Hi William! To begin, tell us a bit about you... Where are you based & what do you teach?
I'm based in Decatur, GA since Spring 2022. Before that, since 1996, I was next door in Atlanta, GA.
I teach yoga, breathwork, meditation, focusing on improving our awareness of interception and how we create and refine “movement maps” in our bodies. I teach asana and breathwork as gateways to mediation and parasympathetic presence. My certifications are Kripalu & Pranakriya Yoga.
Over the years, I’ve taught many specialized populations (recovery from addiction, homeless people & homeless vets, blind people, cancer patients, elderly, physically challenged and immobile people). I’ve also trained over 200 yoga teachers and lead many yoga workshops, series, retreats, and even co-facilitated a trip to India.
In 2001, I started teaching yoga full-time in Atlanta, and pivoted to online teaching in March 2020. I signed up with Ubindi in July 2021. I currently teach 6 classes per week. Since 2020, I have only taught online. Prior to that, only in-person.
Building and growing your yoga client list
How many students do you have in your classes on average?
Well-attended classes can be 8-12 students, and most classes are in the 4-8 range. I have not had many classes online where no one shows up.
Where do you get your students?
Most attendees have taken classes or trainings that I’ve led in Atlanta & around the USA since 2001. Here's a benefit of the pandemic: I owned a yoga studio in Atlanta for 9 years, and people attending would move to other states. Teaching online has reconnected me with students who used to live in Atlanta, or live in other states where I’ve taught trainings and programs.
Did you cultivate your current students over many years?
Thankfully, yes, here in Atlanta/Decatur from 2001-2012, and while leading trainings around the USA with Pranakriya from 2012-2020.
Then the world changed, and I did the thing I swore I would never do: teach online. Be careful what you say you’ll never do! At the moment, I am planning to only teach online for the near future. I am hoping that next year I can offer in-person group classes at my home.
What kind of marketing do you do?
Oh the yoga teacher’s favorite question: I do as much and as little as I can because it is not my forte. It takes more time and brain capacity than I have, and it's a bit of a dread.
I have social media accounts (IG, FB, Twitter, LI) and a website. I have a mailing list with MailChimp, and now my mailing list with Ubindi. I admire the content creators (and their staff/friends) who can generate content with regularity.
It’s hard for me to generate content just because it is a certain day of the month that something must go out. I’ll admit, when I owned a studio, I was much better at marketing, and when I sold the brick & mortar, marketing was the first thing I let slide from my brain.
Watch William discuss his experience with social media, and what works to get new clients.
Do you use a referral program?
Word of mouth referrals has always been the best marketing vector for me, hands down. People usually find my classes because they knew of me, or someone told them about me.
Occasionally, I get a new contact when someone sees a FB or IG posting. Over the years, I’ve tried a variety of referral programs (bring a friend, first class free, second class free, first month unlimited for an amount of money, and the dreaded groups.) Those seem to attract “Yoga tourists,” patrons looking for a yoga deal, over an authentic yoga practice.
Ubindi’s student ‘free class’ referral program is a nice idea, but it’s not something that students have done for me. Not sure why.
How often do you email your students?
MailChimp (my big list): once per month (hopefully!)
My Ubindi list: at least once per week (hopefully).
With Ubindi, I’ll sometimes send a class reminder email 15-30 minutes before a class time, and students will sign up for the class after the email. A few times I’ve surveyed people in the class, and they indicate that the email reminded and motivated them.
What kind of emails do you send (info, motivation, offers, themes)?
A long time ago, I was much better at themes and class series, and calendar associated events, and quotes, and motivational ideas. Now, I use the emails to share something that I’m thinking about, or to market a sale on monthly/weekly pricing, or to just say hi.
The truth is, I see 6-15 massage clients each week, plus teach up to 10 zoom yoga classes (public & private classes). At the end of the day, marketing is the last thing on my mind... except for the quiet voice that reminds me it's part of the job.
Pricing your yoga classes and memberships
How do you price your classes?
Owning a brick & mortar studio taught me that SIMPLER is always better. Ubindi allows me to achieve all my pricing goals - SIMPLY.
I use Ubindi’s “donation” option for all classes, because I believe financial concerns should not limit any person’s access to yoga.
For all classes, I suggest $20 USD because that is now the midrange price for classes here in Atlanta, and because I bring over 30 years of practice & training and over 20 years of teaching. Since starting with Ubindi, students have paid $0-$50 to dropping for a class. I have always trusted that the money works out if I maintain a high calibre experience for attendees.
What kind of packages do you offer (membership, introductory offers, passes)?
When I started with Ubindi, I set up class cards, (5 & 10 classes), plus weekly and monthly memberships for unlimited classes & videos. I dropped the class cards after 5 months; I may have sold 4 total in that time, and I don’t think anyone used all their classes.
Now I just offer the weekly and monthly rate, plus the donation drop-in option. All my regulars use the membership. In 2021 on Ubindi, I started with $20/week or $80/month for unlimited classes and video recordings (posted within 4 hours usually), plus $20/ hour discount on in-person/online massage & private sessions with me. Starting in 2023, for 6 weekly classes, I’ll increase to $23/week or $99/month.
I don’t do introductory options because you can pay a donation rate to check out the experience, keeping it simple. Especially with yoga and our personal well-being, I don’t like to have to bribe people to join. You want to try the experience or not. No gimmicks, no coercion, no convincing, just good yoga opportunities to experience stillness that leads to meditation and contemplation.
How do you motivate students to buy your packages?
Sarcastically, I want to say that students buy the membership when I put it on sale. Most people seem to have bought a package when it was on sale, and not at the full asking price.
Again, I focus on training myself, keeping current with literature and my own studies and practice. Students seem to appreciate what I offer, and recognize that I’m not teaching mainstream classes and that my studies have allowed me to bring depth to the class experience.
William talks about class pricing, offering memberships, and why that's important for his business. He also discusses building up his client list, and how to earn money as a yoga teacher. And lastly, how Ubindi has helped his business.
Pain points of your yoga business
Do you have any admin pain points?
Marketing is always my nemesis. Years ago, it came so much easier, yet now, I’m more interested in learning and working directly with people. Because I have a strong background in business management and accounting, that all comes easy for me, and Ubindi really offers an interface that is easy and consistent, especially for my older and less tech-savvy students.
What's your advice for dealing with student's requests (for moving away from doing custom stuff for individual students)?
The only custom stuff that I do is to honor student’s financial circumstances, and if they need a lower price point, I’m always happy to oblige. I think this quality has helped me to cultivate good loyalty. When people have more, they pay more and pay it forward to support others. When people need support, they are grateful to receive the benefit of the practice I offer without money limiting their access.
The donation drop-ins make it easy for students to select their own price point. And once the student creates a weekly or monthly membership, then I can adjust the price on the stripe side in case they ask to pay less each period, or to pause their recurring payments as needed.
How has Ubindi helped you?
The main advantage of Ubindi is having the widget to embed directly onto my website. It looks like it is part of my site, even though it is just embedded code. With some basic HTML knowledge, I was able to customize the size of the class listing.
My main goal for choosing Ubindi was the simplicity to set up & register for my students. The less techy people all were able to create an account easily, and then register for classes. It’s a seamless system for everyone involved.
Students love that they have three ways to access a class: the link in the registration email, the link in the 15-minutes prior email, and the login option on the Ubindi widget if they signed up previously.
The students signing up last minute also appreciate that they can sign up after I have started the class. Not everyone can arrive on time, and only I know when people are arriving and departing since most students view the class in Speaker view on Zoom.
How has your business changed before and after using Ubindi?
Prior to Ubindi, I hadn’t considered teaching online by myself. I taught for other studios in GA and in other states, using their technology. When those options ended in July 2021, my students wanted me to keep teaching, so I needed to find software to manage just me and my classes. Except for Ubindi, there wasn’t anything really built just for solo teachers.
What's you favorite feature on Ubindi?
My favorite part of Ubindi is the seamless execution for monthly/weekly recurring charges through stripe, as well as being able to price donation drop-ins.
And actually, my favorite feature about Ubindi is how responsive and helpful Alex and Alex have been with my questions along the way, and how responsive and respectful they have been to my students who have asked them for support along the way as well. Fantastic customer service, all the way around.
Did you consider other admin/booking platforms and why did you pick Ubindi?
Yes — I spent a lot of time on capterra and other software review sites comparing software platforms and features, and then drilling into the software with free trials.
The other platform that had most caught my eye is Vagaro, at least on paper. I liked the idea that they have their own "zoom" built in. However, they couldn't really answer my questions about the recording functions, video access, and how memberships worked with privates. Their customer service agent was very focused on getting me to give a CC# and pay money to find out what was in the software, rather than help me to see what the interfaces looked like and how they function real time. And everything is an add-on charge for additional features, that was a turn off. Felt like "if you want to see it, you have to pay first."
Honestly, Ubindi was the simplest and easiest to set up. It didn’t have all the features I wanted, however, when I showed it to a few students to try out, no one had difficulty figuring out on their own what to do. That was key!