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Monthly Archives: April 2012

4 Easy Ways for Health Coaches to Take Online Payments

take online paymentsAre you ready to start taking online payments from clients, but youʼre not sure how to begin? Youʼre not alone. Most health coaches are initially intimidated when venturing into this new financial arena.

There are many options available and so many new unknown terms: merchant accounts, shopping carts, electronic drafts, 1ShoppingCart, PayPal, Authorize.net, gateways, and much more. But donʼt worry, I have great news. Itʼs incredibly easy to take online payments. And you can get started in less than a day!

In this article, Iʼm going to give you the basics on taking online payments. Once you have the ability to get paid electronically, youʼll love it. And it will likely become your preferred method of getting paid for your services and programs.

Here are four easy ways health coaches can take online payments.

1. PayPal.com

This is the fastest and easiest way to get started. I love PayPal. Most people already have a PayPal account, they just donʼt realize how powerful it can be in helping them grow their coaching business.

You can set up a PayPal business account in just a few minutes and start getting payments. It will take another two to three days to verify your account and connect it to your bank account and/or credit card account.

Once you set up your account and log into PayPal, go to the “Merchant Services” tab and create a PayPal button. Once the button is created, youʼll have a choice to either copy HTML code to add the button to a website, or copy a URL link to include in an email message.

Your clients can then click on the button or email link and pay you securely and conveniently online. And theyʼll have the option of paying either with electronic check, their PayPal balance, or by credit card: VISA, Master Card, American Express, or Discover. Your client does NOT have to have a PayPal account in order to pay you by credit card. I love that!

2. Electronic Checks

Most people know they can send electronic checks through their PayPal account. But there are other ways not as commonly known.

Another way clients can pay you online from their checking account is through their bankʼs online bill pay feature. They simply log into their online bank account, add your name and mailing address, and their bank mails you a check. This is a great solution when a client doesnʼt have their own PayPal account.

3. Merchant Account

A merchant account allows you to accept credit cards by phone, in person, or through an online payment system called a “shopping cart”. If you want to accept credit card information from clients over the phone, a merchant account is a must. This will give you control over when a payment is processed.

A merchant account is much easier to set up than you might think. The key is to go to the right broker. Banks are notoriously hard to deal with when you have an online business.

If you live in the U.S., I highly recommend you contact PowerPay (www.ipowerpay.com) at 1-888-639-9670. Ask to be connected to their “Internet marketing division”. Iʼve had clients get their accounts set up in less than one week.

If you live outside the U.S., I recommend a merchant account from PayPal.com. Itʼs easy, and itʼs international. And they understand online marketing – after all, they handle most eBay transactions. Please note that a regular PayPal account doesnʼt allow you to take credit card information over the phone. But a PayPal merchant account will.

Both PowerPay and PayPal have very reasonable fees. And as long as you have good business credit and personal credit, you shouldnʼt have any problems getting your account set up.

4. Online Shopping Cart

An online shopping cart allows you to take credit card payments online through a website. Itʼs a combination of online software, a gateway, and a merchant account. In example #1 above, PayPal acts as your complete shopping cart.

There are many different shopping cart options available online that integrate with PayPal and/or with your merchant account. If you search in Google, you can find, WordPress plugins, software that works on your site, and third-party solutions that work outside your site, like PayPal. One of my favorite third-party shopping carts is 1ShoppingCart.com. It has tons of powerful features for coaches and is fairly easy to use.

There are lots of technical details that go with setting up a shopping cart. For this article, I will simply say that PayPal (#1 above) is the fastest and easiest solution. And when my clients need something more powerful, I usually recommend the combination of 1ShoppingCart.com and PowerPay.

Summary

If youʼve been putting off taking online payments, I highly recommend you choose the best solution for you and your business today. Then contact the appropriate companies and get your account started.

Here are my recommendations, depending on where you are in your health coaching practice.

• If youʼre just getting started with online payments, set up your PayPal account. Once that is set up, tour their site and learn about all their different options for processing payments. PayPal has tons of features, like custom thank you pages, custom checkout pages, multi-payment ability, shopping cart features, etc. If you need to talk to a customer service rep, youʼll find a phone number on their website to call.

• If you want to have the ability to take credit card information over the phone and have control over processing payments, contact PowerPay or PayPal to set up a merchant account.

• If you know you need a more advanced or powerful solution, like detailed reports, built-in autoresponders, multiple affiliate programs, and ad track capability, take a look at what 1ShoppingCart.com has to offer. They have many video tutorials to help you learn their system. Or you can hire a webmaster or technical VA to set it up for you.

There really isnʼt any reason to wait. There is an easy way for you to start taking online payments:

• whether you live inside or outside the U.S.,
• whether you have a business corporation or not,
• whether you have good credit or bad.

Just choose the online payment solution thatʼs best for you and get started in as little as one day.

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April 20, 2012

What Is The Best Way To Use Facebook To Grow Your Health Coach List?

Health Coach ListEverybody knows that Facebook is one of the most utilized websites on the planet, with somewhere in the neighborhood of a billion active users and about half of them are on Facebook daily.

The trick is, how can we take advantage of the huge amount of traffic on a site that is designed for building community, to help build our health coach list?

The simple answer is to use Facebook to build your tribe.  I have written about this before, but it is a very important concept.  You want to find people that are looking for what you have to offer and connect with them.

One mistake I see lots of health coaches make both on their website and on Facebook is simply putting up a little link or opt-in box that says “Sign up for my newsletter”.  In case no one told you, the days of that being an effective method are behind us now.

When the internet and email were still a novelty, people would sign up for anything online.  Now people’s inboxes are filled with more than they want so you need to entice them with some sort of free offer.  This can be as simple as a free report, a video, a webinar, a book, or a free consultation.

Before Facebook made the new changes to timeline, you had the ability to direct new visitors to your fan page to go to a custom tab where you could offer some sort of gift in exchange for a “like” or email, or both.

One of the most major changes is that you are no longer allowed to have a default landing tab.  While this is bad news, there is a bright spot.  It used to be that the only thing you had on your fan page to tell them about this free gift was a tiny little app icon.

The tabs are now highlighted below your cover image with very visible 111 x 74 pixel images that you can customize as you see fit.  Facebook has been very clear that they don’t want any marketing messages or calls to action in the timeline cover, but there are no such restrictions on the tab image or on the actual tab application itself.

This is good news for us, since we can give our visitors some incentive to click on the tab and sign up for whatever free gift we are offering.  I have a demo health coaching fan page setup, where I show how this works.  You can even put your website into a fan page tab.

By “pinning” a post to the top of the page, you can have a call to action that your new visitor will see first.  This is done by clicking the little pencil icon in the upper right hand corner of any fan page post.

A much more effective way to drive lots of targeted people to your fan page is through Facebook advertising.  This intimidates a lot of people, but it is really not all that difficult.

Facebook uses what is called pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.  Basically, when anyone clicks on your ad, you pay.  They also use the CPM (cost per 1,000) model, but in my experience this doesn’t work as well.

What you don’t want to do is to pay for advertising and send them straight to your fan page wall.  You want to send people directly to a custom tab where you have setup some sort of call to action.

Another important point is that you want to try to determine exactly who it is that you are marketing too.  We talk about tribes and target markets a lot, but if your target market is women over 50 who want to prevent osteoporosis naturally, you don’[t want to send them to a page that says “sign up for my health coaching newsletter”.  Something along the lines of “6 Easy Steps To Prevent Osteoporosis Naturally” is much more likely to speak to your target market.

The newsletter model can work wonderfully if it is targeted to exactly the subject the people coming to your site are looking for information on.  Think about how you found out about Health Coach Weekly.  There is a fairly high chance you saw a Facebook ad or sponsored story that spoke directly to something you were looking for.

Once you get people to your custom tab, there are many different things you can do.  You can have a like/reveal image which means that if a person is not a fan they will see one thing and once they are a fan they will see something else.  Go ahead over to this Facebook tab to see it in action.

Once someone likes your page and you “reveal” your content, you can place pretty much anything you want there.  Your website, a video, a report download, an email opt-in box, or even a PayPal button.  The only limit is really your imagination, you can even put a custom background behind whatever content you want to put on the page.

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April 11, 2012

Do-It-Yourself Websites for Health Coaches

Have you ever tried to create a website for your health coaching practice – only to realize itʼs a lot harder than it looks? Maybe you tried using a website template that required “no programming skills” – then discovered that it wasnʼt as easy as it looked in the demo video.  If youʼre wondering how to create a do-it-yourself website that looks great and attracts clients, keep reading.

You want a professional website that will help you grow your health coaching business. But you donʼt want the ongoing expenses of paying a webmaster.  And you donʼt want to spend frustrating weeks – or even months – trying to figure out how to put all the pieces together.  Is there a way to have it all?

The solution is to hire experts to do the critical parts that you cannot do and then take those parts and put them together yourself.  The reason most coaches spend endless hours trying to complete a website is because they either try to do everything themselves, or they donʼt know what parts to hire out and what to do themselves.

Creating a great do-it-yourself website is also a lot like hiring a health coach.  For instance, someone could spend months reading books on nutrition, taking cooking classes, trying out recipes and different nutritional supplements – trying anything and everything in the hopes that something works.

Or they could have a consultation with a health coach, run a few assessments or lab test, and find out exactly which nutritional supplements and food choices will most likely give them maximum results.

A health coach canʼt eat for you, but they can give you a strategy and plan so you can do-it-yourself.  Then you create a healthy lifestyle on your own.  Itʼs faster and the results are much better.

Here are 3 steps to creating a do-it-yourself website that looks great, attracts clients, and helps you save money.

Step 1 – Marketing Strategy

Before you start designing your website, you want to get crystal clear on your niche, ideal client, and the transformation that you offer.  Otherwise, youʼll end up with an ineffective website.  Even if it looks pretty, youʼll find that it doesnʼt help you get new clients.

To do this, youʼll want to work with an Internet and marketing expert, such as a business coach, marketing coach, or online marketing coach/consultant.  They can help you create your online marketing strategy to attract clients, including planning out your website.

This is one of the best investments you will ever make in your business because it saves you so much time and effort and helps you get FAST results.  And there are lots of options available, depending on your budget: home study courses, group programs, or private VIP coaching programs.

Of course, the closer you work personally with the expert, the better your results will be.  But as a health coach yourself, you already knew that, right?

This is a case where you donʼt know what you donʼt know.  An online marketing expert will help you know what web pages you need, how to best lay out those pages, and what to write on the website to make it irresistible. Youʼll learn what tools are best to use and how to maximize list building and sales.

They will usually help you with your branding message as well, such as choosing a URL, company name, website colors, tag lines, and program names.  And occasionally, youʼll find an online marketing expert, like myself, who can also create the website for you.  Normally, your marketing expert and web designer will be two separate people.

Step 2 – Website Template

Hire a web designer (or webmaster) to create the website your online marketing expert helped you develop.  Donʼt try to do this yourself.

I recommend using a WordPress theme for your site, rather than having a site built from scratch.  This will save a lot of time and money,   Your web designer can add custom graphics, essential plugins, and easy (or complex) customization to the WordPress theme to implement your online marketing strategy.

WordPress blogs are fairly easy to use.  But they are rarely easy to customize.  Rather than waste tons of time learning how to do this yourself, hire it done and have the site ready fast.

Your goal here is to have a professional set up the foundation of the site for you so you can build on it.  Remember my earlier analogy about hiring a health coach?

Having a web designer create the foundation for you is like having a health coach create a personalized protocol.  Have them do the technical parts that require training and skill, such as graphic design, hosting set up, plugin configuration, and adjustments to the stylesheets.

Your financial investment will vary greatly depending on the amount of customization and extra services you ask your web designer to do before you take over the site.  Things like search engine optimization, keyword research, custom graphics, and shopping carts can add hundreds or thousands of dollars to the cost of a site set up.  So if youʼre on a budget, start with the bare minimum and plan to add on later.  If you are using a WordPress site, it should be easy to add extras in the future without having to redo everything.

Step 3 – Website Creation

Now start adding content to your site.  WordPress allows you to create blog posts and pages with the same ease as using a word processor.  And you can often add audio, video, and special formatting with little (or even no) programming skills.

WordPress is truly a do-it-yourself website solution.  And there is a lot of flexibility on how much you can do yourself or hire it done.

Summary

If youʼve been struggling to build your health coaching website, take a look at the 3 steps above and make a list of where you need to leverage your time and/or invest in experts to save money.

Are you crystal clear on your niche and ideal client?  Are you getting assistance with your online marketing strategy or trying to “wing it”?  Or you wasting time trying to learn programming or graphic software?

With expert assistance, you really can have an irresistible, do-it-yourself website for your health coaching business.

For more great tips, strategies, and articles on creating an irresistible website, visit http://www.KarenBrunet.com. From Karen Brunet, The Irresistible Marketing Coach and online marketing consultant

April 6, 2012

Google Keeps Changing The Rules – Two Important Local and SEO Search Updates

One of the biggest questions I always hear is “How do I get people to find my health coaching website online?”  There are many answers to this question and some are easier to implement than others.  From paid advertising on networks such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and Facebook to local search, organic search, viral traffic through social networking sites, video marketing on YouTube and other video based sites, word of mouth and referrals.

Today I will talk a little about local search (my favorite for anyone who sees local clients) and backlinking, which is one of the key elements of traditional SEO (search engine optimization.

Local Search

4-6-2012 weight loss search bernardsville
 
This picture is a little busy, but it gives you a good idea of what is going on when you do a search in Google.  Your location is automatically picked up by Google according to your IP address and they try to give you the most relevant results according to where you are.  The map view can be changed by selecting change location on the left hand side.
 
In this example their is more above the local search than usual.  What google shows on any given search changes depending on whether or not you are logged in, where you are located, and many factors which Google does not care to disclose to most of us.
 
What you can see in this is that even if you were to rank in the top ten for a term like “weight loss” (Highly Unlikely), you would still probably show up below the local search results. 
 
The number 1 site in the local search results is for Carla Hugo’s site, www.getcoached.com.  This is a very bare bones google places page setup I did as a webinar demo in the fall.  She probably only shows up in a fairly small radius, but anyone in her neighborhood that is searching for weight loss is probably going to find her.
 
From a mobile device, local search results tend to show up first, which is great news, since this is the largest growing segment of search.
 
Here is another example where you see the local results showing up at the top of the page.

masage local search 4_6_12

When I first started talking about Google Places and local search I told people that they would get better results if they showed their address on their Google Places page.
 
Google has changed this recently and now only businesses that serve clients at their location are allowed to show their address on their Google Places page.
 
On March 22nd the official Google Places Quality Guidelines were updated to include the following language:
If you don’t receive customers at your location, you must select the “Do not show my business address on my Maps listing” option within your dashboard. If you don’t hide your address, your listing may be removed from Google Maps.
 
The good news is that Google will no longer penalize you for not showing your address, which is great for us coaches that both see local and national clients.

Google Bans Link Networks

Anyone who has tried to do any traditional SEO had heard of backlinking.  Basically it is a link from anywhere else online back to your website.  In order to rank well in Google for competitive search terms you need lots and lots of backlinks to your site.

Backlinks can come from many sources, such as citations and directories, social media sites, blog commenting, article writing on other sites, YouTube, anchor text links.

For years, black-hat SEO folks have been trying many different methods of automating the backlink building process.  Backlinking manually is very time consuming and tedious.

One of the most popular link building schemes out there was to build link networks whose sole purpose was to provide a way to automate anchor text backlinking.  An anchor text backling is any keyword phrase that links to your website, such as health coach marketing.

Anchor text backlinks are a great way to rank for a specific keyword but Google frowns upon automating anything and last month started de-indexing many major link networks.  This has lots of people scrambling, since their site rankings plummeted overnight.

Summary

So what is the takeaway?  Even though it sounds enticing, don’t be tempted to buy a whole bunch of links from someone who says they can get you 1000 links for $10.  It is probably through a link network and when they get shutdown you will surely suffer a major loss in rankings and possibly a dreaded Google slap, where they de-index your website.

Traditional SEO should be a consistent strategy over time.  Focus on 3-5 keyword phrases that you want to rank for (make sure they are not too competitive), optimize your website with on-page SEO factors and build links slowly over time.

For faster results, PPC gives you instant traffic through either google or facebook and local search works for several categories.

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