5 Ways You Can Make a Living as a Yoga Teacher. ~ Brenda Blanco

Via on May 19, 2013

jen yoga class oct 2012

When I was first stepping into the yoga world and figuring out what I wanted, I asked for help from fellow yoga teachers, yoga studio owners and other people I admired. Most of them gave me similar one-sentence advice.

“Don’t do it. You need to be supported by a husband to be a full-time yoga teacher.”

“Are you sure? It’s a very lonely life…”

“You just have to live more simply.”

I understand now that some of these comments were related to specific experiences these people had that they didn’t want me to suffer through; but I needed to do this, and my experience was going to be different because I am different.

What I wanted was a “how to” list of steps to build my yoga career. I didn’t get it right then, so I lived it and learned quickly. I want to share what I have experienced and to inspire you to share as well so that yoga teachers can actually be a community, not competitive. Competition is not yoga.

Yoga is union. Yoga is connection. There are enough group and private yoga students out there for all of us.

For the past year, I have been working on a marketing book for yoga teachers, to help them succeed and spread the love of yoga while supporting themselves. To get you started, these are some of my top tips from the book:

  • Tip #1: Find your uniqueness so you can establish your brand.


  • What is it that makes you different from other teachers? What is your personality? What do you want to create for yourself and others? What do you stand for? Be clear and authentic.

 Differentiating what you offer helps you develop a brand “style” and identifies your target audience and the experience you will give them in class. This is what will help you develop a strong following. Have a clear intention for what you give your students, and repeat that message and experience with different poses and words to keep them engaged.
  • Tip #2: Create your web site ASAP.
  • Step one in establishing your web site is buying your web address or URL. If your name is simple and catchy, I recommend purchasing a URL with your name in it (i.e. www.brendablanco.com). If you have a common name, difficult name, or your name is already taken, try variations with the word “yoga” or another yoga-related word that is easy to remember. If you have a long or difficult name to spell, try variations with just your first or last name or initials (i.e. brendayoga.com or bbyoga.com). Be creative, but also remember that the URL should be easy to remember and not easy to misspell. 

Your web site is often the first impression of you and your brand so don’t skimp out on it.
  • If you have a background in web design, great! If you don’t, find someone who does. If you are low on funds, you might be able to barter with a designer (i.e. private yoga in exchange for a discounted rate on the website’s design). 

Before you begin the design process, decide how many pages your site will have. Keep it as simple as you can. Make sure to use your “brand elements” throughout the web site to clearly communicate to potential clients. Express your uniqueness to your target audience.

 Most yoga teacher websites have an intro home page and pages for a bio, class schedule and contact page. Optional pages include private yoga, events or workshops, blog, and other services. By far, the top three most viewed pages on my web site are the home page, bio page and class schedule.
  • Tip #3: Build your name.
  • 
Print business cards and brochures tailored to your established target audience, and put them in studios and businesses that your target audience frequents. Establish local partnerships with like-minded businesses so you can help each other grow, and use social media to continuously build your name.
  • Tip #4: Make your own opportunities.
  • While some cities are chock-full of studios and gyms with teaching opportunities, some are not, so you will have to make your own opportunities, and they are everywhere! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing Homes
  • Police/Fire Stations
  • Luxury Condos/Coops
  • Children’s Play Places
  • Businesses/Corporations
  • Athletic Clothing/Shoe Stores
  • Local Parks/Beaches
  • Dance Schools
  • Cross-Fit Gyms or Personal Training Studios
  • Country Clubs
  • I was very surprised to see the competition and lack of camaraderie between yoga teachers throughout my journey from student to advanced teacher. This work is the main source of income for some teachers, so they can get very competitive.

 A recent trainee of mine mentioned, on the last day of teacher training, that a local male teacher had darkened her hope by stating that because he was a man it was easy to find jobs, but she and the other trainees would have a hard time. Maybe it was his true point of view, or maybe it was his ego—either way, it was his perspective. She took his comment as truth and that gave him power over her.

There are yoga studios and classes popping up left and right that offer lots of opportunities to teach in our neighborhood and yours. Don’t give away your power. Get out there and make it happen.

With love and gratitude,

Brenda

 

Brenda BlancoWhen Brenda Blanco began practicing yoga in 2005, she was working as a senior marketing executive for a major oil company—a job that left her stressed and unfulfilled. Yoga gave her the clarity to see the life changes necessary to find happiness and the courage to make them a reality. Within 3 years, she established a full-time career as a yoga teacher, leading private & group classes, international retreats and teacher training. She was also named ambassador for Lululemon, Manduka and SheaMoisture. Brenda shares her tips on living yoga and wellness on her Girl Gone Yoga blog. Her hope is that her story and tips inspire you to not just practice yoga but also live it. Learn more at www.brendablanco.com.

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Assistant Ed: Dejah Beauchamp/Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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18 Responses to “5 Ways You Can Make a Living as a Yoga Teacher. ~ Brenda Blanco”

  1. I agree with Tips number 4 and 5. Yes, make your own opportunities. Make things happen, get things moving. This list provided is a great one to get out there and build some classes for yourself. And yes, know, build and maintain your power. When you are feeling insecure your power has been given away. Form your own opinion, take input from others but not at the expense of losing your own power I have personally learned and continue to learn this lesson in many ways of my life.

    But I would like to critically speak about Tip #1. I am critical of the advice given to young, new yoga teachers to build a brand when they are just learning about they are teaching. I worked at a studio that offered classes on "brand building" continuously and I attended one or two of the sessions. So many teachers attended these brand building classes who just graduated from their training that were intent on "building their brand". However, they barely knew what they were teaching because they just started! Rather than studying, practising, learning and teaching there is too much emphasis on branding yourself as a yoga teacher. I feel that this obsession in the current yoga scene to build your brand does a disservice to the integrity of the vocation of yoga teaching. So many new teachers are efforting to "build their brand" are still learning what it is they are doing as a yoga teacher! So we see branding happening with generic qualities being touted as a unique brand. Just look to the left of this post and you will see branding. Insert any teacher's name and you have a brand… "Joe's Yoga. Vinyasa that Fires up the Spirit". Voila. Senior teachers that I have learned from became admired and sought after for one reason… they were excellent teachers. They helped people heal and inhabit their bodies. Their brand is coming now after years of teaching and learning and refining the material they are offering. I would say to a new yoga teacher… be patient. Do not get caught up in the "brand building obsession" that tells you to brand yourself. This is not a sustainable way to practise teaching yoga. And, you won't keep students long term who want to pay you. Be an excellent teacher, then you will have people coming to your classes. Engage with students, know the material you are teaching, help people move into their power and they will come back to you. THEN… build your brand. Yes. Get a website. People need to know where you are. Especially when you start to teach excellent yoga classes, people will track you down to come to your classes. But take some time before you start building your brand. Don't build a brand after 6 months of teaching. People will not want to pay you for a snazzy brand low on substance. I'm sorry but unless you are a gifted healer, and you might be, is takes time to know what you are teaching and why.

    I don't want to be a curmudgeon. I do think that brand building has its place. I personally feel I need to do this after almost 9 years of teaching full time. But my goal continues to be, know what I am offering and why. Help people fully inhabit their bodies and lives through the teaching of asana. Then people will pay you. And building your brand will be an natural extension of your teaching.

    • Rogelio Nunez says:

      I totally agree with your take on branding….but i would take this further and say that what is wrong with marketing yourself as a Yoga teacher? period, yes you can state your lineage, ashtanga, Iyengar, Hatha, these are based on classical traditional philosophies. JOes yoga or maryan's yoga, what does that tell you? nothing….
      with all the branding going on out there it is confusing to students, Yoga doesn't have to be like going to the supermarket and spending hours trying to decide which soap brand or toilet paper to buy….But in the western world our egos have to be branded now xyz Yoga…just to compete and make more money… how much $$$ do we need to live???
      focusing on Yoga to make big $$$ really diminishes the true meaning and reason one sticks to a long and sustainable
      practice….for teachers and students…..

      • amphibi1yogini says:

        Some students run away from brands, on purpose.

        The non-branded class called "Yoga" will get me coming back, upon trying it out … IF I like it.

        Not the latest adopter, but I do have a significant portion of my yoga practice, as a personal practice – at home.

        Teachers who brand, try too hard, imho … not worth it.

    • sideshobetty says:

      I too agree completely with the branding item. When I hear yoga teachers speaking about "building their brand" my heart sinks and I move on the the teacher. For me, yoga – both practicing and teaching is such an incredible gift and such a spiritual journey to put a "brand" on it has EGO written all over it – which is exactly what yoga teaches us to disconnect from. I want students to come to their mat in my class because they are drawn to me as a compassionate, loving teacher that is their to hold space for them during their journey not because my website is pretty or my name is plastered all over the place. No thank you.

      • juicy says:

        I want students to come to their mat in my class because they are drawn to me as a compassionate, loving teacher that is their to hold space for them during their journey
        ++++++++++++++
        Ironically, that's a brand.

  2. OleManJake says:

    Noted. Thanks for sharing.

  3. @mattjwgill says:

    I find this an interesting discussion as someone who teaches yoga but also has a background in marketing.

    Putting the words 'yoga' and 'marketing' in the same sentence often seems to touch a raw nerve with many yogis and yoga teachers. I agree with @YogaTrail's comment that it's all about balance. Overt commercialisation is different to legitimately trying to build a student base so that you can spread the benefits and joy of yoga to more people – and so that you can eat too! Marketing will certainly help to do this, but in my opinion it must be approached authentically and remain true to the spirit and teachings of yoga.

    I guess it's a question of intention and this is where I agree very much with @jenniferArora that the focus can sometimes be way off in trying to build a 'brand' rather than really giving yourself over to yoga – focussing, learning, refining and remaining both humble and true to the practice.

    I was talking with a senior and experienced teacher recently and their 'success' was built from very small beginnings. But this teacher gave everything to their practice and to teaching those few students who were turning up for their classes in the first year or so. Over time this paid off – because the teacher valued those students, the classes gradually grew through word of mouth (the strongest marketing channel of all!). So I think there's a lot to be said for patience and dedicating yourself to the practice and to learning to become the best teacher you can be rather than just trying to grow a large student base very quickly.

    • AbbyHoffmann says:

      Totally agree. Where did all this 'brand' nonsense come from? Ah yes, when all the stressed out Marketing and Ad exec's decided they were going to quit their jobs and become… Yoga teachers….:) It's not so much preserving 'authenticity', as that's a debatable attitubute of yoga, but rather this endless rush to sell something and build a 'brand' presence that's so unnerving.. Maybe it's the insiduous effect of social marketing and we are all brands now. To starting out yoga teachers, just teach, care about your students and leave the branding to the studios….

  4. PhillyYoga says:

    Thank you for your abundance in sharing your knowledge. I have been teaching donation-based classes in my small mountain town but now that I am living in a large city, finishing my teacher training, I am occasionally overwhelmed and lose hope. Just occasionally ;) So thank you for sharing your journey so that we can all stay healthy and abundant together. You are right, if you think with an abundant mindset, there are plenty of students out there for us. Competition doesn't make sense in a universe this bountiful. I pray before every class that whoever needs to be there is there and that I am used as an instrument for others to keep the balance between marketing and practice.

  5. @yogatwit says:

    Thanks :)
    Nice suggestions.
    Cheers,
    Alec

  6. Maria says:

    I think it’s the term “branding” that throws me for a loop. Rather than thinking straight marketing, I think he most important thing as a young teacher is to understand my own intentions for teaching. Once I better understand my intentions and reasons and motivations for sharing this ancient practice, then y style or “brand” will be more clear to my students. I think one’s styldespoiled be defined by an authentic intention rather than what you think will sell best.

    Great article, definitely was helpful.

    Blessings

  7. How do you says:

    Few days ago I've seen your post and I've started follow your instruction for my healthy living and I've succeed to getting a new knowledge about the yoga which is succeed to makes me glad. I hope in future you'll gives me as well as more handful data.

  8. Lisa Kneller says:

    Branding is simply a way to differentiate yourself from your competition and like it or not, there is competition among yoga teachers and studios. If you are selling yourself or a service or a product, it helps to specify the benefits people are going to receive from you. Not everyone has to "market" themselves in the traditional sense; however, if you want to reach wide and attract more followers, customers, students, you might have to learn this business skill.

    Also, I would like to add that not all yoga teachers want to be full-time teachers. While I think it's great to pursue this if you want to, many part-time teachers are looking for ways to expand their offerings outside of the yoga studio. For this reason, it's essential to understand marketing from a business point of view and business usually means developing a profitable (and foremost authentic) endeavor.

    As to "How much money do we need?", I would like to address that by saying, enough to pay the bills for the rest of our lives. It's a never-ending battle – to make ends meet – and give what we'd like to others. I say Market yourselves Silly…by authentically promoting whatever you have that will enhance the health and lives of others. With love…Lisa

  9. Lalana says:

    Where is your book at?

  10. GDI says:

    hello! , I love a person’s crafting a great deal! portion we keep up a correspondence far more close to your posting upon Google? I needed a professional on this living space to help uncover this problem. Might be that is definitely a person! Looking forward to see you.

  11. hazel says:

    Disagree completely! Marketing, branding that's how you sell people stuff they don't want! It's everything that's wrong with this throw away, consumerist, materialistic society and totally against everything Yoga. Have a website sure people need to know how to find you but build your name by knowing your Yoga and teaching people well, not by handing out cards!

  12. Rose says:

    I hope to see teacher training programs focus more on teaching private students. Being a "yoga coach" to people, just like a tennis coach or therapist, can make more money per hour than teaching a group. Where to find steady students….of course group classes. But that's just the beginning. Market yourself as a yoga coach. Study up! Know your demographics. And like someone else here commented: be patient. I have been teaching for 16 years and am…very patient.

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