years so I’d like to hear some of that but also, take us back to the beginning how you started teaching and kind of how you got to where you are today.

Allie: Cool. It’s a little bit unique for sure because my parents are both music teachers and they’re both professional musicians and that’s all they did. That was our full-time deal so I started reading music when I was five but more interestingly, I think I started subliminally just caught on to music teaching because they were having so many students in our house. My dad is a trombone teacher and my mom is a piano teacher and we had 30 to 40 students in our house for years and years and years with my brother right next door. I just picked up on so much of what they were doing and also just being a musician. 

It’s kind of a weird thing because I always knew I was going to be a music teacher like from day one, so it’s not one of those things that sort of fell into my lap. I sort of fell into its lap and I started teaching I think I was a sophomore in college when I taught my first real like “I’m getting paid” voice lesson. I taught things here and there to friends and I haven’t stopped since. It’s just a great, amazing process of starting with a music studio. I think a lot of us start in music studios where we’re kind of employed. People come and do the after school lessons and then eventually I quit that and I worked for a few different other places.

And then, finally, seven years ago I was like “This is crazy. I could do all this myself.” This last seven years had been such a trial and error and really, I mean, it’s a lot. It’s scary to put yourself out there to make your own money. Then you add this whole rise of social media and online marketing and how does that fit, even invoicing and scheduling, it’s been such a process. It took a lot of failing and a lot of different twists and turns to land where I am now which is really just I have the best schedule in the whole world. I have the best students in the whole world. I literally wake up and I’m like, “I’m going to write a blog article today then I’m going to get on a podcast,” and earlier this morning I was teaching some voice teachers about marketing, I have a voice lesson after this. I just feel like I finally, after all this time, of really going through trying to figure out how to make this work, how to make this self-employed thing work but also how to have this freedom aspect. That’s why we all want to do what we do. We want to be able to build a business that serves us and not just us working for it. I’m so grateful for where I am today.

[00:05:01]

Andrea: It sounds like you’ve done a lot of evaluation along the way and tweaked things so it has become that studio and that schedule that you’ve liked or excited to work at every day. So what was the thing that made you decide you were done with teaching in the music school or the studio that you had been teaching out of then like branch out on your own the first time?

Allie: Great question Andrea. Ultimately, it was the freedom aspect and I think a big part of this whole journey that I’ve been going on is that, well, number one, I went through sort of a self-identity crisis for many reasons. I lost my voice. For a really long time I had nodules. I also went through this very intense like “Do I really want to be a musician or was this planted in my head from the age of zero? Why am I here?” It was this parallel of really having this personal development and understanding what my strengths are and what I love and how I want to live with simultaneously happening as I was kind of growing my studio.

When I was in the music studio I felt so confined. I wasn’t getting paid enough. I was working my tail off and I lived in Southern California where I went to school. I got my Bachelor’s and my Master’s and I was doing all of the teaching and SoCal thing which meant driving to all of my private students’ homes, and Orange County in Southern California is massive. It is so big. It would sometimes take me two hours to get from one student to another and I didn’t get paid for that driving time. It was so many different things. It was really just like I want to be able to live the life that I want to live in alignment with what I deserve to get paid, how I deserve to spend my time, who I’m teaching, what I’m teaching. All of these things were not available to me in a music studio. That’s what your 20’s are for, right, you’re trying of figuring out what you want your life to look like and what feels good for you. It was all happening simultaneously. I’ve always had that drive of like I’m going to work for myself and I’m going to figure it out and that’s kind of what initiated that.

[00:07:42]

Andrea: So talk about what that first studio looked like. I know now you’ve got lots of branding around your studio and I want to get into that but first paint the picture of your first studio.

Allie: I think the trickiest transition that a lot of us have is where to teach, right, like teaching at churches or teaching at schools or teaching at any kind of facility is a big part of the whole package of running a private studio business. This was really tricky for me way back then. This is probably I’m talking 2015 so five years ago I just graduate my Master’s. I was living in Laguna Beach and I was kind of playing around with like “Should I teach in this tiny little 800 square foot apartment that I have with my piano and bother the neighbors?” So my original studio is very much like influx. I had some students who would come to Laguna and I basically would charge them less. That was the reward for them. I would charge them more if I was driving to my students’ homes and that was like the big juggling act.

The other thing is that Southern California is so big and it’s very spoiled in the way that parents and families can just have accessibility to music lessons like how awesome is it that your teacher comes to your house? I don’t know about you Andrea, but I didn’t have that as a kid. That’s totally the norm out there and that’s really hard out there as a teacher to drive everywhere. What ended up happening is that my boyfriend, now husband, at the time, we were killing it. We were doing so well by all standards of American lifestyle and we were so burnt out. We were both letting that California crazy like barely surviving to live your lifestyle.

It was fun and fulfilling but we needed to live more and so we did a crazy thing. We quit everything. We sold everything. We moved into a tiny little van. I have a little 60 square foot camper van. We travelled around the country for almost a year and lived in it and it was like the coolest craziest thing to open my phone and be like “Wow. There’s nothing.” I don’t even have a home like there’s nothing. I had no obligations. During that time it really helped allow me get crystal clear on what I value and what does feel good and how do I want to spend my time and live my life.

So that experience and then after moving to Colorado where I live now, I totally transformed my studio and totally transformed the way that I approach students and my policies and my scheduling, everything, like literally all of the dominos were totally falling down. The moment that I got crystal clear about what was in alignment for me and what was not in alignment for me, it’s huge and so that was a big shift. I knew that teaching in people’s homes, driving is not in alignment for me anymore and I needed to spend more time being in one place getting more students. I’m very fortunate that a big part of this is we bought a home, a house that we turned into a triplex. We fixed up our house and being able to rent out the other two apartments inside of our house is absolutely game-changing. It was one of those passive income things that allowed me to transition and to create my own little studio where people can come to my studio and take lessons. That was a game changer. Even that location shift was huge, not to mention all of the other things I was learning about my boundaries and all of that good stuff. That actually got big and that’s the nutshell.

[00:11:54]

Andrea: You mentioned California and people having the expectation that their teacher would drive to them and I think that’s such a regional thing. I noticed the same thing when I lived in Maryland. There was a much greater expectation for teachers to drive. You said it wasn’t like that when you’re growing up. What’s the culture around travel teaching in Colorado where you are now?

Allie: That’s so interesting that you say that because it’s so different out here. When I moved out here we didn’t have a place. We had to transition and I had to start getting students right away. My husband and I moved out here with zero friends, zero jobs, zero anything except for the love of the mountains, and so I had to start teaching right away. I had to go to Denver and I was going to my students’ homes to build a relationship with them so I could later transition them into my studio. Of course I lost a couple of students but ultimately, practically everybody was okay with it. I think a huge reason for that is traffic. Traffic in Southern California is absolutely awful and that makes a big difference for someone who’s like “Oh, I got to sit here in an hour to go to my voice lesson,” versus people who are 15-20 minutes away and can get here very quickly.

The other thing that I thought is really interesting to kind of go with that is I really got crystal clear on who I wanted to teach and that was really different than California because California, the mindset out there is your teacher comes out to your home and you’re competing and auditioning and you’re go, go, go. It has a different kind of energy to it versus people out here in Colorado. I live in like Hippieville so it’s pretty funny when people are coming and they’ll be like “I just felt a calling in my soul to come and sing.” And I’m like, “That’s awesome!” It’s so different!

The mindset of it and the intrinsic motivation behind it was really different. That was also playing in to not only them coming here but also me getting really clear about what I really want to “target” in terms of who I want to teach are adults because adults will, if they are committed to something, they are so much more likely to come. They’re so much more likely to practice, I’ve noticed. Even if they don’t practice, they’re still showing up. They’re still committed to it because its their money versus a parent who is paying for soccer and gymnastics and voice lessons and whatever, really, I felt a difference with that kind of clientele and their expectation and what they are expecting of me. Those are really the big factors I’ve noticed in California versus Colorado.

[00:15:01]

Andrea: Yeah. There’s so much regional variance in what’s considered normal in lessons and I think it’s really important to recognize what your own region comes with because you’ve got to filter any music teacher advice or things like that through the lens of your own region.

So now you’re in Colorado and you’re in a house and you’ve got a physical studio and students are coming to you. What does your studio look like today now with that clarity of who your ideal student is and all those things? What does it look like?

Allie: It has taken a lot of iterations. I think the biggest one was the name change. A lot of us who are musicians who are also performers will take on Allie Tyler Voice Studio, like we take our name and we slap on “Voice Studio” after it and call it a brand and it’s not a brand. I had this realization as I was starting to teach more adults I was starting to get more into the “Oh, this is more a creative outlet versus a competitive thing,” then it was like “Well, what else can I go with here?” like how else can I expand my method and my teaching. Really, the big thing that I felt was a lot of us, most of us, are really addicted to more—more students, more money, more more. Just that idea of running a business equals more and I didn’t want that again. That was what I was trying to get away from by moving to Colorado from that California lifestyle. I was like “How do we do less?” like how do I do less of this and still get paid more like I want to work smarter and not harder.

The most important thing that you can do as a teacher is nurture the heck out of your students. Give them everything. Ask them questions about not just like vocal techniques of whatever the pedagogy is, whatever the instrument is, but psychologically what’s going on and emotionally what’s going on. There are so many elements of being a musician and learning music. Instead of chasing more students, I started thinking I’m just going to nurture the students that I have and I’m going to create a method. 

I was so determined to create a method and it actually came from one student and it was her first lesson and she was like, “I got my notebook, so what’s your framework for learning how to sing?” I was like how do I put this into step by step. I became kind of obsessed with that like, really, what is that transformation? What is the step by step? What are the things that go beyond just singing that really influence our voice? I started coming up with different categories. That’s really a great way to do it for marketing purposes and I kind of landed on this name “The Whole Voice.”

The reason that I love The Whole Voice and what it kind of meant for me is that not only is it just singing lessons. It’s so much personal development. It’s so much self-love. It’s so much self-care. It’s so much looking at your own thoughts and being mindful and understanding that our own mind is the most powerful thing in the whole world including for how you sing and how you use your voice. All of these things are so interesting to me but I couldn’t figure out how to brand that under Allie Tyler Voice Studio. It just didn’t make any sense. So coming up with that name really sort of helped refine my brand. It helped me kind of get clear about what the values were that fit under the umbrella of The Whole Voice. It also helped me get really clear about “Yeah, what is the transformation?” If somebody walks into my studio, what is the transformation? What journey am I taking them on if they’re on point A to point C?

That all became my priority and then the “brand” like the studio, the blog, whatever, it all encompassed that. It was just a reflection of all those things. Ultimately, it was a reflection of all of these things because this is all stuff that I do. I’m so much a teacher that walks the talk. I’m not going to teach something that I have not learned or done or experienced myself. I wanted to be a part of the journey with my students rather than “Here’s how you breathe and here’s how you belt” you know, like it’s a holistic experience. It also allows me to sing and write my own music which I love doing and it kind of fits in that brand as well so it’s like I like to put in the word “whole” in there. It really is. It can iterate, right? Private studios go through different ebbs and flows. We’re constantly changing our brand and I wanted something that was rock solid that could allow different things to come later through my personal journey as a teacher, as a human, and that would still be able to fit under that brand. Really the name change, that was really the biggest thing for me.

[00:20:25]

Andrea: And what else came along with that? It sounds like your ideal students that kind of shifted or retargeted at that time, your teaching methods it sounds like that kind of shifted?

Allie: Absolutely. My teaching methods really shifted. I think a really big thing that a lot of teachers need to remember is that we were taught what we learned. We are all influenced by our own teachers and our thing, even my parents, but not necessarily is it going to be relevant for now. I’m really facing these “limiting beliefs” around what I taught and how voice lessons looked and how many times a week I taught and how I got paid. Every single one of those things changed for the better because they are so much more in alignment. The biggest thing that really changed out of all of what I just said is that I created a membership for my students.

So kind of going off of that whole concept of nurturing the heck out of your students, I was thinking a lot about what are the biggest things that they are struggling with. What are the biggest obstacles that they are having? It was practicing and I think a lot of music teachers are going to hear that and go, “Yeah man, me too. My students, if I could just get them to practice. It’s a hard thing.” And so I thought, well, this is a great opportunity to create something that is scalable that it can be a supplement for my already circle of students. I don’t need to go get more students. I don’t need to create anything crazy. I’m just going to create a little membership for who I have and charge them a little bit more. This evolved because the membership meant that every month I was putting in a new video, I was putting in a new breathe work exercise and I also have different themes. So one month was balance and then one month was confidence and different things.

I’m so glad I did it because it was such a good learning experience for me to get on camera and all that stuff but it also was a way that I was able to make even more money and also grow my network without me having to work so hard. The biggest thing I got from my van trip and really a big life value of mine in general is freedom and having time and I don’t feel like I need to work for every dollar. I can make money without having to be present. That was a big thing. I was growing this library of resources that was solving the problem of helping my students practice because they now could log in and be able to have different supplemental materials and resources. I could also expand it to people who just wanted the membership and maybe not necessarily voice lessons with me so they could have a monthly recurring thing that was just a little bit of money per month and be able to get those resources. Eventually, it turned into a course and a program and all kinds of other things now but that was a really big change was just like, “How can I still teach and get value but without me having to be there all the time?”

[00:23:40]

Andrea: So now you’ve got this membership that can provide passive income to you that you initially launched to your students and then you launched that publicly as well or what was the timeline there?

Allie: Yes. If I can give any advice to anyone who is listening, do this because it’s so great. You can totally start with your little clientele student. They’re your beta testers. That’s what I would call them. I started with my students and even, I mean, membership aside, like online, in person, whatever, basically what I was doing during that time was I was throwing spaghetti on the wall and trying different ways of getting to my students and so I would survey my students. I would ask them questions. I would tell them straight up like “Hey, I’m trying out a new method right now. I kind of want to create a membership and inside this membership is going to be this method that really looks at all elements of The Whole Voice. Maybe I’ll have you meditating and maybe I’ll have some breathe work and then maybe you’re going to do a vocal warm up, but I don’t know, I’m just trying it out so let me know what you think.” And so having that was so nice for me because now all of the stress has gone away of “Now I’m going to launch this big thing and then put it out there and Oh God no one bought my thing.” Nobody wants that, right? 

You got to beta test everything you do so why not do it with your student clientele. So what I did was an entire year of 2018 just for my students and that was like their benefit as they get to be part of the ride with me. My benefit being I get to learn the whole way what was working and wasn’t working and then I put it out to the world.

[00:25:25]

Andrea: And then everyone, because it’s part of your membership and your studio, every student has access to that?

Allie: That’s right. The way that I put it was I initially had it “free” aka if you’re a student you’d get the log in access. Eventually, I think it was around maybe six months later I was like, “Okay, I’m going to charge a tiny little bit for those who are interested,” and it was so easy to sell because all of those students who had already been in the program already and so they were motivated to keep being a part of this. Now they’re paying a little bit more and then eventually now it’s like its own supplemental thing.

[00:26:03]

Andrea: So if they don’t opt in, is that rolled into your tuition or your membership.

Allie: Yeah. My current model now and I’d be honest with you, Andrea, is I have changed my pricing especially due to Covid and the whole life that we’re living now. I’ve changed it three times in 2020 which is so crazy. I’ve never done that before. I keep all of my students who are already here. They’re at the grandfathered rate. They’re at the same rate so they don’t even know. They don’t know I’m raising my prices so that makes me feel better. What I’m doing now, a couple of things that I’ve changed that was really so fun to experiment with this, the first thing was that yes you’d get the membership no matter what if you are a student.

I am charging more period for it like the membership has its own price and it’s tacked on to an hourly fee that you’re paying every month, but you can choose between one lesson or three lessons a month. So I’m no longer doing weekly lessons and that’s for my own vacation. Students can either do three lessons a month or one lesson a month. They have access to the program. You can also have access to the membership by itself. You pay a monthly fee to have access to it and because you have access to it, you get one free 30-minute lesson with me so in that way we can touch in and I can make sure that you are using the program correctly, I can hear you and oftentimes that will turn into the one lesson per month with the membership addition, so it’s kind of three different options there. 

[00:27:43]

Andrea: Interesting. I like that model of that one or three lessons a month. That sounds really interesting and it sounds like it meets the needs of your clients. That makes sense for their lifestyles. Okay, so what percentage of your income now is coming from private lessons versus the online program?

Allie: They probably are about even now I think I have more students so there’s mostly like the people who are paying the kind of recurring thing and it’s tricky that to answer to because I also coach voice teachers and so that’s a huge part of my income as well. I would say it’s pretty even as far as the amount of people who are taking the membership by itself who are paying the monthly fee versus the people who are taking voice lessons. My goal, ultimately, is to build up the membership more and actually start supplementing in more group lessons because if I have a healthy membership with a lot of members in it who aren’t necessarily doing the one-on-one thing but who still want to have that accountability and they want to be able to work with me in some way, then I want to be able to have something to offer them. Group lessons are definitely on their way.

[00:28:54]

Andrea: And would this be in-person or virtual?

Allie: Virtual. Everything is virtual.

Andrea: Let’s talk about marketing. How have you marketed both your lessons and then also online programs?

Allie: Yeah. I would say the key elements that have really helped my studio, number one is Thumbtack. Thumbtack is a really great resource. It got about 75% of my clientele especially when I first moved out here and I was able to grow my studio super-fast. I think like 20 students in probably three months just from Thumbtack so that’s been a really great helpful resource. The other one being Instagram, that one has really taken off especially in the last year, so I think the trick for me really is especially was in my messaging. I think it’s kind of a funny awkward thing to market and maybe you feel this too with your instrument and people who have other instruments may empathize with this. It’s a lot to ask a “cold” subscriber. It’s hard to convert those people. I think one of the biggest failures I’ve ever had as running this business was spending just way too big of a number on Facebook ads and it not working out for that reason. 

So I’ve really started taking on this more like kind of personal different approach where I’m really honing in on the no trust factor. That is the blood of my business is really just building connections with people. Get in the DMs and sending people videos, even asking them to send videos back on Instagram, giving them advice on like “Try this with your voice,” but very customized to actual individual people. That’s been huge. Yeah, it sounds really silly but being on podcasts has been awesome for my business. It’s been really cool. That’s been a really great way to bring in people as well. As much as I can, really like connecting with people and getting on video, you know video is huge, and being able for people to see who I am.

I know that one of my strengths is communicating so my opt in is a free video voice lesson. You got to use your strengths in any way that you can for people to trust you enough to pay you and that’s been huge. Like I said, we could talk forever about the nitty-gritty but that’s kind of like the nutshell of how I approach marketing.

[00:31:55]

Andrea: Can you give us an example of what you might have posted before and then now with the emphasizing no like in trust like how that has impacted what you might post?

Allie: Yeah. So the big things engagement-wise, people really love being a part of a poll or a questionnaire or responding and it’s great for me too because I can get some great feedback from them, right, but anything that gets people to engage, so I’m really active in Instagram Stories and constantly asking people questions. It’s just something to get people to engage. That’s been a really big one is just engagement.

The other thing too that has been really fun is honing on in my niche, really honing in on what is it that I teach, kind of going back to methodology like kind of putting that in there. Mindset is a huge part, inner voice and inner connection and intuition and listening to yourself are huge aspects of what I teach. If we even just put those little posts on there about also just how I’m doing this in my own personal life, people feel really drawn to that type of stuff not only because it’s inspiring and it’s empowering and everybody here wants to be better, but also it’s just like it’s different. It’s like self-care of singing. You want to be just different enough like hone your niche just enough that people are curious about what it is that you have to offer. Those are the biggest things that I have modified over the years for sure. Consistency too, consistency is key like putting out a video every week, something like that. Building that trust factor is also the frequency of what you’re putting out there is important too.

[00:34:10]

Andrea: You mentioned Thumbtack too. Can you talk about how you use that platform to build your studio?

Allie: Absolutely. You know what’s great about Thumbtack is it’s pretty self-explanatory. You put in your profile. You get your testimonials and you have a little template that you send it on. It was actually like the easiest thing for me to put together. I think the hardest part for everybody who has ever tried Thumbtack and maybe given up on it is getting that “pro” status. It’s just one of those things that you just have to do it over and over and over again until you get there. Back then, like in 2015 when I was first starting this–that’s when I first joined Thumbtack–I was absolutely determined to get students on there like completely like I will send out 50 of those letters. Someone comes on and they say, “Hey, I’m interested,” and you send them an email. I answer every single one. I had to build up that platform so I could get up in the higher ranks. It definitely took a lot of time on the frontend work but it’s really about crafting the perfect kind of intro email, like that first introduction is everything. 

Having the devotion to keep tweaking it and keep tweaking it and changing until you start to actually see this is working and people are interested. Now it kind of runs kind of automated. It just took a little while to get there.

[00:35:49]

Andrea: Okay, so like every social medial platform it’s not overnight and you have to work at it.

Allie: Exactly. You do have to work at it. 

Andrea: Are there any books that have had a strong influence on you as a studio owner or as an entrepreneur?

Allie: There are so many. The ones that are coming to mind right now, “The Pumpkin Plan” by Mike Michalowicz. That was an absolute game changer for me. He talks a lot about nurturing your students, nurturing your current clients because, again, going back to that, when you nurture them, they tell their friends and who tell their friends who tell their friends. It’s a very beautiful big old pumpkin that you bake according to him. The Pumpkin Plan is great. “The One Thing” by Gary Keller is really helpful and again, honing in on that one niche. Those were really the two that really changed my life in terms of growing my business. 

Andrea: Those are good ones. I haven’t read The Pumpkin Plan but I read I think The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur is also my…

Allie: Yeah. Totally, it’s great.

[00:37:03]

Andrea: What goals are you working towards this year?

Allie: This year is an interesting year as we all know so question mark, what are goals? What is the future? But that aside, I initially started this year with my two goals being I wanted to do more workshops and I really want to record an original album. Those things are still on the table but they have sort of modified to really scaling this kind of studio business. I really love just being able to make money in my sleep, being able to have a system that works for me and so having a group workshop element, having some courses that supplement with it, growing that membership that’s been big and a huge part of what I do is coach voice teachers on bringing in marketing. I have a membership that I have been working on for them as well.

I just really love the membership model. It’s just such an awesome way to build a community and to get your value out there without having to teach just one-on-one for the rest of your life. Those are really my big goals. It’s just like kind of growing this community and then also I love writing music. I post a lot of stuff that’s very sing-along-able. I’m working on a little program that’s called “How to Sing as a Self-care Practice” and it’s a bunch of different videos and sing-along and it’s literally just like vamping on the piano and just singing whatever. It’s just like fun. I like that element of writing and doing all of those songs to make people feel good. Those are my goals this year.

[00:38:38]

Andrea: Alright. And where can listeners follow along with those and see your progress? 

Allie: Cool. You can find me at The Whole Voice, everything The Whole Voice. Thewholevoice.com, The Whole Voice on Instagram and I think on Facebook it’s The Whole Voice Studio if you actually use that @ thing, but you could just search “The Whole Voice” and you’ll find me.

Andrea: Alright. Allie, thank you so much.

Allie: You’re so welcome. Thank you, Andrea. It’s so great to chat with you.

Recap

I’ve talked to a lot of studio owners with really amazing brands, and Allie’s studio stands out as one of the most thorough and cohesive. I actually started watching Allie’s work on Instagram when she was still “Allie Tyler Voice” and I remember when she launched “The Whole Voice” brand and I thought “Yes! That makes total sense!”

The name and branding isn’t just something Allie slapped on top of a generic studio. It represents how she teaches and the way she runs her studio.

At the very beginning of the episode Allie introduced her studio so well and succinctly. I wrote it down because it was so great. Allie said “I teach (primarily) adults to sing as a self-care practice.” It’s the “as a self-care practice” part that really stood out to me.

Rather than just saying “I teach voice!” or “I teach voice to adults!” Allie’s description captures the “WHY” behind her lessons and makes it abundantly clear to students what her priority is as a teacher. I also sort of set the expectation for her students that the point of lessons is not necessarily to compete or learn discipline or any other noble goal that could be fulfilled through voice lessons. It’s about self-care!

One quick word of encouragement to the teacher who is just starting out or just starting to think about branding: developing a brand takes time. As you heard from Allie, it’s taken over a decade of teaching, a year living the van life, and a lot of introspection to get to where she is now. Keep reflecting on what’s important to you, what’s working, and not working in your business, and keep making adjustments. It will come together in time.

Switching gears, I was really excited when Allie mentioned how buying a house made it possible for her to explore her entrepreneurial ventures.

This is not a real estate podcast, but I wanted to expound on this a little bit because I have a similar story.

Often our housing expenses are one of the largest line items in our personal budgets. When you’re first starting out, that one line can determine whether or not you can afford to start a business. If you can lower or eliminate this one line in your budget, it can give you tremendous financial flexibility.

In Allie’s case, she and her husband turned their home into a triplex, which gave them rental income to defray their mortgage expense. (Not to mention, some nice tax benefits!) Without the pressure of needing immediate income to cover the mortgage, Allie could grow her business instead of jumping into a regular ol’ job.

I scrimped and saved all the way through college. When I graduated, I started my multi-teacher school and started house-shopping. I was too stubborn to sign a lease on an apartment, so I managed to line up house-sitting jobs for eight months straight and my car functioned as a traveling closet. Eventually I was successful in buying a house. I made sure it was something I could afford on my own, but I also had a roommate or two at various points, which covered my mortgage payment.

Sometimes you have to get creative, but there are lots of ways to lower those living expenses. Starting a business is not always pretty, but it’s certainly worth it!

I’d love to hear how you got creative when starting your studio. Chime in on the Music Studio Studio Startup Instagram or Facebook posts for this episode. As always, you can find the show notes and transcript at musicstudiostartup.com.

That’s all for today and thanks for listening. I’ll be back next week.

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