I’d like to talk today about how I grew triswimcoach.com from an in-person swim lesson business into an online one, without having to learn code or graphic design.
The first thing is to realize you are currently trading your time for money, and even if you do everything right with this model, you will hit a ceiling in your business very quickly. There’s only so much time in the day, and there’s only so much you can charge your clients.
So the answer is to make your website into an asset that pays you even when you’re not there.
Here’s what I did to move triswimcoach from a 40 hour a week swim lesson business into a full time online source of income:
1. I focused on a niche.
At first, my niche was just “swim lessons for adults”. In person, that was pretty good- I had endless clients since most instructors focus on kids. But online, that turned out to be too broad. Luckily, my lesson clients had a commonality- about 75% of them were triathletes. I did a few searches online and found that there wasn’t much out there for triathletes looking to get better at swimming. So Tri Swim Coach was born.
2. I hired a cheap designer to build a website.
Before that, I was 100% relying on referrals. I got a site online specifically because I wanted to have an online presence, and sell “something”, other than one-on-one lessons. The first version of triswimcoach.com was admittedly low quality, but I paid just $100 to get it done. As I started selling programs, I put some of that money into the business and hired a more expensive designer to give it a professional look. Take note here that I didn’t have any design or technical skills, so all of this was out of my comfort zone!
3. I took notes on what my clients were asking for AND needing.
What were the common mistakes people were making? What were the complaints that led to them hiring me as a coach? What did they tell me they needed (different from what they ACTUALLY needed)? I took all of these notes and created articles around the topics. I posted these articles wherever I could and sent them to related sites in my niche who were looking for content.
Eventually, I became an expert in the eyes of my community.
4. I used the above notes to create my first product.
An ebook teaching the basics of triathlon swimming. This speaks to the idea of not being worried about giving things away for free. The ebook nicely organized all the articles I had written into an easy to understand format, with pictures and instructions. I ended up including workout plans with the ebook, since that’s one of the main things people were asking for.
5. From there, I made that ebook into a DVD.
I partnered with the DVD producer on the business, since I had no skills with video editing either! He ended up helping with my WordPress website as well, since that was taking me so much time, and again, not my expertise.
6. To attract new leads and customers, I also created a “mini course”.
To get a faster freestyle in a few days, that anyone can download for free, by entering their email address. That email goes into my “funnel”, where they get the course, plus a series of emails selling them on the paid version of the course.
7. As DVDs became almost extinct, I moved that content into a membership website.
This may sound daunting or overwhelming, but I can tell you, it’s not that bad. It was actually exciting to create my first course, as I could offer so much more than I could with the DVD/book combo. The key to doing this membership site was using Wishlist Member, a plugin for WordPress. This makes it easy and fast to set up, and it’s no problem taking credit cards, Paypal, etc. so people can pay to enter your course.
8. Marketing shifted from Google to Facebook.
The articles I wrote early on were monumental to getting organic traffic, but to go full time with the business, it was necessary to learn how to run ads.
9. I learned how to run ads.
Since nobody else in my niche was running Facebook ads at the time, I knew it was important for me to learn how. I took 3 courses on Facebook ads (typically, 1 course is not enough, as there is a lot to learn and nobody teaches “everything”). I then learned through trial and error. While it IS easy to spend lots of money on Facebook ads and get nothing in return, you can also put daily limits on to minimize losses- and consider them part of the learning process.
10. Now my marketing is mostly running Facebook ads.
So I can target my audience and get them into the funnel. Some will buy right from the emails. I also run monthly promotions that bring in a good number of sales.
With respect to the above topics, ask yourself the following question:
What are the repetitive things that you do for your clients?
Think about the programs you write. The questions you get asked regularly. Then think of how these could be turned into articles, short videos, and your eventual course.
The most important thing I’ve learned over the years with Tri Swim Coach is, not to get overwhelmed by the tech. If “not knowing tech” stops you from moving forward, go hire someone on Upwork, right now. Get used to having someone do some work for you, then use teams and possible partners to help you grow your dream business 🙂