You Are Your Best Asset
This post I think follows on nicely from the last – where I talked about making the most of your own contacts. Marketing yourself as a yoga teacher is one of the greatest on going challenges that you will face in your teaching career. Because the fact is that it is fiercely competitive and there will be opportunities lost to others and other that you win over friends and the blurred lines between professional and personal relationships typically within your networks will make it that extra bit more tricky to navigate. You don’t need me to remind you of how many yoga teachers there are, particularly if you are like me, living and working in London. BUT that doesn’t mean there isn’t space and opportunity for YOU. It can be easy to feel like a very small fish in a great big ocean but I have put together some tips and ideas to help you navigate and network in order to find authentic opportunities that are well suited to YOU as an individual.
1) The first draws on that word: AUTHENTIC. I often leave classes that I have taken with other teachers and question my ability because they use more Sanskrit than me, or because people are sweating more, or breathing more strongly or seem to take the class more seriously than my students do. But then I remind myself that my students started to come to classes more regularly and feedback to me more and more about how much they liked the class once I stopped trying to BE anything.
When I first started teaching, I set up my own classes in the dark, smelly, sticky floored function room at a Bar/Restaurant in Brixton. I got to play around with what I taught, develop my language and style as a teacher and have a whole lot of fun with a loyal student base that were there to practice with me. By contrast I was also teaching at Frame and felt that people were there to sweat. So in those classes I taught differently, tried to say certain things, designed sequences that made people sweat and while my classes started building in popularity it wasn’t until one day when I slowed things down and spoke from the heart that I really connected with my students there in the same way that I did in those Brixton classes where I wasn’t trying to live up to this idea of who I thought they wanted me to be. That was the turning point for my classes and it has been wonderful to see how the students have developed with me.
2) In order to be authentic, you need to GET CLEAR on your intentions as a teacher. That probably wont happen over night – it is more likely to be an on-going process of development. Why do you want to share the practice? Who are the sort of people that you want to teach? We all have different backgrounds and that will inevitably create part of who we are as a teacher. It’s ok to be a teacher that shares yoga from a fitness perspective if that is what it is for you. And it is ok for it to be a slower, more mindful practice if that is what you want to share. You have much greater opportunity to be a good teacher when you know why you are doing it, so get clear on that.
3) Once you are clear on your intentions and have found your authentic voice as a teacher, YOU ARE YOUR BEST ASSET. It’s all very well being able to market yourself, but you need to have the product to back it up. AKA you can have 10,000 followers on instagram but if you’re not a good teacher then people won’t come back. The best way to develop your teaching is to teach. A 200hr certificate is like the training wheels – it is actually holding real space, with real bodies and minds that will give you the skills and understanding to be a great teacher. Combine that with developing your clear vision as a teacher, being authentic in your voice and your offering and you create a strong asset to market.
4) So lets get practical. We spoke last week (or rather I wrote and you read) about making the most of the networks that you have. I went to an event this morning and a really important point was made. You can connect to people all over the world via the internet and social media, but don’t forget about the people close by – your friends, families, colleagues etc – because they are your network and they are were so many opportunities are likely to come from. Organic relationships are key – who do you know that will support you? How can you gather small group classes together or make relationships with local studios that you actually enjoy spending time in. Once you have those relationships, you will not only feel more supported generally but you will be able to ask for support too.
The people that came to that class in Brixton in the early days were my friends. Then it was friends of friends. Then it was people that heard of it through their friends. THAT is the best marketing. Those close networks of people that you can ASK for support – don’t be afraid to ask them. They can spread the word, fill up your classes, and be your marketing team through word of mouth. Still to this day, the people that I have personal relationships with are the ones who have been the most supportive to me. I can’t stress this enough.
5) Don’t rush in to trying to do too much. It’s very easy to look around and see that other people are running retreats, workshops, collaborating with brands, getting sponsored by yoga companies etc. It is all noise. It can be easy to get distracted by the financial pressure of teaching – this is why I usually encourage new teachers to have a back up or second income source to help support at the tricky times.
6) Don’t get bogged down with social media. You don’t have to have lots of followers to be a good teacher – in fact it can be a big distraction. Use it wisely, stay authentic and use it as a place for current and prospective students to find you, your schedule and a little bit more about you. NEVER pay for followers or bots – it will not help you get people to classes and if brands ever want to work with you in the future (if that is something that interests you) they will know your followers are not organic. And now we are back to that first point…authenticity.