If you're interested in creating more freedom in your life, then developing a side or full-time business in online fitness is a great option.
Every trainer should create intellectual property (IP) to sell.
The first major thing that you sell (product, course, book, etc.) should have the potential to fundamentally change your business.
This can be done in one of two ways:
- An amazing print book that’s professionally put-together from the design to the editing to the networking required to get the book out to a large but purposeful audience.
- An online fitness product that has the potential to infuse a lot of money into your business.
This article, at first glance, is contradictory to my theory.
First, a bit of my background and how I stumbled into recognizing the power of both items above:
My first print book, Ignite the Fire: The Secrets to Building a Successful Personal Training Career, was released in April 2012. The book took 3 years to write, cost over $12,000 to produce, and has since changed my life. It’s now being used as course material in colleges and mentorships around the World.
Aside from enabling me to live life and run a business on my own terms, the book is primarily responsible for the growth of the Personal Trainer Development Center, this site, that helped 4.56 million trainers Worldwide in 2015.
Here’s what many don’t know.
After writing Ignite but before releasing it I consulted with a few online fitness marketing experts for help in polishing and promoting the product. They promised the World and, for a small (not so small) fee, would turn it into an Ebook and sell millions. Somewhere along the lines they seemed to miss the step about how they were planning on selling millions. Nevertheless they were happy to sell me on a dream and take my money.
Ignite as a digital product might have done OK, who knows. What I do know is that if I had made the decision to go the easy route and make it digital I wouldn’t be here writing this to you right now.
A well-received print book has the potential to fundamentally change your life. Print books are cherished, shared, and dog-earred. A book gets displayed proudly on a shelf for the owner to show off his or her breadth of knowledge to any passers-by. A digital book, on the other hand, often gets lost in the 100s of gigs of data on a hardrive.
If it was a digital book early on, there’d be no way I could have compiled a Facebook album showcasing trainers with the book.
Additionally, a high-quality print book is exceptionally hard to produce and even more difficult to promote, especially if you’re self-published. You need an audience and a network; you need to navigate the publishing World; and you need great interior design, editing, and distribution.
So the book came out – that was cool. A few years later I released my first online fitness product. After a painstaking research, development, and testing process, 1K Extra – How to Build a Scalable and Efficient Online Personal Training Business, was released.
1K Extra’s first release infused so much money into my business that I was able to hire 8 contractors the next week to do 8 different jobs that I was previously handling myself. Aside from finally being able to breathe, I had provided myself an opportunity to spend the majority of my time being proactive.
And turning a reactive business into a proactive one is what I want to help you with today. And it all starts the first step.
Corollary 1 – Online Training Vs. Producing a Low-cost Ebook, what’s better?
This is a complete guide to creating and selling your first low-cost fitness Ebook for sale. As you’ll soon see, it can be done in an afternoon and for under $20.
If you’re stuck – working long days with no end in site – then an Ebook is a good option to get unstuck. That said, this isn’t going to make you a ton of money. A few hundred extra bucks a month if you do it right. The goal of it for those who are time-poor is to generate a bit of extra money and buy back some time, a few hours each month, that you can then use for step 2, which is online training.
If you aren’t completely overwhelmed right now and have a bit of free mental energy and time then I think you should start with online training. My reason comes down to math:
Let’s say that you want to make an extra $12,000 this year.
To do this, you’ll need to sell 600 Ebooks at $19.99 (not including taxes and fees) (19.99*600=12,000).
To make the same $12,000 extra this year you only need 5 online clients paying you $200/month (not including taxes and fees) ((5*200)*12=12,000).
Obviously finding and taking care of 5 clients is much easier from a mental, administrative, and quality-control standpoint than trying to find and provide support for 600 customers.
Because of the math above I think that 95% of trainers should skip an Ebook and go straight to online training. It will take a bit more up front work but the resulting rewards speak for themselves.
That said, if you really need a few extra bucks and don’t have any time, an Ebook produced using the model below is your first step and online training second. If you decide to start with online training then producing Ebooks or other intellectual property to sell comes later, once you’ve already established a baseline clientele online to supplement your in-person training (or replace it).
I have a guide on how to start an online training business here.
How to Transition Out of a Reactive Business Model – You Need a First Step …
Below is a step-by-step strategy to develop your first-step – an Ebook – an asset.
I say asset because an asset works for you. A healthy business works for you, not the opposite.
This is a simple Ebook. It’s not going to be pretty. It’s not going to be perfect. And it’s going to be something that you’ll look back on a few years from now and laugh at.
But it’s a first step. And a forest begins with an acorn and the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step yadda yadda yadda.
Now it may seem like I’m contradicting myself. I said above that the first product that you put out needs to be awesome and should fundamentally change your business. This won’t do that. What this will do is provide yourself an opportunity to allot the required mental energy, time, and money into producing something special. That, or freeing up a bit more time to build an online training business.
The system below will walk you through taking a workout that you’ve already written for a client and turn it into an e-book for less than $20.
This will help you make a little extra money for no extra effort and it can be done in an afternoon. From here the process compounds as you cut out a few hours of training and organize your schedule better.
Corollary 2 – Is it Irresponsible for a Young(er) Trainer to Sell Template Workouts Before Gaining A Lot of Experience?
There will always be people who operate with low integrity. Throw them out the window.
A relatively new trainer is still training clients in the gym. There is still somebody who is paying them to work so it is their responsibility to know their place at that point. Their place is “I know how to work with this one person” . You have a 20 year old who has put on muscle. Well, he knows how to get 15-20 year old man with no injuries to put on muscle.
The original intellectual properly (IP) should provide you an opportunity to gather a bit more freedom in your life to be proactive in your business. At that point proactive probably means that you’re going to spend a lot more time studying. Package the workout into a template and .pdf via the system below and sell it to friends and family who meet those same guidelines for $19.99. You’re not marketing it to the World based off of sensationalistic claims.
All this allows you to do is make a bit of money outside of the gym which allows you to spend a bit fewer hours in the gym which allows you to spend more time on your continuing development.
Now on to your guide.
The Complete Guide to Developing an Online Fitness Product
Steps to Creating the Book
1. Identify the top 3 requests that you get from friends and family (i.e., fat loss, bulking, cutting). These should be pretty general.
2. Choose the most popular request. (This should be pretty obvious to you)
3. Pick the best program that you have already written for a client that suits that goal.
4. Put each exercise within that program on a template, noting the important exercise variables (sets, reps, tempo, rest, etc.)
5. List 1 to 2 progressions and regressions for each exercise.
6. Take a picture or film a video for each exercise. If you don’t want to create your own, find a YouTube link to a video from somebody else and put it beside your exercise.”¨ These can be done in an afternoon. Each video is two reps, 5-20s.
7. Write a 2- to 4-line description of each exercise. (You can Google these for almost every exercise.)
8. Write a short intro for the program that describes a) who the program is for; b) why the program works (include the hook, or why they should care); and c) important considerations for participants.
The purpose of the intro isn’t to sell the program, so there’s no need to be promotional. Simply explain the purpose of the program and why it works if somebody adheres to it. Ideally you’ll have a “hook” , i.e. this program is for more advanced trainees and takes advantage of a concept called overreaching and supercompensation to result in more muscle growth than anybody has ever experienced anywhere. In the World. Because science.
9. Write a half page or so that describes how to know whether to progress or regress an exercise (i.e., if you can perform all reps, progress the exercise. If at the most advanced exercise, then progress the weight).
10. Describe the variables of the program (sets, reps, tempo, et cetera). You can Google these.
11. You can also include notes on gym etiquette. (This is optional.) I suggest including a list of 5 to 10 gym etiquette considerations like putting the weights away, wiping down equipment, and the like. Here’s a few gym etiquette rules to get you started:
12. Describe how to fail with the program, such as not lifting heavy enough or not taking enough time off between workouts to recover. Here’s a slideshow I put together for Livestrong with workout mistakes you can “borrow” (read: steal).
13. Give them advice about what to do next; generally, this will be a call to buy another program or hire you for in-person or for your online personal training business.
14. Include a disclaimer. Look at any workout book in the bookstore to find one to emulate. It should say something like, “This book is for information purposes only. Consult a physician before starting any exercise program.”
15. Include copyright information (optional).
16. Upsell (optional). This might include a call for more money for a custom nutrition plan or an affiliate link to buy a recipe book online where you get money if they buy. This complicates things and there are a ton of options of ways to make more money after you’ve sold the initial book. If you want to simplify your life, just sell the basic book.
Steps to Editing/Polishing the Book
Decide on a name. Don’t overthink this for a basic book. A simple descriptive title that communicates the main benefit (i.e. Feel Better Naked) works.
Get the book edited. A service called Scribendi is high-quality and cheap(ish) or get a friend or family member to do it.
Compile your document into a .pdf file and include separate workout templates. You can use existing ones that you have or get free ones online. A site called exrx.com is a good option.
Sign up for a free PayPal account (you’re only charged a percentage of the sale), connect to your bank account, and create a payment button for the book. Charge whatever you like; $19.99 is reasonable.
Have a system for delivering the book. There are a host of options but here are 3 simple ones to choose from:
1. Have your PayPal button redirect the user to a hidden page on your website (if you have one) where they can download the book.
2. Connect PayPal to your email marketing system and have the first auto-response message contain a link to download the book.
3. Manually send the book file via email to the buyer whenever you receive an email that notifies you of a successful payment made via PayPal.
Steps to Promoting/Selling the Book
Make a list of everybody who you know who has a goal similar to the one that the book is designed to help people meet.
Email these people a week before the book is released, and tell them to get on a pre-sale list by filling out a Google form (this is free) or simply emailing you; enter their names into a spreadsheet to capture their emails. You can also share a “coming soon” notice on your social media accounts telling people to join the pre-sale list.
Bonus tip – You can probably pay whoever you hire on Fiverr (or wherever) that makes your Ebook cover an extra $5-$10 to make you a nice-looking image to publish to social media with your book and a ‘coming soon’ tag.
Create a “products” page on your website and sell directly through there (optional).
Wait for people to approach you with questions. Remember that this is an asset for your business. The idea isn’t that you sell millions the first week. It’s meant to serve as something to offer people if they ask for your advice, if they don’t live close, or if they can’t afford your in-person rates. This is not something that you overthink or overdo with promotion. It’s meant to free up a bit of time for you to work on the next step. Nothing more.
If you’re actually good at what you do, you will already have friends, family members, and mutual contacts asking health and fitness questions of you.
And if you’re not already good at what you do, don’t write a fucking book about stuff that you’re not good at yet.
If you follow the steps I listed above, the book should cost you less than $20 to produce from start to finish; possibly a touch more due to editing depending on length. A single sale and you’ve made back your entire investment. Two sales and you’ve made a profit!
I suggest creating 2 to 3 books (one for each major issue that your training solves). Even at a single book sale each week is an extra $1,040/year. Not only that, when you write you become an expert. You’ll be surprised at how much an e-book like this will drive awareness of your training and build your reputation.
Consider this: if you sell 3 to 5 e-books each week, you’ll make an extra $3,120- $5,200/year on top of your regular training income.
Don’t go buy stupid stuff that you don’t need with that money. Instead use it to replace income as you scale back and better organize your time in the gym.
Then, and this is the fun part, commit your extra time and mental energy to becoming a better writer, networking, and putting together something special – something that will fundamentally change your business, and life
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