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Earning Money Through Yoga Conferences: A Conversation with Allison Rissel

Meet the incredibly driven Allison Rissel:

About Allison Rissel

Allison Rissel believes one good yoga teacher can change a life and create a community. She is a consultant for yoga teachers and a yoga teacher trainer. She is dedicated to helping yoga teachers create yoga communities through consultations designed to help you start a yoga conference or improve your yoga marketing skills.

She also offers in person 200 and 300 hour yoga teacher trainings in North Dakota, South Dakota & Colorado where she trains yoga teachers to be knowledgeable, safe, ethical and authentic community leaders. She is an extroverted optimist and she loves hiking, skiing, being outdoors and enjoying a craft beer with her husband, Sean.

Now let’s get to talking about yoga conferences with Allison!

Amanda: Tell me a little about your yoga journey, what led you to want to be a yoga teacher?

Allison: It’s interesting because I did not want to be a yoga teacher. I wanted to teach step-aerobics! This was back when I was in college — I got certified and interviewed. They came back and said “Well we want to hire you for step aerobics but we also really need a yoga teacher. We can only hire you if you can also teach yoga.” I said, done — I’ll do it! I had never even taken a yoga class but I started teaching yoga from there. I found that I really fell in love with yoga. I was healing my body a lot more from the yoga and started dealing with my stress better.

I really decided to pursue that and now I’ve taken all my teacher trainings, my 200 and 500 and I’m in a yoga therapy program. I just really believe in the healing power of yoga.

Amanda: One of the ways that you’ve niched down in your offerings is hosting a yoga conference. Tell me how that came about how this allows you to earn money doing what you love (outside of teaching in studios). I’d love to hear about this part of your story.

Allison: I was doing a lot of stuff in the studio — teaching all the time. We actually moved and that was a big catalyst for this change. We moved from Austin, Texas to Williston, North Dakota where there was nowhere to teach yoga.

They didn’t have anything there and so I basically started teaching in my garage. $5 a class and my garage started to fill up which was pretty crazy! From there, I started teaching at other businesses, at the college and that really opened my eyes to teaching outside of the studio. I realized that there was a lot of money to be made outside the studio.

When I left North Dakota (I now live in Colorado), all my students were asking “what are we going to do?”. So I said, “well I can train you guys and you can teach yoga.”

It was such a nice progression because we started teaching them how to have their own businesses. It started there in North Dakota and we’ve had yoga teacher trainings in Montana and South Dakota. We’re really passionate about helping those yoga teachers start and run their studios and their running their own teacher trainings.

About 5 years ago over on the Western side of North Dakota there were 3-5 yoga teachers. Today, there are probably over 75.

Amanda: Wow, what a story!

Allison: I didn’t even realize but I really niched down. I didn’t even realize what I was doing. I was just doing it! So many times as yoga teachers we’re told, “to make it in the yoga world you have to try and reach everyone”. There are people all over the country in smaller areas that are also looking for yoga! They’re hungry for it. So by really niching down based on location, it was able to make a bigger impact than trying to break into a more saturated yoga scene like in Colorado.

Amanda: My marketing heart is so happy. I didn’t even have to say it this time! I’m always talking about narrowing down. It becomes easier to impact more people. The words become easier! It’s almost like it falls in your lap.

Let’s talk about your conference. You started a conference so give me a little bit of inside into that!

Allison: It all just happened. I was teaching the yoga teacher trainings and my yoga teacher’s were kind of like “well, how do we get CEUs? Where can we get more education? What about workshops?”

This was the first round of teachers! The nearest option for them was around 12 hours a day and that’s not really realistic. That’s days off of work, money & travel. It just came from there. It got started with me asking, “well why don’t we just do a conference here?”

I know teachers in these other towns are also looking for opportunities. Everyone needs more education and instead of asking my students to drive across the state, why don’t we just do something in the middle and have everyone come together? We’ll make it a big 3 day event!

That’s how the conference was born. I told my students at the time, “so I have this crazy idea that we should do a conference…” and from there I was committed.

Amanda: You did everything right! You said it, you tested the waters a bit and got some interest. Low and behold the conference was successful so people showed up!

Allison: People showed up!

Amanda: Talk to me a little about how you marketed your conference.

Allison: The first thing that I really want people to understand is the value of word of mouth. I just can’t even explain enough about how your own personal network is so important. I initially started just telling my own teachers about it and then I started to communicate to every single studio in North Dakota.

I found them Instagram, Facebook, I sent emails, I made phone calls...I just tried to get the word out and a lot of energy was generated simply by people sharing with each other. Leveraging your own network is very powerful.

My second step, was social media. Social media has such an amazing power. Again, it was me tagging studios, talking to studios and asking teachers to present and having them share information with their students and studios…

I ran Facebook Ads which were really well received. Social media is still powerful and it’s cheap. It requires some time and requires some energy but just like word of mouth, it’s very effective.

Amanda: So you went from being a yoga teacher, to teaching yoga teacher trainings to then teaching yoga teachers even more through conferences and now you teach yoga teachers how to start their own conferences!

Allison: My passion is community. I just want all yoga teachers to be able to create their own communities. I want yoga teachers to learn you can earn money outside of the studio. Conferences are a way we can do this. They’re also a way you can create a big impact in your community and be seen as a leader. Teachers are looking for that! They’re in the daily hustle of doing more, more, more but what if you did less but you did something bigger?

I want teachers to realize that potential and empower them to have the ability to do this. I offer consulting for yoga teachers who want to make that big impact in their community and to be seen as a leader in their community.

If you’re starting a new conference, it’s important to have someone on your team. I also do half day and full day brainstorming sessions. So we can really start working from the bottom up and give you a strategic layout for what needs to be accomplished & when. So you leave with action steps and a marketing plan.

Even just small events. You can do a small yoga day event in your community. It’s just a mini yoga festival within your own town! Something like that can make you really be seen as a leader but you need to know where to start.

Amanda: It’s so helpful to have someone alongside you. You hit the nail on the head with focusing on community — no matter what that is.

Thank you so much for sharing your marketing insights. You’re following your passion and following your calling — and that’s why it’s working! You’re creating a sustainable business for yourself.

When I talk with experienced teachers like yourself, especially ones like yourself where you’re earning money outside of the yoga studio — please share your tips that took you from graduating yoga teacher training to where you are today. Did you market yourself a certain way or shift your mindset in a certain way?

Allison: There’s certainly been some mindset shifts. Mindset is so important. What’s really help me is following me passion and listening to that inner voice that tells me, “you can do more”. Allowing myself to believe in myself & listening the universe’s answer of “yes you can do this”.

When you take that first step, everything else lines up. The first step is scary but when you’re living your purpose and listening and trusting — you just have to make that first step.

Amanda: Please tell us where we can find you!

Allison: Please visit my website and on there I have a huge list of all the conferences I’ve been able to find in the US and Canada! You can also find me on Instagram and Facebook!

Until next time,

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