I met Karen Shopoff Rooff back in 2009 through our local business group, Biz + Balance. At the time, she was running a personal training business from home. But as her family grew, so did her interests and business offerings. See how Karen’s personal trainer business has evolved into a complete health resource for women that includes coaching, e-courses, blogging, and public speaking.
You’ve been working from home since 2008, tell us a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey.
I founded my business as a personal trainer for pregnant women and new moms. With two young kids myself, I wanted to share my experiences and knowledge with other moms to help them learn to prioritize their health.
I thought I would do this work for a few years until my boys were in full-time school. I was planning on returning to the traditional workforce at that time.
How has your online business evolved over the years?
Although I still offer personal training sessions, that has become a smaller piece of my business. I had a surprise third child in 2011, and to honor my own work-life balance I cut back on in-person coaching.
Instead, I turned my focus to my blog Well Balanced Women, which has grown from a resource for my training clients to a platform to elevate women’s health issues to a worldwide audience. As I’ve aged, my interests have shifted from pregnancy and postpartum issues to those faced by women 40+ in perimenopause.
In 2016 I became a certified health coach began offering virtual health coaching, supporting clients as they build a realistic and sustainable healthy lifestyle. This work still includes fitness hacks and client-specific workouts, but it is more holistic to include nutrition and lifestyle healthy habits, too. I offer insight and resources about navigating perimenopause, working to break the taboo about women’s health and aging.
I’ve also been active on the public speaking circuit, where I can raise the profile of women’s health issues. Speaking at professional conferences and women’s retreats has allowed me to bring my message of educating and empowering body-wise women.
What types of marketing strategies have worked best for you?
Word of mouth has been the most consistent marketing strategy for me. Because of the personal nature of coaching, women like knowing that someone they know has achieved her goals with my support. Knowing that someone recommends me to her family or friends is a tremendous compliment.
How do you diversify your income streams?
In addition to in-person training and virtual health coaching, I offer a suite of e-courses about fitness, health, and wellness topics. There are two versions of a Virtual Bootcamp, a course to support healthy habit building, mini-courses offering tips for self-care and perimenopause, and my signature e-course Survive & THRIVE Perimenopause. I advertise my e-courses through my blog as well as using other bloggers as affiliates.
The Well Balanced Women blog has become its own revenue stream, which is exciting because that possibility wasn’t even on my radar when I started blogging in 2009.
Growing the public speaking side of my business has added additional income, though it certainly took a few years (and lots and lots of free speaking) to get here!
What has been the key to your success and longevity?
I can attribute my longevity to two things:
1) The women who I work with know that I care about them. There is no room in the coaching world for coaches who care more about themselves than their clients.
2) I have adapted my area of focus as my interests have shifted. I love to learn (and share what I learn), so my enthusiasm for my niche is genuine and obvious.
What has been your biggest struggle as an online entrepreneur?
It can be lonely out here! In the last two years, I’ve reached out to other bloggers and coaches to collaborate. I’ve joined two different Mastermind groups where I am held accountable. These strategies have helped me overcome the loneliness and encourage me to keep pushing forward.
How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?
When I was in the fourth grade, I read the book “Cheaper by the Dozen,” and the routines and philosophies of the efficiency expert main character made so much sense to me.
I am absolutely ruthless about managing my time and being as efficient as possible. I time block the different aspects of my work so that I can be task-focused. Curating a sense of mono-focus (rather than multitasking) allows me to be present with both my clients and my family.
Everyone in my family has a color-coded Google calendar so we can work together to get everyone where they need to be at the right time. It’s also easy to see when we’re overscheduled so we can determine what needs to be cut.
Regarding my kids, I use the mantra “independence for them is independence for me.” By taking the time to teach my kids at young ages to cook, clean, do laundry, and navigate a grocery store, they are empowered (and expected!) to contribute to the family in these ways.
Thanks to Karen Shopoff Rooff for sharing her story!
Originally published December 2, 2013. Content updated on September 11, 2019.