How I Automated My Fitness Business to Generate Passive Income
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We all only have one life. So, it's just natural to try and make us and the people around us as happy as possible. I am taking this to the next level with the happiness formula. This includes making as much time as possible available for our passion projects by leveraging a great deal of automation. In this article, I describe the key components of this formula like my fitness business 4legsfitness.com and how I automated it.
Why I Started a Fitness Business
Fitness is my passion. A healthy and active lifestyle is a key ingredient of my own happiness and my drive of maximizing it.
My Drive: Maximizing Happiness
I made it the purpose of my life to maximize happiness for me and the people around me. I figured out that the keys to happiness are health and freedom. By transforming my passion (health and fitness) into a passive income-generating business I can achieve a great level of (financial) freedom. This may not apply to everyone but it's a pretty good model that works extremely well for me.
Passive Income for Financial Freedom
A key part of freedom is financial freedom. My fitness business 4legsfitness.com is an essential part of achieving financial freedom. This can only work if it's highly (almost fully) automated.
Of course, freedom is much more than just financial freedom. But having the necessary financial means that allow you to have the lifestyle that you desire is a substantial element of freedom. This is also very individual but for me, freedom means being able to do what I want, when I want, and where I want. To achieve this I need to put myself into a position where I am independent of any employers.
To achieve this I am building a passive income-generating fitness business. The unique underlying idea of 4legsfitness.com is that in everything I do I combine the four areas that are essential to achieve a strong foundation of health and fitness:
This model is based on several years of research and experience, which I could also publish as a best-selling book. I offer various products and services and my flagship is the Build Bullet-Proof Health online fitness program.
In order to achieve the vision of financial freedom, my online fitness business needs to generate passive income. That is only possible if I automate as many of the necessary processes as possible. My direct client work is customized and "manual" but everything else is automated.
Below are the details about how I did it.
Automating my Fitness Business: 4legsfitness.com
All my processes are split into either core business or marketing execution, which includes content marketing and promotion.
Connecting the Core Business Processes
I offer all 4legsfitness.com services or products either online or offline. Offline includes one-on-one personal training, seminars, or courses. Online includes the sale of supplements with chosen partners I trust, accessories like t-shirts or hats that are drop-shipped, e-learning courses, or the Build Bullet-Proof Health online fitness program.
At the center of all of this is my website which is based on Shopify. For automation I use Zapier. Thankfully Zapier offers very rich support for Shopify with triggers and actions for everything you need. In addition, I am using Trainerize which is an online coaching platform that is very popular among fitness professionals. Through Trainerize I can create and offer customized training programs to my clients. It also allows me to build better client relationships via a messaging function or regular check-ins. I also leverage a range of Google apps like Gmail, Sheets, and Forms. All of these are very well supported by Zapier, which allows me to automate almost all my core business processes.
Here is an overview of the key processes including sales via Shopify, client onboarding via Google Forms, Sheets and Gmail, and finally delivering custom fitness programs to my clients via Trainerize:
- A new sale of one of my programs in Shopify triggers the sending of a welcome email via Gmail to the new client. This email includes the request to fill in a quite comprehensive client assessment questionnaire (fitness goals, eating habits, living situation, etc) via a Google Form. Based on the specific program or variation of a program that the new client chose, different emails with different assessment forms are sent out.
- The submission of the Google Form-based assessment questionnaire by a client triggers the creation of a new client account in Trainerize. This new client is assigned to me as a trainer. This zap is quite complicated because it reacts to various different conditions, which I implemented in Zapier using branches. Mainly based on a client's personal fitness goals and a couple of other variables, the corresponding training programs are assigned. My training programs for gaining strength, e.g., are considerably different from the ones for losing weight.
- I also offer a trial program on my website. I often use this to promote my service to my target audience using ads. It's based on a simple Google Form. A new submission triggers email notifications to me and the new client of the trial program. The next step in the zap is the creation of a new trial account in Trainerize and instructions about the next steps are communicated. The trial program also includes an email chain that shares useful fitness information like healthy eating tips. Some of them include unobtrusive call-to-actions with which I hope to convince trial clients to become paying customers.
- Apart from my training programs, also the sale of supplements via my store on Shopify is automated. I work with a trusted third-party supplier of supplements who offers the best value-for-money products. We created a shared Google Sheet. Any new supplement sale on my website triggers the addition of a new line in this spreadsheet containing the corresponding order details. We both get email notifications and the order fulfillment will be executed by my partner.
- Typically only a portion of website visitors who add products to the shopping cart then also actually purchase. Shopify has the abandoned cart event for that. I use this as a trigger to notify myself and to send an automatic email to this visitor with a discount offer. This may convince them to buy. It's also an excellent opportunity to start a conversation and build a relationship. After all, this visitor already showed an interest in one of my offers.
This list summarises how I automated the core processes of my business using Zapier. The next category includes marketing automation.
Executing Marketing More Efficiently
After a lot of experimenting with various marketing activities and channels, I concluded that diligent content marketing is the most effective. It is a long-term and quite resource-intense activity. Results did not come overnight but I am seeing a steady increase in organic search traffic that is landing on my page "for free." All my blog articles are focusing on providing helpful content targeting certain, highly relevant keywords or -phrases that typically address niche topics in the area of health and fitness. They all conclude with a call-to-action with conversion in mind.
In order to create momentum and success around a digital fitness business, an effective social media presence is unavoidable. However, today there are lots of social media platforms available all with their own specific rules, advantages, and disadvantages. As a small business owner (a one-man-band essentially) it is impossible to cover them all well. This is where automation can make a significant difference. I automated a lot of my marketing activities, especially those which are homogeneous and recurring. This gives me the time to focus on the high-value campaigns which are typically more manual and custom and involve a lot of testing and tweaking.
My key marketing automation via Zapier includes the following:
- I publish new articles on my blog on a weekly basis. Whenever a new post is published, I use the corresponding Shopify trigger to invoke automatic actions.
- A short summary of the post together with an image, a call-to-action, and the link to the post itself is published on my Facebook page.
- A tweet is composed including the key message of the article and is published on my Twitter account together with an image, link, and corresponding hashtags.
- The lead image of the article is also automatically published on Pinterest with the link and a call-to-action.
What Did I Achieve With Automation?
Top management thinker and author Peter Drucker once said that the most important functions of a business are innovation and marketing. The combination of the 4 Legs of Fitness and how I roll it out to my clients is a very innovative approach in the fitness industry. Marketing in this space with a multitude of different channels is very challenging.
So, what did I achieve with automation?
My business is complex. Quite simply, without automation, 4legsfitness.com would not exist. Handling my core business process and marketing without automation would be impossible for one person to handle. In other words, it is absolutely vital to use a platform like Zapier that allows me to connect all the different apps and platforms that I am using for my business and define all the processes that span across these apps.
Another key benefit of automation for my business is the reduction of errors. Once a process is clearly defined, I implement it using zaps. After some testing and refinement, I go into production mode. After that, the zaps always reliably produce the same results. If I do that manually, quite naturally errors occur, which can be time-consuming to fix or even worse expensive and may result in losing customers.
A further crucial benefit of automation is that it frees up my time to focus on the things where I can really add value, improve my offers, grow the business, acquire new customers, and have fun rather than executing mundane, repetitive tasks. This is in line with Peter Drucker's statement: as a fitness entrepreneur (just like any business really) you need to keep innovating and adapting to changes in the market and customer demands.
The fitness industry is extremely competitive with many players and especially very strong brands. With a small fitness business like 4legsfitness.com I need to continue offering an innovative service that adds real value to clients and I need to rely on strong partnerships.
In order to evolve my fitness business, I continuously work on what I call micro- and macro business extensions. Micro extensions include mainly ironing out friction points in my current offers such as client onboarding, pricing, discounts, or bundled offers. With macro extensions, I am referring to completely new offers, partnerships, or revenue streams. Together with partners, I am planning fitness camps with a focus on specific sports such as climbing. I am also investigating offering health and fitness e-learning courses.
Recipe for Failure: Don't Automate
Make no mistake: being a business owner in the fitness industry is tough business.
Apart from having a great offer and the right tools and processes in place to deliver that offer, automation is absolutely vital to being able to succeed in that market. I leverage Zapier for automation of my core business processes and marketing execution across various channels. Without automation, I would have failed already a long time ago. With it, every day I am coming closer and closer to achieving my vision of financial freedom to satisfy the happiness formula and continue to live the happy life.
Full Disclosure and Disclaimer:
This is an extended version of the article “Passive income automation: How I built my fitness business using Zapier”, which I originally published as a guest post on the Zapier blog.
I am not a financial advisor. I present my view on things that work well for me. I am not taking any responsibility for your decisions. Always do your own due diligence before you invest.