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Yoga Teacher Talk is an on-going series about the ins and outs of teaching yoga for new, current, or aspiring yoga teachers.
Years back, I wrote a post about Things No one Told me About Planning a Yoga Retreat, and recently we had a request to write something similar for yoga teachers looking to hold a workshop.
- First, know your audience.
True story: Once, I tried to host a morning yoga workshop in Los Angeles. It was to be a super fun groove flow yoga workshop from 8 - 10am on a Saturday. I had invited a high end retailer to come in with a rack of clothing and offer 30% off, and I had a tea and juice sponsor and secured a gorgeous art gallery with vaulted ceilings and incredible natural light for the workshop. Sounds amazing, right? Well, no one showed up. Womp. Talk about embarrassing! The vendors miraculously didn't seem to care (I think they felt bad for me), but the fault was my own. See, I was new to town. I'm from the east coast, and I hadn't really looked at the LA lifestyle yet and what I realized in hindsight is that my LA peeps keep weird schedules. From my experience, they don't get up early and attack the day like New Yorkers. They're more about boozy brunches and afternoon hikes. And there's nothing wrong with that, it's just that I failed to recognize it.
The lesson? Know who you're catering to, and tailor the entire event from the time of day to the type of workshop to fit their lifestyle and schedules. Instead of fresh juices and an 8 - 10am class, I should've scheduled an afternoon class with mimosas and a light brunch afterwards for my LA people.
2. Design your workshop.
Once you can identify who your audience is, you can surmise what they might be interested in and need. You'll want to design a unique, interesting workshop that is different from what they might get at their regular yoga studio. Feel free to take this time to think outside the box. What are you an expert in? Are you a master handstander? Arm balance workshops, in my experience, always do well. Do you know everything there is to know about chakras? That's your jam. Are you also a massage therapist? Perhaps you can incorporate a massage element. Think you're not enough of an expert to lead a workshop? You still can! Just find a unique element you can add, like music. Invite a cellist or drummer to play live at your vinyasa class. Incorporate aromatherapy. Call it something super inspirational and pepper in your favorite readings.
Bottom line: Design something that is different from what your students might find at their run-of-the-mill yoga studio.
3. Pick a venue.
Now that you have a workshop, you're going to need a venue. Pick a venue that will complement your workshop. Depending on your city, there are a number of options. Lots of people think you can just call up a local yoga studio and rent their space. Often times, that's just not the case. Studios, for whatever reason, have been notoriously snooty to me when I have reached out to ask to rent the space. The only times I have ever been able to rent a space through a studio is if another member or teacher has recommended me to the studio owner. So you can try your luck with local studios, but if it's not panning out, get creative. Think about local businesses that have a big open space you can use and that could probably use some extra money from renting it out to you - dance studios, artist's lofts, co-working spaces, art galleries, breweries. Bonus points if you can collaborate with them - like if you hosted a workshop at a brewery, chances are they'd be open to giving everyone a free beer (but keep your audience in mind. If you're hosting a workshop in, say, Utah - free beer might not be the best way to attract your people). You'll also want to consider the parking situation (you should have ample, safe parking), and any potential noise factors (ie don't hold a restorative yoga workshop on a Friday night if your venue is just upstairs from a dance club). There are definitely ways to keep your overhead low when it comes to securing a venue, but they come with risks. You could schedule a workshop in the community park, but what if it rains? What if the mosquitos are out of control? What if there's a five year old's birthday party scheduled that same day right next to your spot? These are risks you need to be willing to take.
The take away: Pick a venue that works within your budget and is best for your participants' lifestyle.
4. Price it out
The price is up to you. The things I take into consideration are: my teaching time, my travel time, my time developing the workshop, the venue cost, my insurance costs, and how much I would be willing to pay for the workshop. If you're new to running a workshop, price it accordingly. My workshops generally cost around $40 for a two hour session. I've seen as little as $25 for an hour and a half from a local teacher or as much as $125 for a three hour session with a famous yoga instructor.
Above all: Don't sell yourself short. You're worth it.
5. Collect payment ahead of time
If you can, collect payment ahead of time so you have an idea of how many people are coming. You can have people pay via your website, paypal or an app like Square Cash. You can get creative to get instant sign ups. Offer an early bird discount of 10% or so if they sign up by a certain date, or offer $5 off each person if they sign up with a friend.
Bottom line: Try to get as many sign ups as you can early on.
6. Advertise like nobody's business
Advertising is not like it used to be. You could certainly try your hand at placing an ad in the local paper but remember to keep your audience in mind. Are your yoga peeps the type that read the local paper? Think about where they hang out. A local juice bar? Where do they shop? A local active wear boutique? Pop into local businesses where your people hang out, and ask if you can put up a poster.
If you're advertising online, you could try facebook's sponsored option, where you pay a small amount to reach a target audience. If you have a large local following, you can promote on instagram and ask people for help. Have them tag a friend in your city who may want to come. If you're promoting online, you need to remember that people have very little time, so they're often just scrolling through their feeds. Make your promotional photo an actual photo, rather than a screenshot of your informational poster. Make your photo eye-catching and inspirational. Then, in the caption, quickly explain what you're hosting, why they might want to join, and how they can sign up. I would suggest that you begin advertising at least four to six weeks out.
Bottom line: Keep your clients in mind and advertise where they'll see it.
7. When it's showtime, document your success!
When it's time to teach your workshop, you need to be thinking about your next workshop. Hire a photography or grab a friend to snap photos either during (if appropriate and not intrusive) or after the workshop with the entire group. You can use these photos for promotional photos in the future when you go to create your next workshop. Just be sure that you have everyone's permission to use the photos.
The take away: Always be thinking about how you can use what you're doing now to help yourself grow in the future.
8. Collect feedback and info
While you have your people right in front of you - let them know what exciting events you have coming up, and collect their email addresses at the end of the class so you can stay in touch with a newsletter. You can also create a feedback form in a google doc and email them for feedback if you'd like.
Bottom line: Always be thinking about how to connect and stay in touch with your people.
Let's talk: Yoga teachers - do you have anything else you'd add? Students? Anything in particular you like to look for when signing up for a workshop? Also - I'm all ears - if you have any special requests for future Yoga Teacher Talk topics, please leave them below in the comments section.