There is an earning potential tipping point in every trainer’s career. You can only take on a certain number of clients or sessions per month without living at the gym. Meaning the only way to make more money is to charge more for each session. And while that sounds like an easy solution, it’s not always the easiest (or quickest) to implement. The answer? Learning how to make money outside of sessions and diversifying your income sources.
This article will cover six methods for making money outside of your training sessions. A few of these you can implement as soon as today, while others may require a bit of patience and grunt work on the front end. Let’s put an end to the stigma that personal training can’t be a lucrative, high-earning career.
Start a Blog
A blog, website, or whatever you want to call it is nearly a prerequisite for a personal trainer/fitness pro these days. It should serve as your “home base” or where you’re sending everyone from social media or in-person interaction. You can offer services, sell products, demonstrate your expertise, and get people into your sales funnel with a website/blog. If you’re unsure of where to start, check out my guide on starting a fitness blog here.
In terms of income, blogs can generate income in many different ways. I’ll cover most of them in this article but keep in mind, your blog is where we want people to go. It’s going to be the most effective way to generate income outside of sessions. Social media is a great place to build a following, but you don’t have any control over that platform or your audience. How would you like to be the person that had a huge following on Vine or Myspace but didn’t funnel them anywhere else?
And don’t let your comfort zone prevent you from building your home base. It’s easier than you think to get started, and it will serve you for years to come.
Online coaching is all the rage right now, so I won’t spend too much time on this one. And I definitely don’t need to tell you about the value in being able to work from a laptop anywhere and anytime. Instead, I’ll share a few lessons I learned when my online coaching business was bringing in north of $5k/month.
You need systems for client onboarding, assessments, check-ins, and everything “non-coaching” related. You’ll want to automate as much as possible. I used Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms to automate everything I could. Use as many free tools as you can in the early days but as your online coaching business grows, you may want to upgrade to a dedicated CRM.
You’ll want to replicate as much as possible without giving out “cookie cutter” plans. Though after some time as a personal trainer, you’ll realize that you can fit nearly every person into a few categories based on ability. Creating templates will allow you to create new, individualized training programs for every new client in a time-efficient manner. Keep in mind, most people know what to do and can find training programs just as good, if not better than yours, online for free. They don’t need the world’s best program, they need motivation, accountability, support system, and other intangibles that come with a great coach.
Create groups for connection and collaboration between clients. It won’t be for everyone but some of your clients will thrive in that environment and find accountability/support from other clients. If done right, you’ll become a semi-cult leader and take a lot of the work off your shoulders. As your clients become more educated they will answer a lot of questions and offer support to others – making your job easier and reinforcing your methods. (Facebook is a great place for this but make sure it’s exclusive to clients.)
Use professional billing and account management software. Paypal is a great way to send invoices but as your business grows, having a dedicated billing/accounting platform would be ideal. I recommend FreshBooks to most small business owners.
You should be saving everything you use with clients. Training programs, nutrition documents, answers to client questions, and any other information you’re sending out will benefit someone else. Over time, you can turn all of this information into your “Super Ultimate Top Secret” program. This program will be completely hands-off for you, meaning it takes zero time after creating it. (Where the magic happens.)
DIY programs could earn revenue outright through sales on your website, social media, etc. They could also be used as an opt-in or lead generator for your email list or training trial list. If you don’t have an email list yet, I would highly encourage you to check out ConvertKit to get one started. Building a list is one of THE most important things you can do as a fitness professional or entrepreneur. Email converts better than nearly any other form of marketing, allowing you to sell online coaching, products, and other revenue generators covered below.
You can use eBooks in a similar manner to DIY programs as an opt-in to your email list or even lower cost sales as a low-cost way to enter your sales funnel. The biggest difference between eBooks and DIY programs is the authority that comes from an eBook. While most trainers could put together a good program and slap a price tag on it, taking the time to write an eBook separates you from the pack. It’s a great way to “fake it til you make it” or establish your authority in your niche.
Note: If you’re already writing or blogging, you could create an eBooks over a weekend by combining/organizing previous posts into a PDF and designing a label.
This one ain’t for the faint of heart. You’ll have to spend time improving your writing, pitching to editors, dealing with rejection, and guest posting on sites for free and very little traffic in return. That being said, if you’re in it for the long haul this is one of the most beneficial things you could do for your career.
Not only will writing enable you to better communicate to clients and potential clients, it will build a resume that speaks for itself. The more you publish, the more authority you will gain in your niche or the fitness industry as a whole. That authority can be leveraged for writing articles for larger sites and more money, new job opportunities, internships at elite facilities, and even affiliate/sponsored deals.
Affiliate marketing is essentially the promotion of a product/service/brand that you use or recommend to your readers/followers. I’m not talking about multi-level marketing products or pyramid schemes, I’m talking about the promotion of established brands. In the fitness industry, that could be anything from Amazon.com or Bodybuilding.com for supplements or equipment to Nike or Under Armour for apparel.
The key to successful affiliate marketing is having trust and authority. If people want to hear what you have to say and trust what you’re saying, they’ll follow your advice and purchase products or services you recommend. The earning potential with affiliate marketing is endless, especially in an industry where products like supplements and apparel thrive.
If you’re interested in affiliate marketing, I can’t recommend the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course enough. It’s geared towards bloggers, but the same principles could be applied to your social media or email communication through clients. In my case, the things I learned in the second half of the course paid for the cost of the course within a week.
Note: It can take years to build trust and respect, but minutes to destroy it. Be careful with the brands or products you’re recommending. If you don’t believe in a product then why would you recommend it?
“It’s not how much money you make, it’s how you make it that’s important.”
- Start a blog.
- Start building your email list.
- If you have a blog already, begin researching how you could monetize your honest recommendations.
- Even if you choose not to start a blog, start sharing your thoughts and ideas with as many people as possible through writing, videos, or wherever your message is best delivered. Making money outside of sessions is more than possible, but you can’t earn it sitting on the sidelines.