If my history serves me correctly, personal training and personal computers both became mainstream at about the same time, somewhere in the mid-1980s. You can call it coincidence if you want, but ever since that beginning, trainers and computers have always had a love-hate relationship.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing; one of the beauties of our profession is that it doesn't involve sitting in front of a computer for hours on end, like most office jobs. The harmful effects of that type of lifestyle are precisely the reason so many clients desperately seek our help in the first place.
However, with the incredible power of the Internet and social media making the web the most "personal" form of widespread communication today, it's time for personal trainers and computers to resolve their differences. When you consider that there's potentially hundreds of thousands into the millions of dollars on the line, this makes more sense now than ever.
It's remarkable but true. You are able take your entire fitness consulting business online. In doing so, you'll find opportunities that are impossible in the "real" world, and depending on your lifestyle goals, this could be right up your alley:
- Get paid not just for the hours you are just physically present.
- Avoid the frustration of managing employees face-to-face.
- Have the whole world to sell your information to, rather than the people in just your area.
- Work from anywhere you want in the world, at any time you want.
Despite the appeal of starting an online fitness business, just like any other kind of business, it's going to take some work. Getting comfortable enough online to the point where you can make it your only source of income requires a very steep learning curve, one that the majority of trainers usually have a hard time climbing.
For that reason, this article will get you up to speed on everything that's behind a successful online fitness business. What you'll learn is that when it's broken down into its essential elements, the whole process becomes manageable and, dare we say, even simple.
Focal Points and the Tools That Make Them Easy
Creating a successful online fitness business boils down to the following five areas of focus. Paying attention to each of these areas will lead to a level of synergy that can take an online business from start-up to full-blown explosion at a pace that's only possible online.
Getting traffic to your site. Traffic is the obvious starting point for success online. It's comparable to getting customers into a store - without any visitors, you might as well not even exist!
The simplest and fastest way to get traffic today is through a blog. If you're a reader of this magazine, I'm sure you already know what a blog is; but here's why they are such an effective traffic-generating tool:
The first reason is that search engines love them. They quickly list or "index" blog content faster than any other form of web content and simultaneously give them more weight in their search results. This makes it easy for web surfers to find your site whenever they type in your specific fitness-related terms.
For example, an article I wrote about nearly two years ago on my training blog about Roger Federer's workout regimen has gotten me thousands of hits since his recent Wimbledon victory in July. Depending on the topics that your blog is focused on, you can get the same results.
The key is to match up the titles and content of your blog posts to exactly what people are searching for. It's also important to post on your blog frequently and have excellent content so readers keep coming back.
The second reason is that blogs play an important role as a networking tool. When you have a blog, it becomes easy to contact, interview and link to other experts in your field and ask them to link back to you in return. Not only will this bring you blog traffic and get you sales, it will also move your career forward at a rapid rate.
Capturing leads.Just having visitors stop by your site is not enough. With the nature of the web today, it's important that you get the names of as many visitors as possible so that you can maintain communication with them and eventually become a trusted resource of information for them.
To accomplish this, you have many lead capture and auto-responder systems at your disposal. Among the many to choose from are aweber (www.aweber.com), getresponse (www.getresponse.com) and iContact (www.icontact.com), just to name the most popular ones.
Having just a lead capture system in place isn't enough, however; you have to give your visitors a compelling reason to want to sign up to your site. My partner on a major project and one of the country's top trainers, Jim Hart, gives a free video, newsletter and members area access to anyone that signs up on his site. This is what leads to him getting a very strong signup rate. If you can think of something valuable to offer your first-time visitors, they'll be more than happy to provide you their name and email addresses and make it possible for you to stay in contact with them in the future.
Forming relationships with your audience. The Internet isn't just the information superhighway anymore - today, it's about relationships. It works exactly the same way as running a fitness business in the real world; your ability to form these relationships is what will make your customers buy the first time and keep them coming back in the future.
Building this personal bond is now extremely easy through video. Your visitors can see you, listen to you and take in all of your expressions and mannerisms as if you were with them in person. Since 80% of communication is non-verbal, this will allow you to form bonds with your audience faster and at a much deeper level. Not to mention that if you're using YouTube to host your videos, there's the potential for thousands of people to find them, making it another tremendous source of traffic for you.
Read a PFP magazine article on how to use YouTube to boost traffic and attract clients>>
Creating your "irresistible offer." Having a well-liked site may make you popular, but it won't bring you a penny unless you sell something. And whether or not your visitors buy at all depends on the offer you put in front of them.
To put it simply, your offer is what you're selling and why someone would want it. Depending on the type of information you're providing, you now have a large number of options through which to deliver it. You can sell e-books, hard-copy manuals, CDs, DVDs and even special paid membership sites, where you provide exclusive content that is not available anywhere else.
Another option for you is online training, where you can provide coaching to people virtually through the web. The only drawback to online training is finding a system that makes it easy to manage. If you can create one, you'll find that this only requires a small number of clients to bring in well over six figures yearly.
Speed. You have probably noticed that with all the new technology today, your life and business has sped up at a tremendous rate. Not only must you plan to execute on every point above, but you also have to make it priority to go through them at all a rapid pace. This is a major factor in how much money you can make.
What that means is everything you do with your online business, from getting traffic, creating your videos and writing your blog posts, must be done with speed in mind. Luckily, there is technology to help you with this now, too: easy-to-use flip cameras that allow you to record a video and upload it to the web in under a minute; services like Copytalk (www.copytalk.com) that will transcribe audio for you after simply dictating it into your cell phone; and virtual assistants you can hire from sites like elance (www.elance.com) that will help you get simple, repetitive tasks done very cheaply.
All that's left for you to do now is make your move. Just like your first few training sessions when you got started in this career, the first few moves you make with your online fitness business may feel very shaky. But with the tools we have at our disposal, the odds are in your favor. The most surprising thing you will find is it may even be easier to start a successful and high-earning training business online than one that is offline.
I think with trainers and computers, this might be the start of a beautiful friendship.
Kaiser Serajuddin writes the web's most visited online fitness marketing blog,Super-Trainer.com. He is also a private consultant for some of the world's top trainers. You can get a free comprehensive course on starting an online fitness business at www.super-trainer.com. Kaiser can be reached with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.