Do you really need a website for your personal training business and, if so, how is it going to help?
So, I'm going to quickly give you my thoughts on this and then let you know what some of your options are if you do want to set up a website for you, your business or your personal brand.
So let's get stuck in and say. It depends. the cliched answer for any question in fitness, but obviously it really does depend.
So to start with, you might want to think about what type of trainer you are or if you're just starting out, what type of trainer do you want to be?
And by type of trainer I mean offline or online, employed or freelance, in a gym, or, people's houses or societies.
If you're working in a commercial gym and you rely on people from the gym floor and engaging with members and people that come to enquire to help fill your calendar.
A website, maybe not be needed, let's say, as if you're an online freelance trainer. Now, technically, you could say that a website is not ever really needed or essential as it's just one way of having some kind of online presence.
So, you don't need a website to have an online presence. It can be done by using social media channels. Most of the fitness industry does live on Instagram and there's still quite a lot on Facebook. Facebook is still huge in terms of numbers. And in countries where it's allowed you have Tick Tock, that platform is also exploding right now.
A website is not necessarily needed if all you want is an online presence. The bigger question then becomes, why do you need an online presence?
I think having an online presence is important for most trainers because it helps people get to know you before they even meet you. They can get to know your personality, your style. They can get to know your training philosophies, your approach, your content, your expertise. You can build your reputation in a way that's easy to access since a lot of clients these days will look online to check out a trainer they want to hire.
When a person is thinking of hiring a trainer, they're going to go online and have a look. So if you're not online you're not going to be included in that search. This even counts even if you are an employed gym-based trainer. So having an online presence, especially these days is going to be important.
Even if you're in a commercial gym, because clients will still want to check you out online, if your company, your gym allows it, get online.
Most gyms do, some don't. But I think it's a great idea.
Now sticking with commercial gyms, most trainers will leave that gym at some point, either go freelance or start some some kind of facility of their own. Gyms are generally a stepping stone for most trainers. They might move into education, or whatever it is. But all these paths will also benefit from you having a good online presence.
Start building that right now, as early as possible. That way, when you do make those moves away from your current gym, you have something online. Maybe you've already built a bit of an audience so you're not starting from scratch when you make that transition.
Now, when you are building on social media you do have to be a little careful. This is because you are essentially playing on somebody else's park.
So, what do I mean by that?
Well, if you have built up a big audience on Instagram, for example, technically that is not your audience. It all lives on Instagram and it belongs to them.
You're not able to easily get in contact with all of your followers. You're at the mercy of the algorithm as to who can see your content because it will not be displayed to everybody, even if they follow you.
So there's a huge risk with that. And at the end of the day, at any given point, it could all be gone and sometimes there's nothing you can do about it.
A change in Facebook or Instagram's algorithm and half your audience might not see your posts anymore, and that has already happened. Facebook did this when they try to force people into boosted posts and paying for more access through ads.
So the other thing is that you might unknowingly post something that's against their rules and it might get you shut down. When your account gets shut down by these platforms, quite often, there's little, you can do to fix it.
There isn't really anybody at Facebook to help you out. There's no kind of support line and it can be a really long drawn out process to get it restored. And it happens every day.
In fitness there's quite strict rules about what you can promise to people in terms of results and outcomes.
One example is that you can't run ads showing before and after images. It's just not allowed. So you have to play by their rules. And you have to fit their agenda because at the end of the day it is their platform.
There is this popular nutrition influencer on Instagram and he had his account shut down. What happened was that the name of his Instagram account was similar to somebody else's who had broke the rules and in a kind of weird mix up his account got shut down. It took him about three months to get it restored.
So it's not easy because you just don't get that kind of support from Meta, who owns Facebook and Instagram. They just shut you down. They may not even give a reason.
So by having your own platform in this case, a website. You don't have any of these worries.
You're in full control.
You don't have to play by the rules of that company. You just play by the rules of your market and what your audience wants.You have a lot more power over what you need to do.
If you're going to go online and have a website, then you're going to have to think about what kind of features your website is going to need. How is it going to serve you, your audience and what you want to get out of it overall.
There are quite a lot of different ways of creating a website if that is the route you want to go down.
You can have a website which is more like a listing, a catalog, or a brochure. It's very basic and it's not really recommended anymore. It's kind of how websites used to be years ago.
Websites have moved on a lot over the years.
At the other end of the scale you have really complex websites with lots of functionality like booking systems, online video training and payment gateways. You can sell packages, courses, ebooks and other types of products.
It's possible to earn a lot of money with additional income streams.
If this is the road you want to go down then obviously you can't do these sort of things on a social media page. You will need something far more substantial with your website.
Now, once you decide on getting a website, there's a lot of different ways of creating one.
Just picture a continuum. At one end, you've got high levels of flexibility, features, very powerful features, but on the flip side it's also going to be much harder to use.
You will need much higher levels of technical knowledge for you to execute it. It's going to take a lot more work.
At the other end you've got more rigid systems, a rigid website with fewer features and customisations. But this website is going to be much, much simpler to use, for you to operate and for you to maintain.
So let's give some real world examples of what some of these options are.
First off, if you've got the budget you can go with a complete custom coded website, all done from scratch.
But, you're a trainer. Unless you have some kind of experience or history with being a developer, you're going to have to hire one and even keep on retainer because that website's going to need updates.
That's going to be really expensive. It's going to be relatively hard to do because you will need a developer and somebody that you can rely to create and maintain it.
But it does uh, give you a lot of freedom of what you want to do, um, but you're going to have to open your wallet.
Next up you have an option that currently powers around 37% of websites on the internet, and that's WordPress.
WordPress itself is free. You can download it and install for free, but you'll need to pay for hosting. There are lots of different hosting companies for websites, such as Bluehost, GoDaddy and SiteGround.
There are a ton of others as well with similar sets of features, but they can vary quite a lot in price.
You set one up for a relatively small amount. WordPress can be very, very powerful because you can pretty much create anything you can imagine.
There are different ways of setting up a WordPress site. It's possible to have something really impressive, but you might be better off hiring a WordPress developer to help you build it out.
The problem is that if you do try and have all these bells and whistles on a WordPress website there's a lot that can go wrong.
If you want features like a booking system and galleries and payment gateways, then it can get difficult because you have to use third party plugins. These plugins can break your site when either they or just WordPress in general gets updated.
There's always a risk that these plugins won't talk to each other and won't work together properly and your website will breaking whenever this happens.
This is the main reason why if you want a complex WordPress website you're probably best to have a developer.
A developer can support you when things break or go wrong. They can run tests and they know where to look. They know how to fix errors and these can happen quite often.
If you're not very tech savvy and you still want to create updates on WordPress yourself, you can have a developer set everything up. If you want to post a blog once a week, you don't necessarily need a developer to do that, as long as you're familiar with computers,
Setting up a blog post is not too hard. Essentially it's like a word processor, typing out and adding images. You don't need to know any kind of coding or anything like that.
Now there are more user-friendly option to WordPress. There are services which are drag and drop and more visual in the way that you build them.
So you're looking at the page rather than a backend system and you drag things into place and type out directly onto your webpage, again, without any coding.
Quite often these services will have a lot of templates that you can use. You just install and edit and you can get a really smart website running really quickly. It can have your own domain as well, which in case you didn't know is the URL, the web address, that you use for a website.
It's also worth mentioning that if you are using WordPress, there are visual builders called 'what you see is what you get', or WYSIWYG builders. These include plugins like Divi or Elementor to help you create a nice looking WordPress website. And obviously they have a lot of themes too.
My website, the epic personal trainer website, is built on Wix.com.
I really like how easy it is to use and how everything just works. I have way fewer headaches than when I was using a WordPress. setup.
However, the Invictus website is built on WordPress, but, it's a relatively simple website that was built from scratch without too many complex features and not that many plugins.
So it is possible depending on what you want to get from your website.
Going back to Wix, it's really powerful, it's really easy to use and it's actually pretty cheap.
It costs a couple of hundred rupees a month and you pay for it for one year. So just a few thousand for a whole year.
They give you access to all these features and hosting as well. You can also have your own domain, get full flexibility in the design and the content and your photos, so you can really make it your own. There are options called modules that are for things like booking systems that integrate easily.
Because it's all created by Wix it's just going to work. They make sure it works before they release new features so you don't have all those complications of third party plugins not working together nicely.
Your payment gateways are also easily integrated. Generally Stripe and PayPal work with a lot f websites but with Wix you also have the option of having a local processor. For example, in India, there's Razorpay that works well.
Now, you will have to go and create a Razorpay account and then integrate it, but Wix make that pretty straightforward.
I have talked a lot about Wix, but that is because it's the one I've got the most experience with. But there are a lot of other services that are quite similar.
You can take a look at Squarespace, WebFlow and one called Weebly.
Search online and there's a whole lot more.
If you want a really basic website, more like the small brochure we were talking about earlier, then, you can even use Google sites. That's another option you have if you have a Google business account.
Below these WYSIWYG editors in terms of power and flexibility are websites and services like Skipperfit.com.
Skipperfit is a service where you can create your profile on their website and start selling products such as courses and eBooks. But it doesn't have the highest level of customisation or features.
For example, you're not going to be able to use like custom fonts. You've got basic control over things like colours and you may not even be able to get, your own domain.
Your web address it might be your name.skipperfit.com instead of something more custom.
However, there are some great benefits to a service like Skipperfit. The main benefit is that everything will just work. It's also very easy to use and the payment gateway is taken care of by them.
Payments go through their payment gateway and when you make a sale, the money will work its way through to your account. This means that you don't have the hassle of having to set up your own account.
These sites don't generally charge you for hosting, but they might take a percentage. It depends on the service you use. A percentage or a flat rate charge.
Remember, there isn't the ability to customise as much and there are less features, but keep in mind that they are adding updates and new features all the time.
So what the platform is right now might be a completely different animal in a year or so.
So it's worth keeping an eye on how they're developing.
There are also other options out there including full suite platforms that also help you manage and run your business.
The big player in that space is Trainerize. They can help with communication and issuing programs, tracking accountability and a lot more. They can help you run your personal training business .
And we do some reviews on these shortly.
Now keep in mind one is not necessarily better than the other. Some cost more money than others. Some are essentially free until you make a sale and then maybe take a percentage.
Some are easier to use, some of them are difficult. Some have a lot of freedom with what you can do and others are a bit more restrictive.
But none of that makes it better or worse. You need to pick the right one that fits you your needs, your technical ability, your comfort level, um, all those kinds of things.
You're going to need to keep thinking back to what purpose you want this website to serve? If it's just a catalog to showcase you and you want a few photos, you can go for for something really simple like Google sites.
If you want to be able to take payments at a basic level, then Skipperfit's a good idea.
If you want something more with your own personal payment gateway, then you'll need to step it up and have something like Wix.
And if you want to get into real kind heavy duty custom code you can go with WordPress or hiring a developer.
When all is said and done, having an online presence is important. I would say though, it's best to have both. A website and a social media account, if you can.
You've got your website with a lot of functionality that provides a lot of value. And then you use your social media as a way to communicate with your audience.
You can drive current clients and potential clients to your website, where you have your blog and it's all integrated with an email system, and we'll do an episode on email systems in the near future.
But the best thing is that if you've got things on your own playing field, not like Instagram and Facebook, you have a lot less to worry about.
If these social media platforms ever go away, which has also happened. I didn't mention that before. Look at what's happened over the years to Friendster and Orkut and Google Plus and Vine and MySpace and a lot of others. I mean, is Snapchat going that way? I haven't heard about them for a long time.
So these platforms can and do go away because they fall out a favour.
So if you've built your business entirely on one of those platforms, then you are at risk.
So having your own platform is a really sensible and intelligent move.
If you have your own website and your own email list then you have nothing to worry about if that happens.
Now, one final thought. None of what we've talked about in this session is essential for you to at least get started with your business.
If you have nothing else in place, you also have everything you need to just start. If you're in a gym, just start training people on the gym floor, engaging with them, talking to them.
You don't need a website or even an online presence of any kind to get started. You do not need to wait for a website or an email list or fancy business card, or a slick logo or anything like that, just to get going.
It's always better just to get started with your business and add all these features in later if you want them or need them.
This mentality is a form perfectionism a lot of the time, but at the same time, it's an excuse.
Sometimes it's out of fear of getting started.
If you're always waiting for the right time, to have all the right things in place, get everything created before you start, it's only going to hold you back.
I fallen into this trap a lot of times. So when it comes to starting, this perfectionism is going to be the enemy of you getting things done. So don't don't wait for perfection. Don't wait for everything to be in place before you get going with your personal training business, just get started.
Train a friend, train a friend of a friend, you can start that way. Start getting your clients results. But just start. Then you can layer in social media, your websites, your email lists, and anything else on top of that.
So don't wait, the timing will never be perfect. You have to get it out there and only then you can start perfecting what you've created.
So the best time to start is right now.