The yoga industry is booming. In the last year, over 15 million new yoga students began practicing within the US alone, spending over $27 Billion on yoga related products and services. Where it use to be difficult to find a quality yoga class – now, in certain cities, studios outnumber Starbucks. The improved yoga studio business model, an increase in celebrity attention, and the rise of mindfulness practices (especially in tech) have led to a massive boost in popularity.
New students entering this space are often excited, nervous, and overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices, including what style and whose class they should take, and that is once they decide on a studio.
With so much marketing, advertising, and corporate money being poured into the yoga scene – it can be daunting figuring out where to start as a new student, let alone a new yoga teacher. Who are you? How can you communicate your uniqueness to your students?
The good news is this…yoga is still very much about just being yourself.
At Namaste, we have a large community of over forty teachers and over a hundred classes per week. Over the last few years I have had an opportunity to watch what works best. Here are my top three branding tips for new yoga teachers:
Yoga takes discipline. Most yoga teachers don’t end up teaching because they have nothing else to do. A large percent of yoga teachers have master degrees, some of them are CEO’s, and some of them have gone through immense life challenges to be here, sharing their path. Let your students in on your life.
Write down or say aloud to yourself why you love teaching and why you decided to become a yoga teacher. Think of it as creating your personal brand’s “About” page. What was the catalyst that led you to this way of life? How has your life changed? You are a living, breathing advertisement for your own product (your class), your content (your own practice), and your brand (your teachings). Streamline this story, so it becomes easily digestible, succinct, and highlights the parts that are unique to your path.
Share this story with your students. They will appreciate your openness; they will feel more connected to you, and they may even share your story with friends (leading to bigger class sizes!). Depending on how succinct you can make your story, you may share intermittently in class, but always have it available online. In addition to having it on your website, consider writing a blog post and posting through social media to gain more traffic. Also, spending time to connect with the front desk staff at your studio will increase the likelihood they also share your story with new students.
New teachers can have a difficult time building yoga classes off the bat. The best technique I have seen for gaining new students is through subbing. In order to sub for popular classes, new teachers must put themselves out there and get to know the other teachers in their community. I highly encourage new teachers to make the rounds. Attend other teacher’s classes and workshops, community events for the studio, and yoga industry gatherings. If your style resonates with another teacher (or vice versa), it works out great for both parties.
Once you have connected with teachers, share your experiences. Share photos of you attending their class, status updates about hanging out with others in the community, and event invites for workshops being taught by other teachers. These types of social media posts are attractive to students. They enjoy seeing your engagement with the community, syncing with more established teachers who they trust already, and will assume you likely teach a high-quality class, since other teachers are actively supporting you.
The more you share other teacher’s works, the more likely those teachers are to promote and share yours. When you are cross-pollinating your promotions with other teachers, you give yourself access to a larger demographic. Students can categorize you and your style of teaching faster when you are connected to another group of teachers, and this allows for faster development of your personal brand.
Deciding to be a yoga teacher means you have chosen a life that is now largely in the public eye. Your regular students will look up to you the same way people look up to some celebrities. As tempting as it may be to shy away from self-promotion, embrace it. It is a necessary aspect to ensuring your career is successful.
Take advantage of all the self-promotion tools available. Set up a Facebook Page (not a personal page) as a public figure. Create an Instagram account dedicated to your yoga practice and teachings. Create a website and make sure to list all of your classes, your bio, and any upcoming workshops. There are several great website services such as Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress that all make it easy (and cheap) to create beautiful sites with minimal technical experience. It is also worth hiring a professional photographer to take a variety of photos that you can repurpose across all of these platforms. A professional photographer out of the budget? Ask a friend or even your studio. Often times studios have access to a nice camera and may be willing to help you take a few pictures.
Once you have established your social media pages, continue to update. Feed your new fan base with recent pictures, new insights, and fresh content such as blog posts and favorite teachings of yours. In order to stay at the forefront of your student’s minds and to attract new students you must stay engaged with your online community.