When the country started shutting down “non-essential” businesses at the outbreak of COVID-19, wellness practitioners found themselves in a difficult spot. While yoga, dance, life coaching and the like are not deemed essential by the government, the services they provide are essential to the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of those they serve. Not to mention the financial wellbeing of the providers.
As governors across the country signed shutdown orders, wellness professions scrambled to keep their practices afloat the only way they could; by moving their classes online. It didn’t take long for most to realize they were not prepared for such a change. Even those who already had a website found there was more to going online than getting a webcam and finding a video conferencing platform. The pace of change was, is, faster than most have ever experienced.
The pace has slowed, a lot, and we are now settling into what many are calling the new normal, but that doesn’t mean you can wait to get up and running online. Whether you are a first-time solopreneur or one of the many who waited out the storm and are ready to jump back in, you are in a position to learn from those who went before you. Those who’ve already made the move to virtual classes.
There is still much for you to learn and the path won’t always be smooth, but this, and future posts, will guide you on a step-by-step journey to setting up your online wellness practice. Following the guide will simplify the process, giving you the freedom to focus on serving your clients’ physical, emotional and mental wellness needs.
There is not enough space here to consider all you need to learn. Instead, we will be using a series of blog posts and eBooks to explore everything in depth. If you would like to get a head start, you can download this white paper. We’ll be using it as the source material for what’s to come. You’ll find it is divided into several chapters, so you can easily skip around to those areas that apply to you.
If you want a high-level understanding of the things you should be thinking about as you start your quest, continue reading. We understand that just the thought of the software and hardware necessary can be overwhelming. But, rest assured, you are not the first to feel it. We’ve been there and know what you are going through. Which is why we wrote the white paper. You won’t know everything when you are done reading this post, but you will know the pieces and parts involved and will be ready to start putting together the puzzle.
What to consider now
For the sake of this post, and future ones, we are going to assume you are starting from scratch with no website, social media or any other digital presence. We know this isn’t true of everyone, but we must start somewhere.
For anyone planning to move their wellness practice online, there is a bare minimum of what you need to have in place if you are going to be successful. This post is dedicated to giving you an understanding of the minimum requirements and how they will make your life easier. In subsequent posts, we will dig deep into each of them, as well as other subjects.
It should go without saying that without a website you have no shot of making the transition to online teaching. Your website’s homepage is the online storefront visitors step through to find answers to their questions. In the past, you would have answered their questions while sitting across from them, but that’s not how consumers shop today. You need to be prepared to answer someone’s questions without ever having talked with them.
Consumers have adapted to the Online world, asking search engines questions and reviewing the results for websites recommended as having the answers they seek. It’s today’s version of the Yellow Pages, without the orderly, alphabetical lineup and without the localization. After all, it’s not called the World Wide Web for nothing.
Your website needs to do everything you can do in a physical location, without you playing a role.
Yes, you need to answer potential questions: What classes do you teach and when, are you the only teacher, what experience do you have, group and individual, what levels – beginner, intermediate, advanced.
But there are things your clients are looking for.
Take a few minutes and think about some of the websites you visit most often. Consider what you like and don’t like about them. Think about the navigation; is it easy to find what you want. If it’s an ecommerce site, think about how easy or difficult it is to buy, from the first step to the last.
What we’re asking you to contemplate are the website’s user experience (UX) and functionality. Both are critical and we will eventually address UX, but, for this post, we will be focusing on functionality.
When we strip everything else away, the goal of your website is to drive registrations (purchases) for your online classes. It is, at its core, an ecommerce website and needs to function as one. Not because we said so, but because that is what your visitors are expecting.
Your goal is to have a website that makes the purchasing process as easy as possible. You do that by:
- Making it crystal clear which class best fits their needs
- Having an easy to read schedule so they can find a session that works for them
- Having a seamless purchase and payment process
- Providing a way to contact you via phone or email if they have additional questions
If your website can do these four things in a way that is intuitive to the user, you’re well on your way.
Showcase your expertise
An important part of any website today, and one that most struggle to do well, is a blog that shows visitors that you are an expert in the field. You can’t build a practice without students and one of the surest ways to grow your student population is by building credibility and trust. That is where your blog comes in.
Your blog is how you communicate important ideas and concepts to a large audience. It’s how you show you are current on the latest trends and news, and where you share your opinion. Another benefit of blogging is that it keeps your site fresh and active in the eyes of search engines. And that is something they love.
The new normal is exactly that, normal. And those who embrace it and adapt will be the ones who succeed. The first step is moving your practice online, the right way, and we are here to help.
With a website that allows students (prospective and current) to select the class and time that best suits them, answers their questions and makes registration and payment easy, you will have the foundation of an online wellness practice. There are many other considerations we will look at in the coming weeks and months (click here to get the whitepaper and a head start), but it all begins with your website.