This month marks JillFit’s 9th birthday, as I started right here on this platform October 2010.
I’m pretty sure the very first post went something like, “Hey guys! This is where I’m going to be sharing fitness tips, recipes, workouts and more! Come back frequently, bye!” Looolol.
And so it began. I blogged Monday through Friday for the first 2 years and we grew an amazing readership and family. The first few years focused on physique, fat loss and competition prep. And then things morphed into mindset, positive psychology and relationships. And then business. And #moderation365 and back again.
It’s been a journey. An unpredictable one.
So today I want to share the tools and strategies that I recommend implementing if you are someone who is doing some online coaching, but maybe wants to turn things up OR you’ve built a decent audience but you don’t know how to streamline things or where to go next.
I also want to share straight from the JillFit playbook, the things we’ve done over the last 9 years to continue to not only stay relevant and “in the game” (many pros will come out hot and then 2 years later, we’ll be like, “what happened to so-and-so?”) but continuing to grow the company’s revenue year over year.
6 Critical Steps for Online Coaching + Business Success
1) Break through the Trust Barrier with ONE thing
Chances are if you’ve worked at a local gym or have a local practice, you’ve been at the mercy of who walks in the door: train a 65-year old man, a 19-year old gal, a 35-year old postpartum woman, whatever. We take on everyone … and we do a *pretty good* job of helping them.
ONLINE it’s a different ballgame. You can’t be a jack of all trades, even when you have the competency to do so. It’s important to differentiate yourself using two things:
- Specifically who you help (and also who you absolutely do not)
- Specifically what you’re the BEST at – what’s the transformation you’re the BEST at facilitating?
Can you help people get strong af? Do you thrive with menopausal clients? Are you an expert at postpartum fitness? Have you been successful at fat loss or body change? Do you have a knack for working with people with nagging aches and pains?
The point is … you can probably help a lot of people with a lot of things. But there’s ONE thing that’s your zone of genius.
Identify it by looking back at all your clients. Who’s transformation are you the most proud of? Which clients did you help the most, and with what exactly?
And what exactly have YOU overcome? What transformation is so close to your heart that you get fired up thinking about helping others achieve it, too?
What do people ask you about the most? What do people want to “pick your brain” about? What do people want to take you out for coffee for?
Start there. You can eventually help people with other things, but not without breaking through the Trust Barrier first. You gotta get a lot of wins in one area FIRST. You have to become the go-to expert for one thing FIRST.
If you aren’t first known for one thing, how could you ever become the go-to expert in many?
So get laser focused: who exactly do you help and what transformation are you the best at facilitating? Double down on that. And keep doubling down on it until you feel like a broken record, until you’ve gotten a shitload of people incredible results, until you’ve solidified yourself as THE person who does THAT thing.
2) Have more conversations and give more (curated) access
The days of putting an expert on some sort of pedestal is over. Everyone is in their DMs. Everyone sees every mention. Everyone has enough time to be open, kind and responsive if the goal is to build the business. You can’t get away with simply being a broadcaster (aka sit back and wait for the Likes to roll in). You have to be in your DMs conversating with the people who might eventually buy from you, and build trust through service.
I say, “curated” access because we do still need boundaries. How can people contact you? For example, I am in my DMs all the time chatting with people, but I won’t answer coaching questions that other people are paying me for–it wouldn’t be fair to my current clients. I don’t answer tech questions, give advice or go back and forth for hours in DMs.
But I have a system in place of how people can get access to more, or get questions answered:
- I’ll send people to blogs or old content.
- I’ll send people to my email to connect with my assistant, Sara.
- I’ll validate someone’s fears or struggle, and then I’ll ask to jump on the phone so we can take the time to really connect, and then it often turns into an offer for me to help with in an official capacity.
You need to be available. You need to have as many private conversations as possible. You need to show people your face, let them hear your voice, go to live events, host meet ups, give a ton of access! But you also need to be the one managing the access.
Be as available as possible, but on your terms.
3) Up your testimonials and case studies game
Something I wish I’d done sooner! Over the last 9 years, we’ve helped tens of thousands of people feel healthier, get leaner, feel less obsessed with food/exercise, and build their business, and it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve made a point to gather not only quantitative testimonials (numbers and metrics) but also qualitative ones.
Side-by-sides are fine, but I’m more interested in the person’s story! And potential clients are, too. Case studies explain how the person was operating when they came to you (the “before” picture) and then what you–as the agent of change–helped them do, what steps y’all took together, and then show the “after” picture: how are they doing things NOW as a result of working with you.
Our potential customers are moved by emotion, not facts. And the clearer you can communicate the story of transformation that you facilitate with examples and stories, the more compelling you’ll become as a coach.
Tell your own story often. But also share those of your clients. Screenshots of convos, photos, measurements, wins, DM convos, successes, insights and everything in between.
One tool is to get a client of yours on a Zoom or Skype video for 5-15 minutes and ask them questions. Interview them about what their experience was working with you. Often our clients don’t know what to say or share, so when we interview them, we can steer the convo so they’ll elaborate on certain things.
4) Double down on your strengths and find workarounds for everything else
One of the biggest barriers to growth is working IN your business instead of ON your business. I still love, love, LOVE 1:1 business coaching, so I do it on designated days of the week, and at a price point that is worth my time. But other than that, I outsource the things I suck at. Or, honestly, they just don’t get done.
Ask, what am I the best at? Is it content creation? Coaching? Technology? Design? Admin?
And, what am I terrible at? For me, it’s administrative tasks, responding to email, running errands and generally anything that requires attention to detail, ha!
My strength is taking action without all the information and then figuring it out on the fly. I do the big dial-moving things, create top-notch content, and then I leave the things I’m awful at to my assistant Sara who fills in my gaps, OR I don’t make those things a priority and they go undone.
You’d be surprised at just how much can go undone! Ha! That has been an important lesson for me in terms of productivity and success.
But here’s the thing: I know many of you are getting to the point where your time is becoming more and more valuable. You are grinding at the gym or grinding it out with 1:1 clients. Fine, doing things this way has gotten you this far, but it won’t get you to the next level of success.
Part of delegating is figuring out ways to either duplicate yourself (hiring another coach, creating a certification, etc.) or bulking your offerings (group coaching, creating a DIY product, cutting access to you down, etc.)
Where can you outsource? Where can you delegate? What kinds of workaround can you implement? And literally, what can just go undone?
Fighting for every subscriber and every sale will get tiring after a while. And luckily, technology and internet marketing offers ways we can get our content in front of people without having to organically push everything all the time.
Many of the women in my high-level Coaching Collective have or are in the process of creating automated sales funnels and using paid advertising to drive traffic. This is an advanced technique, and obviously requires you’re at a level of organic growth AND financial wherewithal to take it on.
BUT, I’d be remiss not to mention it since it’s such an effective way to grow top-of-funnel email subscribers and eventually make sales silently. Not for everyone, but for many of you who are already at “influencer” status or have a lot of organic traction, this is a key next step.
You have to keep things moving.
THIS has probably been the biggest dial mover, not only for Jillfit as a company to continue growing and staying relevant, but on a personal level, iteration and pivoting is what keeps me excited about and showing up to my business after 9 years.
You’re not going to be blazing with passion every second. You’re not going to feel super creative all the time. You’re gonna have times of burnout, or feel disenchanted with your message or feeling like things are stale.
Totally normal. But the key is figuring out the next place to take your messaging and brand, GIVEN that you have broken though the Trust Barrier already (see #1 above). What spaces have you exhausted? And what places remain unchartered territory?
JillFit broke through with workouts and nutrition. Many of my business coaching clients have joined business programs as a result of experiencing a transformation of some kind related to fitness or nutrition. Then things moved into mindset coaching. And now the next iteration has been ‘The Best Life’ podcast, which is where all the content goes that doesn’t fit under the JillFit umbrella.
One of personal mantras is, “I gotta keep it moving,” to remind myself that there’s still so much unchartered territory to master, and the amount of creation that’s still ahead of me is endless. When I start to see fresh messages and strategies I was sharing years ago be regurgitated or going mainstream, I remind myself to get better, to keep things moving, get more innovative, more creative, ask where else I can go.
Stretching myself and pivoting is a practice. And those things have been my compliance tool–the reason I continue to show up. So, ask yourself, “WHAT’S NEXT?” and keep it moving. Shoot for the stars because WHY NOT YOU.