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Season 2 :: Episode 1

 

yogipreneur radio Racheal: Hey, Francesca! Welcome to Yogipreneur Radio.

Francesca: Thanks for having me, Racheal!

Racheal: I’m so excited to dive into this conversation today. We have so much to talk about. But, to really get started, I want to have you share with everybody what your yoga business looks like today.

Francesca: Well, it’s been through a big shift in the last six months because I moved and I’ve started over a private practice in a new city.

Right now, I’m teaching about 15 yoga classes a week. Three of them are group classes. Depending on the week, it’s 10-12 private lessons.

I also have a teacher training that I started teaching in 2012 live called The Science of the Private Lesson, where I teach other teachers how to have a private yoga business and how to teach private yoga lessons.

I’ve taught that training about 10 times over the course of the last several years. I took that training and created an online teacher training based on the same content, which I launched for the first time in January of 2015.

I do some one-on-one mentoring work with other yoga teachers as well. I have a pretty full time job teaching 15 yoga classes a week and then this whole second leg of my business — arm of my business — that works with teachers.

Racheal: I love it. For those who haven’t met Francesca before, Francesca’s been a longtime friend and client of mine.

We’ve had so much fun taking her business to this next evolution.

One thing that I love about Francesca — it’s so funny because we’re sitting right across from each other, so we’re looking at each other as we’re all smiley and excited to talk about this stuff. One reason I love Francesca and the work that she’s doing is that she has so much experience to bring to the table.

She’s been doing this for over 10 years and she’s really committed to doing amazing, incredible, impeccable work. That shows in everything that she does; her commitment to excellence and to mastering her craft of being a private yoga teacher.

I’m excited to have her share a little bit about what she’s been up to over the past, now, more than 10 years.

Francesca: Ten years I’ve been teaching full time.

Racheal: Teaching full time. You have so much going on right now. You just moved from New York to D.C, you’re starting this whole private thing again. You’ve only been here in D.C. for six months and already you’ve built up to 15 classes a week.

Francesca: Yeah. Oh, my goodness.

Racheal: That is incredible. I love that because that is not an easy thing. There’s obviously a lot that people can learn from you. Let’s go back in time.

What did it look like when you first decided to be a yoga teacher and what was the beginning part of your yoga business journey like?

Francesca: Sure. I started my yoga teaching career really young. I was 22 when I did my first teacher training. My yoga teaching life started out with a huge amount of hustle.

I was a young dancer and I was living in New York City. I had no idea how competitive the yoga teaching world was. I was just completely naive. I had been practicing yoga for a long time and it had a really meaningful impact on my relationship with myself.

I had sort of the amount of maturity you could have at 22. I didn’t have a huge big picture plan. I knew yoga had helped me and I wanted to help other people in the same way. I didn’t want to waitress or bar tend and I needed a second job to support myself as a dancer.

I did my first teacher training at Om Yoga Center in 2005 and then thought I was just going to graduate my 200-hour teacher training and be a full time yoga teacher. I had no idea.

It was a really rude awakening to figure out it was almost as hard to make a living — if not harder, maybe — as a yoga teacher as it was as a dancer.

I had my little teaching resume printed out that had the yoga teacher trainings that I’d done and I’d spent a lot of time teaching — teaching dance and things like that — so I had some teaching experience, but not much.

Then I had — it’s the most amazing thing; I’ve gone back and looked at it since — this unbelievable list of every single yoga studio in Brooklyn and in Manhattan organized by neighborhood and color-coded.

I went around to every single yoga studio on the list and was like,

“I’m Francesca. I know 200 hours’ worth of stuff. I love yoga. Can I teach here?”

Nobody cared. Nobody cared at all. Nobody wanted to hire a young, inexperienced teacher. Many studios — I think it’s even worse now — have their own teacher trainings, so people didn’t hire outside of their own teacher training program. It was a really rude awakening.

Racheal: Tough, saturated market.

Francesca: Nobody cared that I was Francesca and that I loved yoga. Nobody cared at all. I had several other part time jobs to support myself.

I worked the front desk at a gym, I managed a Pilates studio. But, I kept making connections in the yoga world by practicing at different studios that I really loved, making friends with other yoga teachers, subbing when I could.

I started teaching at some gyms, which is a really good place. Just all this hustle: teaching at gyms, subbing some classes at a few different studios, teaching a corporate class and then I got one private client passed down to me from a friend who was older and more experienced in the business.

That really kicked off my private yoga teaching career.

It was a really great experience. The student had been doing yoga for a long time with her old private teacher and really liked it, but hadn’t seen a huge amount of change. When she started working with me, she was all of a sudden seeing more change in her body and also in her life.

She was really excited about that and started recommending me to her friends. Then I started teaching more private clients and, over the years, the first year that I was doing that I was able to quit my other part time jobs. It was just a lot of hustle.

Racheal: A lot of hustle.

Francesca: Yeah. A lot of hustle and a lot of teaching experience teaching in a lot of — and we can talk more about this probably at some point this But, teaching in a ton of different environments — Many of them very challenging.

Teaching in gyms is really hard and it’s the first homework assignment I give to teachers who come to me who want more private clients. If they’ve never taught in a gym, then they have to.

Because it’s loud and it’s not super… people who would necessarily go to a yoga studio, so it’s hard to do and it’s really, really great for your teaching to figure out how to bring the deep meaningful teachings of yoga into an environment like that.

Racheal: That’s not a beautiful, serene, elegant yoga studio.

Francesca: Yeah. I taught this yoga class for years. I guess it was mostly just in the spring and the summer. I taught at a senior center out in the park. That was extremely hard because a lot of them couldn’t really get down on the ground and, if they did, then we had to stay down there and there’s bugs on the ground.

I didn’t get paid very much money to do it, but it was so good for my teaching to teach in challenging environments. It was fun. I adored those people. I taught there for years. I did a lot of different things.

Racheal: What would you say the time-frame is from the time that you finished your teacher training in 2005 until you got that first client and then started seeing more private yoga students?

Francesca: I did my teacher training in the summer of 2005. I started teaching that first private client January 2006 and continued doing lots of teacher trainings throughout that time period.

I was doing lots of continuing education — particularly in anatomy and therapeutics, which helped a lot. I think by 2007 I didn’t have any other jobs. I was only teaching yoga — and that might have even been by the end of 2006 I think I was only teaching yoga.

Racheal: But still, you’re looking at a good year, year and a half of getting yourself out there.

Teaching when and where you can, getting a lot of different experience, building up your own skill-set and working with whoever you could get in front of until the right thing started to fall into place.

Francesca: Yeah, totally. By 2008, I dropped most of my group classes and was only teaching private lessons. It was probably 2009 that I was teaching 20 to 25 private clients a week.

Racheal: That’s incredible. Let’s talk about that period there. Out of the startup stage where you’re really just learning how to be a teacher and learning how to work with all these different types of people and all these different types of settings, then you find private yoga and that is where you’ve built your business, really.

From that first student who got passed down to you — which is amazing — what did that look like and how did you go from one student to suddenly, at one point, you were teaching 25 plus students a week in New York City?

Because I’ve worked with you, I know that there were some days where you’re like eight to ten students in a single day.

How did you get to the point where you just had a completely full client docket?

Francesca: Yeah. This is a fun story. The first client I worked with, like I said, had a lot of meaningful change that occurred as a result of our work together.

It was probably six or eight months after we had started working together that she said, “You’ve helped me so much. I really want you to work with my best friend. I think she’s a little… I don’t know how she feels about working with a private yoga teacher, but I’m going to buy her five sessions with you as a birthday present.”

That was great because I had five sessions to get to know her and to create a practice that was really useful and accessible for her and meaningful right in the moment. She was pretty excited about it, so I started working with her regularly.

I saw her for at least six months, if not more, and then she said, “I really think that you could help my husband.” I was like, “Oh, yeah. Great.”

Then she was like, “I don’t know, because he really doesn’t want to do yoga. I think that he could use what you have to offer, but I don’t know how you’re going to do it because he thinks yoga’s really weird.”

I was like, “You send him my way. I got this.”

I understood that mentality because I was very resistant to yoga for years before and even when I first started practicing it.

I come from a really achievement-oriented kind of competitive academic family and I was a dancer. My whole mindset was extremely Type A. So much about overworking. As a dancer, I knew lots of people who practiced yoga, but I thought that was so lame.

Who sits still? Lazy people sit still. That was my vibe. But, then I started practicing yoga and, of course, it totally changed the way I related to myself and the way I related to the people around me and had this really wide-reaching impact on the way I lived.

I understood this guy’s vibe. Like, “I don’t really want to do yoga.” In my first conversation with him — it’s so cute, and I’ve had this conversation probably 20, if not 30, times since then. He said, “Listen, Francesca. I know my wife really likes you, but I don’t want to do yoga because that seems weird.”

But, he said, “I do think that it would be good for me to be a little more flexible. I could get stronger. I’d like to improve my focus and maybe learn how to relax.”

I didn’t say this to him, but that’s yoga! You know?

Racheal: That’s what yoga does, people!

Francesca: That’s what yoga does. I look at him and I almost could wink. If you could see me right now, I’m winking. Like, “Yeah, okay. We don’t have to do “yoga”. You got it, buddy.

I knew I could help him have all those things that he wanted in a package that was accessible to him.

That was sort of my idea. I think part of the reason that this worked well for me was because — I don’t know if it was because I was young or because of what’s important to me, but I didn’t feel really attached to a specific agenda other than helping the person that was in front of me.

He didn’t have to call it yoga if he didn’t want to. I would leave out the parts of the practice that would be alienating to him in the moment, but I would figure out a way to take the deep teachings that had served my life and bring them to him in a way that was accessible.

I started asking him about what other physical activity he liked to do and it turned out that he really likes to golf. I was just asking him, “Are you good?” Just in a friendly, kind of casual way.

Racheal: Like “where are we with the golf thing?”

Francesca: Yeah.

Racheal: Are you serious?

Francesca: He was actually terrible. He loved to play golf, but he was an awful golfer. I said, “Well, you want to work on that?” He was like, “You can help me with my golf game?” I was like, “Yeah, I think that I can.”

I’m not a golfer. I have no hand/eye coordination at all, but I know enough about the game to know that increasing the depth of the twist will increase the power in your back-swing and so yoga is great, obviously, for increasing the amount of twist.

He was really tight in his hips and his hamstrings, so I thought we could open that up because that helps everything. Golf is really a game of mindfulness, so if I could trick him into learning some real mindfulness techniques, then I thought that would help.

That was totally our focus. How do we make his golf game better?

It worked. I mean, I worked with him in New York for eight years before I left and he started shooting well over 100, which is a pretty bad golf score, and by the time I left New York he was shooting in the 70s, which is a really good golf score.

Racheal: That’s amazing!

Francesca: What happened is, as his golf game started to improve, I started getting emails from all the guys that worked at his firm.

Racheal: Because they’re all going out and playing golf together and then going, “What happened to him?

Francesca: Yeah. And he was like, “Yeah, I think it’s this yoga stuff that’s really helping me.” Then I would get emails from these guys who were like, “Yeah. I don’t know about yoga, but I want the results that this guy is getting.”

Then my practice really took off because I literally started teaching every guy at his firm and then my practice grew really quickly. I mean, the initial growth is always going to be slow.

This was just totally accidental, but once I found this niche that I loved to work with, which are these guys who are really Type A, kind of athletic, aggressive, want to work really hard —

Racheal: Workaholics.

Francesca: Yeah, because I understand that vibe because that’s how I used to be, how I am naturally, and I’m able to trick them and teach them the real benefits of yoga in a package that’s accessible to them.

I fell into that niche, but that totally turned out to be my niche. Then my practice grew really fast.

Racheal: That’s amazing. There’s a few things here that I just want to tease out before we fast forward to where you are now. One thing that you do really well, like you said, is you were focused on meeting them exactly where they are and not being attached to any agenda.

I think this is a big challenge a lot of yogis have — a lot of entrepreneurs have in general.

They’re so in love with what they’re teaching that sometimes they forget in the moment that the most important thing is to serve the person in front of you.

As you started to really find that way, like you said, to trick him, it was just to meet him where he was and meet him exactly on his level and not make him feel stupid or weird or wrong for not being interested in some part of the practice.

But he ended up working with you for eight years. Can we talk about that for a minute? This is a big problem for most yoga teachers.

They know private yoga can be a great opportunity for them, it can be a great business model for them, but they’re still churning through students really quickly and they don’t have these long-term students.

The thing I am amazed with your students — and just because I know you — is you have students who have been with you for five years, eight years, 10 years and that’s very unusual in a lot of ways.

A lot of people have a hard time keeping their students. In addition to those people sending you people–sending referrals — what did you do to keep those students?

  • Why did they stick around with you for so long?
  • Was there some magical secret marketing trick that you had?

I’m laughing because I know that there’s no marketing trick.

Francesca: There’s definitely no marketing trick. That whole business, I was teaching 25 private clients a week without a website. There’s not a marketing trick.

Why did people stay with me for so long?

That’s an interesting question that I haven’t thought that much about. I think that I sort of go into teaching assuming… I go into teaching a private client with the intention to build a really intimate professional — we can talk about that, too — intimate relationship.

I care very, very much about my students and I want to know what’s going on in their physical body. I want to know what’s going on in their emotional life. We can talk about how you get that information pretty quickly so that you don’t spend your whole session chatting at all.

You know I have some strong opinions about that. To me, teaching a private client is very much about building a close relationship where you create practices, you teach them sessions that have really meaningful impact on their whole life.

The only reason I only taught that guy for eight years was because I moved from New York. I mean, that transition was hard. All the people that I’ve been teaching for the last eight years in New York City, I would have taught for the rest of our lives if I had kept living there.

Leaving them was really hard, although now most of them are working with teachers who I trained and who work for me, so they’re still in the FCYW Family.

Racheal: I love that.

Francesca: Does that make sense?

Racheal: Yeah, it totally does.

Francesca: I just kind of treat it as a relationship like my relationship with you. We’re going to be friends forever. It’s not like…

Racheal: Well, and for anybody who… I mean, you started working with me taking your business online and taking your training online in 2012 and here we are, three years later, and we’re still talking and masterminding and working on your business and you’re involved in what I’m up to.

I think that’s something interesting that a lot of people skip over because they’re so not focused on the person in front of them. We’ll leave it at that.

They don’t really understand the opportunity of developing a relationship with somebody.

I know you and I could talk about that piece forever. Let’s fast forward again.

You built up that practice, you spent years in New York and then you started having people — and I remember when you told me this I was just laughing.

You had people that you respected, people that you thought were amazing teachers and they were very popular group class teachers, but they were struggling with their private clients.

What did it look like when these people started seeing what you’re doing and asking questions like:

  • “What is she doing that is so different?”
  • “Why is this working so well for her?”
  • “How did that turn into your training?”

Francesca: That was a fun thought process that I was having. At first I didn’t know. When people would hear — and these are my teachers; beloved people who have been full time group class teachers in New York City for 25 years. Very experienced.

They were saying, “I never could keep private clients like that.” Often, the insinuation was, “What’s your marketing secret? What’s your business trick?” I was like, “I definitely don’t have any of those. I have a BFA in Modern Dance Performance and no website”.

So I didn’t have any business skills at the time. At first, I just didn’t know how to answer the question. But, I thought about it for several years before I did anything about it. It started to become clear to me that it was just a unique skill-set.

Teaching one-on-one in a way that’s fun and sustainable for you as a teacher and useful and accessible and meaningful for your student is an entirely different skill-set than being a good group class teacher and no one was teaching it.

I was like, “Huh. I happen to sort of fall into that way and style of teaching naturally and intuitively.” I knew a lot of people who were really, really skillful teachers who I thought could be working one-on-one with more success if they were taught the skills.

I sat down to write an answer to this question:

“What am I doing differently in my private sessions that other really good teachers, for some reason, aren’t doing?”

I thought that it would be maybe an article or maybe a three-hour workshop, but I spent a whole summer writing it and rewriting it and playing with it and it initially came out a 20-hour teacher training and now it’s a 40-hour. It’s a full, week long teacher training. Yeah, so that’s how that sort of came to be.

Racheal: That’s what happens. I love it.

I know that by the time that you started working with me, you had already started teaching that as a weekend workshop and we’re just seeing amazing results from those students who, then, it was like a light bulb goes off and they’re going, “Oh! This is the difference between a group class and a private session.”

I’ve actually experienced this as a student, where I wanted to work with somebody who was a great group class teacher — I loved them as a teacher — but then they taught me the exact same way as if we were in a group class, it was just a group class of one.

When there’s no really big difference, it’s like, “I could just go to the studio and get that. Why would I have you come here or whatever?”

Francesca: Right.

Racheal: Other than just convenience.

Francesca: Right.

Racheal: If convenience is the only factor, then there’s something else needed.

Francesca: Yes, I think so.

Racheal: You did that. You created this program. It’s grown a bit, as you’ve gone through this whole process of now teaching teachers — which is a whole different thing.

One thing I love about the way that you’ve done a lot of this stuff — and I think as you and I are wired similarly, it’s not just, “I have this thought. I’m going to throw together this training and just push it out into the world. No testing, no iterating, no making sure that this stuff really works.”

It’s very thoughtful and very, “We’re going to really work and massage this material and this content and make sure that it is going to work for everybody that goes through it.”

Before you decided to go online, how many weekends did you do? How many people went through this program with you and what were the results for those students?

Francesca: I think I must have taught it at least six times live — about 10 people in each live teacher training. The results have been so fabulous. Many people — I’m thinking of a couple right off the top of my head — now teach full time, 15-20 private clients a week.

But, the results have been varied based on what kind of experience people came in with. Almost every person says that it not only effects their private teaching, but it effects their group class teaching as well.

That’s been really interesting for me as a teacher, because that wasn’t my intention. But it’s like when we’re talking about ways to look at a body and a soul and a mind and give it what it needs and really be in an intimate relationship with that person in front of you, it does.

It comes out in all your other relationships. That’s been really fun for me as a teacher. It’s kind of funny; I didn’t — five years ago — have some big master plan of where this was going. It was like, “What do I need to do next?”.

Well I keep getting asked this question of why I have so many private clients. Let me try to figure out the answer.

Then I wrote the answer and it was like, “Huh. This seems like this is a nice, long weekend training. Okay, I’m going to teach this now.” Then I taught it and I was like, “Yeah, that was great! Everybody got so much out of it and I had so much fun teaching it.” I was like, “Yeah. I’m going to teach it again, but I think it needs to be longer next time.” It just been this very sort of organic development.

Racheal: But at the same time, I think because — and you and I are similar in this regard — you having this background in dance, which is highly disciplined — especially learning how to take in feedback and take in criticism and take in notes that people are giving you.

Me, coming from a music background, I totally get that, too. I remember when we started working together, you would pour over the feedback that everybody was giving you and almost rework a lot of the program each time until you were like, “Okay. We’ve done it six times. Now it’s good enough to take it into an online space where more people can get access to this.”

Francesca: Yeah.

Racheal: And I really loved that because I think in any niche, in any industry or whatever, the more you can iterate and refine before you really press play in a bigger stage, the better it’s going to be and the more it’ll stand on its own two feet.

Francesca: Yeah.

Racheal: Fast forwarding now, you moved cities. This year, you launched your online program.

Let’s talk about launching an online yoga teacher training because this is a question I get asked quite a bit.

I only have a handful of clients who I’ve worked with to do this who have also done it successfully. A lot of people struggle with this. I do think it’s because they’re missing that doing the work, working the material, making sure — because the minute you go online, you lose that intimacy that you have when you’re in a physical space with people.

Tell me a little bit about what it was like to do your own online version of, not just the program, but then trying to launch the program and get that off the ground.

Francesca: Oh, my gosh. This was one of the most intense experiences of my whole life. I can’t imagine, though, teaching something online that you haven’t already taught in person.

Teaching it in person, it’s about relationship and you see immediately how your students are responding to the material and that makes it better. Like you said, I kind of made small changes and updated it. Mostly what I did was make it longer every single time I taught it.

It was like 20 hours wasn’t long enough, we’ll do 25. Twenty-five hours wasn’t long enough, we’ll do 30. Because what I want to say gets clarified every time that I say it in relationship with someone in person.

After teaching about… probably 80 people live — maybe I taught it more like seven or eight times; I’ll have to go back and look at the calendar — before I made the online training. I got really clear about what it was that I wanted to say.

By that point, it was ready to say in a way that was… an online training is a little bit more one-sided. I figured out ways to be in a relationship with the people in my online training, but it’s not the same as the kind of relationship you have when you teach it live.

I knew that it was going to be a really huge challenge to take this — because learning how to teach private lessons is a lot about intuition; it’s a lot about what you see and how to do something about what you see; it’s a lot about intimate relationships and social skills.

How the hell do you teach that online?

I really thought about it for a long time. You had been saying to me for years, “When are we taking this thing online?” and I was like, “Not yet. Not yet. Not yet. Okay, now.” I had thought about it for a long time.

What I did to make my teacher training take the really subtle and deep and intuitive teachings that I teach live and make it actionable and useful online, is to have a lot of different kinds of media. I have, in my online training, audio lecture combined with a PowerPoint visual presentation. Hours of content like that.

There’s also three full hour long sessions of me teaching one of my real private clients. Those are some of my favorite parts of the training because it’s actually watching what I do in a private lesson.

Then, I went back in with my filmmaker and narrated and edited over the whole session so I could point things out — why I’m doing something, why I shouldn’t have done that and what I wish I had done instead.

Then we have hours and hours and hours of video footage from one of my live teacher trainings so that they get the experience of the kind of discussions that happen live.

Racheal: I think that’s so amazing. I just want to add on that. A lot of people would not do what you did with having a filmmaker come in and video you working with an actual real live student. I’m assuming because your students loved you so much, they were just like, “Oh, yeah. Yes. Sign us up. No problem.”

Francesca: Yeah.

Racheal: They want you to create more amazing teachers.

Francesca: Yeah.

Racheal: But that’s almost like finding a way online to create an apprenticeship. They could tag along with you even though they weren’t in New York City.

Francesca: That’s something that the people who take my live training really don’t get to see. In my live trainings, I’ll pull someone out of the group and do a little mini-teaching there, but it’s different to teach a yoga teacher than it is…

Racheal: A regular real live person.

Francesca: Yeah. Two of the clients that we’ve filmed — this filmmaker came to our regular Wednesday morning sessions in their office. There’s this footage of me walking through the office. It’s not like a beautiful perfect video because we’re in the little conference room that we did yoga in.

There’s random props on the floor. It’s just very real life. It was one of the most stressful and vulnerable experiences of my whole life, but I’m so glad I did it. My students are so generous. They’re so happy to support me and the work that I do with other teachers, so they were totally cool with it.

Racheal: That’s awesome.

Francesca: It was stressful.

Racheal: The final thing I want to touch on is you had such a success in New York City, which is a very saturated, very competitive yoga city. I mean, in the US, it would be definitely top four to five yoga cities of hardest to get started as a yoga teacher and stay in as a yoga teacher.

The burnout rate is just incredibly high and here you are, 10 years later, you’re out of it doing better than ever before.

Then you decided to move to Washington, D.C. and you restarted your entire practice. You no longer work with your one-on-one students. For a while, you were taking the train back to New York to work with those students during the week and then coming back here.

What has it been like to build a private client base here, remembering that when you did it in New York, you said it took you a few years to really get it up and going to where you had?

Francesca: Yeah. It’s been so fun to be able to take these things that I’ve been teaching to other teachers and have to implement them and start over. I mean, it’s really been a blast.

I’ve created a slightly different practice than the one I had in New York. It’s been really interesting. I moved to D.C. on a part time basis in May of 2012 and then it was only in February of 2015 that I moved her full time. I had two and a half years of being here part time to plant seeds.

That wasn’t totally intentional; it was just the way my crazy life worked out, but it’s helped a lot.

Racheal: What do you mean by plant seeds, for anyone who’s like, “What does that mean?”

Francesca: I was teaching two group classes at the studio in my neighborhood. This was just so lucky the way this worked out as I was living with a friend who lived in this really cute neighborhood, Tacoma Park — for any of you who are in the area.

There’s this amazing studio here called Willow Street Yoga Center. It’s one of the oldest and best respected studios in the city and I got to be friends with the owners. I have just been practicing yoga there and she asked me to teach a class.

I was like, “I’d love to. I really like being part of the community here, but I don’t have time. I teach 20 clients a week in New York City right now. My life is crazy.” But she talked me into it. I was so happy to just be part of the community.

I had kind of small classes because I taught during the day on Friday. No one knew me and I didn’t make any money teaching those classes at all. Although, they pay very well. They really take great care of their teachers, Willow Street, but I was just teaching these little baby classes.

I was just doing it to be connected to the community and to plant seeds. Then, when I moved here full time, I added one more group class here and I now have 13 private sessions a week that I’m teaching. A lot of those — probably half — are from the studio. They’re people who had taken my group class.

Several of the people are the spouses of someone who takes my group class. The wife is like, “Honey, you need to work with Francesca.” They won’t go to a group class, these husbands, but they’ll work with me.

I had a lot of relationships. That’s what I mean by “planting seeds.” I had a lot of relationships with teachers at my studio and the yoga community in general and those relationships have blossomed into clients.

Racheal: I love that. I think it’s something anybody can take away. I hear a lot of yoga teachers that are worried if they build something in one city that means they cannot move.

The truth is, if you have a solid business and you have something valuable to offer people, you can take it anywhere.

But, the relationships still matter; you couldn’t have just shown up with your website — and now you have a website because I helped you put it together — and been like, “I’m here and I’m ready for private yoga students,” hoping they’ll walk in the door.

That’s just not how it works. They mostly come from existing relationships. I know occasionally someone will stumble across your website, but it’s just not the norm.

Francesca: Yeah, it’s not the place that I want to use to get new private clients. Partly because I don’t want to have random people from the internet just emailing me and asking me to come to their house to do some private yoga. That doesn’t feel safe to me.

Almost all of my clients come from some sort of connection, although I’ve had a couple of people since they’ve moved here… well, I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me through my website, because now if you google “private yoga lessons in Washington, D.C.,” I’m one of the first things to come up. People are finding my website like that, but I get one client out of every 25 that contact me about that.

Racheal: Via the website.

Francesca: Yeah.

Racheal: Everything else is relationships, word of mouth, people referring their friends and their family.

Francesca: Yeah. I want to say something about that, too. I have like 13 and I’m going to be teaching — I have a few more things in the works right now. I’m hoping to be teaching 15 to 18 yoga classes a week. That’s my goal.

Racheal: By classes you mean two group plus 15 private classes.

Francesca: Yep. Exactly. I think I’ll probably hit those numbers this fall, for sure. To get that many, I’ve had so many conversations with so many people who were interested. They just haven’t worked out yet. I wrote this blog post earlier this spring that was all the things that haven’t worked out yet.

Racheal: We’ll link it up in the show notes.

Francesca: I’ve had a lot of people who were interested and who contact me, it just hasn’t worked out yet for whatever reason: for finances, for schedule, they’re just not ready to commit yet. I think one thing that has served me well is that when people reach out to me and it doesn’t materialize into anything yet, it doesn’t bother me. I’m not upset.

Racheal: You just move on.

Francesca: I have a lot of teachers who are like, “I had this person email me and it didn’t work out for me to be their private teacher. Now I’m so upset.” I was like, “Don’t be upset.”

Racheal: You can’t be.

Francesca: You can’t be upset.

Racheal: Who has time to be upset?

Francesca: I know! You never know when those things are going to work out. I had a student come to my group class probably five times this winter and she said to me, “I’m not going to be able to come because of my schedule, but I really feel like you could help my husband.”

I talked to her a little bit about what was going on with him and what kind of work I did with students privately and I gave her my card and then didn’t hear anything. Literally, a few days ago he emailed me and said, “My wife took your group class,” — and I, of course, remembered exactly who she was.

He explained to me what was going on with his body and asked if I could work with him. Just before we started recording this, I got an email from him. I told him my prices and I wasn’t sure then what would happen next. But, he emailed me and said, “Yes. That time works. Can we start next week?” He lives one mile from my house. I’m like, “Yes! This is awesome.” Things are just slowly falling into place.

Racheal: But, at the same time, compared to when you were straight out of a 200-hour teacher training, just getting started, had no connections and didn’t know anybody, now you’ve moved here and within six months you’re almost full again.

Francesca: I mean, I definitely am completely supporting myself with my practice as it is now.

Racheal: We can definitely iterate Francesca is a single woman supporting herself in major cities without roommates — and a really nice apartment that I’m sitting in right now.

Francesca: Without parents, without a husband.

Racheal: No trust fund. Self-supporting herself for the last 10 years as a private yoga teacher. That’s awesome.

Francesca: Yeah, we could say that.

Racheal: You could say that. You can get a high five for that one because that’s awesome. I’m just loving sharing all of these twists and turns in your story and how a lot of it has been very organic. A lot of it is your personality.

You said this as we went out to eat brunch today that you’re a tribe woman. You have all these people and you make connections and that drives you and your personality a lot; making connections, meeting people, having your own little tight-knit community that you can fall into and that’s always served you really well in your business.

I’m really pumped to share the insights that you have and this whole journey with the Yogipreneur community. If they haven’t heard me rave about you before, just because you’ve had such a great journey and at the same time you’re building on this second arm of your business, which is what I’ve been supporting you with and helping you with a lot.

That has just been an incredible journey, watching that come to. For me, seeing your students rolling out of that being amazed at what they’re capable of and the impact this is going to make on their career. One of the reasons I brought Francesca on to chat with everybody today is because we decided for Season Two of Yogipreneur Radio that Francesca would be my co-host.

Francesca: Yay!

Racheal: I’m so excited that we have a whole season this fall of you sharing your wisdom, your insight, as a professional yoga teacher who is really been doing it, has been in the trenches, has done the hustling, has done the work, has invested in the training and hasn’t just been talking about something, but really has been making things happen for ourselves. I’m just so excited to have you here this season and to talk about all these amazing topics we’ve pulled together for everybody.

Francesca: Yay. Awesome.

Racheal: It’s going to be a blast.

Francesca: Thanks so much for having me. This is way too much fun.

Racheal: I know. It’s kind of ridiculous that this is going to be the podcast; us hanging out and just talking about the things that we actual talk about all the time.

Francesca: We could have just brought this microphone to brunch.

Racheal: We could have just brought this microphone to brunch. It would have been really fun! The people next to us would have probably been like, “What is with these two? This is hilarious.”

I’m so excited. We have got so much to share with you guys. Not just about private yoga, but about what it means to be running a modern yoga business, what it means to diversify your modern yoga business, the misconceptions people have about making it happen as a professional yoga teacher. We’ve got an amazing season ahead for you guys and I can’t wait to dive in. Yay, Francesca! I’m so glad you’re part of Yogipreneur Radio.

Francesca: Yay! Thanks, Racheal.

Racheal: Alright. Until next time. We’ll see you in the next episode. Bye!

Francesca: Bye!

 

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Show Notes::

The Science of the Private Lesson

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