0:04 Mike Vacanti: Hello, and welcome to Episode 30 of the How to Become a Personal Trainer Podcast. We are your hosts, Mike Vacanti.
00:10 Jordan Syatt: My name’s Jordan Syatt, and this was one of my favorite episodes we’ve ever done.
00:14 Mike Vacanti: I agree.
00:14 Jordan Syatt: So this was basically a Q&A style episode in which we got a bunch of questions from listeners, and we just go through. We fire through about four of them today.
00:23 Mike Vacanti: Four of them, yep.
00:24 Jordan Syatt: So we’ve got a bunch saved up…
00:24 Mike Vacanti: Four great questions.
00:25 Jordan Syatt: Great questions about scaling your business, about website, about articles, writing, objectification of your body on social media. We got some really good stuff going.
00:36 Mike Vacanti: It’s a good episode. Enjoy.
00:46 Mike Vacanti: It’s been a while since we did it in person.
00:47 Jordan Syatt: I know.
00:47 Mike Vacanti: Let’s just run this raw. Big J, how are you doing?
00:53 Mike Vacanti: Jordan and I are in person for the first podcast in a long, long time. And so we did our pre-podcast handshake. That’s been missing on Skype.
01:00 Jordan Syatt: I know. I know. It’s good to be back in person. New York City, ready to do the podcast live. We’ve got a good amount of questions, which I’m excited about.
01:08 Mike Vacanti: We got some questions. Jordan and I are both extremely active on our Instagram pages. [laughter] And Jordan posted a Q&A to get some… So follow us @syattfitness and @mikevacanti. Jordan posted on your story to get some questions, and we got probably a 100 really good high-quality questions.
01:28 Jordan Syatt: Which we were both stoked about. Well, actually we’ll give a little background. Mike and I, we were on a business trip because we’re writing a book which we can’t tell you the title of yet, but it is the best title of a fitness book that I’ve ever seen.
01:39 Mike Vacanti: Yes.
01:39 Jordan Syatt: Which we’re super excited about.
01:40 Mike Vacanti: Yes.
01:42 Jordan Syatt: We’re not sure on a release date yet. Probably within a year or so. Around a year or so. We’re working on that. And while we were in some downtime, I put up a Q&A just being like, “Hey, if you have any questions about coaching, strength coaching, nutrition coaching, fitness, business, anything, just shoot me a question here,” and it was phenomenal. Like to every…
02:05 Mike Vacanti: Really good questions.
02:06 Jordan Syatt: We got so many great well-thought-out questions. So we’re really excited to go through. It’ll give us podcast ideas and topics for weeks and months to come. But I’ll be doing more of those Q&A’s and Mike might as well. So follow us. And then if you see one of those Q&A’s come up on the story, feel free to plug your prep question in. And we won’t use your name, we won’t use your name or handle just because we don’t wanna put anyone on the spot. But we’ll read basically every question out that was really good and go in-depth.
02:35 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. We got a few here, and we got a little time. I’m coaching Gary in about an hour, and then…
02:41 Jordan Syatt: Got dinner with some boys.
02:42 Mike Vacanti: Yep, yep. Dinner at Rico’s tonight.
02:44 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
02:48 Mike Vacanti: Anything we wanna talk about? The only thing I wanted to mention is that sleep schedule I mentioned, we haven’t podcasted in a little while.
02:54 Jordan Syatt: Oh, yeah. It’s been two weeks now. One week, two weeks?
02:57 Mike Vacanti: It’s been… We took a week off, but that was also… We did that one a little bit early.
03:01 Jordan Syatt: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, I forgot.
03:03 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. That lasted about three days, max. [laughter] And nature set me back to a slightly more normal, Midnight to 9:00 AM kind of…
03:14 Jordan Syatt: That’s good.
03:14 Mike Vacanti: Kind of deal. Yeah.
03:16 Jordan Syatt: So you’re going to bed around 11:00, 12:00?
03:18 Mike Vacanti: Just for anyone who might have listened to me and wanted to take that as something they should apply to their own lives, a 5:00 AM to 2:00 PM sleep schedule. [laughter] It’s not right. It’s not right. [laughter]
03:31 Jordan Syatt: Didn’t work well. [laughter]
03:34 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. I’m getting a lot of sleep. Things are going well.
03:40 Jordan Syatt: Alright.
03:40 Mike Vacanti: Jordan signed up for a… Or is that…
03:43 Jordan Syatt: Still waiting to hear it.
03:44 Mike Vacanti: Okay.
03:44 Jordan Syatt: I think there’s just overloaded with applications ’cause this is the first Jiu-Jitsu competition since March, and it’s the second biggest Jiu-Jitsu competition of the year. So they have Worlds, which is the biggest. Pan-Am, which is the second biggest. And they have a bunch of smaller ones. So this is the second biggest one of the year, and I’m hoping I get into it. If I don’t, then I’ll try to get into Worlds, which should be a month or so after that.
04:06 Mike Vacanti: Okay.
04:07 Jordan Syatt: So yeah.
04:08 Mike Vacanti: Cool.
04:08 Jordan Syatt: Cutting weight, I’m about 12 pounds down from when I started the mini cut.
04:12 Mike Vacanti: That’s awesome, I…
04:13 Jordan Syatt: Feeling good.
04:13 Mike Vacanti: The first thing when you walked in the door, I was like, you look lean.
04:16 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, yeah.
04:17 Mike Vacanti: You look good.
04:17 Jordan Syatt: Feel good. I’ve been doing the assault bike. The assault bike. I’ll tell you, I was never a home workout person. I never liked the idea of home workouts. I did them sometimes, but they were always lower intensity, and I never really felt good about it. But with everything going on and outfitting my home gym, I’m loving them. I’m canceling my membership at Lifetime.
04:39 Mike Vacanti: Awesome.
04:40 Jordan Syatt: If anyone from Lifetime hears this, they’re gonna be either gonna be like, “Damn it!” [laughter] But canceling it. I’m loving the home workouts. The assault bike is awful. Amazing and awful at the same time, but it’s incredible.
04:52 Mike Vacanti: That’s great.
04:52 Jordan Syatt: Super excited about it.
04:54 Mike Vacanti: Good for you.
04:54 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
04:55 Mike Vacanti: I’m glad that’s going well.
04:56 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
04:56 Mike Vacanti: You have a nice little set up there. Nice little drink mini-fridge too.
05:00 Jordan Syatt: Oh, yeah. The mini-fridge is the best part.
05:02 Mike Vacanti: Yeah.
05:02 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. I love the mini-fridge. I got some heavy med balls today. Some heavy, heavy med balls. Not to slam or throw at the wall, but literally just for conditioning. Just picking it up, putting it down. Shouldering pick up, put down, pick up, put down. Just like pick… It’s so funny, just the simplest exercises, just picking something up. You do that for a minute straight, like with a 40-pound med ball, it’s gonna be tough.
05:24 Mike Vacanti: Oh, man. I didn’t even know they made 40 pound med balls.
05:26 Jordan Syatt: I saw up to a 100.
05:27 Mike Vacanti: Wow.
05:28 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. But I was like, “I’m not gonna have a 100-pound med ball in my apartment on the high up in the building.
05:32 Mike Vacanti: That’s the equivalent of when Gary had me outfit his home gym, and I bought a 100kg plates. [laughter] We had to move them all the way from the garage through the dining room where they’re like, “Don’t hit anything. Don’t drop anything.” [laughter]
05:50 Mike Vacanti: It was so ambitious.
05:52 Jordan Syatt: Those were so heavy. The 100… Yeah, those were so, so heavy.
05:56 Mike Vacanti: Oh, man. Well good, I’m glad home workouts are going well.
06:01 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, I’m stoked, man. My fitness is the best it’s been since I stopped powerlifting.
06:06 Mike Vacanti: Good for you.
06:07 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
06:07 Mike Vacanti: Good for you.
06:08 Jordan Syatt: Should we get into the Q&A?
06:10 Mike Vacanti: Let’s get into the Q&A. The first one is an interesting business question that we’ve talked about on a decent number of Q&A’s in the mentorship, and we’ve spoken to everyone in the mentorship in some detail about this. But I feel like it’s a good one to talk about here. Which is, should you solidify your one-on-one coaching before adding a low-cost membership like the Inner Circle?
06:36 Jordan Syatt: That’s really a good question. Do you wanna go off on it, or do you want me to?
06:39 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. Since I have an inner circle, that’s so successful and expensive. [laughter]
06:42 Jordan Syatt: Shut up.
06:47 Mike Vacanti: I’ll let you start on this one just because…
06:49 Jordan Syatt: Okay. So I know Mike and I agree on this 100%, we’ve spoken about this a lot in the mentorship. I don’t know if we’ve spoken about it in the podcast yet.
06:57 Mike Vacanti: I don’t know if we have either.
06:58 Jordan Syatt: It’s a good topic though. And I think it’s important to discuss because a lot of people get into the online fitness world because they want to “scale their business.” They want a “scalable business” that they can have a lot of people in and not pay much attention to and I think we should just clear this out of the air right away. If that’s your goal, that you can have a big business, that you don’t have to really work at that hard on, you’re messing up from the beginning.
07:22 Mike Vacanti: Find a new podcast. [chuckle]
07:23 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. It is to create… And I’m putting this in quotes, like the “scalable.” It’s almost funny, and I think Gary’s quote is the best, like “Scale the unscalable,” where it’s just it goes to the effect of like you can try and scale all you want and you can have better systems to make things easier and less, less tedious, but you can never scale a business entirely to the point of really not doing anything, this is not how it works. And we hear this term passive income, and we hear this like scalable revenue, which gives off the impression of easy money, and it’s not how it works. And Mike and I are both very much strong believers in starting, building up your one-on-one to the point in which you no longer want to add more one-on-one clients before you begin something more membership-based, where… For a number of reasons. And we’ll start off with it, we’ll start off with probably the one that people are most interested in, which is, we’ll talk about money. I think a lot of people are… Let’s talk about money.
08:27 Mike Vacanti: Yeah.
08:27 Jordan Syatt: And we could talk about coaching experience after. But when you’re doing one-on-one coaching, the main reason I was able to do the inner circle, in December of 2015 is when I started it, December of 2015. I started my website in July of 2011. The main reason I was able to do the inner circle is because I had spent all of the years prior to that doing one-on-one and saving money. I did not spend a lot of money. I did one-on-one coaching and I saved a lot of money so that I was okay with losing some one-on-one clients because I knew I had enough saved where even if I lost some in that process of transferring over to a membership, it was gonna be okay. And if you just start off right off the bat trying to do a membership, it’s not… You’re not gonna… Maybe if you have a ton of followers and a very engaged audience, maybe you’ll get 1000 people right off the bat. That’s not what happened to me. It was grueling. It was really, really difficult and…
09:21 Mike Vacanti: And what you just described isn’t going to happen to anyone by the way.
09:24 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, exactly. When you’re doing one-on-one coaching, you’re charging more per individual. So maybe you’re charging $200 a month, $250, $300, whatever it is. When you’re doing a membership, it’s a lower cost. So a lot of people think, “Oh, because it’s lower cost, people are gonna sign up.” That’s not how it works. If you can… I swear to God, if I can get someone to sign up for 25 bucks, I can get someone to sign up for 200 bucks. It’s not the process, it’s not the price that makes the difference. It’s whether or not they actually wanna pay you, period. And when you’re starting a membership and you’re expecting to have a lot of people in there, it’s gonna take a long time. So I see a lot of people try and start these membership sites and they’ll have 50, 10, 15, 20 people in there for $20 a pop or something, and they start to resent those people ’cause they’re essentially giving one-on-one coaching service to each of those people, when if they had just done legitimate one-on-one coaching for a higher price point, they would have been making more money and been doing a better job as a coach.
10:18 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, very well said. You’re not… This fantasy that because it’s 10x cheaper, 10x more people will sign up, doesn’t play out in the numbers.
10:30 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
10:31 Mike Vacanti: Especially because the longer you consistently work, all else equal, the larger your audience is. And you need a real audience to launch a membership site so that it can at least, in a decent amount of time, ramp up to the point where it’s covering a decent amount of your monthly expenses.
10:57 Jordan Syatt: Correct.
10:57 Mike Vacanti: Like what you just mentioned, that scenario where you launch a membership site, and let’s say for the first year, maybe you launch it and 11 people sign up, and for the first year, you have some sign-ups and you have some cancellations, but you never get above 20 people. Just the way that most people coach and interact, you’re going to end up giving an unbelievable service to these people that is going to lead to resentment because it’s equivalent to what someone could get one-on-one from you.
11:24 Jordan Syatt: Exactly.
11:25 Mike Vacanti: And that’s just the money side of things.
11:29 Jordan Syatt: Exactly, there’s a lot more.
11:31 Mike Vacanti: Online coaching, the more you do it… First of all, you get put in situations… We’ve mentioned a million times, an online coach doesn’t make you a better in-person coach, being a better in-person coach makes you a better online coach. That is 100% true. Being and getting experience online coaching though, what that still does is makes you a better online coach.
11:58 Jordan Syatt: Correct.
12:00 Mike Vacanti: The more you do online coaching, the more you learn, the more you’re put in different situations, the more you need to dig deep on a certain topic for an hour or two and research something that’s unfamiliar to you, the more experience you’re gonna have interacting with people. You’re going to become a better coach through that process, you’re gonna get more effective and more efficient at coaching. I’ve talked about how overwhelmed I was when I had my first five online clients, and then 10 times that number of clients ended up feeling like less stress, less work just because years later, through that experience through building systems, you get to a point where the experience just makes you better.
12:40 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
12:42 Mike Vacanti: So that’s a big advantage. There’s also… I’m trying to figure out how to explain this, but it has something to do with the ratio between audience size and how many people you can have paying you for a service, and then how that translates into being a living wage. So let’s just use a simple example. If you have 300 Instagram followers, and maybe you have a website with a handful of articles and you’re getting the ball rolling and maybe you don’t have any clients yet.
13:15 Mike Vacanti: You can have five, six, eight clients in a reasonable amount of time, and if they’re paying you $200, $250 a month, that’s real money. That’s covering a substantial portion of your bills, if not close to all of them. With that same audience size, you can’t generate that amount of income from an inner circle, from a $20 a month price point service.
13:43 Jordan Syatt: Correct, yeah, that’s exactly right. The other thing that I’ll say is, just to stack on top of what Mike was saying about the experience is, if I had started the inner circle from the very beginning, aside from it not working from not having the funds to support myself, and aside from not having the audience to actually get people to sign up, is the experience that I had from coaching one-on-one is what made the inner circle work. The experience that I had from coaching one-on-one clients for years and years and years, even… There was a huge learning curve. There was already a huge learning curve to go to the membership site, and I went through a lot of trials and errors, a lot of mistakes. And I made a lot of mistakes, and that might be a whole separate episode altogether. I’ve spoken a lot about it in the mentorship, but what you learn from coaching people one-on-one, whether it’s from actual coaching people, what you learn from the communication of coaching people, or even the content creation side, the systems management side, the things that you learn from doing that, will carry you over to the membership.
14:46 Jordan Syatt: If you just start cold turkey, it’s gonna be really, really… It’s already a hell of a ride, and you’re gonna be in for more of a ride. I would not recommend starting off going for a membership. I would start… I would recommend building up your one-on-one until a point where you’re financially comfortable and independent, and where you no longer want to take on more one-on-ones. That’s where I would draw the line. Once you’re at that point, then you can start to build a membership site, and have it and get ready for the two, three, four, five-year ride of building that, ’cause it’s a completely separate business and an entirely different business model, but at least then you’ll have the buffer to work with.
15:25 Mike Vacanti: And I would even call it, the option. You earn the option to do that because I’m pretty capped with online coaching clients right now. I’m comfortable with where I am. I don’t have a desire to build out another revenue stream, another service, another thing. That doesn’t sound fun. That doesn’t appeal to me at this point. So you earn, through enough time and work and coaching enough people, you earn the option to launch something like that.
16:04 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
16:05 Mike Vacanti: And as always, you don’t have to take our advice. You can launch a membership site straight out of the gate, and maybe we can do an in-depth episode on that at some point, not launching it straight out of the gate, but just like the how-to that’s around that…
16:18 Jordan Syatt: The membership side.
16:19 Mike Vacanti: Yeah.
16:21 Jordan Syatt: I will say that everyone, when they think about a membership site, they just think about, “Oh man, think about how many people will sign up. Think about how many people will sign up because the cost is so low.” Well, aside from that thought process being flawed, and it doesn’t work out like that… Just because it’s low price doesn’t… Just because something is low cost doesn’t mean people are gonna buy it. It’s just not how it works. People are gonna buy something because they think it’s valuable and helpful, period. But no one really thinks about the cancellations. People have… They might think, “Oh man, you must be getting so many sign-ups for the inner circle.” I say, “Do you know how many cancellations I get on a daily basis?”
16:57 Jordan Syatt: It’s like you have to… It’s both sides of the coin. It’s not just about getting new people to sign up, it’s also about making sure they stay in there, making sure that you do your job to retain them, to make sure you’re giving them every… People are like… The number of business coaches and people who tell me, “I can’t believe that you just give everything in your inner circle for free.” I’m like, “Of course I do.” Because they’re like, “You should… The people who already pay you are more likely to pay you more.” I’m like, “Yeah, maybe they’ll pay me more if I charge them for extra programs, but I bet they’ll stay in the inner circle longer if I give them every new program I make for free.” And so the cancellation side of it is devastating. When you have a higher number of people in something, you’re gonna have more people canceling, it’s just… It’s a numbers game.
17:40 Jordan Syatt: And that, I remember when I first… It took me several years of, when I would see people canceling from the inner circle for me to… I wouldn’t say I’m numb to it, but it’s sort of like the scale, right? When you’re looking at the scale, you see the scale spike up, you get really upset about it. It takes time to understand it’s just data. It’s like I would get so upset if I saw someone cancel from the inner circle, and then the more people that joined, it was like instead of one a day, it was two a day, and so two a day, it was four a day, and I was like, “Oh my God!” But then you look at the overall numbers and you see, okay, on average, you have this many people signing up per day, this many people canceling a day, so it’s a net positive of this, so you can be okay with that. But people only think about, “Oh, you have this many followers, you must be getting this much sign-ups.” It’s like if you saw the number of cancellations, it’s like you wouldn’t be very happy about it. You wouldn’t be so like, “Oh, this is gonna be easy,” ’cause it’s not.
18:28 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. I wonder, something else we could kick around at some point is, is it necessary to have a person… So it seems to me not necessary to have a personal brand, or we’ll say not a very big personal brand, and you can still be a very successful online coach as your full-time job.
18:52 Jordan Syatt: Absolutely.
18:53 Mike Vacanti: I wonder if the same is true for a membership site, and/or if there’s more reward to having… To working on your brand and growing your audience for a membership site, than there is for coaching.
19:09 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, ’cause for one-on-one coaching, I think one of the greatest benefits of where we’re at right now is, we basically know we could forever have 30, 40, 50, 60 clients one-on-one and be okay. And that’d be totally fine. It would not be a problem.
19:26 Mike Vacanti: Yep.
19:28 Jordan Syatt: And I think the reality is, the cool… Especially seeing a lot of the mentorship, it’s like anyone can get there. Like any coach with good intent and good coaching can get to that point. You don’t need that big of a personal brand to do that, it’s not… You can work a lot of referrals off of people staying on as clients without canceling. It’s like if you have a really good one-on-one service, it doesn’t take that much. Building a membership site I think is different. It’s just by nature of it being a membership site, you’re going to have higher churn. Like that’s just part of that process.
20:00 Mike Vacanti: And just you need…
20:00 Jordan Syatt: More people.
20:00 Mike Vacanti: Ten times more sign-ups…
20:01 Jordan Syatt: Exactly.
20:02 Mike Vacanti: To meet the same…
20:03 Jordan Syatt: Exactly.
20:03 Mike Vacanti: If we’re gonna be apples to apples.
20:05 Jordan Syatt: And then… And you can talk about different strategies to get new sign-ups, whether it’s purely organic through your brand whether it’s through advertising, combination of the two, whatever it is, but if you want a higher number… A higher-level membership, then yeah, you need significantly more people and you need more of a brand. Whether it’s more personal and maybe it doesn’t include your name but I do think having a personal brand is gonna be more beneficial and lead to more people signing up than just having a general brand that doesn’t have your name or face on it.
20:37 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. And I think that people buy coaches, not coaching, applies to membership. Whether it’s you or someone else, I would imagine the majority of people who sign up do it because they like the person or people running it.
20:53 Jordan Syatt: Correct.
20:56 Mike Vacanti: They’re not doing it because they got an advertisement to something that’s like, “Oh, it’s a fat loss membership, I need to lose fat. I’ll just sign up for this.”
21:02 Jordan Syatt: It’s exactly right. That’s why, and this is a separate topic, but I was just talking to someone the other day and they were like, “Yeah, I’m thinking about starting Facebook ads.” And I was like… And I was looking at their page, they didn’t have many followers, they were telling me they didn’t have many clients yet. I’m like, “Stop. Don’t do Facebook ads yet.” Number one, you have no idea how to make an ad. You don’t know how to make content never mind an ad and an ad is way more difficult to make, way more skillful. It’d be like, if someone was like, “Yeah, I’m gonna go to the… ” Someone’s just starting to go to the gym and they’re like, “I think I’m gonna compete in Olympic lifting competition.” But they’ve literally never lifted a barbell in their life. So, well first, let’s just teach you how to lift weights, and then we can talk about getting into that, ’cause a lot of people are like, “Oh, I’m gonna start making ads.” Sir, you don’t understand. Making an ad is an art. It is a skill. It’s very difficult and if you’re just trying to make ads just because you think paying for an ad is gonna get more people to sign up for your coaching or membership, whatever, you’re out of your mind.
21:54 Mike Vacanti: Right.
21:55 Jordan Syatt: Start off with content first.
21:56 Mike Vacanti: And if you don’t have an audience and you wanna get into making ads, then you’re essentially trying to convert cold traffic.
22:04 Jordan Syatt: Which is so hard.
22:07 Mike Vacanti: That’s like the elite… It’s like, if I’m right about this, it’s like a niche of even the copyrighting world.
22:13 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, yeah. It’s brutal. Which is why creating a personal brand is so helpful. Where it’s like… So ideally, you have… You need less and less… There are less people who don’t know you. There are fewer and fewer people who don’t know you. Also, your entire strategy is based around getting them to know you first and then once they know you, then selling. And that’s the whole purpose behind email sequencing where it’s like, you might get people in there for something free when they don’t know you…
22:39 Mike Vacanti: It’s the whole purpose behind content.
22:40 Jordan Syatt: That’s it. That’s literally it. From a content marketing perspective, from making content to make more money, the whole purpose is so that you don’t need to do cold conversions.
22:50 Mike Vacanti: Yeah.
22:52 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
22:52 Mike Vacanti: That was great. We got more questions, so we kind of went in on that one but I feel like that was a good subject, good discussion. Let us know if you liked that discussion. We’re going to number two right here. How long did it take you from idea to action to start your business?
23:07 Jordan Syatt: You wanna start with that one? Great question.
23:10 Mike Vacanti: I will. All of these questions.
23:11 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
23:11 Mike Vacanti: Shout out to all the question askers. I remember thinking… So I was sitting in a training at a prestigious Big Four accounting firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Sitting in a training about who knows what. Literally. They bring in people from different cities. The training was held at Minneapolis and I was sitting next to my buddy, Matt Wilson, and…
23:40 Jordan Syatt: Were you drinking a protein shake? Getting your aminos in?
23:43 Mike Vacanti: Dude, I don’t even remember. This was 2010.
23:48 Jordan Syatt: Oh, wow.
23:49 Mike Vacanti: Either 2010 or 2011. And I was probably… Back in those days, I would have half a turkey sandwich but I would stack it with two inches of turkey.
24:02 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, yeah.
24:02 Mike Vacanti: And yeah. I was just starting to try and hit those protein numbers. But I was talking to him quietly about this and had a spreadsheet going at the time and my thought process was that I was going to have an app or a calculator-type thing, is how I envisioned it, people filled a survey and then based on their information, it matches them up with an athlete or a celebrity, and then they get automatically sent that person’s work out plan. And I just thought that I’d be able to scrub the internet or do interviews or meet people and figure out Adrian Peterson’s workout or Brad Pitt in Fight Club…
24:48 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, yeah.
24:48 Mike Vacanti: Christian Bale, Batman and have these hundreds of celebrity, actor workout programs and then people would sign up, take a questionnaire, and then it would be like, “This is who you… ” And it would match them up and I just… I thought this was the coolest idea. And then that morphed into something else, that morphed into something else and then I remember probably a year after that coming across JC Deen’s blog, seeing like, “Oh, he’s writing about stuff that I know about.”
25:15 Jordan Syatt: Right.
25:17 Mike Vacanti: I had read the same people that he had read and I was like, “Wait, he sells programs and he offers coaching and people who read this blog and then they might sign up for this.” I was like, “Wow, this is crazy. This is what I should do. Forget the Brad Pitt app, that’s a dumb idea.” And so that was probably 2011 and then I… For my own level of comfort, I had to get myself in a place where I had enough savings and so between spending as little as possible, working this full-time job as an auditor and with the poker on the side, I eventually got myself in a place where I felt comfortable and I… Then from the time I quit my job to the time that I launched my website was six or eight months. I remember I wanted to write five good articles to have up there, I wanted to do a handful of other things, getting the website actually set up but… So from idea to launch was close to three years which is way too long.
26:22 Mike Vacanti: Which is about two years and 364 days too long. If I… I understand my reasoning around having enough savings to feel comfortable. And for myself, I didn’t want to do the 9:00 PM to 2:00 in the morning, work on the side. I’m a big burn the boats guy and I wanted to put that behind me and put myself in a completely vulnerable position where I had to fight for it. I didn’t want any kind of back-up plan, but I still should have moved faster than I did.
27:00 Jordan Syatt: Man, I never heard that story. That was great.
27:03 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, I’ve never been asked that question.
27:04 Jordan Syatt: I love that. I guess my… I was in a very different situation, very different from the perspective of I didn’t know that I was starting it. So when I… In July of 2011, I was training at Westside Barbell, and like you, I was very influenced by JC Deen. And when I was at Westside, I started to get traction from people being like, “Oh, my God. You’re at Westside.” That’s when in Westside… Everyone was obsessed with Westside and Louie Simmons and no one really knew what they were doing there. And so I remember on Facebook chat, JC Deen was like, “Yo, man, where are you?” And I was like, “Westside.” He was like, “What?” He was like, “You’re at Westside?” And literally, his next response was, “We need to get you a website.” And I was like, “I don’t know how to do that.” I was 21 years old.
27:55 Mike Vacanti: Can I interrupt?
27:55 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
27:57 Mike Vacanti: How old were you when you interned with Stacy Schaedler?
28:00 Jordan Syatt: I started at 14, and I did that all through high school.
28:03 Mike Vacanti: Okay.
28:04 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
28:05 Mike Vacanti: My mind almost goes…
28:06 Jordan Syatt: Goes back to there?
28:07 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, so it’s semantics. But yeah, the idea for the site or… I don’t know.
28:15 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, I guess… I knew I wanted to be a coach from when I was in high school. I got my first internship at a gym when I was 14. And I remember… Actually, I remember when Stacey, she was one of my mentors at the gym. She’s Stacey Schaedler. She’s amazing. You look her up on Instagram. I remember when she started her first blog when I was interning there, she started a blog. And I remember she was the first person I ever heard say, “Progress, not perfection.” And I don’t know if she made it up, but it was like 2006, and I had never heard anybody say it before. And her blog was called “Progress, Not Perfection.”
28:50 Mike Vacanti: How cool. That was the name of the blog?
28:52 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, that was the name of it.
28:54 Mike Vacanti: Respect.
28:54 Jordan Syatt: And I remember she would write blogs and articles and I was like, “Oh, that’s cool.” But online coaching wasn’t a thing then. Online coaching did not exist, it was never a thought in my mind. I just knew I wanted to be a coach.
29:04 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, okay.
29:05 Jordan Syatt: And that’s where I spent the vast majority of my time. But in terms of starting my own online business, it started… I was coaching people in person, I was powerlifting, I was a freshman in college going into my sophomore year. And JC was like, “We gotta get you a website.” And I was like, “I don’t know how to do that.” And an hour later, he emailed me the login, the login information, my username, my password for my new website that she created, syattfitness.com. And it was actually interesting ’cause he was like, “jordansyatt.com is taken.” ‘Cause he wanted to do jordansyatt.com. And I remembered… So I wasn’t speaking with my father, but he had bought jordansyatt.com years earlier. He was like, “Just in case.” And I wasn’t speaking with him so I wasn’t gonna ask him for the log-in information. So I was just like, “Alright, let’s just use syattfitness.” So we made syattfitness.com. And now, I own jordansyatt.com, got it years later.
30:05 Jordan Syatt: And then I was like, “What do I do?” And he was like, “Just write, just make good content that helps people.” That was it, and that’s how it started. And from that moment, from the day that he sent me my website, I started writing that week. And I wrote one article a week, every week for years, and that was literally it, which is just like… It’s funny, a lot of people talk about launching your website and you need to have a big launch, and I think it gets in people’s heads. It’s like when you first start, the people who are gonna see the launch of your website are your Facebook friends…
30:37 Mike Vacanti: Yeah.
30:37 Jordan Syatt: And your friends and family and like that, don’t make a big deal out of the launch of your website. My website was awful, it was terrible. It looked awful. I used a free template from WordPress. It was really, really bad, but I just started writing. So the idea wasn’t even mine for my own online business. It wasn’t even… I remember reading other people and watching other people, but it wasn’t in my mind. I wasn’t like, “I want an online business.”
31:01 Mike Vacanti: Yeah.
31:02 Jordan Syatt: It just wasn’t that. I didn’t even know it existed yet. So it was really just because JC Deen was like, “Alright, I’m gonna get you a website.” And that was 100%, if JC Deen didn’t buy my domain and send it to me, I wouldn’t have it. So I really owe that to him. And then him saying, “Write,” and then I just wrote every week.
31:20 Mike Vacanti: That’s awesome.
31:21 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. It’s that simple. And Mike mentioned earlier, he was like, “You don’t need a huge audience in order to have a successful online business.” One of the questions we get a lot is pertaining to, “Well, how much money do you need to make in order to be successful?” It’s like… That’s up to you. Some people, some people will only do this as more of a side job. They don’t need an entire… Their whole income just from this. If that’s the case, maybe only 10 or 15 clients, it’ll be plenty.
31:52 Mike Vacanti: Yeah.
31:52 Jordan Syatt: And maybe you want your entire income from this, in which case, it may be closer to 30, 40, or 50 clients. But either way, if you have 1000 followers on Instagram, that’s plenty.
32:05 Mike Vacanti: Yeah.
32:06 Jordan Syatt: That is plenty of people.
32:07 Mike Vacanti: More than enough.
32:08 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. People get really focused on the huge numbers for social media, you don’t need that to have a successful online coaching business.
32:16 Mike Vacanti: Correct. One cool thing, too, is the longer you coach, the less you need that… I wanna be careful. I wanna be accurate about how I phrase this. The longer you coach, the more people you coach, the less important growing your audience is, for the purpose of your coaching business. You can do other things for that audience, obviously. But personally, I’m shocked that I don’t have to make content right now and that I get as many coaching applications, sign-ups from referrals, people who come across articles I wrote in 2013, ’14, ’15, ’16. YouTubes I made in that era as well, old clients who…
33:11 Jordan Syatt: Who wanna set up time…
33:12 Mike Vacanti: We had an amazing time together and they’re like, “Hey, I got a wedding and I got whatever. I had two kids in the last few years, got lazy with it, wanna get back on it.” The amount of that.
33:21 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
33:23 Mike Vacanti: Which just shows you how important hard, consistent work early on is because it really does build an incredibly sturdy foundation for your future business if you choose to continue to pursue it or are still passionate about it.
33:44 Jordan Syatt: And also, I’m gonna tell a story that you told me years ago when we first started hanging out. But it also really highlights the importance of, if someone decides to leave coaching with you, number one, understanding it’s not necessarily ’cause you did anything bad, and number two, make sure you foster that relationship as much as you can and end on a good note. I remember you telling me years ago that if someone ended coaching with you, oftentimes, you’d send them an extra training program to send them off. You’d be like, “Hey, cool. But here’s another one just in case.” Like an extra month of programming for free.
34:14 Mike Vacanti: Yeah.
34:14 Jordan Syatt: And then they often come back, whether it’s a month later, or six months later, two years later, where a lot of coaches might get offended and be like, “Oh really, we’re done, fine, whatever.” And they’ll get mad, they won’t respond to the final email, whatever it is. It’s like… Man, if you end on a good note, that person could refer people to you, they’ll…
34:30 Mike Vacanti: You always send the last email. You always let them know if they have any questions, they can come back to you. They don’t need to sign up to ask you questions, you’re always there. You always are the one closing that interaction. There’s no reason to end on a bitter or resentful note, that’s a scarcity mindset. And that’s awesome that you remember me telling you that. I forgot that. I still do it sometimes, and I never did it with every client. I did it with the clients who I thought would, one, were actually working hard… Because you have clients who cancel who you’re pretty sure you’re like, “Okay, for the last few months, I don’t know if they’ve been working out or not.” Really?
35:16 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, of course. You’re like, “I don’t think they did one workout.” [chuckle]
35:18 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. And you have other… [chuckle] …those too. You have those who might have fallen off, and you have those who might never have gotten really going. But you also have clients who you know are somewhat devastated about stopping coaching, but they have to for some reason, and they’re worried about continuing. They have questions, they had about continuance, like look, first of all, you give them the options, “You can cycle back through these, you can… ” I would give a handful of recommendations on programs I like, both free and low-cost programs, but “Here’s another one for the road. I know you’ll get good use out of it, like, I’ve really appreciated you, get it.”
35:57 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. The number of times I had clients who would say, “Hey, listen, I’m really sorry, I can’t afford this right now.” And I would say, “Listen, then I’m just gonna coach you for free until you can afford it.” And they would freak at it. They’d call me or send me a voice memo crying, it’s like… And then a month, two or three months would go by, they’d be like, “Alright, I can start paying again.” I think a lot of coaches fall prey to the fitness guru mastermind of like, “Never coach people for free. They can afford it, they always can. If they say they can’t, then they’re just lying or not prioritizing.” I’m like, “Man, you really have some skewed ideas of people’s financial situations.” But…
36:37 Mike Vacanti: Yeah.
36:37 Jordan Syatt: You can’t… Obviously, you can’t take everyone on for free. But if you’ve been working with someone for six months and they have a hard time financially, it’s like there’s nothing wrong with giving them a free month, or two, or three of coaching.
36:48 Mike Vacanti: Absolutely.
36:48 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
36:49 Mike Vacanti: Absolutely. Jordan…
36:54 Jordan Syatt: Michael.
36:54 Mike Vacanti: And Mike. [chuckle] I picked a fun one.
36:58 Jordan Syatt: Okay, alright.
37:00 Mike Vacanti: Or maybe not so fun.
37:01 Jordan Syatt: Oh, God. [chuckle] Mike will do this thing where if I’m gonna see him the next day, he’ll call and he’ll be like, “Oh man, I got the craziest story to tell.” I’d be like, “What?” He’d be like, “I’ll tell you when I see you.” [chuckle]
37:18 Mike Vacanti: The third question we were asked, “Are people inappropriate in your DMs?”
37:25 Jordan Syatt: Oh, absolutely.
37:25 Mike Vacanti: “And do they objectify you?”
37:28 Jordan Syatt: Absolutely, yeah.
37:30 Mike Vacanti: Absolutely.
37:30 Jordan Syatt: I know they do it to you, that’s for sure. [chuckle]
37:33 Mike Vacanti: I know they do it to you ’cause we’ve shared stories about this and it’s… Look, I wanna answer every question on this list, so we threw it on there. It’s also something that is so under-discussed.
37:46 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
37:48 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, do you wanna start?
37:51 Jordan Syatt: You start. [chuckle]
37:52 Mike Vacanti: Alright, I’ll start. [chuckle] I’ve seen more breasts, vaginas, and penises on Snapchat than I have any interest in seeing and more of it there historically, unsolicited from strangers. So that’s like a real intense version of this. And by the way, I will take 7% blame because I can understand the confusion around like seeing someone who is posting progress pictures and posting shirtless pictures consistently. I can see someone’s confusion and how that gets blurred and…
38:41 Jordan Syatt: Well, not to send you naked pictures.
38:43 Mike Vacanti: Okay, only 4% blame. [chuckle]
38:44 Jordan Syatt: They’re like, “Here’s my asshole.” [laughter]
38:50 Mike Vacanti: “I saw your progress pictures. What do you think of my gooch?” [laughter] Yeah, you’re right, you’re right. There’s a step down from that, which is just blatant flirting, I guess you would call it, in Instagram DMs. There’s… I’ve been objectified in my DMs, the question was asked, and also catcalls on a beach or things of that nature, yeah.
39:24 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I think, yeah, I’ve definitely been Instagram a lot.
39:32 Mike Vacanti: Objectified, hit on.
39:33 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, of course, absolutely. It’s not something I really feel the need to discuss or make content around, but yeah, I think for people to know, absolutely, it happens. Basically, when it happens, I either ignore it or block them. There was one time, this was funny, there was one time, no, this happened twice where I was getting naked pictures from people and they were on the… I didn’t follow them, so they would send it to me and they can see that I read it. They’re on the other account, the other message thread, and I would see it and I saw them coming in, and what I did is I went to their page, and I saw on their page that number one, they didn’t have a private profile, so I could look through their page and I could see who they tagged in their pictures, and saw that they had their parents in their picture, then saw where they worked in their pictures, and so then I wrote them a message back and I was like, “Hey, are you the so and so that lives in this town and works at this place and these are your parent’s names?” And they freak out. And I was like, “Listen, I’m not gonna do anything. It’s more my way of just saying, you probably shouldn’t be sending people pictures like this online because everyone can find everything they wanna know about you.” I was like, “Someone could send this to whatever.” They were like, “Alright, super sorry, won’t happen again.”
40:58 Mike Vacanti: You taught a real lesson that day.
40:58 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And it was sort of fun. But yeah, I mean, it happens, but I’m not offended by it. I’m not like, “Ugh, how dare you?” [laughter] I’m more just like, these people are really bored.
41:15 Mike Vacanti: Or have a weird strategy for procuring new mates or… [laughter]
41:23 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, it’s a little bit odd, but it is what it is.
41:24 Mike Vacanti: I get tilted. I’m like, I’m out in here banging the DMs… I haven’t banged the DMs in a while but I’m in here banging the DMs, trying to help people with their fitness and I got you in here. I get a little self-righteous around it. Alright, we’ll move on to question four, “Should I post weekly blogs on my website even if I dislike writing, it feels like a chore?” What do you think, Jay?
41:50 Jordan Syatt: I’m gonna rephrase the question into a question that maybe your clients might ask you. Can I see it? I’m gonna try and rephrase it as accurately as possible.
42:01 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, that fourth one.
42:03 Jordan Syatt: Okay, question was, “Should I post weekly blogs on my website even if I dislike writing, it feels like a chore.” I’m gonna ask, “Should I eat vegetables every week even if I disliked vegetables, it feels like a chore.” It’s like, “Yes, absolutely.” I think Mike and I have been unbelievably clear, and if you haven’t listened to our podcast before, go through and listen, that website articles, blogs are the single most underrated and most important piece of content that any online coach can make and anyone who wants to make an online presence, especially if you want to have a sustainable online business, online coaching business, website articles are going to be the foundation of your success. And this is actually, Mike was saying just a few minutes ago how he is shocked that even though he hasn’t made content in a long time, that he hasn’t been posting on Instagram or anything, he still gets coaching request, he still gets people filling out forms. And one of the main reasons, if not the main reason, is because he has people finding his articles from years ago, because of Google search engine optimization.
43:10 Jordan Syatt: Same thing with me now. One of them… Arguably, the single greatest reason people sign up for the Inner Circle is because they find my website, not because of Instagram, not because of YouTube. Yes, those things help, but because they find my website from Google. So, yes, if you’re wondering whether or not you should write articles for your website, the answer is a resounding yes. And the interesting thing is this, it might feel like a chore now because maybe you don’t have many people reading it and maybe you haven’t done it much yet, and because it’s a difficult skill that you need to learn how to develop, but see how you feel after doing 12 really well-written articles, see how you feel after doing it for two years. Odds are, in the same way that fitness might be really difficult and feel like a chore when you don’t know what to do and you’ve never done it, and it’s hard to see the progress but once you start doing it for a while, you start to see the progress, you start to learn the technique, you start to understand your schedule, it becomes something that you enjoy and you look forward to. Same thing with this, it’s like, “Yes, do it. Absolutely.”
44:07 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, we both see eye to eye on the fact that the website is the most important place for a variety of reasons, it’s one of the few that captures SEO, it’s also the only one that you have, I won’t say complete control over. Because I guess your host could boot you technically or something like that but the most 99.99, yes. There’s no chance of like algo changes, de-platforming like a host of things that can happen. Popularity changing from one means of communication to another or from one social media network to another. The thing about writing, because there’s a variety of skills in life where someone could say, “I’m not good at that and I don’t like it.” And you could say, “Okay, well, then you don’t have to do it.”
45:09 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, like golf.
45:10 Mike Vacanti: Like golf, that’s a great example.
45:12 Jordan Syatt: You don’t like golf, don’t do golf.
45:14 Mike Vacanti: Don’t do golf.
45:14 Jordan Syatt: Unless you wanna be a professional golfer, then you gotta do golf.
45:15 Mike Vacanti: Bowling. There are a lot of these. Writing is…
45:20 Jordan Syatt: Cricket.
45:22 Mike Vacanti: No, writing’s not cricket.
45:23 Jordan Syatt: No, I’m saying all these other, still on the skills you don’t have to develop if you don’t like it.
45:28 Mike Vacanti: Tons.
45:29 Jordan Syatt: Professional eating.
45:30 Mike Vacanti: Tons.
45:31 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
45:32 Mike Vacanti: Writing is… Good writing is good thinking. It’s clear communication, and writing isn’t just for your website. Writing is for Instagram captions. Writing is for YouTube descriptions. Writing is for writing scripts for talks or for videos or for other forms of content. Writing is for expressing your ideas. Writing is for email marketing. In the realm of… Writing is for communicating effectively with your clients and efficiently with your clients. Becoming a better writer benefits you in so many ways that it not being a strength shouldn’t be enough to deter you. Now, I’ll go the opposite. Let’s say you are a superstar public speaker, extrovert, hyperactive, you can just go. Do you wanna focus your attention on maybe video and audio and live events and other places rather than the written word?
46:38 Mike Vacanti: Sure, but if that’s you, then finding a way, whether it’s through, whether it’s hiring an employee or some kind of part-time contractor, or have your little sister who’s out of work take things you’ve said and put them into written articles. Find a way to make sure those articles are created. And by the way, I’m speaking to one in 20,000 with that last little blurb. For most people, the advice that we gave, which is eat your vegetables. Like, you’re not gonna get all your micro-nutrients from a pill and then just eat ice cream all day.
47:16 Jordan Syatt: You actually brought up a really good point, which I sort of wanna go off on, which is writing is everything. And I think one of the things that really people overlook is, “How do you think you’re gonna do a launch for a coaching program?” You think you’re just… How are they gonna know about it? You’re gonna have to write about it, whether it’s an Instagram caption or in an email, on your website. Wherever you’re gonna tell people about your launch, you’re gonna write it. And if you think that you’re just gonna all of the sudden write well in order to try and sell people on your program without having written much before, you’re out of your mind. It’s like when people are like, “Oh yeah, I’m gonna just try and max out on my deadlift.” When you haven’t even deadlifted before. It’s like you have to build and build and practice and lift and go through reps and go through reps. Practicing and writing articles, writing articles, writing articles, writing articles, that’s what’s gonna help you become a better writer for when you eventually sell people on your coaching program. You have to develop it.
48:11 Jordan Syatt: It’s essential. Not to mention, talking about control, its the piece of content that you have the most control over, and not just in terms of the platform and not just… But Instagram, you’re limited to how many characters you can use. Twitter, you’re limited to how many characters you can use. Facebook, you can use as many characters as you want, but I think by nature of the platform, people often do not read a very long post. YouTube, there’s no writing on it, it’s video. Podcast, there’s no writing on it, it’s just audio. When you’re writing a long-form article, you can take as long as you want to edit that thing, make it as clear and as concise and articulate, and as informative as you want. You don’t have to publish it immediately. You could take a day, you could take a week, you could take a month, you could take six months to write the article. You have complete control over how long it is, how short it is, how informative it is, what you include in it, what links you put in it, what videos you put in it. It’s like… You get the most control, the most practice, the most benefit out of that than you do any other piece of content.
49:10 Mike Vacanti: Yeah.
49:12 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
49:12 Mike Vacanti: That was a great podcast.
49:13 Jordan Syatt: That was good. I loved the Q&A.
49:16 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. Good energy. Good questions. Good to be live.
49:19 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
49:20 Mike Vacanti: I think we’ll have some more live ones coming. You just got here but…
49:23 Jordan Syatt: Maybe we’ll do one tomorrow and just bank it.
49:27 Mike Vacanti: Could be. Could be. We got a Q&A tomorrow. Call with Tracy, who won the May challenge for the mentorship.
49:33 Jordan Syatt: Oh yeah, congrats Tracy.
49:34 Mike Vacanti: Shout out Tracy. Yeah, this was a really fun, really good questions. Thank you very much for listening. If you enjoyed the episode, we would very much appreciate a review, a rating, five stars would be great. One star if you hated it.
49:48 Jordan Syatt: Five stars. Five stars would be great. [laughter]
49:54 Mike Vacanti: Thank you for listening. Everyone have a great day.
49:56 Jordan Syatt: Have a good one.