Lose weight and become an internet millionaire

Michelle Bridges has made her wallet fat helping others to become thin. At the same time her business model is exactly what media companies want but are clueless about building.

What if I told you you could start a business from the comfort of your own home and earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in just a few years?

You’d think I was one of those dreadful spam emails cluttering up your junk mail inbox.

But it can be done, and is being done and by someone who started a fitness business at age 14.

To pour water on readers who are about to race out to buy a personal online domain, it does help if you are already famous on national TV. But what Michelle Bridges is doing is exactly what every media company wants to do, but frankly has no clue about.

Michelle Bridges is one of the personal trainers from the Channel Ten TV show The Biggest Loser, the weight loss show that at its peak was watched by 1.42 million people.

In person, Bridges' physique is impressive. Her body has been sculpted to the point where any curve could be individually photographed and shown to a prospective gym attendee who could point to it and say "I want it to look like that”. And talking with Bridges, you can’t help but be swept up in her zeal and enthusiasm for fitness. She has the slightly wide-eyed, focussed stare of someone who studied at the feet of Tony Robbins or Oprah Winfrey and believes that you have to be passionate and surround your self with passionate people. "I even have a passionate dentist”, she says.

Frankly, she’s the kind of person who makes you think, "if I made a little bit more effort, maybe I could really make something of myself”.

But… and this is the secret to internet millions… you don’t have to be Michelle Bridges, you just have to aspire to what she has attained. Michelle has become the avatar for hundreds of thousands of women who are looking for the positive alternative to the confidence sapping bombardment of imagery that promotes a statistically genetically improbable ideal of thinness as the definition of beauty.

Like the old maxim that there are only seven basic plots in fiction, there are only a finite number of business ideas. Beauty is surely one of the oldest, and shows no sign of abating. In Australia the fitness industry rakes in $3 billion a year; the health and beauty sector, $14 billion.

Michelle Bridges is rapidly raking in some of that consumer spend, with a business model that would be the envy of any gym, supplement company, or cosmetic firm.

Her 12 week body transformation program is infinitely scalable with a very limited cost base. For $20 a week for each 12-week round, participants get healthy diets, exercise programs, video demonstrations by Bridges and can attend webinars to discuss health and fitness issues. Watch the video above to see how the program works.

So with a laptop and a camera, Michelle Bridges has created a media empire at practically no cost, to rival an industry which is either highly capital intensive (gyms) or personalised and finite in scale (personal training).

Step one of the internet millions model is complete – create content once that can be sold many times over.

Step two? Turn your audience into your employees. This is the second flash of genius behind the program and it works in two ways. Why do people pay for a personal trainer? They want the fitness knowledge, of course, but just as importantly they need someone to chivvy them out of bed at 6am to go for a workout. In the 12wbt program, members join into small local groups, motivating each other to complete that week’s fitness tasks. They organise via social media, using Facebook or Twitter to offer encouragement, or find partners.

For the predominately female user base of 12wbt, this social validation is a key component of the program – positive reinforcement from peers helps create a sense of community and loyalty around Bridges’ brand and acts as an amazing marketing tool at the same time. So far the 12wbt program has 482 thousand Facebook fans, making it one of the most liked brands in Australia. Each Facebook fan is a brand advocate, and by posting their successes on Facebook, members broadcast to their social circles the value of the program.

Step 3? Get real-time feedback on what you need to do differently. Because the entire program is online, Bridges knows exactly which programs, or recipes, or webinars are popular. Not only can her team track clicks, but she is bombarded with requests from her user base. As a result she has moved from a basic fitness program into other niche fitness segments. Some users have demanded a running program to help them train for half marathons, others want simple maintenance programs, rather than more strenuous weight loss. Wives have been getting their husbands to join up, so they’ve created a program for men. No expensive focus groups are required, just Google analytics and a social media manager.

Bridges won’t divulge how many members have gone through the program but it has grown at 330 per cent per year since it started in 2010. The social media numbers are the best approximation publicly available – the 450 thousand Facebook likes and the 20 thousand Twitter followers reveal a potentially huge customer base, and that doesn’t account for repeat customers. At $20 a week for 12 weeks, that’s a healthy income.

There is absolutely no doubt that Michelle Bridges works as hard at her brand as she does on her body. So making millions online is nowhere as easy as email spammers will tell you. But where once someone with a good idea for a product or service needed a huge infrastructure to get off the ground, today profitable and scaleable businesses can be built in the blink of an eye.

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