3 Tips to Help Teachers Grow Their Presence Online

July 19, 2016    BY Jessica Walsh

Offering online content is a great way to diversify your yoga business. Busy schedules make it challenging to attend one+ hour yoga classes, and online classes allow students to practice at home whenever and for however long they wish. This has made online yoga classes a popular option for many students.

There’s no substitute for in-person teaching, but it’s important to realize the big market for online yoga resources. It’s a win-win for teachers and students. According to a recent Yoga Journal survey, 43 percent of those polled practice yoga at home. And as a teacher, you might find that teaching many classes during the week is exhausting. Or maybe you only have time to teach once or twice a week, but still want to connect with more students.

Online yoga can help you reach more people without spreading yourself too thin. Invest a bit of work upfront, and your class can live online forever! There are many yoga teachers who already offer online classes, but don’t get discouraged—everyone brings something unique to the space.

Whether you choose to blog or start a podcast or YouTube channel—here are four tips for building your online audience.

1. Develop a Consistent Social Media Presence

Pick a few social media sites on which to be active. Social media is one of the best ways to spread your message and allow people to find you! I recommend sticking to one or two platforms, because it’s important to post every day (which can be time consuming). Think about using the sites and apps you currently use, because if you’re already using them regularly, it won’t feel like “work” to promote your yoga. My favorite social media platform is Instagram, as it allows me to post yoga poses or other pictures likely relevant to my followers. People find me through the hashtags I include in each post, and there are over 400 million monthly active users.

Think about using the sites and apps you currently use, because if you’re already using them regularly, it won’t feel like “work” to promote your yoga.

Facebook has been around for what feels like forever, so chances are you’re already using it. You can also set up a Facebook page instead of using your personal profile, which allows some separation between your personal information and your business information and presentation.  Notably, the company recently launched a video broadcasting tool called Facebook Live, similar to live streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat. This is an exciting new way to broaden your exposure and gain followers. Because it’s a fairly new platform, get in on the ground floor!  Facebook Live now allows yoga teachers to connect with students through live streaming classes and Q & A’s, making it the closest thing to the face-to-face experience.

It can be time consuming to stay active on these sites, so consider using Hootsuite or another social media management site. Being able to manage all your accounts from one place will save you time and energy. You can schedule posts and select those platforms where you’d like to share content. This way you don’t have to stop what you’re doing each day to post. Just make sure you check for any comments and interactions in order to respond in a timely manner.

2. Make Connections and Share on Other Platforms

As with a local following, connections are an important way to spread your reach. Guest blogging or appearing on a podcast or video show are great ways to gain exposure to potential students. Do your research, seeking out yoga or possibly nutrition and fitness blogs that accept guest posts. (Any audience already into healthy living could be interested in yoga.) And check out the submissions guidelines for online yoga publications like Doyouyoga, MindBodyGreen, and, of course, Yoga International to see if what you offer might be a good fit for them. It makes sense to be creative in the ways you might reach those who can benefit from what you’re offering.

You might also consider reaching out to the producers of some of your favorite podcasts. Ask if you can share a few breathing exercises on a show that targets people in a stressful industry. Or consider collaborating with another teacher or someone who can add value to your content by offering a different practice or perspective.

Remember also that just as it’s important to build relationships with your students in a live class, it’s also important to connect with those who interact with you online; respond to comments, and reach out to people who are engaged in what you offer. A genuine interest in your students will make you stand out. Students will be more likely to participate in your online classes and courses when they know you’ll answer their questions and acknowledge their participation.

Remember also that just as it’s important to build relationships with your students in a live class, it’s also important to connect with those who interact with you online.

3. Consider Paid Advertising

The great thing about setting up social media accounts is that they provide free advertising. Paid advertising can also help spread the word to people outside your networks, and it’s a great alternative if you don’t have the time to dedicate to posting regularly on social media. Paid online advertising like Google AdWords gets you out there and saves you time, as do the paid advertising options on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. “Promoted”  tweets on Twitter have shown an engagement rate one to three percent higher than banner ads. Promoted tweets are integrated into a user’s news feed, where they are more likely to see them and less likely to identify them as ads. A great benefit to this type of paid advertising is that you can create targeted ads to reach audiences who fit your client demographic, instead of just people who follow you (for example, women between the ages of 20 to 40).

Paid advertising might not be for everyone, but if you have a series of videos, or something to sell, this could give you the best bang for your buck. On Facebook, for example, you can choose a budget you’re  comfortable with. I like advertising on social media platforms, because it’s more of a “soft sell” advertising. This might be a link to a free short yoga practice you’ve posted on YouTube. People don’t like to be aggressively sold goods or services, and offering something of value online to gently draw in students is the far better approach. It allows people to find you on their own. A free e-Book, for example, is a good way to get them to click.

Remember:

Even though sharing classes on the internet is not the same thing as teaching yoga in your town, both involve many of the same fundamentals—building relationships, making smart connections with others who are doing similar work, and thereby growing your following. It’s also important to know your target market. If you shoot an arrow without aiming for the target, you’re, of course, likely to miss. The same holds true for marketing your content. Take the time to do the appropriate research, and then leverage the information and insights you gain in order to build a strong online presence and share your yoga with the world!

Jessica Walsh
Jessica Walsh is the founder of YogiDance kids yoga and has a youtube channel called Downdog Update. She received her 200 hour yoga certification from the Himalayan Institute. She has been writing since a child. For more information visit www.yogidance.com.

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