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How to Start an Online Nutrition Consulting Business
Overall wellness is the result of diet and activity. Balanced, holistic nutrition is something we learn about in school and strive to keep up as adults. However, most adults don’t truly understand what balanced nutrition is or how to achieve it for optimal health. When made aware of the benefits of sound nutrition and the services available, some people enlist the help of dietitians and nutritionists to help with meal plans and health coaching.
Why pursue, at the very least, a nutrition certification? Find out why in this awesome ISSA blog post!
The qualities of a good nutrition coach include investing in your own success and gearing your services to your client’s specific needs. If you have what it takes, let the games begin! To break into online nutrition consulting, these are the things you need to know to become a successful health coach with an online private practice.
The Importance of Nutrition for Health and Wellness
There are six essential nutrients everyone needs to be in optimal health as outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Those such as A, D, E, K, and B that often come from fruits and vegetables aid in digestion and support immune health, brain function, eyesight, bone growth, and metabolism.
Calcium, sodium, iron, copper, and potassium balance water, strengthen bones and teeth, and are a large part of blood and the circulatory system.
You’ll find this in meats, dairy, and nuts and legumes. It functions as a source of energy as well as the building blocks of muscle, skin, hair, and the skeletal system.
This can be saturated (bad) or unsaturated (good) and is found in nuts, fatty fish like salmon, oils, and seeds. Fats are necessary for hormone production, digestion and absorption, brain function, and the functions of blood in the body.
These supply an energy source for the brain and most body tissues. They break down to sugar molecules in the body and exist in grains, vegetables, fruits, and many processed foods (often in the form of simple sugars).
This is essential for all life on earth and humans are no different! Every cell in the body needs water to function and it aids in digestion, lubricates joints, and cleanses the body.
As a nutrition coach, you know all about these six vital components of a good diet and you have a good understanding of what a nutrition coach actually does. You will help people examine their current diet, make substitutions and better choices, teach behavior change and life skills, and adjust the plans based on results and the client’s goal. There is not a single person a nutrition coach cannot help, from the elderly to the most experienced athlete!
To begin your online business, you need the knowledge you will then share with your clients. The minimum credential needed to be a reputable nutrition coach is a certification. ISSA offers a comprehensive nutrition certification that makes nutrition simple to understand and explain! Most students complete the certification and exam in 8-10 weeks and are fully prepared to work with any client.
For those who wish to become a registered dietitian, the education requirement is more in-depth. The initial certification will get the ball rolling, but a bachelor’s degree in dietetics or nutrition is the next step. Many will also pursue an online master’s degree in dietetics before pursuing the required pre-exam internship requirements and taking the registered dietitian exam. Depending on the state, the master’s degree may be required.
What’s the Difference?
Dietitians and nutritionists have essentially the same scope of practice. Both are educated professionals with the same aim of working towards optimal health. There are some cases where a nutritionist is not credentialed, and it is up to the client to ask for and verify someone’s background. Only dietitians must take a state or national exam through the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) to verify their extensive education. The “best option” will be based on what your desired job is and what level of education you wish to pursue.
Ready to Go!
Once credentialed, you can now begin the process of setting up your online business!
License Your Name and Business
Step one, choose a business name to identify you and your services. It seems simple, but you’ll want a name that is memorable and reflective of YOU! It can be based on the clients you wish to attract, the type of eating you encourage, or even include your name. Also, you can create a logo to begin your branding as well.
Contact your local Small Business Association (SBA) and find out what, if any, business licenses are needed to work online from where you are. In many cases, online businesses are not subject to state or local taxes or licenses, but it is better to verify.
Establish your business LLC so you can work. The LLC is designed to register your business and provide legal protections for you personally. Do not skip this step! Typically, you can complete this online and it costs between $50 and $400 depending on the state.
Defining Your Services
With the business forms completed, you can now determine your services offered as well as your business and communication policies. With an online business, you will communicate exclusively through electronic means and, potentially, telephone. Business policies like how and when you will communicate, the frequency of your check-ins, and how and when you accept payment are important to define and make all clients aware of. List expectations for yourself and your clients upfront.
When it comes to your services, consider:
- What type of program you offer. For example, detailed meal plans versus menu guidance based on the client’s current habits.
- Is it a monthly recurring program or a one-time program that can be renewed?
- How will clients submit their food logs to you? How often will they do this?
- Do you offer different programs based on lifestyle or activity level?
- What happens when someone is noncompliant?
- Are there different levels to your program? For example, level one—basic nutrition guidelines, level 2—food diary analysis, level 3—complete meal plans.
- Will you offer newsletters or other benefits to clients?
Branding is King When Promoting a Business.
Now, develop a website and email address. You need to have a way to reach and engage with clients. On your site, you’ll detail your contact information, services and pricing, testimonials, important resources, and more about you and your experience. Many sites will help you set up a welcoming, custom website. But best of all, ISSA members get a free website to support their fitness trainer careers online. Multiple pages of professionally designed, easily editable, fully hosted content is included.
Establish your social media and public-facing media to do outreach and communicate with current and potential clients. Keep your communications light-hearted, informational, and positive. Collect client testimonials early and often to share online. Your client’s successes will speak to your expertise! Posting on social media like Facebook and Instagram while using appropriate and wide-reaching hashtags will drive views and clicks for your site as well.
As you brand and market your online services, consider partnering with local gyms or fitness- and health-related businesses to spread the word and reach the networks they have already established. Grassroots marketing can be slower to develop and include ideas like:
- Distribute flyers and business cards
- Social media—everyone has it!
- Create a YouTube channel and post informational videos
- Hold giveaways and contests
- Partner with local charities
- Write guest posts for other online companies
- Find someone of influence to work with and have promote your services
- Contact the local news channel (they have tv and online opportunities!)
- Host in-person clinics or forums
- Decorate your vehicle
Any new business will have a cost associated with setting it up and getting it running. Your new online business will have potential fees associated with LLC and business licenses, business cards and promotional material, and marketing. If your services use a specific app or online tool, there may be a cost associated with that.
Outside of the cost of business, consider the fact that everything in the fitness industry is seasonal. January 1 through mid-spring is typically the busiest time of the year in fitness and nutrition while the last three months of the year are often the slowest. Prepare for the ebbs and flows by marketing consistently and staying organized!
The Table is Set for Success!
Without food and water, we cannot survive. When people learn how to fuel themselves effectively to promote optimal fitness and health, it is a tool for empowerment and fulfillment. Teaching people about healthful eating is a rewarding career that is never going to go away, so grab your place at the table! Get certified with ISSA through our online Nutritionist course!