developing your career as a yoga teacher
Most new teachers take any teaching opportunity that comes their way in an attempt to gain as much experience as soon as possible. What they are essentially doing is promoting themselves as a jack-of-all-trades, and often fall short due to a lack of experience. While I do agree with exposing yourself to as much teaching experience as you can, it’s crucial to specialize in something when building your yoga business. The idea is to create a brand or a position for yourself in the marketplace that people need and can remember. Yoga is a crowded industry, but a niche makes you the big fish in a small pond.
I know it sounds scary to narrow your audience down to one group, but it actually simplifies your business, I promise. With a niche, you’re not turning away students, you’re attracting your tribe. Yoga Journal, Yoga Works, and prAna seem to have something for everyone, but that’s just not practical for the small business. You have to start by focusing on one group.
Not to mention, having a group of people you really enjoy working with takes the pressure off of having to appeal to the masses – you don’t have to be liked by everyone. A niche gives you the freedom to be authentic and stay true to the vibe that will attract your tribe.
When you niche down, you become known as an expert and the go-to person in your community. It brings clarity to your business strategy and liberates you from the confusion and guesswork of trying to appeal to everyone. When everyone is your preferred audience, your message gets watered down and the quality of your service and expertise diminishes. When you try to be everything to everyone, you end up talking to no one.
In working with a niche, your marketing and networking efforts become more efficient and effective. For instance, you’ll know what workshops, trainings, and conferences to attend, as well as what businesses to partner with. You’ll know exactly what to say when someone asks about your work and your outreach becomes a breeze because you know your audience so well.
Whether you have a niche already or you’re figuring it out, it’s essential to get extremely specific. As marketing expert Derek Halpern puts it, “You have to drill down to exactly what you want to be known for and sum it up in a few words”.
When selecting a niche for your business, ask yourself the following questions:
- The students who give me the most positive feedback in my classes are________.
- Out of all the people who could use my service, who am I most passionate about working with? Who do I most identify with, understand and even sympathize with?
- What do I love to talk about more than anything?
- What about yoga most excites me?
- What specialized training do I have and how can I use that to shape my niche?
- I’m naturally really good at _____.
- My students love _______ about me.
Remember, you’re carving out a role as an expert and the go-to teacher for something specific. Don’t try to master two or three niches at once (i.e. senior yoga, yoga for athletes and kids yoga). The way you speak to and market yourself to seniors is going to be completely different than athletes or kids. Gain experience in one area first, learn from your wins and mistakes, and establish your authority. Then develop a second niche if that suits you or transition to something else if that’s the way life is guiding you.
Credit B. Roberts
Get really good at one thing initially, and then expand.
Think about Nike, a company that produces just about every type of athletic shoe. They didn’t begin that way, though. First, they carved out a niche for their brand by dominating the running shoe. Over the years Nike has added to their repertoire niche by niche to the multifaceted company they are today.
In crafting your niche, the formula is simple: Need + Solution = Niche.
First, identify a need among a specific group or community. Then identify what their biggest pain/obstacle/challenge is, and come up with a way to help them resolve it.
Here are some niche examples:
· At home prenatal yoga for working moms-to-be
· Restorative yoga for CrossFit recovery
· Yoga and Ayurveda for digestive healing
· Bikram Yoga for athletes
· Team building yoga for corporate retreats
· Yoga for men with athletic injuries
· Yoga and creative arts for at-risk teen girls
· Yoga to balance depression
· Yoga for seniors with hip replacements
· Strengthening yoga for ballet dancers with joint instability
· Corporate yoga to improve posture and reduce stress
Choose a niche you are actually qualified to teach. That is, you have the technical knowledge to skillfully address the needs of your niche. The idea is to become an expert in your niche, not a fake. These days there are teacher trainings for almost every specialty, so acquire the related certifications, conduct your own research, learn as much about your specialty as you can and grow from your experience.
Remember, the best teachers never stop exploring their craft, and that’s what it takes to become a great teacher in any niche.