Last week I posted an interview with Anthony LoCascio of Danceregister.com. We talked about the social network/community he has created there. However, Danceregister is a multi-faceted service, also providing tools and assistance for the creation of dance studio websites and blogs.
In short, Danceregister Web Services (also known as Dancerhost) does the website set-up, studios are then provided with a finished product which includes a “back-end” redesign, templates designed for the look or feel of a dance studio, up to three months of instruction on how to work with the WordPress software, and site hosting.
Did that seem like it was written in another language to you?
Breaking it down
If you already have a dance studio website, you probably have a registered domain name and your site’s files (it’s guts) are “hosted” somewhere. Since not many dance teachers have their own web server at home, you are probably paying an outside service for hosting your files (this may or may not be the company with which you register your domain). An individual or a company may handle all the set-up, design, updates, and maintenance of your site. If so, you may need to go directly to that person/entity whenever changes are to be made.
Dancerhost takes care of the set-up and hosting of your new website. However, they will then teach you (or studio personnel, or volunteers in charge of updating) how to handle administration tasks yourself.
Cutting Out the Middle-Man
What many people don’t realize is that the administration or “back-end” aspect of websites has become more and more user-friendly. WordPress, a software for creating and administering blogs, has become popular for use in all kinds of websites (not just blogs). Some reasons for this…
- Technical knowledge of computer coding is not needed to update the site.
- Running a website on blogging software does not mean that the site has to look like a blog. Dancerhost.com is an example of this. This demonstration studio site, does not truly feature a blog (though the capability to do so is there.
- The “template” or skin of a blog can be changed without changing the “back-end.” Much like changing clothes, the same body is beneath this new look. (WordPress was and is beneath Dance Advantage’s previous look and its current look)
Domains and hosting are still requisite expenses. WordPress software (which Dancerhost uses for all its clients) is free to download and use. Though there are other blogging platforms out there, WordPress is currently very popular for its user-friendliness, online community support, and adaptability.
Myself as an Example
Other than some basic HTML knowledge obtained in one college course, I do not have super technical computer knowledge (though I’ve learned a lot since beginning this blog). I do have a level of intuition when it comes to computers. Whether or not it is more than the average dance teacher, I couldn’t say.
Through online investigation, I have learned how to utilize WordPress to create this website. It takes time and energy to start as I did, with little knowledge of how the “back-end” of things work. I spoke with Anthony about this and more when I interviewed him.
Here is what he had to say about Danceregister Web Services…
Dance Advantage: I’ve done all of this behind-the-scenes stuff myself but I recognize that this path is not for everyone.
Anthony LoCascio: Exactly, anyone can set up these services themselves. However, the “back-end” or admin section of a site can easily confuse a user who lacks various computer skills and a certain understanding of the Internet. Dancerhost will set-up and host your site and we even teach you how to use all your new, fun, simple Internet goodies so that you can produce instant website updates and, best of all, gain independence from your “web guy.” We offer three months of instruction, which will soon include video tutorials, but the learning curve is small and has never taken more than a few weeks.
DA: How much does all of this cost?
AL: The typical price, if you use one of our templates, is a $250.00 charge for set-up and simple design corrections. There is no charge for the continued use of the WordPress package and the Google package we provide. There is the yearly hosting fee which is included the first year and is $24.95 each year after. If you own your domain name you must continue payment with that company, however we can easily provide you with a “.dancerhost.com” domain name free of charge.
DA: For those that may not know about WordPress, describe why this is a powerful tool for studio websites.
AL: Part of the idea of Danceregister is to expose the “mom and pop” dance industry to free software and open source software that large corporations are using to save hundreds of thousands of dollars. Maybe I can’t save a studio hundreds of thousands but I can help them save thousands. By using WordPress and a collection of Google apps, we provide a web site and online integrable office. This makes you more mobile, efficient and even environmentally active. It increases communication and makes your office work much more pliable.
Danceregister wants studio owners to see the power they have at their disposal when provided with just a small bit of guidance. The ultimate goal here is to expose people to what the Internet has become and not what they remember. Because of what WordPress and Google can each accomplish, not only individually but when used in tandem, the scope of what users may go on to investigate is limitless.
What Do I Think?
Obviously, I’m not a Dancerhost client. In talking with Anthony, however, I can tell you that he is passionate and wants to share his knowledge with other dance instructors. In our conversation, he mentions the quote “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.“
I appreciate that Anthony points out that WordPress, Google Aps, and other tools and templates he offers are free to use for those that know how. The service he is providing helps you to make use of these free and open source products, likely saving you some of the time it would take to teach yourself and reducing your dependence on others for the maintenance of your site. You may prefer to hire someone who will handle all aspects of your site (I have no experience with this – maybe others of you have thoughts on that process). Conversely, you may choose to utilize the above and/or other free tools without assistance. Danceregister Web Services is an alternative that lies somewhere between the two and it is offered by dance teachers for dance teachers. Investigate for yourself and decide if Dancerhost is right for you and your studio website!
Want to know more?
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world. Read Nichelle’s posts.