effective marketing tips for yoga instructors and studio owners
I just completed a yoga teacher training earlier this year and our ‘business of yoga’ module included an hour-long speech about how you have to put yourself ‘out there’ in order to find students.
So what does ‘out there’ mean?
According to my lead instructor, it meant having a Facebook page and an Instagram profile and lots and lots of online friends.
When the class was dismissed, we all walked to the cafeteria in silence. As we started picking at our food, someone finally asked, “so how do you get a job, then?”
It was a good question that I’m sure thousands of new yoga teachers have every single day.
And since I’ve done things a little backward—I’ve been practicing yoga for 10 years and in digital marketing for 5 years before I finally got my yoga teacher certification—I luckily have a bit of experience with marketing in the yoga industry.
In fact, I’ve pretty much made it my life’s mission to support online businesses in finding new customers, especially in the yoga industry.
So I want to break down real actionable steps that you can take to grow your yoga business, develop a solid marketing strategy, and bring in potential clients from all over the world.
Just a warning, though: this is a long game kinda thing.
Don’t expect to just write a few blog posts or push a few social media ads to get all your yoga students through your virtual door.
But if you’re serious about growing your online yoga business and making money even when you aren’t teaching yoga, then follow these steps. They’ve worked for me and my clients, so they can for sure work for you.
1. Choose A Niche
Just like any business owner must do when creating a marketing plan, you must first identify your niche.
I’m trained in classical Hatha Tantra Yoga, for example, so I don’t offer a one-size-fits-all kinda yoga experience to my potential students. Instead, I focus on those who are specifically seeking out a traditional and authentic Tantra Yoga experience.
Because those yoga students are a lot easier to convince to book me as a yoga teacher than those who are just dabbling, looking for a yoga workout, or who aren’t interested in the spiritual side of yoga.
And I don’t want to waste my marketing effort, time, or money on anything that won’t convert into a booking.
This is called your ‘target audience’ and it’s made up of the exact segment of the yoga market who is most likely to pay you to teach yoga.
One of my clients, Brett Larkin, offers online yoga teacher training courses and teaches Kundalini Yoga. So you’ll notice most of her content on her website, on YouTube, and on social media is focused on online courses and Kundalini Yoga.
This is important because not only do her yoga students know what to expect from her, but so do Google, Facebook, and Instagram.
Just like humans learn to associate you with a certain niche, so does the Internet, making it a lot easier to be discovered online if you’re ‘known’ for a specific type of yoga.
So get clear about what you want to be known for and double down on that.
2. Up Your SEO Game
If you’re happy to run from one yoga studio to another for the rest of your yoga instructor career, then by all means go for it.
But if you want to truly turn your yoga business into something that you own, then you absolutely must learn a little bit about SEO (search engine optimization). It’s the best way to establish yourself online for free and once you get this sorted, it will work for you for years to come (also for free).
There is a lot to SEO and the first steps that you can take right now are here:
Create A Yoga Website
The best part about being a yoga teacher in 2020 is that it is easier than ever to create a website. All you really need is a reliable host and an easy-to-use platform.
A host is basically like your landlord. It’s where your website physically lives somewhere in the world on a server. When choosing a host, I recommend one with excellent customer service that will help you out when things get too technical for you.
That’s why I love Bluehost. Even though I’ve built and managed dozens of websites, I still somehow find issues that are way over my head and their customer support helps me solve them every single time.
Your platform is where you build your website, kinda like your actual apartment in this analogy. The most commonly used platform is WordPress, but if you want something that is more user-friendly, then I recommend Wix or Squarespace.
Do Some Keyword Research
Keyword research is really where the SEO work begins. I use Ahrefs to do all of my keyword research and you can sign up for a 7 day trial for $7 to get all of the data that you need.
Begin by typing in the top keywords that you’d like to target. These will naturally be the yoga style that you intend to teach, the type of yoga class you offer, the type of yoga retreat you lead, etc.
Then click the ‘All Keyword Ideas‘ to the left to reveal all related keywords to your initial search term. Check the search volume to find how many people are searching for this exact term per month.
The ‘KD’ means ‘keyword difficulty’, which indicates how difficult it would be to rank for this term. Ideally, the lower the KD the better. I usually target terms with a KD below 30.
You can export these lists to your computer to save for later.
Once you have identified what services you will offer and all of the keywords related to those services (ie. teach a Vinyasa Yoga class), you are ready to create content on your website.
The content serves two purposes:
- to make you more discoverable on Google
- to provide value to potential students who will eventually pay you to teach yoga
I’ve written a pretty comprehensive guide on how to do keyword research, so I recommend starting there for more step-by-step details.
Blogging And Guest Blogging
This is where the magic happens. Once you’ve outlined your target keywords, it’s time to start creating valuable content both for your website and for other websites.
This is exactly what content marketing is and it’s at the core of an SEO marketing strategy.
The good news is that this part can be a lot of fun.
You get to write about topics that you truly believe in while also establishing your brand in the yoga market.
While it may be tempting to write about anything that you fancy, I recommend sticking to keywords related to the services that you offer.
To find opportunities to guest post online, simply do an advanced Google search for publications that accept guest writers. You can do this by typing “allintitle: yoga + write for us“.
Some other search operatives that you can use are:
- allintitle: yoga + guest post
- allintitle: yoga teacher + guest post
- allintitle: yoga + submit
- allintitle: whatever topic you want to write about + write for us
Start An Email Newsletter
First put in all of the hard work to bring your target audience to your yoga website. Then, it’s helpful to connect with them. The best way to do this is with a yoga newsletter.
And the easiest way to get them to sign up for your newsletter is by first offering something for free. This is also an important part of content marketing and is called a ‘content upgrade’. You can see that Boho Beautiful does this by offering 3 downloadable items that provide tremendous value to her audience:
Once you have your email list of potential clients, it’s tempting to start trying to sell yourself as a yoga instructor.
But honestly, that’s the quickest way to turn them off of you.
Instead, center your email marketing plan on providing value to the yoga practitioner. Think about what will enhance their yoga practice and make their lives better. Build a yoga community through your email marketing and only share your services as announcements or updates.
Establishing trust with your audience is the most important thing as both a business owner and a yoga instructor.
3. Take Care Of Your Social Media Presence
The truth is that hardly anyone in the online yoga business can get away with no social media marketing. It’s the language people speak in 2020 and this is especially true in the yoga industry.
Just like blogging gives you an opportunity to be of service to potential students, so does social media marketing. Rather than using social media to make a sell, though, use it to grow a virtual yoga community.
The sale will come later.
Take a moment to create a brand style guide, where you choose your fonts, colors, filters, and mission. You can easily do this in Canva for free.
Then create a plan for each social media channel that you intend to share on:
4. Teach Yoga Online And Earn Passive Income
Now, this is the key to earning a lot of money as a yoga instructor. However, this is unfortunately mostly overlooked in teacher training courses.
In fact, very few yoga marketing guides talk about this fact; that you could be earning money teaching yoga without actually teaching yoga.
And it’s a lot of money, too.
Instead of running from one yoga studio to the other, swap one of your yoga class slots for an online yoga class. Record yourself teaching yoga, upload it to your favorite platform, and begin creating a library of yoga videos.
Just like search engine optimization takes time to build, so does teaching yoga online. It’s best to get started now and reap the rewards in the future.
My favorite video streaming platform is YouTube. It’s free, relatively easy, and can have a huge impact if you’re willing to put in the effort.
Other streaming platforms that can help you grow your student base are
And don’t stress too much about the technical aspects of creating yoga videos. Much of it can be done with a smartphone and basic video editing software like iMovie or Filmora.
You’d be surprised how many influencers have made their millions with just a smartphone!
5. Take Advantage of Offline Marketing
And lastly, take advantage of good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing. Try these tips to get word-of-mouth circulating:
- Socialize with the yoga studio owner or other instructors that you teach with. They can help connect you with other opportunities, like assisting on a yoga teacher training or co-hosting a yoga retreat.
- Talk to your students about upcoming events, workshops, or programs that you plan to lead.
- Offer incentives to existing students if they bring a new student with them next time.
And if you can network outside of your zip code then check out jobs at retreat centers or yoga studios around the world.
As a digital nomad myself, my favorite place to check for new yoga teaching gigs is on YogaTrade.
You can also create your own workshop or yoga retreat. Once you do, upload them to booking sites like BookRetreats, which will do all of the marketing for you.
The more flexible you are with your schedule and geographic location, the more opportunities you’ll find.
Sometimes it seems like digital marketing and being a yoga practitioner don’t really go together. After all, the yogic path is one of service and contentment.
But that doesn’t mean that you need to abandon your values just to bring in more yoga students. Instead, you can look at digital marketing as an opportunity to expand your reach and your message. This way you can do your part in making the world a better, happier place.