Hello everybody, and welcome to the Trainer Academy online personal training strategy guide.
In this article, we aren’t really going to introduce fitness newbies to the PT business; instead, we’re aiming this at established coaches and fitness pros, providing insight on how to start an online personal training business.
If you are a certified online trainer and have an online operation you want to optimize; this one’s for you.
We will aim to shed light on some powerful strategies and hacks you can include in making your online business thrive.
So with that said, let’s get right into it.
Making Your Brand Presence felt
Becoming an online fitness trainer requires people to have a strong association with your brand.
Brand presence is important to capture the hearts and minds of your target market.
To do this, you need to optimize two essential aspects.
The first one is the visual identity. Visual identity is the look of your brand and the message this look conveys.
Your visual identity is centered on your company logo.
This icon needs to be unique but simple at the same time. Unique in the sense that it stands out and doesn’t get overshadowed by similar-looking branding.
It also needs to be simple in the sense that it is a familiar symbol or one which bears relevance to your business name or services.
Your logo should be simple enough for someone to sketch it from memory.
This isn’t because you literally want people to make hand-drawn copies of your logo, it’s because being able to draw something from memory indicates that it is firmly anchored in the person’s thoughts.
After landing on a successful logo, you also want to identify a good color palette.
Your visual identity hinges on color in a way many people don’t care to recognize.
Studies in consumer psychology and marketing have shown that certain colors inspire different subconscious responses in people.
One great example of this is the use of hot colors in the food industry, especially fast food.
Red, orange, and yellow tones are quite popular in fast food marketing because it is believed that these colors are hunger triggers.
Similarly, the fitness industry often incorporates blues and reds in its branding and visual ID.
These colors inspire a sense of empowerment and internal motivation, making them great for gyms and trainers to incorporate.
The colors you choose need to complement each other; having a color palette that makes sense is the quickest way to achieve this.
For a really effective visual brand presence, we suggest hiring a freelance graphic designer or simply taking advantage of design apps such as Canva.
While learning to use advanced platforms such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator can certainly help, the learning curve and time consumed makes learning design in this way not entirely viable.
Getting accredited with any of the established personal training bodies is very flexible if you make use of study materials from Trainer Academy.
Check the links below for more info to help you get started.
- NASM MVP Study Package
- ACE MVP Study Package
- ISSA MVP Study Package
- NSCA CSCS MVP Study Package
- NSCA MVP Study Package
- ACSM MVP Study Package
Learn more about: Exercise Science Careers
Optimizing Your Digital Real Estate
As a serious online trainer, you will most certainly have a couple of social media platforms and a website.
That’s all great, but just having these platforms won’t serve you unless you optimize their look and feel.
We will talk more about marketing strategies and SEO later since they are necessary to platform optimization on how to be an online trainer.
For now, let’s discuss optimization from a foundational perspective.
The first thing to look at is your website.
Building up Your PT Website
When we’re asked how to become an online personal trainer, the first thing we ask people to work on is their website.
Websites, or at least setting up and operating them, used to be complicated business not so long ago; today, however, a website is as easy as doing laundry.
There are several quick-fire platforms for building a site, such as Squarespace, or you can go all-out on a customized site.
We prefer WordPress. It’s a good balance of a user-friendly experience, with the optional benefits of more complex tinkering through coding options and the endless amount of plugins.
Make sure your brand presence and visual identity are maintained and prominent on your website.
A valuable piece: The Best Nutrition Certifications
Building up Your Social Media
Social media is now an ingrained fixture in our day-to-day functioning. Once a tool for personal, social interaction, SM has sprawled into a necessary business tool.
As a fitness pro, your big three are Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. LinkedIn is great, but not necessary, and Twitter is just a hive of toxicity at this point.
As someone involved in fitness, an industry where a lot of debate and controversy can arise, it’s best to keep your nose clean of that platform.
But back to the good stuff, and for each social media platform, you will need to employ a different strategy.
For Instagram. Content is consumed at a break-neck speed, so keep your posts snappy but eye-catching.
Always use calls to action in your posts and take advantage of the Stories and Reels features.
A link to your site should be included in the profile description to funnel leads.
Next, we have Facebook. FB is great for creating groups that you can use to develop a community and broadcast important information.
Facebook is also one of the best places to run ads and get some decent engagement from them.
Lastly, Youtube. This is where you can really connect with an audience through long-format, insightful and impactful content.
Youtube is an effective way to drive traffic to your site and all other platforms.
It can also serve as its own income stream through the Youtube partner program and advertising.
Ads that run on your content make you eligible for earnings. If done with enough focus, your youtube ad earnings may even eclipse your earnings as an online PT.
Marketing to Online Clients
One of the main things you want to be good at to bring more sales to your online table is, of course, to get more clients.
Getting said clients is a resource-intensive endeavor; no matter how well packaged, attractive, and valuable your services and platform are, they’re no use unless they’re fully utilized.
The first step to doing a good job is doing a good job; the next step is letting people know about it.
That’s where marketing comes in, and this will probably be your most resource-intensive aspect of client conversion.
To help you optimize your marketing, we’ve come up with a few handy steps you can and should implement.
1. Provide Introductory Special Offers
To attract new prospects, try and introduce an intro offer such as a free trial session or session package, or a welcome package including merchandise and other goodies.
Attracting new clients by offering them something special on their introduction to your services is a great way to develop a strong positive impression, loyalty, and investment.
While this is a great strategy in winning new prospects, try not to overdo it with the freebies. If you give away too much value for free, the value will erode, and people will see your services as inferior or disposable.
Too many freebies also disincentivize people from committing and adhering to your plans and programs. Since they have nothing to lose, it’s easy to flake.
Check this: The Top Group Fitness Certifications
2. Provide Evidence of Success
Another great way to inspire others to sign up for your services is by proving what you are capable of.
This can easily be done by using previous or current client results as a testament to your effectiveness as an online coach.
The most popular way to do this is with before and after transformation pictures, but you can pretty much use any comprehensible progress metric as a show of results.
Even with functionality-based goals, you can post side-by-side videos of functional progress.
Another powerful tool for successful testimonials is the power of reviews.
Positive reviews rank amongst the most powerful forms of passive marketing.
Review platforms such as Facebook, Google, and TrustPilot are amazing avenues for building positive word of mouth.
Evidence of success can also come in the form of displaying your credentials.
As a certified trainer, letting prospects know that you are, in fact, formally qualified to help is a massive bonus towards selling your services.
3. Share Valuable Insight and Advice
In your work as an online personal trainer, content production should be one of your most frequent engagements.
Whether that consists of blogging, YouTube content, Instagram, or Facebook, you need to be churning out content.
This content should be valuable and insightful enough to attract the trust and intrigues of prospective clients, but not so much that they won’t need to actually pay for your services.
Providing tips and hacks that can be implemented regularly as well as just providing insight on topics of common interest, can really boost your value.
That’s because doing so places you as an authority in your field, which translates into trust within your target market.
Just as with offering introductory specials, keep the value of your content at a moderate level while keeping the really good stuff at a premium.
Read more on: The Best Fitness Certifications
4. Simplify Your Pricing
You want to make money, so pricing is key.
Your pricing needs to be sustainable for you and attractive to your target audience, which can sometimes be a tricky balance.
One way to avoid the potential setbacks of trying to formulate effective pricing is to just keep it simple.
Firstly, don’t bloat your services, just keep a few primary, strong services.
Next up, you want to make sure the pricing makes sense to your prospects. Use the currency that’s relevant to your market.
Lastly, be upfront with costs. Don’t hide additional charges within the fine print or terms of service bible. What you list is what your clients should expect to pay—nothing more and nothing less.
Since you are giving your clients a good deal, you can also upgrade your skills today by taking advantage of these offers from ISSA especially if you desire to become a certified nutritionist also.
5. Run Ads on Social Media
The most successful companies in the world are marketing juggernauts. They focus their resources and expenses on marketing and advertising more than any other operational aspect.
You can take this advice and apply it to your online fitness business by running Facebook and Instagram ads.
Generating leads and converting them is a numbers game, and getting your business out there in the form of paid ads is the fastest way to build those numbers and boost your odds.
Before running ads, make sure the content you promote is relevant and has the necessary CTA or call to action for converting as many prospects as possible.
The beauty of running ads is you can be very specific with your targeting, or you can cast your net as far and wide as possible.
Don’t miss out: The Best Health Coach Certifications
6. Harness The Power of SEO
SEO, short for search engine optimization, is a digital marketing strategy whereby you enhance your website and digital platforms’ visibility through Google search results.
This increases both the quality and quantity of traffic to your sites and accounts by allowing search queries relevant to your niche or industry to return with your platforms in the top results.
Naturally, when you use a search engine, you would typically click on the top results.
That’s the effect of good SEO.
SEO is executed through content sharing and link-building strategies, many of which are quite complex and require their own article.
In a nutshell, using keywords that match up with popular search queries, as well as sharing links across websites, content, and social platforms is also a form of SEO.
The use of hashtags in social posts is SEO tailored to media platforms like Twitter and Instagram.
The great thing about SEO is it can happen organically or as a part of a digital marketing strategy.
We suggest you get an SEO strategist to handle the tough stuff; as we said, the process can get pretty complex.
7. Boost your Marketing Activity Around Weight Loss Season
Fitness is actually a seasonal industry.
Not as beholden to seasonal shifts as hospitality and tourism, but there is a significant degree of seasonality when it comes to most fitness markets.
The common term “sun’s out, guns out” provides some insight into this. Spring and summer are the busiest seasonal moments for the fitness industry.
That’s because, like it or not, health and fitness is primarily a vanity industry, just like beauty and fashion.
That means when the season approaches for pool parties and beach days, people will be aiming to look as good as possible in as little as is permitted.
So your marketing intensity as an online fitness business should be responsive to this perennial trend, and you must ramp up engagement accordingly.
8. Keep It Old School
With all the digital tools and technological shortcuts we have at our disposal, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the process.
You can very soon get lost between client management software, social media tools, and all the plugins on your website.
Sometimes it’s a great idea to take a step back and focus on traditional touches like sending postcards or handwritten letters in the mail.
Many people still remember when this was the primary means for delivering information, and the value of nostalgia and personal investment is a great way to win over your prospects.
An insightful piece: Personal Trainer Certifications
Managing Your Clients
So you’ve built everything up and succeeded in getting a few clients through the doors. Now what?
Well, now you need to manage them.
People signing up for your programs is great, but if you can’t follow up with a satisfactory delivery of service, not only are you missing out on great earnings, you’re also tarnishing your reputation.
It takes a lot of organization to successfully manage clients, and when it comes to online, the potential influx you can expect will be overwhelming if you decide to do it manually.
That’s why we suggest you make use of a client management platform.
A client management platform or CRM (customer relationship management) is what can make or break your ability to retain clients.
Getting them in is hard enough; keeping them is the important bit.
Our top picks for online trainer CRM software help you automate many of the tedious tasks while also offering a suite of solutions for programming and communication with clients.
Let’s have a look at some of our favorites:
My PT Hub
It comes with all the standard programming and tracking features, from fitness to nutrition.
You can try it out on a 30-day free trial.
A remote coaching masterclass, this platform focuses on adherence and accountability, helping you achieve status as a reliable virtual trainer.
PTDistinction is a robust, in-depth take on online PT CRM.
It comes with great depth and a variety of features, one of which includes the website integration and customizable app which you can brand according to your business’s visual identity.
PTMinder caters to a wide variety of fitness client relationship scenarios. Aside from being a great tool for yourself as an online personal trainer, it’s also fully functional as a booking and management platform for gyms and fitness studios.
Trainerize is one of the most recognized CRMs for personal training online. It’s jam-packed with features and allows you the option of a custom branded website.
The website isn’t the most flexible option, but it can be made to work within the ecosystem of Trainerize.
Most of these software solutions find their power in automation. Automating tasks such as scheduling, tracking, notifications, and database management is the best way to free up your time for the more personal side of personal training.
Providing the Service
Now that you’ve upgraded the way you deal with your clients efficiently, the next battle is executing your coaching services effectively by delivering online personal training programs.
As an online coach, many of your clients will simply require a program they can follow and execute on their own with just a bit of feedback and accountability.
In other cases, your services as an online coach will include live sessions. In that case, you would need to set up a virtual live coaching system.
Zoom seems to be the way to go when it comes to virtual live coaching, with a great assortment of features, including having clients pay per booked session through the Zoom platform itself.
You can also run group classes in this way.
When it comes to nutrition, things are a bit different. Since nutrition doesn’t require live coaching, you have more flexibility to deal with this aspect.
Nutrition coaching does require a bit more feedback and communication than fitness coaching since food and eating habits are a bit more challenging to modify and adhere to. For this, simply keeping in touch with clients over text regularly with perhaps a weekly catch-up call will suffice.
To make your service delivery more effective, encourage your clients to make use of exercise and nutrition tracker apps as well as wearable fitness trackers.
This technology can provide you with useful data that will help make the process more tailored and effective in the long run.
What About Hybrid Training?
Hybrid personal training is a concept whereby, as a PT, you manage and service your clients both online and offline. This makes you a virtual personal trainer as well as a real-world personal trainer all in one.
This can take the form of having online clients and separate real-world clients or integrating your online client services with what you provide in a real-world setting.
You can create hybrid packages where a com[onent of the coaching your clients receive will be online, while the heavy lifting (no pun intended) is done face-to-face.
Hybrid training can be very lucrative and seems to be a great way to solidify client retention.
When thinking about how to start online personal training, hybrid training is a worthy consideration.
If you aren’t yet established as a trainer, we suggest you look into getting certified first. We have lots of info on how to go about it below.
It’s Time To Earn
Your ultimate goal when you become a virtual CPT is to earn money; that’s the whole point of any career. Of course, having a passion for what you do and the fulfillment that comes with it is necessary too.
As for earnings, online coaches typically make around $50k per year.
This is a national average, so the figures shift based on several factors.
These factors include location, level of credentials, and the recognition of your qualifications.
Experience and online brand presence also factor in for sure.
The upper percentile of online coaches can net over $100k per month.
Top earners in the online fitness space tend to have a decent amount of experience and a well-established real-world reputation—this, along with a strong captivating brand presence, ups the value.
Find out more: Personal Trainer Salary
Conclusion on Becoming A Successful Online Trainer
And that’s it on how to become an online fitness coach.
Being a top-tier online coach takes some time, patience, and a generous amount of resource investment.
The digital economy is getting more and more competitive by the day, so your best bet is to level up and niche down.
You need to captivate your market and then keep them hooked! The use of clever branding, marketing strategies, and the implementation of cutting-edge software are key points.
By implementing the strategies and ideas laid out in this article, you will be well on your way to transforming your online PT business from just a blip on the radar to a dominant empire!
Are you interested in streamlining your business to a specialized niche? Check out the links below.
- Strength and Conditioning Certs: NCSF CNC or NASM PES or ISSA SAC
- Group Certs: ACE Group or ISSA Group
- Nutrition Certs: ISSA Nutritionist or NASM CNC or ISSA and PN or NCSF SNS
Our informative reviews are also available for your reading pleasure.