Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in the yoga industry, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ashley Hagen, founder at Ashes Yoga. Ashley is a wellpreneur jill-of-all-trades with a wealth of knowledge in the business of yoga. She's a yoga teacher, content creator & business coach for other yoga instructors.
Tell us about all your different offerings?
I have owned a yoga studio for over 2 years where I managed teachers, taught multiple classes, led workshops and hosted 200 hour teacher trainings. I am currently transitioning out of the in-person studio space so I can focus more on my online coaching programs for new yoga teachers.
In the online space, I help new yoga teachers with the necessary skills needed after they graduate yoga teacher training. This includes practice teaching support, social media marketing advice, and business coaching. I do this through my online courses and memberships, while offering support through Facebook groups, and creating resource videos on my YouTube channel.
Here are a few of my current offerings:
Yoga Sequencing Mini Course: I have a $37 mini course called Focused Flow that helps new yoga teachers with simple sequencing techniques and cueing strategies.
Yoga Teacher Mentorship: I host a monthly membership called The Confident Yogi Club. Enrollment is open only a few times a year. For a low monthly investment, members receive 2 online trainings per month, live Q&As and other various behind-the-scenes to help bridge the gap from YTT to teaching with confidence. This Club includes a private Facebook group for support.
Business Coaching: My business/marketing/tech course is called Virtual Vinyasa Academy. It’s the highest level program that I offer. It’s an online course with an on-going community of yoga teachers dedicated to getting their business up and running. I host weekly Zoom calls and 1:1 check-ins with the members to keep us accountable to moving forward.
Social media & audience building: My free/open Facebook group, Yoga Sequencing & Teaching Tips, has been growing rapidly. It is a place where yoga teachers can go for support and a positive community. I have a few moderators assisting with keeping that space as safe and loving as possible. It’s a big job managing a big Facebook group. My YouTube channel serves as a reference to answer frequently asked questions in that FB group with a simple copy/paste of the video URL. All of my social media channels support each other and grow together.
What has been your journey so far? How did you go from graphic designer, to yoga teacher, to content creator, to yoga business coach?
I started as a yoga teacher in 2013. I left my full time graphic design job to be a full-time yoga and fitness instructor shortly after yoga teacher training. At the time, at 24 years old, I didn’t actually have a plan. Luckily, I got a yoga teaching job at a local up-and-coming studio. I continued to teach 15+ group classes, workshops and events at various studios and gyms for 4.5 years.
When I moved in 2018, I had to start completely over. I also found out I was pregnant just a month after moving. My dream of being a traveling free-spirited yoga teacher came to an abrupt stop.
I felt how many people have expressed feeling in 2020 – isolated, homebound, jobless, and also pregnant. But I had a computer, a camera and high speed internet. So I took the internet, combining my experience as a graphic designer and yoga teaching. I started creating resources and videos to help other brand new yoga teachers. It was slow going at first, but I persevered, knowing what was possible beyond the hard work and hustle.
One of the first online offerings I put up for sale was a $27 eBook called, A New Yoga Teacher’s Guide to Class Creation. I didn’t follow my passion – I followed what was working. I saw new yoga teachers wanting sequencing tips that were not being provided in their training, so that’s the path I chose. Much later, I would get to help yoga teachers with technology and marketing (my real passion and interest).
The first few sales of that eBook gave me the confidence to continue helping new yoga teachers with sequencing and class planning.
In a short whirlwind of random events, I purchased a local yoga studio in 2019. I set my online business aside and started using my branding and business skills in the brick & mortar studio space. The future looked bright. Then we all know what happened in March 2020, just 5 short months after I opened my yoga studio.
Luckily, I had already built up a great online base in 2018, so the transition back to online business was easy for me. This time, I was also able to help yoga teachers with technology, video and social media. What a dream come true!
What's your typical workday like?
Prior to my son being in daycare, I worked whenever I had a spare chance. I worked during nap times and after bedtime. I only did tasks that needed full concentration. No cleaning, no dishes, no laundry, no exercising. During “nap time hustle,” I was creating my course outlines, filming video tutorials, hosting webinars and implementing all of the business growth strategies I could get my hands on. I worked this way for a little over a year. As exhausting as it was, it showed me just how capable I was in trying times. Thankfully, a local daycare opened up a spot in May 2021 and our lives are on a much better schedule now.
Here is a current typical weekday work day:
I might teach a 6:00am Zoom yoga class on weekdays from my living room (paused during the summer). After my morning Zoom class, I scan over social media and email in case I have something urgent to respond to. I prepare a list or schedule for the day of things I need to get to. I also use a couple minutes to accept new members into my free Facebook group and then start making coffee and breakfast.
My toddler then wakes up and we get ready for the day. I drop him off at daycare and get started with my work at about 9am. I’m in “go mode” at about 9:00am onward. The majority of my workday is spent developing content for my memberships, courses and for marketing. I plan for various tasks and appointments. I like variety and my schedule reflects that. In between coaching calls and yoga classes, I write emails, prepare scripts for videos, create new content, and also squeeze in my own yoga practice and personal training.
At about 4:00 pm, I pick up my son from daycare and we do regular family things. We swim at the YMCA a couple days a week, we go to local parks, and we do the regular life stuff that happens outside of a workday. I treat my yoga business like a job in that way. I have scheduled working hours and I take days off.
What tips would you give beginner yoga teachers on getting new students?
Tip #1 - Treat yourself like a business. Show up professionally and on time. This means setting yourself up with liability insurance, creating waivers, and setting up a booking system that works for you and your students. 9 times out of 10, if you have small classes or little interest, it’s not you or your teaching. You’re simply not getting enough visibility.
Tip #2 - Invite. Invite. Invite. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Start by inviting more than you are generally comfortable with. With a small list of people, focus on individual direct invites. Invite your students to share with others.
Tip #3 - Show up where your potential students are. If you are on Facebook, don’t spend the majority of your time in yoga teacher groups – your audience is likely not other yoga teachers. Go to the groups and pages that they are and start offering genuine comments.
What tips would you give beginner yoga teachers on using social media for their biz?
Tip #1 - Pick one platform at a time and go all in on it. Learn as much as you can about it. Study it like you study your yoga poses. Notice what’s working and what’s not. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be. It’s extremely time consuming and slow to multitask all social media. Pick one.
Tip #2 - The majority of your content needs to speak to your audience rather than talk about you. If you struggle with what to post about, here is a simple method – Choose a common problem your audience has, and share solutions to the problem or stories about how yourself or others have overcome the problem.
Tip #3 - Get comfortable on video. I know it is scary at first, but video will help you grow so much faster than posting random inspirational quotes and pretty nature scenes. This isn’t 2015 anymore. Fortunately, video presence is a skill that can be learned. Even I was awful at it when I started. Years of practice and consistency helped me realize that it really is not a big deal. The ability to show up on video will boost your likability and trust factor with any potential new students.
Tip #4 - Do not try to teach everybody. “Everyone is welcome, but I am not for everyone.” Marketing is about attracting and repelling. For example: I don’t take myself too seriously, so I may not attract clients who view yoga as a very serious practice. My style is more fun and light-hearted. Neither of us are right or wrong – we’re just different and we’ll attracted like-minded people.
Your first YouTube video was 9 years ago! What has kept you going in the content creation game?
My first Youtube video might have been 9 years ago but I haven’t been extremely consistent. I started back then with absolutely no plan, and no purpose behind my content. I created videos that I thought were funny to me. Thank goodness I’ve learned a few things since then.
I started uploading consistently in 2018, yet, I had no call-to-action and nowhere to direct people to further work with me. It was a start, though. I had a little boost in growth, but then I took some time off to be a new mom.
Then in 2020, what helped me most is investing in coaches and programs that gave me the step-by-step strategy and systems to reach my goals. I decided to learn everything I could about YouTube, and I spent about a month doing that. Hiring a coach or investing in a course is going to help you get to where you want to go much faster than any do-it-yourself (DIY) strategy.
Where would you like to take your business in the next few years?
What I love about my outlook on my business is that if it were to all go away tomorrow, and I could never teach yoga or train yoga teachers again, I would figure out a way to build a different business and do it all over again. Entrepreneurship and teaching is 100% what I want to be doing, regardless of the topic.
In the future, I see myself working mostly from home, continuing with my online coaching offerings. After so much pivoting in the last 18 months, I’m ready to spend some time making my current programs even better. For now, I’m enjoying the steady growth and flexibility that my business offers without rushing into the next thing.
Anything else you'd like to share about your story or words of wisdom for anyone on a similar path?
You are doing great! As an entrepreneur and solo yoga teacher, you won’t hear that enough. Remind yourself often of your greatness and keep moving forward.
Where can people find you online?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share then email firstname.lastname@example.org, we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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