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Leverage Video to Grow Your Online Training Business

Whether your online training business is well established or you’re just getting started, one thing is certain: You’ll need a way to effectively market your services and easily share exercise programming with clients. Enter online videos.

YouTube has been popular for years, and video is now hotter than ever on other social channels as well, such as Facebook and Instagram. In fact, marketers have recently started uploading more videos on Facebook than on YouTube (Socialbakers 2015). And at the start of 2015, Facebook users were already posting 75% more videos to the site than they did a year earlier (Peterson 2015). Twitter is also in on the video trend, allowing users to post short videos via smartphone. You can even livestream video to clients and prospects through mobile apps like Periscope and Meerkat.

Social media aside, using video is an easy and logical way to deliver in-depth exercise programming to online clients. “While it takes a very long explanation in print, which will most likely not be read or understood in its entirety, it takes just a few seconds or minutes to clearly explain a concept in video,” advises Kourtney A. Thomas, owner of Lagniappe Fitness, LLC, who offers her online training services nationwide from her home base in St. Louis.

For best results, you’ll want a system that seamlessly organizes and distributes clips, either on your own website or via third-party software that allows you to arrange, save, import and/or share videos with clients. With so many possibilities for weaving video into an online training business, it’s best to map out a plan for what, how and where you’ll leverage video to enhance your training services. Here’s how four trainers have done it.

How to Stand Out on YouTube

Before you start posting videos online, establish a clear vision for what you want the videos to accomplish. YouTube is packed with exercise clips. What will make your variation of a squat stand out there?

Showcase Your Personality

For starters, have a handle on what your online brand is all about—and be sure to make your personality come to life on camera. Thomas says her intent with video marketing is to introduce her personality and training style. “You can definitely get an idea of how trainers are going to be in real life through all their other social channels and their website, but once you hear their voice and see their delivery, it ties up the package,” she declares.

“Video allows you to show your personality, your quirky traits, and your energy and passion a lot more than mere words do,” advises Rita Catolino, a London, Ontario–based online coach, motivational speaker and CEO of multiple online ventures, including a body transformation program, at ritacatolino.com. “[Video] gives your audience a better chance to connect with you. It is more real, raw and honest,” she asserts.

Go for Good Quality

Another tactic for setting yourself apart on YouTube (and other social channels) is to make videos with great picture and audio quality. This helps demonstrate that you’re serious about your online training business. “My videos are shot in studios and gyms under the best possible lighting/quality conditions,” says Franklin Antoian, founder of iBodyFit.com online personal training in Delray Beach, Florida, and the author of The Fit Executive (CreateSpace 2012). “Many people on YouTube seem to simply grab a cellphone and shoot a video in their messy bedroom, dirty garage, etc.,” he observes.

Personal trainer Colin Westerman of Vancouver, British Columbia, also took a pro’s approach for the videos he shot to promote his business Colin Westerman Golf Fitness. “I did a two-camera shoot with stage lights and a wireless microphone, so the video quality and sound are top-notch,” he explains. “The workouts that the viewer gets for free [on YouTube] are the same quality that you would have to pay for on a DVD.” What made the investment especially worthwhile for Westerman—a Titleist Performance Institute level 2 golf fitness specialist—is that because he’s targeting a specific market, golfers, he can avoid posting the usual generic content, like “How to get six-pack abs.” He says, “I have a long-term plan to train golfers on the PGA tour, so [my] videos help with brand recognition on a worldwide basis.”

Thomas also recently switched to filming all her videos in a photography studio, to give them a more professional edge.

How to Make the Most of Various Social Sites

In addition to the giant of online video channels, YouTube, there are plenty of social sites and apps to help you share prerecorded video of various lengths. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and Vimeo are just a few.

Be aware that video length varies across platform. Whereas a YouTube, Vimeo or Facebook clip can run for a couple of minutes, you’ve got only 10 seconds on Snapchat, 15 seconds on Instagram, 30 seconds on Twitter and a mere 6 seconds of looping video on Vine. To address this, you might decide to edit your marketing videos to various lengths; or you might shoot just one short version—say, 15 seconds long—so it works across most platforms.

Another option is to post links to your YouTube videos from Twitter. On Facebook, you’ll likely get better results and farther reach if you post short videos directly to the site rather than linking out to YouTube.

Having a video-posting strategy for each platform also allows you to fine-tune your marketing. “I use Facebook and Twitter a lot to cross-promote all posts and videos,” shares Thomas. “Obviously, time is limited on Instagram, so I find it’s more beneficial there to create videos specific to that viewing audience.”

“Instagram is very useful, as people are looking for a quick scroll type of app,” Catolino notes. “I can post a quick piece of my video on Instagram, which gets people engaged, and then post a link to push them to the whole video on my YouTube channel.”

Videos for Your Online Fitness Programming

When applying videos to actual programming and workout development for online clients, trainers can choose to house videos on their own websites and/or use third-party services or software. The choice depends on the goals. For example, one reason Antoian produced all his own videos to place on his website was to ensure that his entire site was proprietary.

Catolino uses her own videos, found on her website, and she also posts quality videos from elsewhere if needed. “The [videos of] motivation, tips, etc., are just me, but I use other trainers or brands to show proper technique of a movement if I do not possess that in my video library,” she explains. “I am currently working on creating all of my own video, however, as I believe that will complete my brand.”

With many options available—and given the cost and time involved in shooting professional-quality videos for a website—some online trainers look for ways to leverage video from third-party systems that are already in place. For example, IDEA Workout Builder allows you to create, customize and choose existing workouts from a library of more than 1,000 professional videos and then share them with your clients online. It also allows you to add your own videos to clients’ programs.

Numerous websites also facilitate the online training experience. Thomas uses one called Trainerize, where you upload your own videos or any video from YouTube. “It provides all the backend technology that would be very expensive and cumbersome for me to get together for each client,” Thomas explains. “I upload a workout and the appropriate video demos to Trainerize, and the app automatically notifies clients of changes. I am able to use my own demo videos and photos, which brings brand continuity.” Your online training clients can sign up for the app for free.

The best place to start or ramp up your use of video is with a strategy built around your goals. “Posting great videos online helps me establish myself and my brand as a leader,” affirms Antoian. “I have clients who liked my videos and subsequently signed up as paying members.” Making the most of this popular space could help you see an upswing in your online training business.

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