As you go through the guide on How to Plan a Yoga Retreat People Love, you realize, I’m sure that the majority of your bookings for your first retreat will come from your own community. It is the students that already know you and belong to your tribe that will trust you and follow you first.
So, even before you reach the stage of setting up the retreat, promoting it, and trying to make sales, you need to work on increasing your list of students on the medium of your choice. It can be your email list, your Facebook friends, or your Instagram followers. No matter which medium you choose, you need to foster and grow a community right from the start.
Here are a few tips to help you grow your community
Sadly, there aren’t any clear-cut instructions to help you grow your community. There are only recommendations on best practices that can help you reach the people who share your vision. Authenticity and honesty are key words, but you do need to make an effort to reach the students looking for your offerings. Bear in mind, however, that these tips are merely a starting point. Give it a try and see what works best for you. Soon you will figure out what feels natural and you can focus on that.
1. Tap into your current network
I’m sure you already have some loyal students, and you probably also have some emails and some followers. You have your immediate network of family members, close friends, and colleagues who are willing to support your vision because they trust and believe in you. These are the people who already belong to your tribe and believe in your vision. This is your starting point. Building a community is all about relationships, and you already have some very valuable ones. You can ask them to like you, follow you, or subscribe to your newsletter without much difficulty.
And there is also your extended community network, the people you know just outside your immediate circle. They can be colleagues from other work you might be doing (or might have done in the past), acquaintances from school, or people you’ve met in workshops, conferences, or voluntary work. They may even be your neighbors or friends of your friends. Never underestimate word-of-mouth and the power of a physical network.
You just have to get out there and build connections. Talk to people about your vision, talk about your offerings and ask them if they would like to join your list. Never neglect to tell them how grateful you are for every member of your list. Show your gratitude for their willingness to join your tribe.
2. Consistently post some great content
Whether on Instagram or Facebook or your website blog, make sure you create great content. Give them a reason to come back by offering information that is relevant, useful, and inspirational. Use beautiful images, simple wording and speak true words. People want to connect, and authenticity is the best way forward. You should know that frequency doesn’t really matter as long as you keep your posting consistent. Weekly is ideal, but if you can only commit to posting once a month, then make sure to keep it consistent. Consistency builds trust and authority.
3. Cross-promote your online communities
If you have a website, Facebook, and Instagram—or any other social media account—make sure to link them together. People have to find you somehow. Make it easy for them by adding links to your social media on your website and emails and vice versa. Consider the benefits of empowering your following to spread your message throughout their digital spheres of influence.
Especially about your email list, you need to know that it is a valuable asset, one that you need to work on right from the start (yes, your mom’s email), and work your way to a big list of people interested in your yoga teaching. Ask all your students for their emails and start from there. If you have a website, make it easy for people to sign up for more information or a newsletter in exchange for their email. With all the software out there (like Mailchimp and TinyLetter), it is easier than ever to create and send a beautiful newsletter.
4. Communicate your Call To Action
It is also a good idea to implement your very personal Call To Action. Just as it is with marketing communication, you need to tell people exactly what you would like them to do. It is necessary to communicate that very clearly and ask them to share your newsletter, or your content, follow you or like you, etc. Don’t forget to give meaning to why this matters to you and why you want more people to join your community. A sentence like “I would appreciate it if you could share this article with anybody who might need it; sharing is caring” would convey your meaning and point them in the right direction.
5. Go to other studio events and workshops and connect
Never miss an opportunity to participate in an exciting event or workshop where you can potentially meet the right people. Introduce yourself and talk about your vision. As we’ve said, it’s about building relationships.
Final words on a large community
A large community is great, but you must always keep in mind the reason you want to achieve this goal. Your community is all about forming relationships, providing value, engaging with students and fellow teachers, and eventually having new students that will come to your retreats. Don’t forget the vision behind growing a community and always act in alignment with your values and your principles. And when the time comes to book your first retreat, collaborate with a venue like the Yoga Loft where people know their stuff and can help you with anything from accommodation to marketing.