The biggest question we're always asked is how to make more money as a massage therapist . Learn 3 mistakes to avoid in order to achieve success.

Many Americans are stressed about money; one recent survey showed that 30 percent of us worry about money constantly.

Many people also live paycheck-to-paycheck, new statistics show.

However, there are many people who value healthy lifestyles and massage therapy—and who will pay for it.

Rest assured, these people do exist—and as you market yourself you will a) discover these individuals; b) educate current clientele to value massage more in their lives; and c) make more money as a massage therapist.

Heartwarming Healing Doesn’t Pay the Bills

I imagine you attended and completed school because your passion lies in in a spirit of service aiding people with therapeutic massage touch, bodywork or the holistic arts.

Acquiring business acumen is essential to one’s success as a therapist, whether in a private practice or employee setting.

Having taught in entry-level school settings since 2002, I have witnessed countless therapists with tremendous hands-on skills and displays of heart who feel unfulfilled with their level of income-based success in our industry.

These individuals shared with me many heartwarming stories of healing witnessed upon their tables; however, they were yearning for more opportunities yielding greater income potential.

I wondered where the disconnect was between their obviously strong skill set and their lack of income earning.

The answer was clear: Lack of business acumen and not utilizing business-related skills learned in entry-level schooling.

Mistake #1: You Don’t Use it and Then You Lose it

In my opinion, the number-one business related mistake of a massage therapist is not practicing upon graduation. During school, one practices their craft each day. If you stop practicing your skill set, keeping your skill set sharp, it is easy to feel like you are losing your touch.

Depending on the state in which you reside, licensure acquisition may take between four and 10 weeks. That is plenty of time to continue your education, practice on bodies, consult with your instructors and mentors, and lay the foundation for your business efforts.

Volunteering with a local organization, following up on contacts made during school, enhancing your online image and developing a marketing strategy are also a good usage of time while you wait to become legal.

Above all else, keep practicing your newly acquired skills on family and friends. (Tell anyone outside of your immediate family-and-friends circle they need to wait until you are licensed to receive your therapeutic touch, as they will be charged.)

Mistake #2: You Forgot to Target a Market

The second business-related mistake of a massage therapist is typically not targeting a market with your marketing efforts. Surely you will contact thousands of different individuals in your career.

However, targeting your market will allow you to spend your precious time, money and resources towards maximum gains.

As you develop your practice around a particular niche clientele, based on demographic and psychographic factors, you will establish a base clientele, which will expand as time progresses.

Demographics describe who is the potential buyer. Factors here include identifying information such as age, gender, race, location, education and employment status.

Psychographics describe why the person will buy. Factors here include client interests, values, hobbies, attitudes, lifestyles and cultural considerations.

Mistake #3: You Think a Loaf of Bread Still Costs 79 Cents.

A third business-related mistake is undercharging for your services. Have you raised your rates since 2010? Since 1989? Or … ?

A healthy business model recognizes that clients will equate price to value.

People generally tend to spend ample money on what they value most in life. This is why so many people may spend hundreds of dollars at a sporting event in a single day or thousands of dollars to enhance their vehicle’s longevity and performance.

In general, clients who value massage as an integral part of their healthcare regimen will return to you for the benefits derived from service, not for the price you charge.

If you haven’t raised your rates appropriately, do so now.

Your Mistake-Proof Plan

How does one avoid these three common mistakes made by massage therapists? Here is my plan for your success:

  • Read from a business manual every day. Even reading one page every day will engage the brain’s creative energy.
  • Take one action step each day to enhance your business efforts. No effort is too trite. Selecting room décor, asking a mentor for business advice, working on self-care, enhancing your menu of services and receiving a massage from a seasoned professional are examples of small daily efforts to invigorate your business.
  • Look within yourself for answers. Surely reading articles and receiving advice from outside sources helps with perspectives on business.

When making a business decision, ask yourself which option resonates with you most in regards to creating a safe massage environment for your clientele and yourself. Your intuition steers you correct in massage, both in practice and in business.

Tony Hsieh, founder of the online retailer Zappos, stated fervently, “Stop chasing the money—start chasing the passion.”

This is sound advice from a great American entrepreneur showcasing his attitude on earning success in business. Massage therapists can learn much from taking this statement to heart.

Why did you study, complete an internship or externship, and put in a great amount of time, money and effort into completing your massage school studies?

Answer this question honestly to yourself. Then determine if your answer resonates with Hsieh’s message.

Now go live your passion—and earn the money you deserve.

About the Author

Jimmy Gialelis, LMT, BCTMB, is owner of Advanced Massage Arts & Education in Tempe, Arizona. He is a National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-approved provider of continuing education, and teaches “Professional Ethics for LMTs” and many other CE classes. He is a regular contributor to MASSAGE Magazine, and his articles include “For HIV/AIDS Patients, Massage Provides a Touch of Humanity” and “These 5 Keys Will Unlock the Door to Massage Session Re-Bookings.”