How to Move Your Classes or Programs Online: Tips for Small Businesses

What a year this week has been… You’re truckin’ along doing your thing—but oh wait, the universe has a different plan. Time to rework…everything? This is all really hard, especially if your livelihood relies on in-person interactions or you don’t have an online aspect to your business. And it’s likely hard in ways we can’t even know or see. If you’re reeling, feeling uncertain, and don’t know where to start, hopefully it’s slightly comforting to know you’re not alone.

It’s also been incredible to witness the nimble, creative ways small businesses have responded and adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. To name one inspiring example out of likely millions:

Practical Martial Arts, run by husband-and-wife duo Mike and Karen Valentine, is a dojo in California, which like many regions around the world, is in a shelter-in-place zone. It’s been in business 27 years, teaching boxing, kickboxing, Brazilian Jui Jitsu, and self-defense, with a side of life lessons to hundreds of students of all ages. On Saturday, March 14 the school closed its doors at the recommendation of the CDC and state officials in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. By Monday the shelter-in-place order went into effect. Tuesday, the family-run operation took to their basement for their very first livestream class on Facebook. By Wednesday the teachers posted 9 videos to the dojo’s social media pages to keep their students engaged and working toward their next belt. And by Thursday, they had upgraded their operation a tad, with the help of a couple volunteers, and successfully hosted four live classes of 25 gleeful students each via online conferencing platform Zoom. (Also while homeschooling their kids and managing their younger son’s nightly seizures—now that is black belt levels of agility!)

“Self defense is about adapting and anticipating your opponent’s next move. And that’s what we’re trying to do,” owner, black belt, and now social media rockstar Karen Valentine said. “It’s empowering in a time that feels so unsettled and so uncertain.” A week ago Practical Martial Arts didn’t have a video strategy or an online conferencing platform, the couple was terrified about what this meant for their beloved business, their customers, and their employees. But in a couple days they were able to pivot. And you can, too.

If you’re looking to offer online versions of your in-person business or are simply looking to connect online while we ride this out, read on for tips and resources to help you go virtual, too.

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 discoverable 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.

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.

Payment Apps to Consider

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. Tap to the designs below to remix the free Adobe 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 Your Virtual Stage

Sensei Mike of Practical Martial Arts teaching in his empty dojo-turned-virtual classroom.

All you really need is a laptop, computer, or smartphone and wifi connection to post videos online or meet virtually. But if you’re running a business or looking to maximize the experience, here are a few things to consider to set the stage.

Check out more fun Zoom backgrounds!

This Youtube video covers easy hacks to begin filming at home, from lighting to framing:

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. Simply hit record on your meeting, or use your preferred screen recording technology. This allows your customers flexibility and gives you the potential to build a passive revenue stream. Consider offering different price structures for your live and recorded classes if your clients are considering tightening their budgets.

Examples, Inspiration, and More Resources

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