As someone who has more than 200 success stories as an online trainer business coach, I’m often asked:
“What’s the secret? How have you made millions for yourself and your clients?”
My response is that the “secret” is really no secret at all…and you should be wary of so-called online trainer business coaches (most of whom have never trained a single client online) peddling quick fixes.
Building your online fitness business is like building muscle: it’s simple, but not easy.
You have to execute basic principles and steps consistently.
The more you look for tricks, hacks, and earth-shattering tips… the more success will elude you.
Most trainers join the fitness industry because they’re passionate about health and fitness. They understand how being healthier bleeds over into leading a more fulfilling life, personally and professionally.
But their passion and thirst for technical knowledge about training and nutrition leads them down the wrong path.
They share what they learn, hoping that educating their social media audience or followers will somehow generate clients.
But most trainers skip learning about how to build a business due to a mistaken belief that runs something like this:
“If I just share great information, people will see the value of my coaching and hire me.”
Unfortunately, this strategy misses the mark. Good coaches end up sabotaging themselves.
They come to view marketing as sleazy or unethical…and ignore the basic truth: you can AND should be a good BOTH a good coach AND be good at marketing.
It’s NOT an either/or proposition. And it’s all about connection.
Enter the conversation in your client’s mind and speak in a way they understand in order to create that connection.
You have to “get them inside the tent before you preach to them” to convey your message.
I can tell you from experience: until you understand this message and commit to learning who your ideal client is and how to communicate with them by mastering copywriting, you will struggle.
Your content will fall flat. It will draw the attention ONLY of your fellow coaches, not potential clients.
I should know. I made the same mistake. And it kept me from making the money I wanted. More importantly, it prevented me from helping as many people as I could in my fitness business.
Which leads me to reveal for the first time the six key lessons I’ve learned in the last seven years as a top Online Trainer Business Coach.
1. Leverage Close Ties to Get Your First Clients
Your first clients for online or hybrid training are staring you right in the face. They are people you already know. It could be your cousin’s husband, the doorman of your apartment building, your Uber driver, a social media follower, an email subscriber, a past prospective client, or a past client.
This is the low-hanging fruit. Pluck it immediately. There is no need to wait until you have all your ducks in a row with back-end systems, much less fancy funnels.
As I was writing this just before New Year’s Day 2022, I received this from my business coaching client, Shaun Ireland.
So if you can get some money in the door right away, why say no? Go for it. Success loves speed and fortune favors the bold.
Again, it is not essential to have every piece of the puzzle in place before beginning to sell. Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Always get something out there, then course correct.
Bonus: Try customizing this letter to past clients or prospective clients.
2. Get Clear On Your Ideal Client
The most neglected aspect of sound marketing for fitness professionals is researching your clients and your competition on the road to what I call “Perfect Client Packaging.”
– Get clear on your competition
– Find the content that resonates with your clients
– Do the “difficult” work that’s easy to overlook
You can’t be all things to all people. You’ll end up being nothing to everyone, with a garbled marketing message.
Instead, you need to:
1. Research your ideal client. Consider who has your audience.
2. Enter the conversation in their mind and speak to the problems and fears. Show them how you can help them accomplish their dreams with your coaching. Ask:
What is the number one goal of your ideal client?
3. Use this newfound knowledge to hone your social media game. Create guides, gifts, and lead magnets to attract your ideal clients. Create specific solutions to solve these problems.
Consider who your dream customer is and where they hang out. Understand people buy products because they want to move away from pain and towards pleasure.
The pain might be “I’m overweight and don’t feel good in my clothes” and the pleasure might be “I want to strut down the beach with my shirt off.”
One of the most important steps to nailing your ideal client avatar is the most neglected: doing market research. It’s crucial you look at the people you serve and look for the…
– Top websites they go to
– Forums and message boards they participate in
– Podcasts they listen too
– Who they follow on Facebook and IG
– What email lists are they on
– What YouTube Channels they watch
– What keywords they search
When you’re armed with this data, you can SEE what is working for larger brands. Note how they position their products and services. Look especially for content that drives sales.
But never copy. Just derive ideas and inspiration. Then create your own variations based on your personality and coaching philosophy to attract the same people.
Unless you truly understand your dream customer, it’s going to be nearly impossible to find out where they’re congregating. In this sense, knowing your ideal client is truly the foundation of your business.
3. Develop One Offer
Too many trainers try to do too much too soon..
… and end up stuck at the starting line because they lack focus.
A common mistake is trying roll out ALL these things at once:
– a low-cost monthly membership site
– bronze, silver, and gold options for online training
– add-on fees for in-person clients who also want to train online, or vice versa
It’s all WAY TOO COMPLICATED and trainers can’t really position all the offerings and explain them to clients, because they barely understand it all themselves!
A related mistrake is trying to post a ton of content for Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, all at once in a wild fit of newbie enthusiasm…
…kinda like a “January rush” gym-goer who starts out super keen, but soon burns out and gives up.
A better approach is to make ONE OFFER to ONE IDEAL CLIENT on ONE PLATFORM for ONE YEAR.
That’s what got our former business coaching client Naz from almost zero income during COVID time to an income of $165,000 in one year.
Naz says: “The biggest thing I learned through the coaching program was discipline.”
“My days are a lot more structured. I am no longer running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I know what the tasks for the day are and do it. It helps my clients get better results.”
Which leads us to…
4. Develop Systems And Automation
Trainers tend to be self-reliant “can do” types of people who pride themselves on grinding through even the tough stuff that sucks…all by themselves.
But that is a huge mistake.
A few changes will make all the difference in creating a sustainable business and winning your freedom. Our clients conduct a time audit and set goals after their kickoff call.
For every time-sucking task, they decide whether to:
– Master It
– Automate it
– Delegate it
– Eliminate it
The key is to stop trying to do everything yourself.
Let’s say you value your time at $60 an hour because that’s what you’d sell a training session for. If you are performing a task you could hire out for $10, like designing an Instagram graphic or editing an e-book…
Bad news! You’re effectively burning a fifty dollar bill.
I don’t design eBook covers or add captions to Instagram videos. Learning how to do so would take me hours. And I’d do a worse job than the designers I found on Upwork for $8 an hour.
So consider outsourcing for: graphic design; Social media posting (not writing); formatting, editing, and scheduling emails + blog posts; selecting images; scheduling calls; accounting; Facebook ads; coding and website improvement and maintenance.
Another error is the mistaken belief that not creating a new program from scratch for each new client is somehow “cheating” and will not deliver a custom product to clients.
But nothing could be further from the truth. Our business coaching clients get a complete look at my backend to see how I leverage past successes to achieve economies of scale while delivering world-class custom service.
The best law firms and consulting firms – who charge $500 to $1,000+ an hour – use this approach. So should you. DO NOT MISTAKE INEFFICIENCY FOR VIRTUE. It’s an unforced, rookie error. Don’t make it.
5. Master Copywriting and Post Regular Content
Copywriting is the #1 skill you need to develop. It’s selling with words.
Copywriting is different from content writing. Content writing is often done to win an argument and share knowledge. Content writing is aimed at the logical brain.
Copywriting is often done to craft a story and move people towards action. Copywriting is aimed at the emotional brain.
Here’s how to use the “Big Idea” formula:
You Must Be Contrarian. Go against the grain. Many people still believe you have to live in the gym to get results. That’s why my tagline for the last 8 years has been:
“Look good naked without living in the gym.”
You Must Be Specific. Example: “The 4-Hour Work Week.” Not “shorter work week.” Not “maybe less work week”. 4 Hours. The Tim Ferris book title is compelling because it gives you something concrete to think about.
You Must Have a Particular Articulation. Craig Ballantyne’s “Millionaire Morning Routine” rolls off the tongue. “The Power Primer ” and “Minimalist Muscle” from one Eric Bach roll off the tongue. When you have a catchy name, people remember it.
KISS: Keep It Short, Stupid. The shorter and catchier the name of your program the better. Think of P90X…or Orange Theory…or 5-3-1.These are all INSANELY short and easy to remember. The catchier… and the better. Example: P90X. They nailed it.
Remember: your offer probably isn’t drastically different than many others..but it’s positioning must be.
For example, muscle-building routines are a dime a dozen… and most of them are worth less than that.
But The Minimalist Muscle positioning that follows my “big idea” idea formula allows me to:
- Stand out from the crowd
- Get people to share a weird idea with others.
- Repel “disbelievers” and haters so I can attract the right people.
Your big idea has to sound new, unique and exciting to potential buyers.
6. Build An Email List
It’s ALWAYS better to own than to rent. An email list gives you FULL control over your lead quality.
My Online Trainer Business Coach Bottom Line
One of the biggest breakthroughs in my business happened when I committed to learning the business side of things.
It’s hard to accept sometimes, but you probably know enough to help thousands, if not millions, of people.
What’s holding you back isn’t another training certification. It’s sales and marketing skills to influence people to invest into coaching in the first place.
What’s REALLY holding you back is being able to communicate with people clearly enough to help them make a breakthrough.
When you learn to communicate more effectively you’ll be able to:
• Reach more people
• Help more people
• Serve the higher purpose that drove you to become a coach in the first place
In short, you will do well by doing good.
And that’s worth a helluva lot more than more letters after your name.
If you read this far and are nodding and thinking…”sh!t, this is me”…I get it.
I’m a coach, first and foremost. I studied kinesiology in college, not business. I went down the evidence-based road and even published research. I got a great job at a great gym right out of college, busted my butt, and was doing pretty well…
…until management changed, and I found myself teaching group classes at a 40% pay cut!
But I finally got smart and took control by hiring a coach to learn the new skills I needed to succeed…the ones mentioned above.
It worked for me and it will work for you.
You see, I never set out to become a online trainer business coach. It happened because fellow trainers saw my success and asked for help. So now I’m paying it forward.
I’ve found out how to get people world-class results (the real key to longevity) and gladly share my experiences and EXACT coaching process with our students.
We work with personal trainers, online coaches, strength coaches, physical therapists, gym owners, nutrition coaches, and life coaches.
We’re the only business coaching program that provides 24/7 custom coaching and over 60 coaching calls with lifetime access to all materials to help you build, grow, and scale your fitness business.
You owe it to yourself to take the next step by discussing all this with a member of my team. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose. The call is free and there is no obligation.