Yoga is a booming, thriving industry, but every day I encounter yoga teachers who are struggling to grow their business, get clients, and serve authentically.
Sometimes it’s a mindset issue; many yoga teachers want to make a living but feel asking for money isn’t yogic. But more often than not it’s a lack of knowledge. Most yoga teachers simply don’t know where to start. After all, if you wanted to be in marketing, you wouldn’t be a yoga teacher, amiright?
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.
In this post I have 42 ways for you to market and grow your yoga business whether you’re local or online.
No matter how small your budget, I want you to walk away with actionable ideas, so without further ado, here are 42 ways you can grow your yoga business.
1. Create your email list and start sending emails
Email marketing is king, and if you’re not embracing email marketing in your yoga business, you’re in for a very rough road ahead. Email marketing is the number one way I have grown my business from nothing in the last two years. The best emails are the ones that are friendly, personal, and give value to the subscriber. If you’ve been a member of my list for a while, you’ll notice I share content from other websites, and I don’t have a lot of fancy formatting or graphics. In my experience my emails are more likely to be read and shared when they are personal, and not overly promotional. A good rule of thumb: don’t only email when you have something to promote.
2. Blog, blog, blog
Second to email is blogging. Content marketing goes hand in hand with email marketing. If you want to grow your business, you gotta get people over to your website so they can sign up for your email list. The best way to do this is through blogging about topics that people want to read about. Marketing your blog posts is a far more effective way to get people to your site and to sign up for your list than saying, “Go check out my website.”
3. Submit your blogs to StumbleUpon
Once you have your blogs written, you need to start promoting them. A great source of traffic that is vastly underlooked is StumbleUpon. People spend HOURS stumbling across the internet. You can submit your blogs as you’re done writing them to relevant categories. (There are hundreds.) People set their interests, and the platform will show them posts from the categories they’re interested in.
4. Broadcast on Periscope
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 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. Three of my most recent business coaching clients met me on Periscope. There are Periscope communities designed to help people get started scoping, grow their following, and boost their business.
5. Engage on Twitter
Twitter is overlooked by yogis, and I don’t know why. There are thousands of tweets for the hashtag #yoga daily. Yoga, wellness, chakra, ayurveda, meditation…you name it, there is a hashtag for it. Find the hashtags that relate best to your yoga business, and start sharing content related to that hashtag. When someone replies, talk back to them! Interact. Engage.
6. Join Facebook groups
Facebook pages can be a non-starter for a new business. The engagement is dreadful unless you’re willing to learn how to game the algorithm or spend money for ads. But Facebook Groups are thriving. Facebook knows you chose to be a member of the group, so they prioritize the content you see from the group in your newsfeed. Think about how often you see content from a group in your feed vs. content from the page who owns the group. Find groups related to yoga and start networking.
7. Answer questions on Quora
Quora is a website where you can ask questions and get answers from experts. Spend some time hanging out in the yoga topic. You’d be amazed at how many questions are asked but not answered. This is a great way to start to position yourself as the yoga expert that you are.
8. Join and participate in r/yoga
Another great place to hangout and answer questions is on Reddit.com/r/yoga. The yoga subreddit is a thriving community of yogis who take yoga very seriously. (Don’t spam your links; you’ll get kicked out.)
9. Share content related to current trends
When you’re engaging on social media, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook groups, Quora, or Reddit, make sure you’re sharing content that is related to current trends. When you are relevant and current people are more likely to perceive you to be a thoughtleader. On Facebook and Twitter explore the trending topics, and spend a little time figuring out if you can relate your message to anything that is currently trending.
10. Cross promote your social media channels
If you want to grow your business, you should spend time on more than one social media network, and create unique content for it. When you share the same post on all your networks, you aren’t giving people a reason to follow you on all the networks where you have an audience. Diversify your content, and mix it up in order to give people a reason to follow you. This way, when you cross promote your channels by saying “Follow me on Twitter” on your Facebook account, people will have a reason to do so.
11. Create an Instagram challenge
The yoga community on Instagram is thriving and growing every single day. There are millions of posts about yoga on Instagram, but posting about yoga isn’t the best way to grow on Instagram. The best way is to create an Instagram yoga challenge that will help people learn how to do yoga, deepen their practice, or kick a bad habit. Kino MacGregor’s account has exploded since she partnered up with yoga brand AloYoga to do a monthly challenge.
12. Write a short ebook
It seems like everybody and their Mom has an ebook out these days, but there’s a reason for that: They do! And the reason they do? Ebooks work. Ebooks – when done correctly – give value, explore a topic, position yourself as an expert, and leave the reader wanting more. An ebook should be used as a lead magnet for your email list as a way to entice people to sign up.
13. Create a short meditation recording
What yogi doesn’t love meditation? Ok, well, a lot, actually. But a strong meditation practice can compliment one’s yoga practice. Create a short meditation recording and send it to people who sign up for your email list.
14. Volunteer in an organisation
Volunteering your time is a great way to help people get to know you and what you do. I have volunteered for a number of organisations and each time it has grown my brand and helped me to make friends. Look for an organisation that is aligned with what you do and something that you are passionate about. If you’re not passionate about it, you won’t show up fully, and your efforts at networking will fall short.
15. Support a cause
And just like volunteering your time, you can organise events to support a cause. Are you passionate about sustainability? Support a group like Green Peace by hosting a donation based yoga class on Earth Day. Are you passionate about trees? Host a tree planting party on Arbor Day, or host a donation based yoga class with all proceeds to benefit Trees for The Future.
16. Host a free workshop
A free workshop is a great way to introduce your teaching style and business to a new audience. Set the workshop so it’s 2 hours or less. Let people come to your studio, learn about your business, and try out your teaching style.
17. Host an online workshop
And just like hosting a workshop in person, you can host a workshop online. By using Google Hangouts, LeadPages, and Chatango you can host a free online workshop without paying for fancy software. You can also use Zoom.us if you want to allow everybody to be able to share video and chat with each other. (Make sure people have to sign up for your email list to get the link for the online workshop.)
18. Offer yoga parties
Yoga parties aren’t often done, but when they are, they work. The concept is simple: You can come 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 bonus classes for free that they wouldn’t normally get otherwise.
This is good incentive to sign up and pay you before leaving the party. The big benefit of yoga parties is the intimate setting. You get a chance to really talk one on one with every single student and give more attention and assistance than you would in a large class. They get a more intimate experience.
19. Host a yoga party at a business
Yoga parties don’t have to be exclusive to private homes. You could partner up with another business in your city to offer a yoga party to their employees. If it goes well, you can put together a corporate yoga package for the business and come back every week to teach yoga to their staff.
20. Partner up with another business
Spend some time getting to know other local businesses and explore ways you can partner up. For example, if you have a wine store 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.
21. Sponsor an event
Sponsoring events – whether local or online – will help get your business seen by even more people who may not have otherwise realised you exist. Look for events where the sponsorship makes sense. It wouldn’t make sense for your yoga business to sponsor a bird house making workshop by the local Audubon Society (unless your name has something to do with birds). What does make sense are yoga festivals, kirtans, 5ks, 10ks, wellness day at the school, and events that are hyper local.
22. Create a podcast
Ok, so I’m not going to lie: podcasting isn’t easy, and it can be time consuming. But, if you have the right equipment, and are willing to spend some time learning how to do it, podcasting can be a great way to grow your business. I currently host one podcast and am launching a second. The podcasts get me in front of a bigger audience, allow me to deliver content to my audience in a different format, and allow me to reach the audience of the guests I have on the show. You could host a podcast all about yoga, meditation, ayurveda, chakras, qigong, whatever your heart desires.
23. Make Infographics
Infographics are a beautiful thing for a number of reasons: they look amazing on Pinterest, people love visual content, they’re easy to share, and they’re easy to cross publish on other websites. But – for some reason that I can’t figure out – there aren’t very many yoga infographics. Using free online graphic creators, you can create yoga themed infographics that you can share on your social media channels. The real bonus of infographics: on the post put your website URL and under the infographic let people know they can publish it on their own site as long as they link back to you.
24. Create a YouTube channel
Yogis like Adriene, Brett Larkin, Lesley Fightmaster, Candace, Celest Periera, and Kassandra Reinhardt have all grown thriving businesses in large part thanks to their YouTube Channels. YouTube is home to thousands of yoga videos, but not all of them are very good. In fact, most of them aren’t. The channels that are successful are the ones that are professional. The videos are professionally filmed and edited, and the creator has a cohesive brand across their channel. Like podcasting, this isn’t quick or easy, but the results are phenomenal. Word of warning, badly filmed yoga videos will actually hurt your brand more than help, so if you’re trying to get by with a cell phone camera, don’t waste your time.
25. Host a Firetalk show
But unlike YouTube, Firetalk Shows are not professionally recorded or produced and people know it, which means you can get by with just the webcam and microphone built into your laptop. If you have a more professional set up, great, but it’s not required.
Create a Firetalk show about yoga, wellness, fitness, chakras, ayurveda, meditation, or whatever else your business is about. Make it a regular thing. Invite guests, promote, and have fun.
26. Leverage local media
This is easier if you’re in a small town or a suburb, but local media is a reliable way to get your yoga business seen by people who are local to you and likely to show up. The barrier to entry for local media is a lot lower because often local reporters are desperate for things to talk about. Most small towns and suburbs are lacking news stories. If you can position yourself and your business as something that would benefit the reporter to write about, you can get featured in local media and start getting more people in your local classes.
27. Get press mentions
But being a small local business doesn’t mean that you can’t get mentioned by bigger press outlets. Help a Reporter Out is an incredible service that allows reporters to find sources who fit their criteria, and allows people who don’t have a big PR machine behind them to get featured in national media. The magic of HARO is that it lowers the barrier of entry for big 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 have been able to interview a lot of people over the years including Jerry Springer, and national best selling author Brad Thor.
28. Give stellar customer service
The way we get customers is changing. You’ll get more yoga students by giving amazing customer service to the students you already have. To paraphrase Peter Shankman, give awesome customer service to the students you already have and let them market your business for you.
When your customers are bowled over by the customer service, they’ll be more likely to talk about your classes and share about your business.
Who are you more likely to trust for a brand recommendation? The brand or your friend? Yoga is no different. When people are looking for a yoga teacher, they’re far more likely to listen to a friend than a Facebook ad.
29. Create an solid brand identity
If you’re new in business, you don’t have a lot of money to waste on creating a fancy brand. And even if you did have the money to waste, I wouldn’t recommend going out and spending thousands of dollars on a logo. But, you should spend some time creating a solid brand identity. This includes everything from what fonts you use, your brand colours, and the layouts of your social media graphics.
Branding – despite what people think – isn’t static. It’s dynamic. It’s a never ending, ever evolving process.
If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ll notice that over the past few months I’ve been experimenting with different branded images, fonts, and layouts. I have been going through a rebranding process, and one of the best ways to see what works is to test it out and see if it works.
30. Get the best business cards
If you’re doing anything in person, you need business cards. Most people (not just yoga teachers) cheap out here and get cards from one of the many printers online who promises super cheap cards. The problem is that you get what you pay for. The cheap cards are standard run of the mill cards that won’t do your brand any favours. Step it up a notch and check out Moo.com.
With Moo you can get a pack of cards with different photos on the back of each. The stock and UV coating is completely different from every other printer on the market. Their unconventional stocks and sizes will ensure your cards are remembered.
Stickers. Rock. I’m a huge fan of stickers. Several years ago I created a sticker that simply says “Don’t be an asshole.” The stickers became incredibly popular. People stuck them everywhere and my stickers spread as far as Tokyo. I still get pictures from people who have seen the sticker somewhere.
Another sticker I created says, “That was Zen; this is Tao” is still popping up 6 years later. In fact, someone just ordered one yesterday. I don’t advocate vandalism, but making stickers available to your clients is a fun and easy way to boost word of mouth.
32. Create an ambassador program
Now that you have stickers the next logical step is to create an ambassador program. (Stickers are a tool your ambassadors can use to help promote your business.) 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. I’m a brand ambassador for Maker’s Mark Bourbon, and one of the perks I get is my name on a barrel of Bourbon, and I get invited to exclusive parties at Maker’s Mark HQ. Ambassadors are best created by your current customers, so take a look at who your best (and happiest) students are, and start there. Your ambassador program should be fairly exclusive. You only want the cream of the crop representing you and your brand.
33. Create an affiliate program
Now, slightly different from an ambassador program is an affiliate program. Affiliate programs work best for online products and services because the tools we have for tracking referrals are out of this world. You can use a premium service like LinkShare, Share a Sale, or Avant Link to set up your affiliate program.
Or you can use a WordPress plugin. If you offer online yoga classes, affiliates would promote your website using a custom link exclusive to them. If someone clicks it and makes it to the “sales complete” page on your website, the affiliate gets a commission. You get to set the terms, and the best part: you only pay out when you get a new customer.
34. List your business in local directories
If you do anything locally – and I mean anything – you’re missing out by not taking advantage of Google Business, Yoga Trail, and Yelp. Google Business provides free business listings for local businesses, and as long as you teach local classes, you can list yourself. Yoga Trail allows you to list your business and your class schedule, which can be very handy. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Yelp, but as long as you are listing your business in local directories, you should do Yelp too.
35. Speak at the local library
And speaking of doing things locally, you should consider speaking at the local library. Libraries often have a variety of local interest programming. Talk to a librarian and find out what is involved with hosting a Yoga Q&A. A Yoga Q&A will help introduce beginners to yoga and bust some of the myths that people have.
If you deliver your presentation well, you should get some new students out of it. Worse case scenario, you get practice speaking in public, and you get your name out there.
36. Use Geo-targeted ads
Google, Facebook, and Twitter all let you target your ads to a specific geographical location. Geo-targeting ads for classes and workshops to people who are in your immediate vicinity and interested in yoga is a much better use of your ad dollars than targeting everybody in the United States between 18-65 who has a Facebook account. By getting hyper specific you are increasing the chances that someone will see your ad and actually show up.
37. Get testimonials
If you have an existing student or client base, start asking for testimonials. An easy way to do this is to set up a form on Type Form asking for feedback. What can you do differently? How can you improve? What’s great about working with you?
After you get the answers, follow up by email. Thank them for their help, let them know you heard them, and (if their feedback was favourable) ask if you can use any of it for a testimonial.
You may feel uncomfortable asking for a testimonial, but they will help grow your business. I used to be really bad about asking for testimonials, but once I did, my business started growing.
38. Share client success stories
Have you helped a client transform their life? Have you helped someone reduce back pain? Lose weight? Sleep better? Rebuild their personal life?
Ask them if you can share their success story. Many people are happy for their successes to be shared by a mentor. Kayla Itsines, a personal trainer in Australia, is very good at this. She shares the transformation photos and success stories of people who completed her fitness program on her Instagram account.
This grows her account, gives her a plethora of content to share, and positions her as an expert. If you have any doubt about her expertise, all you have to do is look at all the before and after photos and transformation stories from real people. Sharing the successes and triumphs of people you help will further solidify your position as an expert.
39. Host a giveaway
People love getting stuff for free, and why shouldn’t they? Thanks to the proliferation of apps for Facebook, you can host a giveaway to people who like your page, share a post, join your email list, follow you on Twitter, etc. You can give away free classes, a place in a retreat, a private Skype yoga lesson, or swag.
While you could set up a giveaway without using an app, you’d have to learn about using UTM codes, and tracking entries, and who wants to do that? RaffleCopter is the easiest way to run a giveaway without having to learn all the technical stuff.
40. Random acts of kindness
Just what it sounds like: do something kind at random for your clients. Send thank you cards, flowers, or give a shoutout on social media. Do something that is nice and inexpensive that will make their day better. Everybody could use a little kindness, and going out of your way to provide kindness to your clients is a great way to ensure they stay clients.
41. Create a loyalty program
This 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 people from walk-in customers to membership customers because you can demonstrate to the customer how much money they would save by getting a monthly membership.
It’s important to note here that on average a student will use a monthly pass 12 times throughout the month. Make sure you know how much you’re making per class for the monthly membership holders before offering a discount. A discount of 1 or 2 classes off the monthly membership rate is reasonable. Anything more will hurt your projections.
42. Tell your story
For some reason yoga teachers don’t seem to tell their stories very much. I didn’t. I hated it. I hated telling people that I have a nervous system disorder and I came to yoga as a way to combat the symptoms. I hated the way that made me feel like a victim.
Nevermind the fact yoga changed my life. I wouldn’t talk about it. But once I did doors started to open up to me. People started to listen to me, and suddenly people seem to have a lot more confidence that I know WTF I’m talking about. Telling your story will help you connect with your audience, boost your credibility, and let your light shine.
Rock your yoga biz!
Download the expanded version of this post with more tips and action items.