18 Dec 10 Best Practices Guaranteed To Supercharge Your Online Personal Trainer Profits In 2019
By Eric Bach
Fearless prediction: 2019 will be the year online training finally comes of age.
Hands-on training will always have a place, but the industry is changing forever and there is no turning back.
Overall, it was far and away my most successful year ever, both financially and in terms of lives improved. Equally important, my work/life balance has improved. I’ve been able to travel more and spend more time with friends and family. Most gratifying of all: making an impact. It’s probably similar to what you want to accomplish with your online business.
Here’s what went right for me and what went wrong for me this year.
These are the ten mistakes I made in 2018 that you should avoid. More importantly, here are the ten action steps you need to take to build a thriving online business in 2019 and beyond.
Every business is different, of course. But certain universal principles apply. Here they are.
This year I spent a good chunk of time working on recurring revenue products like ebooks and a group coaching platform. They were both profitable, but ultimately a mistaken waste of time.
You need to avoid my mistake.
Ebooks and lower ticket training can work, no doubt. But in my case, they took me away from what was already working: high-ticket, one-on-one online coaching.
Instead of doubling down and expanding the service that works best, I got sidetracked chasing additional products. This worked to the detriment of a product that was already well known, successful, high-priced, and highly profitable.
Which brings us to…
Follow one course until successful.
Far too often, trainers give up on an idea or chase multiple business models at once. Pursuing two goals at once is a mistake and one I’ve made repeatedly. Every time, it costs me money and focus (and embarrassment when I admit it in blog posts like this!)
My advice to you?
Focus on your coaching program first. It’s higher ticket than digital products, which allows you to fix the number one problem plaguing most fitness professionals: dwindling or non-existent cash flow.
Can ebooks and lower ticket items work?
Yes. But the truth is you need to be willing to invest a good amount of money optimizing every aspect of it. Unless you already have a huge email list, you will have to invest heavily in paid ads to build your audience. And you must be willing to give up 100% commission to acquire customers, at least for your initial products.
As my good friend, Jason Maxwell of JMAX fitness said:
Action Step: Focus on building up your high-ticket, one-on-one coaching. It’s much easier to convert one client at $200-$500/month than it is to sell a ton of ebooks or low cost group coaching options. Plus, you’ll have more dedicated customers who get better results and become raving fans of your business.
In October, I joined my coach Vince Del Monte for a day of coaching with Bedros Kuilien at the headquarters of Fit Body Boot Camp, one of the fastest growing fitness businesses in the world.
My head almost exploded when Bedros said:
“Fitness is the one industry where people think they can build an empire without investing any capital.”
It’s 100% true. I know many trainers who’ve attempted to build their business by merely bootstrapping and grinding away.
Some have succeeded.
Those who succeed most often?
They are the ones who understand it takes money to make money.
Growing up as a kid in Wisconsin, I learned that money was something to be saved, not spent You always wanted a “cushion” for a rainy day. People took pride in finding a good deal.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being fiscally conservative. There’s nothing wrong with a rainy day fund
But when it comes to business, a rainy day fund won’t help if you’re already soaking wet because it’s pouring.
I learned this first hand when a fraudulent accountant embezzled over 50k meant for the IRS and caused me nearly 100k in lost business JUST as I went out on my own. It was a terrible experience with many powerful lessons, but the most powerful one of all was this:
Money is replaceable you can always make more of it. The skills and foundation you build with cash (such as becoming a better coach, marketer, salesperson, or copywriter) are yours to keep forever.
Too many trainers struggle to pay their bills, yet are fearful of investing in the very things that would turn things around. They won’t pay for a virtual assistant, designer, or business coach, much less Facebook ads.
Growing your business takes courage, risk tolerance, and aggressiveness, especially in the beginning.
Invest on the front end, grow your audience, and build the foundation for success early.
If you don’t have money?
Figure out how to make more money with the skill set and systems you already have.
Or take out a line of credit to learn the skills necessary to make money.
That’s it. These are your only two choices. Money won’t magically appear and neither will the skills to acquire it.
You can keep your money, or you can keep your problem. Which will it be?
You might generate a few clients by reaching out to those you know or posting “I’m looking for three men who want to lose weight in 30 days,” but we’ve all seen that template hundreds of times, as have your clients.
I know spending money you don’t have seems scary. But remember: more than anything else, building a business takes courage and confidence.
Action Step: Invest in developing the skills necessary for success. Consider a start-up loan to build the skills you need to grow. This is standard practice in many industries. Your business is no different.
This builds on the previous lesson on the need to spend money.
I used to roll my eyes when yet another fast-talking “guru” started spewing forth about magic funnels and killer ads. Anything that sounded too good to be true set off alarm bells.
While the skepticism is sometimes warranted, my fear of spending money to make money, primarily through ads, has probably cost me well over a million dollars.
Had I believed in myself more earlier, and invested more earlier, I could have made more money sooner and bought my house a couple of years sooner.
Why invest in ads and building traffic, followers, and subscribers?
First, when people don’t know who you are, your business begins to die.
In the age of social media, generating attention is key to staying at the top of mind of your prospects and followers. If you’re not reaching people regularly, you’ll blend in with the other million online trainers.
Second, ads are getting more expensive and will continue to do so. Don’t get me wrong, Facebook and Instagram ads are still the most powerful marketing tool in history. But as prices increase, it will get harder to get eyeballs on your business, especially if you’re just getting started. As bigger companies come in and spend more money, costs increase for everyone. It’s not “fair,” but that’s business.
Third, today’s followers and subscribers are tomorrow’s customers. But it may not happen overnight. It can take months or years. In 2018, I sold a $2,000 package online training package to someone I’d been talking to for eight years. Also in 2018: a business coaching client wanted to give up on Facebook ads after spending $27 because “it’s not working and I’m wasting money.”
Gathering leads and attention now is the key to building your business in the future.
Very few people “buy” after seven days in your email sequence. The vast majority will stay in your business for months and years. During my last launch, five clients mentioned they’ve been following me for years, and this was the first time they bought.
Business success is a long-term play. Ads might sound like a headache, but you must be willing to get eyeballs on your business now. Your current growth and future income depend on it.
Fourth, know your numbers.
If you could insert $1000 into a machine and make $1,800 thirty days later, would you take it? Without a doubt, yes. A profitable return on your ads is a license to print money.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you spend $5 per day, or $150/month to acquire leads.
If you go three months without any online training clients, you may get frustrated, thinking you’ve lost $450.
You now control those leads. If you charge $300 per month and offer six-month training packages, you need ONE client every six months to double your investment on ads. This doesn’t take into account that some people need months and years to see your work before they buy.
Here are a few other examples:
Ad Spend: $5/day x30 days = $150/month.
Six-month ad spend: $900
Twelve-month ad spend: $1,800
Needed to break even: $1,800/year
Needed to double Investment (which is incredible): $3,600.
And if you sell high ticket coaching like we teach our business coaching clients? You would only need to sign up one client every 2.5 years to break even. Crunch a few numbers and see for yourself.
Remember, the business that can spend the most to acquire a customer and be profitable wins. To grow quickly, you first need systems. Then, you need eyeballs on your business and a steady flow of leads. When you break it down, it’s not as terrifying as you think. You need the courage to persevere and provide consistent value.
Action Step: Crunch the numbers for yourself. How many clients would you need to break even in a year at a $5 or $10 a day ad spend. Once you see the numbers for yourself, it becomes much easier to invest and grow your business.
As of this post, my gross income has increased by 46% in 2018 while traveling more than ever. The biggest reason? Mastering sales.
If nothing changed in your business and you became even 20% better at sales your income could increase by 20% by merely converting better.
So sales are the most critical skill you can develop. But here’s the real problem.
Most trainers fear sales like an ebola laced napkin. They think it’s sleazy and unethical, mostly because they’ve either had a shitty sales experience or the idea that science is all that matters was jammed down their throats in undergrad.
Think of sales as an essential component in helping your clients commit to making the change they need to accomplish their goals. As evangelists say: “You can’t preach to them until they’re inside the tent.”
Download this guide for a killer sales script you can adapt to your own style and personality.
For now, one key point. When you’re on a sales call, you want to dictate the direction of the call, the content you’ll cover, and most importantly, the time.
Action Step: Steal this.
“Hey ____. Thank you for making time for the call today! Over the next 30 minutes (time) we’re going to discuss how we can help you (goal listed on application) over the next (time frame it may accomplish said goal), what’s been holding you back from (goal), and if we’re a good fit to work together, how I can help you (goal).
Which brings us to…
The most common objection most trainers get is:
“I need to think about it. Can I get back to you?”
In other words, the answer is “no.” But the prospective client is avoiding the awkwardness of saying so.
Action Steps: Get ahead of this objection in two ways, like Jon (pictured above).
First, before the call, ask the prospect if they’re the person who’s primarily in charge of finances or they need to run all decisions by someone else. If so, ask they join the call.
Second, ask this question after you set the initial power frame.
“Can we make a simple agreement? There are three answers you can give me at the end of the call
1. Yes, that means I can help you (insert goal.)
2. No, which is fine. If it’s not a good fit, no hard feelings. I’m a big boy.
3. I want to think about it, which 99.9% of the time means no, but you don’t like saying no.
So, can we make a simple agreement that’ll you’ll give me a yes or a no before we move forward?”
Trust me on this: you’ll eliminate 90% of the annoying back and forth of chasing down people who say “yes” on a call who don’t pay OR those who say I need to think about it then never return your messages or calls.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before: testimonials are the best marketing tool at your disposal. You must do everything you can to gather testimonials from your clients.
When applications come in, share your testimonials, especially if they have similar career and goal.
An as an example, here’s a case study of my client Rob, an avid outdoorsman and attorney in Colorado who built six-pack abs and a 435-pound deadlift.
And here’s an Instagram success story.
View this post on Instagram
🔥Matt lost fat, built muscle, and SET the standard for his students .🔥 – When Matt came recommended from his friend Steve, a past client, he was clear with what he wanted… ➡️he wanted to get in the best shape of his life so he could set a great example for his students, friends, and family. – 👉 Matt was already lean, fit, and athletic…but some past training jacked and years as a martial arts director left him with banged up joints. – Matt’s also a busy business owner. His schedule is packed and he needed a plan that improved, not consumed his life. Plus, Matt is 26–he likes to go out, travel, and have a good time on the weekends. – So, what did we do? – Like all my clients, Matt and handcrafted a workout and nutrition plan to help him get shredded and healthy and more than anything– stay accountable. – 👉We refined his training, moving through a high-frequency training phase. He was training 5-6 days per week. The more often you trigger protein synthesis in a muscle, the greater your growth potential–and he nailed it. – 👉Nutritionally, we set up a plan that improved Matt’s life, rather than consumed it. We dialed his workout nutrition, cleaned up his week days and built in a buffer so he could still crush a night out with his friends on the weekend. – A few months in, Matt is crushing it. We’re still working together to continue adding lean mass but I have to..DAMN he’s nailing his transformation. – Big congrats to Matt–he’s a true testament to training with a purpose, dedication, and proof that you can look great naked without obsessing over fitness. – WANT RESULTS LIKE Matt? – 👉🏻Head straight to the link in my bio and fill out the 2 minute application at the bottom of the page. . . . #bachperformance #transformationstory #buildmusclelosefat #lookgoodnaked #onlinetraining
Once you have a bank of success stories to point prospective clients to, selling becomes easy. You can say things like:
“I know you we can help you build your deadlift (goal) just like we helped Rob, an attorney out in Colorado.”
I work the article into my email message before asking them to book a call, which has been a game-changer.
Here’s another example of a testimonial in the form of a journalistic-style article. I actually hired a freelance writer to do it. It’s another example of an investment that paid off.
By showing a directly related case study, I’ve given prospective clients precision-guided social proof before hopping on the call. In many cases, they’ve already decided to buy before we even jump on the phone.
Here another example my Bach Performance sales page with testimonials.
Action Step: Study the examples above and develop your own social proof along the same lines.
To build a strong business, you need sound foundational pillars.
You must have a solid foundation for your business to grow: the bigger your foundation, the higher your potential. The easiest way to think of this is a comparison to strength training.
Without a solid foundation of strength, consistency, and quality movement, advanced training tactics are unproductive, if not dangerous.
Action Steps: Here are the foundations you need to build a lucrative, freedom-based fitness business.
Know Your Ideal Client
Your business must be built around solving one problem for one particular person. This doesn’t mean you can’t help other people. It merely means you need to focus on having one conversation and helping one person at a time. Once you’ve mastered one “avatar,” add another.
Create a Basic Funnel
Don’t let the term funnel confuse you. A funnel is a repeatable system for helping your followers become customers.
First, create a simple lead magnet to help your clients solve their number one problem and give it to them for free. Give it to them in exchange for joining your email list.
Second, write a 7-10 day email list, helping your ideal clients get results in advance.
Third, pivot your emails from, “here’s what to do,” to “here’s how I can help you do it faster and for good.”
This is all you need in the beginning. If you want to a more substantial system, download this free guide, Seven Simple Systems To Building Your Online Fitness Business
Once you have a foundation, it’s important to note industry trends and at the very least, test them out. This past year, Instagram has exploded, providing a new medium for generating clients and growing your business. Like many trainers, I hesitated, thinking this could be another fad.
It wasn’t. While I made some serious headway and gained over 24,000 followers and converted numerous clients and driving thousands in revenue… jumping at the action sooner could have been massive, especially as Instagram begins to become a pay-to-play platform similar to Facebook.
Action Step: You shouldn’t believe every quick fix or gimmick. More than anything, you should make sure you have the foundational pieces of your business in place. But when something begins to take off, much as Facebook did in the 2000’s or Instagram this past year, it’s worth your time to run a small test. Go all in on learning the platform and posting for 30 days to see what kind of growth you experience.
You don’t need to be a certified personal trainer to start an online fitness business, but it helps. Uncertified trainers may be great at what they do and I’ll never be one to criticize others for making a living.
But it’s become clear that those who have certifications as trainers are more likely to succeed online, as I covered in this article. I believe certified trainers becoming more successful comes down to three factors:
1. They provide superior service because (surprise) they’ve invested time, money, and passion into becoming incredible practitioners.
2. Because they’ve invested time, money, and passion into growing their skills they’re more invested in building a business.
3. They’ve built the skill of acquiring and implementing knowledge into becoming a trainer. They can leverage the same meta-skill (learning) better.
No, you don’t need a certification to become an online trainer, but it does improve your ability to do nearly every aspect of your job better.
Action Step: Download this guide on how to become a better online trainer.
The most basic skill of all that you MUST master may surprise you. It’s copywriting.
The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. I failed to recognize the vital importance of sales copywriting until recently, even though I’d built my reputation with articles for T-Nation.
Now I know that copywriting is a key foundational skill that has improved my ability to communicate through emails, Instagram posts, video scripts, sales pages and yes…long, geeky articles in T-Nation.
In other words, becoming a better copywriter improves your ability to tell stories, communicate better, and create influence so you can sell more effectively.
It all comes down to focusing on the right things in the right way.
Key Point: Do less, but better.
Think along these lines:
I need to write better copy and put out better videos to better connect with my audience. So I’m going to master the skills to do that.
I need to help my clients get better results faster. So I’m going to master the skills to do that, too.
We get bogged down looking for the quick fix or the fastest way to succeed. The truth is, the only shortcut is focusing on the key, time-proven skills, strategies, and tactics necessary to improve.
A better idea?
Focus on the ruthless execution of the basics.
Your daily habits are essential. For me, I need to write daily and create more conversations.
I need to spread our message via writing…
… so daily writing takes care of most of our content and marketing.
I need to talk to people daily……
…so I spend an hour a day talking to people via texts and direct messages.
You need to recognize at last that you don’t need more information. You just need to get started. Sometimes the questions are complicated but the answers are simple.
All the clichés apply because they’re all true.
It’s always darkest before dawn.
It’s time to double down and lean into fear.
You have nothing to fear but fear itself.
You have the potential to dramatically change your business and by extension, your life, in 2019.
Own these lessons. Put them to action. Embrace the challenge. And above all else, do the work. If you do this, you will succeed.
Information overload and inaction is poison to your success.
We have the antidote.
We offer the only business coaching program with daily accountability and a hand-crafted, custom plan for trainers to retake control of their schedule and earn their financial freedom.
Click Here To Apply and make 2019 your most successful year yet.