How to Take Your Classes Online: Tips for Small Businesses

Though this is a challenging, uncertain time for almost everyone, it’s been incredible to see how businesses have adapted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yoga studios and fitness instructors are moving their regularly scheduled programming online, while teachers, coaches, and mental health professionals are figuring out innovative ways to continue to support their clients and students. 

Welcome to the temporary future of yoga classes, all hands meetings, workout groups, book clubs, happy hours, cooking classes, and more. We may have to keep our physical distance, but there are opportunities to stay connected. If you’re looking to offer online versions of your in-person business or are simply looking to connect online, read on for tips and resources to help you go virtual.

Pick a Streaming or Meeting Platform 

You’ll need to decide if  you want your online yoga class, workout, or study group to be private or free to folks on social media. There are lots of apps and tools for meeting online or streaming videos to platforms, each with their own unique set of features. Here are the apps our community is using most often. 

  • Zoom: The preferred platform for small businesses. Best if you want to host a large number of participants for webinars and video conferencing.  Note that Zoom is Hippa compliant, making it the preferred option for health professionals. However, note that your region may have regulations in place around how mental health professionals can practice teletherapy.  
  • Google Meet: A good option for those who want to use other applications in tandem to video conferencing. It’s integrated into many of Google products and allows you to take advantage of your G Suite subscription at no additional cost. 
  • Re.Stream: Perfect for the business or individuals who want views, but is ok with  a lack of privacy, this app allows you to stream across 30 social networks at once!
  • Adobe Connect: Adobe is offering a free 90-day trial in light of current events. Adobe Connect is an enterprise solution that allow employees join meetings, virtual conferences and trainings from their homes, where they can continue to be productive and socially engaged. Government agencies , school districts, or any company dealing with sensitive information have also found Adobe Connect to be helpful thanks to its extensive security measures. Learn more on the Adobe Blog.
  • Houseparty: A web and mobile app that allows you to see everyone’s face at once and even play games together. Perfect for playgroups, supervised kid entertainment, and connecting with friends and family. 

Teachable: Has everything you need to create, host and sell an online course. It handles everything from the concept all the way to the payment process.

Set Up a Process for Collecting Payments 

If you don’t already have an online payment system, consider asking clients to pay via Paypal, Stripe or Venmo. Upon receipt, send them a link to where they can logon to join the conference call or virtual hangout. You could also set up a Patreon account to monetize your content offerings on an ongoing basis. Daybreakers didn’t miss a beat offering tickets to a new kind event. The company based on human interaction and dance parties set up a virtual dance event for their followers. 

Payment Apps to Consider 

  • Paypal: One of the more widely known and trusted platforms in the ecommerce industry. Many of your clients will already have their own account. It does not however require sign in for payment.
  • Stripe: Offers a globally integrated payment gateway. Stripe becomes most necessary when you are ready to set up payment renewal, whereas the other two do not offer this option. 
  • Venmo: Venmo has made a name for itself for being easy to use and give you quick access to your funds all on mobile. The main thing to note is that Venmo is only available for your clients in the US.
  • Patreon: Designed specifically to make it easier for artists and creators to get paid. It’s a crowdfunded membership based platform. 

Get the Word Out 

Another important part of the success of your move online is to get your customers on board! Make sure you’re the communicating the when, where, and how–and even the why! This is a great time to rally your most devoted customers and provide a service of connection. People need to move, interact, and connect more than ever before. Remix the free Spark templates below and blast the word out on social media, via text, email, or on your website. 

  

You also may need to update your website with instructions on how to join. Here’s how one Bay Area yoga studio, Aura Kundalini, responded to the shelter in place order on their class schedule website.

Set the Stage 

Get creative with your space for your new virtual experience. While you may not have tripods lying around, or professional lights, a stack of books and a well placed window should do the trick. 

  • Good lighting can set the scene.  An easy, quick tip is to ensure that you are not situated with a window or light directly behind you, unless you’re going for the mysterious shadow look. It’s best to have light coming at you from behind the camera to light up your beautiful face. No natural light? Use what you can. You could consider softening harsh fluorescent lighting by covering it with sheer fabric. Simple household items like tinfoil or white paper allow you to bounce lighting like the pros do in the movies. 
  • Backdrop is not one to forget. Maybe you want to reveal your Backstreet Boys poster to your audience, or maybe you want to keep that to yourself. It’s really a vibe call. Keep it simple, clean, and not distracting. Unless you’re wanting to have some fun with it. There are even virtual backgrounds you can activate on streaming services like the face filters on Instagram or green screen backgrounds on Zoom. Check out how some folks have spiced up their conference calls with fun backgrounds:

Check out more fun Zoom backgrounds from Mashable!

  • Sound can be tricky, especially if you live in a city or apartment building. Do your best to position yourself away from the street facing windows and a smaller room that does not echo will be your best bet. Michael Franti, for instance, chose his bathroom for his live virtual concert because the acoustics were the best. 

Bonus! Don’t Forget to Record the Virtual Class to Promote Later

You could potentially earn more income by offering the recording to those who couldn’t make the live hangout. A solution that some opt for is a screen recording tool like OBS Studio. This tool allows you to record your online streaming or as simple as utilizing the screen share on your Iphone. Others rely on a separate camera set up to record their live sessions.This enables you to edit the content before sharing the link with clients. However you decide to achieve it, this is a savvy way to reach a wider audience and earn a passive income after the virtual time together has ended.

Examples, Inspiration, and More Resources

  • This document puts everything into lamens terms and  shows you which virtual fitness classes are available in your area. It breaks down the cost, and the platform that will be used for each of the choices. 
  •  Mindbody has something for everyone. They now have shown an increase of their classes being offered virtually. Just put in your city and virtual classes, and the options list out with all the pricing.
  •  Amie Tollefsrud is a standout example for the techniques listed above. She has mastered going virtual so much so that she teaches others in the wellness space how to do it successfully. She offers free tutorials, full online classes, and special features including podcasts and coaching. To top it all off her videos always look terrific, even in times when she was traveling and did not have all the gear necessary.
  • The Cut gives a first-hand look at how  COVID-19 affected one woman’s therapy session. Therapists are now having to go virtual to support the needs of their patients. Restrictions are in place for therapists if they want to offer services remotely and may need certain certifications to do so.

Do you have more tips or resources to share? Did we miss something crucial? Let us know on social @adobespark. #adobespark

How to Take Your Classes Online: Tips for Small Businesses