In case you haven’t already noticed, building an online fitness business is a completely different beast than building a local business.
When I first started offering online personal training services, I assumed it would be a “build it and they will come” situation. After all, I was offering a premium service with a lower financial commitment… what’s not to love?!
But not surprisingly, that’s not how things went. Sure, I had clients who trained with me in-person transition to online as they became more comfortable in the gym. But all of the training inquiries I received were from women who wanted to train with a trainer in-person, and my shouting “Buy my online training services!” on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram didn’t yield any results among people who didn’t already know me.
So what did I do? I started building a tribe and I gave them a ton of free value.
I started running free fitness challenges and created a Facebook group where the participants could interact with one another. Daily emails were sent during the challenges using my email marketing provider (so I was building my list at the same time), and they would be filled with simple but effective workouts, nutrition strategies, and tips for cultivating a more positive mindset.
Through these challenges my growing tribe would get a taste of what it would be like to work with me. They would walk away with actionable steps they could use whether they ever decided to work with me or not, and they created a really supportive community where the members felt comfortable asking for help and accountability.
My Facebook group is now my main source of online personal training clients. After the challenges I launch a new way to work with me that is related to and expands upon the challenge topic that many participants take me up on, and I regularly have members private messaging me asking how to work with me.
Want to create your own tribe and build your online fitness business using free fitness challenges?
Here’s a quick summary of what to do:
- Decide on a challenge topic. Timely events are great – ie. the holidays, back-to-school, etc. – but you can always run one “just because”.
- Create a Facebook group to go along with your challenge. I used to create a new group every time I started a challenge, but after my first month-long challenge the community vibe was so strong that I just decided to run that particular group year-round.
- Decide how you want to deliver your challenge content. I prefer using my email marketing provider, A) because it makes the process more streamlined and B) it helps me grow my list at the same time. If you want to keep it simple, you can always post the challenge prompts within your group.
- Give, give, give! Don’t be afraid to hold back on your best stuff. Give your people an idea of what it’s like to work with you. This is your chance to really WOW them!
- Make the offer. Once the challenge is over present an opportunity to work with you, whether you’re promoting your existing online personal training services or you’re launching a new program.
- Bonus tip: keep up the engagement between challenges. Continue to provide value. Share quick tips, videos, blog posts, and other pieces of content you’ve created. Ask them questions. Find out what their biggest struggles are and address them, either through blog posts, future challenges, or exclusive content inside the group. Show your tribe that you really do care about them.
Not everyone who participates in one of your challenges will take you up on your offer of working together. In fact, it’s likely that only a small percentage will. But that’s okay–continue to show up and provide value. At the very least, you’ll find cheerleaders who speak highly of your group and challenges, and at the most, you’ll have created a supportive tribe where members really feel like they belong to something.