SubHub meets Tony Eyers of Harmonica Academy
"Initially I was planning to run my website myself. Then I found SubHub. It seemed that their system had been put together with my project in mind, their capabilities and my needs were a close fit..." - Tony Eyers.
Harmonica Academy was created by Tony Eyers from Sydney, Australia. Tony started playing harmonica in the 1970's, inspired by Jim Fitting while studying at Yale. After graduating he returned to Australia and became a well known blues player, fronting Adelaide's leading blues band for many years.
In addition to his music background, Tony has a PhD in IT, a Bachelor of Science and a Diploma in Education. He has more than 20 years experience designing educational programs. In 2008, Tony launched www.harmonicaacademy.com with the support of SubHub.
SubHub spoke with Tony about his company, his website, and how he turned his passion into profit.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what led to you to setting up your site?
Tony: "I've been playing harmonica for 35 years, around 10 years ago I set up a harmonica teaching site in China. Harmonica Academy was a logical extension of this. My career has been teaching, in engineering and IT, not music. I'd long been thinking of ways to combine my skills, Harmonica Academy is the result. It combines my love of harmonica with my various technical skills."
Why did you decide to use SubHub and how long did it take for your website to be online?
Tony: "My site went up in 2008, initially I was planning to run it myself. Although I found some partial solutions, I wasn't confident that they'd work. Then I found SubHub. It seemed that their system had been put together with my project in mind; their capabilities and my needs were a close fit."
How involved were you in developing the website, and did you have any experience in creating a website before?
Tony: "I had created websites before, I built Harmonica Academy by myself. A version of the site was actually up before I engaged SubHub, so the site preparation involved transferring the content over to SubHub."
How hands on are you with updating your site? Do you create everything yourself, do you have any staff, or do you outsource?
Tony: "I do everything myself with Harmonica Academy. However I have a Spanish version of the site, at Armonica.com.es. I outsourced the translation for the Spanish version."
How much time do you spend updating your website?
Tony: "Not much. The lessons are self contained."
How do you interact with members and what's the key to keeping them happy?
Tony: "Most contact is via email. I make a point of providing rapid turnaround whenever queries arise. For each new subscription sale I check that it has been set up correctly. I have a full refund no questions asked policy for unsatisfied customers. This happens rarely, but I provide a prompt refund when it does. There is a forum on the site, however this is mostly for forum members to talk amongst themselves."
How has SubHub enabled you to grow?
Tony: "The SubHub platform is very reliable, in 7 years there has been one outage only, it was addressed promptly, we were kept up to date with progress."
What kind of content is most popular on your website and why do you think that is?
Tony: "The site has a structured harmonica teaching program with audio. The earliest lessons are the most popular."
How have you grown your email subscribers and how do you manage them?
Tony: "I provide a free 5 part guide "How to Succeed with Harmonica", comprising a set of emails which return people to the site. I run this through AWeber, it has been quite successful."
Now that you've created a website, how do you make money from it?
Tony: "The site sells lesson subscriptions."
What has been the most effective way to drive traffic to your website?
Tony: "I worked quite hard to get good Google rankings for various key phrases related to harmonica teaching. I also created related sites (e.g. Harmonicatunes.com), which direct potential customers to Harmonica Academy."
From your experience, what are the basic steps somebody needs to take to setup and develop a successful website?
Tony: "You need to have good content, and a strong desire to see the project through. Once the site is up, you are less than half way there. Marketing the site is a separate project, which requires significant time and effort."
What advice would you give to somebody thinking of starting their own website with SubHub?
Tony: "You can be confident that SubHub will handle the technical details, leaving you to worry about content. Their support is excellent, over the years I have developed a good relationship with the SubHub team."
What can people expect from your site or company in 2015?
Tony: "2015 may be the year to introduce video to my site."