Like many seemingly-niche businesses, nutrition coaching has found wide success online. It’s a way to turn your passion for improving people's health into a full-time, steady income. Thankfully, figuring out how to become an online health coach isn't as complicated as it might seem.
Here are some simple tips to get your online nutrition coaching business off the ground.
What is online nutrition coaching?
Online nutrition coaches work with clients to create a positive, healthy relationship with food. They look at a person’s diet and lifestyle and use coaching techniques to educate and offer guidance around proper food choices.
Nutrition coaches can support a variety of client needs, such as:
- Losing or gaining weight safely
- Coordinating diet to complement a specific fitness or exercise regimen
- Teaching healthy cooking and shopping techniques
- Identifying and changing negative nutrition-based outlooks and behaviors.
Note: A certified nutrition coach is not the same as a registered dietician nutritionist (RDN). A registered dietician manages clients' specific medical issues, like hypertension, diabetes, or clinical obesity. In other words, RDNs can prescribe meal plans meant to help treat diseases.
A nutrition coach, on the other hand, helps clients without known medical conditions. They typically don’t prescribe specific meal plans or exercise regimens as medical treatments for clients.
Why become an online nutrition coach?
Online nutrition coaching is a $6 billion industry that offers a unique opportunity to have a positive impact on a large number of people's lives.
By using an online platform, clients get a convenient coaching experience complete with online lessons, video consultations, and more.
Of course, your clients aren't the only ones benefiting from your virtual platform. One of the biggest benefits of online nutrition coaching is being your own boss. You get to call all the shots, from selecting which clients you coach to which specialty interests you the most.
When you become an online nutrition coach, you design your own career path toward success.
Running an online business also offers:
- Flexibility: Online nutrition coaching lets you work where you want, when you want. As long as you have an internet connection, you're good to go. Perhaps even more importantly, you can choose when NOT to work; if you're in need of a break, you can unplug at will. Plus, you eliminate frustrations like commuting through rush hour.
- Fewer costs: You have much less overhead than a brick-and-mortar business. You'll also likely save on things like gas money, food costs (no more eating out on your lunch break), and even clothing (you can work in your PJs if you want to).
- Personal growth: Running your business online gives you the opportunity to work with people from all over the world.With each person you coach, you'll enhance your own knowledge and skillset.
7 steps to become an online nutrition coach
Ready to become an online nutrition coach? Follow these seven steps to get started.
1. Choose your specialty
Begin by choosing a specific area of expertise. Figure out what kinds of people you're most interested in helping.
Do you want to work with athletes on enhancing their performance and recovery? Or are you passionate about guiding moms-to-be through a healthy pregnancy? Maybe you're interested in coaching a particular kind of diet (e.g. keto), which opens doors to work clients of all backgrounds.
A few examples of coaching specialties include:
- General nutrition education
- Diet-specific support, such as ketogenic, gluten-free, or vegan meal planning
- Holistic nutrition
- Pediatric nutrition
- Prenatal and/or postpartum coaching
- Senior and geriatric wellness
- Competitive and athletic coaching
- Intuitive eating
2. Get the right certifications
You need the right certification(s) to become a nutrition coach. These give you the authority and expertise to effectively work with clients. This may sound intimidating, but it simply consists of taking a coursework program and passing an exam.
Many certifications don't even require a degree in your field; as long as you have a high school diploma or GED, you're considered qualified to begin.
Some of the certifications available to current and aspiring nutrition coaches include:
- Certified Nutritional Consultant (CNC): Perfect for those just starting out in the industry and learning how to become an online health coach. The most basic certification you can earn.
- NASM Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM-CMC): This certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) is for personal trainers and fitness professionals looking to add nutritional expertise to their skillset. The American Fitness Professionals Association (AFPA) offers similar certifications.
- Board Certification in Holistic Nutrition (BCHN): This certification focuses on a chemical-free approach to nutrition and wellness.
- Certified Nutrition Professional (CNP): If you're interested in taking your BCHN a step further, the CNP certification is designed to give you additional clinical experience. You'll need a bachelor's degree for the CNP.
- Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN): The CCN certification opens the door for you to work in medical and research facilities, including hospitals and outpatient clinics. This specialty is more science-based than the previous options and requires a bachelor's degree with coursework in science and nutrition, plus an internship.
- Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS): The most advanced of the nutrition certifications, the CNS has the most rigorous requirements (including a master's degree) and testing process. It's also the most widely accepted and recognized certification if you want to be licensed in your state. The CNS lets you practice advanced nutritional education, therapy, and research in a wide variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, and private practices.
Another helpful addition to your arsenal of skills is earning a Behavior Change Specialization (BCS). It's often not enough to just teach your clients what to eat and why. They also likely need to establish new motivational triggers to make their new habits into a permanent lifestyle.
There are also diet-specific certifications, like the Certified Ketogenic Nutritional Specialist (CKNS).
Consider hiring a mentor
Though not a necessity, it's often helpful to have a mentor in your corner, especially when you're first figuring out how to become an online nutrition coach.
Seek out a fellow certified nutrition or health coach who has succeeded making the transition to an online business platform. They can:
- Provide you with their hard-earned expertise.
- Help you avoid pitfalls they may have fallen into during their nutrition coaching journey.
- Function as an empathetic sounding board for your successes and frustrations…after all, they've been there, too.
3. Define your ideal client
Your experience as an online nutrition coach will depend on the type of people you work with, so it’s important to figure out who your ideal client is.
Some clients may need a lot of guidance and one-on-one attention. For example, a previously obese person might need you to spend more time teaching them how to shop, cook, and portion their food differently, as well as how to deal with food triggers.
Other clients may be more hands-off, like a professional athlete that has their diet mostly locked in but needs advice on adding supplements to their training and recovery routines.
Different types of clients will also require varied approaches in your coaching tools and methods. You may find yourself:
- Providing guidance on portion sizing and caloric intake
- Educating individuals during transitions to specific diets
- Suggesting healthy cooking techniques
- Performing body composition analyses
- Identifying nutrition-based enhancements for athletic performance
Thinking about what approaches you’d like to use for your online nutritional coaching business can help you define your ideal client.
4. Create a professional website
When you become a nutrition coach, one of the most important tools at your disposal is a dedicated website. You'll want a place where potential clients can learn about you, your accomplishments, and how you plan to help them reach their goals. It's also a place to host permanent resources, new blog content (more on that below), and even receive client payments.
Here are a few basic but important pieces of information to include on your site:
- A photo of yourself with a brief bio
- A list of your credentials
- Your coaching offerings and prices
- Links to your social media profiles
- Reliable contact information
Never built your own site before? Not a problem! Kajabi's website builder takes away all of the confusion. Simply pick a theme, customize your domain name, and create a professional looking site in no time.
5. Make content that increases your credibility
Regularly publish content that shows your expertise as a nutrition coach. Doing so will help establish your authority and earn your clients' trust.
Your website is a great place to start. You can post videos talking about topics specific to your nutritional approach and coaching process. You can also create infographics that easily illustrate concepts like portion sizing or different body compositions.
Adding a blog to your website is an excellent way to publish timely content on topics your ideal clients care about. You can post on fad diets, processed foods, supplements, and more.
Remember: Your content should provide your unique perspective and showcase your nutritional expertise.
You may also find value in additional content platforms like social media. Instagram, Facebook, and other social channels are great channels for timely or exclusive content and allow you to engage directly with current and potential clients. Live video streams are a wonderful opportunity for Q&A sessions, mini cooking classes, and more.
6. Create an online course
In addition to the one-on-one coaching you provide, consider creating online video courses for your clients. You can create a course that introduces your coaching process, along with more specialized courses that clients can sign up for depending on their needs.
You can offer lessons at the beginning of your client's journey that start with the basics, like the food pyramid or what macronutrients are. You could also set up your course as a way to track their progress, graduating them to a new chapter each time they've learned a concept or met a specific goal.
Kajabi's online course builder takes the guesswork out of putting your course together. You'll find everything you need to design lessons, create quizzes, and track progress. Simply customize it to fit the needs of your nutritional coaching business.
7. Market your coaching skills
After becoming a nutrition coach, you will need to market your skills.
Start by figuring out where your audience is and what they're searching for.
Here are some basic marketing tactics you can use:
- Use SEO best practices on your website. Create content based on keyword research to ensure your clients find you when they're searching for an online nutrition coach.
- Put an opt-in form on your website so that you can run email marketing campaigns.
- Use paid search marketing on Google and social media to boost your presence across the web.
- Set up business profiles on social channels to create a community around your business and increase your brand awareness. Real-time communication and feedback with your followers goes a long way in establishing yourself as a reliable, personable expert that genuinely cares about their clients.
You can also offer deals like limited-time discounts or product giveaways, where people tag their friends on social platforms in order to enter.
You can even provide ways for clients to connect with one another, in effect creating your own personal social network. Facebook groups, for example, give your clients access to a support system outside of their interactions with you, and create a major opportunity for additional exposure of your services through word of mouth.
With so many different digital marketing avenues available when you move your nutrition coaching business online, the sky is truly the limit to what you can achieve.
Start your nutritional coaching business with Kajabi
Once you have the right certifications and have chosen your specialty, you can start to build your online nutritional coaching business.
Building an online business from scratch is a time-consuming endeavor. If you don’t have the technical know-how, it could take weeks or months just to launch a site.
With Kajabi, you have all the tools and blueprints you need to quickly create a beautiful website complete with professional courses. Don’t put your dreams off any longer.
Achieve your nutritional business goals with Kajabi.