Every time I see new free yoga videos, podcasts, and online teaching by yoga teachers, I cringe. I understand the lure - if you give away something for free, people will connect with you and like it so much they'll open their wallets and be yours forever. Unfortunately, human behavior just doesn't back this up. Give it away for free and people expect it to stay free. If you won't give it to them for free, sadly, there are many other yoga teachers who will.
What's the harm?
- It devalues your time and skill
- It reduces the amount of time and energy you have to spend on more productive opportunities
- It makes it hard to negotiate a fair payment later - after all, you set the bar really low
Look, we get that it's hard to make a living as a yoga teacher, but with every yoga teacher sharing a few classes for free, there's almost no need for a student to pay for yoga. Ever.
Amy Morin authored a great article for Inc. titled There Are Only 4 Times You Should Agree to Work for Free and we're going to use her examples and relate them to yoga teachers:
1. You'll gain legitimate exposure. Notice the word 'legitimate'? Not all exposure is going ot bring a legitimate return. Before you agree to work for free to gain exposure ask yourself some critical questions:
- How many potential students will I be exposed to?
- How many people attending are my target clients?
- Is my yoga teaching business gaining anything?
Sure, you're going to feel great because you gave back and if that's all you need, go for it but be clear with yourself about why you're doing it and what you really will gain from the effort.
2. You'll gain real-life experience. This is great if you're a brand new yoga teacher and need the experience; otherwise, why bother?
3. You'll gain an impressive addition to your resume. Certain types of volunteer work can help your resume, but if you've been teaching for a while you likely have plenty of things on your resume that show your teaching skills. Again, this is probably only useful for brand new yoga teachers.
4. It's a cause you believe in. Here's probably the only reason worth working for free. If there's a charity or organization that could use your assistance once in a while, helping out could be amazing for you and for all the students you help.
As with any career, you have to set limits on how much volunteer work you do or be at risk of overextending yourself and getting burned out.
If you don't value your time, your training, your skills and your seriously amazing moxy other people won't either.
Please, yoga teachers. Stop giving away yoga for free.