How to succeed online: What I learned from the best in the coaching business

Your website is your home

What if you visited my home and the front lawn was overgrowing, the weeds were sprouting, there was old junk at the front door, the house looked a mess, the door was painted one shade with another completely different shade on another wall…What would I think?

Because that’s what many websites look like, especially in health and fitness.

The website is so often now your client’s first impression of you. I’m sure many of you personal trainers and top coaches look a lot more presentable than their websites do but many clients won’t get a chance to see that because they get turned off at the website.

So I thought to a top personal trainer that is having such a massive impact online: Michelle Bridges.

Michelle Bridges personal trainer and online coach


Here navigation is at the top and clear. The image is strong and attractive. The colours are consistent. I know exactly how to enter the different parts of the website. And I can see how to virtually “knock on the door” by clicking the “Join now” button

Check List:
– Is your website clean of distractions?
– Is the imagery and are the colours consistent with your service?
– Are there lots of words visitors need to read to know what you offer?


That’s the one thing you want your visitor to do. If you’re in business and wanting your website to achieve something, like converting visitors into paying customers, you need to make it very clear to your visitors what one thing you want them to do.

The way the page is formatted, as visitors scrolls down the page, the website is convincing them all the time to click that one call to action button – “Join now”.

Normally a website will have the action button repeated down the page but one cool thing I notice with Michelle’s website is that there’s a little pop up call to action that follows you down the page. It invites the visitor to “Join now”.

There are lots of things you access from the home page but only one visible thing is asked. There isn’t “Check out my blog”, “Join my email list”, “Like my Facebook page” or “Follow me on twitter”. These can be found further down the page. It’s just one thing … to ask visitors to join.

I remember a helpful analogy from a business seminar I attended. The coach stood in front of me with a bunch of sweets in his hand. He then asked me to catch as many as I could and so I did. He threw one at a time and caught every one of them.

He then asked me to give me the sweets back again and then asked me to catch as many as I could. He gave me lots of warning that he would throw all of them at the same time. 1, 2, 3, throw … How many did I catch? Not one.

Why? Because my brain couldn’t choose which one to go for so I ended up with nothing. The positive was that I also had no intention of eating one of the furry sweets that were sprinkled around me on the floor ;)

Check List:
– Do you have a clear call to action?
– Does that call to action jump off the page?
– Do you have distracting other calls to action?


The first thing I notice on the front page is an image that tells the story. It’s of Michelle and one of her happy clients, shoulder to shoulder, and flexing their muscles. That story tells of connection, support and success.

The client is not a 20 year old model but a healthy 40 something active woman. There are no distractions or background behind them. Just a single background colour. It’s message is crystal clear.

The second thing is a sound bite “I love who I’ve become”. That’s a very powerful phrase. It focuses on the emotion and feeling. It’s not about how much weight or pounds were lost. It’s inspirational and something that could apply to anyone that visits.

This went to a YouTube video. Good idea hosting on YouTube but not such a good idea making the visitor go to a separate page. I would have thought they would have a popup video instead so that they keep the visitor focused and in the same environment.

The video was clearly professionally produced. It was short. Only 90 seconds. It explained a story. What “Anita” felt like when she started, what it was like in the middle and how empowered she felt by the end of it. In some ways, the fact that it was so beautifully produced made it feel a little less believable.

When creating a testimonial, you want to think of the problems and objections your customer might have and have the customer explain how they overcame it or why it wasn’t relevant.

Check List:
– Do you have just one clear image that tells your story?
– Do you have a “sound bite” that tells your big promise?

Testimonials of results


Michelle Bridges is very clever with her Testimonials which I’ve described above but she has even more testimonials throughout her first page.

She has another section labelled as “Inspiring results from our members”. It includes another video testimonial and 2 other paragraphs focused on proving results. They focused on the unique aspects of the program. Why the support is so good or Why you need to address mindset first. What blockers were.

And finally there’s a big section focused on “social proof”. This means highlighting how much success has been achieved by others to give you, the visitor, confidence that you will achieve the same results.

Michelle uses the total number of kilograms lost and number of Facebook likes to great effect. I think there’s also meant to be a montage of photos and press but it is hard to understand what this is.

Check List:
– How many testimonials can you dig up with images to match?
– Can you produce even a low budget, highly genuine video testimonial with a client?
– Can you use press, total results or social metrics to prove credibility?


People want to know what your product service does and they want to know it fast. Lists and bullet points are good for this.

Weight loss program involvesMichelle offers “Weight Loss”, “Running”, “Strength” and “Pregnancy/ Post Baby” programs on her homepage and addresses 3 key areas Nutrition, Exercise and Mindset.

Weight Loss is the main offer and the page describes the features of the program. They use a clear image to explain the Nutrition, Exercise and Mindset sections.

At the top of the list is the clearest and most compelling feature. I’m a little surprised it doesn’t highlight the benefits a little better here but I guess this is highlighted elsewhere on the page.

Then there is a call to action at the bottom of the section: “View Weight Loss Program”

This takes the visitor to see each program. It is good in the way it describes who each program is for. With weight loss, it looks at how many kilograms you’re wanting to lose, the amount of exercise you’re already doing and how consistent you’ve been over the last 3 months.

I felt this program page was weaker.  As a visitor, I felt unsure of where to click next. There was no clear next step to take and that got me thinking of what I’ve learned…

Have you ever been in a maze?

You’ll find corners where you don’t know which to turn. ”Do I go this way or do I go that way?” They both look like equally good options but it’s hard to choose. That’s what I call a “maze moment”.

If you own a website, you don’t want “maze moments”.

Instead, you want to always have a clear sign to the destination – your dominant call to action or “dominant direction”.

If you don’t provide one and a visitor hits a “maze moment” then they might choose their default destination – the Exit.

I think they would be better to have a “Join Now” button next to each program or at least a big call to action down the bottom on what they should read next if the visitor is still needing convincing.

Check List:
– Call out your main market – e.g. Weight Loss
– Call out the 3 – 5 main features and use imagery that backs up the benefits
– Create a dominant direction – the way you want your clients to keep moving


This is naturally one of the biggest questions any visitor has so they’ve done a good job of explaining this.

It starts with how to get started.

How to get started with program

Michelle has her own web and mobile app.

Once you enter your profile and goals, the mobile app looks to simply track clients progress. It appears to track the scales and their food (through photos). I think the food diary is kinda cool and helpful over time because it doesn’t pass judgement.

However, the app also puts special emphasis on weight, BMI and BMR. Clients put in their weight each day. Scales are a double edged sword, they cut both ways. They can provide motivation and de-motivation depending on which way the weight is heading, regardless of effort.

Weight-loss is a journey, not a destination. Often no number on the scale is enough which can wear down the clients motivation.

To lose weight, most clients need to change their behaviour or habits. My preference is to reward effort first, rather than outcome. Clients can feel empowered by what they can do each day which I think is better for the coach and the client.

There is also a web-app that has more of the bigger features and delivers the online content largely through video.

This is a fairly comprehensive program which looks at exercise, nutrition and especially important for women wanting to lose weight – Mindset.

She also used one quite a smart idea, on how to “Prepare for Success”.

Michelle wants you to do 12 things before even starting the course. No doubt this is to prepare potential members before they start the course so they get better results. It fills in the lead time between courses. She wants you to head to the forums and feel like a part of the community. Creating a sense of belonging is a really powerful motivator.

Check List:
– Simplify what features your service offers
– Use technology and tracking to keep your clients progressing between coaching “touch points”
– Offer courses that have a start and end date when managing large groups to make support easier
– Give clients waiting of the course to start, “prep work”


Email lists are critical. These are the life blood of membership programs. If you don’t have an email or phone number, then you don’t have a way of communicating with that customer. That’s why they are so important.

Michelle asks for visitors to leave their name and email in exchange for a draw to win a $2500 Westfield voucher and a taste of her program. This is clever because it let’s people that might otherwise leave the website for good a reason to stay in touch that little bit longer.

Check List:
– Have a way to capture new leads
– Keep your form simple – just name and email
– Be careful of your big call to action competing with your email call to action


If you’re coaching a group, then I’d really recommend a private Facebook group. Even Michelle, with tens of thousands of clients, still directs most of her clients to member-run facebook groups.

While groups are often dominated by the “loud-mouths” of the crew, they stimulate discussion in the group. Basically, the more clients that engage more frequently, the better. Most members looking to join an online program will also be looking for support.

Michelle still has a forum for more specific questions but I’ve observed the same thing as Michelle. Even though some people will engage on a forum, it is a fraction of the number of people that will engage on Facebook. Facebook is where members are already hanging out so you want to make it easy for members to make support a hop-skip-and a jump away.

I think this is why she runs courses rather than letting new members start straight away.

Michelle reinforces that, “We start together and we finish together”.

Check List:
– Use Facebook private groups to create community
– Give these a little personal love – try prompting conversation vs only providing answers
– Let members own these groups


When you’ve scrolled right down to the bottom of the page, you hit the big call to action again to Join Now. Michelle doesn’t want you leave or to hesitate or to put it off. She wants you to join her team here.

To be honest, the 4 points she puts as the reasons slightly lame (“you’re in good hands, experience what everyone is raving about”). Normally these should be the three or four strongest reasons/benefits for joining right now.

Check List:

- Repeat your main call to action through the page
– They’ll be ready to see the price by the bottom so make it clear and compelling
– Keep all your other page navigation down the bottom of the page including social links

So how about following a recipe that’s clearly working? What about doing just 1 thing right now?

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