#95: Should You Run an Online Program?

ep 95 should you run an online program

Listen and learn how online programs can be used in your health coaching practice, and whether or not you’re ready to run one. Michelle shares her own experience of cobbling together online courses and invites special guest, Nathalie Garcia from Practice Better, to explain an easier solution.

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Michelle:
Hello health coaches. Thank you so much for joining me again today. We are here talking about online programs and should you run one. The reason I wanted to have this conversation with you guys is because over and over I see inside of our Facebook group, health coaches are saying, I really want to add another passive income stream or I really want to have some sort of passive income and I want to run an online course so that I could have passive income. And I'm like, Whoa, hold up. Lot of things going on there. And I think the big question really is will a, how passive is an online course and B, should you be trying to launch one this year? Are you in the right place for it? And if so, how should you go about doing it? So today I have invited Natalie from practice better to join us to talk about exactly that. Hello Natalie.

Natalie:
Hi Michelle. Hi everyone. Thanks so much for having me here. I love talking about programs. I'm all about anything that could help streamline your workflow, help you work more effective. If we help you reach more people. So this is one of my favorite topics to be talking about.

Michelle:
Good, good, good. And I know so many coaches want to be running some kind of online program, but it can be pretty intimidating, not unlike most things that you try to do for the first time. But maybe you could just say something about the different types or the range of online programs that you see coaches and nutritionist running. Like they don't have to be super large scale.

Natalie:
No, they don't. I mean there, there are a couple of reasons you're going to want to run that you might want to run a program. So regardless of the reason, usually if you break it down into two different types of programs, so one is a program that you'd run again, regardless of what scale, it's a live program. So one that you're running your group through, everyone's going through it together. Oftentimes you're facilitating that and moderating that. And then the other option would be to like completely hands off. It's on autopilot. Someone has linked to register and then they go through the program themselves. So typically there are those two different types of programs that you might want to run. And there are lots of different reasons. Like, you know, Michelle mentioned the passive income. I love the, I love passive income. I think it's such a smart business move, but I always think about it too and like, how are you using your time? How valuable your time is. I think that's one thing that we, we, we underestimate as practitioners and coaches, we think that we think that because it's been hard, it should always be a struggle. It should always be hard. We don't think that we should have assistant that helps us, you know, run things a bit more smoothly and allow us to reach more people. So I love programs. My big reason for loving programs is just efficiency. How much you can do, how many people you can help, that sort of thing. But I agree, it comes down to the two.

Michelle:
Agreed. And it's so it's, I want to say this up front too, it's not necessarily passive at all. There can, you know, you are, you are still working, but it's just a different model of working, right? Like instead of it being a one-to-one, it's a one to many and the format is different and the medium that you're going to use might be different and the earning potential is different. But make no mistake, you are still going to be working. So I think like what do you think about, should you run an online program? Well, do you have the bandwidth? Do you have the resources at your disposal to put something together and execute knowing that yeah, these aren't going to be hours out of your day, but hopefully hours very, very well bet. So instead of, you know, you get up, you, you know, maybe you have your, your morning latte or whatever it is, you start catching up with your clients one by one. I mean, how many can you really see during the course of one, even full workday instead, you might be spending your time, well, paint a picture for us, Natalie. Like if I'm, if you're running an online program, what might the day look like? That would be different than one-on-one.

Natalie:
I think that the big difference is, so I think I'm just going to back up a moment. So I personally think building an online program is easier than seeing clients one-on-one because you're, you're doing the workload for the most part once, right? Or a couple of times and you're building it. Whereas when you're seeing clients one-on-one, you're doing often times the same thing over and over and over and over again. The information that you're sharing with your clients, it's important. You can't skip that step. But if you're only getting to talk about surface level things, you're only going to give your clients surface level results. That's one thing. And then too, like how long until you're bored, right? How long until you're like, okay, like if I have to tell people why they need to drink water one, you know, one more time or tell them why they need to sleep or telling them why they need to, you know, cut down on sugar.

Natalie:
So I personally think that building an online program easier because you're, you're doing the work once or you know, it might take a little bit longer to build that program. Maybe a couple of weeks, maybe a month max. But you're doing that work once when you're working with clients day in and day out and you're doing it one on one, that's what you're doing. You're acting one person, you're helping that person. That's really important work. But you're helping one person at a time. So your day, if you are working with clients one-on-one, your day will be you talking to a client, taking notes on what happened, following up with them. It's just kind of, it ended up being a lot of busy work. If you're working with programs, you're going to, like I said, you're going to build that program once and then the rest of your day when you're not actually, if, let's say we're doing what we call a fixed day program, so meaning you're, you're leading a group of people through that program all at the same time.

Natalie:
When you're not interacting with that group, then your, you can spend that time wherever you want. You can spend it in marketing, you can spend it finding more people to be putting through that program so you can, next time you run it, you could have double the people or triple the people wherever it might be. So your time, you have more flexibility in terms of how you want to grow your business and how you want to use your time. But when you're doing one-on-one, it's a constant grind. You're, you're limited as to how you can use your hours in the day because if you decide to take on one less client, so you can focus on the marketing aspect or you can focus on, you know, whatever that might be. Building relationships, building a network. And that's one hour less that you're being paid. So it's a really hard to trade time when you're doing that one on one model to grow your time is limited.

Michelle:
That's true. Oh and this is reminding me cause we were just talking about different kinds of online programs. I think when we think about online program, we're typically thinking of, you know the standard, you know you're going to sign up, there's going to be some sort of member site that you log into. There's going to maybe be videos or handouts, maybe like a community chat area, whatever. But I had actually made use of an online program, like a hybrid model in my business. So in the past I've had exactly what you were saying, like drinking more water or introduction to eating more vegetables or how to cook whole grains or like all that stuff that I just got bored of saying over and over. I created some content around that that lived on a member site. And then when I took on a one on one client, I could just be like, Oh yeah, I'm going to want you to watch this.

Michelle:
And I could just send them the video and then I don't have to repeat it and they got everything they needed and then our time together was more valuable because we didn't have to spend it doing that. So I just wanted to throw that out there that if you're just starting and you don't feel like you maybe have a mailing list that can support an online program cause you know you only have like 30 people on your mailing list. It's kind of hard to fill a whole group program. You can still use a platform or the model when you're coaching one on one.

Natalie:
Yeah. I think that's one of my favorite ways to use online programs. And I think it's a less, maybe obvious way not I think is when we think about online programs we think about, yeah we have a group of people and I think that that's a model. One way is not better, but if you are working one on one with clients and you're looking to streamline that a little bit so you can go a bit deeper. Like Michelle said, like maybe take note, like grab the pen and paper that Michelle mentioned to grab, like start jotting... Maybe not now after starting jotting down what are the topics you're talking about all the time, right. And create resources that are, you know, that will be helpful to your clients because you're going to tell them one time to be honest there, it's going to have to be reinforced.

Natalie:
They're going to have to go back and revisit that resource. So you tell them once, you're still going to have to tell them again. So when they come to you and they say, you know, you know, I'm still struggling with drinking enough water and like, Hey, you know, go back and check all that module on the importance of drinking water and whatever the case might be. So I think that that's one way of using an online program that not everyone naturally thinks of, but it's definitely a way that will help you. You spend your time with your, like Michelle says, and your time with your clients more efficiently and so that they also get the most out of their time with you.

Michelle:
Yeah, exactly. So in that sense, anybody can start to use these sort of online course model. You might be using it one on one, you might be doing a small group, might be doing a large group and we actually have a podcast episode from like a while back where I talked about three different ways to start an online program in terms of like what tools do you need? Cause again, typically when I see a coach saying, Oh, I want to, you know, start an online program, you are immediately thinking about teachable or Thinkific or some of these larger chorus platforms. And that can be appropriate when you're at a certain level and at a certain scale. I also talk about when you're just as just as just starting out, if you're super afraid of all technology, like there are ways of running a group program where you don't use anything like that at all and you literally just have materials that you kind of email to participants and you're just using email as a way of communicating.

Michelle:
Maybe you put something up on YouTube. I mean just do it very bare bones and that's fine and I've absolutely done courses like that. But then there's this like really cool middle option that came along fairly recently. Wait, you guys have to remember I've been doing this work for like 10 plus years, so I've done it like all the other ways, but when practice better kind of came on the scene, it was like, Oh now we have like a middle option. So well first of all practice better is a tool. You guys probably hear me talk about it all the time. I use Practice Better for like my scheduling and my billing and blah, blah, blah, all the stuff in my business. But there's also an option of running your group programs directly through the same platform, which I know Natalie, you can tell us.

Natalie:
Yeah. So first I want to address the, the other options you mentioned. So like Michelle, I to run my programs either in person or I used to run them via email, like, so email campaigns, right? So set up your email automations and deliver it that way. So what didn't work for me, and this was a big reason why we built this stuff into practice better was as much as we really focus on helping you guys streamline your work, we really think also about the client experience. What do they need to succeed? So on the client side, and I've, I don't know how many of you have been part of group programs before, like in person or email version, but it's hard to keep stay. Sometimes it's hard to stay on track. It's also some, it's also harder to go back and reference that information. You don't want them having to work too hard to get access to the information you're sharing with them.

Natalie:
So in practice better you can streamline that process for yourself. So you can be, you know, set it up and be hands off in terms of the deployment of the program. But now your clients have somewhere professional to go where everything is, is consolidated in a user friendly environment. It's safe for them to communicate. In practice better. We've added things like accountability tools. So if, if, let's say you're working with clients, you're asking them to track what they eat, they can use the, the activity or the activity. Sorry, the, the dietary tracker. We've also added community support components. So previously how programs are being run was again, run out in person or run it via teachable or run it via email campaigns and then shuffle everyone onto, into a Facebook group and support them there. And then what happens to the people who don't have Facebook?

Natalie:
What happens to the people who don't want to share health information on Facebook, which is not, you know, it's not something we recommend either. So now that community support, which can also help relieve some of the pressure on your end to support your group, because as they become more engaged now they're going to start supporting one another. So that can also help that happen within practice better. And then where's the world going? We're all virtual. We're doing this call virtually today. So that's the other piece. Now you can support them and you can do regular check ins with them through practice better as well. So you can schedule, like if you're doing a fixed date program and you say, Hey, this is six week program and every Tuesday at noon we're going to meet to do, you know, a check in session. You can schedule those in your program.

Natalie:
So as soon as they enroll are automatically enrolled for all of those six group sessions. So it's an easy for, it's easier for you, but it's also easier for the client. And that's one thing that you can't forget because if your clients are having a good experience, if they're not seeing progress and things are not easy for them to, if the journey is not easy enough for them, they're not going to be a long-term client. So you really need to think about, you know, we want to create passive income. You also need to create a good client experience. So they continue too. You know, if it's a membership, they continue to pay monthly or they continue to want to work with you.

Michelle:
Yeah. So it's a lot of different tools that like maybe in the past you'd cobbled together in order to pull off an online program. Like for example, we may be, you're accepting payment through like pay pal or you're sending like a PayPal invoice. Okay. That's one thing. And then you're saying, well, we're going to meet every week and we're going to meet via zoom. So now it's like the zoom platform that they have to learn, and you got to send a zoom link out to them and then you're communicating all of this through emails. Of course. Then there's emails from you and then you have the Facebook group going for the community aspect. So you're calling together listening to this. So funny cause it has just become normal for me. Like that is how you do it. Right? And somehow you guys have been able to take all of that and bring it inside one platform, which is amazing. I how come nobody did this sooner?

Natalie:
Good question. That I really wish I would, they've been around when I was, when I was practicing. And you know, Michelle is talking about all these different components and if you're not yet familiar with practice better, like there are lots of things beyond running programs that you can do with it. But I think the key thing to remember is, you know, just because you can do all of these things, you don't have just start there and Michelle said, you know, you can start with, you could do videos in your programs or it could just be text-based. There are, there are a lot of options for how you can run an online program and it can start really minimalistic. Start putting down, you know, the bit of information that you, that you're, you know, that you're, you know, that you want to cover right now and you want to tell everyone about and then continue adding on.

Natalie:
You can always go back and add more information, you know? So I think everyone kind of, sometimes, I don't know if you get this feedback, but you know, I've received this feedback a lot. Like where do I start with a group program? Well, it's a bit intimidating when you think about what you're trying to build in the end result. But start with something small, just, you know, figuratively speaking, pen to paper, but you know, fingers to keyboard and, and then build on it. You know, it doesn't have to be perfect. You can, you're not ready for video. You know, then go ahead and just do written text and beautiful graphics and play with the formatting and then add video as you get more comfortable. But there's a lot of flexibility. And even if you say I'm not ready for a program yet, I promise you if you take a look at what you're doing on a daily basis, there is some stuff that you could put into building that first program.

Michelle:
Absolutely. And I know a lot of our coaches inside our group are running like a five day detox or some sort of five programs and again you can be doing all of that in a very simple way by sending out each simple I say in quotes, cause again you're accepting payments through pay pal or checks or however you're doing it and then you're sending out your emails and blah blah blah. But this is a platform that can really take that to the next level. And just because you are moving your, your stuff, your resources to a member site place where your members are going to login, does it mean that you have to have this perfectly polished video yet? Because that's a whole other project for another day.

Natalie:
Yeah, and I think that the other piece is, you know, I'm using teachable, I think Teachable's a fantastic platform. If you're... The difference between using something like teachable and practice better though practice better is really for the clients that you want to work with, that you want to have interactions with, whether that be in a group on a group basis or one on one basis. So if you're just looking to educate the general public, have no contact with them and like they sign up and that's it, then perhaps that is probably not the place. But if you're looking at, look, if you're looking to coach them, whether again, be in a group capacity or one-on-one, then building that into practice better is a great idea because now whatever appliance do in your online program built within practice better is also part of their individual file.

Natalie:
So if they say, Hey, I'm going to do this small group training with you. Oh, and now you can upsell them, let's say on one on one support, in addition to group whatever group program they signed up for. Right? So if you're doing that five day challenge as your lead magnet, get them in, get them sold on working with you. And at the end you say, Oh, and here's, you know, maybe in the last week you talk about what it's like to work with you and this is where they can find out more information. So it's a really, the experience also sells them on working with you in addition to the actual content you're sharing with them.

Michelle:
So brilliantly done. So if we just swing back to the original question of should you run an online program? I mean I think there are a lot of strong reasons why it's worth beginning with why, even if you don't have a whole program set up, like Natalie said, you can start with some basics. You can put a few things on there. And the beauty of it is if you already have practice better, this is just included, right? This isn't like a separate package or a separate thing that you have to buy. Is that right? Right, correct. Amazing. So if you're not already using practice better and then you're like, well I do hate having to schedule, you know, manually with my clients and reschedule and send out confirmations and payment plans and all the things that you already like doing to manage your clients. This is like a one and done solution that I, I can't, I really can't praise highly enough.

Michelle:
I just started working with a new client this morning. We had our first session and it was just so easy to explain to her like, you're going to get these know an intake form, you're going to get get, get a food diary, you know, in your inbox. And she's like, Oh yeah, it just arrived. Right. You know, you're just going to click that button and you know, it's like, it's so easy for them to use. I haven't had a lot of problems with clients being like, I can't figure this out. But I do know that for us coaches, there's always a learning curve in learning a new software. So, Natalie, are there resources that our coaches can go to like figure out how to even get started? Putting a course online.

Natalie:
Yeah, definitely. So we have a pretty robust YouTube page with tutorials. We've had a really robust help center with articles on running programs and also all the other features on the platform. We can definitely link to those. So you have those handy. But our YouTube page is a great resource as well as our health center. Everything you want to know about building a program and how to get started and all the details of all the different functionalities within the program that we didn't even mention. It's all highlighted there.

Michelle:
Okay, terrific. So you guys will get those links for you and I'll put them in the show notes. So when you go to health coach power.com and you know, all of our podcasts are there, you can just go to this episode and you can find all the links that you might need in order to just like answer that question in your mind of like, where do I even begin or what should be my first step. And again, expect that there's always going to be a learning curve. But I have found the help, the support through practice better to be, well, very supportive. I think you will too. Now in addition to that, whether you're wanting to try out practice better for your group program or for all of the other wonderful benefits that I've already mentioned, we do have a special discount just for listeners of this podcast and members of my Facebook group. So I want you guys to go to https://healthcoachpower.com/practice you'll use that link and use code 'HCpower30'. It's that letter's HC power and the number 30 to save 30% off your first three months, which will be more than enough time to get your online course up and running.

Natalie:
Definitely. Definitely. I mean it doesn't take long to start building and once you start thinking about those topics, you're going to realize how many things that you're just saying on a regular basis.

Michelle:
Oh, for real. I would just go through my client notebook, right? Like I tend to write down everything like handwritten while I'm write while I'm in session, and then I type up notes later. I would just go right through that notebook and just find like, okay, here we go. Always talking about the same thing and that's like a perfect piece of content to pull together and place somewhere else so that you can spend your time doing something that's a little more interesting. Yeah, I agree. So good. Well, I want to thank you so much for joining us today, Natalie. This is something that I know lots of coaches are going to be having questions about. So if they're listening, everyone who's listening and you have questions, how can they reach you or how can they reach a member of your team?

Natalie:
Yes. If you have any questions at all, you can send us an email to help, help@practicebetter.io and our customer success team will be more than happy to help you. They're really, really knowledgeable. They know not just how to use the system, but they know best practices and how people are, how, you know, coaches and practitioners are, are using programs today. So, you know, use them as a resource. They're fantastic and they're always available to help.

Michelle:
Amazing. Thank you for joining us and thank you for listening everybody, and I'll see you next week with another episode. Take care.

Natalie:
Bye.

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