Since we run a booking agency, I am often questioned by
potential clients & curious Yogi’s about how to break into the national
conference and festival circuit.
I typically start off by asking “WHY?” I like to make sure that the circuit is
actually something that is a necessary to your long term strategies toward your
goals. The national conference &
festival circuit can be a stepping
stone towards a larger piece of the yoga pie but it isn’t as glamorous or life
changing as it seems (airports every weekend; long durations away from
home.) Conferences and Festivals usually
don’t pay well until you are a very well known teacher and it takes awhile to
break into that category to begin with.
It could take up to 2 years to secure a conference or festival
berth. Most events book well over a year
in advance, so you’ve got to start pitching yourself NOW, knowing that you may
not appear in the lineup until the following year.
I like to be very clear about what the reality of the circuit
is and make sure that it is necessary.
Especially as there are so many career paths for a teacher to be
successful & financially sustainable these days. National events are helpful but certainly not
the “be all end all.”
10 years ago – owning a studio was what everyone thought the
next logical step in growing a yoga business was, now it’s being on the circuit
and it simply isn’t true.
I reached out to some of my contacts who are bookers at high
profile events, and asked them “what they are looking for in a new
presenter?” Here is what they said:
who are “different.” Which to me DOES
NOT mean that you need to create some “yoga slash surf-scuba-zumba-lates,”
though fun unique innovative types/applications of yoga DO get noticed, and
bookers DO need to mix up the offerings.
Different can also be in the conversation that you are going to have
with your students. We can assume at
this point that if you think you and your message are seasoned enough to teach
on the national circuit, you can also “innovatively sequence” with the best of
them – so rather than focusing on the asana tell the bookers, what are you
actually going to say.
who have referrals from distinguished teachers.
Kind of like applying for a job!
Does Seane think you are the “sh*&?”
Will she say so in writing?
Bookers are often making decisions based off of written materials only -
so an awesome referral from a well established teacher can go a long way
towards establishing your credibility and proving that you can actually do what you say you can.
who can DRAW in the city where the event is being held. Conferences & Festivals want to see that
you can draw students – which means “get bums on yoga mats & sell
tickets.” To prove this point, you will
need to highlight your attendance
numbers; which can either come in
the form of large consistent class attendance numbers, or large scale yoga
events that you have taught at. Experience
teaching large groups or on big stages goes a long way in the eyes of bookers
who are creating large group yoga events.
(We are not fans of teachers being judged by how big their classes are –
we prefer to look at retention – but for this specific type of work, you need
to prove that people will actually show up to practice with you.) You will also need to highlight the reach of your platform – which relates to your
Fans/Friends/Followers/Email Subscribers/Pins - do you have?
assumption exists that the bigger your platform is, the more visibility the
receive and the more tickets will be sold because your name is on
If you are feeling queasy at this point – the National
Conference & Festival circuit may not be for you.
So now that you know what the bookers are looking for, here are
some tips on how to pitch them!
events that make sense for you – in cities where you have a relationship or
have data that shows you can draw there.
great and simple materials. Bookers are
busy and receive a lot of inquiries.
Give them what they need:
referrals, platform stats, attendance stats and what makes you
different! Tell them a little bit about
your signature teaching style and also what workshops you would like to do at
their event. Get specific and personal
with the topics. Tell them briefly what
the workshop will feel like physically, what the conversation is you will have,
and what the students will walk away with.
please, please please follow up! Just
because you sent the email once doesn’t mean that your work is done. You have got to follow up and email them over
and over and over again until you hear back.
Even if the answer is NO – tell me something, give me feedback. But, you must be persistent.
an agent :) or, an assistant to help you with the pitches, follow up and
negotiating. It’s nice to have a buffer
between the events and yourself and also to have someone who is focused solely
on this aspect of your career, once you’ve decided you really need it.