Yoga Business

Why and How to Create Your Online Yoga Course

Maybe you noticed, there’s a thing that the majority of successful yoga teachers have in common: they offer an online yoga course to their audience and followers. If you’re like most yoga teachers, you will have considered this option at some point, but maybe you gave up on the idea because you weren’t sure how to go about it. Well, in this article you’ll see exactly why you too should create your online yoga course and how to go about it.

Why You Should Create Your Online Yoga Course

Online courses have become popular for many types of teachers (not just yoga), primarily because they enable teachers to get away from trading time for money. This is particularly true when it comes to teaching yoga, where your teaching involves a pretty intensive physical presence.

Most ‘on the ground’ yoga teachers are limited in what they are able to earn in a month because there are only so many classes you can physically teach in a day. You may currently teach three, four or even five classes per day… but that will quickly get tiring, it’s hard to sustain, and impossible to grow from there.

An online course solves this problem: you only have to teach once, but your ‘class’ can be viewed tens or even hundreds of times on any given day, thanks to the power of technology and the internet. Imagine being able to run tens of classes every day without even having to be there? Not only can you get your knowledge out to a greater number of people, but you can also earn more income. Also, an online course frees you up to reach a larger audience, since you’re no longer limited to yogis in your city or your local neighbourhood.

The main advantage of online courses is that they free up your time. With more free time you can delve into developing other projects, or simply have more rest (which is important). When you commit yourself to a heavy schedule of weekly live classes, you run the risk of burning out, both physically and mentally. This can even get to a point where you no longer enjoy teaching yoga, and that’s a real tragedy!

Creating your own online course will allow you to teach fewer classes per week, and will also allow you to enjoy each class more.

Choosing a Course Topic and Creating Individual Lessons

The great thing about creating online courses is that you have total freedom about your material. It’s your course! However, your course (especially initially) is likely to be similar to what you teach in your regular classes. After all, this is what you already know and are comfortable with! You’ve more than likely already spent a lot of time and effort tweaking your classes based on your student feedback, and you’ve ironed out all the kinks.

Contrary to what you may read out there you don’t need a ‘brand’, a complicated business plan, or to become an expert in a totally new area in order to create your online course. It’s much safer, easier, and more reasonable to simply stick with what you know.

When deciding on what specifics to cover in your online course, you should think about ways in which you can break down and ‘specialize’ your existing classes. For example, instead of teaching yoga for beginners (which is a very broad topic), you might decide to focus your course on teaching yoga for beginners with knee injuries. The advantage of narrowing down your content is that it will let you target a more niche audience. You will also be able to charge more for a specialized course, and the conversion of people you market to will also be higher. Imagine you’re a person with a knee injury who wants to start doing some yoga and you come across such a course… you’re very likely to sign up for it!

Once you’ve decided on the overarching theme of your course, you should try to split up your material into a series of lessons. Think about it this way: what’s the objective of the course (for example, to get students to be able to do a handstand by the time they have completed the course)? Then, simply break it down into the individual lessons that they will need to practice to help get them there.

You can have as many lessons as you want within your course, but you must consider the total length of the full course, as well as the length of the individual lessons that make up the course. In my view, it’s best that you aim to have six to twelve lessons, where each lesson lasts about 45 minutes.

It’s also a good idea to create a ‘course overview’ document, so that you can explain to students what they’ll learn in each lesson, and how each lesson ties in to the overall objective of the course.

Recording Your Online Yoga Course

Video is obviously the best medium to deliver an online yoga course. There are a few crucial things to keep in mind when recording the lessons that will make up your online course.

Sound

Sound quality is paramount to the success of your course. As in a regular class, you’ll need to explain what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and what the students need to keep in mind. Less is not more! Err on the side of ‘too much explanation’ — think about the cues you would normally give your students if you could see them practicing, which obviously won’t be the case here, and double them.

You can approach the sound aspect in 2 ways: you can explain things as you conduct the class (‘live’), or can do it as a voiceover, with an edited sound file you add post-recording.

The first option is easier, as doing a good voiceover for your video after the recording is not only technically more challenging, but can also produce a less natural quality for your video. However, to ensure the quality is good, you’ll absolutely need to invest in an external microphone. Don’t rely on the microphone that comes with your camera or smartphone! The sound quality will be bad, and that will put your students off immediately. A clip-on mic will only cost a few bucks and is well worth the investment.

You may also want to add music to your videos, and that will be always done post recording. You should never play music while recording your video as that will just result in a messy soundscape.

Image

The second key factor in the success of your course will be the quality of the video. This doesn’t mean you have to be an expert videographer, or that you need to hire an expensive professional. What it does mean though is that you’ll need to have a good camera to shoot your videos, choose your location carefully, and pay attention to lighting.

The good news is that your smartphone’s camera will more than likely be quite suitable to film your videos. But be careful to position it well:

  • Ensure the camera is positioned properly on a tripod and held firmly so it won’t move or shake.
  • Pay attention to the field of view you need to capture. You want the camera to be close enough to catch the action in detail, but not so close that some of your movements are out of the frame.
  • Pro tip: don’t use the built in camera zoom as this reduces video quality. Instead, move the camera closer or farther away from where you’re located.

It won’t look perfect on the first try. Do a few tests to make sure you get this right. Mark the floor positions of your tripod so you can easily find your ideal spot again in the future.

Location

While it may seem attractive to record in your garden on a sunny day, an outdoor location comes with all kinds of challenges that can compromise the quality of your video. You can’t influence light variations, wind and background noise — so I strongly recommend that you choose an indoor location where you can control everything.

A room in a yoga studio where you teach is probably ideal, although keep in mind that a large empty room may produce some sound echo which you don’t want. So a smaller room works best. But it doesn’t have to be a studio, it can really be anywhere.

When choosing a location, opt for simplicity and make sure your space is decluttered (or at least very tidy).

Lighting

Shooting with the right amount of light will go a long way to make your video look great, and if you’re shooting indoors, you may want to add supporting lighting to really make your videos stand out. Again, using the camera’s in-built lights will not compare with using off-camera lights. Depending on your budget, you can even buy some lights (there are many inexpensive options for powerful, great lights).

If you can’t get your hands on any special lights — bear in mind that you may also be able to rent these — then try positioning yourself facing a window and use the natural light. Natural light doesn’t necessarily mean sunshine and it’s actually better not to choose a sunny spot as it can get can get ‘overexposed’, and you won’t easily be able to find the same light if you need to do retakes.

Most important rule: don’t position yourself with light or a window behind you. You’ll know this from taking regular pictures: backlighting is almost always a terrible idea.

Esther Ekhart Yoga
Here’s a perfect set up from Esther Ekhart. Image, location and light are ideal.

Lights, Camera, Action!

I won’t tell you anything about how exactly you should present your content, that’s really totally your call. But here are just a few extra tips:

When you’re filming, you should try to be yourself and act natural. Just like in a live class. You want viewers to relate to you and understand a little about who you are. Don’t try to ‘sound like a yoga teacher’ — just speak naturally, as though you were speaking to a friend.

Unless you have previous on-camera experience, you’ll probably feel shy and silly at first. Be patient with yourself. You don’t need to record all of your course in one day, and with a little practice everything will become easier and natural. Test your equipment to make sure you have the right sound, video quality, location and lighting. But test yourself too, so that you can get used to your recorded voice and image and relax, become comfortable, and make a good impression.  

Where to Publish Your Online Yoga Course

One of the biggest apprehension yoga teachers have when it comes to creating online courses is about technology.

Relax — it’s no longer as difficult as you may think! In fact, it’s actually super easy to create an online course these days. Different platforms have emerged to help with the process of creating online courses.

There are typically three ways to create an online course:

  1. Self-hosted on your website (e.g. WordPress)
  2. Online marketplaces (Udemy, Skillshare, etc)
  3. Online teaching platforms (Teachable, Thinkific, etc)

The first option, building a course on WordPress using a number of different plugins, connecting payment processors and creating pay walls etc, is the most technologically involved one, and won’t be most people’s favorite. But this route provides the greatest creative freedom: you can create something that is exactly tailored to your needs, including landing pages and related content, it’s not for the faint-hearted. The advantage however is that, if you can get this done, you retain all the sales income, since you won’t pay commissions to any third-parties.

Option 2, using marketplaces such as Udemy or Skillshare (among others) is attractive from the perspective that not only do they make the process of creating the course very easy, but they also help you sell it.

However, this service doesn’t come cheap. You can end up paying up to 50% in commissions, and you also lose some control over how your course is sold. In addition, you will be competing with other similar courses on their platform.

In my view, using a teaching platform will be the best way to go for most people. These platforms make it relatively straightforward to create a course, but you must then sell the course yourself by driving traffic to the course page. However, commissions are much lower than on the marketplaces, and you keep control over how your course is sold (you’re doing the selling yourself).

Teaching Platforms to Consider

Teachable

Teachable has been around for years and makes it easy to create and sell an online course. There are over 20,000 courses on this platform, which shows how accessible the platform is for most people.

You can create courses in a range of media (video, audio, PDF files etc.), and they have a drag and drop builder that allows you to create a course website that looks very pretty and professional! Courses can also be easily viewed on a range of devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers etc.

To help engage students and ensure they learn more you can use Teachable’s ‘quizzes’ feature, or even operate discussion forums on your courses to answer questions and collect feedback from students.

They also take care of handling payments and you can easily integrate your course on Teachable with other software, such as an email autoresponder.

Cost: the most basic of their plans is free to start with and charges 10% of sales, plus a $1 transaction fee. Monthly plans are charged at $39 a month.

Thinkific

Thinkific has also been around for some time, and thousands of course creators have used the platform to create their courses.

Thinkific offers many of the same features as Teachable, and it’s also easy to get up and running on without much hassle. Again, they take care of hosting all your content and videos, and importing is quick and easy.

The difference is really in the pricing, with Thinkific also offering a ‘free’ + commission option. Their monthly pricing plan offers greater options and flexibility, and starts at $49 a month.

Namastream

Namastream is a platform specifically designed for yoga teachers and studios. As such, they’re smaller than the bigger platforms out there, which means you get unparalleled support, and even personal coaching and feedback by their team. They also give you complete control over your ‘brand’: color, images, and you write your own copy. So it’s like you get your own virtual yoga studio.

You can create courses in a range of media (video, audio, PDF files etc.), and you can also sell not only individual courses, but monthly memberships, and even live classes (live streaming). You can set up your content to be scheduled or ‘dripped’ to your students over time. The number of ways you can craft your offerings is only limited by your imagination.

Cost: it’s $125 per month, but there are no commissions or transaction fees. You also get into the Namastream film school that teaches you how to make great videos.

Ruzuku

Ruzuku is perhaps less well known, especially in comparison to Teachable and Thinkific. But it is still a good site to help you create your first yoga online course.

Ruzuku has most of the features you will need to get your course off the ground, and also offers daily backups to ensure your course is protected.

Cost: monthly options start at $99 a month, but you can get a discount if you pay annually. But there are no transaction fees or commissions at all, so this may be cheap if you get a number of people purchasing your course.

Zenler

Zenler is a simple, easy, and no-frills teaching platform with OK functionality. It is not as advanced or exhaustive as Namastream, Teachable, Thinkific and Ruzuku, especially from an integrations perspective. The advantage of Zenler however is that it is cheap and cheerful — the fees you pay are 10% of sales + $1 for each of your courses.

Selling Your Online Yoga Course

So now you’ve chosen your topic, set out your curriculum, recorded your material, and set yourself up on the platform most appropriate for you. Your course is live! But for you to be successful with it, people have to sign up. You now need to think about marketing your online yoga course.

Reaching People

As a yoga teacher, you will already have some practice of pitching and selling your classes, and probably have a list of loyal students who come to your classes regularly. These are your best leads, so make sure to tell them about your course after class, in a newsletter, or in a YogaTrail message. But that’s just for starters…

For an online course, you’ll be wanting to reach yogis outside of your network, too. People all over the world. How to do this?

First, link to your course from wherever you can. Your website of course (if you have one), your YogaTrail profile, and any social media pages you have.

Second, if you’ve collected followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. — here finally is your chance to make your social media efforts give you something back. Until you have online content, these followers are not terribly useful for a yoga teacher… but now, you can generate some buzz and excitement about what you’ve created for people. Post about your online yoga course(s) and let the world know!

Third, there are also ways to attract people that have never heard of you, by spending money on ads and marketing. This will require an investment, but can be well worth it if you reach the right audience and if the cost of your course is such that you can earn a positive return. You kind of have to know what you’re doing for this to work, but you can start small and experiment with running ads on Facebook or Google. You can also promote your course as an event on YogaTrail.

Marketing is not only about reaching people though — it’s also about convincing them.

Convincing People

One great way to get people signing up to your course is through reviews. Testimonials that you have from existing clients are like gold when trying to sell your online course to new clients. Use these in your marketing material as they will create trust with your audience. You can ask your people to leave you reviews on YogaTrail, on your website (if you have one), and you can add testimonials to your course description on the platform that’s hosting it.

Another way to encourage people who are ‘on the fence’ is to offer them things for free and to start building trust. So if you can offer free video tutorials on your social media or through your email list, not only does that introduce people to you and your teaching style, but it also gets them really interested in your other content (that’s in your course).

Pricing Your Course

Price is often a much-debated topic with online courses. If you do some work once to record it all, and then lots and thousands of people sign up for the course without you having to do anything from then on, it should be super cheap, right? No. It doesn’t work that way, and (depending on your marketing reach) it might take a long time before lots of people purchase for your course.

I often see many yoga teachers totally underpricing their content. If you consider not only the work you put into creating the course, but all the formal and informal training you’ve had to get to where you are, you should be confident in the value you’re creating with your online yoga course, and price it accordingly. If your course consists of many lessons, it’s really not unreasonable to price it in the hundreds of dollars.

One more note: the more niche your area of expertise and teaching is, the more valuable your course will be, and the higher you will be able to set its pricing.

Why Not You?

Online yoga courses are a great way to expand your offering, grow your business and ‘brand’, and to serve yogis in far away places with vastly different backgrounds. You can begin to get away from trading hours for dollars and literally uncap your earning potential, especially if you create and sell your course in the right way.

I hope I’ve convinced you that this is something you will want to do sooner or later in your yoga career — and I wish you all success! For even more info about creating and marketing your online yoga course, download a free e-book here.

 

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Tallat Mahmood

Tallat Mahmood is a business advisor, yoga enthusiast, and entrepreneur. He is the founder of YogaTrafficAcademy.com, which helps yoga teachers create, market and sell online yoga courses. Tallat is working every day to help yoga teachers stop trading dollars for hours so that they can uncap their income, and build a sustainable yoga business.
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