It seems like there is always a little too much month left at the end of the money, right?
With the cost of living going up, housing, food, gas and health insurance just keep getting more expensive—and unexpected expenses always seem come along as well.
Who wants to just get by, anyway? There is life to be lived too, vacations to take, classes to learn from and gifts to buy for special celebrations.
Add to that retirement savings, life insurance, disability insurance and more, and it’s clear: We could all use more money, and multiple income streams are the way to make that happen.
As massage therapists, we are limited in how much we can earn by just doing massage. Even if we are booked solid and working as much as possible, which is great, we can only do so much before risking injury or burn out.
The great news is there are many opportunities to create multiple income streams and earn more money with less stress on our bodies by diversifying and creating some additional income streams. The income streams you pick can complement your business or give you something new and completely different to pursue. The choice is yours.
Several years into my massage career I began to wonder if I really wanted to just do massage forever. Forever is a very long time! At that time, I was working at a spa and the estheticians were doing very well, between higher-priced services, add-on services like waxing, and retail sales.
I also knew from receiving facials how deeply relaxing and therapeutic they could be. I decided a credential in esthetics was the right choice for me. It wasn’t easy as a single mom to work three days a week and go to school three days a week, but it was worth it.
Let’s look at some income streams that can complement your massage business and benefit your clients.
Spa services can give your body a break while adding value to your services so you can earn more per hour. If you like spa services and can sell them (this is important) consider services like body scrubs and wraps, or spa enhancements that can be added to massage treatments.
Anti-aging facial massage treatments are another good option, and these services are a great lead-in to retail sales. Just think about the wonderful holiday gift certificate packages you could create after turning your massage room into a day spa. If you want to offer facials as well as spa add-ons, an esthetics license might be the next step for you.
Another type of training might be a better fit for you. With personal training, yoga or Pilates sessions, you can help your clients stay healthier and in shape while giving your hands a break. You could even work with a couple of clients at a time for more income per hour. The average cost per hour is between $40-$75 per session. You can also provide online coaching, support and resources. (Think online workouts, webinars and white papers.)
Any kind of massage business can incorporate multiple income streams such as retail. Just consider, “What would help my clients stay out of pain, relax at home and maintain their results?”
I’ve had success with selling warm neck wraps, muscle relaxing bath salts, warming and cooling muscle rubs, spa body products and skin care products. I would recommend researching and sampling various options until you find products that you absolutely love, and would feel proud to carry and recommend.
Success with retail depends on your ability to solve a problem that your client is having with a home care product, and the confidence to recommend your products to clients. From therapeutic products to pampering treats, you’ll need to be able to share the benefits of the products you carry, and close the sale.
You may need to practice and get some help with learning to sell, we aren’t born knowing this stuff!
If you are creative and have time you could even make products to sell. This could be something you do just for your clients, or a side business you promote along with your massage services. Consider the options for gift sets with products and massage services included.
You will want to see if you need any additional insurance coverage before starting and take some classes to learn how to create and package your products safely.
“I find it best to check with your tax preparer or your financial advisor as to whether you need extra insurance, to suit your specific needs, and the needs of your company,” said massage therapist Stacey Hoffman Markwardt, owner of The Butterfly Garden Soap Co. in Haw River, North Carolina. She also advises that your side business will need to make a profit at least three out of five years or it will be considered a hobby by the IRS.
Your Past Life
Many of us are in massage as a second or third career. If that is true for you, then consider the skills and talents you developed before getting into massage that could help your clients, your fellow therapists or members of your community.
Before starting my massage career, I cooked at a bed and breakfast and a vegetarian eatery. I combined those skills with my massage practice to create spa parties in my spa with a full lunch menu, and for many years I have taken side jobs cooking for large groups at a camp. These multiple income streams give me a break from massage and I can earn extra money working a couple of days here and there.
Maybe you love organizing, gardening or creating websites for people. Use those skills to bring in more income and add variety to your days.
Expand or Employ
Expanding your massage business is another way to increase your income. Many therapists don’t want the overhead, responsibility and work that goes along with being a business owner.
Renting out rooms would probably be the simplest way to do this; however, if you want to have more control over scheduling, services offered and dress code, you’ll need to hire employees.
With this comes extra overhead, marketing expenses and payroll taxes, so be sure to have a solid business plan in place before you dive in.
Write and Teach
If you are an experienced therapist, consider sharing your skills and knowledge through teaching and writing. Most massage therapists need continuing education classes and are excited to learn new techniques and skills to help their clients.
There are many opportunities for teaching once you have your National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-approved provider status.
These include teaching in-person or online workshops, hosting webinars, writing text-based CE courses, producing books and videos, teaching at massage schools, and presenting at industry conferences.
Teaching requires specific skills, such as class planning, presentation skills and event management, but there are teacher-training programs designed to help you get started.
The internet offers even more possibilities for income stream. Blogging and promoting affiliate products is one way to make money online. This means affiliate products are sold on your site and you make a commission off each sale. You could even do this with your massage website if you can find products your clients would benefit from.
This is not a get-rich-quick plan. Most successful bloggers work diligently for several years before they can quit their day jobs. You’ll need to pick a topic you are passionate about and that people are searching for online.
Network marketing, for which a distributor network is necessary, can be an affordable way to get started with an additional stream of income. (Think Mary Kay or Tupperware—or a product more closely aligned with massage.)
My friend, Gloria Coppola, who is a massage therapist, educator and life coach, has found success with network marketing.
“Network marketing may be an ideal additional resource for income for massage therapists,” she said. “First, find a company that aligns with you. For example, an essential oil company could be the perfect companion if you use them in your practice.
“Be realistic about the opportunity the company may bring and how much time you may need to build this additional income,” Coppola adds. “Choosing a company that has easy online ordering for your customers reduces the time you may have to spend assisting them to purchase.”
She offers the following pieces of advice for network marketing opportunities:
- Startup costs to join a network marketing company are typically reasonable for a new business.
- Be sure to understand clearly how you get compensated, as each company has its own requirements.
- You might expect to make a few hundred dollars a month—or thousands if you really give it the time and energy to build.
- Your massage clients are not necessarily the best choice for your downline or auto ship, as this can create a dual relationship. A client might want to stop her orders but might not feel comfortable talking to you about it, and that would be a sticky situation. It is better to have your clients just order retail or order through you.
Keep Moving Forward
There are many opportunities to earn more money, but most of them will require you to further your education, take a risk and try new ways of doing things. All of them will require dedication and a commitment to making things work. You may start off going in one direction and end up somewhere different, and even better. Just don’t give up!
About the Author
Gael Wood has more than 20 years of experience in the massage and spa industry. She now concentrates on training massage and spa therapists in business, spa services and greater success. She is a regular contributor to MASSAGE Magazine; her articles include “Stepping Stones to Success: Build a Path to Career Longevity” (July 2016), “Is Your Practice LGBTQ-Friendly? How to Create a Welcoming Space” and “Step Out of Your Comfort Zone—And Into Your Success Zone!”
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