Cynthia Allen's Top Platforms and Tools for your Online Practice
The world has changed dramatically since the beginning of 2020. What was perhaps an interest in creating an online practice or something on that ever-growing to-do list is now a necessity and it sits at the very top of your list.
The reality is that having an online practice now is probably crucial to your professional survival. We obviously have no way of knowing if that will be the case in the future, but if you’re willing to take the dive now, it’s going to give you a future revenue stream that would have been left untapped.
Luckily for us, we not only had toyed with the idea of having part of our practice online, we had already done it – and done it successfully. There still were some challenges and hurdles to leaving behind our brick-and-mortar operations but the following services were a blessing and helped us get up and running in a full-time, virtual capacity.
What I have learned from trial and error about online platforms
Through our trial-and-error process, we highly recommend the following. They were incredibly important in our success, and we believe they can be for you, too. That said, we encourage you to do your own research and make business decisions that have your practice at the forefront of your mind.
Please note that some of the below are affiliate links. This means that if you click on them and then purchase a product in the near future, I may receive a commission for referring you. I have only listed those programs that I feel good about and where I am on the fence, I have said that.
Click Go Live – How to do live videos quickly without the fuss
Justin Demeirs is a down-to-earth pro. One of his free courses, Click Go Live, gives you the confidence and the technological help you need to create live videos and reach your audience. Whether you’re looking to communicate in a more intimate setting or you’re looking to reach as many people as possible, this is the way to do it.
The interesting thing about learning how to reach and communicate with your audience with Justin Demeirs is that it works for everyone. If you’re super-confident, terrified of public speaking, or somewhere in-between, his proven steps for live/video sessions help you communicate in an effective way that the audience responds to.
Once you are connected to Justin, he has several low-cost courses for items like: How to get video testimonials, Being great at Zoom, and a How to launch low-cost courses and make a profit. This is a specialty in and of itself.
G&J Experience – Membership/course platform and more
I think this is a great possibility for anyone starting out. If you are somewhat of a technical novice, this is a fantastic way to bring your basic knowledge up to speed and get yourself a website, blog, course, membership site going. Primarily designed as a do-it-yourself, a membership website is a unique creature. It’s not like an e-commerce site that’s full of shopping opportunities, it’s not a blog with tips and information, and it’s not a branding website that’s pushing name recognition and exposure. And yet – it’s a lot like all of those sites rolled into one with an emphasis on your membership and workshops.
These are great people to work with! I love recommending great people. There are a lot of website companies out there and probably a few you’ve dealt with and have a working relationship with, but chances are those companies are not well versed in membership and workshop-specific web design. G&J Experience has cultivated the individual knowledge base of the two owners and co-founders and created a different web building experience that’s geared for what you want to do and how your audience wants to do it.
Searchie: membership, video storage and wow all from Stu McLaren and team
This is a program I invested in at the beta stage and am super happy we did. Of course, I knew Stu McLaren the founder and his track record is stellar so maybe it wasn’t such a big risk. While we are barely using the potential of the program, I am aware that it just keeps getting better. It is slick. What we had to do for our membership through custom programming, it does through playlists and tags. It looks great on mobile so you shouldn’t need a separate mobile app. Next year, I am sure we will move our entire membership platform over to Searchie.
You can allow (or not) people to download audio and video. It can replace Vimeo (and I’m happy about that.) It is way more secure than using YouTube’s unlisted feature. AND because it uses AI technology to provide captions and transcripts, you (and your students) can search by keywords across entire groups of classes to find that specific spot where the term Feldenkrais was used. It will bring up every single video to the exact spot. Of course, that isn’t a very unique term for a Feldenkrais practitioner, but you get the idea.
The Searchie community is super dynamic. Everyone is helping everyone else pull off everything from landing pages to memberships to courses. Plus they have training during their launches to get you up and running!
Teachable: course and membership
I was very hot on this service in the beginning and used it for a couple of years. For someone who isn’t sure what they are doing, it is a simple, fairly low-cost way to get started, but I do feel it is limiting over time. If you will have a large library of classes over time the user can get quite overwhelmed. However, if you are attracted to it. Go for it. NOTE: If a membership is in your mind, I highly recommend you use an external shopping cart such as ThriveCart.
Thinkific: course and membership
Very similar to Teachable but more expensive. So, if you really want a platform like this, I would say Teachable probably has what you need. Again, use an outside shopping cart such a ThriveCart, so affiliates and memberships can be mobile.
Kajabi: course, membership, email all-in-one
This is a more comprehensive all-in-one service than Teachable. It is more expensive to go with that. Everything I have heard about Kajabi is good except for some limitations in the email automations. You may not find this to be a problem if you are fairly small. I still recommend your use an external shopping cart if you are going to have a membership or affiliates. The information can transfer between systems then.r
Active Campaign: email, automations and oh my.
At some point, you will need a better email service than Mail Chimp or Constant Contact. Convert Kit is a decent option. But we LOVE Active Campaign as our CRM. It definitely competes with many features of the expensive Infusion Soft. Although Infusion Soft is a monster of a service and worth it for bigger adventures, AC will serve the medium sized, online business very, very well. Automations are a vital part of launches and really until you start playing with them, you won’t be able to conceive of all the things you can do with automations.
Sociamonials: social medial management on steroids
This the most cost-effective (I mean it is hard to believe how cost-effective it is) social medial scheduling system I have found. Yet social media is just the beginning of what it does. But let’s start there.
Whether you love social media or hate it, you simply don’t have time for it. If you want your online practice to be successful, you’re going to need social media. You’re also going to need to be wholly present to do other things, like develop your practice, respond to clients, and create content. You need to be able to sit down and schedule posts for the next week or even month quickly across the important platforms. It is too time consuming to piddle away at it every day.
Socialmonials gives you a way to get the presence you need out there in the ether without as much effort or expense. They give you the marketing software and social media management software to handle your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google My Business, LinkedIn, and YouTube accounts.
Okay, but I said it does other things. And it does. If you want to run contests–they have it. Need landing pages–they have it. I won’t say that they are necessarily the best in the industry at these items. But they are decent, if you need those options, at no additional cost. It just comes as a part of their package.
What they are really good at is Social Media planning and scheduling. The rest is a bonus.
Thrivecart: Shopping cart, affiliate management and funnels
This is one of those beta items I invested in, and I have NEVER regretted it. Similar programs have a hefty monthly fee. This shopping cart, subscription, affiliate management system is stellar. You can even build your landing pages in it in a pinch.
Another plus: When you use a system like this with another service—say Teachable, even if you leave Teachable, you won’t have to start over on your membership subscriptions. If you use Teachable’s shopping cart system and you move, you will have to start over. It’s a pain. We have done it. You don’t want to repeat our error.
Your online practice is going to need a shopping cart of some sort. ThriveCart is intuitive and easy to use – which is important for you and for your clients.
You get all the functionality you want and think you should have in a shopping cart without the headache and hassle. Imagine having shopping carts wherever you want them on your website, a one-click upsell, integrated functionality with tools you’re already using, automatic tax calculations around the globe, constant updates and analytics, and more. It’s the kind of tool you’ll be happy you have because it almost lets you forget that it’s there.
ThriveCart is probably best used with an external landing page but there are people out there doing super well using ThriveCart’s funnel system. You will NOT want this shopping cart for a suite of products where people will be adding more than one product to the cart. That needs a different kind of solution.
Groove Funnels: all in one shopping cart, affiliate, membership, and more kind of system
There are thousands of tools for every category of online business needs. Most of what you should chose is really based on what you plan to do. What audience will you service and how. But for most body or movement based practitioners, the above will be a good list.