When personal trainers make the commitment to add online coaching services to their business they are quickly faced with the reality that building an online business from scratch takes more time and effort than they anticipated. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but even though you are essentially selling the same fitness services building, managing, and scaling online coaching requires a completely different skill set than training clients in the gym. Simply put, it’s much easier to convince someone at your gym to work with you. Potential in-person clients can watch you coach other clients on the floor and in one face-to-face meeting quickly assess if you’re the right fit for their goals/needs/desires. Convincing someone to make an online purchase for your online coaching services, well, it’s going to take a lot more effort than that. The level of trust needed to make an online purchase is much higher than a lot of new online coaches anticipate.
So, now that we’re faced with this reality what should we do about it? As a personal trainer wanting to add online coaching to your revenue streams you can commit to putting in the time, energy, and effort need to build your online presence and business from scratch. We’ve seen time and time again that this is a tangible goal, but it’s not foolproof. For every trainer that successfully adds $1000-$10,000 a month through online coaching there will be others that struggle to get their first client or scale up to a revenue level that makes it all worth it. And that’s fine, that’s just how this all works. What I do want to strongly advocate for here is that not EVERY personal trainer has to start and build their own online coaching brand and business to have a sustainable career in today's fitness market. In fact, I’d recommend that most personal trainers shouldn’t do this because it’s not the most efficient path they can take to earning online coaching revenue. So what is this other path?
Ten years ago this might not have been possible, but in today’s online fitness world there are dozens of online coaching businesses that have scaled to the point where they need more team members to help. Even if you’ve never coached a client online there are plenty of scaling challenges that you can come in and immediately help with, such as:
Too many clients to manage - At a certain point, working with more than 30 online coaching coaching clients for example, it becomes extremely difficult for an online coach to adequately give all of their clients the time and energy they deserve. We saw an extreme example of how this scaling challenge can play out with the Brittany Dawn Fitness expose last week. Most online coaching businesses will never reach the level of chaos that Brittany did, but we’ve worked with plenty of companies that have started to hire additional other coaches to ensure that they are continually delivering high-quality online coaching.
Not enough time for marketing - Creating content is a never-ending requirement for any online business and is usually the first thing that starts to slip when an online coach gets too busy working with their clients. If you can come in and help with creating content right away - writing blogs, writing Facebook posts, creating Youtube or Instagram videos, etc - it will allow the business to continually grow and ensure there aren’t any missed opportunities.
Admin work - Ahh, the scourge of every online business owner. Creating and maintaining a website, collecting payments, accounting, managing payroll, handling internal communication. The work is never-ending. Some people have a real talent/interest for this, but if an online coach doesn’t they should quickly hire someone who does.
To give some insight on what to look for if you want to join a growing online coaching company, here are a few teams that have reached the point where they've needed to hire more coaches to scale:
Eat Lift Thrive Method: Sohee Lee had built a very successful online coaching business through her personal brand, Sohee Fit, but wanted to create a separate business entity to scale even further with ELT Method. In the last few months Sohee has added several coaches to her team and I'm excited to watch their business grow!
Stronger U: Founded by Mike Doehla in 2014, Stronger U quickly became one of the larger nutrition coaching service companies online. I’m not sure of the exact numbers, but I know a number of coaches who have worked with Stronger U for close to two years now instead of focusing 100% on building their own brand. It seems like they made the right choice.
Balance365: An absolutely fantastic company started by Jennifer Campbell, Annie Brees, and Lauren Koski that has successfully scaled their habit-based fitness and health online coaching business to ten team members. You can take a look at their team page here.
The Strength Athlete: Started by Bryce Lewis over 5 years ago, Bryce scaled TSA quickly by focusing on their niche - powerlifting. Bryce realized quickly that once his business reached a certain point that he couldn’t do everything himself and added more coaches to his team to scale the company even further. Their team continues to be one of the best in the business.
So, to wrap this up, by joining another online coaching team there is the potential for having a more efficient path to personal income, you can avoid have to spend your own capital to start that business from scratch, and help a business scale farther than the founder could have ever taken it on it’s own. Also, just because you choose to join another coaching company doesn’t mean you can’t start your own at a later point. You can easily use the opportunity to work for someone else, get your online coaching reps in a safe environment, and when you're ready utilize that experience to have a higher chance of success when starting your own business. The lessons you learn while helping someone scale your business will pay huge dividends down the road. So, if you are thinking about getting into online coaching take some time to think through your options. Speaking as someone who started a business right after graduating college, it would have been nice to get paid to learn from someone else and potentially avoid those early mistakes we made (and that everyone makes) when building our own company.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article. If you have any questions about getting started with online coaching please don't hesitate to reach out. If you have reached the point where you are successfully converting online clients or scaling your coaching team, then I’d highly recommend checking out our software platform to help you manage and scale your team even further - Matt
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