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.
- In this day and age, you can’t make a name for yourself without a web site. It is a base requirement for marketing yourself, your classes, and any other related services you are providing.
- 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:
- Nursing Homes
- Police/Fire Stations
- Luxury Condos/Coops
- Children’s Play Places
- Athletic Clothing/Shoe Stores
- Local Parks/Beaches
- Dance Schools
- Cross-Fit Gyms or Personal Training Studios
- Country Clubs
- Tip #5: Don’t give away your power.
- 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,
When 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.
Like elephant journal on Facebook.
Assistant Ed: Dejah Beauchamp/Ed: Kate Bartolotta