Online fitness classes are definitely old-hat for most of us now. Even before the pandemic, online classes were popular. And now that we’ve all experienced nearly two years of various levels of public-health restrictions that made us all zoom pros, it seems like online yoga classes are a dime a dozen. You might be thinking that you’re too late to the game and that the market is just too saturated… but, based on what we’re seeing with our wellness clients, yoga studios among them, indicates that it’s not too late. In fact, the perfect time to add an online, on-demand component to your business is now/.
We’re still facing an uncertain future where – even if there are no more legal restrictions – many of us will need to be mindful of being in public spaces. Many people are moving to new places that are more affordable, have better weather, or are closer to family but will miss the places and relationships from their previous homes. Others have gotten comfortable with being home bodies and avoiding commutes. There has never been a better time to build an online component to your business, one that you control, that you can directly profit from, and that supports your business goals.
1. Repeated profits from one-time creation
Turning your business from one that’s entirely based upon the hours you and your employees work into one that’s based on the value you provide is key to growing any small business. As Warren Buffet famously said, “If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.” Now, for those of us who truly enjoy our work, “working until we die” might not be as scary a possibility as it would be for folks who work just to support themselves and a rich life outside of work.
When you are building a business based on passion, joy, or love – a business that is more to you than just a paycheck – it can be easy to become all-consumed by the experience. Once you’re meeting all of your overhead needs, revenue and profits can feel like a distraction. But that is precisely why focusing now on creating revenue streams that aren’t tied directly to your own labor or active, mindful participation. Setting up passive or semi-passive recurring revenue streams in your business can:
- help keep you resilient in the face of the unexpected – hello, covid lockdowns!
- support you in growing and evolving your business – whether that means hiring employees, outsourcing tasks that bog you down, or moving to a bigger and better physical space
- provide you with a baseline of freedom from day-to-day tasks – so you can be more creative and more mindful in the work that you do choose to do.
For anyone in the wellness industry – yoga teachers included, but also for therapists, energy healers, meditation coaches, etc. – creating content one time and turning it into something that brings you repeated revenue via memberships or one-time eCommerce sales is key. Filming one yoga class and adding it to your On Demand library allows you to sell “admission” to that class repeatedly, even though you only did the work once. Your clients benefit, because they can access that class long after you’ve finished filming (and access it repeatedly, if it really resonates with them), and you benefit, because the work you did once continues working for you long after you posted the files to your site.
2. Maintaining relationships with clients, no matter where they are
In addition to the personal changes we’ve seen in our lives over the past two years, our communities have also been deeply affected by the experiences and effects of pandemic lockdowns, political divisions, and changing social landscapes. Clients that spent years attending your classes and participating in community events with your business may be hundreds of miles away from you now. But that doesn’t mean that they want to move on from a relationship with you.
Our favorite example of this is a Novo Fitness Studio student who moved from the U.S. to Italy in 2020 (just as we were launching Novo’s On Demand portal on their website). She wanted so badly to maintain her connection with the Novo community, and the new On Demand videos allowed her to do that, even while living halfway around the world. But it’s not just the permanently-moved folks who can benefit from this; anyone in your client list who is traveling heavily, relocating temporarily, or even quarantining due to illness can take advantage of remotely accessing your content. How comforting to know that, even if they can’t physically come to a class or event, they can still participate in and feel a part of a community they love!
For any business that values community and long-term relationships, online content that can be accessed from anywhere at any time (because that 7am Vinyasa Flow class in Columbus, GA is 1am in Italy) can broaden your potential client base as well as keep you connected to the clients who you’ve already built strong relationships with – no matter what time zone they find themselves in.
3. Showcasing your brand to new or curious clients without creating a high-pressure situation
The rise of the “freemium” model1 in the digital realm has trained people to expect a “try before you buy” mentality in the real world, too. With an online-content component to your studio or practice, you’ll be better positioned to offer some sort of free trial without it adding to your overhead or resulting in any kind of loss. For example, adding a new student to your business’s existing On Demand platform for a month will incur minimal, if any, cost to you – whereas offering someone a free in-person class means that they’re taking up a spot that could have been filled by a paid student, or they’re actively taking up your or your staff’s attention.
Certainly, there’s no replacement for those in-person interactions… but being able to introduce yourself, your staff, and your overall vibe to a potential client in an almost automated way means:
- you’re taking the pressure and urgency off the client to commit before they’re comfortable
- you’re still capturing that potential client’s information right away, so you can add them to a lead nurturing campaign that helps them get to know your brand
- you (and your staff) can focus on making in-person interactions, once the potential client is truly ready, as high-quality as possible, really cementing your relationship with that individual and maximizing the long-term value of that relationship.
4. Staying as independent as possible from any one social media or search platform
We’ve all seen the rise of censorship on online platforms over the past few years; regardless of whether you support that or not, what’s important to note about this situation is that speech on these platforms is not truly free. You and your business are subject to the rules and whims of those companies. Whether they’re obviously censoring you (they shadowban your account or shut it down entirely), or doing so in a less visible way (the vagaries of the algorithm result in your content getting lower exposure to audiences), maintaining your own independence is key to the stability and success of your business.
As you build the online component of your business, prioritize independence from any one platform. Simply put: own your list.. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid using social and search platforms to easily communicate with existing and new clients; it means that you should prioritize capturing people’s contact information so that you can easily pivot to a new platform should you lose access to one.
With an On Demand component to your business that allows you to control access, the value of the content will result in:
- a direct communication channel with your clients that isn’t mediated by a third party and can be easily segmented to target specific groups
- an up-to-date list of contact information for those clients should you need to move to a new social media platform
- a high level of control of what your clients do see from you (as opposed to complex algorithms determining if they see your content that week)
5. Recurring revenue that’s independent from the legal restrictions of a brick and mortar
One of the most painful parts of the pandemic for us was seeing how our clients with in-person services were frozen out from doing work they love because of health and safety rules limiting in-person services. From fitness classes and therapy sessions to industry conferences and live performances, anyone who was 100% reliant on in-person work was sitting around with nothing to do but thumb-twiddling. Unfortunately, thumb-twiddling isn’t very profitable. But just because incomes plummeted didn’t mean that expenses stopped; rent, utilities, licensing fees, and salaries kept coming due. Expenses that had previously been easily covered by studio memberships, ticket sales, and regular appointments were suddenly a real burden.
With Novo Fitness, what we saw right away was not that their On Demand subscription fees fully replaced their studio fees, but that the subscription income was enough to help them hobble along until legal restrictions eased. As the lockdowns progressed, though, the On Demand portal, combined with frequent activity on instagram, served to engage their audience and retain the majority of their students as members despite the studio being closed to classes. Novo students (along with the owners and team of instructors) have always been very proud of being a welcoming and supportive community; On Demand gave that community a way to stay connected and engaged with each other and Novo as a brand.
Now that we’re all back to in-person activities, the On Demand portal on the Novo website has remained a strong part of the Novo experience. People who love Novo’s specific flavor of classes and the comfort of the community have gone back to in-person classes, but when a quarantine, travel dates, or scheduling conflicts thwart attendance, students can stay engaged with the community and with their own fitness goals. All of this combines to make a strong case for adding On Demand to your own offerings. On Demand content can:
- add an additional revenue stream on top of your current offerings
- be a gentle reminder to your clients of your brand, encouraging more frequent in-person attendance
- keep your relationship with your clients strong even when in-person isn’t in the cards
- allow your clients to demonstrate to friends and family just how fabulous your classes can be, allowing for word-of-mouth to be supported with examples.
How can you add an online, On Demand component to your business?
Some businesses, like yoga studios, make it easy to conceptualize what an On Demand component would look like; video-based fitness classes are familiar to most of your potential client base. For others, like musicians, therapists, or professional services providers, it might not be as obvious what kind of online content you could offer. Never fear! In addition to having a tried-and-tested On Demand video library solution for businesses who could benefit from one, the BIPi team loves to brainstorm new and interesting ways to take your brick-and-mortar business online.
1. Freemium is a combination of the words “free” and “premium”. A freemium business model offers basic features of a product or service to customers at no cost, but then charges for access to supplemental or advanced features. A company using a freemium model provides basic services on a complimentary basis, often in a “free trial” or a limited version for the user, while also offering more advanced services or additional features at a premium.