5 Reasons Why Yoga Teachers Who Niche Are More, Not Less Successful
If you’ve been trying to learn a little more about how to increase your chances of success building a career as a yoga teacher, it’s highly likely you’ll have come across the term “niching.” (And for more information on how niching helps you stand out from the dozens of other yoga teachers in your area, see “The Truth About Teaching Yoga: You Need To Stand Out”).
I’ve been teaching yoga for just over 5 years as I write this, but before that I built a reasonably successful business as a leadership and management coach for big corporations. I had left a well-paid, corporate job myself, had little savings to fall back on, and was in desperate need of income to pay the bills since I’d left the relative security of the safe pay cheque at the end of the month.
The truth is I struggled massively in the beginning to get clients. I resorted to cold-calling – which I hated and which was often unsuccessful. Any opportunity for work I took. I offered free services in the hope clients would then buy; I said I could coach anyone. I took on jobs I didn’t feel completely fit my knowledge and expertise and then found myself having to work twice as hard preparing for that client. I spread myself thin and pitched my prices low ending up often realising when I added up all the hours I had worked on that project for a client, I would probably earn more at McDonalds!
And then I invested in a mentor. And things changed.
She talked about “positioning.” About the importance of deciding who your ideal clients were, what your real strength and “niche” was, and to focus on this particular area and nothing else. Many of us in that mentoring group felt nervous. After all, if we narrowed down what we did, wouldn’t we narrow down the number of people who might be interested in what we did? Wouldn’t we lose opportunities instead of create them?
The answer was a resounding “No!”
The minute I nailed my colours to the mast and focused on helping specific businesses (I worked with Universities and other educators) enhance their new manager’s leadership and coaching skills, my business took off.
Here’s what I’ve learned about niching:
1. Once you choose a specific area you are going to focus on for helping people, it is FAR easier to promote what you do because you can get far more specific with your message.
The more you narrow down who you help, and how you help them, the easier it is to do almost everything linked with promotion: your web site; your adverts, your e-mails, your blogs…
Instead of some generic message, which means nothing to anybody, all of a sudden you can really dig down into what bothers this particular group the most – and show them how you can help.
Now, for my yoga business, my niche is students in mid-life or later years. Every message I create is designed to speak to the worries, concerns and challenges this group faces - and it makes my job so much easier. Indeed, the opportunity for niching to be more powerful as a yoga teacher is greater – because my students choose to stay with me for – in some cases years, whereas in the corporate world, it was a transitory relationship.
2. Niching allows you to say no to students who don’t fit your niche and refer them to someone who might be a better “fit.”
My niche is Yoga over 45! Pretty clear!
Does that mean anyone under 45 is barred? No! But what niching does do is give me an opportunity to chat with that student about what brought them to yoga, what their objective is, and what kind of class they were looking for. If I think they would feel comfortable in my class I say so – if I think they might be more suited with one of my local colleagues, I say so. If that means I “lose” a potential student I am not worried. It’s likely if they came to me for a trial session they would not stay anyhow – so they are not right for me either.
And referring a student to another yoga teacher can only be a good thing. It helps build collaborative relationships instead of competitive relationships with our peers – which I like. A nod to the Yamas and Niyamas perhaps?
3. Niching allows you to really become an expert at something – which builds your credibility massively.
We all like experts! If you had a heart problem – would you want your GP to treat you or the heart surgeon?
When you decide to niche, you focus ALL your energies on that one area. You get to know your subject inside out. You take additional training on that subject specifically. You spend so much time with students who fit that niche you learn more about them too. You learn what really matters to them most. You learn their “language” – and this can be reflected in your marketing.
And, you build the sense of trust between you and your students. Priceless.
Since I focused on my yoga niche, I have studied more on anatomy, learned more about common diseases associated with ageing and which many of my students have, and have worked hard to understand how to adapt poses so no one in my classes feels yoga is not for them. At the same time, I want to inspire those who come to my classes – to see what might be possible. There is a bond and a community that has built up which is lovely to see. As new students come along, this sense of commonality helps them feel at home more quickly – and it’s a pleasure and a privilege to be part of those like-minded souls.
I’ve had a couple of enquiries about whether I do pregnancy yoga! You can imagine my conversation! It’s far too long ago I had my babies! Could I teach it? Maybe. Would I be really good at it? Definitely not! Do I even want to? No! So, I refer them to a teacher I know who has just completed her pre-natal training – and for whom this student would be perfect! I trust that, if I am working in my “flow,” students whom I am meant to serve will find me.
4. When you become an expert, you get more referrals!
My niche helped me when I launched – helping me fill my new classes quite quickly – and the website and adverts which all send out the same message still do that today, but the number of students I get now because they have heard about me from someone else is growing substantially. All of a sudden, I have my own students doing my marketing for me!
Another power of niching!
5. Just because you niche doesn’t mean you can’t extend that niche.
And for those of you who still feel you might be limiting yourself, think again. I run what I call “regular classes,” but I have also tried, very successfully, short courses on an even more specific niche. I have run “Yoga for Healthy Back and Core” courses, “Yoga for Stress” courses, and ever popular “Yoga for beginner’s courses.
Still aimed at the mid-life/older student but focusing on a specific issue I know they have.
So, I hope I have convinced you it is worth figuring out your niche! If you’re brand new to teaching yoga – that might take a little longer. Maybe you just need to teach a number of different classes, taking any opportunity, to see which students you feel most affinity for.
But success loves action takers – so take a look at the suggested action steps below too. They are designed to help you nail this niche business too.
Actions you can take:
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