Starting a personal training business? Here’s how to thrive online

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Starting a personal training business? Here's how to thrive online

You’re an advisor, problem solver, a motivator and a confidante — all rolled into one. Success as a personal trainer comes from your ability to gain trust and build relationships: something that applies just as much to your online presence as it does to your sessions on the gym floor.

The power of online marketing is impossible to ignore. The vast majority of people carry out online research before choosing who to hire to deliver services. At the same time, ‘Recommendations from people I know’ regularly tops the list of the most relied-upon sources of information. Thanks to social media, the potential for effectively publicising your services — and for building up your reputation — has never been greater.

But the online world can be a noisy place, full of lots of awesome-sounding ‘rockstar’ trainers all vying for the attention of your potential clients. Faced with this, your mission is twofold: to get yourself noticed — and to convince your audience to explore your services.

This can all sound daunting, so to simplify this down, here are our tips for getting your online marketing strategy off to the right start.

The core: your website

Even if they are introduced to you from elsewhere (e.g. through a Facebook friend or via your poster on the health club notice board), potential clients will likely want to find out all about you — all in one place. Think of your website as your ‘home base’: the place where clients can find all the information they need.

Here’s what to include to ensure their questions are answered:

  • Your services: this includes an easy-to-understand rundown of what you offer (e.g. 1-on-1 sessions, group classes and details of any bulk packages). Be upfront about your pricing — and give clear information about where you operate. A free initial consultation can be a big draw, so if you offer it, make sure it is featured prominently on the site.  
  • Your credentials: this includes details of your formal qualifications along with a potted bio detailing your story – and your experience.
  • Why choose you? who can benefit from your spinning classes? What difference has your 1-on-1 sessions made to people’s lives? There’s an old saying that you should always sell the benefits, not the features — and this definitely applies to personal fitness. Real life stories and testimonials are great for this. Lots of images are good, too — but avoid stock images in favour of ‘real life’ photos of you and your clients at work (with your clients’ permission, of course).
  • Testimonials: having a few comments from happy customers is a good way of proving your business works, and that you’re trustworthy.

It’s important to remember that a personal trainer’s website doesn’t have to be huge. A homepage, about page, a page for each category of service, and a contact page along with a section to add your own articles (a blog) will generally cover the essentials. Go direct to a web developer and you can expect to pay in the region of £500-£1,000 for this type of ‘brochure’ website. Build-your-own services are worth looking at, too; Squarespace and WordPress are two popular examples that might be worth a look!

Social media: what it can do for your business

More than a third of consumers regard social media as an important place for finding out about businesses. It can also be a fantastic way to develop your relationships with existing clients, provide motivation and build loyalty.

Here’s a breakdown of how some of the most popular social media platforms can be put to work:

  • Facebook: from a marketing perspective, the world’s most popular social media site is hard to ignore! It’s a highly useful platform for sharing all types of content, for keeping in touch with your community of existing clients — and for attracting new ones.
  • Instagram: this platform has grown massively over recent years and now has a billion regular monthly users worldwide. Used mostly for sharing images, it’s the perfect place for before & after photos, motivational images and snapshots of you at work.  
  • Twitter: this is great for sharing snippets of information and messages. Seen a fitness article that you know your clientele will appreciate? Twitter is a great platform for sharing.
  • Linkedin: your Linkedin profile enables you to showcase your qualifications and experience. Also, if you provide corporate services (e.g. lunchtime wellbeing sessions), this is a natural platform for establishing your authority in this area by sharing information on topics linked to your work.
  • YouTube: through instructional and informational videos (e.g. ‘how-to- guides for different types of exercises), you can deliver something really useful for your viewers — and set out your stall as an expert
  • Snapchat: the home of bite-size videos, Snapchat has a very big following with 18-35 year-olds. It’s ideal for sharing fun glimpses into your business, group sessions in action — and perhaps even a behind-the-scenes look at your own training regime. All of this is fantastic for injecting personality into your brand.

Enhancing your online image

There’s a strong element of trial and error to building up a strong online presence. You might find for instance, that your short & snappy quotes attract likes, shares and service enquiries, whereas your painstakingly created how-to training guides don’t seem to hit the mark. Don’t be afraid to ditch what isn’t working and ramp up what is — even if this means changing your original plans.

At the same time, bear in mind the following:

  • You can’t be everywhere at once: rarely touched or abandoned social media feeds make you look undisciplined. Especially if your time is limited, it’s far better to focus your efforts on a small handful of sites (e.g. Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn if you do corporate work — along with your website).
  • Always respond: these days, more than half of people expect an instant response from a business, whether that’s on the firm’s website, email — or social feed. If other people see that you provide swift, helpful answers when someone submits a query, it’s a strong indicator that you take your work seriously. Tip: make sure you set up smartphone alerts for all your business social feeds, email and website contact form.
  • Don’t oversell: if all you do online is bombard your audience with special offers and training deals, it can be a huge turn-off. The ‘80/20’ rule is a useful one to follow: for everything you post online, try to ensure that 80% of it is interesting content that you think might be useful to current and potential clients (e.g. relating to exercise, training and wellbeing), with no more than around 20% directly and obviously promoting your services.
  • Business structure matters: if you set up a limited company with its own name and logo, it can give your business a slick, professional feel. It also helps you build brand recognition; something that’s vital when there are so many similar businesses out there!

If you think that setting up a company ‘isn’t for the likes of me’, here’s some good news: company formation is easier, quicker and cheaper than you think. If you’re wanting to get started, whether that’s help with accounting or becoming a limited company, we’re here to help. For more information on your options, check out our formation packages today.

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