First things first. Who am I to tell you how you should and shouldn’t build an online personal training membership website? Well, my name is Dan and I run My Personal Trainer Website and the Institute of Personal Trainers.
I’ve been helping personal trainers build some of the best personal training websites since online training was still wearing diapers, as well as running my own marketing, web design membership and eCommerce websites.
It’s kind of what I do. And not because I have to, but because I love to. Sitting down at my computer with a cup of coffee and tinkering with apps, numbers, strategies and funnels is my hobby. Getting paid for it is kinda nice too.
I’ll be starting this guide with what to expect. Most trainers I meet think it’s as simple as adding a few videos to a site, locking them behind a paid member wall and waiting for Paypal notifications.
If only. Let's begin.
What to Expect
Probably the most important part of the guide. In this section I’m lay out what it's really like running an online training membership site.
It might seem like I'm trying to scare you into NOT starting your online personal training membership website but I'd rather tell you how it really is than become another "expert" who tells you it's easy.
The First Years
The first years of a membership site are the hardest. Yep… I said years. Sure, you can whip up a membership site in 48 hours with the current software that’s available but the title of this guide is How to Create a Successful Online Personal Training Membership Website, not How to Create an Online Personal Training Website.
There’s a big difference. We’ll get in to the difference a little bit more later but the main one is the sheer amount of tenacity you’re going to need to make it work.
It takes a lot of time, a lot of patience and even more learning to build and grow a successful membership site.
Think about it. How many successful PT membership sites have you come across. Probably not a lot compared to how many PT’s you know of.
People unsubscribe from membership sites all the time. There are differences in each industry but the average subscription length is actually only 4 months.
I imagine that average has something to do with people either sticking with a membership site for a really long time or quitting within the first few weeks.
This makes sense to me when I observe how people interact with my own membership site which isn’t even that expensive for what you get. If you provide enough value, members are either all in or they’re out within a few days.
That’s fine though. Your work isn’t going to be for everyone.
Amount of Work
For a membership website to be successful, engaging, and feel as though it's worth the money, you’ll need around 60 days worth of content in there. I don’t know if you know what 60 days worth of content looks like but you might be looking at 500 words of content per day.
That doesn’t sound too much but 500 words per day is 30,000 words. Add in time for formatting, images and adding to your site and you’ve got a lot on your plate.
Naturally, how much content you need to add will vary depending your business and membership model, but make no mistake, it will be a lot of work either way.
The Benefits of an Online Personal Training Membership Website
If you’re still reading, you’re either pretty confident you can handle the workload or the positives of an online training site massively outweigh the negatives for you. So let’s dig in to some of the pros:
This one’s a no brainer. All personal trainers want to increase their revenue and create a steady stream of income they can rely on should clients cancel.
Membership websites really can help you make extra monthly profits per month. Let’s say you want to make a modest $5,000 per month. That’s:
Things are starting to look up, right?
No Physical Product
Almost all membership websites rely on information in some way. Creating information is free and there is an abundance of information on the Internet, so membership sites thrive when there are systems or support.
Information, systems and support when combined are worth paying for and they cost you nothing but your time.
Lots of Traffic
Traffic is oxygen to any website. Having a members area on your website is one of the best ways to get ads of targeted traffic. One of our biggest sources of web design clients is the links from our Institute of Personal Trainers website to the My Personal Trainer Website website.
While communities aren’t essential to the success of a website. They certainly do help. Furthermore, a community helps you build an audience of potential clients who might buy in to your paid membership.
Things You’ll Need
Things are starting to look up now right? You’re probably thinking you can get 100 people at $50 per month and make an extra $5,000 each month. If you’ve read this far, I think you can too! And here’s what you’ll need to get started:
A Personal Trainer Website
Surprisingly enough, it’s not a essential to have a personal trainer website. I know trainers who have built a high client base for their membership services using only Facebook groups and Google Forms.
However, these PT’s have been in the game for several years, gotten loads of case studies and testimonials and built a massive following of potential clients.
While you absolutely can still go down that route, it seems that newer personal trainers do in fact benefit from having a website. Simply because the first thing people do now when they’re interested in working with someone is Google them.
If you have a crappy, DIY looking website that screams “I couldn’t pay for a professional website”, you’ll lose a lot of trust with potential leads.
Here are a couple of personal trainer websites that's run memberships in some way.
A Membership Software
Membership software is pretty essential if you’re trying to build a membership website. Of course, you can hide pages and link clients directly to them but you do run the risk of someone finding your valuable content and taking advantage.
Most membership softwares are pretty easy to set up nowadays and come packed with loads of features to make the sign up and registration process seamless. for your clients. Here are some of the best:
Online Training Software
A lot of our My Personal Trainer Website clients opt for a personal trainer software like PT Distinction, Total Coaching and Trainerize.
The benefits of these types of systems is that much of the work is done for you in terms of building a library of exercises and managing clients.
This is great if you want to provide an online training service only because you don’t need to mess around with complicated membership plugins but the downside is that you typically have less control over the coaching experience.
A Payment System
Clients can pay in a number of ways but the most popular payment systems are Paypal, Stripe and GoCardless (UK and Europe).
Almost all payment gateways come with fees that should be incorporated into your membership model. Usually around 3%.
An SSL Certificate
SSL Certificates aren’t new but you’ve probably been hearing about them lately. That’s because Google now favours websites that have SSL security.
SSL security enables users to input data into your website with peace of mind. All data is encrypted and clients can see the https security validation at the beginning of your URL.
If you don’t have an SSL certificate, a lot of browser now show a pop up that says your data may not be secure. Not exactly trustworthy.
A Client Management App
Client management software is different to online personal training software in that online training software manage the client workouts whereas client management software manages the client experience in your business.
For example, when clients have questions, need to make payments, book calls and need support, they’d use the client management app.
Personal trainers usually use this instead of an online training software when all of the member content is hosted on their website.
How to Set Up a Membership
Now that you have all of the necessary tools at your disposal, you’ll need to set up the marketing, sales process and on boarding systems.
The first step is to get people interested in your membership. We’ll talk more about this later but you’ll need to find ways to attract new people to your membership site.
How you sell your membership will depend on your own business system but the sales process might typically go like this:
Onboarding of your new clients happens directly after they paid and landed on a welcome page. Some would argue that the onboarding phase is one of the most important steps in the client experience.
This is where you guide the client in to taking important next steps with you. You’ll need to give them access to what they paid for and coach them into taking important actions that will get them the result they are hoping to achieve.
A few options to consider to get this done are:
How Get Traffic to Your Membership Site
Traffic is oxygen to a website. No traffic means no audience, no leads and no sales. So understanding exactly how to get people to visit your website is essential to the success of your online personal training membership business.
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the practice of optimising website pages so that they appear higher in search engines when someone looks for your product or service.
For example, Google ‘personal trainer website design’ and you’ll see My Personal Trainer Website sitting comfortably in the top 3 positions. That’s valuable to us because it means we get loads of free and organic traffic to our website from people who are literally searching for what we offer.
It also means we can charge less for our services because we don’t need a huge ads budget.
Now try Google 'fitness classes in Roscommon' and you'll see our client Full Body Workhouse on page one... TWICE. Guess who gets all the business in Roscommon?
SEO is worth the investment.
Pay Per Click
This is where most personal trainers start but it would ideally be a last resort. Paid ads on Google and Facebook are expensive and don’t yield much return on investment unless you really know what you’re doing.
Sure, some trainers get lucky or figure out a simple system that works for them, but in general most trainers waste their money on paid ads.
Social media on the other hand is where you should be starting. You already have a massive audience of people who mostly know, like and trust you. Of 100 of your friends I reckon 5 of them would be at least a little bit interested in your services.
If you’ve been running a successful PT business for some time now then you might already have an email list. If you do and these people have been receiving emails from you on a regular basis then an email about your new online training service would be more than welcome.
If you don’t have an email list, now’s the time to start.
The more business savvy personal trainers connect with other businesses who they can help and who can help them. For example, businesses in the health space that don’t offer personal training services but would love to provide it as an option would be interested in the value you can give to their customers.
How to Get New Members
The best way to get new members has and always will be to serve your existing members well. Refferals will always be your number one source of new leads. Take care of your members and they will take care of you. But there are a couple of things you can do to get new subscribers to your membership site.
Offer a Free Trial
Free trials are a great way to get people on board because the barrier to entry is so low. Knowing that if it’s not for you then you can simply back out without paying a penny is a pretty sweet deal.
The hard part is knowing what to give away for free. I usually recommend trainers offer free access to a community where they can see your other clients interacting and getting results.
You can also offer free coaching advice and help your new members achieve a certain goal within the trial period so that signing up is a no brainer.
Offer a Free Tier
Free tiers are different to free trials in that the member would have unlimited access to certain resources.
This is a great way to build a community, get loads of people within your social circles and deliver a top notch service.
How to Keep Your Members Happy
The average retention rate for a membership website is 4 months. That means that if you offer a service for $50 per month, the client might only stick around long enough for you to make $200.
This is something you need to factor in when creating you business systems.
Of course, coming up with strategies to prevent people from unsubscribing from your service is the smartest route. Here are some ways in which you can do that.
Provide Amazing Service
First and foremost, go above and beyond for your members. Talk to them personally, establish rapport, help them connect with other people within your community and most importantly, help them achieve the goal they think they’re signing up to achieve.
While most of your clients won’t know much about the thought leaders in the personal training space, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t want to hear the advice they have. Consider collaborating with other personal trainers to provide new and interesting perspective for your members.
Q & A sessions are one of the best things you can do for you members. It drives home the message that by being a member of your service they can get the answers to all of their burning questions. You can set up a weekly Q&A via a Facebook group, a slack channel or even an email.
Mentoring is usually an upgraded service and should be considered for clients who are reaching out to you. If someone is begging for one on one support it’s likely they need it. Even if it’s just for a short while.
Build a Community
Of all the successful online personal training membership businesses I’ve seen, almost all of them have a large or very tight community around them. Communities support each other and that means they’ll help to support you to.
Drip Feed Content
Information is pretty much the centre of an online personal training membership website in some form or another and your members won’t be able to absorb it all at once. In fact, there’s some research that suggests offering up everything you have all at once can be overwhelming and lead to decision fatigue.
Instead, try and drip feed the most important content via an email system or in a Facebook group where members who may have missed bits can catch up and new members don’t suffer from information overload.
A online personal training membership website could be one of the best business decisions you make for you fitness business but it’s not as easy as some experts make it sound.
It takes a lot of work, a lot of dedication and there’s almost nothing passive about it. For every hour you don’t work on the gym floor, you’ll need two hours to create content and market your membership website.
If you’re looking for help and support with your membership website or you’d like to get started with one, connect with a member of our team for advice, guidance or to start a project.
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