Gym management software from Kilo

Online trainer makes $500k/yr with 1,400 followers


Gym World comes from Kilo co-founder John Franklin, who shares lessons about making money in the fitness industry.

This will make you rethink your entire content strategy.

What’s up gym world?

I saw this post by Jon Goodman, and it got me thinking about sniper marketing and shotgun marketing:

Screenshot 2023 08 29 at 11.22.06 AM

Targeting a hyper-specific group with your marketing is referred to as sniper marketing, while taking a broader approach is called shotgun marketing.

When you’re starting out, a sniper approach is almost always the better option.

And as we’ll learn today, you can build a big business without a big following.

Case in point: Melissa Shevchenko—an online fitness coach who shifted from making $8k/mo in-person to $70k/mo online with just under 1,500 Instagram followers.

Two months ago, she hadn’t even posted a Reel. Yet her small but mighty audience helps her earn an annual profit “between $400-$500k.”

Her sniper strategy makes her more successful than some influencers with audiences 100x her size.


Play stupid games, win stupid prizes

While the rest of the fitness industry is focused on “building a following,” Melissa’s strategy is better for those trying to build a business.

So without further ado, here’s what she did to build her insanely profitable online coaching company:

Niched waaay down

Melissa targets 40- to 60-year-old women who are “obsessed with scale numbers” that want to lose weight. This hyper-specific targeting makes it easier to create content that resonates with that audience.

Screenshot 2023 08 29 at 11.21.50 AM

Found a marketing strategy that works

Melissa’s leads come from referrals, Facebook posts, or Instagram posts.

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She says the group helps her showcase the quality of her work and build community.

She DMs every person who joins the group and builds rapport with them. This also gives her a sense of how qualified each person is for her services.

Others in the industry like Mike Doehla and Lindsey VanSchoyck built wildly profitable online businesses using Facebook Groups as their main acquisition channel.

Melissa’s front-end offer is a 6-week challenge that costs around $850/mo. She opens enrollment six times a year and aims to sell 40 people each time.

Opening and closing enrollment allows Melissa to focus all her effort on selling when enrollment is open, and fulfilling when enrollment is closed.

Cassie Day also uses an open & closed enrollment strategy for her brick & mortar in Toronto.

She says most of her sales happen via DM, but she will get on the phone with colder leads.

Built a premium offer with premium pricing

Melissa’s $850 6-week challenge consists of:

  • An online course
  • Live video calls each Monday with homework assignments
  • Weekly client check-ins delivered via email or voice memo
  • A 1-on-1 call halfway through the program to celebrate wins, set goals, and discuss long-term coaching options

Melissa sets expectations with her clients throughout the initial 6 weeks. She wants them all to understand that fitness is a long-term commitment and she’s not going to solve all their problems during this initial challenge.

After the program, clients can continue with a 6-month program for $350/mo or a 12-month program for $300/mo. These both include similar services to the 6-week challenge with the addition of:

  • 2x group Zoom calls per month
  • Weekly Q&A sessions
  • Weekly check-ins delivered via email or voice memo
  • Red light coaching calls → if a client has a problem that can’t be solved via VM or text, Melissa will get on the phone with them

A lot of her service delivery has been systematized and automated. This allows her to serve more people without experiencing burnout.

She says her online service is far better than her in-person training was, even though each client takes up a fraction of the time.

Melissa’s advice

Melissa has over a decade of experience and it’s clear that she’s borderline obsessive over her clients’ results, so copying her playbook probably won’t make you $500k in profit.

That said, here’s her advice to fit pros who want to grow an online coaching business:

  1. Just start. There’s no room to overthink nor overplan; put all your effort into getting your first client. You’ll get that done faster if you focus on talking to people instead of “growing a following.”
  2. Hire a mentor or a coach. Not only do they teach you the fundamentals of business and how to make better biz decisions, but they save your precious time.
  3. Do things that make you uncomfortable. In Melissa’s experience, growth comes from doing things you know you should be doing, but are too scared to start.

If you want a full breakdown from Melissa herself, check out the latest Gym World for a deeper dive into her business.

Or add it to your queue on Spotify or Apple for your next road trip.


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