It’s funny but the majority of my posts come from conversations or questions that I get asked.
A lot questions about making it in Jiu Jitsu
How to make money in Jiu Jitsu? How can you do Jiu Jitsu full time?
There are lots of ways to make money in Jiu Jitsu. Maybe I will do a later series of posts covering some of the other sources of income available to athletes and instructors.
Obviously, the majority of Jiu Jitsu practitioners won’t be in a position to do private lessons.
But for anyone considering a career in Jiu Jitsu. This is a major stream of income especially for athletes/instructors starting out.
It’s a relatively low investment, high reward situation.
Think about it.
All you need is your knowledge and a space to train and you can literally take in hundreds of dollars per hour.
Starting out, no one’s going to take you seriously until around the purple belt level. Before this it’s just the blind leading the blind. So it’s best to be at the point where you have mastered the basic movements of Jiu Jitsu, fundamental techniques, and self defense. While starting to develop your own style and game.
I remember being really nervous the first time I taught a private lesson.
I was nervous about what techniques I would show.
I was nervous if the student would like my teaching.
I was nervous about accepting (a lot) money for something that I love to do.
Even if you lack confidence in your abilities. At this point you know more about Jiu Jitsu than 99% of people.
That’s all you need to get started.
If I had to break down what type of students take private lessons. I could narrow it down to three simple groups (ordered from lowest knowledge investment to highest knowledge investment)
1. Belt test private lessons
Most students interaction with private lessons often start as a crash course lesson to help them prepare for their belt test/promotion.
These lessons serve as a refresher for techniques that they might have missed or need help on.
Depending upon the academy. Belt test privates are a good and recurring source of income and not very difficult.
2. General private
This level of private lesson is more complex than the belt test private. Where you have a fixed number of techniques that you need to cover.
While a general private is really a consultation.
A student will come to you with questions on how to improve their guard.
Or possibly assistance on a specific position that gives them trouble. Like passing a knee shield.
You will see general privates more at blue belt level (and sometimes even higher belt levels). Where students will start investing more time and energy developing their own Jiu Jitsu.
Once you have mastered the fundamental techniques of Jiu Jitsu and have a firm grasp of the techniques of modern Jiu Jitsu.
All that’s left for you is to create your own unique style.
Of course, you can emulate others techniques and movements. But at the end of the day you will still have to make them your own.
3. Style specific private
The highest knowledge level of private lesson.
Students actively seek out a particular instructor for a specific move or set of moves.
These are the ones that I really enjoy personally because as a student of Jiu Jitsu I’ve put hundreds of hours into my game and the techniques that I use. So I’m more invested in showing my own moves versus more general techniques.
Example: You want to improve your butterfly guard so you take a private lesson with Marcelo Garcia.
Most private lessons take place inside of an academy.
If you’re an instructor at an academy then there is really nothing stopping you from having a thriving private lesson business.
In fact, I’m surprised by how many academies (big and small) ignore private lessons.
Academies with hundreds of students might have 2-3 weekly privates going on.
My advice to you is just to promote private lessons more with in your academy.
I’ve been to a lot of academies where they never once talk about their private lesson programs and then wonder why no one takes privates.
If you’re not an instructor at your academy but you are a higher belt or high level athlete/instructor then your ability to do private lessons may be affected.
Some academies only let instructors do private lessons. So you will have to find alternatives.
Some academies charge a fee for every lesson that you teach. I’ve seen anywhere between 10-30 percent.
That means if you charge $100 for a private lesson. Your academy could be taking $20-$30.
Again, you will have to find the best situation that works for you.
In Home Lessons
In home lessons is a good alternative to doing private lessons inside of an academy.
It allows you the flexibility of working during non-standard hours when your academy might be closed or unavailable and all of the proceeds go to you.
Pricing your private lesson is very subjective. Traditionally, higher belts charge more for their private lessons than lower belts.
At the high end I’ve seen athletes, world champions mind you, charge anywhere between 250-300+ per lesson.
It all depends on your competition accolades, teaching skill, technique, demand and a whole list of things that is too many to count.
I’m a big believer in group privates. As an instructor it’s easier for me to show a move on one student while the other(s) watch versus having to walk a student through a technique solo.
It’s also more efficient to have the students practice their moves on each other versus having them all practice their moves on you individually.
Group privates are a great alternative for many students that are turned off from the pricing of one-on-one privates.
$200 might be a lot for a lot for a solo private. But split 4 ways is only $50 per person.
In most businesses you give a discount for customers paying in advance.
Sure they can pay full price for a one off lesson.
But say they want to take 5, 10, or even 50 privates with you.
At that point it’s okay to show that you appreciate them deciding to work with you.
Privates aren’t cheap.
But knocking 20-25% off of your usual pricing won’t kill you and can even help promote your lessons.
I know many academies that will nickel and dime their loyal customers. But that’s just a lack of business knowledge.
You reward those loyal to you.
Don’t be afraid
Private lessons are a great source of income that is often under utilized.
I even know world class black belts that still feel weird about teaching private lessons and worry about bringing value to the students each time.
These are guys that are high level and just by conversing with them about Jiu Jitsu would help grow your understanding of the game exponentially.
Ultimately you have to realize that you have a lot to offer and that people will spend good money to learn from you.
And that’s okay.