Understanding the Yoga Market in 2022
The world has been going through very big changes over the last two years. Many yoga teachers are finding that teaching in a studio or gym is no longer viable or even possible.- The covid lockdowns forced all yoga venues to close for a period, and many never made it back from that.
Post-covid, the overall economy is now in trouble... which unfortunately means that many yoga studios and fitness clubs are facing harsher times.
But there's a silver lining for yoga teachers.
Because when you think about it, the fundamentals of the yoga market really haven't changed at all: there are still hundreds of millions of people who want to practice yoga with a good teacher.
Today, more and more yoga instructors are finding that they can do better than ever before by doing their own thing and going independent.
And they're also finding that it's easy to do that by offering online classes, streamed from their living room.
So while big changes are often painful, they can present new and wonderful opportunities, too, like online yoga.
Online Classes are Here to Stay
Online classes are not a temporary thing brought about by covid. It's clear now that virtual classes are here to stay! Industry experts expect huge growth in this area in the next years. By "huge", we're talking HUGE -- 1000% expected growth in the next five years.
According to a number of surveys, a majority of people actually prefer attending online classes.
It's convenient, but there's more to it. There are lots of people who would never have gone to an in-person class with lots of other people around. These folks are eager to get on their mats in a virtual class... which means the total market has actually grown for yoga teachers in recent years!
So simply in terms of "market dynamics", you should definitely consider how you might teach yoga to people online (if you haven't already). Teaching online is a real game changer for independent teachers.
Teach Your Own Style & Reach a Larger Audience
With online classes, you can share your yoga with people that live anywhere... so your potential client pool is literally millions of times larger than before. It includes yogis from all over the country, or even the world.
And this means there's no limit to how big you can grow your teaching business.
You also don't have to teach the "vanilla" or "chocolate" flavors of yoga that studios tend to offer. They have to appeal to the lowest common denominator so they can fill up their space with the maximum number of students in each class. But in your own online classes, you can truly follow your passion and teach in your unique style. You can teach exactly what you want and how you want.
In short, it's never been easier to become your own boss and do your own thing. But online teacherpreneurs have to grapple with many new kinds of challenges, too. One of them involves marketing.
Internal Marketing vs Customer Acquisition
The most important, easiest and most effective marketing is what is called "internal marketing", where you're communicating with your existing student base, the people who attended your classes before. The key to internal marketing is nurturing your existing clients and motivating them to sign up for your online classes.
But most teachers understand "marketing" to mean the art of attracting brand new students. Getting strangers who have never heard of you to show up in one of your virtual classes. In business lingo, that's "customer acquisition", or external marketing
For yoga teachers, getting new students is a multi-step process that can be broken down into four major parts:
- Getting people to notice you
- Getting people interested in your offerings
- Getting people to try a class with you
- Turning first timers into regulars
In this article, we'll tackle the first step of this process. For a deeper dive into the other parts, you should read our blog article about external marketing for independent teachers.
Let's get into it!
Tips for Diving into Marketing Your Online Yoga Class
Get Noticed Online
To attract new students for your in-person classes at the community center, a perfectly sensible strategy is to hang flyers or to leave a stack of your business cards in some local shops.
There may be a few other yoga teachers in your area who are also trying to get new clients, but by an large the competition isn't overwhelming. There's room for everyone.
In the online world, it's a different ball game. The internet is a much bigger place, and you'll discover that there are literally a million yoga teachers out there offering online yoga classes. Competition is fierce.
Online, it can be very challenging to be noticed at all. How can you cut through all that noise and get yogis to learn about your online classes?
Inbound vs Outbound Marketing
There are basic marketing concepts that apply to any business. Things like funnels (the stages of a customer journey), tracking CAC (cost of acquisition) and ROI (return on investment), etc.— but we don't want your eyes to glaze over. If you're interested in these things, check out the 90-minute course "Business basics for teachers on Udemy", it's tailor made for independent yoga teachers.
One concept that we do need to discuss is the difference between "inbound" and "outbound" marketing.
You probably heard of these terms before. What do they mean?
Well, it's the idea of "push" vs. "pull".
When you put up a flyer at the grocery store, you are "pushing." Essentially, you're serving people an ad, which means it's something that wasn't invited and interrupts whatever they were doing . The person at the store is there to buy groceries, not to learn about your yoga classes!
For in-person classes, outbound marketing is really your only option. Sending out email blasts about , hanging flyers , posting announcements on the local Facebook yoga group, these kinds of things.
Outbound marketing can be used for your online classes too, but it doesn't work very well. You can pay for ads to be served to strangers browsing the internet, but they'll be ignored. Or you can send messages to people that look like they might enjoy your classes... but you'll mostly be ignored, or worse blocked. Outbound marketing online is tough, it costs money, and it can also make you feel icky.
Let's just take a moment to ponder what the internet is:
The essential utility of the internet is that people can search for things they're interested in and find them.
This implies that you can be discovered by people who are looking for you.
Online, you actually don't have to "push" your offerings onto anyone! Instead you can "pull" clients towards you, like a magnet. This can be achieved with inbound marketing, and it's pretty powerful.
Rather than trying to reach people who have little interest in what you offer, with inbound marketing you can let your online classes be discovered by people who are actually already interested in them.
Since they're already interested (remember, they are the ones doing the searching), this is not only effective... it also makes your marketing efforts much more enjoyable!
Inbound marketing doesn't have to be very awkward. It will make you feel less annoying and spammy because you're not trying to push something onto someone who doesn't want it.
In theory, it's simple: all you have to do is create online content that can be found by people searching for it.
Well, then the 1st question is: where do people search for things?
There are a number of places that technically qualify: all the search engines (mostly Google), and also YouTube, , Facebook, Quora, Reddit, Instagram, ... the list seems long.
In reality, there are really only two places that handle more than 99% of all searches on the internet: Google (plus the other search engines) and YouTube.You can forget about the rest unless you don't have a website (for search engines) and you don't have a YouTube channel where you post videos.
And if you don't have these two things... get them!
Having your own website
Having a website that's your own ranks near the top of the list of essential tools for yoga teachers.
If you don't have one and you're scared that making a website is a big or expensive project — don't worry.
Nowadays, anybody can use one of the many DIY website builders to create a modernwebsite for very little money.
With your own website, you can really show potential new clients who you are, what you do, why they should take your classes. You can use it to let people register for classes, to pay you, ... but most importantly, a website lets you be discovered when people who use Google to look for things.
If you're ambitious, with your website you can then take things even further by making a blog. There you can create all kinds of content related to your classes, as well as a place where you share your insights and valuable content for any existing and potential clients.
For example, if you're into ice skating and you teach "yoga for figure skaters", you could write about figure skating... along with the back pain or muscle tightness that skaters tend to experience. You could offer some tips for how to mitigate these issues... so figure skaters who are looking up remedies for their calves and ankles will have a pretty good chance of finding your article(s) and in the process discover your classes.
Both companies are on a mission to empower yoga teachers — but beYogi offers top-rated yoga insurance, while Ubindi makes simple software for teachers.
Of course this article isn't about insurance or bookingon apps. But it is (hopefully) useful for yoga teachers who want to know how to market their online classes.
The idea is that youget to discover and appreciate these two awesome companies while we help you to build and grow your yoga teaching business. See how that works?
Writing articles for a blog can be a bit of work . You need to be disciplined and write new articles regularly . Our advice: only get into blogging if you feel like you have lots of things to say and you can spare the time to write.
Your YouTube channel
The second most used search tool in the world is YouTube. For your online classes, that's a great place to do marketing, because your classes fit right into the video format.
Since you're already teaching on online, it's easy to record your class with the click of a button. You can then download and edit it into a shorter teaser (don't make a full class recording available for free on YouTube). Add a brief description and upload your video to YouTube and done!
The entire process takes just a few minutes, and you now have awesome content that shows people exactly what your online classes are all about.This can be discovered by anyone on YouTube (two billion people us it every month).
OK, now that we know where to create content, don't stop reading yet! Because just having something that people could theoretically find doesn't mean that anyone will actually find it.
Niching Down (Way Down)
Confucius said: "when you place an old tree branch on the ground, deep in a forest, chances are slim to none that someone looking for firewood will find it."
Your content has to be the exact thing your potential clients are looking for, and ideally you should be the only game in town. "Town" being the entire world.
Doesn't sound easy... but actually not so hard!
In your locality, specializing in "yoga for seniors" is called "niching down". You're setting yourself apart from other yoga teachers, and as long as there are enough seniors living near you, that's perfect.
For face-to-face classes, you need to stick with niches that are relatively popular, if you want to have a large enough client base to be able to fill your classes.
But on the internet, it's the exact opposite. When what you teach is very popular, it will be pretty much impossible for you to be found on the web. Ironically, the more people there are looking for something, the harder it is for you to stand out if that is what you offer.
On the flip side, when what you teach is really specialized and unique, the people searching for that special unique thing have a good chance of finding you. Simply because there's not much else to find.
Here's an example: let's say you build yourself a beautiful website that's all about "online yoga for weight loss". It looks great and it has lots of content which talks about "online yoga for weight loss".
So anyone searching for "online yoga for weight loss" should immediately find your website, right?
Um, no... sorry. No way.
If you are creating content around the most popular and generic kinds of yoga classes, there will be tens of thousands of other websites and channels which are trying to attract the same customers as you. Just Google "online yoga for weight loss" and see for yourself!
The first couple of pages of Google search results are well-established websites that have thousands of other sites linking to them. They've been around for years and they get millions of visitors every month. It will be impossible to outrank these websites, no matter how hard you try.
There's tons of competition on YouTube, too. It will be virtually impossible to connect with new clients if you post videos that are about "online yoga for weight loss". If you do a quick search on YouTube, you'll see that there are thousands of popular videos, each with thousands or even millions of views.
Again: offering classes about what is popular will work great in your neighborhood, but it will get you nowhere on the internet.
Thankfully, all hope is not lost! You can still do really well as an online teacher. You just have to focus your marketing on a very special niche.
For online teaching, niching down, and then down some more, and then still further...that's what's going to work.
How, exactly? Everyone is different. Just be creative. Maybe you already have a personal style or perspective on yoga, and have always wanted to do something unique. Here's your chance!
Let's illustrate with the "yoga for figure skaters" class we mentioned earlier. If you created a YouTube video or a simple website around this topic, you'd instantly be #1 for a number of people who search for that. Sure, that number is tiny in the context of all the yoga related search traffic worldwide... but for someone who's aiming to just fill a Zoom room with 20 people, it's just what you need. Consider also that people looking for something very specific who find it in your classes are more likely to become regular students than someone looking for a generic 'vinyasa' class.
For a yoga teacher who's also into skating, coming up with sequences and poses designed for stretching the tight muscles that figure skaters grapple with would be fun. Figure skating is of course just an example. What's your special sauce? Once you discover that, you'll find that you can connect with students who share that other passion of yours!
Getting People Interested in Your Online Yoga Classes
Once you have some people discovering your content, you got people to notice that you exist. Awesome! You'll then want to tackle the next three marketing challenges:
- Getting people interested in your offerings
- Getting people to try a class with you
- Turning first-timers into regulars
Each of these steps is a pretty big topic in its own right, and we won't really get into them here. But since we're talking about inbound marketing and content, here's just one more note about your content:
With inbound marketing, the content you create can also take care of the second marketing step in your customer acquisition funnel (getting people interested in your offerings). A nice bonus!
When people discover your content because they were searching for it, then by definition they are already interested. They're not just some random people... in marketing speak, they are great prospects.
Getting these prospects to then become interested in taking classes with you is relatively easy.
All you have to do is make sure that a) your content resonates with these people and delivers what they were searching for, and b) that they can see somewhere that you offer online classes they can sign up for somehow.
The key to getting half-interested prospects to become fully interested in your yoga classes is to figure out the "why" when you're creating your content.
No, not your "why".
It may seem harsh but nobody cares about the story of how you got into yoga or what credentials you have or how you want to make the world a better place. Sorry! That's all interesting of course, and you can mention these things. But it won't get people to take your classes.
What we mean is their "why". People care about themselves, that's just human nature. So as you write copy on your website or blog, or anywhere else: always keep in mind that it's not about you. It's about them.
The "why" you need to think about is: why would someone want to take classes with you?
Specifically, try to answer the following:
- What will they get out of it? What's in it for them?
- What problem can it solve for them?
- What desire will it satisfy for them?
When you're able to clearly articulate answers to these three questions in your marketing content, you will be successful. And you'll start seeing more new faces in your classes!
In a Nutshell
To summarize, here's everything you've just read in a nutshell:
- Running online classes is a huge opportuntiy for yoga teachers
- Inbound marketing is the best way to attract new students
- Niching down into unusual things lets you be found by people searching on the internet
- You should have a website and a YouTube channel where you create content
- The messaging in your content should always be about their why
We hope this helps — now go out there and make it happen!