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Hello and welcome to Yogipreneur Radio.

This is your host, Racheal Cook, founder of The Yogipreneur. Today I’m joined by my new friend, Virginia O’Conner of AudibleYoga.com.ypradiologofinal_720

I’m so excited to bring her on and chat with you because one of the trends I’m really excited to see for yoga teachers who want to turn their passion into a profitable and sustainable career is leveraging the online space to reach and teach audiences who may not be showing up in your traditional yoga studio or gym setting.

What I love about talking with Virginia in our conversations so far, has been they have designed a solution to help you find those students, even if you’re not sure where to get started and even if you feel a little wary of getting online.

Thank you so much, Virginia, for joining me today.

Virginia: Thanks for having me. This is fun.

Racheal: I’m really excited and I think people are just going to love what you are up to. Before we dive in, I want to have you share a little bit about what inspired you and your partner to create Audible Yoga.

Virginia: It’s actually quite simple. Both Maureen and I are yoga students. We are not yoga teachers. One of my biggest frustrations in practicing yoga has been I find my great, wonderful, amazing teacher and either she moves away or I have to relocate or move and we lose our connection.

I know that about 10, 15 years ago, I asked my first yoga teacher, “Would you, would you, would you please record your classes and send them to me and I’ll pay you.” She said what every yoga teacher has told me since then.

It goes along the lines of this: “I’d love to do that. My students are always asking me to do that. I just don’t know how and I don’t have the time to set up a platform. It would just be too complicated.”

I decided the summer I got back from a retreat with a wonderful, wonderful yoga teacher called Erica Lee — she now lives in San Diego, but she lived in Florida at the time. It just sparked it for me. I said, “That’s it. I’m going to build a platform and help teachers do this.”

Racheal:  I love it. You know what’s interesting, Virginia, is I did the State of the Yogiverse Masterclass — which is available on TheYogipreneur.com and I’ll put it in the show notes — but we dive into the new yoga economy.

 The statistics are showing that over 40% of yoga practitioners want support with their home yoga practice.

 There’s a huge disconnect right now because most yoga teachers and yoga business owners, I think they feel that the only way that they can really help their students is to get them to class more often. But, even the most dedicated yoga is probably, max, showing up two or three times a week.

Having ways for them to do their yoga practice at home, this is incredible. It’s, again, a great way to continue that relationship. Like you said, your teachers moved. How are you going to continue working with them?

Virginia: What’s wonderful about the audio model — is that especially if you have a teacher that you’re familiar with, you understand her cues, you’ve been practicing with her for a while — or even not and you want to find a new teacher.

But, the point is that with the audio model, you can take that yoga practice and you’re without the screen. You don’t have to have the big television screen or your laptop screen; you can simply put on your smartphone or your MP3 player and just get into your practice.

Racheal: I love that.

Virginia: All distractions aside.

Racheal: I think that’s wonderful. I have a lot of people who ask, “Should I start filming videos?” I think videos are very trendy right now, but from a technical standpoint — and I can tell you this — this is the reason why I’m doing a podcast instead of a YouTube Channel. The setup for video just takes so much more energy.

Virginia: It takes more energy and it takes a lot of technical knowledge because if you have a little mistake or in the video the cat runs by and knocks over a lap — I’ve seen this kind of stuff happen. This happens in my house. Now I can just stop my MP3 player and put the cat and the lamp all back in place and then go back to my class.

But, if you don’t have the technical expertise to edit that out of your video, then you’ve got a wonky video.

Racheal: Exactly. Virginia, one of the things that I love about Audible Yoga is that not only is it public facing, so that your students can come on and find a practice that they can download on their iPhone and take with them anywhere, but you’ve built in this component that really helps yoga teachers to build their yoga business.

I know I’m always having yoga teachers ask me about how they can take their yoga business online, how they can create some passive income. But, it seems very overwhelming. I’d love to hear more about the process that went in to bringing teachers into your business model.

Virginia: Yes. From the very beginning, when Maureen and I started researching this idea, we wanted to make sure that the yoga teachers were paid. Yoga teachers now, we find that they give away so much.

They give away free classes, they put their classes up on YouTube and they can’t earn money off of those classes on YouTube unless they gain an enormous, enormous following.

We wanted to make sure that the yoga teachers had an easy model so they could load their classes to the Audible Yoga platform, connect with the students that they already have and find other students online and earn a steady income.

We created a system that takes a portion of the subscriber money and gives it directly back to the teachers. They earn from referrals and royalties and we pay them by PayPal.

Racheal: I love that. I have to say that one of the challenges that I hear for a lot of teachers is when you do decide to go online, you have two choices.

You either find distribution — so you find a platform like Audible Yoga — to help get you in front of an audience, or you are the distribution center and you have to create an audience from scratch, which is actually a little more complicated than I think most people think.

 You don’t just create a website and boom, everybody finds you.

I love this different approach to it where they can leverage, really, all the marketing that you’re doing for them.

Virginia: Right. That’s a big part of it. The thing that we know — because Maureen and I are both businesswomen; we market ourselves all the time. One of the most fun things that we’ve learned about yoga teachers is that they really don’t gravitate towards marketing themselves naturally. We’ve taken that load off of them.

When the classes go out, we publish them out on social media, we make sure that the students have them in their newsletters and then we do these big collections for holidays. Mother’s Day is coming up, so we’re trying to figure out what our Mother’s Day classes are going to be.

We do these big marketing pushes for the teachers to drive students back to their classes — even the students that they don’t know that are all over the place. It doesn’t even have to be the students that are in your studio on Mondays and Tuesdays.

 This is students globally.

Racheal: That’s awesome and such a great way to really support each other. You guys supporting the teachers and sending new people their way and the teachers are able to reach new people that they might not otherwise be able to reach without some marketing happening in their yoga business. That’s so wonderful.

Virginia: Absolutely. I mean, I wanted it to be a very sustainable model so that everybody is participating. Students let teachers know what kinds of classes they’re interested in, teachers record those classes and then they can record the classes that they’re already teaching in their studios so they don’t have to make a special class — but they can if they want to — and we’ve had some really, really amazing classes from all over the world. It’s been really fun.

Racheal: That’s wonderful. I love hearing that. I know that you guys are pretty new. When was the official launch date for Audible Yoga?

Virginia: We turned it on on January 8th.

Racheal: I was going to say…

Virginia: Yeah, it’s been really, really quick.

Racheal: It’s been very fast.

Virginia: Very short. Yes. It’s just now gaining speed, so it’s really exciting.

Racheal: How many teachers do you guys support at this point on your platform?

Virginia: Yeah, we were just counting that last night. We have 92. We had 78 when we started, so we have quite a few teachers that have joined since we turned it on.

Racheal: When teachers join your platform, I know that you guys have a teacher-facing side of your website. I’d love to hear a little bit more about how else you guys are supporting teachers and using Audible Yoga as a way to grow their yoga business and reach new students.

Virginia: Beyond the social media marketing, the website has teacher profiles so the teachers can load the classes and delete classes as they want to. We are technically their publisher; it’s a publisher model.

 When teachers load new classes, it goes out on our social media.

We also have a growing newsletter list of students who are interested in classes. Once a week — we’re playing with the numbers about how often it works because we don’t want to… it’s the newsletter, so you want to make sure you get the timing right — we push those classes out through the newsletters directly to the students in their inbox.

Down the road, we have some pretty amazing plans so that students can follow their teachers and when their teacher loads a new class, they’ll get an instant message on their phone.

That stuff is in development. For instance, if I’m following Sadie Webster — she lives in Canada — and she loads up a new class, I know that I can download that now and I can have it ready for my morning practice. That’s pretty exciting.

Racheal: That’s really exciting and I love hearing that because, again, that’s another way for teachers to reach directly towards their students a little bit more. I know you guys did an incredible amount of research. What was the most surprising thing you learned from yoga teachers when you were interviewing them and figuring out how you could best serve them?

Virginia: Just how amazing and loving and giving they are. I was shocked.

 They’re putting so much effort into healing and loving the communities around them and the people around them.

That’s how I’ve experienced it as a student, but when we started working more and more and more with yoga teachers, we started realizing this is a completely an untapped market for them.

We really wanted to help them make money doing what they’re already doing so they don’t have to change their life or how they’re doing stuff.

They can keep doing the amazing work that they’re doing, but just do it with a recorder; make it a little bit easier. I think that was the biggest thing.

 As far as the student side, I know you had said that 40% of students want to do a practice at home. We read that 60% of students and there’s over 20 million of them just in America alone that want to do yoga at home. Making that connection was really important to us.

Racheal: I think that’s one of the most incredible statistics that I have been reading recently and it really goes to show that — and I also was reading another statistic there that follows along with that is that more and more people want a 30 minute practice or a 60 minute practice over the full 90 minute classes, which is what I think most yoga teachers are taught to teach to a 75 or 90 minute class.

That just really points to, I think, for us as teachers to reach and teach more people, we really have to meet them where they are and where they are is in busy, modern lives. They have half an hour to squeeze it in on their lunch break. They’re not loading this up at work.

It’s easier for them to load it up on their iPod or their iPhone and have it with them there. If they are trying to squeeze it in at home, a 90 minute practice is nearly impossible for anybody who’s a mom. I can tell you that. Unless your kids are all out of the house.

I think what you guys are doing is a huge benefit to the practitioners, hands down.

 People want this more than ever.

For teachers who really want to get the most out of leveraging an audio type of platform, an audio class, what are you seeing as the most in demand classes so far?

Virginia: You know, we’ve asked that a little bit, but our subscriber base is pretty small yet. It was interesting because they do like those 45. We found that our subscribers like the 45 minute classes to the 90 minute classes, but their favorites are the 45 minute classes and the 60 minute classes.

As far as… I don’t know… We don’t know yet. One of the best things about the Audible Yoga platform that we built into it, however, is Yoga for a Purpose. That’s one of the things that we noticed in the beginning is that the yoga teachers like to niche their work in some cases.

We have been working with teachers who specialize is classes for Seniors and — I think this is the funniest thing ever — my father, who is 76 years old, he just started last week doing yoga and he picked up the Audible Yoga. He picked up an Audible Yoga subscription because he didn’t want to be without yoga while he was doing this traveling. He’s 76 years old and he’s loving it.

Racheal: That’s wonderful!

Virginia: 

Connecting those teachers who are teaching specific classes to students who may never go into a studio ever in their life is powerful.

Racheal: I think that’s incredibly powerful and I agree with that. I’ve seen that the more niched you are and the more you’re specifically focused on a problem someone’s having, the more likely it is that they’re going to read that and say, “I have back pain. I want to do yoga for back pain.”

Especially someone who is newer. If they go on the site and there’s the different styles, they might not know the difference between Kundalini and Jivamukti. They’re just going to pick one and then if it’s not the right one, they’re going to be like, “Whoa!”

Virginia: “I’m scared.”

Racheal:  Yeah. “I’m scared. It’s not for me.” That’s what we want to avoid as teachers, right?

 We want people to feel like yoga is for them.

Virginia: It’s accessible.

Racheal: Exactly. I love the “For a Purpose” because I can see you have sculpting, spine health, sleep — I might need to listen to one of those soon.

Virginia: My husband is drawn to those classes so much. He suffers a little bit with insomnia. He has trouble falling asleep. I do not have this problem. But, we’ve started doing these shorter classes — these 20 and 30 minutes classes — a couple of times a week. Now the guy can sleep like that. It’s unbelievable the big change. It’s really great.

Racheal: That’s amazing. I’d love to hear, as we wrap up our conversation today, if you were to give one piece of advice to yoga teachers who are looking to go online and create a new income stream, what piece of advice would you give to them to get started recording themselves and putting their classes out into the internets?

Virginia: Right. Definitely look and see if the video option is right for you. But, if it’s not, please take a look at AudibleYogaTeachers.com — that’s our teacher facing website.

On there, we do include information about the microphones to use, the apps to use, how it works and if you sign up for the newsletter, we have an eBook that comes your way that describes in a little bit more detail how exactly to do it.

It really is quite simple. Just pull out your smartphone and use a Bluetooth or a headset and record the classes that you’re already doing. Try it out a couple of times, listen to your class, see how it sounds, don’t worry about the sound quality, we can fix that too.

Racheal: Nice.

Virginia: We handle all that for you.

Racheal: Oh, that’s an extra bonus, too. You don’t even have to worry about audio editing.

Virginia: No sound editing.

Racheal: Nice. I love it.

Virginia: Yes, we do all that.

Racheal: I’d love to hear from our listeners. Who’s going to take us up on this challenge to go ahead and record a class you’re already teaching? They have amazing resources at AudibleYogaTeachers.com.

We’ll put the link in the show notes for you. Let us know what you think. I’d love to hear feedback from anybody who’s interested in sharing yoga online on a platform like Audible.

Thank you so much, Virginia, for joining me today.

Virginia: Thanks for having me.

Racheal: Super fun! All right.

Thank you so much, everyone, and I’ll see you next time on Yogipreneur Radio.

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Episode 10 Show Notes::

Audible Yoga

Audible Yoga Teachers

State of the Yogiverse

What To Do Next?

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