5 Tips to Take your PT Business to $250,000 plus annually!

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Dear personal trainer,

It took me eight years of training 50-60 sessions per week before earning over $250,000 in one year as a personal trainer. That year was 2010. 

My income went from approx. $200,000 to just over $500,000 in the space of 12 months, as I took up online coaching and started selling solutions rather than just time.

So, I know what it is like to wake up feeling like going around in circles with your income.

I know what it is like to feel as though, despite being passionate about helping people and damn good at what you do, you still don’t have the financial quality of life you deserve?

In Australia, the average hourly rate for a personal trainer is approximately $30 AUD, which full-time is $62,400 AUD per annum. (1,2)

With the bottom 10% on $41,600 AUD and the top 10% on around $140,000 AUD.

In North America, you have the following figures:

  • Median is $62,953 USD
  • Bottom 10% is $31,152 USD
  • Top 10% is $90,441 USD
  • Average range is $45,427 to $77,341 USD (3)

Now, if we compare both countries and exchange rates, we can see the following:

  • That the top end of PTs in Australia is earning approx. 10% more than their North American counterparts.
  • However, the average PT in North American is earning approx. 10% more than their Australian counterparts.

In conclusion, internationally, PTs in the UK, EU, Australia and New Zealand, USA, Canada, and then ex-pats in countries like Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc., all earn similar incomes on average.

Why am I telling you this?

Because what this data excludes is the top 1-2% of the market. 

Now, if I use my hometown of Sydney as an example, I have known around a dozen or so personal trainers earning $250,000 plus per annum without owning a gym over the last few years.

So, this is what we will talk about today, those in the upper echelon of earnings as personal trainers.

Here we go!

#Tip 1: Get Your Hands Dirty

As I write this, I did a video on my IG story talking about this exact point. When you start a business in any industry, don’t be afraid of getting your hands dirty. 

So, what do I mean? Be prepared to go all-in on every aspect of your business. 

For most PTs, the focus initially is on just helping people through your lifestyle, nutrition, and training recommendations.

However, as I did, I spent much of my formative years not trying to master the actual ‘business’ side of personal training. The back-end processes, systems, marketing and how to position my brand and product as a solution to my audiences’ problem.

If you want to join the 1% club, you need to evolve into more than just a PT; you need to become a businessperson.

Getting your hands dirty has another massive benefit from my experience in your ability to onboard and develop the first staff you hire. 

So that may be an assistant, someone in sales, admin and customer service or another personal trainer.

How so?

Well, if you have a good understanding of your entire business, it will take less time to train and develop them into their role, so more time can be spent freeing you up to continue hustling.

The figure below sums it up nicely.

Figure 1: PT Business Knowledge Benefits

In summary, throw yourself in the deep end of your entire business from day one, and you will have a greater chance of creating a solid foundation with systems and processes that can handle scalability as your business grows!

#Tip 2: Invest in Your Development

If you have learned in person from me or followed me on my social media accounts, you will know that I am a massive proponent of the ‘learn more to earn more’ philosophy.

The hundreds of thousands of dollars I spent on professional development, both on my training skill set when I was an active PT, and the last 7-8 years on personal and business development, have been the best money I have ever spent.

There is no wasting of money when you invest into yourself; there can only be benefits even if the person or company you have learned from turns out not to teach you as much; there is learning in that process for you regardless!

The most significant areas of professional development I have invested in outside of my actual PT skill set are:

  1. Personal Development – so figuring out my why, my purposes and digging deep into my subconscious mind what drives me, what trauma I carry and how I can use that information to be a better human being and make better decisions. 

Please note that in my opinion, this first section should be completed before you even focus on getting better as an actual PT because it transfers across to every aspect of life.

  1. Financial Literacy – understanding finance, numbers, P&L, EBITA, budgets and all the a-typical stuff we hand over to our accountants. Since learning all of this myself, I can communicate with my accountants from a place of actual awareness and better drive my financial destiny on my terms.
  1. Sales Training – understanding your customers why and then tailoring a soliton for them in any industry is essential. Especially in the fitness industry, you are offering a product that takes care of one of the most critical aspects of anyone’s life – their health. 

Getting better at the art of selling and solving a problem to your target niche is critical because if you can’t sell yourself, what’s the point in generating a ton of leads that you are unable to convert?

The trainers I know who earn $250,000 per annum are not doing it because they are good Pts. 

They are doing it because, outside of finding their purpose in life, they understand business in general and have refined their skill set beyond what they were taught when getting qualified to be a PT in the first place.

Figure 2 sums up the cycle quite nicely.

Figure 2: Learn More To Earn More

In summary, invest in yourself and improve your chance for a greater level of career success as a personal trainer.

#Tip 3: Create Free Content

If you look at some of the most prominent personal trainers and fitness professionals globally, such as Layne Norton, Sebastian Oreb and Mark Carroll, what do they all have in common?

It’s simple.

They put out a ton of engaging, informative and most of all – free – across the social platforms every day. 

They get a lot of buy-in from their audience because they are subject matter experts who followed the principles outlined in step 2 at a bare minimum, so learning or even mastering their service skills for their relevant niche.

The free content is generally what I would define as cold content, which is content that:

  1. It is free, so it costs you time and money and not the other way around.
  2. Solves a problem or helps your niche, e.g., if you train corporate clients, your content might be around the best ways to mitigate stress and optimise fat loss.
  3. That doesn’t ask anything in return for it, e.g., not trying to up-sell etc.

By doing this 80-90% of the time as a minimum regarding the ratio of content you are putting out, you provide a free value exchange for your target audience. Doing this will make them feel more comfortable to engage with you if they don’t feel you are trying to sell them.

Figure 3 gives you a sample weekly content schedule overview you could deploy in your business.

Figure 3: Weekly Content Schedule Overview

Warm content is where you showcase examples of your client success stories without trying to sell your service. You want to do this 1-2 times per week.

Hot content is where you go in for the hard sell; you don’t want to do this more than once per week at most.

In summary, if you follow this simple yet effective process, you will organically start to attract an engaged audience to what you have to offer. Remember, you don’t need tens of thousands of followers to grow a big business; you can do that with less provided they are engaged!

#Tip 4: Build an Email Database

If you have followed the steps so far in this article, section 4 should happen organically before you even need to start worrying about paid advertising as you grow and scale your business.

Taking the jump from $100,000 per annum to $250,000 plus requires more than just being good at what you do, as I have outlined above. Social media is excellent, however in today’s age with constant algorithm changes, I wouldn’t be throwing all my eggs into Instagram, Tik Tok or YouTube.

As early as 2006, I started building an email list before any of the powerful social platforms today, like Facebook, were even invented.

At Clean Health, we have 3-4 times the number of emails than we do social media followers, meaning that our email list accounts for upwards of 25%+ per annum of our overall revenue and best of all – it is free!

I can’t tell you how many PTs and gym owners I know who have not kept a record of their client data, which will hurt you long-term as you scale.

You can use your email list for a variety of factors, including and not limited to:

  1. You communicate consistently outside of your appointments to educate and improve your client’s quality of life with cold content, via a weekly newsletter or even as an inter-service compliance mechanism. E.g., if you had a 12-week transformation program, map out a 12-week sequence of content that helps them adhere to your plan and helps educate them.
  1. Periodic marketing or up-sells into different promotions for your services and business overall.
  1. Re-targeting opportunities through paid advertising with Instagram and Facebook as you grow.

An email list that is engaged and interactive with you is far more powerful than even your social following, simply because they have decided to enter in their contact details, not just follow you.

Someone who has done that is more likely to buy from you long-term, not just follow you.

Finally, coming back to my point early on, an email list you own, unlike a social media platform where you are at the mercy of the tech giants. 

So, my advice is to start early when it comes to your list building; it’s a great communication tool and can limit your risk and overall reliance on social media long-term.

#Tip 5: Network with Other Authority Figures 

For my final tip, I want to talk about how you can leverage other authority figures within your niche to boost your profile and vice versa!

I believe in having an equal exchange of energy in all aspects of life, especially business. If someone is promoting you and your brand, you want to do the same back.

So how can you get into a position, for example, whereby you get interviewed on a live IG story by one of your industry-leading colleagues and vice versa?

Here are three easy steps you can take to improve your industry network:

  1. Grow a set and reach out via DM or messenger and just start talking. In the corporate world, through platforms like LinkedIn, this is the norm. However, people tend to build up this reverence in the PT space as though you can’t reach out to one of your idols. Relax! All human beings eat, sleep, s**t and sleep. Your biggest influencer also does!
  1. Develop a reputation within the industry and your chosen niche for being exceptional at what you do. If you have followed the four tips so far, you will be well on your way to building a reputation for quality education and results, which will have people reaching out to you.
  1. Finally, now that we are in a post-pandemic environment get out to events and not just courses. I have met some of my most significant industry networking conventions at numerous different global trade shows. 

Events such as Body power in the UK, Fitness & Wellness in Australia, FIBO in Germany etc., are all great places to meet like-minded individuals you are aligned within body and mind. Who knows, you may even meet your future wife or husband there!

In Summary

In closing, I promise that if you follow the five tips outlined in this article that you will be on the right path to scaling your PT business to $250,000 per annum and beyond!

Yours in success,

Daine McDonald

Ps. Want to stay up to date with more content like this from me? Subscribe to my channels now below:

  1. Instagram: @dainemcdonald
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  3. Website: www.dainemcdonald.com


  1. https://au.talent.com/salary?job=personal+trainer
  2. https://www.payscale.com/research/AU/Job=Personal_Trainer/Hourly_Rate
  3. https://www.salary.com/research/salary/benchmark/personal-trainer-salary

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