July 20, 2011

How to Teach Yoga When Studios Aren’t Hiring. ~ Leah Fulford

Need a yoga job? Make your own! (A step-by-step guide for the unemployed yoga teacher)

It should come as no surprise to anyone that in most metropolitan areas of the United States, competition for jobs at yoga studios is fierce. Yoga studios clearly have the upper hand, because they can pick the best of the best. And why shouldn’t they? We benefit as students when the best teachers teach us.

The obvious catch-22 here is that for a new yoga teacher to become a studio’s ideal pick, the teacher either needs to be great friends with a studio and hope that the studio will hire soon, or get started on building a solid reputation and client base.

I’m for the latter. And I think that everyone with the motivation to do so can get their own clients.

When you establish a reputation of being a great teacher, you can garner appeal from many yoga studios, increasing your likelihood of getting the job you most want. That’s not to say good ol’ fashioned studio friendship doesn’t work too, but your potential for success is greater when you take the initiative to find your own students.

Here’s how I recommend you get work while establishing a reputation that will get you hired by a studio:

1. Pick a niche. Select a group of people with whom you are passionate about working. If you love running, try to target runners. If you just had a baby and know some new moms who want to start to get back in shape, show them how to do that with yoga. Focusing on one group will guide your teaching and your outreach.

2. Brainstorm all of the places that this group hangs out. Partner up with community organizations, retail stores that your client base frequents, and key people who are connected to the group you want to serve.

3. Explain how yoga can specifically help your client’s life and goals. If your client is a runner, tell them how yoga can help reduce injuries, improve flexibility and decrease their race time. If your clients are senior citizens, demonstrate how yoga improves mobility and mental clarity. Explaining the real benefits to your clients proves that you’re not just “selling” something but that you’re giving them a tool to achieve their goals.

4. Offer up your services to these groups. Offer a couple of reduced-fee or donation-based classes to show your group what they can expect from you and a yoga practice. They will not know if they want to work with you unless they have an idea of what they’re getting themselves into!

5. Work with your new clients to decide on times to hold a full-price series of classes. Giving them a series shows them that you are not locking them into something forever, but that you can make a real difference in 6, 8 or 10 weeks. Don’t wait for your client group to approach you about this, because they likely never will. Be confident and take the lead.

6. During and after this series, you can also offer private instruction for clients. Offering private instruction outside of a studio environment is typically best anyway, as you are not competing with your studio employer for students. And don’t fall into the self-sabotaging trap of thinking that private instruction is just a folly for celebrities and the rich. New moms who might not want to leave their babies for long periods of time will be grateful for someone to come to them. Likewise, competitive runners who are looking to improve their race time are already motivated to invest in their success, and some will likely see the benefits in working one-on-one with someone!

7. Serve, serve, serve! Now that you have your first group of clients, treat them like gold. Answer your client’s questions. Get to know them. Let them get to know you. Give them what they want and need. Give more than you promise. Be the best teacher you know how to be.

While it will take some work to get this rolling, you will be putting yourself in a prime position to be making a living while you build your resume for a great studio job. Studios will love to see you as someone who has a reputation of initiative and happy clients!

Leah Fulford helps yoga teachers start and run successful, mindful businesses. She supports yoga teacher training programs and individuals in developing the confidence and know-how to achieve their goals. You can find more yoga business tips at www.leahfulford.com, as well as on Twitter @leahgfulford.

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