Are you a yoga teacher wanting to connect to more students in a deeper way — on your terms? If so, building an online membership site could be a great way to make your dream a reality.
In 2018, I dreamed of connecting to more people with my yoga teachings. I owned a yoga studio and ran a somewhat sporadic YouTube channel — and both gave me great joy.
But I just KNEW I could connect to more people if I could find a way to offer classes online.
So: That fall, despite entering my second trimester of pregnancy, I took the leap. I put pedal to the metal and built my own yoga membership site from scratch.
If you’re already sold on the idea of building your own membership offering, then you might want to hop to this post right here: How I Built My Membership Site from Scratch. It describes the exact tools I used to get started.
Five years after starting my member site, I am SO GLAD I did. My earnings wouldn’t wow you or anything, but I am able to earn a reasonable, full-time income from work that brings me total delight.
AND I get to do what I believe I was meant to do in this world — which is simply share the joy of movement, breath, and the mental ease that arises as a result of engaging in the ancient practices of yoga.
If this sounds like something that appeals to you, then read on.
In this article I share with you 7 reasons to build a membership site — for yoga teachers.
Let’s dive in!
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7 Reasons to Start a Yoga Membership Community
(and one reason why you shouldn't -- read #4 closely)
Table of Contents
Don't get left behind!
I didn’t mean that headline to sound scary.
Look, the world of brick and mortar isn’t going anywhere — at least I don’t THINK it is. People LOVE their local studios, and that’s a good thing.
But you know what else people love?
The convenience of doing yoga in their own homes.
It’s easy to see why people love the online yoga environment:
- They can do it in their skivvies if they so please
- They don’t have to drive anywhere
- They can do it while the baby naps
- They can pause you
- They can mute you
- They can rewind you, fast forward you, and even
- Put you on double speed if they want to.
To my mind, these teaching modalities do not have to be mutually exclusive!
You can teach in a local studio AND offer your own classes online if you want to.
To be realistic:
Before setting up shop online, you should have (or build) an audience (i.e., the demand for such a thing).
Your audience can come in many forms:
- local students and regulars who want more from you
- those on your email list
- subscribers to your YouTube channel
- followers on Instagram, TikTok, and other social media (though be aware that these channels don’t tend to have the same level of commitment as your IRL followers/regulars)
without the brick and mortar expenses
Ever dream of running your own yoga studio?
It’s great! You get to create the vibe, pick the color scheme, make it look, feel, and smell just the way you want it to.
Well, running an online yoga membership can be just like running your own studio — just without the smell and, more important, without the expenses.
These are just a few of the expense you will NOT INCUR when you run an online yoga portal:
- Rent or mortgage (hello)
- Heating & electric
- Music Licensing Fees
To be fair, you WILL HAVE a few expenses.
Bottom line here is, your overhead is much lower than a real-life studio. And hey, your market is much bigger! I like that math.
3. More chances to teach short-form classes
30 minutes, anyone?
There was a time, when I owned my yoga studio, that my co-owner and I could not imagine teaching anything shorter than 90-minute classes.
After a while, though, students began asking for 75-min classes and even… dun dun dun 60-min classes — gasp!!
We felt we were betraying the yoga gods by stooping to such lows. But the customer had spoken!
Today, people value time and convenience more than ever. It might just be that that busy mom-‘preneur is only going to get her yoga in if she can take a 20-minute class… Or that busy medical worker with the wonky schedule can only squeeze in 40 minutes today.
It’s important to give people what they are asking for.
I for one am willing to get over my yoga snobbery and admit that 30 minutes is better than no minutes (and you won’t find many yoga students driving to a yoga studio to take a 30-minute class).
The amazing thing about running your own yoga membership website is that you can mix it up and decide which durations are best for your community.
Need 36 mins?? I got you! Craving 90 mins? I got you there too!
You can teach a variety of class durations and end up meeting more people right where they are as a result.
4. Live the "WFA" Dream
Work from anywhere, anytime
Travel the world. Hop B&Bs. Record from riviera to rocky mountain. Or just stay at home.
The beauty of running your own yoga studio online is that it is not location bound.
You can record from anywhere. In fact, your students might appreciate the change in scenery and a shifting backdrop.
If you don’t, or can’t, travel much (like me, in the thick of raising children and caring for a loved one), you can work from home.
What’s more, you can set your own schedule.
The ONLY scenario in which I see this not working out is if you’re someone who has a tough time motivating yourself or sticking to a schedule. In that case, it’s probably better to work for someone else.
But if you crave supreme freedom like I do, and have no issue getting motivated to teach yoga on a regular basis, then I don’t see why you wouldn’t have an ABSOLUTE BLAST growing your own yoga membership community online.
How often should I teach?
Here’s the deal. Your students will want some regularity from you, but the “how often” is really up to you and your community.
I was surprised to learn (from the membership team over at Kajabi University) that one of the #1 reasons why members cancel their subscriptions is that they are OVERWHELMED by too much content.
And it makes sense.
If they feel they can’t keep up with the offerings, they feel left behind and like they’re not getting their money’s worth. So more isn’t always better!
Once you have a base of classes — maybe 5-10 of them — I recommend uploading only once per week or once per month for an on-demand offering.
This said, I have seen successful online studios with many different formats, ranging from:
- multiple class offerings per day taught both live and pre-recorded by various staff, to
- only a dozen or so classes that are up there all alone until the teacher is moved to upload more.
Both ends of the spectrum can work!
If you’re not sure what’s going to work for you, you can always poll your people.
Customers love knowing that you care, and many are glad to offer you honest feedback (gold!!).
5. Do what you love
And share your passion, sustainably
In many ways, I am still the same 6th grader who wanted to create world peace when she grew up.
I may not have jumped into global politics or international relations as my career choice, but I like to believe that my presence here on the planet brings at least a few people a little more peace than they’d have had without me.
To sum it up, I do what I love. Nothin’, not nothin’ gets me going like a good breath and movement session. I live for it.
So it follows naturally that I’d want to teach and share what I love.
Maybe you find yourself in this boat too.
And let’s face it. Except in rare cases, working at a yoga studio is not a very easy way to make a livable wage.
You could teach 15 private lessons a week, or you could teach one class per week recorded for an unlimited number of people to enjoy for many years to come.
Starting your own membership site, and nurturing it to vibrancy, can be a way to make sustainable income doing exactly what you love.
6. Teach more in-depth courses and programs
Through the vehicle of your online membership
I’ve heard it said (it was Alex Hormozi) that the membership model is not a great way to make good income. Why?
Because the price-point is usually low and because you’re not necessarily solving a problem for your customers. I mean, if you solved their problem they wouldn’t have to keep paying you, right?
So WHAT IS a good business model according to people who are smarter about money than I am?
It’s high-ticket offerings (think $1,000 and above).
For a yoga teacher, this would come in the form of programs, courses, trainings, and coaching packages that solve a very specific problem for someone.
Here are some examples of high-ticket offerings:
- yoga teacher training certifications
- spiritual mastery courses
- how to build a meditation practice
- how to grow your clientele
- how to master social media
- learn the ins and outs of the Yoga Sutras
- heal your back pain once and for all
- learn xyz pinnacle pose
- achieve financial freedom as a yoga teacher
You get the idea.
Building a course like this takes effort, but if you have the right expertise it is totally doable.
And supposing you were able to build a program like this, where would these people come from?
…because marketing 101 would say: these would-be customers will have to know, like, and trust you.
How do you build that sort of credibility?
Why with a membership site of course (if that appeals to you).
Quick marketing lesson:
You can think of your very first interactions with potential customers as top-of-funnel interactions. These are people who:
- interact with you online
- you’ve just met in person
- who clicked on an ad of yours
Top-of-funnel interactions are considered pretty “cold” because trust and value have not yet been established.
→Enter your membership site!
When someone is willing to pay you — even a small amount — they’ve become middle-of-the-funnel and “warm.”
And when you’ve DONE RIGHT by them, by offering consistent value and keeping your promises, well then…
They are MUCH MORE LIKELY to purchase a higher-priced program from you because they know you’ll deliver the results you said you would. It’s a win-win.
· · ·
Stay in good touch with your students, and find out what their needs are.
Maintain an email relationship, and don’t be afraid to pitch your higher priced programs — it could be exactly what someone was looking for!
If you are interested in building a program, THIS (Kajabi) is the most comprehensive, easy-to-use teaching platform I have found.
7. Make a deeper impact
...with no geographical limits
I love working with people in person. Unfortunately, in-person teaching is incredibly limited by the factor of location.
Early on when I was posting classes on YouTube, I was thrilled and amazed to see that people were tuning in from all over the world.
I would get comments like this that made me want to connect in a deeper way to people who lived across the globe:
- There is no yoga studio here where I live in Croatia, so I am so thankful for what you do.
- Hello from West Africa.
- My favorite studio here in South Africa closed, so I am so glad I can still get my yoga with you.
- Thank you, from Trinidad.
- Greetings from Mexico.
- My local studio doesn’t offer the level of challenge that I crave, so I’m happy you exist.
Yes, it would be nice to meet these students in person (and some I have met!), but in the absence of that possibility I still want to nurture the student-teacher relationship — to the degree that it is possible in an online environment.
I am HAPPY to know that I am sharing yoga with people in places I have never (yet) visited.
It’s a marvelous phenomenon to demolish national boundaries and connect over something as positive and uplifting as the yoga practice. One humble point for world peace.
So what's next for you?
Are you planning to build a membership site?
I can only speak from experience to say that building my yoga membership community has been a dream come true.
I won’t lie and say it doesn’t take EFFORT and consistent dedication, but when I consider what other kinds of jobs I might have had were my life just a little bit different… I feel beyond thankful.
Running a membership-based yoga site is not for everyone, and I can’t promise success (that’s up to you!). But if you’re up for it, I recommend it 1,000%.
Are you thinking of building a membership site? What questions remain for you? (I’d be happy to answer you in the comments below)!
Leigha Butler is the founder of LBY, an online portal for yoga lovers who want to stay superlatively supple and strong for life. You can learn more or sign up for a free trial right here.