Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.
If you’ve ever thought of starting an online fitness business, now could be the ideal time.
With the country on lockdown, people are looking for ways to stay fit and active without leaving the house.
Don’t panic if you haven’t got any gear. All you really need is something to exercise in (jogging bottoms and a vest top will do, or really whatever you have). In fact, having no equipment could even set an example for your viewers of how you can start exercising indoors right now.
Read on for the lowdown on starting your online fitness business, including the practical steps on starting and building a following.
You’ll almost certainly want to start your online fitness business on YouTube. It’s the world’s most popular platform for sharing videos, and starting your own channel is easier than you might think. It also integrates really well with other forms of social media to help build your following (more on that below!)
The first thing to do is go to YouTube and sign in with your Google account (or create a free one if you don’t have it already. YouTube and Google now share the same account details across both platforms).
And if you need inspiration to get started yourself, check out our article on how to exercise for free (pay particular attention to the at-home methods).
Don’t worry if you’re new to filming, it’s actually a lot easier than you’d think to make professional-looking clips for your channel.
If you have a standalone camera (like a DSLR), that’s great. It almost certainly has a video function, so familiarise yourself with that. Set it up on a tripod, or even just a table that sits at the correct height to show you clearly on screen. If you have a standalone wireless microphone too, that will help increase the audio quality.
But don’t worry if you don’t. Most modern smartphones have excellent filming quality, and all you’ll need is to prop it up on a table (perhaps stood up in front of a glass) and start filming. Remember to shoot horizontally rather than vertically.
Whatever you use, do a short test video and play around with angles and heights to get the desired result. Make sure your whole body is clearly in view.
In terms of space, if you look at other fitness videos you’ll notice there’s usually no clutter or anything else to distract the eye. If you have limited space, pull sofas to the side and take things off walls and shelves to make the video look as ‘clean’ as possible.
If you have an exercise mat, use that, but really even a towel will do. Using really basic gear could be one of your unique selling points: Let your viewers know it’s possible to start exercising with what you already have in the house!
Any business venture needs a unique selling point (USP). This is true whether you’re writing a blog about video games or filming fitness videos. So try to think of the following: “What makes my online fitness business unique?”
We’ve already written an article[LINK] on the best free online fitness videos, so check them out for inspiration.
Take a look at Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home series, which is focused on one specific thing: how to get fit walking on the spot at home. It sounds very basic, but she has a whopping 1.6 million subscribers!
Danielle Peazer is a professional dancer, and brings her industry knowledge to her exercise routines. The Body Coach (Joe Wicks) has a series on kids’ exercises. So, think about what could make your channel unique. Even if you’re new to exercising yourself, that could be your USP.
To be successful on YouTube, you’ll need to spread the word across all social media channels. You might want to set up new accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to promote your business.
Or, if you already have a strong following on your regular accounts, you could just combine your business and personal posts in your existing profiles. This might work really well if your business is under your existing name, e.g. “John Smith Fitness At Home”. Posting about everyday things alongside fitness, or ideally combining the two in your posts, will give it a personal touch.
Remember never to pay for followers. Doing this will artificially boost your numbers, but it’s very easy to see through this when anyone looks at your list of followers. If there are loads of generic bots following you, hardly anyone will be commenting, which will look odd. Plus, this will only put off potential sponsors. Which brings us to our next point…
Sponsorship is one of the best ways to make money online. YouTube has this guide to getting paid for your videos. But as well as the revenue you get directly from that, sponsors are an excellent way to boost your income.
But what are sponsors? Essentially, they pay you to promote their products on your channel. For example, if your videos are focused on weightlifting, a protein powder company might pay you to include a recommendation of their product.
Remember it’s important to choose your sponsors carefully. You don’t want to promote anything unethical (like fake weight loss teas and other bogus products), because that will only harm your reputation. But if you already love using a certain product for your fitness, getting paid to promote it only makes sense!
Firstly, you’ll need a strong following before sponsors will be interested. After all, no one will pay you to promote a product if you only have 10 followers.
The best way to build an organic following is to post good content frequently. Set yourself a realistic schedule and stick to it. Could you post two videos a week, say every Wednesday and Saturday?
Then, promote your videos on your other social media channels. Take on any feedback in the comments, and keep improving. Remember not to get too upset by troll posts: Forbes has some great tips on dealing with them.
Be patient, and remember this is far from a get rich quick scheme. It takes a lot of time to build a good following. This article suggests, anecdotally, that people find it takes anything from six weeks to four months, or perhaps even longer, to get 1,000 followers, which is a good start.
But if you’re striving to get fit and stay active while you’re self-isolating anyway, making it a project with a new online fitness business could help motivate you and give you something to focus on.
This is another great revenue stream for your online fitness business. It may take a while to build, but once you have guides online, it’s a form of passive income.
So what kinds of online fitness guides sell? Well, it could be as simple as a self-published eBook, where you share your tips and experiences. Perhaps you could write it in diary style, documenting your own fitness journal while self-isolating. A lot of people would find that interesting and inspiring!
Or, create a day-by-day fitness plan to kickstart a home-based fitness regime. Perhaps something like ‘Start Getting Fit At Home in 7 Days’ will do the trick.
If you prefer video rather than text, you could create a premium web series which you charge customers for. Your free YouTube videos could help promote this, and then you could direct viewers to your premium guide. This could be with a short message at the end of each video and a link in the description.
So what kinds of guides sell? As an example, take a look at Bodybuilding.com for inspiration. They have a number of home-based fitness solutions, which will only be more popular nowadays.
Browse their site and you’ll see they also have a number of free articles, like this one on the ‘Jailhouse Strong Routine’. These help promote their paid guides, as people who come across these articles will be inspired to take their exercise further.
That’s just one example, but it shows how a combination of social media presence, written articles, and videos could be a good way to promote your online fitness guides.
Are you trying to stay fit at home? Got your own fitness channel already or have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!