Recently I became a member of a Facebook group dedicated to the discussion of online personal training. Within 5 days of the creation of this group, over 2000 people had joined and there was A LOT of activity. Very quickly, I realized that not only was online training growing exponentially in popularity, but also that many people have some pretty high expectations for what it can do for their business.
Working from your home office while not wearing pants may sound appealing to many, but it’s important to realize that is probably going to require a lot more effort than you may think. However, if you think it could work for you than you should probably set the appropriate expectations.
Online Training is Probably More Beneficial as a Supplement, Not an Exclusive Entity
While it is not crazy to think that you could fully support yourself by training clients online only, it is certainly the exception and not the rule. According to the statistics, the median income of a full-time personal trainer is approximately 55K per year. You could probably count on two hands the coaches that are out there making that much exclusively from online training.
Most of the coaches that are making that much from online training are also creating income streams from similar products such as e-books, speaking engagements, membership sites, and even coaching clients face-to-face. The obvious benefit of this approach is that by having your income diversified it is also more stable, but the side effect is that all these endeavors end up feeding each other by increasing influence, reputation, and possible reach.
Due to having a thriving business already and needing a more efficient way to produce, these coaches began online coaching as a necessity rather than an initial plan. They weren’t simply looking for an easy way out; they were looking for a way to take on more work. Which, when done properly, is exactly what online training provides.
Building a Tangible Business is the Best Pre-Cursor to Online Success
Online training can be very alluring due to the freedom and flexibility it offers. You can do your work from anywhere with an internet connection and buck the traditionalism of balancing work days with vacation days. This appeal, however, has a habit of allowing would be entrepreneurs to forget that an online business is still a business and that building a business requires hard work, experience, and patience.
Too many people get focused on marketing, funnels and the like. What they need to focus on is creating work that speaks for itself. That means putting in the hours (years) of working with people in person and building a clientele that get results. While working early mornings and late nights doesn’t sound sexy, it is critical, because you can’t skip this step and be successful. Racking up these hours will empower you with the experience to better assist your clients and instill in you the work ethic and discipline needed to run an online business.
If you’re not willing to bust your ass for at least a couple years (or 5-10), then turn back now. The reality is that if you can’t book yourself up with in-person clients, then you probably don’t have the experience and/or reputation needed to create a successful online training business.
Your Pricing is Dependent on Your Value and Your Value is Dependent on How Well You Understand Your Market
In any marketplace where there is an abundance of options, such as online training, the customer makes their decision (purchase) based on their perception of value. That means that your value as a service provider is what your potential customer thinks you are worth, not what you may think you are worth. In a recent article, Dean Somerset explains this concept really well:
“Because of the vast demands of the customers looking to access fitness, the free market will support a large variety of trainers, applications, programs, and approaches to training. If price is the delineating feature that causes a client to want to train with one trainer over another, they’re viewing it as a commodity versus a service, meaning they’re going to get what they pay for. There is no problem with this.
If a trainer is worried about losing their business to lower priced competition, this is a problem. It’s essentially saying they acknowledge one of two things: either they are overpricing their services or they’re not differentiating their services adequately to build value in the eyes of their clients.
However, if they can continue to differentiate their services and offer a value that can’t be met with simple cost cutting, they will never have to worry about pricing. Louis Vuitton never goes on sale because they don’t compete on price. They also don’t view themselves as having any competition, so there’s no reason to reduce their prices.”
Figure out specifically who you want to cater to and what distinctive challenges they face. Then, design a way to implement those solutions successfully in a way that reflects your authentic personality.
In order for online training (or any training for that matter) to be lucrative you have to deliver a lot of value. If you are going to charge hundreds of dollars monthly, then you better offer solutions others are unable to offer and that ability comes from having a unique skillset and the knowledge of exactly who needs that skillset.