So, you’ve graduated…well done! Your teacher training was probably a roller-coaster ride, and the most rewarding thing you ever did. Now it’s time to knuckle down, teach some classes and find your feet as a teacher. Where do you start? In this blog, Ed (Yogafurie teacher and owner) gives you some useful information about what you can do and what you can expect to find.
Start by thinking about what you want to achieve, in the short term and for the future. Is it enough to just cover your costs, or do you want/ need an income from your classes?
A diligent new teacher will probably spend an hour or two planning each class, and might even practice it a couple of times themselves before delivering it. You can easily put 4 hours work into a single class. This kind of effort will pay off – the quality of your classes will be high, and people will appreciate that. Of course, you might (or might not) feel you need some financial benefit from all the work. It’s important to think about this.
Lots of people are teaching really just for the experience, and to maintain the momentum they built up in teacher training. If this is your goal then you might be willing to compromise on the financial reward for a while. Do be clear about what you want, as it will also affect how you market yourself.
And marketing is important. Your teacher training course hopefully made you a confident and knowledgeable teacher. There is more you need to know if you hope to attract and engage a population of students.
Get ready for the highs and lows
Take time to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. When teaching, there are bound to be times when people cancel and numbers are low. It’s very easy to take that personally, and treat it as a reflection of your teaching or style.
So, get ready to be objective. First – what is the feedback you’ve received so far? If your course feedback was that your teaching is good, and if the classes you’ve run so far have gone well, then it’s probably not you. Have a think about what’s been happening recently – if there are things you’re struggling with in other aspects of your life then that can affect the quality of your delivery. If it really is something you’ve done then your mindfulness training will be important: accepting the outcome without self-judgement will be the way to figure out a solution. And remember – it’s probably not you: it’s likely that people cancel because something happened that needed their immediate attention.
Then there’s the money. What will it feel like to make no money? How long can you tolerate making a loss? Usually, these trigger people to look closely at what they’re doing and make improvements. People are resilient, and tough times help them find important answers. Having said that, all too many new teachers quit at the first sign of trouble. No one can possibly know in advance what’s actually going to happen. But you can reflect on the possibilities, and be ready with your strength and determination if it’s ever needed.
There are two types – monthly subscription sites (like Movegb and Classpass), and daily deal sites (like Groupon).
Monthly subscription sites
These web platforms give you immediate visibility to potentially thousands of students. However, that comes at a price. You need to think about the implications and make an informed decision for yourself.
There are lots of teachers advertising on these sites. How will you stand out? Where will you appear in the list that end users see? You might feel like a small fish in a big sea.
However, increasingly people make impulse decisions to go to Yoga. They open up the app, and see what’s on now in their area. And at that time, you’ll probably be on the list, so you might well get a visit that you otherwise might not have had.
These providers will pay you a rate for each person that comes to your class through their site. As a new teacher, that rate could be low. It’s important to give them a call and discuss this. You can ask for more, and they can usually accommodate – the flipside is that your class will not be available to all users any more, only to ones paying higher membership fees. Others can still come, but have to pay a topup to go to your class. The topup thing is hard to predict – two end users on the same membership can go to the same class and only one will have to pay a topup.
Another consideration is – can you ever leave the platform, can you ever run classes and earn all the money for yourself? Once you have a clientele based on one of these platforms, you might feel locked in. To leave means facing the very problem that drove you to the platform in the first place: namely, how to survive for yourself.
Having said all that – if your objective is to gain teaching experience, if you’re not too worried about the finances then these platforms can be a great way to bring students in and earn something for your efforts.
Daily deal sites
Groupon is an example of this. It works like this:
- You need to have a class pass – eg 6 classes for £48, 10 classes for £70 or something like that.
- You discount your pass by 70% and it’s advertised at that price on the daily deal site.
- The daily deal merchant takes around 30% of all sales (plus VAT).
- You get the rest.
Sometimes, you only get paid when people use their pass. If someone buys the pass and doesn’t use it, the daily deal site keeps all the money. This is increasingly common.
Daily deal sites are a reasonable way of getting your name out there and getting new students, if you’re not too worried about how much money you’re getting paid. Again, as a new teacher, it might not be the top of your list.
You can do it yourself of course, This takes two forms: your own website, and social media. Both of these require you to spend some time upfront thinking about the message you want to put across to people and how you want to present yourself. This is the time to think of an evocative name – or to decide to just stick with the reality of your own name. It’s a time to create or find an interesting and engaging image or icon – or to decide not to get into all that, and define yourself as exactly who you already are.
You’ll buy a domain name that reflects the image you’ve decided to portray. You’ll populate the page or pages with imagery that aligns with the decisions you’ve already made. You’ll be building an online persona, and it’s important for this to be authentic.
There are many Yoga websites. You can get yours to the top of the search page in two ways: paid ads, or organic growth.
Paid ads are instant. You’ll immediately be top of the search list, but only as long as you keep paying for the ads. There will be a cost every time people click on the ad, and you’ll probably need specialist help from an AdWords consultant to get this set up. Make sure you check out any consultant before you hire them – review their previous work to be sure they can really help you.
Organic growth relies on your site being relevant. Google is really good at spotting content that genuinely relates to the subject – so if you love Yoga, then simply express that in your page and in blogs and you will slowly move up the search results. It is slower.
Social media is a cost-free way to experiment with your brand, if you want to have a brand. It’s also a great way to engage with your students. Generally, the more people engage with you, the more they will see your stuff in their newsfeeds.
The engagement has to be genuine. The platforms can spot real conversations from fake attempts – so again, if you and your students love Yoga, then there’s probably no problem getting engagement.
And the future?
You’re probably getting the message that authenticity is key. If you are practicing, if you are teaching from your practice, and if you’re passionately sharing that with your student community in class and online then there’s nothing to stop you.
Often, new teachers are challenged to find time to practice. If there’s one tip for the future, it’s – don’t compromise on personal practice. That’s the biggest signature of authenticity of all.
It’s also important because, as a teacher, your much-loved hobby just became a job. It can become a grind, like your old job was. The only way to keep your love of practice alive is to create that little practice space that’s just for you, every day. No students, no website, no insta, no facebook…just you and your Yoga.
Keep the love alive! Keep practicing…