Usually when I’m coaching yoga teachers, it’s around business. And the number one focus I stress is to find your niche. You know, your people, those who vibe with you, the ones you’re meant to help.
If you’ve been in the yoga world for long, you understand it’s a vast ocean of possibilities, and to become an expert in all of the variations would take, well, a long time. So what do you do? You become known for one thing, a specialty which in the business world is called niching down.
Find your niche
(Do you pronounce it “nitch” or “neesh?”)
Yet no one….and I mean NO ONE…wants or likes doing this.
It sounds counter-intuitive. It feels constrictive and limiting. It’s like someone asks you to choose only one crayon to color with for the rest of your life.
I’ve been hanging out in enough small businesses (online and brick/mortar) and can tell you, it doesn’t matter what industry, biz owners do not like to “niche down.” But in all the business classes I’ve taken, guess what’s the very first lesson (usually)? Find your niche.
I struggled with this too
In 2003, I started conducting yoga teacher training and loved-loved-loved it. I thought, “here are my people!” When I sold my first studio, I retained the rights to continue training. When I went back to the corporate world for a few years, I still conducted teacher training until I returned to it full-time in 2010.
Early 2011 after I got pregnant, I decided to add online into the mix, and since it was in my wheel-house, I leaned toward taking teacher training online. Unfortunately I let a couple of negative comments and a stink-eye letter from the Yoga Alliance derail me from my idea.
Thus began my search for a new niche. People I could dazzle with my knowledge and expertise. First it was women going through divorce. Then it was women in transition. Then it was women who practiced yoga.
And every shift in my focus, shifted all the surrounding components:
- Oh I need to update my website.
- Oh I need to edit my content and offerings.
- Oh I need to join a different group.
- Oh I need a different skill set.
With all the shifting, changing and morphing, I never got any traction. No traction equated to doubts. Lots and lots of doubts.
how do you find your niche?
Two different mentors, at two different times asked me, “Why don’t you continue working with yoga teachers?”
I denied this obvious answer; a demographic I was more than familiar and comfortable with; where I had hours (and hours) of knowledge and expertise; where I was already training and coaching.
It took the Universe a few round-about coincidences and signs to show me, hey, your work is with yoga teachers.
Looking back, the last few years have been exhausting. Expensive. Depleting. And I’m pretty sure it’s been exhausting and confusing for my clients who’ve been patiently loyal, patiently waiting for me to see what everyone else already knew.
Now please, let me save you some of the same frustration, heartache, and exhaustion.
Why finding a niche is important?
Finding a specialty that resonates with you gives you direction. Instead of trying to learn all the things about yoga, you pick a path and get really, really good at it. It’s impossible to become an expert in every yoga subject, but you can pick one (or two) and become known for it.
Also when clients decide to take yoga they usually have a reason: to eliminate stress, strength low back, lose weight, avoid surgery, etc. When a client seeks a solution, they’re look for specific criteria, someone they know can help them with their problem.
Let me repeat: They’re actively searching for someone with knowledge in how to “fix” their problem. They are not looking for a general yoga instructors teaching general classes.
My 5 Tips for Finding Your Niche
If you’re a new teacher, you may still be experimenting with different styles to find what you like teaching the most, and that’s okay. But as you gain experience, you can do so with these five tips in mind.
PAY ATTENTION. Start listening to what people are asking you, complimenting you on, coming back for. Sadly, you’re not everyone’s cuppa-tea, but those you inspire, they share similarities. Find them. Write them down.
DREAM CLIENT. Grab a piece of paper and write out 10 qualities your dream client possesses. My list looked something like this: yogis, mamas, into health & wellness, spiritual, possibly in transition.
GO DEEPER. Keep digging. Go against the urge that says to stop at number two. Those few descriptions are still too vague. What kind of yogis? What age are the mamas’ kids? What kind of health and wellness?
ICED TEA TEST. As you’re identifying qualities and quirks, would you invite them over to your house for iced tea? Would you hang out with this person outside of yoga classes? If the answer is NO, you’re not there yet.
ASK. Sometimes the answer is painfully obvious to others. While you’re hem-hawing, thinking “I don’t know,” others may be ready to give you a gentle two-by-four against your head. And don’t be stubborn like me.