Today's post is part of the #yogateachertour and while it is meant for Yoga teachers, the 3 keys can be adapted for any client-based professional.
I get asked about how to build a sustainable lifestyle teaching yoga a LOT. For over 10 years, the core of my teaching business has been small group or one-on-one private classes. For many teachers, finding private classes remains a mystery, and yet it is one of the only ways to make teaching yoga a sustainable career choice. It is my strongly held belief that if you are teaching more than 15 classes a week you are walking a fine line that looks like spreading yourself too thin and future burn out.
That is why I want to help you build up this side of your business. We will get started with The 3 Keys to Finding and Keeping Your Ideal Students.
The first key to finding and keeping your ideal students is to know who they are. We will be diving deep into this in the next Yoga Teacher Survival Course because it is shocking how many teachers have a hard time with getting clear on who they want to help and how. Do you know who your Ideal Clients are? Ask yourself:
- What do I enjoy teaching most? (Flow, Yin, Restorative, Yoga for Athletes, Yoga Therapy)
- What types of people are attracted to this form of yoga?
Next, come up with one or two personas that best describe the people you want to work with in a private setting. When my partner and I created Aquin Yoga, we spent a lot of time working on the persona of our readers and Ideal Clients. To help get you started, fill in the following details for yourself:
- What is your Ideal Client’s profession?
- What do they do for fun?
- What do they value in life?
- What are they passionate about?
- Why are they interested in Yoga?
- What do they want to learn?
- What qualities are they looking for in an instructor?
Spend time gaining clarity on who you most want to work with and it will inform everything about how you approach those people and what you do together.
Now that you are clear on who your Ideal Clients are, the second key is to connect with them. While there are many ways to do this effectively, I want to share with you one of my favourite ways. Blogging is a phenomenal vehicle of connection with your students. At first I hated the idea of blogging and had to be lovingly strong-armed into it by my co-founder Steve Haase. Marketing master that he is, he pointed out that I had already built loyalty from my ideal students because of the content of my classes, but the only way those people had found me was by stumbling into my class one day. Without an online voice, I was missing the chance to connect with Ideal Students all over the world.
Sharing your ideas, tips and love for yoga through writing and video allows your students to see who you are and what gets you fired up. If those people love what you do and appreciate what you are offering, they will stay connected and engaged. People who are connected and engaged are more likely to take the next step and become a lifelong student who will also share your work with their friends and family. You don’t need a fancy website with all the bells and whistles, something simple, like a blog that allows for the exchange of thoughts between you and your ideal students, is enough to get you started.
Once you are clear and connected to your ideal students, the final key comes into play. Being a consistent teacher doesn’t sound sexy, but I can assure you it is hands down the most important factor in keeping ongoing classes with your ideal students. Nothing annoys me more than when a teacher jumps erratically between styles of yoga in order "shake things up" when really they are just trying to keep things interesting for themselves at the expense of their students. As instructors, we should be refining our teaching skills and striving towards innovation, but there is no need to be all over the place for no reason.
My background in yoga is rooted in the Ashtanga Vinyasa world so I appreciate the power of structure and routine through repetition of the same postures. However, I am constantly trying to find creative yet logical transitions and progressions in and out of a handful of postures I consider fundamental. After a decade of teaching, I have learned that it takes skill and guts to walk in to a room with the only lesson plan being working with what shows up that day. To do that and have the class feel consistent might look like:
- Having a framework—even a loose and flexible one—for your time with your students
- Ending the class the same way each time no matter what the contents of the class (I end with a 10 minute savasana always).
- Picking an apex pose to work on each week until it is a familiar to the student and integrated into the practice.
- Returning to a core theme or idea throughout the class.
These 3 Keys are not a magic formula, but if you work with them they will help to improve your business. What are some ways you attract and work with your ideal students? Let your fellow yogis know in the comments below.
Make sure you check out yesterday's Yoga Teacher Tour blog--an in-depth and detailed post by Kellie Adkins about making money teaching private sessions. And check out Racheal Cook's blog here for tomorrow's #yogateachertour goodness!