Teaching yoga can be a pretty tough way to make a living. I know teachers who teach 18-20 classes per week and make just enough money to make ends meet. (I’ve been there myself).
One way to earn a more stable living as a yoga teacher – and to make your heart soar with love for your work – is to define a niche; a specific group of students or a way of teaching that’s a perfect fit for your unique skills and interests.
What kind of teaching sparks your interest? Do you want to teach high-flying corporates? Young mums? Football players? Teenage girls? Older people? People living with a specific illness or disability?
This shouldn’t be a snap decision. Selecting a particular target audience simply because you think you should have a niche, or because you think it will be lucrative, probably isn’t the best idea.
Finding a niche means working out who your ideal students are. The process should be meaningful and heartfelt, and when you find your niche, it should feel just right. In fact, it should feel like you’ve discovered your dharma.
Read on for four simple steps to help you work out your own niche as a teacher.
Step 1: Contemplate
Take some time to answer the following questions. Some will probably be easy; the others might need to percolate in the back of your head for a day or two before you sit down to answer them.
- What has yoga given you, or how has it changed your life?
- What (other than yoga) are you passionate about? What are your interests or hobbies?
- What are you good at, or do you have experience in?
- Are there events, challenges, or circumstances that have shaped your life? How did yoga help?
- Who do you most enjoy serving? Are there students you have found it particularly rewarding to work with?
Step 2: Generate Ideas
How can you utilise your passions, interests, experience or expertise to create a unique yoga experience? Write down everything that comes to mind! You can filter your ideas later.
Here’s a few broad categories that might help you out:
- Combine yoga with one of your interests or areas of expertise (such as yoga for dancers, cyclists, or surfers. Or yoga and Ayurveda; yoga and writing; yoga and wine tasting, or yoga immersions in nature).
- Teach yoga people living with an illness or a disability. It might be something you have faced yourself or helped a loved one through, or you’ve gained experience and expertise through working with a yoga student, or other work you’ve done. Examples could include yoga for people with autism, depression, MS, hearing impairment, or an eating disorder).
- Yoga for people at particular life stage (kids, teenagers, pre/post-natal, older people)
- Yoga for people who work in a particular field (yoga for the desk-bound, for entrepreneurs, for actors)
Step 3: Focus and Narrow it Down
If you have a bunch of ideas, start to narrow it down to two or three. Which ones make your spirit soar? And which of those seem feasible?
Step 4: Validate
Focus on your favourite idea – this might be the only one you need. Do some online research to see whether other yoga teachers are working within this niche, and how they’re going about it.
Is there someone within the field you could chat to? Perhaps you’re an actor and you’re keen to teach fellow thespians. Chat to your agent, teacher or a fellow actor to get their perspective (but take it with a grain of salt!)
Finally, try it out. Before you go too far down the route of mapping out a year-long calendar of classes and events, and investing in a website, and developing social media content and writing blog posts… run a trial class, maybe even a freebie. Gauge interest. See how teaching it feels. Get feedback from participants.
Some Concerns You Might Have…
How will narrowing my potential audience help me make more money?!
- It may seem counter-intuitive that narrowing your potential student base can help you increase your income, but I promise it will. Here’s how:
- Defining your niche means that you know exactly who you’re marketing to. Your marketing can be clearly targeted and becomes far more effective.
- You will be one of a limited pool of teachers catering to your niche, meaning less competition for students and further work opportunities.
- You will become an expert in your field.
- As a specialist, you can often earn a higher rate of pay.
- You will develop strong teacher-student relationships. Your students are likely to practice with you consistently, and to stay with you, because you’re meeting their specific needs.
Will I be locked into this niche forever? Does it mean I can’t still teach general classes?
Of course not! You can still teach general classes. And as you evolve and your life changes, your niche might too. That’s natural and totally fine.