You already know you need a website, virtually all your customers either find or research your yoga business online, and maybe you've tried to build your own or asked a friend or family member or even gotten a quote from a developer, but you're still stuck. Your website either looks crappy, acts crappy or, worse of all, doesn't even exist yet.
Well, if that's the case, I've got some good news for you. You don't need pull to all your hair out to get a great website. You don't even need to spend a lot of money. There are literally dozens of excellent free and/or low-cost options out there. You just need to know where to find them. That's not easy, given all of the poseurs on the internet. But that's what this post is all about. Giving you, the yoga teachers and studio managers out there, all my best advice.
How do can do you know my advice is any good? Well, I've worked for some of the most innovative companies in this field for the past 8 years. Companies like Squarespace and HubSpot that are setting the paradigms for online publishing and marketing.
But don't just take my word for it. Try out these tools and strategies for yourself. Mileage may vary... but the most important thing, much like with yoga, is to keep an open mind and keep learning what works best for you.
(Disclosure: I used to work at Squarespace and this website itself is hosted by Squarespace, so obviously I am biased, but I've tried as much as possible to provide an objective set of recommendations.)
Pick a Platform & Template
Choose a platform (aka Content Management System or CMS)... don’t hire someone to build your own site. You won’t be able to update it without his or her help. Take the time to learn a platform and you will thank yourself a thousand times later.
All the platforms cost pretty much the same at ~ $10/month. You usually need to pay to get your own domain, which is important (see below).
Pick a template that you like and try not to customize / resist the template too much. Let the template make most of the layout decisions for you.
- Important: make sure your template is responsive (aka "mobile-ready") which means it will adapt to whatever screen size or device (iPhone, iPad, Android, laptop) your visitor has. Not all templates are mobile-ready on Wix, Wordpress and Wordpress.
If you get into trouble, look for help from the support documentation, forums and Google. Or just email support if you pick Squarespace.
|Wix.com, Weebly.com||Basic, entry-level. 80% of web marketing is showing up, so these aren’t bad options.||sheriuslander.com (Wix), abcsanctuary.com (Weebly)|
|Wordpress.com (not Wordpress.org, which requires you to set up your own hosting)||Mid-grade. Good if you want to leave a more competent impression. Also by far the most popular platform on the planet, so a lot of plugins for calendars, etc.||yogaofnourishment.com, bodydivineyoga.wordpress.com|
|Squarespace.com||Upper level. Great if you want to leave a polished, professional impression, and comes with built-in calendars, ecommerce, etc. Can be difficult to learn. Includes 24x7 support from real people.||conqueringlionyoga.com, squarecraft.co|
Other Important Stuff
Get your name as a domain name, or the closer the better. People will search for you by name and Google treats domain name as a primary ranking factor in the results it delivers for a given string of keywords.
I use namecheap.com to register domains. It’s 1000x less annoying and predatory than GoDaddy and others, and they provide great support.
If you sign up for an annual plan with Squarespace, you can get a free domain name.
If .com is not available, get .org or .co
Don’t use the platform's built-in root domain, such as yourname.squarespace.com. This negates the SEO benefit.
SEO is Search Engine Optimization is your best friend. It’s how people will primarily find you online, particularly when they’re ready to buy.
Set up your own email. It’s relatively easy with Gmail and Namecheap. Don’t use an @aol email address, which looks unprofessional.
Start a blog.
Each blog post is essentially another web page which is another chance to get found in Google.
Just like with your domain name, chose blog posts titles and URLs and opening sentences that begin with your keywords (eg “Yoga in Prospect Park”). Pick keywords related to your business, location, yoga style and events.
Blog at least 1x per week, even if it’s 300 words quoting or responding to some other yoga blogger’s post, and post your stuff to social.
Use social media.
Facebook first for building your yoga community, especially photos and words of wisdom. Create a Facebook Fan Page for yourself that’s separate from your personal page.
Twitter is great for reaching people you don’t know well yet
There's an opportunity to get more attention on newer platforms, with less competition and noise, like Instagram and Pinterest.
Use bufferapp.com to schedule, manage and maximize the audience for your posts.
Send an email newsletter
Add a newsletter signup to your site to collect email address. Then every couple of weeks, round up excerpts from your blog posts and send a newsletter. Establish a regular delivery schedule but don't overdo it. Nobody likes spam.
Promote your events and specials through email, which is still the highest-converting online marketing channel. You'll get more conversions through email than through social.
More stuff to put on your website:
- Awesome photography of you practicing, teaching and assisting yoga
- A contact form
- Links to your social media profiles
- Your schedule
- Your services, including Private classes
- Announcements and events
- An email newsletter (see above)
- A blog (see above)
Partnerships are a great way to get discovered by new students and improve your site's search results ranking.
The more quality inbound links you have to your site, the higher it will rank in Google. Note that quality is essential. Google will weigh a single link from a reputable, relevant site much more than lots of random links from random sites.
(Disclosure: I am the organizer of YogaSampler. Our mission is to support the amazing local, independent yoga studios, teachers and especially nonprofits, based here in NYC.)
That's it! If you do everything above, you'll have a awesome website that will help grow your yoga teaching business for years to come.
Altogether it should take about 20 hours to get set up and then another hour or so per week to publish a blog post and update your social media profiles.
You're probably already on social media for more than an hour anyway, so use that time to interact with your community and occasionally promote yourself, such as when you have an upcoming event.
Ultimately social media and marketing on the web is all about karma. The more you give, the more you get. You'll be amazed at the web's karmic efficiency.