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Old 01-26-2003, 12:38 PM   #101
creinig
Dojo: Yoshinkan Würzburg
Location: Würzburg (de)
Join Date: Apr 2002
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Search engine rating

Just read this and thought I'd add my EUR 0.02. Hopefully the info is still helpful after all that time..
Quote:
Rachel Massey (rachmass) wrote:
One thought is that my website does not show up on Google, despite my submission of the url. I spent a couple of hours the other day submitting my url to a number of search engines, in hopes that it would increase my visibility. The Chief Instructor of my home dojo suggested something about embedded files being helpful, and I find nothing about them in FrontPage, other than really basic stuff (he said hidden embedded files with the words aikido and Michigan).
About inserting invisible text and stuff: Don't !!

Search engines are beginning to use "cheating filters" which look for exactly that kind of thing. So it's a really good way to ensure you will not appear on google.

What really matters for google rating is:

(1) Being linked to from many other websites. The more popular these sites are the better. So having other dojos, aikido websites, the website of your head organization etc link to you is important.

(2) Having relevant text on your pages. That means text of the kind people would actually read Also, interested people will most likely search for "Aikido" plus "Michigan" or the name of one of the towns in the area, so these words should appear as well. That can be done by (a) more texts about aikido in general, plus (b) a good "how to get here" description (including e.g. "If you come from Town X, you'll enter Saline from the east; proceed to ..."), plus (c) mentioning (e.g. linking to) friendly dojos in surrounding towns.

Note: The more interesting stuff you have on the website the more people will link to you, so writing up articlea about aikido in general, about your experiences in running a dojo, about the suggestions you got here (!) etc will help as well. Don't underestimate that
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Old 01-26-2003, 12:52 PM   #102
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
Join Date: Jul 2002
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Hey folks, thanks for the renewed interest and comments on this thread, I think I'll try all your suggestions.

I am in the process, as I write of editing some mpeg images that we just shot yesterday to put on the website too. That might make the site more interesting.

FYI, I am linked to AikiWeb, the USAF website (of course), and several different dojos, plus the FAQ's dojo search. Any other suggestions out there for where else to link to (I'll ask some of other folks to link to me as well).

all the best, and thanks again for all the input.

Rachel
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Old 01-26-2003, 10:35 PM   #103
PeterR
 
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In my little dojo starting adventure the initial bleed of dragged along friends seems to be over and I am gaining new members here and there. I hope this trend continues.

One of the new students is a shodan in something called Aiki Kempo - very heavy Karate orientation. Him I want to keep. Solid body but moves well. So anyway, while the students are changing I'm upstairs paying the rent alongside another club instructor -very tough looking guy, shaved head, cauliflower ears. Having a little bit of trouble explaining what I do to this guy, he knows of Daito-ryu, knows of Aikikai but well my Japanese was failing. No problem though, at this point my Japanese students wander over. Well it turns out that my new student is his student and both were how shall we say it - very surprised. I am far too pretty to fight a challenge match thank you but my student went off to talk to his sensei. I respectfully made my exit. The student came again, his sensei declared that we will help each other (not sure what that means) and all seems well. Ever had one of those life flashing before your eyes moments?[/quote]

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 01-30-2003, 01:43 PM   #104
MattRice
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
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cauliflower ears - 'nuff said
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Old 01-30-2003, 03:04 PM   #105
Erik
Location: Bay Area
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Re: Search engine rating

Quote:
Christian Reiniger (creinig) wrote:
About inserting invisible text and stuff: Don't !!
Agree completely.

Rachel, Google can also take awhile to get to your site. These guys get tons of submissions so it's not a submit and you are there, it takes a bit of time.

On marketing in general. I've given this a lot of thought recently and I'm convinced that most of us do it completely wrong. I'm not even sure it's entirely a marketing issue anymore. I think it's also a PR issue. I guess I'm sort of repeating Peter here but it would be logical to write up a press release and submit it to the local newspaper in regards to a new business opening up. I see these all the time and it's many thousand eyeballs. Play up the women in martial arts aspect and I bet you could get play. I also saw an article on a 47 year old woman getting her black belt in TKD. No biggie to us but the local rag found it newsworthy. PR is good and seldom utilized from what I've seen.

Some other minor thoughts. Rachel, have you ever looked at your school on the days when you aren't there? Does it look like it's open for business? Or does it look dark and closed like an empty building? Most businesses have something in the windows or lighting which at least say's "hello, someone is home." Dojos often end up looking like they are "for rent" when no one is home. Do you have any posters in the windows? What about a list of class times on the door with tear-away tabs listing a phone number?

One thing I also want to implement is an ongoing video which runs in the window and shows clips of aikido over and over so someone walking by can see the art when no one is there. If it's good enough for dentists, it's good enough for Aikidoists.

I've got more but that is enough for now.
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Old 01-30-2003, 04:13 PM   #106
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
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Hi Erik,

Thank you for your advice; as always you have very sound ideas. Yes, the dojo does appear vacant during the days that I don't teach, and yes, I do have fliers up on the outside with tear-away tabs with website and phone number. I've tried getting a yoga or pilates person to come in and take the space during the days that I don't teach, but no one has been interested in doing that (can you believe that????).

One thing I have not tried is to get an article or something written. I did ask the local newspaper to run a small article about a demo I had for the grand opening, and they didn't find it newsworthy.

I like your idea about a video running in the window, although, that costs $$$$. I did put some videos into my website, and I hope that helps a bit.

On a further note, it has now been three months since the dojo has opened, and I don't think there have been more than three visitors to the dojo to check it out. I have had only one phone call, and several email inquiries, but nothing has panned out. The lease is up in April, so until then, I'll keep plugging away, but then I have some serious decisions to make as to whether to continue with this or not.

Thank you again for all your help, and to all of you out there who have given suggestions over the past few months.

Rachel
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Old 01-30-2003, 05:08 PM   #107
Erik
Location: Bay Area
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Well, if nothing else they are thoughts.

My scanner is broken, sigh, or I'd forward an article I came across on marketing MA schools. Quite good, but alas, my scanner........very sad.......must lament.....can't scan article or anything else....very bad.

You know, if things don't turn around, you could go to the local adult education center or find a gym and restart that way. You would actually have a positive cash flow (can't write get paid lest I burn in aikido hell) and if things really took off then you could revisit the whole dojo process only this time with a handful of students out the gate.

I'm in the process of talking to a couple of places and they both seem open to having aikido.
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Old 01-30-2003, 05:44 PM   #108
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
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Actually, I tried the adult ed and YMCA thing for a couple of years (tried to get into it that is), but they are already chock up with aikido throughout the area!

Thanks Erik, please, when your scanner is fixed, send me the article.

best,

Rachel
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Old 01-31-2003, 02:49 AM   #109
Abasan
Dojo: Aiki Shoshinkan, Aiki Kenkyukai
Join Date: Oct 2001
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Rachel, there was this pizza company... and it did this strange thing. They turned up at an office one day during lunch time with around 20 pizzas. No one ordered them, but by the end of lunchtime, all 20 pizzas were sold. Then after a week, they began to do something like 30-40 pizzas per building.

Instead of waiting for walk in customers and calls... why don't you go to institutions: private and public, and offer aikido courses?

Schools, hospitals, peer groups and business makes excellant opportunites given their diverse free times and interests.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 01-31-2003, 01:45 PM   #110
crashtestuke
Dojo: Aikido Shusekai
Location: Bay Area (CA)
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Unhappy

Quote:
Rachel Massey (rachmass) wrote:
<other good ideas snipped>

One thing I have not tried is to get an article or something written. I did ask the local newspaper to run a small article about a demo I had for the grand opening, and they didn't find it newsworthy.
Delurking to add in a bit here:

When you're working with a local paper, the thing to do to actually get an article is to write a press release, that in essence pretty much writes the article for them. You're not opening a new wing of the local hospital, axe-murdering Cleveland, or proposing a toxic waste management facility next to a day care center (what they're used to writing about), so you need to take a proactive role in getting press.

Keep your press release fairly short (one page would be best). Include quotes from yourself and other aiki folk (get their permission, of course) on Aikido, your teahcing experience and philosophy and the particulars of class times, locations, upcoming demos, etc. Offer photos. Use an angle (women in Aikido, promoting alternative ways of resolving conflict, learn to fly (briefly), etc.) to hook folks in.

It's not a guarantee (and if something does get published chances are it will bear a disturbing resemblance to what you originally wrote), but it will increase your chances greatly.

Good luck--I may have some samples at home I can email if you'd like. They're not Aiki-related, but the general structure could help.

--Christia
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Old 02-02-2003, 01:16 AM   #111
Kelly Allen
Dojo: Friends Dojo
Location: Winnipeg
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Sorry Rachel I know this is not in relation to the thread but I seen Christias Last name and I had to mention that I grew up in a small town called Mulvihill that apparently was named after someone called Mulvey. Any relation (Just Kidding).
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Old 02-16-2003, 09:07 AM   #112
Dave Porter
 
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Hi Rachel,

I've only recently come to this Message board, and to Aikido. I've been training for a month now and My son and I were actually at the very first class in the new Dojo. I've seen alot of ideas from the Marketing side, but I wanted to add some things from the "Prespective student side" if I may.

First you have on your webpage, Free classes, but only for first time students. How come? I've read were you have said your area is chock full of Aikido already, so it feels...Odd to me. I bounced around between many different schools before I settled on the one I'm in. I trained in Karate for 2 years in Tulsa and I moved due to my job. I had difficulty finding a Sensei that I both respected, and could learn from. It may be alienating to people who for whatever reason or another, left Aikido and would look to come back to training.

Second, This is a big one for me. I WILL NOT train with Kids. I just cant do it. I was injured severly by a 14 year old while training Ju Jitsu. Now I only train with adults (and Kids that I know personally and trusty implicitly.) The lack of seperate classes may put off parents of little ones as well. I have 3 kids from the ages of 10 and down, and I wouldn't want them training in adult classes.

Lastly, I went to your website, and it's really nice. The first thing I saw wasthe photos on the home page. It's great to show technique, but to a first time Martial artist. it may look like Holy Cow!!! Im going to get slammed if I do this. You may also want to add something about the current "Popular" people in Aikido...I.E. Sensei Segal. I've been telling the people I work with about the new Dojo and Aikido, and usually the first Question is "Whats Aikido?" To which I can reply...The obvious answer, its what Steven Segal uses.

Just some thoughts. Please bear in mind that I'm new to Aikido, and I hope I'm not out of line for the things I've suggested. Thanks. ~Dave Porter~

~Shugyo~ Total Dedication.
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Old 02-16-2003, 09:45 AM   #113
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
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Hi Dave,

Thank you for your thoughtful response, and to raising a couple of questions/points, that I had not considered. To answer your first question on 1st time aikidoka only; well, that is just to follow suit of my old dojo! Haven't given it a whole lot of thought. I might not have the most attractive dojo though to folks who have trained before, as there are only beginners there and not much of the slamming around that a lot of folks like (contrary to my videos). The second point about the videos, was that I thought these were quite mild techniques, and just showed a really good uke (my friend Shawn, thank you Shawn!), but my sister-in-law did say that it frightened her to see the techiques. So, I will reconsider both the videos (although I rather like them), and the free class to new aikidoka only.

Again, thanks for your input.

Rachel
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Old 04-09-2003, 10:57 AM   #114
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
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Hi all,

Just wanted to give you an update on how things are going on this new dojo venture (for those who had been following this dead-thread). I've now got four students, plus my friend Shawn who comes up from Toledo a couple of times per month. While things have definately been slow, it does appear to be picking up, and it is exciting to see this. One student even attended his first seminar this past weekend, after only having been on the mat 8 times before!

It is still very difficult to teach when you have no one to demonstrate properly with. Shawn is my life-saver on this one, and my son is also getting pretty darn good at taking ukemi.

As far as the space goes, I've found a couple folks who now are sharing (keep fingers crossed that this continues) my dojo for teaching both Yoga and Pilates, and we are doing some joint advertising. I am also trying another free class this coming Saturday, and hopefully that will bring in some more viewers. The biggest problem I am still having is being visable to the public, but at least 40% of the people who have come by to watch have joined (but that means that I've only had a few people come in).

Hopefully the next time I give you all an update, things will have gotten even busier on the mat, with more folks joining. Wish me luck!

Also, I know there were some folks following this thread and contributing, who were also in the throws of starting a dojo or club, and I'd love to hear how things are going on their end.

All the best,

Rachel
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Old 04-09-2003, 07:55 PM   #115
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Rachel Massey (rachmass) wrote:
Also, I know there were some folks following this thread and contributing, who were also in the throws of starting a dojo or club, and I'd love to hear how things are going on their end.
Slowly Rachel - ever so slowly. Our numbers are about the same as yours with about six people on the mat each time. We've had up to ten people on the mat but the core is smaller.

You have Shaun I have Omonishi. As I mentioned he was team captain of one of the strongest Shiai teams in Japan. He takes fantastic ukemi and also is invaluable when I introduce technique. I demo at full speed with him, then we switch and he describes what's happening in Japanese, and then I emphasize a few points in Jenglish. Best part, every time someone new comes in we can impress the hell out of them.

My people keep telling me that advertisements and websites are really not that important. It really is word of mouth. If you have a core, and you do, it will grow.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 04-09-2003, 08:17 PM   #116
Bronson
 
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Quote:
It really is word of mouth. If you have a core, and you do, it will grow.
I'd have to agree with this. While we do get inquiries from the website, the largest number of people who actually come to class for any length of time are brought by one of the other students or at least know one of the other students.

The second largest group would be from the website.

Third largest from the sign out front.

Hardly anybody from the phonebook.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 04-10-2003, 06:29 AM   #117
ian
 
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I think the people who enjoy aikido are often those who would not think of taking up martial arts. My club fluctuates, but I have found now that I'm more interested in quality than quantity and really enjoy the sessions when there are very few (as long as they are moderately good).

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 04-10-2003, 10:43 AM   #118
fullerfury
Dojo: Aikido Suimei
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Hi Rachel...

It sounds as if the membership is coming along quite nicely. You have four members and growing...I think the toughest part is getting that first handful to commit and show up consistently so you are not showing up to teach to an empty house.

The dojo I am opening is still under construction, but I have gotten about 8 inquiries due to the web precense. http://aikidosuimei.com I am planning an open house as soon as construction is complete and am inviting members from a sister dojo where I currently train...with class to be led by my teacher.

I hope I can get a 40% success rate on membership from those who have expressed interest as you have. But as they say...if you build it they will come...so no worries here.
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Old 04-10-2003, 11:37 AM   #119
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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Hello Peter, Bronson, Ian and Garrett,

Thanks for contributing to this thread! It is very good to hear other's experiences in starting up a dojo, and I particularly like to hear about those who do it from scratch, as it really is a different bird altogether. I think that all of us find aikido immensely fulfilling and worthwhile, and that is why we do it, and want to spread it, even though the journey can be very difficult.

Garrett, liked your website! Are you actually building a dojo? Is it at your home? Wow!

best,

Rachel
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Old 04-10-2003, 11:49 AM   #120
fullerfury
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Yep...I have been struggling for years to find ways to get to the dojo on a more regular basis...I have 5 kids... 3 daughters aged 1,2,3...so it is difficult for me to skip away more than 2 to 3 nights a week to train...so...I am building the dojo on the house...
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Old 04-10-2003, 12:03 PM   #121
rachmass
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wonderful, please let me know how that works! In particular, I wonder about liability, as well as the issues regarding zoning and visability. This is something that I would like to do too, but am a total worrywort when it comes to liability issues...

thanks for sharing.
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Old 04-10-2003, 12:49 PM   #122
John Boswell
 
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Rachel,

Hi. I saw your thread when you first started it and then again today. I'm glad to hear things are picking up a bit. Slow but steady is a good thing.

Couple things I wanted to suggest (in case I may have missed it earlier in the threat) :

1) Sandwich Board Sign - Do you have one of these? It'd be real easy to make, two peices of plywood hinged together with a chain froming the crosslink of the A to brace it. These are really good to put ANYWHERE to get visiblity, plus they are portable and can be moved around and also brought in at night.

2) Survey - Make up a simple survey asking people important information such as: when is their best/worst time to train, reasons they are interested/not interested, do they know aikidoka and who that is (could get them in maybe?)

Basically, feel them out and find reason, times to get them in. Also might offer a discount or incentive for bringing in friends to try out Aikido.

You've probably thought of most of this, but wanted to bring it up. I wish you the best and hope continued success finds you!

GOOD LUCK !!

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Old 04-10-2003, 12:54 PM   #123
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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Thanks John,

The sandwich board thing has been explored, but don't have any place to put it (legally). The survey is a good idea, and I hadn't thought of it!

Thanks also for the well wishes. If wishes were horses, then beggers would ride (one of my dads favorite quotes), and with all the great well wishes I've had on this thread, I'd be riding a beautiful thoroughbread. It will improve (what is the saying; I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...., or "you can do it, if you put your mind to it", obviously got kids).

best to all, and thanks always for the good wishes, Rachel
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Old 04-10-2003, 01:01 PM   #124
John Boswell
 
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One of my favorite sayings is one I modified to be more TRUE:
Quote:
Good things come to those who Persist !
The original saying say 'to those who wait', but I have no patience for patience.

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Old 04-10-2003, 01:02 PM   #125
rachmass
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I like that one John; actually got a fortune cookie a couple of days ago that alluded to the same thing!
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