August 26, 2013

How to Find Your Yoga Niche. ~ Cailen Ascher

If you’ve been teaching yoga for any amount of time, at some point, you’ve likely heard the advice to find your yoga “niche.”

That advice is well-and-good, but there’s a lot more to “niching” your yoga than randomly selecting some gimmicky fad to tie into it.

First, let’s address should you even have a niche?

The short answer is “yes.”

The longer answer and explanation is this: focusing on a niche group of students or offering your yoga services in a way that’s uniquely you is beneficial for a number of reasons.

  1. You get really clear on who you’re meant to serve and how to best serve them.

For example, if you’re niche focus is pre-natal yoga, you instantly know what you should focus your classes on, theme your workshops around and what additional training you might be interested in taking.

  1. It improves all of your marketing.

When you have a niche, you know exactly who you’re talking to, so you can write all your marketing copy, website copy and blog posts for them.

  1. It makes you a big fish in a small pond.

It’s much easier to stand out when you’re focusing on one thing because all your efforts are aimed in one direction. Yoga is a crowded industry, and there are thousands of teachers out there trying to make a go at it, but there are far less who specialize in yoga for dancers, chair yoga for senior citizens, mommy and me yoga or meditation for kids.

  1. It’s more fun and more fulfilling.

The whole point of having a niche is that it can serve you and your students better. Ideally, your niche is a combination of multiple interests and passions, so when you teach from that place, it’s so much more gratifying because you’re bringing all of you to the table! (Take me for example, I teach marketing and business to yoga teachers because I love yoga and business!)

  1. You’ll rise to the level of expert.

Also, when there are fewer teachers to “compete against,” it becomes so much easier to be seen as a niche expert. It’s much easier to make a name for yourself as the Hip-Hop Yogi than simply another “standard” yoga teacher—and when that happens, you’ll become the go-to teacher, adviser, and spokesperson for your yoga niche.

Now, that I’ve talked a little about how having a niche can benefit your yoga career, I want to squash some popular niche myths.

Myth #1 A Niche Will Limit My Reach—therefore income.

There is a common fear that when you drill down to your niche, you’ll close yourself off to potential clients (i.e. income). And, while that is not an unfounded worry, it needn’t be one that stops you. In truth, the more focused you become on your niche market, the better your marketing and message becomes and therefore the right students and clients find you, want to work with you and want to work with you again and again.

You might have heard this or something along these lines before: “When you try to serve everyone, you serve no one.” When you try to market to the masses, your messages get watered down, your offerings fall flat and you’re not operating from your “home zone” of expertise. Instead, when you accept your niche (which could be synonymous with your unique brand,) you open tons of doors that wouldn’t have presented themselves otherwise because you’re operating from a much more organic, authentic, and natural place.

Myth #2 It pigeonholes you

…and you’ll get bored, stuck, or tired. We yogis are multi-faceted, multi-passionate people. And the idea of zeroing in on a single “niche” is scary. But the reason a niche is so remarkable is that once you get known for your niche, you can more easily branch out and bring all of you to the table.

For example, if you currently teach both Vinyasa and Bikram Yoga classes, and decide to hone in on Bikram Yoga for Athletes, you’ll have a much easier time rising to a remarkable level because there are far fewer Bikram Yoga teachers out there with that focus. Then in time, once you’ve established your niche foothold and students love what you’re offering, it’ll be that much easier to branch out into other facets of the practice because you’ve already proven yourself as an expert.

Just like a tiny seed that grows and blossoms into a thriving plant—starting small in a niche enables you to plant roots, establish yourself, and then grow consistently over time so that you can then flourish and branch out.

So now that I’ve left you with no excuses for not thinking about your own yoga niche, let’s talk about how to go about finding it!

First, take some time to brainstorm.

What hobbies, interests or passions do you have outside of yoga?

1. What do you do in your free time?

2. What yoga teachers inspire you?

3. What books, magazines and blogs do you read?

4. What do people ask your advice about?

5. What music, food, art, etc. do you love?

6. What do people compliment you on?

7. What life or work experiences have influenced you and shaped who you are?

8. What comes so easily to you that you likely take it for granted?

9. What specific training, certifications or education do you have that is unique?

10. Do any of these “outside” interests pair well with yoga? Could they?

Next, test it out!

Thinking and daydreaming is definitely fun, but it’s only the first step to finding your unique yoga niche. The next thing to do is to see if you actually like it!

For example, if you love the outdoors and walking in the park and come up an idea for hosting “yoga in the park”—try it out!

Invite people to attend and see how it feels. Did you love it? Did people rave about it? Did you feel totally in your element? Or did the energy feel off? Were you getting bitten by bugs or sunburned? Any of these negatives don’t necessarily mean it’s a bad idea or not the right fit for you, but may just indicate that your niche idea needs tweaking!

Remember: clarity comes through action, not from just thinking about it!

OK, so now you have a complete template for finding and honing your niche, moving past your niche-related fears, and you even know what benefits to look for when you finally “own” your unique niche… so, what are you waiting for?!

There is something out there that only you can teach to the world. And that is your niche.

Go out there and discover exactly what you’re meant to be teaching and exactly who you’re meant to be teaching it to.

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Assistant Ed: Gabriela Magana / Ed: Catherine Monkman

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