I have written a couple of articles in the past about how to be an online trainer, but they were satirical because, well, I enjoy putting people down without them knowing. I say “without them knowing” because, for some weird reason, a notable percentage of people that read my articles don’t get satire. I am either so convincing with my writing that it flies above their head or I suck so bad at writing that they can’t tell whether I am serious or not. Either way, I am changing gears for this article and giving straight-up information that can help anyone become a better online trainer.

Please understand that some of this stuff is quite rudimentary. I don’t have a business degree yet I have made a good living for well over a decade now. I am not talking about extra gear money but a GOOD LIVING. I have learned a few things along the way. Please know that the lessons you seem to never forget are the expensive ones. You don’t need a degree in business to make a good living; you do, however, need common sense and the ability to make logical decisions.

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I have narrowed down my list to seven things that I believe are of utmost importance if you are trying to get ahead and be a better online trainer. Obviously there are many other variables that are important, as well, but I find these seven things top the list.

1. Results

I can hear you now saying, “No shit?”

This is the most obvious so I am listing it first. Before anything, you must know your shit and be able to deliver the service that the client is paying for. If someone comes to you for strength gains, your first priority is to deliver strength gains. If someone comes to you to get shredded for a bodybuilding show, you better get them shredded. Over time, your track record builds and you solidify your reputation as someone who gets results.

2. Trust

You absolutely must be trusted in the industry and the online community. People need to trust that you will not only deliver results, but that your knowledge and experience are solid and well-respected. Most people you work with online will never meet you or see you, so if you think someone will send you $1000-$2000 without trusting you, you are dead wrong. I would go one step further and say that most people also want to trust that you have their safety and health as a top priority. Sure, there are those that simply do not care and will say, “Just get me the first place trophy no matter what,” but that is (and should be) the exception. Note: I tend to personally avoid clients like this and not work with them.

3. Separation Factor

Some will disagree with me on this one, saying that the only thing that truly matters is result. They are wrong. There are a lot of trainers out there that get results and will never get noticed or make much of a good living in this sport. In a sea of turds, you need to be noticed and stand out from everyone else in a saturated market. Eventually, the weak will weed themselves out, but the problem is that for every 10 that are weeded out next month, 20 will replace them. It seems never-ending.

client base skip hill

You need something that stands out from the crowd, but it needs to be legit. These days there are a lot of people coming up with obscure methods of dieting or training in a desperate attempt to stand out. They understand what they have to do, but at the same time, the method has to be legitimate and actually work. Typically, this isn’t something you “invent” or create sitting down at a table with pen and paper. Instead, it is something you stumble upon and realize, “Oh, shit, I might be on to something here.” Keep in mind, too, that when you think of something that you might find earth-shattering, you are going to want to research your idea to make sure that it hasn’t been done or “invented” before.

4. Care

This may seem obvious, but building a rapport with your clients is incredibly important. It shows that you give a shit and that you are invested in their success, progress, and results. If you answer questions like a robot and are short and don’t care about them, they will pick up on it very quickly. You might think that this isn’t that important and that only results matter, but those thoughts are likely contributing to why you aren’t being noticed as a trainer and why you aren’t making a really good living at it. People absolutely want results before anything else, but they also want to know that their trainer is invested. Trust me, there are plenty of trainers out there that have figured it out and will kiss that client's ass if you don’t pay attention to them.

5. Social Media Reach

I am not a fan of social media, but I have little choice than to use it and be involved with it for business purposes. It would be business suicide not to use it. However, the game isn’t as simple as getting as many followers as possible and being on every social media outlet. 20,000 followers on Instagram isn’t going to do you much good if 18,000 of them are cat lovers because you include #awesomecats every time you post a picture of your…well, awesome cat (not that I would ever do that). Those cat lovers aren’t going to pay you to be a client, so your focus needs to be on those that are the most likely to pay you for your services. I would rather have 2,000 followers that fit my client demographic than 20,000 that don’t. That goes for specific ages, gender, socio-economic status, etc. If you work with 22-year-old kids that want to get huge, 45-year-old women that go to church three times a week probably aren’t going to be a good social media focus.

6. Walk the Walk

I completely get that there are skinny prep guys that are good at what they do and that there are fat nutritionists that can get people ripped. However, by and large, we all want our trainer to walk the walk so that we feel he/she can relate and understand what we are going through on a daily basis. I wouldn’t take financial advice from a guy living in his car, so I wouldn’t take nutrition advice from a fat guy. That's just me.

The nutritional information you espouse should be a direct reflection of how you live, in my opinion. Why? Because it carries more weight with the large majority of people. The same thing goes for hormone use, cardio, etc. I might not want to be consumed by the lifestyle, but I would appreciate someone advising me who is. I would want it to be my trainer's PASSION.

7. Humility

When you finally do get to the point that you are making good money, humble yourself and keep yourself in check because this gets abused a LOT in this industry. If you start “counting paper” before you do your client work, you will eventually get yourself in trouble. If you are running too many clients because the appeal of more money is too much, you are jeopardizing your clients’ results (see #1), trust (see #2), and how you treat your clients, because you will have less time to spend on each client (see #4).

Greed has ruined more than a few really good trainers. Find a good balance with your client base that allows you to provide top-notch service. This will still allow you to make a really good living and have longevity in this industry.

If you adhere to these seven points you will find, over time, that you will slowly build a business that you can be proud of and one that will make you money. And if you say that money isn’t important, go ahead and train people for free. I’m honest with myself; I love what I do, but it is a business and my business makes money or I wouldn’t do it.

Just Sayin’.