Personal training: A blueprint for going it alone

In this guide, we shed some light on how to set up as a personal trainer.

For anyone who has graduated with a Sport Science degree, there are a number of possible career paths and opportunities. Sports nutrition companies, health clubs, sports clubs, schools and councils all offer potential employment opportunities for the right candidates. Another potentially lucrative and rewarding option, however, is that of starting a business as a self-employed personal trainer.

Personal trainers (PTs) can charge anywhere between £20 and £80 for a one-hour session. This may sound an attractive prospect, however establishing a base of regular clients can be particularly challenging and requires an ambitious marketing plan. Other important factors to consider are the potential overheads and running costs of having a business. Deciding where to do the training is crucial; some personal trainers are lucky enough to have room at their homes, so clients come to them. Other trainers can base themselves in a gym or visit clients’ homes. Gyms tend to charge a monthly rate for you to use their facilities, and then it is up to the personal trainer to cover his or her rent costs, and make a profit on top of that by training the gym members. PTs who travel to client’s homes should factor in travelling expenses into any business plan or calculations and you may want to take out business and liability insurance should any accidents happen.

When you’ve worked out the mechanics of the business, it is important to have a business plan in place. If you have graduated recently, you may be eligible to apply for a graduate business grant or loan. Your university should be able to advise you on this, but the application often requires a business plan of some description.

A marketing plan is equally as important, and is often an element of a comprehensive business plan. This will provide you with a plan of procedures, methods and actions required to establish a base of regular clients – the heartbeat of your business.

Here are some things to consider and some pointers for when it comes to marketing your new personal training business:

1. Create a website

Some 85 per cent of consumers use the internet to find local businesses. It is therefore crucial to have online presence. Building a company website is a good starting point. You can pay a professional to make one for you, or you can use a website builder or blogging platform like WordPress or Squarespace to create your own. Wix also provides an easy-to-use interface, and have some very professional and attractive templates to choose from. You can use the free version of WordPress to create your site, buy a website-name (domain name) for around £10 a year, and choose a premium template for around £60, so it doesn’t have to be an expensive option.

2. Optimise your site for local SEO

Once you have your website, you need to make sure that it is easy for people to find when they are browsing online using relevant ‘search-queries’.  Local search terms are the most important and the most likely to convert in this industry, ie lead to an inquiry. It’s important to rank as high as possible on search engine results pages for terms such as ‘personal trainer [your town or city]’, so that people in your area will find you easily. 

A good starting point for optimising your website for local SEO, is to claim your Google Business Page and get the address verified. Write your page introduction using unique copy (don’t just copy and paste the text from your website) and upload several high-quality photos. Where possible solicit Google reviews by adding a link to your business page in all your emails and online correspondence with clients. You should aim to get at least five reviews. 

Consider adding your business to several local directories such as Yelp, Thomson Local and FreeIndex. Enter your business information as consistently as possible. Finally consider starting a YouTube channel for your business and ‘geo-tag’ the videos with the relevant locations.

3. Get on social media

Creating a Facebook and Twitter page for your business is also an excellent way to market your personal training company and potentially increase its presence on search engine results pages.  Include your location in the relevant section, and also again in the short description on the Facebook page, and in the bio on Twitter. Follow local people and share interesting content relevant to fitness, diet and weight loss; linking back to your blog or site where applicable.

4. Offline marketing and PR

Traditional marketing still plays a huge part in business promotion, and it’s no different when it comes to personal training. In fact, one of the best ways to promote your business online is to create a newsworthy event or story offline. Networking, speaking to relevant ‘local influencers’ like GPs and people who run local weight loss clubs can help you to tap into the local market. Creating an offline event like a free seminar or group class can also help you get in the local press, especially if you contact local reporters and distribute a press release.

Personal training can be a lucrative and rewarding career path, but you must be willing to work long, unsociable hours and also be enthusiastic enough to put many hours of work into your marketing endeavours. Consider the different ways in which people will be able to find you, and construct a specific marketing plan for each method. Using old school methods such as flyer and business card distribution and attending networking functions should not be dismissed, but consider the potential of the internet to expand your business. Online personal training itself, where you provide training programmes and diet plans could even be an extra source of revenue.

Further reading on setting up in business

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