“You won’t make money from that”
“Good luck finding enough clients to earn an income.”
“Even if you do make a business from training people, you’ll have to work awful hours and be trading time for money.”
I heard all of these and more when I announced to people that I wasn’t going to university, and wanted to pursue my passion for health and fitness by becoming a personal trainer.
And you know what, in my 6 years in the industry, I’ve found the above statements to be –
True ……….. (kind of)
You absolutely CAN make money from PT.
You can make very good money from personal training actually – even going for the mobile trainer route like I did, where you’re essentially a guy in a tracksuit, who rocks up to peoples’ houses with a couple of kettlebells, and tells them to do burpees and press-ups for an hour a few times a week.
(I jest, obviously, but that tends to be the general public's impression of trainers.)
Unfortunately, however, while you can make money, and make good money, you can’t escape that last crux – to earn that money, you have to trade an extremely precious commodity.
Okay, some trainers are so in demand that they can pick and choose their clients, and pick and choose the days and times they work.
That’s a pretty sweet spot to be in, but the reality is that most trainers won’t be in that position.
Plus, these folk usually also have passive income streams, which is the topic of today’s post.
(And they’re STILL trading time for money, even if they are trading less time for more money than the average trainer. So no work still equals no pay.)
Now, I’m no stranger to working hard, and working long days. And for a while, I loved the fact that I was constantly on the verge of burning out.
I got a real rush from getting up at 5am, seeing back to back clients for 7 or 8 hours, going home to slump into a coma on the sofa, only to head back out again around 4pm for another 5 to 6 hours.
2 years of this though, and I was shot.
I was earning more money than I ever thought I’d make from PT, but I’d stopped loving my work.
I’d always said that job satisfaction, enjoyment and being my own boss mattered more to me than my pay packet, but this was stupid.
I felt the service I was offering my clients was going down, as I was so rushed and stressed all the time, I was agitated and tired when I got time off, became incredibly frustrated whenever clients cancelled (as it meant a loss of income) and I simply could not switch off when I had any down time.
Something had to change.
It Started with “The Idiot’s Guide”
My first foray into passive income simply started with my desire to write an e-book.
I had absolutely no intention of making money from it, I was simply enjoying writing and thought I could turn my hand to an e-book.
I’d also just started to see the benefits of flexible dieting, so wrote “The Idiot’s Guide to Cutting” – a 15-page e-book on losing fat with IIFYM.
The other reason for doing this was to build up my email list, my presence in the industry, and to just reach and connect with more people.
I put this up as a free download on my website when I had a small email list of around 300 people, and a Facebook page of around 2,000. I dropped $50 on Facebook ads, and it got over 1,000 downloads in the first month.
While in theory I lost money on this, it did 2 things –
– I got names on my mailing list, who would later buy products, or become online clients
– Made me realise that a paid product could sell very well with the right marketing.
See, the barrier to purchase for a lot of people in the world of Internet shopping often isn’t the cost – it’s actually clicking a button and waiting for a download!
Think about it – how many times have you bought something you didn’t really want, or even know what it was, just because it was so easy to do? (Amazon do this very well with the fact in now takes 2 clicks from looking at something to having it on its way to your front door!)
So here’s tip #1 –
Sit down and write an e-book.
It should be a “free” one to act as lead bait – i.e. an ethical bribe, where you give away your product in exchange for an email address.
Personally I’d suggest taking a day to write the whole thing, and getting it done.
Go to Fiverr or Upwork and hire someone to edit and format the book. (For a decent editor and designer with English as a first language, you can get this done for as little as $50.)
For an EXCEPTIONAL editor with copious amounts fitness industry experience (she's actually a champion bodybuilder too - how cool is that!?) I highly recommend Nicola Joyce you can find her as the fitwriter on social media she's my "go-to" for editing, and offers a fantastic service.
Tell her I sent you, and she might give me some Pop Tarts.
Stick it on your website, or on a landing page on Stridist, then throw up links on your social media pages.
No money yet, but this is your first step to passive income.
Okay, you’re not going to actually send spam to people.
But you are going to email.
Because if you’re an expert, consider yourself an authority, and know your target market, you should be able to find something interesting, useful, insightful and funny to say every single day. Or at least 4 days per week.
Use the Stridist marketing suite so you can track subscribers, open rates and trends, and make your emails entertaining, but useful and actionable.
Try to include a call to action in each, such as “click here to see x, y, z” or “if you want to learn more, head over and read my article at ……”
Email newsletter becomes a great tool for selling services such as online coaching, as well products (we’re getting closer to passive income) but you can’t go in with hard, desperate sells all the time.
The key is to provide top-quality content, humour and to build a relationship with your list.
The goal is to get people to keep visiting your website (which you’ll do by constantly churning out high-quality content) so that when you have something to sell through there, they’ll already be familiar with you, your site and your philosophies.
List size doesn’t matter too much – what matters is the interaction. A list of 500 people with a high open rate (anything over 25% is very, very good) and lots of people who regularly email back, or invest in your products and services is better than a list of 5,000 with no interaction, and a low click or open rate.
Tip #2 – Start An Email list
Simply build this in Stridist, you can build your landing pages, add a form and you're good to go
Re-Kindle Your Love of Amazon
Sorry, that’s a seriously bad pun.
Perhaps I should have just gone with – Tip #3 – Write a Kindle Book
Writing a Kindle book is the best way to test your writing mettle on a slightly bigger scale.
Your Kindle book will be a bit longer than your lead bait product, but it’s still relatively low-cost, so there’s a little less pressure than for writing a full e-book.
I’d run through exactly the same process as with your lead bait product –
– Take a day (you may need 2-3 for this, depending on how long you want the book to be.)
– Hire an editor. (Hire them BEFORE you’ve written it, and agree a day for them to work on it. This will force you to stop procrastinating, and get it done before the deadline.)
Side note – I’ve lost track of how many PTs and coaches I know who are “writing a book” almost permanently.
Here’s an idea – how about just taking a couple of days to do nothing except write? It doesn’t matter if you take a few days off clients – you’d get it done if you just focussed on it fully, rather than trying to write it at weekends and evenings.
– This takes about 10 minutes, and is super easy to do.
You can see mine here – http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Easy-Guide-Awesome-Arms-ebook/dp/B00LY04CPY/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
The only downsides to a Kindle book are –
- Payment takes a while to come through, and you have to give Amazon 30% of each sale.
- People can only download it from their country’s specific Amazon site. So you may find you need to send out a few different links when you direct people where to go. (I always do UK, US and Australian links for mine, though it’s also available on the German, French, Indian …., and every other Amazon site going.)
Now – the big question ……
Do you release your book for free?
Amazon let you have your Kindle book up for free for 5 days.
The bonus of this is that more people will download it, and give it (hopefully) positive reviews, which boosts it up the rankings. It’s often not too difficult to get to #1 spot in your category, which a) means you can officially claim to be an Amazon bestselling author, and b) will keep it near the top of searches once the free 5 days is over, meaning paying customers will see it and buy it.
The drawback – you can “shoot your load” too early.
I’ll admit – this is where I massively dropped the ball.
I put “The Easy Guide to Awesome Arms” up for free for 5 days, and had 600 downloads in that period.
Now, do I think 600 people would have downloaded it had I charged for it?
But then the cost was so low ($2.99 or about £1.80) that I’m pretty sure the barrier to most who downloaded was simply clicking a few buttons, NOT the cost. Personally I know if I fancied reading a Kindle book, I’d download anything under £5 without thinking twice.
So my top tip here is –
#3a – Release a free Kindle book if you have a small email list/ following #3b – Release a paid Kindle book if you have a big email list/ following
Hello passive income.
You’re Still Blogging, Right?
You cannot let your blogging/ writing exploits slip.
Keep consistent with your content, and make yourself accountable.
If you aim to put out 2 blogs per week, then put out 2.
One of the reasons I don’t do YouTube videos or podcasts at the moment is because I’m too sporadic with them, and in my view, you’re better off committing to something fully, or not doing it at all.
Another of my favourite tips is guest blogging.
But for a basic overview –
– Offer to exchange guest posts with trainers who have a similar approach to you
– Ask higher profile coaches/ writers to write for your site. Even if you have to pay them a fee, it’s worth it, as their reach can be phenomenal.
– Offer to write for them for free.
– Submit articles to popular sites (Elites, Stack Magazine, T-Nation and the Personal Trainer Development Center have all been amazing for me.)
I guess that makes –
Tip #4 – Attain Expert Status
The more people see your name, and in the more places, the more you’re seen as an authority figure, and a person of influence.
Become Bukowski/ Burroughs/ Bulgakov
Okay, I’m sure none of these guys would ever have dreamed of writing an e-book, but basically, Tip #5 = Write a Damn Book!
Honestly, it’s not that hard.
Mine took ages, but that’s because I had a massive gap between getting it 75% done, and finishing it.
By this time, you should have a pretty decent email list, a good Facebook following, and have gained credence and credibility within your sector of the industry.
You may not quite be on the scale of Norton, Poliquin or Thibaudeau, but it’s not that difficult to amount a hefty number of people who like, and look forward to your work.
I’ll be completely honest with you here –
I spent around $150 on Facebook ads when I started the HLHL page, and probably spend $10-$20 per week boosting posts. Nothing more.
Growth has been steady, but it’s been completely organic, and the interaction is fantastic. According to Likealyzer, the page scores 89 out of 100 for interaction and reach, which I’m immensely proud of.
* polishes halo *
We’ve gone from 0 “fans”, to 9,462 at the time of writing
As for the book – well, it’s by far and away my best source of passive income.
Again, I’ll lay it on the line here, just to show what’s possible with a very small budget, what some might consider a small following, and very little effort once the product has been created.
Costs = (sorry, switching back to my native GBP here!) =
– Formatting and uploading to a web page (which I paid a web company to do, but which could be done for less than half this price using Upwork/ Fiverr and LeadPages) = £400
– Editing = £300
– Foreword from Layne Norton = £150
– Total = £850
Number of sales to date (August – November ) = Just over 800.
I’ll let you do the maths on that.
Tip # 6 – Winning with WeightTraining.com
In September, I was contacted by http://www.weighttraining.com/
After a chat with the president, Jeff, I hopped on board and agreed to write a few programs.
I came up with 4 workouts
Here’s how it works –
– You design the programs. (The above took around 45 minutes each)
– WeightTraining.com publishes them, and handles all sales.
– They take 30% of the sale price (which you set) and the other 70% goes to you.
– You get paid once every week, straight into your account.
– The site handles all the transactions, customer feedback, technical issues, etc. so you have to do absolutely nothing.
This may not make you big bucks, but it’s just another nice little revenue stream, and you can earn enough from it to buy yourself a meal out once a week, or treat yourself to a new pair of kicks every now and again.
For me, each program probably only sells around once a week each with no promotion, but I when I link one on Facebook, or through my newsletter, it’ll get 4-8 downloads, so I tend to promote one once every couple of weeks.
Again, for a minimum initial time investment, this could quite feasibly generate a couple of thousand pounds/ dollars a year.
More (Almost) Passive Income
So the Kindle book, e-book and training programs all require some upfront work, and then little else apart from promotion once things are in place.
But here’s one that’s been HUGE for me –
Tip #7 – Online Coaching
Okay, so online coaching isn’t passive, as you have bi-weekly/ weekly/ fortnightly/ however often you choose – check ins with clients, but you can coach people online from anywhere in the world, provided you have an Internet connection (and Stridist)
If you get tips 1-6 in place, you don’t even really have to market yourself as an online coach.
All I have is a basic page on my site and an application form which you can build in Stridist
The scope for online coaching is huge, and it means you get a nice blend between talking to and training people face to face, and connecting with people online.
Some trainers find it difficult to develop the same relationships online, but I find that Stridist is awesome for this.
How you coach people online is entirely up to you, but a few basics that I always tell wannabe online coaches are –
– Detail exactly what you’ll offer online clients
– Tell them what you promise to deliver
– Be clear with your expectations of them and what they can expect of you
– Treat them with as much care and attention as you would a one-on-one client.
– Keep your update days to specific days each week. (I tend to do Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, that way if I’m away, it doesn’t matter if I can’t always get to my laptop.)
– Encourage honest feedback, and be prompt in your replies.
Make Your Millions ……….
Right, so none of these are likely to make you millions.
I don’t claim to be an “expert” in this shit.
I know I could probably do things a lot better and more efficiently.
My e-book hasn’t funded me a Bentley, and I don’t have a different Breitling for every day of the week.
But what it has done is helped me to
– NEVER stress about loss of income from clients being away.
– NEVER worry about going away myself
– Wake up every morning with emails telling me there’s more money in my PayPal account than there was when I went to bed
– Connect with more people than I ever thought possible
– Have more fun in my job, and not consider what I do as “work”
– Get rid of “energy vampire” clients, and only train really cool people who I want to spend time with.
– Be completely relaxed about money, and not feel that eternal fear that many PTs face about what’d happen if work dried up.