Why and how I started to teach onlineNov 09, 2021
Do you ever look back and marvel at how you used to do something before you figured out the new way of doing it? I certainly do. When I made the choice to re-invent myself as a yoga teacher after my daughter was born I just assumed you had to teach in person.
So the first thing that I did was try to find the perfect venue. I had worked as a marketing consultant in a busy agency before my daughter was born so I never considered working for a studio. I knew that the path to financial success meant building my own business.
I started out as a kids yoga teacher, but I soon realised that it wasn't going to give me the flexible life that I needed to help my daughter reach her potential. When she was born we realised that she has Down Syndrome and so needs a bit of extra help to do what she needs to do.
So I looked to what other teachers that I knew had done. And I followed their path for awhile. I saw that another teacher had started as a kids yoga teacher and then had added on baby massage as her next way of helping people and making a living. She was also a prenatal yoga teacher and these things really appealed to me. I love to work with women. To support people using my life experience.
But instead of flexibility and finance I was driving from venue to venue, trying to get people to come to my classes and I was working at the weekend when my family was at home.
But the hard work had started to pay off and my classes were being booked out. I started working in a couple of schools teaching yoga to children. And in March of 2020 I was about to launch my first prenatal class, when everything shut down.
At first I thought I'd wait a couple of weeks. But despite advice saying that it was going to be just for a few weeks, I realised from news overseas that it could be months before "life got back to normal." And so I decided to research teaching online.
It's amazing to look back and think that there was a time in my life where I didn't know about Zoom!
Many yoga teachers recommended Zoom to me. And it was great because they offered 40 minutes free of charge. So to anyone starting out who wanted to perhaps offer short videos it was a perfect choice.
My prenatal yoga classes are an hour and 15 minutes long so I needed to pay for the service from the beginning. And I recommend doing so because you get to store a certain amount of videos and you can have up to 100 people in your class. In addition your class can be any length of time.
What everybody said to me was that sound was much more important than visual experience when it came to teaching yoga and that's so true. Because very often your students aren't watching you, instead they are listening to your cues.
And if I'm honest I "watch" many videos when I'm out walking so I actually don't watch them. I listen to them.
What equipment I used to start teaching online
Sound is so important:
So I recommend that you buy a microphone. At first I bought a really simple microphone by Kimafun. It's the Kimafun 2.4G I used it for over a year before I upgraded. It was great. It's called a Wireless Lavalier Microphone System. Which means that you can connect it to your phone or laptop and then attach the microphone to your clothes and the quality was good enough for me.
I upgraded this year to the Rode Wireless Go and I love it. The quality is much better. But again to start out, you don't need to spend a fortune.
My next priority was lighting:
In Ireland we have very short days during winter time so I quickly realised that I needed a light. And I taught for a year with just a ring light. It was really useful. I used it to light my yoga classes and it changed the quality of my live videos that I did to promote my classes, courses and my marketing business.
I'm tall. I'm 176 cms so I bought the Newer 18" Ring Light and it served me well for a year. And then I added two Softbox lights. Again Newer. They are a bit tricky to put together but they have changed my lighting completely and make my videos and classes much more professional.
My camera was my phone:
In terms of actually streaming or filming the class. I bought a really good phone. At the time I bought a Samsung S20 and I used it for a year to film all my classes. The only issue that I had was that using Zoom it didn't show all of me when I was demonstrating a pose such as plank. But again that's where having good sound and talking people through the cues makes the difference.
18 months into teaching online I made my next upgrade purchase and invested in a Logitech Brio. I teach in a really small space. And its wide lense delivers such a difference.
But if you're starting out, you just need a good phone, a microphone, a light and something to stream through.
Using social media to teach:
An alternative way to do it could be to create a Facebook Group and to teach exclusively through that for as long a time as you need to get up and running.
The only thing that I don't like about teaching yoga on a Facebook Group is that I couldn't see myself and my students and I really enjoyed having that connection that you get on Zoom. Facebook offer their alternative as Facebook Rooms but when comments come in you can't see as much of yourself to understand whether your body position needs correcting or not for your students.
But it's definitely a good start out option.
Then at the beginning of my online journey I would edit the videos with iMovie on my Mac (only slightly, by cutting off the beginning and maybe some chat at the end) and put them up as an unlisted video on YouTube. Then I would email my students the link to the class so that they could watch it back.
I recommend that you only do this if you are charging enough for your classes. Because it takes a lot of time. Again Facebook is a way to get around that because the video is there if you need it. But the downside of this is that if anything changes with their policy or they have an outage, then you won't be able to access your videos.
Finally I recommend a booking system. And ideally selling packages of classes rather than single class passes. That makes life easier to plan. And there are lots of solid options.
Personally I have used BookWhen and currently I use Acuity.
Want to learn more or ask questions:
On the 9th November I'll be talking about this live on my Facebook Page, so come on over and ask any questions you have and I'll go into why I made the choices that I made in more detail.
If you want more information about how to teach online. Or how to make life easier for yourself sign up here for my 4 Productivity Hack video. I share how I have used four things to get time back into my life. Sign up by clicking on the link below:
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