Financial Transparency in My Teaching Practice

In his intro to this weeks Yoga Talk’s Podcast (by the way, this is officially one of my top five favorite episodes, so please do check it out!), J. Brown puts out a call asking for yoga teachers to be transparent about their income. I’ve decided to take him up on that.

Background

I started teaching in mid-March of 2017, so I’ve been teaching just under two years. I’m still a novice. I want to make that clear from the get-go because I think it’s important readers know that I haven’t been at this very long.

In addition, I honestly didn’t really put a lot of effort into teaching as a business for the first year and a half. Teaching? Yes. Business? Not so much. I had a regular studio gig teaching 1-2 classes a week depending on demand, and that was fine. I work a full-time job, so I’m not (currently) trying to make a serious income off of yoga. (Nor will I be anytime soon!) I didn’t really start taking the business side of things seriously until July of 2018. So when you see my 2018 numbers, keep in mind that for the first seven months of the year, I honestly gave no thought to treating my teaching like a business.

I teach in Austin, Texas. There’s a pretty big yoga community here, but I’ve been here nearly a dozen years, and in that time I’ve seen the culture move toward a heavy emphasis on asana, particular the power and hot varieties. I’m not saying that’s the only thing here; there are definitely teachers and studios that emphasize a broader focus. From my perspective, though, this is currently an asana-heavy community. As someone specializing in yoga nidra, I’m not exactly part of the trend. I’m also okay with that, because I’m teaching what I love. I’m happy with what and how I teach. And since I don’t rely on yoga to pay my bills, I don’t need to worry about that.

My 2018 Financials

Income

I made $2700 as an independent contractor working out of a studio in Austin, Texas. I worked there from January-October of 2018.

At this studio, I got paid $20 a class. Classes were 60, 75, or 90 minutes long; I got the same hourly rate no matter the duration of the class. In addition, we were required to be at the front desk 30 minutes before class and stay 30 minutes after. That means that when I taught a 60-minute class, I was on the clock for 2 hours; a 75-minute class meant I was on the clock for 2.25 hours; a 90-minute class meant I was on the clock for 2.5 hours. At best, I that meant I was making $10 an hour; at worst, I was making $8 an hour, just $0.75 above minimum wage.

In December, I launched my Luna Nidra Online Advent Calendar. I ran it for free on my website for the month of December, and also made it available for purchase, for those who wanted to have the practices to keep. I sold one copy of the album for $8.00 when it was on sale; I also sold one copy of my Winter Solstice Nidra single for $0.99.

Expenses

From My Business Account

In October of 2018, I joined Soma Vida, a collaborative workspace in South Austin. I pay a monthly membership fee there, and also rent space by the hour. Soma Vida has yoga/movement studios, office space, and a podcasting studio. In 2018, I rented the podcasting studio several times to do the recordings for the advent calendar. Between my monthly membership and recording rentals, I spent $336.50.

I spent $69 to CDBaby to have the Advent Calendar available on multiple platforms, including Amazon and iTunes.

I spent $28.00 on Facebook marketing. While I definitely got some traction on it, I don’t think I want to spend that much next year.

I also spent $139 on print marketing around town, which unfortunately did not really seem to pay off.

From My Personal Account

Because I could not afford to pay everything from my business account, I spent from my personal account as well.

I spent $25 to set up my DBA.

I spent $20 to register my website domain.

I paid $216 to Squarespace for website hosting.

I spent $200 to advertise in Natural Awakenings. This came out of my personal account, not my business account.

I spent $65 on business cards.

I spent $105.48 on recording equipment on eBay.

My Yoga Studies

As a yoga teacher, I think that continued study should fall under the category of a business expense. This section details what I spent to study in 2018.

$921 on studio membership to practice with my two favorite local teachers.

$55 on drop-in classes.

I spent $1,211.56 to attend Hanuman Festival in June. (Festival fees, lodging, flights, incidentals)

I spent $1,152.78 to attend a teacher training in October. (Tuition, lodging, flights, incidentals)

Totals

In total, I made $2,709 in 2018.

I spent $572.50 on business operations from my business account.

I spent $631.48 on business operations from my personal account.

In total, I spent $1,203.98 just on my business, meaning that if you look only at operational expenses, I actually made a profit of $1,505.02.

However, that doesn’t account for what I spent on studying yoga. I spent a total of $3,340.34 to study both in-town and in Colorado. When you factor in study, I’m in the hole -$1,835.32.

Long-Term Goals

Do I want to make my entire living off of teaching yoga? Part of me says yet. But part of me resists. Being able to teach without relying on said teaching to make rent and buy groceries gives me a lot of freedom. I can teach what I want, where I want, when I want, without having to worry about how many students show up to class.

For now, I would like for my teaching business to simply break even. I don’t want my teaching to be an expensive hobby. And right now, I have a hobby.

While it’s important for me to be mindful of my personal budget, I don’t want to have to worry about making serious sacrifices to support my teaching practice. I want to have a self-sustaining business. And I would like that business to support my personal practice, meaning I want income from my business to cover the costs of retreats, festivals, trainings, and other opportunities for yoga study and fellowship.

Because I no longer have a baseline income from a studio and am 100% solo, I expect that 2019 is going to look quite different from 2018. But we’re only in February. Time will tell. I’ll be sure to report back next year.



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