Welcome to Starting an Online Fitness Business: Branding, Website & Marketing. In Part 1 and Part 2, you learned how to choose a niche market and develop services and products to solve your ideal customer’s problem.
The next step is to create a brand that will speak to your ideal customer and make you stand out from your online fitness competition.
Once you’ve got a clear vision for your branding, you’re ready to set up a website to sell your services online.
Finally, with your fitness business website ready to go, the last step is to drive customers to it and start making sales.
In this post, you’ll get all the information you need to get your fitness services and products online in a way that will have people purchasing them. By the time you’ve finished these last steps, you’ll officially be the owner of an online fitness business.
Starting an Online Fitness Business: Branding
A Google search for “online personal training” generates around 122 million results. It’s vital that when potential customers find your business, it grabs their attention immediately and invites them in. Your branding will play a big part in enticing visitors to stick around.
According to Entrepreneur.com’s small business encyclopedia, branding is the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.
And “the foundation of your brand is your logo.” So spending a bit of time designing your logo (with your ideal customer in mind) is a good starting point.
Here are some examples of fitness businesses with strong logos:
Beyond the logo, everything you present about your business must paint a consistent picture that strengthens your brand – you want to capture the feel of your niche.
Think about everything from the colors you use to the tone of your writing to the types of images you use. If you’re targeting pregnant women, gritty black-and-white photos of meaty, chalked hands on a barbell emblazoned with words like “hardcore” probably aren’t going to do you any favors, but they will catch the eye of powerlifting enthusiasts.
These online fitness businesses have done a great job of creating a powerful brand that speaks to their target audience:
Starting an Online Fitness Business: Developing your website
With a compelling brand to guide design and a detailed plan for the services and products you’re going to offer, you’re ready to give your business a home online: a website.
Your website should be at the heart of your online business: all marketing roads will lead back to your website where you’re selling your services and products.
It’s worth spending some time planning your website and ensuring it’s user-friendly. You may even want to invest in professional web design services to get a site that looks polished, functions flawlessly, and impresses anyone who drops by.
Aside from attracting new customers, your website should serve to keep current customers engaged, and make your job easier wherever possible.
Here are some basic considerations for developing your website so that it showcases your services and products in the best light possible, keeps customers happy, and streamlines your duties:
As soon as people click on your website you need to give them a reason to stay – remember all those other online fitness businesses you’re competing with.
What can you show new arrivals to make them want to know more? Perhaps it’s the incredible information in your blog, or maybe a simple but elegant landing page with your smiling face will invite them to look further.
Take a look at the way you’re greeted on these successful fitness sites:
Once a potential customer has reached your website, how easy is it for them to find what they’re looking for or what they might need? And what about your established customers, can they access resources quickly or buy your latest product without any fuss?
The best way to get insights into what makes a user-friendly experience is to check out the competition. This article by Total Coaching lists their pick of the top 50 personal trainer websites for 2016 – go for a wander through these sites and take notes on what you like, what makes a site comfortable to use, and what’s not so good (no one’s perfect!).
Personal training software
If you’re planning to sell exercise programming services, integrated personal training software can help you manage numerous aspects of your business, such as adding a members area to your site where customers can access their programs and exercise databases, processing payments, and facilitating your communication with them. Some personal training software even allows you to build your own website within their platform.
There are lots of options for personal training software, so do your research and think about what’s necessary for your business. For example, do you want software that comes with a built-in exercise library or will you be better off creating your own? Do you want to be able to monitor your clients’ progress using the software or are you going to offer unlimited email support to get their feedback?
Free trials are available for most personal training software and it’s worth trying a few to see which one works best for you.
For a list of personal training software with reviews, check out capterra.com or a quick online search will bring up plenty to choose from.
No matter what you’re selling, you’re going to need a way to accept payments and it’s advisable to have something a bit more sophisticated than a postal address to send checks.
If you’re not using personal training software for a storefront or payment processing, there are plenty of Ecommerce platforms that will do the job. The services you can get from Ecommerce platforms vary depending on the provider and plan, so it’s wise to research and make the most of free trials.
Whatever you decide on in terms of an Ecommerce platform, make sure it suits your branding or gives you the ability to customize, so it’s consistent with the rest of your site. Of course, Selz offers everything you could want from a professional webstore including plans that allow you to customize your shop.
Check out these online storefronts for fitness businesses to get an idea of appealing designs:
Starting an Online Fitness Business: Marketing your online fitness business
It’s an exciting moment when your website finally goes live and certainly something to be celebrated. But that website isn’t going to do all the work for you, no matter how good it looks, how easy it is to navigate, or how good your wares are.
Driving traffic to your website is essential for a successful online fitness business, and there are lots of ways to do this.
As Bill Gates’ famous saying goes, “content is king,” and this is especially true for the fitness industry. People actively search online for workout tips, exercise instructions, diet plans, and just about anything else fitness professionals offer. This makes content more like the “king of kings” for marketing an online fitness business and with so much fitness information available online, exceptional content is going to be more effective at attracting customers than paid advertising.
Starting an Online Fitness Business: Social media for fitness professionals
Social media is perfect for distributing your brilliant content as well as connecting with potential customers or maintaining relationships with existing customers. With any industry, some social media platforms work better than others, and here are the ones that are most likely to give your online fitness business a boost:
Facebook: While there’s no doubt it’s becoming more difficult for businesses to promote themselves on Facebook without paying, a Facebook page is still worthwhile for fitness professionals and Facebook groups are an easy way to set up a community for your customers. Check out Fitnessblender’s Facebook page.
Instagram: People love exercise pics, and Instagram is perfect for fitness professionals to flaunt what they’ve got and share motivational messages. See Sarah O’Connor’s Instagram.
YouTube: Video is one of the best ways for fitness professionals to present content – people love a great workout video – and since YouTube is now the second-largest search engine on the web, it’s a platform worth taking advantage of. The Turbulence Training YouTube channel is a great example.
Snapchat: The popularity of Snapchat as a marketing tool is on the rise, and being a photo-based platform, it’s fast being adopted by fitness professionals and fitness celebrities (you’ll even find Arnie on there). See @christmasabbott for an example.
Twitter: Twitter is another avenue for distributing content and engaging with customers. Hosting Twitter chats is also a way to create a community for your customers and interact with them in real time. Have a look at #RunChat.
Medium: If you’re into generating high-quality written content, Medium.com is another new-ish social media platform to try. If you haven’t heard of Medium, it was founded by Twitter founder Evan Williams, and it has been described as a long-form sister to Twitter. Medium is being used very successfully by some health and fitness professionals, like P.D. Mangan.
A healthy email list is essential for marketing an online fitness business and because people are so hungry for health and fitness information, growing your email list can be done simply by asking for people to sign up to get free advice.
If you look through successful fitness websites, you’ll find that many of them have a pop up for a free Ebook, video tutorial, or newsletter subscription. Here are some examples:
Starting an Online Fitness Business: Series wrap-up
After reading all three posts in this series, you should feel confident to start an online fitness business from scratch and grow it effectively. Here is a summary of the key steps on the path to developing a business that stands out from the online fitness crowd and draws in customers:
- Find a niche market and evaluate it
- Create an ideal customer profile
- Identify your ideal customer’s pain points
- Develop services and products that solve your ideal customer’s problem
- Do your market research on proposed services and products
- Brand your business to appeal to your ideal customer
- Set up a website to sell your services and products
- Use content marketing to drive traffic to your website
As your online fitness business takes off, you will hopefully find yourself with a more flexible schedule and easier income than you had doing full-time face-to-face training. And hopefully your own workouts and well-being will benefit from it!
If you have any further questions or have experiences setting up an online fitness business, please share them in the comments section below.