How To Get Private Yoga Clients

How To Get Private Yoga Clients

My journey from struggling with group classes to a full practice of private clients in under 12 months. 🙏🏼

 Working with clients, 1 on 1, in their home has transformed my life and allows me to better serve my students.

Working with clients, 1 on 1, in their home has transformed my life and allows me to better serve my students.

Years ago when I was a student in my first yoga teacher training, I remember a brief conversation led by our trainers about the business of teaching yoga. My classmates and I all had the same burning question:

“Is it actually possible to make any money teaching yoga?”

The answer we were given on that day is a common one in the yoga world, and tends to leave people stewing with a whole new pot of questions.

“Privates. The only way to have a lucrative, sustainable career teaching yoga is to supplement the group classes you teach with private lessons.”

I stepped into my yoga career with this seed of knowledge planted, but buried beneath layers of confusion of how I would possibly find private clients to teach, poor confidence in myself, and other emotional gunk that led me to ask:

Why would anyone possibly want to hire me as their private instructor?
And where on Earth would I find these people anyway?

Fast forward less than one year later, and I am teaching 5-6 private clients per week and earning an additional $1k per week. How did I do it?

I took a lot of wrong turns first. I didn’t have any confidence in myself to pursue private clients so I figured I would just do what I saw everyone else doing and run around the city teaching fifteen group classes a week. On some level I was quietly hoping and believing that one day some extravagant person would stroll in and exclaim loudly “I’d like to hire you as my private instructor!”

I spread myself sickly thin running, biking, and riding the subway to and from large group classes in various studios, gyms, and community centers. The classes paid only between $25 to $50 a class. Month after month I tried to convince myself that I could make this work. I became so exhausted and stressed that I would leave my classes feeling awful, feeling as if I had taught poorly and didn’t really help anyone. Wasn’t that the whole reason I wanted to be a yoga teacher? To share the powerful life changing magic of yoga and meditation and help everyone live their best life? I was now ruining my own life and not really contributing to anyone else’s in a meaningful way.

I realized that I had no choice but to figure out how to win the private yoga game.

I committed to doing whatever it would take to get multiple clients who would work with me multiple times a week so that I could finally earn a livable income teaching yoga and no longer be subjected to the burnout that group classes were causing me.

Here are the secrets of my success boiled down to three easy steps anyone can easily start taking today:

1. You Actually Have to Advertise

In my experience, yoga teachers are really well intentioned people who love to take care of themselves and take care of others. However, almost every yoga teacher I have ever met is not a business minded person, and has zero understanding of marketing and sales. This is an unfortunate reality, because unless you are very happy working as an underpaid employee at multiple studios (which often ask you to arrive early to sign in your class and stay late to sweep) the entire success of your career depends on your ability to become an effective freelancer. Freelancers of any kind must in some way advertise.

Advertising can feel uncomfortable. It means you have to put yourself out there. It might mean hanging your name and photograph somewhere public, where people will see it. It might mean communicating to your community that yes, you are really serious about your yoga career. It demands your commitment. It’s scary! I squirmed and threw tantrums during the process of getting over this. After I landed my first private client paying $150/hour through advertising, I fell in love with the process of advertising and did it constantly.

I have successfully connected with high paying clients through Thumbtack, Google Business, and Yelp. Some of these platforms require that you pay for advertising and some offer free options. I used to think to myself “But I don’t want to pay to find work” and would dismiss platforms that charged fees. Then I woke up and realized, wait a minute, if I want to make $100,000 a year as a self-employed yoga teacher, that actually means I am no longer an employee, I’m a business. And almost all businesses need to invest in advertising in order to grow. So why should I be any different?

2. Make Private Yoga Your Niche

There is an over abundance of yoga teachers in almost every corner of the country. It can be difficult to stand out. You’re probably already familiar with the concept that having a niche will help you clarify your brand and build your following. Most yoga career niches reflect a practice style or a lifestyle, like restorative, therapeutics, meditation, or Ayurveda. You should be clear about your offering and approach, but if you really want to start earning a better living and stop spreading yourself thin by working privately, why not just make your specialization individual instruction?

Every time someone asks you what you do, you tell them you are a yoga teacher. The question that almost immediately follows is “Oh, where do you teach?” You’ve probably been replying with the name of a studio or fitness center where you teach, but what if you tried replying “I teach privately, in my client’s homes.”? I made the decision to start presenting myself this way to the world, even before I had my first official private client. The more I said it, the more it became true.

Once I had my first few private clients and started to see that there were plenty of people out there seeking individual instruction, I realized that the best way to appeal to people seeking private instruction was to clearly offer it as a specific service. I updated my website, business cards, and social media to make sure I was clearly communicating to the world that I am not just a yoga teacher, but a private yoga teacher. I also sometimes use the term personal yoga teacher. I went a step further by designing private programs and packages that my clients could choose from, such as my 7-Day Therapeutic Detox program (which also includes Thai Yoga Therapy and spiritual counseling).

3. Heal the part of you that feels unworthy of having money and success

None of what you’ve read above will get you anywhere if you don’t do the inner work required to prepare yourself to become radically more successful in your career.

When I was making this transition, I was lucky to have the support of my partner (who is a transformational coach) around to help me look at the emotional obstacles that were inhibiting my professional and financial growth. He asked me questions like:

“Why have you been committed to staying underpaid and exhausted?
“Why don’t you feel worthy of becoming successful and wealthy?”
What are you so afraid of that you have been holding back from advertising?”
and
“What experiences or relationships from your past have contributed to you feeling stuck and held back?”

I cried a lot, talked a lot, and spent many hours meditating and journaling around these sort of questions. As a result, I birthed a freer, bolder version of myself, who valued herself and was ready to take risks and any possible step necessary to create a better career and life for myself.

Today, I work with six private clients per week, most of whom I see two to three times per week. I can officially consider myself a true full time yoga teacher, and my own boss.

 I never dreamed of having a career as fulfilling and financially stable as the one I have specializing in privates.

I never dreamed of having a career as fulfilling and financially stable as the one I have specializing in privates.

 

What next?

Do you want private yoga clients?

Do you still feel a little confused about what specific steps to take?

Reach out to me at yoga@emilysussell.com to enroll in my free five day e-mail course "5 Steps Toward Your Next Private Yoga Client"

Emily Sussell