Lots of online personal trainers understand the body and programming and nutrition and motivation. They’re smart, talented people.
But they don’t grasp one essential concept about the online world. It’s sort of important.
Online personal trainers don’t know how to make money.
Too many of them don’t make as much as they could or should be making.
How do online personal trainers make money? There are two keys:
- Set yourself apart.
- Sell results.
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Of course, the most basic answer is this: Online trainers make money by charging for their services to help people get in shape.
Those services might include:
- Custom program design
- Custom meal planning / online nutrition coaching
- Phone consultations
- Email / instant message support
- Guided movement screening
- Personal trainer membership site
- Mindset training / behavior coaching
You create packages that include these services—say, one “basic” and one “premium” package.
BASIC: Custom program design + guided movement screening + 15-minute phone call check-ins every two weeks
PREMIUM: Custom program design + custom meal plans + guided movement screening + monthly assessments + 15-minute phone call check-ins every two weeks + weekly email support
Then you choose a payment-processing service like PayPal or Venmo, or you collect your client’s credit card information over the phone, and they pay you just as they would for any other service.
But that doesn’t tell you how to make money.
Let’s go deeper.
How to make money as an online personal trainer
1. Set yourself apart (most trainers are boring)
In online fitness, there are no barriers to entry. Anyone can get certified, rip off their shirt, snap a selfie, and call themselves a personal trainer on Instagram.
That’s why you won’t make money simply by sending out a program or streaming a workout.
When you just do that, you become a commodity: basic, widely available, interchangeable, unspecialized.
You’re one of countless thousands out there, trying to compete. Or even get noticed.
How do you make money that way? You don’t.
Here’s another way to put it:
“Try to attract everyone, and you’ll attract no one. Try to attract a few people, and everyone will see you as the expert.”
If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll end up exhausted—and maybe broke. What you want to be is the right person for a few people.
Who are those “right” clients? They’re the ones who respond to what makes you unique.
That’s your 1 Percent Uniqueness Factor.
You’ve heard the cliché “find your niche.” The 1 Percent Uniqueness Factor is similar, but much more powerful. It’s what we teach at the Online Trainer Academy.
Brainstorm wildly. Go deep into your personality, but also think freely. Are you a mother? A former athlete? With bad knees?
Well, that could be your 1 Percent Uniqueness Factor: Ex-athlete mom with bad knees.
Guess what? There are lots of potential clients out there who fit that description. And would love to have you train them. You understand them.
And as time goes on, you become the go-to for ex-athlete moms with bad knees. That’s your expertise.
Think of it like this. Imagine a football stadium with 100,000 people in it. They’re all trainers. They’re all promising to help people “get in shape.” Or “lose weight.”
Down on the football field are hordes of potential clients. And you have to get their attention.
No bullhorn in the world is going to get you heard over all that noise.
Now imagine a small, quiet studio. On the door is your sign: Ex-athlete mom with bad knees.
Potential clients file through the hallway outside. Within an hour, you’ve filled your studio with former athlete moms with bad knees.
You’re set. You can start making money now.
Okay, that’s the first step. The second is about selling …
2. Sell results the right way (most trainers mess this up)
You may think you’re selling programs and personal attention and follow-up and motivation.
Well, sure. But when you sell personal training what you’re really selling is results. And that should be your pitch.
You need to communicate what somebody will become. That is as much a part of your service as a 45-minute session or a four-week strength program.
They’ll receive your programming and your attention but what they’ll end up with is a new body, a new attitude, a new person. That’s not an exaggeration.
Your job as an online personal trainer is to sell that future. Sell that prospect. You make money by putting yourself in a position to do that.
You don’t even need to tell a potential client what’s in your service. In fact, when you focus too much on what’s in your service, you risk falling into two common traps:
- Promising more than you can deliver. (“A new workout and meal plan every four weeks!” “Call me anytime!”)
- Delivering something that’s not optimal for the client.
Remember: You don’t know what clients need until you start to work with them.
One client might need nutritional guidance. Another will need motivation. Another will just need to know you’re there for support.
Why promise a service you don’t know the client will need?
Instead, do this: Show your potential client where they are; maybe it’s similar to where you once were. Then show them where they can end up; maybe it’s similar to where you are now.
Ask them to work with you for this transformation period to get you to that end point.
That's what's going to lead to your client’s success—and your own.
Learn more: Get answers to more online trainer questions.