Yoga is amazing. It helps people heal, transform, and become the best version of themselves possible, so I find it no surprise that yoga is a booming, thriving industry with over 20 million practitioners in the United States alone.
But every day I encounter yoga teachers who are struggling to grow their business, get clients, and serve authentically.
Sometimes the struggles are purely a mindset issue. Many yoga teachers want to make a living teaching yoga, but feel asking for money isn’t yogic. More often than not the struggles are simply a lack of knowledge. Most yoga teachers don’t think of themselves as marketers, and just don’t know where to start when it comes to marketing their business.
Unfortunately, if you’re a yoga teacher in 2016, you need to start thinking of yourself as a marketer if you want to stand out from the crowd.
With the power of the internet and a little creative thinking, you too can market and grow your yoga business with these 10 ideas.
1. Join Help a Reporter Out
Nothing holds a budding entrepreneur back like being unable to get their message in front of people who need to hear it.
Help a Reporter Out, also known as HARO, is a service founded by Peter Shankman that allows reporters to find sources who can shed light on a specific topic. The magic of HARO is that HARO makes it possible for people who do not have a big PR machine behind them to get featured in the media. No longer is getting written up by a big media outlet out of reach for the little guy.
I’ve met a lot of yogis through HARO, and I have been able to interview a lot of people over the years including Jerry Springer, and national bestselling author Brad Thor. Thanks to HARO I’ve been quoted on Entrepreneur.com and Travel+Leisure.
HARO is an invaluable resource for any budding entrepreneur. If you are serious about growing your business, you need to start being seen. HARO will help you do that.
HARO Best Practices:
- Only respond to queries that are the best fit for your business. If you’re not an Ayurveda expert, don’t respond to Ayurveda queries.
- Answer exactly what the reporter is asking.
- Be concise and omit needless words. Reporters are busy and unless they specify otherwise, don’t want to read 5 paragraphs in your initial pitch.
- Do not simply respond with, “I’d love to participate.” Give value to the reporter first and foremost so they know you aren’t a waste of their time.
- Don’t send attachments. HARO strips attachments from the pitch emails. Include everything relevant to the pitch in the body of your email.
Action Item: Go to HelpAReporter.com and sign up for a free account as a source, and sign up for their daily emails.
2. Blog to establish credibility and community
Blogging isn’t dead. Far from it. Blogging establishes you as an authority, builds your brand, and can help you find people who care about the same things you care about.
Growing a blog successfully is more about strategy than it is about putting a bunch of posts out into the universe and hoping they get seen.
Blogging isn’t like The Field of Dreams. It isn’t, “Build it and they will come.”
It’s “Build it with a carefully thought out vision, execute your strategy consistently, and they might come.”
The best blogs — and the most successful blogs — are blogs that have a carefully planned strategy that is executed on a regular basis but is also flexible enough to evolve as needed.
I had a strategy in place for 42Yogis a full two months before the website went live. It is because of this strategy I went from 0 visitors to my first day of 14,000 visitors (in that one day!) in just two weeks with ZERO money spent on advertisements.
Yoga blogging best practices:
- Yoga is a very broad topic. Pick 5 topics within yoga to focus your efforts on. You can always expand later, but being focused will keep you headed in the right direction when you get started.
- Write about what you know, and if you don’t know, do research! If you’re working on a post about yoga nidra and it isn’t your speciality, research it, and include quotations from the sources in your post. This will boost your credibility.
- Successful blogging is 20% writing and 80% marketing. Your posts won’t do very much to establish you as an authority if nobody sees them.
Action Item: Brainstorm 5 yoga topics and within each topic brainstorm 5 posts you are interested in writing about.
3. Offer yoga parties
Yoga parties aren’t commonplace, but when done correctly they work very well.
The concept is simple: You go to someone’s house and teach yoga for an hour for a very discounted rate. Everybody who signs up and pays for a workshop, series of classes, or class package at the party gets a free bonus they wouldn’t get otherwise.
Bonuses could include free classes, free swag, or access to an exclusive membership site.
By adding bonuses exclusive to the yoga party, you are giving guests incentive to sign up and pay you before leaving the party.
The biggest benefit to you and the guests, however, isn’t the influx of cash for you, or the bonuses for them. The benefit is the intimate setting. You get a chance to talk one on one with every single guest and give more attention and assistance than you would in a large class. You can create more authentic relationships with the guests.
Yoga Party Best Practices
- Have a selection of themes for the host to choose from. Keep these as a PDF that you can simply email to the host. (Bonus points: set up an autoresponder. When someone requests more info about your yoga parties they get an email from you with the PDF.)
- Show up an hour early to help the host with any last minute setup that needs to be done, and greet guests as they arrive. You don’t want to be the last person to walk in the door.
- Provide the host with marketing copy they can send to guests in advance. The easier you make it for the host the better.
- Consider providing the host with snack suggestions if snacks are provided.
Action Item: Write out 5 yoga party themes and map out the content of each theme. Make sure to include: duration, poses, and expected questions that may arise.
4. Create an ambassador program
Brand ambassador programs are nothing new, and many yoga clothing brands like Karma Collective are using ambassador programs quite effectively.
In exchange for discounts, swag, or exclusive events, ambassadors promote your classes, workshops, and retreats. Ambassadors are best created by your current customers, so take a look at who your best (and happiest) students are, and start there.
Ambassador Program Best Practices
- Your ambassador program should be fairly exclusive. You only want the cream of the crop representing you and your brand.
- Map out your ambassador program before you start asking people to join it. What’s in it for them?
- The actions you want ambassadors to take need to be easy, fun, and repeatable. If it’s too much work, nobody will want to do it long term.
- Decide how you are going to manage it up front. You can always change the management method later, but you need to know where you’re starting.
- Be very clear about the time investment required for both you and your ambassadors.
- Be ready and willing to provide support to your ambassadors. This includes making sure they get everything they need to promote your brand on social media, and assisting them with troubleshooting should problems arise.
Action Item: Sit down with a pen and paper and write down everything that comes to your mind for an awesome ambassador program.
5. Consider multiple offerings
Perhaps this goes without saying, but when you only have one offer, you limit the ways people can work with you (and give you money). By only offering expensive private lessons, you’re pushing away people who can only afford group classes. By only offering group classes, you’re not serving people who want and can afford privates.
When you have multiple ways you can work with clients, it gets easier to deliver what clients are looking for, and it gets easier to get paid.
Now, that being said, it may be that you’re done with group classes. You’ve taught groups for long enough, and you’re burned out, and broke. It is perfectly fine to only teach private lessons, but the same principle applies: offer multiple ways people can work with you.
When it comes to private lessons, consider offering packages in 1 month, 3 month, and 6 month bundles. Packages help with client retention, help you to better predict your income, and reduces the time you spend onboarding clients and dealing with administrative duties.
How do you price your packages?
Think about how much you need to make, and how many clients you can teach one-on-one every week.
For the sake of this article, let’s say you want to only work with 10 clients per month each at 1 lesson per week (4 weeks per month average), and you need to make $6,000 per month. $6,000 divided by 40 lessons = $150 per lesson.
From there, validate your price.
- Are there other teachers in your area who charge more? Or less?
- Are you qualified to charge that price?
- Do you have references to back up your teaching ability?
- Does the price feel in alignment with where you are in your business?
Using this example, a monthly package would be $600, 3 months $1,800, and 6 months $3,600.
You could offer a 10% discount to clients who purchase a 3 or 6 month package to incentivize them to purchase. Yes, you take a 10% cut, but in exchange, you have secured their payment for more than just 1 month.
Action Item: Map out multiple ways clients can work with you, and consider offering packages if you don’t already.
6. Start livestreaming
Livestreaming is ah-may-zing.
I’ve been livestreaming for over a year, and it has done amazing things for my business. I have made many of friends I wouldn’t have made otherwise, and I’ve grown my business. I got clients who never heard of me before they watched my livestreams. Three of my most recent business coaching clients met me on livestreaming.
While you can livestream on Facebook Live and Periscope, for me it all started with Periscope. Since I took the time to cultivate a following there before Facebook Live existed, Periscope is still where I have the best traction.
Periscope is the fastest-growing social network in history. There are millions of users, but far fewer broadcasters. Those who get in on the ground floor of this still-relatively-new app, have a chance to make a huge impression. Live video is the number one way to build the Know, Like, and Trust factor very quickly.
Zach Spuckler of HeartSoulHustle.com has a wonderful course to teach you how to use Periscope for marketing. Thanks to Periscope and digital marketing, Zach has made $250k+ in sales in about a year. His free and premium trainings will teach you how to leverage livestreaming to grow your business.
Action Item: Sign up for Periscope, and do your first scope! Don’t worry if you’re embarrassed or don’t know what to do. That’ll come. The first step is to get comfortable on your camera.
7. Host a free workshop
Odds are there are people in your community who aren’t very enthusiastic about yoga. The myths surrounding yoga are deeply entrenched. In my experience, people who aren’t into yoga are usually misinformed, and believe myths like, “yoga is only for skinny white women.”
By hosting a free workshop you can build awareness about yoga in your community, educate people who don’t know much about yoga and help people bust through some yoga myths.
Free Workshop Best Practices
- You’re not going to attract new people if you only advertise to your existing yoga students. Think outside the box. Where can you reach people in your community who are not already coming to your classes?
- Make sure the title is very specific and not overwhelming. You want to take the fear out of yoga; not make it worse. Don’t use any yoga terms in the title or the marketing. Keep it simple and easy to understand for non-yogis.
- Have a clearly defined outcome. People who aren’t already into yoga won’t connect very well with “build the foundations of your yoga practice,” but they will connect with, “learn simple movements to reduce back pain.”
Action Item: Grab a pen and a piece of paper and write down every free workshop idea that comes to mind, and think of ways you can market it to non-students.
8. Run an Instagram + livestreaming challenge
Instagram yoga challenges are great. Instagram + livestreaming challenges are even better. Last year I and several yogis ran the Periscope Yoga Challenge, which brought the traditional Instagram yoga challenge format to Periscope.
Every day we had a post on Instagram followed by a live broadcast on Periscope where we went more in depth.
People could follow along on Instagram, Periscope, or both; whichever platform suited them best at the time. By extending the challenge to a livestreaming platform you’re building the Know Like and Trust factor faster than you would be if you were just posting to Instagram.
Yoga Challenge Best Practices
- Find sponsors to sponsor prizes to the participants. Prizes are great for incentivizing people to complete the challenge.
- Map out the challenge in advance. You don’t want to be doing anything last minute. This includes making the images, picking the theme/pose for each day, and setting the time for Periscope broadcasting.
- Be present! It’s not enough to put your posts out there and never engage with the participants. Make sure you’re checking posts and commenting on a daily basis.
Action Item: Map out your Yoga Challenge and create a prospectus to send to potential sponsors. Your prospectus should include dates, themes, social media reach of each host, and requirements for participants to get a prize. (Pst. Just starting out? Hit me up. My company 42Yogis.com might be able to sponsor a challenge.)
9. Create a loyalty program
A loyalty program is something you see all the time at coffee shops but not very often at yoga studios. The concept is simple: buy a certain number of walk-in classes, get goodies.
You can offer a free class, a shirt, a water bottle, a yoga video download, or 10% off a monthly membership.
Yoga loyalty programs are a great way to convert students from walk-ins to membership students because you can demonstrate to the customer how much money they would save by getting a monthly membership, and they get goodies.
It’s important to note here that on average a student will use a monthly pass 12 times throughout the month. A couple students will come to every class you have, while others will show up once or twice a week. Twelve times per month is about average.
Make sure you know how much you’re making per class for the monthly membership holders before offering a discount as part of your loyalty program. A discount of 1 or 2 classes off the monthly membership rate is reasonable. Anything more will hurt your revenue projections.
Loyalty Program Best Practices
- Make sure the goody is something people actually want. Otherwise, why would anybody bother?
- Advertise it to your students!
Action Item: Outline your loyalty program. Get creative! What does it include?
10. Partner with local businesses
In a small town, it’s in everybody’s best interest if all the businesses do better. Get to know the owners of the other businesses around you, and explore ways you can partner up.
If there is a wine store in your town and a boutique grocery that sells really fabulous cheese, all three businesses could partner up for an event.
Students can come to Yoga on the Vine, Pinot and Poses, Breath and Bordeaux (whatever you want to call it), do yoga and afterwards, they get to attend a wine and cheese tasting, and explore pairings.
You, the wine store, and the boutique grocery can offer a bundle of a bottle of wine, cheese, and yoga lessons.
If there’s a great coffee shop in the area, you could partner up for an early morning yoga class with an espresso tasting afterwards. You can offer a promotion where after one of your morning yoga classes students get a discount on a drink if they go over to the cafe.
Partnership Best Practices:
- Make sure the partnership is of equal benefit to both businesses.
- Lead with what your partnership will do for the other business. Don’t phrase your pitch as if it’s all about you.
- Make sure the event is not going to take a lot of extra time or extra staff. It needs to be cost effective.
Action Item: Create a partnership proposal for one of the businesses in your town and deliver it by hand.
Tying it all together
At the core of it, growing your yoga business isn’t about increasing your profits; it’s about helping more people who need yoga. When your yoga business is strong, and you’re not burned out from having two other jobs, you can serve more, and have a bigger effect on the world.
But if you’re running around like a headless chicken trying to implement all 10 of these suggestions at once, you will diminish your ability to serve. I encourage you to pick only one or two ideas that really resonate with you, and set aside time to implement. Without implementation, ideas are just ideas.