The business of yoga is gaining attention: popular teachers now promote business courses, teacher trainings incorporate a business section, and yoga conferences offer special business workshops. As a yoga teacher, you are a small business owner and, to promote your business, there is a list of must-haves: a website, business cards, and active Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. These must-haves do not make your business successful but, rather, are tools to help you succeed.
On your yoga teaching path, it is important to know how you define success. Many of us have a vague picture of success but are unable to articulate that vision to another person. Do you define success as teaching at a specific studio, teaching a set number of classes, or being happy? Does success come from being able to pay your bills, teaching on an international scale, or appearing in major yoga magazines? There is no shame in what you deem success, as long as it is true to you.
Without a clear standard for success, being connected to all of the social media must-haves will give you the tools to succeed with no real understanding of how to use them. Take time to day dream, or meditate about how you want to see yourself in five years. Write down what your life would look like if you were successful. As you write, imagine this successful life already exists. Write in the present tense. Don’t edit what you write—unless you choose to show someone, nobody will see your writing—just let your heart, thoughts and dreams float onto the paper. When you are done, read what you wrote aloud and with confidence.
Once you have a clear image of success, commit to it by dedicating your energy to your teaching, your training and your personal growth: put yourself out into the world. Do you want to teach at a specific studio? Start taking classes at that studio, meet the manager, bring in your portfolio, audition, and substitute teach as many classes as you can. Find your path, and commit to making things happen.
All of the social media and business must-haves, such as a website and business cards, will become tools to foster your commitment. I am a very shy person when it comes to promoting myself. When I first began teaching, I would keep silent about workshops I was hosting and rarely tell people about my yoga classes—then wonder why nobody came. My friend, a marketing consultant, reminded me that I am not selling or forcing anything on people, but rather giving them information about something that I really believe will enrich their lives. This is where the business must-haves become helpful.
Use social media, your website and business cards during in-person interactions to guide students to your public sites. Your website is a way to help students learn more about you and your classes. If your studio allows it, make a newsletter sign-up sheet available during class. Let your students know they can learn more about your classes by signing up for your newsletter. If you are teaching in public, leave your business cards, and let students know they can take one to contact you with questions and comments, or to find your teaching schedule. Social media sites are available to promote yourself as an invaluable resource to your yoga community. Use your Facebook page or Twitter feed to offer your thoughts, knowledge and links that may be of interest to your students.
Recently, a woman contacted me about giving her and her friend private yoga lessons. I quoted them my lowest rate and they declined service. In the past, I would have lowered my fee to please them, but this time I referred them to several other teachers I respect. I have come to understand I am a business owner and, in order to succeed, respecting my value and vision is imperative. With a commitment to your success, focus and determination, you will carve out a path to create the life you envision teaching yoga.