14 February 2020
Free Content, Providing Value & Building A Reputation: Four Lessons By Ryan Solomon
JPS Education Preface: In an attempt to diversify the content and ideas that readers of our blog are exposed to, we have contacted a number of individuals within the industry who we respect and admire, and asked them if they will contribute content to our blog so that our dedicated readers can be benefit from…
JPS Education Preface: In an attempt to diversify the content and ideas that readers of our blog are exposed to, we have contacted a number of individuals within the industry who we respect and admire, and asked them if they will contribute content to our blog so that our dedicated readers can be benefit from what they know. While all the coaches at JPS and contributors to our education platform are extremely knowledgeable, we are all obviously limited to the experiences and education that we have had. By reaching out to other individuals in the industry who we consider to be exceptional in one way or another, we hope to bring to you an even greater amount of knowledge and information than we could achieve on our own. Many of these articles will be written by “competitors,” although we don’t consider them as such. These are all people who we believe embody our ‘Raising The Standard’ motto and therefore we feel privileged to give them a voice on our platform. This is the first instalment of that process.
About the author: Ryan Solomon is a full-time online coach for the highly reputable company Revive Stronger. Ryan holds a Bachelors Degree in Exercise & Movement Science as well as a Masters in Science. He is undoubtedly one of the friendliest faces you’ll ever encounter on the Internet and he provides an abundance of valuable information across multiple platofrms. If you enjoy his article, be sure to give him a follow on Instagram @ryanjsolomon and send him a message letting him know you enjoyed his work!
Take it away, Ryan…
I am not — nor do I pretend to be a guru “brand builder” or marketing genius.
However, I have been able to achieve my goal I set out to accomplish a couple of years ago. To become a full time online coach. Many people are trying to “make it” as an online coach, or build a reputation online. The purpose of this article is to share a few things I’ve learned along the way and my experience with building a reputation and becoming an online coach. I’ll give you an overview of my experience, and then leave you with four main lessons when it comes to building a reputation and becoming an online coach.
I was sitting in my college dorm as a sophomore in college listening to what was called a “podcast”. A physical therapist at a clinic I worked at liked listening to a sports podcast, so I thought I’d see what this whole podcast thing was about. I searched for “bodybuilding podcasts”. This is when I came across a few different ones; “The barbell one show”, “the Ice Cream for PRs Podcast with Jeff Nippard”, and “The Revive Stronger Podcast” with this British guy named Steve Hall.
After binge-listening to every episode of the Revive Stronger Podcast, it revealed to me an entire world of bodybuilding programming/periodization, diet strategies, and that people actually make money essentially personal training on the internet (my Mom still doesn’t understand… but she also doesn’t know how to turn her phone on silent… so there’s that).
This got me thinking. The whole online-personal training thing sounds like a pretty cool gig. I could have my schedule be whatever I want, coach people who are into this whole bodybuilding thing like myself, and actually make a difference in someone’s life. I experienced first hand the power that getting your fitness together can have on your life.
In middle-school, I was forced into lifting for sports. Absolutely hated it. Every time the weight-room went unsupervised, you better believe I was planting my ass on the bench to chat with my teammates. Then in high-school, I decided I wanted to be as best I could be for my favorite sport (American football), so I made a promise to myself to have 100% weight room attendance.
At first, I still hated it. But then I started to see changes. A new vein here, a little more muscle there, weekly strength improvements. These physical changes were cool. But other areas of my life started to change as well. I was learning the value in delayed gratification through lifting. This got me thinking. What else could I do now to better set up my future? My grades improved, I started to love the process of learning, and everything in my life started improving. This is the power pursuing physical fitness can have. It can change someone’s entire life. And this is why I wanted to be a coach — and why I love doing it.
Back in college now. After listening to all these podcasts, I knew I wanted to get into the online coaching thing, but didn’t know how. So, I did the only logical thing I could think of. I asked myself a question: For people that are in the position I want to be in — what are they doing and how did they get there?
This is when I reached out to Steve Hall. Founder of Revive Stronger. I asked him if there was anything I could do to help out. To add value to him. I knew that if I helped him out, I might be able to better learn how he goes about running his business.
I’ll get back to big Steve and Revive Stronger in a sec.
I also noticed, almost everyone who was coaching online had some sort of “thought leadership platform” (i.e a podcast, youtube channel, instagram, etc). The idea is that you basically post content on these platforms, build a reputation by providing this free, valuable content, and then some people will want 1 on 1 coaching because they see how you might be able to help them through the content you’re producing.
So, I decided to start a YouTube channel and Instagram page.
Lol. I was so terrible.
In my first video, my voice was shaking the entire time because I was so scared of what people would think. I also recorded the video in vertical format, so there were these big black bars on the sides. It took me hours to edit because my computer processor was woefully incapable of editing video — and I also had no clue what I was doing.
But, I stuck to it. And after about 200 videos, I had my first 100 subscribers!
Then it dawned on me. I’m consistent as hell. But whatever I’m doing clearly isn’t working. This is when I started a podcast called “The School of Muscle”. This really helped my reputation grow. I’d interview thought leaders who already had a following and reputation, and organically some of their following was also into what I was doing, and would follow me. However, this really wasn’t my main intention for the podcast. I basically thought podcasts were like a cheat code. You basically get a personal 1 on 1 consultation with some of the smarted people in the industry, for free, and talk about a bunch of cool shit I find interesting. Then, if you don’t suck too much at interviewing them, some of their followers may give you a shot as a nice little bonus.
Now back to Steve and Revive Stronger.
Throughout this time, I was still helping out Steve for free. I helped him out for pretty close to two years (nothing major, maybe about 5 or so hours of work per week).
After starting to gain some traction on my podcast, Steve and Pascal (Pascal came on as a co-owner and coach of Revive a little while after I started helping out Steve) came to me basically saying “Hey, wanna coach at Revive Stronger? You’re doing a great job with the podcast and with the things you’re helping us out with. We can start you off as an intern and then transition you into a full-time coach”.
The only downside to this was I’d have to give up my podcast. As it wouldn’t make much sense to have two basically competing podcasts under the same brand. To me, this downside wasn’t even close to the upside to actually start developing my coaching roster and actually be a part of the Revive Stronger Team. So, I basically said; hell yeah, let’s do this. And became a coach for Revive Stronger. It’s now about a year later, and I basically have a full roster of clients and this is my full time gig.
4 Main Lessons
I apologize in advance for how cliché each and everyone of these lessons are. But, that doesn’t change the fact that these are indeed the main lessons you can take away.
1. Know Why You Want To Build Your Reputation Or Become An Online Coach
You’ve probably heard this a million times, “know your why”. But I begrudgingly had to keep it here. Because it really does matter. If you don’t understand why it’s important for you to build a reputation or to become an online coach, then you might have a difficult time being persistent through the inevitable challenges that will come up (sucking on video, not knowing how to edit, creating hundreds of videos that get less than 10 views). I don’t think this has to be very “extravagant” though. And I don’t think it has to be on the “change the world” level. For me, it was as simple as I wanted to help people do what I did. Change their life for the better through fitness. And hey, controlling my own schedule is a pretty sweet benefit too. This is what kept me going when things just didn’t seem to be catching on.
2. Always Learning
Learning from people who are in the position you’d like to be in someday can be incredibly valuable with providing you some direction. Whether this is signing up for the JPS Health and Fitness Mentorship course (haven’t done this course, but the JPS crew kicks ass so I’m confident it’s great), listening to podcasts, reading books, reaching out to people, whatever it is, try to learn from others. Also, continuing to develop your knowledge around not only online coaching and brand building — but actually how to become a good coach — will make sure you’re constantly progressing toward your goals. There should never come a point to where you feel you’ve “arrived” with all the knowledge.
3. Valuable Content, Not Just Consistent Content
Consistent, dog shit content won’t do it. Trust me. I know. I was posting 3 to 7 videos per week for a year. Clearly, they weren’t very good if I wasn’t gaining traction. But, I was stubborn and just thought if I kept producing content consistently things would take off. This didn’t happen. I had to actually improve the quality of the content I was producing. I did this by focusing on what my “audience” actually wanted from me — rather than what I thought was quality. I did this by listening to feedback in comment sections, asking friends, and also paying attention to what other “thought leaders” were posting and why people liked their content. Focus on what is actually helpful to the people tuning into your content — and try to improve each and every time you hit publish. If there was one thing you could do to better market yourself, I think it would simply be making content that’s remarkable. What does that mean? It means being so good at what you do that people want to tell others about it. Whether it’s being an awesome coach and having clients tell their friends — or producing such good content that people will share — getting people to spread the word about you is the number one thing you can do to start building a reputation. Now, don’t get me wrong, you need the other side to quality as well. Consistency. One piece of remarkable content is great. But if you don’t consistently provide helpful content, people won’t be sticking around. If you’re interested in some really good business/marketing/branding books, read anything by Seth Godin.
4. Be Yourself And Have Fun With It
You’re not going to fool anyone over the long run. Be who you are (which, I know, is a process to figure out who you actually are). Some people will resonate with you. Some people will be annoyed by you. But that’s okay. I don’t like everyone. Not everyone likes me. There’s too little time spent on this earth to worry about it. Or to not spend that time being who you are. Or not having any fun. Don’t get me wrong. I’m very much so in the camp that most people (including myself) can work much harder than they currently are. And that sometimes people should get f****** excited about something and work their ass off for it. Rather than searching for balance. But I also think this can be taken too far. Work hard and have fun. They don’t have to be either/or.
I hope you’ve been able to learn from my story, and that these lessons help you out.