At times, creating a great yoga website feels more like following Ikea instructions than a vinyasa. Both can be challenging, but at least with yoga you can often identify and fix mistakes intuitively. A foot out of place here, a tuck of the tailbone there. But website mistakes are often complicated to put right, and sometimes we don’t recognise they exist at all.
Crafting a website that effectively expresses your values, speaks to your audience and communicates your authority and skills isn’t easy. Sometimes we need to make mistakes to learn from them (I know I did), but in this article I’ll tell you exactly where I went wrong, so you don’t have to. Do any of these mistakes sound familiar to you?
You overuse stock photography
New websites need a lot of images to look complete, so it’s no wonder new webmasters go hunting for images online to fill them. The problem is, we’ve all become so accustomed to the big smiles and (uncomfortably) clean white backgrounds of stock photography. They scream spam, and people are intuitively put off at first glance.
Besides, the visual assets on your website are far more than just a nice viewing experience. They’re an opportunity to connect with your audience and to convey a message. The “handsome man in yoga pose at sunset” image you find online is never going to do that for you.
Google loves unique images, and so will your audience. So, take the time to create some high-quality visual assets of your own. Organise a photoshoot, hire a graphic designer or just enlist the help of friends and family. Your brand and your SEO will thank you for it.
I’m guilty of not including enough of my own photos. I blame my low quality phone camera but that’s no excuse really. In many ways people are more likely to connect with your awkward practice shots than they are the flawless sunset poses. There’s a place for all content.
Your writing lacks the human touch
Whilst a brand is a powerful thing, people don’t connect with brands. They connect with the humans behind them.
When I first started writing, I made the mistake of focusing too much on the information, and not enough on the delivery. As a former scientist, I wrote my articles like I did my scientific papers. Have you ever enjoyed a scientific paper? Probably not, I know I haven’t.
Yoga is such a personal, intimate experience, it can’t be articulated with raw facts alone. It needs a human touch. Anybody can regurgitate a list of basic yoga poses or the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, but only yogis can express the true qualities of yoga. We understand yogis because we are yogis. That puts us in the best position to create content that truly speaks to our audience.
So, always have your audience in mind when you’re writing, and write as if you’re speaking directly to them. Conversational writing makes for engaging reading, and once you’re comfortable doing it, it’s a whole lot more natural.
You write what you want, not what your audience needs
As a website owner and a yoga teacher, I’m sure you have a lot to share. After all, it’s your site and your message. But even with the best of intentions it’s easy to forget that, ultimately, it’s not about you. It’s about your audience.
“You are not your audience” is a classic marketing tenet used to stop us falling into traps based on assumptions. It holds true for yoga as well. The teacher who’s ignorant of their audience runs the risk of failing their students – even in their blog writings.
So, whilst it can be tempting to write whatever you find interesting at the time, think to yourself, “Does this serve my audience?”
If you find that question hard to answer, there are a few ways to resolve it. Firstly, you can do some research online. You can check forums, Facebook groups, Twitter hashtags – anywhere your audience spends time online. Look for common pain points, challenges and questions. This information is worth its weight in gold when you’re planning content.
You could also use keyword research to discover what people are searching for on Google. If 10,000 people a month are searching for “how to do sun salutations”, you can be sure that’s valuable content.
You spend too little time on headlines
Would you be surprised to hear that I now write at least 10 headline variations for every article? Even if I already have one I like.
Headlines can seem like an afterthought at times. After all, the real value is in the content. But the harsh reality is that without a good headline, people won’t read your content at all. In fact, according to Copyblogger’s 80/20 rule of headlines, “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read a headline, but only 2 out of 10 will go on to read the content.”
Getting that perfect headline is now harder than ever, because we have to write for people and for search engines. It has to include your target keywords, but also be natural. It must convey the purpose of the article but also intrigue the reader. There’s a lot to consider.
Luckily there are tools to help. I use the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to score each of my headline variations. You want the right ratio of unique, emotional, and power words to get the best scores – and I won’t settle until I have the best. Read How to write killer headlines for your blog for more help on this.
It’s not clear what your visitors should do next
Whether it’s designed to inform, inspire or entertain, every piece of content on your site serves a purpose to its readers. What you as the site owner also need to consider, is the goal that content fulfils for your wider business.
Maybe it’s to drive traffic to your timetable, sign people up to your 30 Day Yoga Challenge, or push people to make enquiries. Sometimes people will simply get their answer and leave (especially if it’s a clear-cut how-to guide or similar), but unless you make it obvious what a visitor should do next, they’re almost certain to “bounce” off your site.
That’s why it’s vital to have clear calls to action on every page, each tailored to the content that’s present. Whether it’s an in-text link at the appropriate place, a callout box, or a sign-up form – you want a natural transition from content to goal.
In essence, you want a marketing funnel. I know, a “marketing funnel” might sound a little nefarious to your typical yoga professional, but it’s really just about connecting with the right audience, then taking them to the right places on your website to take action.
Learning from your mistakes
Building your own yoga website can feel like a daunting task, but if you follow the guidance I’ve given here – and don’t make the mistakes I made – you’ll be well on your way to creating a site that both you and your visitors will love using.
So, let’s sum up what we’ve learnt:
- Don’t overuse stock photography. Remember: your images are an opportunity to connect with your audience and to convey a message.
- Give your writing a human touch. People don’t connect with brands; they connect with the humans behind them.
- You are not your audience. Make sure the content you’re writing serves your audience’s needs and isn’t simply what you want to write.
- Don’t sideline your headlines! The harsh reality is that without a good headline, people won’t read your content at all.
- Make it clear what your visitors should do next. Use calls to action on every page to help your visitors take the next relevant step on the journey through your website.
How Wildheart can help
I made all these beginner website mistakes because I tackled it entirely on my own. Turns out, having critical feedback is essential, because we’re often blind to our own mistakes. Expert guidance could have set me on the right path from the beginning, and saved me a lot of time and money in the end.
If you want to be sure your yoga website is starting off on the right foot, check out our New Website Package. We’ve built a fully customisable template website based on many years’ experience of working with yoga businesses like yours. We know yoga and we know what works!
About the author
Dan Jones is the digital marketing freelancer behind Black Lotus Marketing. He’s passionate about helping individuals and brands connect with their audience through authentic content and communications.
A committed Vinyasa Flow practitioner, when he’s not working on his yoga practice he’ll probably be working on his yoga website. Most likely from a coffee shop… or the beach.