Tools and Tips for Bringing Your Coaching Business Online


Now more than ever, as we experience a global pandemic with the expansion of the Coronavirus, we realize how intimately connected we are to one another.

With an increasing need for social distancing to protect the most vulnerable members of our community from getting ill, we’ve maintained our connectedness and met our needs through a digital connector: the internet. 

Thank goodness for online services that meet our everyday needs and keep us sane (I see you, Netflix!). 

Your roles as health, wellness, and fitness coaches in this worldwide phenomenon aren’t moot. You have valuable knowledge and offer life-changing services that keep people healthy and making good choices. As a health and fitness coach, you have the ability to offer this knowledge to adapt to any given situation, even unprecedented ones like a global pandemic. 

If your business is up and running, we’re going to tell you something you already know, but we’re here to validate you: Coaching and training businesses have not gone unaffected by the big economic shifts that have occurred as a result of increased social distancing. Some of you might have lost clients or been put on hold as people hunker down in their homes. 

We’re here to tell you we see you and we’re here to help. 

This article is designed to be a mini toolbox for

1) those of you who haven’t yet brought your coaching business online, and 2) coaches who have a working online business but who want to improve their online service offerings. 

By putting these tools and tips into practice, you will have a bigger impact on people’s health while also increasing your revenue. 

The Importance of Bringing Your Coaching Business Online

Your services have the potential to continue to make a positive impact on people’s lives, even from a distance. Just like we have used the internet to stay informed about the quickly-changing reality we live in and to provide us with some invaluable entertainment, the internet can also provide people with the tools they need to continue working toward reaching their health and fitness goals. 

Most of your clients will happily continue to work with you if you are able to bring your services to them wherever they are. 

That’s exactly what you can do by bringing your business online. 

Not only can bringing your business online maintain your current clients, but you can also significantly grow your client base by taking advantage of several of the online tools, content platforms, and marketing strategies out there. 

Tips for Building an Effective Online Coaching Business

Choose Your Primary Social Platform

When you are not in direct contact with your clients, social networks are a way in which you can continue to deliver information to your clients and potential clients. If it is done correctly, they will feel connected to you, and key messages will resonate further in between communications. 

However, there are several ineffective ways to use social platforms for your business. 

We hate to break it to you but not all businesses need a Twitter account, an Insta account, a Facebook page, a Pinterest account, and a TikTok username. While it may be a good idea to have a presence on several platforms that your primary market uses, unless you have a big budget to pay a social media professional, you need to know which will make the most sense for you. 

Choose a primary platform that will most likely turn followers into clients and, ultimately, greater revenue. 

Choose and Design Your Revenue Streams

Most social platforms do not generate direct sales for your business. They can, however, redirect users to where they can purchase your products and services. 

First of all, you need to figure out how you are going to offer your services—a website? An app? Through content emailed to them directly?

Next, define what online services you will offer. The opportunities are endless. Will you have a standardized start-up program? One-on-one sessions? Group sessions? Workout and meal plan packages? (See tips 5 and 6 for some more detailed information on services you can offer online.) 

Note that as you take your coaching business online, the services you offer may change. If you’ve done only in-person coaching, you’re probably most experienced with one-on-one sessions and group sessions, but the possibility of creating an automated program that many people can subscribe to may be new to you. 

If you’re unsure of the possibilities, look for a mentor or partner in the AFPA alumni groups, or start following people whose business model you admire for inspiration. 

Create Personas

Creating personas based on lifestyle trends you are observing around you will help you stay in touch with the reality of your clients. 

Just like life has likely dramatically changed for you for now compared to several months ago, so it has for your clients. One way to stay in touch with your clients’ (and potential clients’) reality is to create “personas.” Creating these personas will allow you to create content and design programs that speak directly to different people’s reality. Here are some common personas relevant to today.   

Note: Not all of these personas will be relevant to your business. The idea of creating these personas is precisely to help to specify who your content and marketing are going to speak to. 

  • The young couple without kids who are both working from home full-time but have much more time on their hands without the option for outside entertainment. 
  • The mom who is juggling working full-time from home, supporting her kids with homeschooling, and desperate for some quick but effective “me time” to focus on staying healthy. 
  • The older couple that is just discovering all of the services offered online. They want to stay healthy as they grow older. 
  • The college students that are now taking classes from home and want to do something productive with their newfound free time. 

With each of these personas, ask yourself how they get their information, how they stay entertained, and how this will change over time. For example, college students might be at home now given our current situation, but within a year, this might not be the case. You need to decide if your business will continue to cater to these clients or not. 

It is important that you revisit these personas regularly. As times change, so will the personas that are ideal for your business. 

Create Quality Content

Once you have created your program, imagined who you want your clients to be, and chosen how you will communicate with them, it’s time to create content your clients want to read. 

Quality content showcases your expertise and your clients’ success while still leading prospective clients to want to know more. If done correctly, it is also one of the most effective inbound marketing techniques. In a 2018 survey, 72 percent of marketers reported that having a good content strategy was a major key to their success. 

When you start implementing your content strategy, look to the data to evaluate how effective your content is. This will inform you about what worked best and how to best direct your content and marketing strategies. 

Offer Unique Packages That Can Be Uniformly Distributed

One of the best reasons to take your coaching business online is because you can reach a significantly larger client base for minimal added time investment. 

How? 

Once you’ve designed your original coaching program based on what you know has worked with your clients, you can implement it in a way that is applicable to a general audience. You can create a course, a coaching program, or a fitness program that people can pay for to access. 

Some models are a pay-one-time model, while others are subscription models. Subscription models are effective if you continue to create content that adds to the offerings and are often offered through apps or by email, while pay-one-time models are effective for guides and plans that are downloaded once. 

Packages that can be uniformly distributed create tremendous value for your business. There is no limit to how many clients you can reach. 

Offer Personalized Upgrades

When you’ve created a standardized virtual program that makes a difference in people’s lives, it adds even more value to face time with you. In addition to the standard plan, you can offer personal sessions and plans. People will usually be willing to pay significantly more for personalized plans, especially after you’ve established the effectiveness of standardized plans. 

Some examples of this include live virtual gyms, one-on-one coaching sessions, and personalized meal and exercise plans. 

Invest in Online Marketing

Just like any business, marketing is what drives sales. You cannot depend on traditional marketing for getting people to sign up for your online services. You’re going to have to take your marketing strategy online. Content strategy, mentioned above, is an important part of the picture, but there is much more to think about. 

Consider investing in paid ads on social media, being interviewed for podcasts, creating useful video content, and asking to be a guest blogger on high-traffic websites. 

6 Tools That Will Help You Manage Your Online Coaching Business

Are you ready to get online with your business? Great! Here are 6 tools that will help you manage your online coaching business and help you stay connected to your clients despite the physical separation. 

Communication tools

When you get to a certain number of clients, texting and calls just don’t cut it. Luckily, there are several tools that can help you manage communication with your clients to help you streamline your personal training or health and wellness coaching business. 

Here are 10 apps that help you stay in touch with clients and keep them motivated. If used effectively, clients may even feel more supported by you than when you had in-person meetings with them. 

Website analytics

This is most effective if you primarily use your website to deliver content and drive sales, as opposed to social media platforms. Website analytics tools help you to see how many visitors you have and what parts of the website they visit most, and they collect data about how visitors interact with your website. 

Some popular website analytics tools include Google Analytics, Smartlook, and Hotjar. 

Client management software

Client management software, also called customer relationship software, is a bundle of tools that help you streamline several business activities, from managing the legal parts of your business to setting up scheduling and payment—and sometimes even communicating with your clients. The actual functionality of the CRM depends on each individual software offering.

Some client management tools are designed specifically for coaches as well! Some examples of CRMs that are useful for your coaching business include Satori, CoachAccountable, and Nudge for coaches. All CRM software has a cost, but if you learn how to make the most out of the software, you will undoubtedly be able to justify it. 

 High-quality audio and video system

If you are going to be recording yourself, running webinars, and managing clients online, you want to have a high-quality audio and video system. If you are going to be running it all yourself, you want to select audio and video tools that can be set up easily and are remotely controlled. If you will have assistance, then you can focus on the ease-of-use of the equipment. 

If you will be creating visual content for your social media and website, you will also want to make sure you have a way to take attractive and high-quality pictures. 

 Meeting platform membership

When you have a serious online coaching business, sometimes free communications platforms, like Skype, just won’t cut it. You will likely have to invest in more professional communications platforms with impeccable video and audio services and the option to host up to hundreds of people at once. Zoom is a popular choice for many online coaches, though some choose Google Hangouts instead. 

 Domain management

No matter the functionality it will provide, your business should have a website. As a coach, you aren’t expected to be a programmer. Luckily there are several domain booking websites, most of which offer free or low-cost website design assistance. Some popular tools include GoDaddy.com, Wix-com, and SquareSpace.com

Main Takeaways

Building an online business retains several of the same components you need to consider to build up a traditional business—communications, marketing, competitive advantage, etc. The differences arise with the management tools, the potential for growth, and, of course, the marketing strategy. 

The tips and tools in this article are meant to be a guide for those who are motivated to take their new or long-time coaching business online. 

Even though recent current events have made offering online services a necessity for many businesses to survive, note that it will continue to be relevant and functional long after any social distancing is no longer required. The key is to continue examining your strategy, observing trends and data, and innovating your service offerings.  

By taking your coaching business online, not only will you make a greater impact on more people’s lives, but you will also have the opportunity to increase and diversify your business’s revenue stream.