Running your own business as a personal trainer
So you’ve decided to go your own way and create your own fitness business. Congratulations. This is the first step to becoming truly successful in the fitness industry. Working for yourself definitely has its advantages - you can earn more money, work when you want to and with who you want to, and scale a business that can eventually expand beyond just your humble little suburb.
You go out into the world and then you realise… since you left the gym you were paying rent at, there’s no one feeding you clients anymore. You need to do your own advertising now. So you start an Instagram account and off you go, posting 3 times a day.
After 6 months of this you build your account to 2,000 followers and you feel accomplished. Except that in all that time, you’ve only managed to pick up 2 clients for all your efforts. You take a deep sigh and resign to rocking back and forth in a fetal pose.
Search engines Vs social media
In the digital age, there are primarily 2 ways to be found online - through recommendation algorithms or through search engines (which also rely on algorithms funnily enough!).
When you scroll through social media such as Instagram and follow profiles, Instagram is able to use machine learning to learn about you and what you’re interested in. It then shows you content that’s related to who you follow as well as content from similar accounts. If you’re a PT then you’re probably seeing a lot more fitness content than someone who isn’t interested in fitness for example.
Search engines on the other hand rely on user input to provide the best results. Google, Youtube and Pinterest are search engines. When you type something in Google you find relevant results for that particular search query. This is more powerful because it has chronological proximity with intent. When someone searches for a trainer, they are looking for a trainer; as opposed to when a trainer's account appears on social media, the user is usually not looking for a trainer.
Websites - the most powerful tool for personal trainers
Many personal trainers create a website, but it kind of sits on the sidelines like some kind of online business card. That’s blasphemy. A website is the most powerful online tool available to any business owner and deserves the most time and attention.
Unlike social media, it belongs to you, not Zuckerberg. In 5 years time when Facebook is overtaken by TikTok and becomes another MySpace, your website will remain unscathed. A website provides you with more freedom to monetize and to make it truly yours. You can sell directly through a website unlike social media, which is another huge bonus.
What is SEO?
Okay, so perhaps search engines have caught your interest. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It’s a series of techniques that can be adopted to increase visibility in search engines. Usually it’s spoken about in the context of Google, but the ideas also apply to other search engines such as Youtube and Pinterest.
In the context of Google, SEO helps boost websites in search results. Obviously if your site ranks highly in Google you will get more visitors, and consequently, more clients.
The basic premise is that keywords are used in search queries. These keywords have 2 parameters - volume and competition. These parameters should inform the choice of keywords you choose to go after.
Sound on-page elements, technical SEO and authority building through link acquisition are the primary factors that separate a website that gets 10,000 clicks per month to one that gets 10.
SEO as an alternative to Instagram for personal trainers
There will always be a place for something like instagram for personal trainers - it allows customers to connect directly to the day-to-day operations of your business. The thing is though, every personal trainer and their grandmother has an instagram account. And everyone is posting the same garbage low-quality content that everyone’s already seen 10 million times before.
Sure you can spend a lot of time turning your instagram into a masterpiece, but with the way the algorithm currently works, everything is buried in the news feed 1-2 days after the content is posted.
Reels have slightly extended the virality and lifetime of posts, but now you’re just reaching people mindlessly scrolling through videos - after 8 hours they find yours, and scroll past it just like they did the other 1,000 videos before it. This is why despite reaching 10,000 views on a video you may have converted only 5 people into followers, and those people are likely on the other side of the world and probably don’t even speak English.
Website SEO on the other hand has a very attractive snowball effect. This means that as you build content on your website, not only does this content continue to attract relevant readers, but the audience actually grows over time. Even if you stop working on your webpage, it will continue to attract an audience unlike something like Instagram - which will likely become a desolate wasteland if left alone for 2 weeks.
Tips on building a personal training website
Okay, so I’ve convinced you to make a website. What should you do? There are millions of high authority fitness websites on the internet, how can you compete? The first step is to choose a very specific niche. Never go broad as this will spread out your authority and result in poor results. Trainers often want to talk about weights, diet, hikes, that one client who ran a marathon after 8 weeks training.
This only serves to confuse Google and dilutes your content. Focus on a very specific aspect of fitness. Maybe you’re into Olympic lifting. Okay, talk about that. Discuss everything there is to know about that specific topic - what is Olympic lifting, what are beginner Olympic lifts, what are the best Olympic lifts for building muscle, etc. Over time, Google will recognise that your website is about Olympic lifting and will give you recognition in the form of traffic and rankings.
About the Author
Vic is an entrepreneur, always pushing the bounds of what’s possible in the fitness and digital space. Having been in the fitness industry as a personal trainer for 5 years, started multiple businesses, Vic now helps other businesses grow organically through SEO.
Liquid Chalk Shop: https://liquidchalk.shop/
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