Does your yoga career need some love?

I know – I haven’t updated in a bit…but that’s because I have been doing some serious behind the scenes shit!  First – my new website is finally LIVE! There are still a few things that need to be adjustedThis blog will be migrating over there soon, so make sure you update your feed and add yourself to my list to stay up-to-date on everything current.

Second, I a have booked a number of speaking engagements over the course of the next 6 months- I am sharing info and experience on everything corporate and yoga biz and how to really grow your yoga business and settle into (and THRIVE!) in your yoga career.

Speaking of, have you totally noticed that there’s a crap-load of hype about following your  passion to create a career you love… but not much honest + practical  advice on HOW TF to do it?

Get off Your meditation pillow and hustle.

Trying to figure out how to turn your  passion into a profitable + sustainable yoga career?? HELLO OVERWHELM. And even more – it  often seems like the only yogis who DO make a comfortable living sharing yoga are ‘celebriyogis’ or studio owners.

What about the rest of us? Screw ‘celebriyogis’. We all want to be Superstar Yoginis in business!

That’s why I’m redonkulously excited about the from Yogi to Yogipreneur Virtual  Conference Series. My friend + colleague, Racheal Cook (founder of TheYogipreneur.com) is bringing together over 30 amazing yogis to share exactly how they turned their passion for yoga into a real career… and she’s invited ME to teach how to Cover Your Asana(TM): Yoga Business and the Law

Join me here.

People will steal your shit.

Holy fucking breaking news Batgirl!!

Alanna Kaivalya says in her Manhattan Supreme Court suit that Wanderlust Festivals strung her along for four months just to get insight into her training methods.

Last week I blogged about TM and Copyright…..and a few weeks before that I blogged about Covering Your Asana with legal agreements . I’ve really been tapping into my legal mojo. I hope you understand, I’m not just talking to hear my own voice here. Alanna Kaivalya is suing Wanderlust for basically stealing her Kaivalya Method Teacher training manual. This is important shit!!! I ADORE Alanna Kaivalya her JivaDiva pod casts were the catalyst for me doing my first 200hr training. I also I love Wanderlust Festival. If they did her dirty – that is so NOT cool. SO SO SO much heart and soul goes into developing a teacher training. I cant even imagine someone snagging it on you. horrible. Good for her for actually getting a CDA in place. I certainly hope she also signed a collaboration agreement! Read the full story on the NY Daily News and you should probably check out my new Facebook page, Legal Dharma – for all things yoga + law related. Less Drama

TM?

Yoga TMTrademarking and Patenting yoga is a yuckie conversation to have and while I don’t arrogantly believe that 26 postures can be patented, trademarking is something that you absolutely should start think as a professional business owner.  First, grab a little background information on the distinction between

 “exercises, including yoga exercises, do not constitute the subject matter Congress intended to protect as choreography. Thus, [the Copyright Office] will not register such exercises (including yoga movements), whether described as exercises or as selection and ordering of movements.”

which has been a hot topic in the yoga patent litigation world…and the trademarking of your beautifully branded logo (mark), name, tagline or slogan.  trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.  We’re talking about protecting your business name (identity, pictures and words) versus patenting the specific asanas you string together or how you set up your yoga class.

Your logo is an essential part of  your business.  It’s how people recognize you. When you build your yoga biz, you (usually) also create a logo (and other branding) that identifies your beautiful yoga business among a sea of others. It’s the identity and personality of your business. In addition to your logo and branding, you’ve probably developed some catchy names, taglines and slogans that are unique to your business.  You’ve worked long and hard developing your (yoga) goods, they are a significant aspect of your business assets – you need to make sure you protect them!

In a former business, my partner developed a line of tee shirts called Be Your Own Guru or BYOG for short and I developed a yoga training program associated with them. We never bothered to trademark this brilliant string of words or the acronym and guess what?  Two years later another yoga business launched a ‘Be Your Own Guru’ yoga training.  I was totally heartbroken, a tiny bit irritated but mostly I was smacking myself in the head pissed over never TMing the logo, the words, or even slapping it on the shirts and in the manual. It was like a 30-10-50 ratio of emotion there.

Here’s the skinny:

Registering a Trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office can be a little complicated (if you’re not familiar) and more than a little expensive. When you register something with the USPTO, you are then allowed to put at ® symbol, meaning you are federally registered.  Now, just because you’re not federally registered, slapping that fancy little R with the circle on everything, doesn’t mean you can’t protect the things you’ve poured your time and energy into!  The great thing about trademark is that it’s  first in time, first in right.  That means, the second you slap a “TM” on your business name, you’re putting the world on notice that you’re using it.  In the legal world, this is called putting the public on constructive notice of your claim, regardless of whether you have filed an application with the USPTO! 

Make sure your you cover your asana and protect your business! Don’t let someone scoop up your brilliant ideas because you were too lazy to slap on a TM or officially file a trademark with the USPTO.  Have a question? Leave it in the comments below!  Empower yourself with knowledge so you can skyrocket your yoga business!

**DISCLAIMER** 

In Yo Face Friday

Sometimes. Ok that’s a lie MOST times I do too much. 100 different things and people on my to do list. I know I AM a super woman, but I don’t have to BE a super woman 24-7. It’s important to slow down and just fucking breathe.

Just fucking breathe

WTF should I post?

R 3 Tricks for Building an Active Facebook Following 

Engage Your TribeBuilding a following on Facebook can be a challenge for lots of yoga teachers and studios because they’re not sure of the most effective ways to engage users and grow their tribe. Businesses with successful Facebook Pages use some key strategies to keep their fan base active and attract new followers on a consistent basis.

Here are three of the most effective tricks for building a following on Facebook:

Offer Value. Post Relevant and Informative Content. 

Content is key. And content doesn’t simply mean your class and workshop schedule. It’s essential to post relevant content that your tribe will enjoy. Did Elephant Journal post a great article? Share it. Did something make you laugh? Share that too. You can also ‘keep it local’ by engaging fans with news or information their local yoga community. Current events are a great example of localized Facebook content that readers want to hear about.

Being informative (read: ADDING VALUE) will keep users returning to your Facebook Page and can also lead to your page being shared by your fans. Whether your business is local or not, posting links to articles and tutorials is an effective way to include informative content. You can post information from other websites or create your own content and brand it with your business name to build name recognition and increase brand awareness.

Ask Questions

Asking questions is a fantastic way to generate discussions on your Facebook Page. The answers your fans provide may give you insight into what your tribe wants and ideas about how to improve your offerings (or even dare I say, marketing!).  There are some very specific types of questions that can lead to increased engagement and participation on your page.

Yes or no questions are very simple and can be quickly answered by Facebook users. Two great yes or no questions to ask users are if they have signed up to your newsletter or visited your website. These types of questions create awareness of the rest of your business, are quick and easy to answer, and are engaging at the same time.

You can also use polls to ask questions about customer preferences and interest. Facebook makes this really easy by visiting facebook.com/poll. While products and services are one subject for a poll, you can also have ones about current events or other topics related to your business. You can even have a weekly poll so that users will know to return to your page on a regular basis. As with any methods for increasing your following, the trick is to make it fun and users will come back frequently.

Create Contests

People love winning prizes and contests, especially if there are free products or a discount involved. By asking readers to like the content on your page or tweet your page to enter the contest, you can dramatically increase your following. When one of your readers likes or tweets your page, all their friends will see that. People are much more likely to like pages based on the recommendations of their friends and colleagues. In addition, you will build more brand awareness as your name is seen in more places on Facebook.

Building an active following on Facebook may take some time, but it is an essential part of every business’s social media marketing plan. The key is to be engaging and post content consistently so that your followers have a reason to visit and interact. Community development and management must be considered and treated as an investment. Slow expansion, not viral growth, is normal with Facebook. Don’t expect fast results. Be happy with steady growth. A Facebook Page is the page of your “brand” -Own it and use it wisely!

Cover Your Asana

Happy Baby Asana is brought to you by the Lovely Jessi Andricks at http://www.thehouseofhealthy.com

So you finished your teacher training and you’re ready to dive into teaching yoga full time. This is your dharma. You’re doing what you love and loving what you do. You’ve perfected your craft. You’re certified and licensed. You might even open a studio. You’re living the yoga teacher dream. Your classes are full. You’re booking retreats. Best of all, you’re paying your bills!  But are you covering your asana?

As yoginis, we rarely think about all the awful things that could happen to us. We’re programmed to positivity.  But as business owners it’s our responsibility to make sure all those little things that could go wrong don’t and to cover our asana. What happens if someone gets hurt in one of my classes? What if a coaching client doesn’t show up or worse, doesn’t pay? What if someone reads something on my website,  thinks I am a doctor and can cure their sciatica?  These are just a few liabilities that can creep up when you’re in the business of yoga – and there are so many more. There are a number of things you can do to make sure you’re protected and to insulate yourself from liability. The first two steps are to choose and registering your business structure and obtained liability insurance. Once these things are out of the way, it’s time to talk about contracts and ensure you’re using the correct forms, properly drafted for your use. It’s important to understand what they are, and why you need them. Before we dig in, lets start with a little Contract 101. A contract:

  • Is an agreement between people or legal entities to do or not to do particular things.
  • Is an opportunity to write down what everyone agreed to, so that you can minimize misunderstandings.
  • Can sometimes be overruled by government laws and regulations (such as employment law, human rights law, consumer protection laws etc). Can be a good tool to manage your business risk.

Contracts can be developed by an attorney, legal consultant or you can utilize online templates. In contracting, words and punctuation are of the utmost importance and online templates may not always address your needs. As a heart-centered business owner, you should take a conscious approach to contracting. Make sure you take time to understand contracts before you sign, and do not sign if you do not understand. Now on to the juicy bits… my top 10 legal agreement list for Yoga Businesses.

1. Release and Waiver of Liability Form   You know that form you sign when you go to a studio for the first time? It’s important.  It’s called a release and waiver of liability form.  In a properly drafted release form the student acknowledges that they accept any and all risks involved with yoga and that he or she will not hold you or your studio liable for any injury that may occur.  For Studios – every student that enters your yoga room should be signing this.  If you don’t own a studio and you teach in another setting, every person you teach should sign this form. If you’re teaching at a studio, ensure the studio’s release form specifically includes a release of liability for the teacher- many only cover the studio and not the teacher. This means if a student trips on your yoga mat as they’re leaving your class, they can’t sue the studio, but they can sue you! YIKES!

2. Employment/Independent Contractor Agreement.  If working at a studio, make sure you have an agreement in place. You could be hired as an employee or an independent contractor, though most studios hire teachers as independent contractors and not part or full time employees. If you’re hired as an employee- make sure you receive an offer letter as well as an employee hand book. If you’re hired as an Independent Contractor, make sure this is also memorialized in writing. The agreement should outline your pay scale, your services/duties, tax implications, confidentiality, liabilities/indemnities and the term.

3. Confidentiality Agreement/Non-Disclosure Agreement  A Confidentiality/Non Disclosure Agreement is quite simply a contract to keep a secret; they protect sensitive information  If you work with other people (yoga teachers, virtual assistance, web designers etc.) that may potentially have access to your student/client information, even if it’s just their email address, you need a NDA.

4. Content Consent Release Agreement  Consent Release Agreements give you permission to use a person’s image or likeness on your website or promotional materials. If you want take pictures in class for future promotional use or to simply use on your website and/or social media, you need to obtain permission to use that person’s image.

5. Client Agreement Many yoga teachers offer additional coaching or private instruction outside of studio classes.  If you do, client contracts are essential!! These agreements help protect both you and your client if something goes wrong.  The Client Agreement outlines the working relationship, commitments, payments and timing.  

6. Workshop/Retreat Agreement This agreement may look similar to the independent contractor/employee agreement  or even a collaboration agreement.  It articulates the where, when, why, and how much of your workshop or event. This agreement should cover the payment structure of the event and any promotional requirements.

7. Collaboration Agreement  A collaboration agreement outlines the working relationship of the parties on a specific project. Yoginis are social people, we love working with others. If you have an idea or something you want to bring to life and you want someone else to do it with you, you need a collaboration (sometimes called a teaming) agreement.

The last three are agreements should include on your website:

8. Terms & Conditions for your Website If you have a website (and you better!) it must must have Terms & Conditions. T &Cs act as a contract between your home on the interweb and all its visitors. T&Cs on your website protect you from liability that any of your visitors might take. If you sell any items on your website it is essential you have T&Cs in addition to the disclaimer (below) and the T&Cs must comply with applicable consumer protection legislation.  

9. Website Privacy Policy Privacy policies govern how you will use a website visitors’ private information. If you’re trying to build your following through your website, you probably have a way to capture potential student information. If you’re capturing this information you need a privacy policy. State by state, privacy rules may vary but because the interweb is world wide it’s possible for you to open yourself up to liability of a different state than the one you live in. 

10. Website Disclaimer  The legal risks you face depend on the content of your website. Many yoga teachers provide information, advice, and/or instructional videos on their websites which exposes them to potential legal claims.  To help protect you from potential claims you must have a disclaimer on your website. Your disclaimer must be tailored to include exact language to fit the specifics of your website both in terms of the substance of the material and how it is intended to be used. General language won’t cut it! If you swipe generic disclaimer language from another website, it’s probably useless! 

With proper drafting some of these issues can be combined into others, but don’t just start cutting and pasting legal terms together. Consciously approach your contracting needs, be mindful of the relationship and your end goal. If you need assistance with conscious contracting or template design and review – I am happy to help!

Using Facebook Groups

Last week I dipped my big toe into the Facebook pool.  Today I want to talk about FB Groups and how they should (and shouldn’t) be utilized. There are huge differences between FB pages and FB Groups. “A Page is meant to be more of a broadcasting platform one-to-many (though obviously you should be engaging with your fans also), whereas Groups are meant more for equal collaboration and discussion amongst a group of people who are related in some way and/or share some sort of similar interest.”  While each can and should be used by yoga business owners for marketing, networking and connecting to their tribe – they can and should be used in different ways. 

Facebook groups can be formed for a number of reasons to accomplish any number of goals. They can be formed by a business or coach for teleclasses or programming, by membership association,  formed to start a movement,  to promote your business and to network.

Here’s the DL on Groups:

  • Facebook Groups can be public, closed (anyone can find Group, only members see posts) or secret (nobody can find the Group unless added by a member).
  • There are two ways to join Groups – a Facebook friend adds you or you ‘ask to join’ and an admin of the Group accepts your request.
  • Groups don’t allow much branding at all. You get only your profile picture (a small square image), and nothing else.
  • Groups don’t allow other tabs/applications. This means you couldn’t run a competition, or have a contact page, welcome page or anything like that.
  • Group posts don’t go to your newsfeed. Instead, you get a ‘notification’ that someone has posted in the group. This can be both good and bad – it’s good because people definitely won’t miss it, no matter how long after you post the content they log onto facebook. HOWEVER, sometimes when there is too much posting going on it just gets so annoying a lot of people choose to change their notification settings so that they don’t receive these anymore. As the posts aren’t fed to your Facebook newsfeed, you effectively forget about the group forever because there is nothing prompting you to visit.
  • Groups allow ‘shared documents’ as well as group chat.
  • Fans of a Page cannot see everyone else who is a fan. Members of a group can see other members of that group.
  • Both Pages and groups can create events, post images, allow commenting/liking, restrict posts to only admins, and create polls.

*This list was created by Cara Pring on The Social Skinny.

I am totally ashamed to admit to how many FB groups I am a member of. It’s a disturbingly high number.  Every so often I go through the list, leave some and update others.  But my membership issues with FB groups isn’t really what I want to talk about today.  I really want to talk about how yoga business owners can use FB Groups for more personalized networking and marketing.

I am all for FB groups, obviously – I participate in them, moderate them and network in them. However in order for them to be beneficial to the members of the group and to the administrators, we need to remember that they serve a different function than Fanpages. There are two killer mistakes I see yoga teachers and studios making when it comes to creating and participating in Facebook Groups:

Mistake #1: Creating a Group instead of a Fanpage

If you’re running a business and using Facebook as a marketing tool to build your tribe and email list, you need a Fanpage.  FanPages are the official profiles for your business. Using a Facebook Page to connect with your students is a form of community development and it’s free advertising. The big bonus here is you don’t have to be a member of Facebook to view a Fanpage. This allows you greater access to your growing tribe and potential new students and a new student pool is essential for studios and teachers!!  A Facebook Page is the page of your “brand” -Own it, use it wisely and grow it organically.

Mistake #2: Joining a networking group and spamming the crap out of them. Networking groups are designed not only to promote, but to support. If you’re just promoting in your networking group, you’re doing it wrong.   Here’s a great example- if you’re in a networking group filled only with other yoga teachers promoting your “introduction to yoga class series” there really isn’t going to get you jack shit for enrollment. Even worse, it’s going to piss off the people you’re trying to network with- why would another studio owner want to enroll in your into to yoga class? She wouldn’t. Networking is the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically :  the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. It’s about cultivating relationships, NOT simply promoting your shit. If you’re just there to promote, you’re better off buying add space and leaving the group. 

The business of Facebook can be tricky, but these days, it’s practically essential to grow your business. Be sure to update regularly, keep your tribe engaged and offer something of value. ALWAYS offer something of value.  If you use your page or group only for promoting your workshop and classes you can kiss brand loyalty goodbye.  Even worse, there’s a good chance that your members and friends won’t be returning to your page anytime soon.