Choosing a Meal Planning Tool for Your Private Practice

Can you give me a meal plan? If you’re like most registered dietitians, you’re asked to provide meal plans by your clients. Of course, it’s friends and family, too!

This article features insight from RDs that use custom meal planning tools in their practice. They share why they chose the tool, how they monetize the meal plans, and what they’ve learned along the way.

 

Why Offer Meal Plans?

The truth is that clients often seek out our expertise with the goal that we will tell them what to eat. At a minimum, they want ample suggestions for recipes and meals.

However, meal plans are time consuming to create. Not to mention, balancing food allergies, preferences and nutrient prescriptions makes creating custom meal plans difficult.

Meal planning tools for professionals offer a solution. They streamline the process of creating meal plans by providing access to a database of recipes and tools like grocery lists to share with clients.

Having easy access to generating custom meal plans can add value for your clients as well as your business.

However, navigating the options can be difficult.  From the ability to customize plans based on lists of allergies and food preferences, to macronutrient prescriptions and available recipe nutrient analysis, it can feel dizzying when considering the options.

While a product demo and trial are valuable for making your decision, hearing insight from real users offers value you can’t obtain from the product’s website.

 

What About Teaching Meal Planning?

One common objection to providing meal plans is that clients don’t learn skills needed to independently plan meals.

However, from the insight provided, you will see that meal plans are a teaching tool. Clients struggle with where and how to get started. A structured tool can help them on their journey.

Recipe ideas provide a tangible example of how to incorporate more vegetables, or create a satisfying meal without an allergen.

A meal plan can provide insight on portion sizes and frequency of consuming specific foods or groups of foods.

As nutrition experts it’s easy to take our knowledge for granted. We forget how complex the task of choosing foods and planning meals can feel for clients.

Meal plans are a tool in our toolbox of resources to help our clients. 

 

Meet the Experts:

Amanda Sauceda, MS, RDN, CLT is a private practice owner specializing in food allergies/sensitivities and utilizes Living Plate Rx meal plans.

Natalia Stasenko, MS, RDN is virtual practice owner and online course creator specializing in feeding and pediatric nutrition.  She uses Meal Garden for meal plans.

Basheerah Enahora, MBA, MS, RDN, LDN is a private practice owner specializing in mindful and holistic nutrition for women. She utilizes Living Plate Rx meal plans.

Sarah Marjoram, MS, RDN, LD leads a digital content creation agency consulting with brands and businesses in the nutrition industry. She utilizes Living Plate Rx meal plans.

Melissa Groves, RDN, LD is a virtual (and in-person) practice owner specializing in PCOS and fertility. She utilizes That Clean Life and Living Plate Rx meal plans.

Chloe Schweinshaut RD, LDN, CLT is a private practice owner specializing in family friendly nutrition with a whole food and holistic approach. She utilizes That Clean Life for meal plans.

Theresa Montmorency MS, RDN is a consultant for gym. She utilizes EatLove meal plans.

Jenna Gorham, RD, LN works with food and wellness brands and offers Living Plate Rx meal plans.

Leanne Ray, MS, RDN is a virtual practice owner specializing in practical nutrition for busy professionals and utilizes Living Plate Rx meal plans.

 

Meal Planning Tools Utilized by Experts:

That Clean Life

Living Plate

EatLove

Meal Garden

 

Meal Planning Tool Interviews:

What meal planning tool do you currently use for your clients and how long have you been utilizing it? What (if any) other options did you consider?

Amanda Sauceda: I am currently using Living Plate Rx and have been using it in practice for over year.  Living Plate stood out to me compared to other programs out there is the fact their meal plans are created by a dietitian and not computer generated. This was something unique.  I also wanted something that was easy to use and visually appealing.

Natalia Stasenko: I have been using the Meal Garden planning tool for the last year as a bonus feature for my online class and occasionally for my private clients. I considered a few other resources but Meal Garden was running a special promotion for health providers so I decided to try it out.

Basheerah Enahora: I use Living Plate Rx and have been using it for about the past 6 months. Prior to Living Plate having its own platform, it was part of Gathered Table. I used that as well for about a year. The functionality was similar but not the same as the current platform.

I looked at EatLove or continuing to use Food Processor, which I have a current license for. EatLove wasn’t robust enough, lacked flexibility and had a very limited database of recipes. I looked at EatLove when it was first launching over a year ago. I’m not sure if that has changed.

Sarah Marjoram: Living Plate Rx and I have only recently started using it (6 months). I also looked at EatLove.

Melissa Groves: I’ve been using That Clean Life for about a year, and I recently added Living Plate Rx to my practice. I played around with EatLove Pro and Living Plate, but neither of them fully met my needs, so I decided to go with That Clean Life for recipes plus Living Plate for clients who want something more structured.

Chloe Schweinshaut: I use That Clean Life and have been using it for almost a year. I didn’t have an additional option that I was considering. I have a friend and fellow RD who had been using it (That Clean Life) and loved it and once she showed me all the features, I was sold.

Theresa Montmorency: I currently use EatLove and I have been an EatLove member for one year. I found that you can find meal plans online quite easily. However, my clients were expecting individualized plans that are unique to their lifestyle. At FNCE two years ago, I spoke with the EatLove team and was fascinated with what they had to offer to RDs.

Leanne Ray: I use Living Plate Rx and have been using it since May 2018 when I incorporated it into a 4-week cooking challenge that I hosted! I honestly didn’t do much research into other options. I was connected to Living Plate by a mutual friend of the founder and everything just kind of fell into place! I loved that it was created by RDs, for RDs (only dietitians can distribute the plans). I found it to be really user-friendly and functional and they are constantly adding new features.

Jenna Gorham: I use Living Plate meal plans and have been using them for about 1 year. At the time, Living Plate was the only meal planning tool I knew of. I found it very user friendly and was instantly hooked. Since then, other meal planning companies have reached out to me asking me to try their meal plans. I haven’t found any others that are as easy to use or have a layout that I like.

 

What was the most important aspect of the meal planning option you choose? (i.e. cost, ease of implementation, flexibility/functionality, customization, database)

Amanda Sauceda: There were a couple aspects that I felt were most important. The first one being the team at Living Plate Rx. They’re team is amazing and very responsive to suggestions and questions.  Secondly the cost couldn’t be beat. They are free to get started.

Natalia Stasenko: The database, ability to add my own recipes and compile family meals out of a few recipes. I mostly work with families and many are looking for meal ideas that can be served family style and have simple starch options for more selective kids. The Meal Garden seemed a perfect choice for me.

Basheerah Enahora: Ease of use, flexibility/functionality were most important for me in choosing a platform. I also wanted a platform that was supportive of its members and receptive of feedback for improvement. Living Plate still isn’t quite where I’d like it to be, but Jeanne continues to make improvements to the platform and provides resources and tools to members. She’s extremely responsive as well and I value that commitment to quality service.

Sarah Marjoram: I mainly chose Living Plate because of how it is structured. It offers RDNs white label meal plans that they can customize for their business. They provide marketing materials and tools that equip us to leverage them in our own businesses. And they can serve as a passive income source if our clients subscribe. It was also important to me that the meal plans are curated by dietitians – not by computers. I think that elevates the value of the product and is a selling point.

Melissa Groves: When it came down to it, I wanted a platform that had many recipes available for specific dietary considerations. I found with some of the other ones that once you removed dairy, gluten, or other allergens or intolerances, it didn’t leave many recipe options.

Chloe Schweinshaut: For me, I primarily love the ease of implementation and the customization.  I’m not a tech-savvy person and I find it incredibly user-friendly. The other thing that attracted me to this program were the foods that were offered.  I consider myself a “real food RD” and I loved the menus that were created and the ingredients used.

Theresa Montmorency: The ease of sending complete meal plans to clients and the flexibility to make a meal plan that is specific to each client. The nutrition prescription technology helps to decrease the amount of time I have to spend crunching numbers and are validated by dietitian experts for each medical condition. The speed of making meal plans is amazing. After I upload my client’s information in EatLove, it takes me less than 60 seconds to generate a perfect meal plan for them each week.

The quality and quantity of recipes was another highlight when choosing EatLove. Their culinary team is constantly adding new recipes to the database. They test each recipe in house and adapt recipes for different diseases, tastes, and diets to meet all needs, even the most esoteric!

Leanne Ray: The ease of use fits with my practice perfectly. My target market is busy professionals and because of this I strive to make everything as simple and convenient for the client as possible (i.e. e-forms, virtual sessions, communication via smartphone app, etc.). Living Plate has drag & drop capability and then you can easily print a shopping list based on your choices.

Jenna Gorham: Ease of use, quality of recipes, and the ability to customize it and search from a database of recipes were all important to me.

 

How do you utilize the meal planning tool in your practice?  What monetization strategy do you use?

Amanda Sauceda: I incorporate the meal plans into my packages and offer them a la carte on my website.  The best way to monetize them is to incorporate them into packages and offer them as an added on bonus to make their life easier and bring my recommendations to life. I also started offering a service where I give a quick session with me plus a meal plan to give them strategy on how to best use the meal plan for their health goals and concerns.

Natalia Stasenko: I do not monetize it at the moment but plan to at some point. Right now, I am offering a free meal plan for my online class participants and they have an option to join the paid version of the website in order to keep using it.

Basheerah Enahora: I include meal planning with my 12-session nutrition package. I technically eat the cost of the meal planning tool, but I’m also guaranteed that someone is going to work with me for 3 months, so it’s a worthwhile investment for me. For my insurance clients or self-pay clients who don’t sign up for my 12-session package, I still sign them up for a free trial and encourage them to use it for a few days to see how they like the platform. Most people like the platform and end up signing up.

Sarah Marjoram: I no longer see clients and now work as a nutrition communications and marketing consultant. Where possible, I leverage the meal plans as lead magnets for consulting projects. They are a powerful marketing tool and add value to my clients at no additional cost to me.

As a former private practice owner, I also love knowing that I can provide consumers with something that facilitates healthy eating habits. The meal plans allow me to have an impact on individuals even after I have shifted my business to a different model.

Melissa Groves: I use That Clean Life to provide recipes for my clients based on what we’re working on. For example, if we’re working on adding more protein at breakfast, I’ll send them 20 high-protein breakfast ideas. It takes me 5 minutes and makes me look like a rockstar to my clients. They really appreciate the extra support and the recipes are mostly quick and easy and taste delicious.

I do not charge clients for this service; it’s folded into the cost of my nutrition counseling packages. I find that most people are unwilling to follow a structured meal plan, but if I do have clients that want that guidance, I sign them up with Living Plate, which I am an affiliate for, meaning I get a small percentage from every client I refer.

I also recently made a lead magnet using a meal plan, which took me less than an hour, and grew my list by 200 people in just 6 days.

Chloe Schweinshaut: I find myself using this a lot with my food sensitivity clients.  I am also a CLT, so it has been an invaluable tool for my clients that did the MRT® test and are on an elimination diet.  With That Clean Life, I can filter out foods/ingredients not to be used and I get a database of recipes without them. I also offer a service where I will send a meal plan for a weekly fee.

Theresa Montmorency: I include personalized meal plans with my consultation packages. Sending custom meal plans increases the perceived and actual value for the client. Clients are thrilled with how personalized their plans are, the EatLove smart tools and their progress to their goals. Plus, they are willing to pay much more than what I was charging without EatLove.

Leanne Ray: I’ve found it to be most beneficial for clients who struggle with knowing where to start with meal planning, prepping, and cooking more. It’s just overwhelming in the beginning! For example, I got a client started with the plans and she cooked exclusively from them in the beginning of our time together. As we moved along, she became more confident and gradually started incorporating some of her own recipes. Now she feels confident enough to do it completely on her own which is such a win for me! The plans also bring in some affiliate income, but I’m more excited about having a streamlined meal planning solution for clients that doesn’t involve me spending hours creating them.

Jenna Gorham: I started by bundling them because everybody asks for recipes and I thought it was a great tool to allow them to access the database of healthy recipes. At one point I felt like not everyone was taking full advantage of the plans and not everyone wanted them so I started offering it as an add on tool – this method also worked well. I also had a few clients from other states find me because they were specifically looking for meal plans. I worked with these clients remotely and created a custom meal planning package. We did 1 nutrition assessment and then I customized the plans to meet their needs each week.

 

What is your primary reimbursement model (insurance vs cash pay) and type of practice (virtual or in person)?

Amanda Sauceda: I am cash-pay and am mostly in-person.

Natalia Stasenko: Cash pay, virtual private practice.

Basheerah Enahora: My business is about 60% insurance, 40% cash-pay, from packages, group programs or corporate wellness events. About 70% of my visits are virtual, 30% in person.

Sarah Marjoram: I work as a marketing and communications consultant with business clients.

Melissa Groves: I’m cash pay only and use a monthly billing structure. I see clients in person in Portsmouth, NH, 2 days a week and virtually the rest of the time.

Chloe Schweinshaut: I accept insurance, and although I have a physical office in Harvard Square, I see patients virtually as well.

Theresa Montmorency: Most of my clients come from my local gym. I work as a consultant for the gym and work closely with clients to meet their nutrition needs. I meet with the client at least twice. After that, our communication is mostly through email.

Leanne Ray: Because 1:1 coaching isn’t my main revenue stream at this time, I decided not to go all in with an office space and billing. My practice is 100% virtual and I only accept cash pay clients.

Jenna Gorham: I was cash pay and both in person and virtual. I gained more virtual clients from having the meal plan option.

 

What is one thing you wish you had known before selecting the option you choose? Anything else you wish to share on this topic?

Amanda Sauceda: One thing I wish I knew was maybe best practices.  I learned quickly the best way to sign up people for the meal plans is include it in their package. Living Plate Rx is more than just meal plans. They have also developed turnkey education programs that you can get custom branded. So much time saved! Plus they also have infographics and handouts that you can also purchase for your practice.

Natalia Stasenko: I am generally happy with my choice. I am using it only for a very specific audience and it works well for me.  I think we need more meal planning tools for families. Simple meals, easily deconstructed, flexible, taking minutes to put together, minimal cleanup. Most recipes and meal plans are too difficult to follow for families where one or more kids are picky eaters or there is a baby starting solids.

Basheerah Enahora: I really wanted to develop my own platform, and had reached out to Gathered Table to see if I could license their technology. However, Jeanne beat me to it. Ha! I love supporting other RDs and I’ve learned a lot from seeing Jeanne’s business grow. In hindsight, it would not have been smart to invest in building my own platform. I wasn’t at the right stage of business at the time and needed to invest more in marketing and advertising to ensure business growth. Living Plate RX is a great tool for RDs to generate incremental income and most of my clients love the platform.

Sarah Marjoram: Meal plans are a powerful marketing tool for RDNs. There are several dietitians in private practice that are leveraging them beautifully – adding value to their business while providing a great service to their clients.

When I started practicing almost 20 years ago, I didn’t incorporate meal plans into my business. I felt it was more important to educate clients on how to create them for themselves. Fast forward to today where so much has changed for consumers. In my opinion, advances in technology and consumers rising demand for personalized health services make offering meal plans almost a requirement.  If consumers demand them, I’d love to see RDNs be the professional that provide them.

Melissa Groves: I wish I had known that the recipes are not designed by dietitians. I often have to review recipes for special diets (such as low-FODMAP) to make sure they’re accurate before sending them to my clients. I also wish I knew how difficult it would be to add single foods or packaged foods to the plan – for example, if I wanted a client to have a RxBar for a snack, I’d have to manually add that information. Or if I wanted to add a side of roasted broccoli to dinner, I’d have to create a recipe for that before adding it. It’s somewhat integrated with the USDA database, but it’s difficult to find foods in there. Food tracking apps such as MyFitnessPal® and Fitbit® seem to have a much more updated database of packaged foods.

In my experience, everyone says they want a meal plan, but no one actually wants to follow one! I think we’re not quite there yet in terms of a vast library of recipes and healthy meals created by dietitians and sort able by nutrition info, dietary considerations, etc.

Chloe Schweinshaut: This program isn’t cheap, but it has absolutely paid for itself and I do really feel as though it has brought my practice to a higher level in that clients are very impressed with the software and menus.

Theresa Montmorency: I wish I would have known about the extensive support that EatLove provides. I would have signed up a lot sooner! Of course they were very helpful with answering questions about EatLove and the technology, but the business support that I received and continue to receive has been a blessing for my business.

I have spoken with the EatLove team through email, phone, and even FaceTime! Each time they answer my questions thoroughly and even talk me down when I feel overwhelmed with all the fun that comes with being an entrepreneur. The CEO actually helped me to focus and set up goals for where I want to be in the future. It is nice to know that I have a team in the business of healthy eating that I can bounce ideas off of and also give me constructive criticism. It really is a true partnership when you sign up for EatLove.

Leanne Ray: This isn’t really something I wish I knew before, but something I like to share with anyone who is considering using a meal planning tool in their practice moving forward. They can be great for generating leads in addition to just offering them to existing clients. Living Plate offers a free 3-day trial and the RD gets notified when someone signs up. It’s a great, natural opportunity to reach out and offer extra support without being salesy, so I would recommend taking full advantage of that and coming up with creative ways to promote it.

In full transparency, I do some social media contract work for Living Plate and wanted to disclose this.

Jenna Gorham:  Nothing! I also really like that Living Plate offers plans for different types of diets – plant-based, and even Low-FODMAP and PCOS now!

 

Summary:

The process of choosing a custom meal planning tool for your practice can feel complex. Considering your population, strategy for monetization and need for specific features will streamline the process.

The insight from RD users of popular platforms presented offers a window into challenges as well as successes of offering custom meal plans.

 

RD2RD Features Many Tools for Teaching Meal Planning Skills

From lists of meal/snack ideas, pantry organizers, portion guides and plate-based teaching tools, RD2RD has tools for use with clients.

 

Grocery Shopping and Pantry Organization

Supermarket Guide and Pantry Makeover

Menu Plan and Grocery List

The Nourished Living Grocery Guide

The Grocery Store Tour Toolkit

Meal Planning and Meal Prep

Getting Started with Meal Planning and Meal Prep

Meal Prep Made Easy Complete Workbook

Step-by-Step Guide: Low FODMAP Meal Planning

Portions and Creating a Meal

Mini-Guide: Balance Your Plant-Based Diet

Balanced Diabetes Plate Educational Handouts

Low Potassium Plate Guide

Bariatric Portion Plate

Visual Portion Control Guide

Meal and Snack Ideas

Wholesome Snack Ideas

On the Go Snack/Fueling Ideas for Athletes

Easy Peasy Simple Snacking Guide

Healthy Meal and Snack Ideas

Building Healthy Salads

Vegetarian Meal Ideas for Renal Diet

Gluten-Free Meal and Snack Ideas

Learn more about RD2RD and how you could sell your client tools. Create your store and list products for free! Apply to be a vendor.

Be sure to grab a copy of my FREE e-book, “Leveraging Digital Goods: More Money, More Business” with a BONUS getting started checklist.  Enter your email below!

Sales Tax for Digital Products – Are You Compliant?

Sales tax for digital products is a dynamic and in many cases, confusing topic for online sellers. Understanding the basics can help you to determine when to collect sales tax to be compliant with tax laws.

This guide will help to provide a foundation for RD2RD vendors regarding sales tax. In addition to answering common questions and providing links to resources, it will show you how to obtain customer order details from your vendor dashboard.

Sales Tax Basics for Digital Products

Take a deep breath. The topic of sales tax can feel daunting, especially when you’re talking about digital products.

Digital products are much different than physical products. For example, think about the difference between selling a traditional book versus an ebook. One is tangible property while the other is a digital download. What about an ebook rental or subscription service?

Part of the challenge with sales tax for digital products is that the rules and laws don’t reflect how modern eCommerce works. Rules used for catalog sales are often the basis for determining digital product taxability.

However, this is changing. There is a considerable amount of action being taken by states regarding sales tax for online sales including digital products. If you’re not familiar with the terms, economic nexus and remote sellers, they should now be on your radar.

The primary reason for these changes is that as consumers have moved to shopping online, sales tax revenue from brick and mortar stores has decreased. Updating tax law helps states capture more in sales tax revenue and make sure that both sellers and customers are treated more fairly.

You need to be paying attention to changes in tax laws that impact you.

Researching the topic of sales tax online is an excellent way to better understand the basics, but isn’t a substitution for the expertise of a tax professional. Be sure to discuss your specific situation with a knowledgeable expert.

Do I need to collect sales tax?

The answer is complicated. This is often where most online sellers get stumped. An important term to understand when it comes breaking through the confusion is “nexus.”

Explained in simple terms, your nexus is the state(s) that your business has a connection to. For example, maybe you have offices in two different states or an employee in another state. A detailed explanation of sales tax nexus can be found here.

If you have a nexus in a state, you may need to collect sales tax for purchases made by customers in that state.

You may need to contact the tax authority for each state (often called the Department of Revenue) to confirm if you have a nexus. Each state sets their own rules in regards to sales tax including nexus, required registration/permits and which products are taxable.

Are you still with me? Don’t stop now. This topic will get a lot less muddy when you just dig in and think about your specific situation.

Are Digital Products Taxable?

The answer depends. About 65% of states have some definition of digital goods for sales tax purposes.

Once you’ve determined your sales tax nexus, the next step is to determine the specific rules for sales tax for the products you sell. Some states have no sales tax, don’t tax digital products, have a specific definition digital products for tax purposes or apply rules for other taxable items.

This detailed article from TaxJar gives an excellent overview of the topic and specifically lists state-by-state resources.

To keep from getting caught up in confusion, stay focused on the specific digital products that you sell and determine if it is taxable in your nexus.

Example Scenarios for Sales Tax on Digital Products

The examples below are simplified and for demonstration purposes only. A tax professional experienced in ecommerce could provide you with specific details about your requirements.

Example 1: Let’s assume that you live and operate your business in Oregon. You have no nexus in any other state. Oregon is one of the six states that has no sales tax (physical or digital goods). This would mean that you have no requirement for sales tax for your digital product sales.

Example 2: You live and operate your business in California. You have no nexus in any other state. California has sales tax, but digital products are exempt from sales tax. This would mean that you have no requirement for sales tax for your digital product sales.

Example 3: You live in Washington state. You have no nexus in any other state. Washington has sales tax and digital products are subject to sales tax (including downloaded, streaming and subscription). This would mean that you have a requirement to collect and remit sales tax for purchases made by customers in Washington state.

Example 4: You live in Washington state and also have an office/employees in California. Your business has a nexus in two states. For digital products, you would have a requirement to collect and remit sales tax for purchases made by customers in Washington, but not for customers in California .

As you can see from these examples, sales tax can be complicated. When you take things step-by-step and apply the basic concepts to your specific business and products, you can get on top of this important aspect of selling online.

Remote Seller Sales Tax Considerations

If you are a sell digital products on a marketplace like RD2RD, you should be paying close attention to changes in rules for remote sellers. Specifically, new rules in regards to economic nexus.

A landmark Supreme Court case (South Dakota vs Wayfair) was decided in 2018 in favor of the states ability to collect sales tax from remote sellers. Other states have quickly followed up with changes to their tax rules.

This is an excellent resource describing remote seller concept. To get into the details about state-by-state requirements, this resource offers a clickable table.

How do I collect and remit sales tax for digital product?

Determining which customers to tax and for which products is only part of the challenge with sales tax for digital products.

When necessary, sales tax is collected from the purchaser at checkout. Typically, most ecommerce tools have sales tax setting. You can specify which products are taxable and the rate to charge customers based on their location.

Check with each states’ tax authority (often the Department of Revenue) to determine if there is a specific threshold for sales ($ or number) and how to apply/register for a sales tax permit. You don’t want to be collecting sales tax without a permit to do so.

Inclusive vs Exclusive Pricing

When pricing your products, you also must choose if you will select a price that includes tax or if tax will be added. The simplest approach is to use inclusive pricing. All customers are charged the same amount. However, this does mean there will be an impact on your product margin for sales.

In practical terms, an inclusive pricing approach means that you will be deducting sales tax from the profit you earn on your products. Many sellers utilize reports generated monthly to determine which sales were subject to tax.

With an exclusive pricing, the tax calculation is conducted at the time of checkout and applied to the purchase. Customers will pay a different final price for the product depending on if sales tax was applied and the specific rate in their state/municipality.

Tools and Automation for Sales Tax

There are tools designed to make collecting and remitting sales tax easier. Automation of sales tax collection is a wise decision for online sellers of digital products.

For example, TaxJar is a software tool that ensures that you are collecting the correct amount of sales tax from customers. It has a comprehensive database of locations and tax rates. You can utilize TaxJar at the time of checkout or upload transaction information regularly to determine your sales tax due.

In addition to ensuring correct calculation of sales tax rate for transactions, many automation tools offer a service that submits your sales tax payments to states as needed. If you sell on multiple marketplaces as well as your own website, having all the information in a single location can help you stay organized.

There are a number of options for sales tax automation including Taxjar, Taxify.co, and Avalara.

Does RD2RD Collect Sales Tax for Vendors?

RD2RD is a marketplace facilitator. In some states, marketplaces are being required to collect and remit sales tax on behalf of sellers. However, for most states, this requirement doesn’t take effect until a specific sales volume (i.e. $250,000 annual sales).

Currently, RD2RD doesn’t meet the threshold to be required to collect and remit sales tax on behalf of vendors. The terms of service describes this in more detail.

What tools does RD2RD have to help me with taxes?

Your vendor dashboard is your one-stop resource to review your sales/earning history and customer details.

In the order history tab of the vendor dashboard, you can review customer details for each sale.  This includes customer address information.  The location of the purchaser/buyer is essential to determine if sale is subject to sales tax (based on your nexus).

What about sales in other countries, like value added tax (VAT) in Canada and the EU?

RD2RD currently allows sales in Australia, Canada the United States as well as U.S. Virgin Islands. You should review the rules related to sales tax in these countries as well.

Summary

While sales tax probably isn’t the most exciting topic, it is an essential aspect of selling online. Take time to research and review the resources shared to better understand this topic.  However, they  are not a substitute for a tax professional experienced in sales tax.

Be sure to grab a copy of my FREE e-book, “Leveraging Digital Goods: More Money, More Business” with a BONUS getting started checklist.  Enter your email below!

3 Steps to Mailchimp Mojo, Get Started with Email Marketing

Get a little Mailchimp mojo and you might be surprised at how much you like email marketing. Learn how to get your list setup, signup process customized and a welcome email on autopilot.

Using step-by-step tutorial approach and video demo in this article and you’ll be confident and ready to start growing your email list.

Why Mailchimp?

Choosing an email service provider for your business can be confusing. There are many options to choose from and the array of features can be dizzying.

Besides the fact that Mailchimp is free for your first 2000 subscribers, it also contains essential features such as the ability to send automated email campaigns, create groups, tags and segments as well as create landing pages. You will find that the free version of Mailchimp will provide more functionality than you can likely master early on.

Another benefit of Mailchimp is that because it is very popular, most tools you will need to run your business will easily integrate. From plugins and other software solutions you select for your business, easy integration with your email service provider is essential.

If you develop a strong set of email marketing skills using Mailchimp, they will apply to any email service provider.

Let’s get started.

1. Setup Your Account

Before diving into creating campaigns and signing up new subscribers, there are few important tasks to complete.

Verify Your Domain – after signing up for an account with Mailchimp, you will receive an email to verify your domain. By clicking the link in the email, your account and email address will be verified.

Once your account and email address have been verified, you can send campaigns to subscribers. However, before sending emails, there is an often missed step in the setup process that will be discussed next.

Authenticate Your Domain

Why? Your emails will show from you rather than strange email address, less likely to be directed to SPAM and images will show automatically. More about the benefits here.

How? You must add a couple of DNS records with your domain host (where you bought your domain name).

To access your account, click the menu in the upper right hand corner after logging into Mailchimp.

From your account page, choose settings, then domains.

From the domains area, you will see a list of domains and their status.

For specific instructions, click hyperlink to complete the verification or authentication process and choose “View setup instructions.”

  • Tips:
    1. If you have trouble, call your domain provider’s support and they will help you.
    2. Remember that your domain and hosting provider can be different
    3. You must have a domain specific email address (i.e. @yourdomain.com) not a @gmail.com or @yahoo.com in order to authenticate.

Note in the image above that the @gmail.com domain shows as verified and the rd2rd.com domain is authenticated.  Emails sent to my list are sent from megan@rd2rd.com.

2. Choose Single vs. Double Opt-In

There are two options for adding new subscribers to your email list.  The difference between the two is important and should be something you understand as it will have an impact on your list growth and subscriber experience.

When you choose double opt-in, new subscribers are sent an email that requires they confirm they want to be added to the email list.  This is the “double” element as it is sent after the initial request to be added to your list.

With single opt-in, subscribers are added to your email list immediately after providing their email via your sign-up form, landing page or other email capture tool.

Which to Choose? Single gets people on your list faster. Double can be easier for GDPR compliance and anti-spam laws in Canada (CASL). A comprehensive comparison is beyond the scope of this article, but you can read more on this topic here.

How? To change your list from single to double opt-in (or the reverse), you will access list settings.

Navigate to Lists –> Settings –>List Name and Defaults

Once in the list settings area, update the form settings and campaign defaults. Pay attention to the default from name and from email address.  These will be included on all the response emails sent to subscribers during the signup process.  You want to be sure that they are easily identifiable.

If you want to select double opt-in for your list, check the box next to double opt-in.

Tip: If you are worried about robots signing up without double opt-in, turn on reCAPTCHA. To enable reCAPTCHA, click the button on the form settings.

3. Customize the Sign-up Process

Don’t be Boring!

Why? You don’t want your sign-up process to feel like a robot wrote it. Update the default Mailchimp text and design to match your brand voice and colors, etc.

The image below shows a comparison of the default list sign-up form vs one that has been customized.

Your list in Mailchimp has a specific URL that displays this sign-up form.  Once you have customized this form, you can link to this URL from social media or other posts.

In addition to the signup form, customizing the response emails your subscribers receive after they’ve confirmed their email address or successfully navigated the reCAPTCHA requirement, allow you to add a unique and memorable experience.

Don’t use the robotic and boring-sounding default language provided by Mailchimp. Additionally, you will want to adjust the colors and fonts to match your brand/website so the signup process feels like a natural extension of your business.

How to Customize Signup Forms and Response Emails

Navigate to the list sign up form.  Lists–>Options –>Signup Forms –>Form Builder –> Signup Form

To customize the sign-up form, you will use the 3 tabs available, Build it, Design it and Translate it.  This article will cover a few basic items, but there are many additional options available.

Signup Forms Build It Tab

Update the list name text or change to an image. Hover over the existing text and you will see options appear.

Next, add a message for subscribers describing the value that your list will provide.  Avoid saying “subscribe to my list” as it is unlikely that anyone wants to join you list. You need to give them information about exactly what they will receive and why to provide their email address.

Here is an example to consider.

After updating the list name text or replacing with an image and adding a message, the last important consideration on the Build it tab are the fields to include on your sign-up form.

You want to make it as easy as possible for subscribers to join your list so avoid requiring any information that isn’t necessary.

For example, first and last name are added to the signup form by default, but it isn’t necessary to require new subscribers to provide this information. Email is the only required field on your signup form.

Hide fields from the signup form rather than deleting them as you may want to include this information about subscribers in your list.

To hide a field on your signup form, click the field and then choose field settings on the right hand side of the page. Choose the “hidden” radio button instead of “visible.”

You’ll notice that hidden fields show on the build tab, but have a watermark behind with the text “hidden.” If you visit the signup form URL, you will see that hidden fields will not be visible when being viewed by potential subscribers.

The next step after making changes to the “Build it” tab is the “Design it” tab. Don’t worry if you’re not completely confident that everything is done correctly. You can always revisit each tab to make additional changes.

Signup Forms Design It Tab

The “Design it” tab allows you to change nearly every design element of the signup form and response emails. From the background color, font, button color and more, you can create a signup form that is has some serious design style!

We’ll touch on a few basics that will give your signup form a great start and you can dive more deeply into the design options if you’d like.

First, change the background of the signup form from the drab Mailchimp grey to white or a color that matches your brand. If you’re not sure what color to use, white is easy and always looks great!

The next important design element is to choose a default font.  You want the font to look similar to the style of font that you use on your website or brand materials.  The font can always be overridden if you want to make adjustments.

After selecting the font style, you will next update the button color.  This is the button that subscribers will click to signup for your list.

You can choose both the button background color and the text color. Make sure that it matches your brand colors and that the text color will show up and be easy to read.

The last essential element is to update the MonkeyRewards icon that is included with free Mailchimp accounts.  The default has a black background and stands out on the signup form.  By switching it to the option with the white background, it typically blends in more with your form.

Signup Forms Translate It Tab

The default text for the button on the signup form is “Subscribe to List.”  This is incredibly boring and you can do much better.

The “Translate it” tab allows you to customize the default text with your own language. This means that you can use your own brand voice and give your signup form some personality.

Scroll down near the end of the list of until you find “Subscribe to List.” On the left hand side in the editable text box, change the text. Once you’re satisfied, save the translation settings.

Below shows an example using “Send it on in!”

Preview Your Form

Congratulations on customizing your signup form! Now you need to preview the signup form as it will be displayed to subscribers. Make sure that all the elements and design are exactly how you want them.

Copy and paste the signup form URL into a browser window and admire your work!

For an example, this is a preview of completed signup form compared with default Mailchimp signup form. Such a huge difference with a few simple changes.

Customize Response Emails

After you’ve finished customizing your signup form, next turn your attention to the response emails. It’s important to also update the boring, default text included on these messages to reflect your brand.

Depending on if you have selected single or double opt-in for your list, the response emails will be slightly different.  There are more in the double opt-in process.

The design changes such as background color, font, logo and other design changes you made on the signup form carry over to the response emails.

The next section of this article is dedicated to creating the final welcome email.

 

Customize the Final Welcome Email

The easiest way to send new subscribers a welcome email is to use the response email in the signup forms area of your list.

Another popular way is to use an automated email campaign. A campaign is just a fancy word for an email.  Automated email campaigns are sent based on subscriber behavior.  Joining your list is a behavior trigger.

However, for this example, we will use the simplest option and use the response email to send a welcome email to subscribers.

Why bother to send a welcome email?

There are a number of reasons including the fact that welcome emails have one of the highest open rates. When a new subscriber joins your list, they are expecting to receive a message from you and most often open it!

This means that your welcome email is incredibly important and deserves more than just a courtesy message thanking them for joining.  It should provide them with valuable information and make sure they feel that subscribing to your list was a great decision.

Your welcome email will set the stage for future message you send.  Another benefit is that once you create the message, it will be sent to every new subscriber with ZERO action on your part.

To send a welcome email, choose “Final welcome email” from the signup forms drop down list and then check the box “Send a final welcome email.”

Be sure to update the subject line of the email from the default provided by Mailchimp. You want to make sure that every element of the signup process reflects your brand and voice.

Next, change the content of the email.  To help you find inspiration, think about email lists that you’ve joined in the past and what type of a welcome you received.

To give you an example, the message below is sent to new subscribers for my email list. Note that I provide a great deal of value including links to blog posts. Additionally, I give them information about what to expect next.

This approach increases their likelihood to open the emails they receive as part of the onboarding sequence that each new subscriber receives.

Don’t worry if you don’t have your welcome email text perfected. You can always update the information as you study best practices and develop your skills.

Test the Signup Process

TEST!! Once you have finished customizing the signup process, it is essential to test it.  You want to be sure that the voice and branding is exactly how you want it. Pay careful attention to each step that your subscribers will experience and make any adjustments needed.

Summary

Getting started building your email list can feel overwhelming. Start out with confidence by customizing the signup process for your subscribers to reflect your brand. By personalizing each step from a design and content perspective will help you stand out from others.

Utilize the 3 steps provided in this article as well as the detailed tutorial video to get some Mailchimp mojo!

Ready to get started?

This 4 page checklist covers each step in the article. Stay organized with a step-by-step quickstart worksheet. Track your progress and be confident that your list is setup and your signup process is running smoothly.

This site and the products and services offered on this site is in no way sponsored, affiliated, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Mailchimp.  Nor have they been reviewed tested or certified by Mailchimp. Mailchimp is a registered trademark of The Rocket Science Group LLC.

Top 5 RD2RD Live Shows for Business Growth

The RD2RD Live Show featured 25 experts in 2018.  It was nearly impossible to choose only 5.  But, if you are a Registered Dietitian that wants to grow your business in 2019, these are MUST watch episodes.

RD2RD Live Show Top 5 of 2018

1. Basics of SEO and Keyword Research with Lara Clevenger, MS, RD

The episode has been the top watched of the year and sparked conversation about SEO tools and tips. During the episode Lara explains how she used keyword research to boost her website traffic from 6,000 page views per month to more than 250,000 in 6 months.

In addition to explaining the steps, Lara shows the paid tool she uses to complete her research as well as recommends free tools that offer similar functionality.

This show gives you practical actions you can take with no major financial investments to increase the traffic to your website by focusing on optimizing your posts for search engines (SEO).

Whether you are a blogger or other business owner, this episode will change how you think about your content and website.

2. Increase Website Traffic with Smarter Pinterest Strategy with Chrissy Carroll, MPH, RD

Pinterest has the potential to drive significant traffic to your website, but just like any other platform, you need a strategy that gets results.

In this deep dive, Chrissy gives a detailed overview of how to create a high performing pin.  From researching keywords and writing an optimized pin description to creating an image for your pin, the level of detail and insight will leave you feeling confident.

In addition to showing the key components of a pin, Chrissy also shows how to ensure your blog post is optimized for Pinterest including essential image text to use and explains the pros and cons of rich pins for recipes.  To better explain these concepts, she gives a behind the scenes look at paid tools on her website.

If you are looking to up your Pinterest strategy, this is one Live Show episode you don’t want to miss.

3. Grow Your Blog: Content Creation and Promotion Strategy with Leesa Klich, MSc, R.H.N.

The process of blogging and promoting your posts across various social media platforms can feel overwhelming.  However without a solid and consistent process for both creating new content and sharing it, you will be missing out on traffic to your blog.

In this Live Show, Leesa simplifies the process and breaks down exactly the steps to take to make you blogging process organized and perform well.

Leesa shows how to use one consistent process across your email newsletter, social media and blog.  From what and when to post, this episode gives easy to implement action steps.

If you want to get more organized with how you promote your blog post to your followers on social media and your email list, this is a must watch episode.

4. Marketing and Selling Your Online Course with Heather Neal, MS, RD

As a blogger, you have the opportunity to market and sell products to your followers and site visitors.  However, you may not enjoy the process of “selling” or how to approach. You are not alone.

In this episode, Heather gives incredible insight into concepts related to attracting and nurturing the relationship with potential purchasers She also shares how she approaches marketing on social media and via email.

As a seasoned online business owner and the creator of the extremely successful RD Entrepreneur Symposium, the opportunity to learn from Heather’s marketing wizardy is a no-brainer.

If you struggle with getting “sales-y” or don’t know how to approach promoting products to your audience, this is a must-watch episode.

5. Lead Magnets and Compelling Copy with Orly Wachter, MS, RD

As a blogger, you want to convert site visitors to your email list. However, figuring out how to create a lead magnet that is compelling enough to get visitors to provide you with their email list can be hard.

In this episode Orly talks about some key concepts that will help you create a high-performing lead magnet.  From getting crystal clear on your target customer to figuring our where your audience “hangs out” you’ll find this episode will help you figure out what to offer that will get visitors on your list.

This episode also digs into the topic of how to write compelling copy.  However, as important as the lead magnet is the words you use to present it. The episode gives tips on how to identify and use language that will resonate with your audience.

If growing your email list is a priority, this episode will get you feeling clear and confident on exactly what lead magnet to use.

RD2RD Live Show 2018: Honorable Mentions

Selecting only 5 episodes was very difficult.  These episodes should be on your watch list as well. Click here to access to video library for all RD2RD Live Show episodes.

  • Better Writing Habits: Finding Time to Write with Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD
  • Sales Funnels & Facebook Ads with Luisa McClure, MS, RD
  • Using Video in Your Digital Marketing Strategy with Whitney Bateson, MPH, RD
  • Creating and Growing a Membership Site with Erica Julson, MS, RD, CLT
  • Rapid Growth and Engagement on Instagram® with Libby Rothschild, MS, RD, CPT

Summary

The RD2RD Live Show is a biweekly learning series. It is utilizes a live Q&A format and is broadcast via live stream to the RD2RD Marketplace Facebook page. Questions from viewers are encouraged and can be asked in advance or during the live event.

To be notified of show topics and dates, join the RD2RD email list and follow the RD2RD Facebook page. A list of upcoming events can be seen here.

Show recordings are available in the video library as well as on RD2RD’s YouTube channel.

Be sure to grab a copy of my FREE e-book, “Leveraging Digital Goods: More Money, More Business” with a BONUS getting started checklist.  Enter your email below!

guide for dietitian to sell digital products for passive income

 

 

 

WordPress Gutenberg – Using Blocks to Create a Post

Gutenberg, the long awaited upgrade to WordPress is here. The traditional page and post editor you’re familiar with has been replaced by block-based editor. This new block-by-block building style is more modern, but you may find yourself struggling to create posts and pages.

Want to see what you’re in for when you upgrade? Get a look at the new block approach to creating a blog post.

This article includes a video demonstration as well as a detailed look at the new page builder.  View the video embedded for a walk-through of how blocks work when creating a post.

What is Gutenberg for WordPress?

Gutenberg is the new WordPress builder for pages and posts.  The classic editor you are familiar with has been replaced with a new and more modern tool.

Instead of creating posts and pages using what feels like a text box and making edits to individual elements of your post or page, each element is built using blocks.

For example, you would previously select text and change it to a heading.

With the new editor, you choose the header block and then add your paragraph text.  The result is nearly identical to what you created with the classic editor.

Block Types in WordPress Gutenberg

When creating a page or post using Gutenberg, you will choose a type of block to add and then the specific block.  You can browse by category or use the search feature.

Paragraph text, quotes and images are all added using blocks.  For a full description of each type of block, visit this article.

Depending on the plugins you have installed, you may have additional blocks available.  For example, the Atomic Blocks plugin for the Atomic Blocks theme (FREE) gives you a custom set of blocks to add to posts and pages.

This is an example of the Atomic Blocks (AB) Call To Action.  With Gutenberg, it is easy to build a post or page from individual blocks and create a visually appealing product.

New Functionality with WordPress Gutenberg Blocks

The ease of using blocks to build pages and posts makes for a different, but improved experience.  For example, there is a block to easily add a button to your page or post.

There is a learning curve with using the blocks, but the format is fairly intuitive.  If you are familiar with using SquareSpace, this new editor will feel very familiar.

Once you have added a block, you can move the block up or down with a hand drag tool or arrows.  This makes it easy to rearrange content.

moving gutenberg block

To make additional changes to a block, you can access settings for each block. Click the three dots after selecting the block you wish to edit.

When adding a new block, you can easily specify if you want the block positioned above or below the current block or at the end.

There is also a convenient “Classic” formatting block you can add if you want to go retro and create a post using the older look and feel.

The new builder has been in development and testing for a long time. A great deal of time and effort has been put into modernizing WordPress’s core page builder.  You can stick to classic, but once you give the new builder a try, you might find that you have no plans to return.

Here’s some insight from an RD already using Gutenberg

I love the cover feature in blocks because it allows you to write on images to create eye catching informatics and content. It makes it easy and you don’t necessarily have to use another editor like Canva or Picmonkey to put text in your images. – Maggie Farley MA, RD from MealswithMaggie.com

 

Gutenberg with Page Builders

One popular option with the prior WordPress builder was to use a third party page builder.  The WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) drag and drop approach has long made it easier to create appealing pages within WordPress.

Here is an article about Gutenberg that addresses page builders like Divi and Elementor builder.

Conclusion

Gutenberg represents the future for WordPress and significantly modernizes the approach to posts and pages.

Upgrading the latest version 5.0 or later of WordPress will give you access to blocks.  You can always revert back to the classic editor with the available plugin.

 

Be sure to grab a copy of my FREE e-book, “Leveraging Digital Goods: More Money, More Business” with a BONUS getting started checklist.  Enter your email below!

guide for dietitian to sell digital products for passive income

 

 

 

finding resources to start a nutrition private practice

8 Essentials for Nutrition Private Practice

Launching an in-person or virtual nutrition practice can feel overwhelming. Finding the tools and resources you need can leave you running in circles searching for answers.

From creating a business plan, to website design, client education materials and marketing, a successful nutrition private practice requires a set of tools and skills.

This article features eight essential elements that every nutrition private practice owner must consider.  In addition, it provides suggested resources and features insight from private practice owners.

Getting a Nutrition Private Practice Started

Before you jump in, have you taken a moment to consider if private practice is right for you?

Many dietitians have chronicled their experience launching a private practice. Links to these posts are included throughout this article.  You can benefit greatly by reading these and considering how you will navigate a similar experience.

Add To Wish List

 

A checklist can make it easier to keep track of the tasks you need to complete. It can also create motivation and provide clarity on your private practice launch journey.

Add To Wish List

 

For a more comprehensive resource, this 2-part book series details the 10 Steps to Start Your Own Business and the  10 Steps to Grow Your Own Business.

 

Private Practice Essentials for Registered Dietitians

 

1. Branding and Design

Your brand is more than just a logo or a name. Branding and design include essentials like business cards, social media graphics, stock photography or professional photos to elements such as colors, fonts, and your style.

Add To Wish List

 

Decisions about branding will be influenced by your target audience as well as your personal style.  Your brand should feel both authentic but also be unique and memorable.

Hiring a graphic designer or branding specialist to create essential brand elements is one approach.  You can also take a DIY approach and leverage design tools such as Canva to create branded materials for your business.

Add To Wish List

 

To get top quality results, you will want to learn how to think like a designer and understands the basics of graphic design.  You can learn to create gorgeous graphics for your business including social media banners, business cards as well as flyers and handouts for your clients.

Add To Wish List

 

In this article by Jenna Gorham, RD, she gives great insight into the value of having clarity about your brand and how it helped her grow her business.

 

2. Practice Management and Reimbursement

Practice Management

How are you going to run the day-to-day aspects of your practice?  Perhaps you’ll utilize a comprehensive electronic health record (EHR) complete with scheduling, online client paperwork, messaging and payments.  Will you also offer virtual visits?

There are several EHR platforms that are built specifically for dietitians.  The features and functionality vary, as well as the pricing.  Most offer a free trial period where you can give various features a test drive.

In this article, virtual practice owner Kristi Coughlin, MS, RD provides detailed recommendations for how to select a platform for running your telehealth practice.

Add To Wish List

 

When trying out various options, do more than just browse around the platform.  Embed the scheduler tool on your website and see how easy the booking process it.  Create a client account and test out sending electronic paperwork. Test the program from both the client and practice owner perspective.

One key way to set yourself apart and efficiently run day-to-day tasks is to have a solid process for booking, paperwork, documentation and billing.  Having a practice management tool that makes these elements easier can save you a great deal of time.

Add To Wish List

 

If you do opt not to use an all-in-one practice management tool or EHR, be sure to test out the tools and process you decide on from the customer perspective.  Make sure that the process is clear and as easy-to-complete as possible.   This tool, Getting Started with Nutrition Coaching is a helpful overview of what your process might look like.

Reimbursement

Reimbursement for your services is an essential consideration.  Will you be cash-pay only or accept insurance? If you plan to accept insurance, it can feel overwhelming to figure out the steps in the process. Leveraging the expertise of colleagues with experience can help to make the process easier. This toolkit offers a comprehensive set of tools and videos on reimbursement.

Add To Wish List

 

Determining how to price your services, track your expenses as well as forecast revenue can help you to better manage your cash flow. Having a comprehensive and easy to use spreadsheet can help you stay on target with your business goals.

Add To Wish List

 

For some insight from an experienced practice owner, this article from Felicia Porrazza, MD, RD, LDN gives an overview of the steps to starting your private practice including steps in the process if you plan to accept insurance.

 

3. Legal Services to Start a Nutrition Private Practice

Getting your business off the ground will mean that you need to consider a few legal elements.  This is not legal advice and you should consult a lawyer for specific details.

If you have a website, you will need a privacy policy, terms of use and disclaimer.  Paperwork that you provide to your clients describing their financial responsibility should be considered a legal document.  How you set-up your business such as an LLC or S corp are also legal considerations.

Working with clients will mean that you need some official paperwork.  There are a few different terms used to describe this document, but it is often called a client agreement.  This document can include a variety of elements including your cancellation policy, fees for no-show, billing information and more.  If you accept insurance, you will also need to be compliant with any HIPAA requirements and have appropriate documentation.

Add To Wish List

 

There are templates for key documents available which you can customize. Hiring an attorney to create custom forms or reviewing and revising a template can help to ensure that your forms are specific to your needs.  If you accept insurance and bill directly for your services, you will need to be sure you’re compliant with any regulations.

tools and resources to start nutrition private practice

Add To Wish List

 

4. Client Forms and Handouts

Your private practice will require forms such as a new client intake form to gather health history and other information such as insurance information or a diet history or 3-day food record.

Add To Wish List

 

Some options to provide these to your clients are to have them available for download from your website or send via email.

Many electronic health records allow your clients to complete these forms electronically and securely.  If you are utilizing email to send and receive health information about your clients, remember to keep HIPAA compliance in mind and be compliant with any privacy laws you may be subject to.

For client education handouts, you can create your own or purchase from sites like RD2RD or the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s, store.  It is also common to provide electronic copies of education materials via email or electronic health record.

Add To Wish List

 

Other popular tools include a documentation template for client visits, referral forms to provide to providers and visit summary to provide to client or provider.

Add To Wish List

 

5. Business Services

Your new business will need essentials like phone (and perhaps fax), email and if you offer virtual visits, web conferencing. Remember that if you are subject to HIPAA requirements that you need to ensure that services you choose meet the necessary requirements and can provide you with a Business Associates Agreement.

You should also consider how you will keep records of your business expenses and if you will need the services of an accountant or bookkeeper. Tools to track and predict your expenses can help keep you organized for taxes.

In this article by Erica Julson, MS, RD, CLT she gives a comprehensive overview of all the business essentials including a timeline and costs.

 

6. Website Design and Hosting

Your website is an important tool for both attracting new clients as well as may function as a store to sell your products/services and a blog.

Most registered dietitians spend a great deal of time on the design and appearance of their website.  You can build your own website utilizing DIY-friendly website builders like Squarespace or Wix. WordPress.org has a steeper learning curve, but more customization and features for bloggers.

If you choose to hire a professional, there are a variety of options from full-service design firms to freelancers. Be sure that you carefully review the work portfolio prior to making your selection.

Another consideration with website design is if you will maintain your own website or if you will need to hire a professional to make ongoing edits to your site. Be sure that you have a plan for how this will work, so you don’t have a website that is a “black box” that you don’t know how to update.

In this article by Whitney Bateson, MPH, RD, she gives insight into how to decide if hiring a professional to design your website is right for you.

7. Marketing Your Nutrition Practice

To get clients for your nutrition practice, you will need a marketing plan. This may include both local, in-person marketing as well as online via social media.

Add To Wish List

For in-person marketing, you might need to design flyers to distribute to local physician offices, referral pads and business cards.

For online marketing, you can utilize social media to share blog posts you have written, articles by others or video (live or recorded).  You can leverage advanced tools such as a webinar or a free download to attract new leads.

One strategy is to create an email list that people can join to receive updates such as a regular newsletter, blog post updates, recipes, tips and more.  Once people have joined your email list, they can decide to work with you or purchase your services.  If you offer in-person events, you can utilize this a way to add new subscribers or using digital content such as blog posts, social media posts or videos.

In this article by Samara Abbott, MSEd, RD, LDN, she gives insight into how to choose marketing strategies for your private practice. She has many articles on her experience starting a private practice.

8. Mentoring or Coaching

Starting a nutrition private practice is a big task. Keeping motivated as well as staying focused on the most important priorities can be difficult.

There are many options to get expert advice including masterminds, local small business groups, paid individual mentors and group programs.

Creating a network of both mentors and colleagues is valuable to help answer questions that arise as well as ensure that you are making decisions that are best for your business and will lead to a successful practice.

While nothing can take the place of an experienced mentor or coach, it can be incredibly helpful to learn from the journey of others. These RDs have chronicled their experience starting a private practice into a detailed article with advice, humor and a fresh perspective on being a business owner.

Jenna Gorham, RD, LN – Things I Learned My First Year in Business

Samara Abbott, MSEd, RD, LDN – Starting a Private Practice

Erica Julson, MS, RD, CLT – How to Start a Nutrition Private Practice

Leanne Ray, MS, RD – My First 3 Months In Business

Kristi Coughlin, MS, RD – Telehealth Tools for Virtual Dietitians

Felicia Porrazza, MDA, RD, LDN – First 10 Steps to Starting Your Private Practice

 

Conclusion

Starting a private practice and becoming a business owner is exciting and intimidating. There are essential resources that your practice needs to get off the ground and run efficiently.

RD2RD is your one-stop for tools needed for your practice.  Choose from a selection of tried and true resources from Registered Dietitians business owners.  From forms, toolkits, handouts, video lessons and more, save yourself time by not spending time recreating the wheel for business essentials.

tools and resources to start nutrition private practice

Add To Wish List

 

 

Nutrition Private Practice Resources – Get Organized!

This convenient, 2-page guide lists the 8 essential resources your nutrition practice needs to get off the ground.  From branding and design to practice management and marketing, this guide outlines the basics.

Grab your copy below!

resource list for nutrition private practice

8 essential resources for nutrition private practice

The 5 Most Profitable Digital Products Registered Dietitians Can Sell Online

You want to create a digital product, but what you really want is a PROFITABLE, digital product.

As a Registered Dietitian, you have countless ways to monetize your expertise and generate passive income selling digital products. The hardest part can be deciding what to sell.

Profitable Digital Products for Registered Dietitians

In this article you’ll find 5 different types of profitable, digital products well-suited to Registered Dietitians.  Examples of each product type will get your creative juices flowing.

You’re sure to be full of ideas when you finish reading. Get ready to launch your profitable online store.

money from online sale of digital products on computer screen

1. eBooks

The most popular type of digital product you can sell is an ebook. It is easier than ever to self-publish a book. If you consider that more than 30% of sales from the Kindle store are self-published, this product type should be at the top of your list.

If self-publishing isn’t something you’re ready to take on, traditional publishing is still a viable option. Keep your eye on the trend of the hybrid author, an author who publishes both via traditional publishing and self-publishing.

A large investment isn’t needed to get your book idea off the ground. One of the benefits of a digital product is the low cost of producing the product. The largest investment will be your time.

If the thought of selling your book gives you more pause than the writing, take heart.  Setting up an online store is easier than you might think. Selling from your own website allows you to keep more in earnings than selling on a site like Amazon’s Kindle store.

Generate sales of your book by promoting it on social media, linking to your book in blog posts and online groups. You can also sell your book on a marketplace website like RD2RD.

If writing hundreds of pages has you feeling overwhelmed, the length of many ebooks is shorter than you might imagine. There are many examples of short ebooks available. You might see them called guides. Don’t be afraid to start small and get your product launched more quickly.

eBook Examples on RD2RD

When reviewing, note the difference and price and length between these products.

Health Takes Guts: Your Comprehensive Guide to Eliminating Digestive Issues, Anxiety and Fatigue – This book is sold as a stand-alone resource, but also has a pricing option that includes 13 treatment protocols. Having pricing tiers and a strategy for up-selling can boost revenue from your digital products.

The Essential Vegan Lifestyle Guide – Note this product is called a guide, but is organized like an ebook.  It is comprehensive and substantial in length. Keep in mind how you name and market your product as it can be valuable for sales and pricing strategy.

A Primer on Ayurveda for Health Professionals – This book is an example of a creating a product in a specific niche and monetizing expertise. It is also sold on Amazon as a physical product and this digital edition. You may want to offer a physical book as well.

Sports Nutrition for Peak Performance – This is a shorter and more economical option than the other books listed. Think about how you could offer a product like this to your clients or promote in related blog posts as a more comprehensive resource.

 

2. Videos and Courses

The boom in online learning has created an opportunity to monetize your expertise as an RD. Some course creators choose to create content aimed at clients or the public, while others create resources for professionals.

Most online courses feature video lessons and many also include downloadable resources with purchase. Some courses allow access to all lessons immediately after purchase. Others make content available over a period of time, an approach known as “drip” content.

Creating and selling an online course is a big project, but it allows you to create a passive income source. Typically online courses have a higher price tag than other digital products. This article features RD course creators and how they choose the method to sell their course.

Video and Course Digital Product Examples on RD2RD

Private Practice Education: On-boarding Your Client – This educational video offers insight into a complex and confusing process for new private practice owners.  The video provides best practice recommendations and includes references to other digital products available such as policy templates. This is an excellent example of cross-selling other products to existing customers.

Fast Track to Pretty Graphics with Canva – This course is aimed at nutrition business owners that want to improve their graphic design skills.  It is an example of creating a digital product that leverages skills not traditionally thought of as within a RDs expertise.  You can monetize expertise outside of the narrow definition of nutrition.

How to Practice the Anti Diet Approach to Dietetics – This includes both a recording of an expert panel-discussion style webinar and a workbook. The video was previously a live event that was transitioned to a recorded, on-demand digital product. The addition of a workbook or download can increase the value of a course or video.

 

3. Documents

Documents can include items like handouts, meal plans, forms, templates or toolkits.  You may have already created a number of documents for your own use that could be easily put to work earning you passive income.

Selling documents you’ve created is an efficient way to jump into the world of online sales.  Typically, you’ve validated the use of these products in your own practice or business. This means you don’t need to spend a great deal of time to get them ready to sell.

You can easily sell your documents directly from your website. There are a number of considerations when you are setting up an online store. This article provides an overview of key elements of selling online.

Many sellers opt to use a marketplace to sell their digital documents.  RD2RD is an example of a marketplace designed exclusively for RDs. A benefit of a market place is help to market your products to a broader audience and increasing sales.

Document Digital Product Examples Available on RD2RD

Fitness Dietitian’s Initial Consult Questionnaire – Forms are an essential part of running a nutrition practice. This is an example of a niche-specific form and a way to create passive income selling a tool you have already created.

Low Potassium Plate Guide – This client education handout leverages the creators nutrition knowledge, design and education skills to create a passive income digital product. A visually-appealing handout that reviews an important nutrition topic, is always in demand.

Easy Peasy Simple Snacking Guide – An organized and visually appealing list of 40+ snack ideas – this resource fills a common need RDs have when working with clients.  Tools that are helpful in your practice can also earn you passive income.

Dietitian Reimbursement Toolkit – This product contains a combination of videos, forms and templates. Offering a comprehensive toolkit can increase the value for the customer and price point of the product.

 

4. Services

You may not think of a service as a digital product, but they can be a profitable way to earn money online. You’ve probably heard of or used sites like Upwork or Fiverr.  These are marketplaces where you can easily hire a freelancer for jobs such as designing a logo or creating a video.  These sites also allow you to sell your expertise as a service.

Services can also be included with other digital products that you offer in a bundle.  For example, you may offer access to a video and workbook at one price, but also have a higher price tier that includes a custom meal plan, virtual visit or customization.

Services that are well suited to RDs include writing, recipe analysis/development and menu planning.  If you have skills in areas such as graphic design, website building, food photography or other niches, you can also sell your expertise as a service.

Ideas for Services – Digital Product Examples  Available on RD2RD

Guide to Freelance Writing as an RDN – This is a comprehensive getting start guide for RDs that want to generate income writing.  It is an example of a digital product in a service-related area for RDs.

Recipe & Food Video Planning Toolkit– This toolkit contains a set of tools to help plan and execute recipe videos.  Creating high quality food/recipe videos can be a income-generating service for RDs.

 

5. Photos/Graphics

Sales of images and graphics have increased dramatically. While there are free stock photography websites, purchased images and graphics are common.

If you have skill in developing appealing health and nutrition related graphics or photography, you could sell them as a digital product. Typically, with graphics or images, you would be granting the purchaser rights to utilize your work under a licensing agreement while you retain the copyright.

Photos/Graphics Digital Product Examples on RD2RD

Healthy Eating Tips for Social Media Graphics – these pre-designed healthy eating graphics for social media leverage design skill to create a digital product.

Fruit Character ABCs – these printable characters are an example of using design and education skills to create a passive income digital product.

 

Profitable Digital Products for Registered Dietitians Summary:

Selling digital products is an incredible opportunity for Registered Dietitians to monetize their expertise and generate passive income.

Selecting a profitable digital product that is well-suited to your skills can help you quickly launch a profitable online store.

Be sure to grab a copy of my FREE e-book, “Leveraging Digital Goods: More Money, More Business” with a BONUS getting started checklist.  Enter your email below!

tips for a digital product listing image

7 Tips for a Top Notch Digital Product Listing Image

A top-notch digital product listing image is an essential element for a successful product.  You must capture the attention of your customer and create motivation to click on your product to read more.  More clicks is more opportunities for sales and income.

It isn’t necessary to hire a graphic designer or have access to expensive design tools to create a listing image that helps your product stand out and generate strong sales.  By following a few key principles and avoiding common mistakes, your product image will be an asset to your product and your pocketbook.

1. Create a digital product listing image template

A listing image template provides a number of benefits.  Having a consistent design, colors and format for your listing images makes the process more efficient.  Once you design your template, when you create new products, you can simply update product-specific information.

For your customers, a template increases brand recognition.  It is easy for them to identify your products.  This is especially beneficial if you sell your products on marketplace websites such as RD2RD or Etsy.

Below are examples of RD2RD vendors that utilize a consistent template for their listing images.  You can see how this approach creates an easily recognizable brand and also makes creating the image more efficient once the template has been created.

Ashley Thomas from The Fresh Beet

digital product listing images with consistent colors text and layout

Karla Moreno-Bryce from Nutritious Vida.

digital product listing image with a tablet mock up

2. Use a digital mock-up for product listing images

One of the challenges for both online buyers and sellers is that you can’t physically touch or examine the product prior to purchase.  A digital mock-up helps to bridge this gap and give customers the ability to see the product prior to purchase.

A digital mock-up could be an image of pages of your handout fanned out on a desk background or shown on a tablet.  The customer can immediately recognize what the product is and gauge the quality of the content.

Dianne Rishihof of Health Takes Guts

digital mock up of tablet showing book positioned on wood desk

Corinne Kantor of Diet Tech Central

images for social media with nutrition tips

3. Make your digital product listing image visually appealing

A digital product listing image needs to be eye-catching.  The image will likely be the first thing that people see when shopping online and if your image doesn’t stand-out, you’ll miss out on clicks to your product and sales.

Visually appealing digital product listing images use a combination of color, text and images to create a cohesive design.  To find design inspiration, browse online sites such as RD2RD, Etsy, TeachersPayTeachers and Amazon.  Once you have identified inspiration images, break them down into individual elements such as text, color, background and digital mock-up.

Karla Moreno-Bryce from Nutritious Vida.

vegan food and lifestyle comprehensive guide

Whitney Catalano

become your own designer for nutrition business

4. Think of your listing image like a billboard

Your listing image should function like a billboard.  For your target customer, it should be immediately recognizable that it is a product for them.  If you are selling a book or printable, it should be obvious at a quick glance what the product is.  In many cases, your listing image will be the only part of your listing that customers see.  For example, Google displays images in search results and people click based solely on the visual.

Your digital product listing image should contain enough information about your product to “stand-alone” without your written product description.  When you think of it like a billboard and to capture attention and encourage the customer to click and read more information, you will drive more traffic to your product and generate more sales.

registered dietitian teaching about anti diet approach to nutrition

5. Use combination of text and images

Text (if included) should support the product’s purpose and catch the attention of the customer.  Think of your own experience shopping online and what captures your attention.  Most likely, you are first drawn to a stylish image and note a few keywords that capture your attention.  You the decide to click on the product and read more information.

It is not necessary to include the complete title of your product on the digital product listing image.  You may choose to use a keyword or even ask a question?  Your goal with your product listing is to capture the attention of your target customer.

education handouts for type 1 diabetes

6. Use a background image

A background image can set the stage and help to capture your customer’s attention.  For example, using a background image of a cutting board with fruits and vegetables makes a statement about your product and adds visual appeal.  A picture of a professional desk and computer would make a completely different statement.

For background images, you can take your own photos or utilize free or paid stock photography.  One tip for finding images is to include the search term “background.”  Typically, you are looking for images that have space to add a digital mock-up or page image.

guide for dietitian to sell digital products for passive income

7. Optimize the size of your digital product listing image

Your listing image will likely need to be a specific height and width.  Typically this information is specified by the online marketplace or shopping cart platform you are using.  The image size could be landscape, portrait or square.  Not using the correct dimensions for your product listing images will result in parts of the image being cut-off and an unprofessional visual for customers.  This will greatly decrease your  product sales.

For RD2RD, listing images dimensions are 930 pixels wide by 700 pixels high.  Creating a custom sized image can be done for free in design tools like Canva or in paid tools like Photoshop.  For more, watch this detailed video tutorial on how to create a custom sized image with Canva.

Summary

Take time to design a top-notch product listing image.  Use a high-quality background image to capture the attention of your customer and speak to the product type and content.  Include a digital mock-up to show both the quality of your product, but to also peak your customer’s interest and generate a click for more details.  Avoid too much text and think of your listing image as a billboard with a focus more on keywords and capturing attention.

Want to find out if your listing image is optimized.  Download the product listing audit tool and use it to assess your product listing image and product description.

preparing to design a digital product listing image

 

Selling Digital Products

Selling digital products is creating new opportunities for Registered Dietitians to both connect with clients and create new income streams.  From downloadable items such as ebooks, to courses featuring video lessons, to live or recorded webinars, there is an abundance of opportunity to leverage the business building power of digital products. However, to sell online, a new set of tools and expertise is needed.

It can feel daunting to navigate setting up an online store and to establish payment and product delivery processes.  This article breaks down the essential elements required for selling online including shopping carts, payment gateways, security considerations, file hosting and more.

The good news is that due to the popularity and growth of digital products, there are many options designed to be user-friendly and affordable.

 

Step-by-Step Guide to Selling Digital Products

  1. Consider Your Needs

What is your goal?   If selling digital products is a small side element of your business vs your primary business goal, you will have a much different approach to the process of setting up your online store.  Your goals will determine if you should seek out the help of a web developer or use a convenient, hosted solution.

What type(s) of products do you plan to sell?  Your needs will vary depending on if you are selling an e-book, online course or membership site.  Some options are better suited to specific product types.  For downloadable products such as handouts, workbooks or toolkits, the customer will expect to be able to immediately download, and save or print their purchased product.  For online courses or webinars, details about how to login and access materials is expected.  For other online products such as member-only access to groups or content, specific information needs to be immediately sent to the purchaser.

What is your skill level with technology?  If you are a novice website builder or plan to set-up the technology elements yourself, you will most likely not choose a highly customizable, open-source shopping cart option.  There are number of software as a service (SaaS) shopping cart solutions that offer comprehensive functionality and are easy to configure and set-up on your own.  It isn’t necessary to hire a web developer or create a new website to sell digital products.

What features are essential?  The options available for your online store can feel dizzying.  Spend some time creating a list of features that are “must-haves.”  This might include the ability to create discount codes, product reviews, integrate email marketing, tax calculator or offer an affiliate program.

 

  1. Choose between a shopping cart software service or self-hosted open source platform for selling digital products.

To sell digital products, a shopping cart or online checkout process is needed.  A shopping cart allows the customer to provide payment, and after confirmation, be provided access to the purchased product.  A shopping cart is often referred to as an eCommerce platform.

Typically, a shopping cart solution is incorporated into your website.  Depending on your needs, this may mean having a shop tab added to your site navigation or incorporating product listings into your pages or posts.  Some shopping cart solutions are designed for a wide range of eCommerce including physical products such as books, t-shirts, as well as digital products.  Others are exclusively for digital products.

There are two basic options for shopping carts, software as a service (SaaS) solutions and self-hosted, open source solutions.    There are pros and cons to each and your specific needs will determine which is the best fit for your digital products.

SaaS solutions offer convenience and are typically built to be user-friendly and don’t require advanced knowledge of website design or coding.  You pay a monthly fee and often a percentage of each transaction for access to the software as well as security and hosting of files associated with your products.  Typically, SaaS solutions offer comprehensive support and have detailed tutorials and user guides to assist you with the setup process.  SaaS solutions can be used with a wide variety of popular website builders.

Examples: Gumroad, E-Junkie, SendOwl, Shopify, DPD Digital Product Delivery, Selz, SamCart, ThriveCart, Lemonstand

Self-hosted, open source solutions are typically free to download and use, but you must have the skills necessary to configure the software, customize, and integrate with other tools you use.  You will pay separately for hosting of files, website security, SSL certificate and any addons such as discount codes or integration with email marketing.  Because these tools are completely customizable, they are often best suited when you plan to work with a web developer, have complex specifications, or need the ability to create a completely custom online store experience.  Self-hosted, open source solutions are typically limited to websites built with WordPress or completely custom sites.

Examples: WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, Magento

Website Builder Specifics: Many website builders such as Squarespace, Wix and Weebly offer an eCommerce pricing tier.  This gives you the capability to create products within your website builder and conveniently add to pages and posts.  If you use one of these builders, you can also utilize SaaS solutions and may find that the monthly cost is favorable.  If you are considering the eCommerce pricing plan available from your website builder, be aware that the types of products you can sell may be limited.  Products such as courses and membership sites can be difficult to set-up.

 

  1. Consider Payment Gateways

Payment gateways fulfill a vital role in the eCommerce transaction process, authorizing the payment between merchant (you!) and customer. Popular payment gateways include PayPal/Braintree, Stripe, and Square.

Some SaaS shopping cart solutions require you to have accounts with payment gateways and connect these during the setup process.  Each time a transaction occurs, the funds from the sale are deposited into your payment gateway account minus any fees charged.

There are also SaaS solutions that include a built in payment gateway as part of the fee paid to access their software.  This means that you do not need to create or connect accounts with payment gateways to sell products.  A schedule for payout of your sales earnings is often weekly or biweekly. Usually these solutions have a higher fee charged but offer added convenience.

For self-hosted shopping cart solutions, you will need to set-up and configure your payment gateways. You will likely need to create a test payment environment to validate functionality.  Because these shopping cart solutions are typically open source and highly customizable, you may find that support and documentation is less available to assist you in the setup process.  A web developer skilled in eCommerce site configuration can be invaluable if you opt for a self-hosted option.

 

  1. Understand Security Requirements for Selling Digital Products

To sell digital products, sensitive information such as credit card details are required.  There are several rules that you must follow to be compliant.  These include having an SSL certificate to ensure sensitive information is encrypted as well as maintaining PCI compliance.  Most ecommerce sites also utilize a firewall and have precautions in place to minimize fraudulent activity.

One of the major benefits of using a SaaS shopping cart solution is that the transaction does not occur on your website.  While many of the SaaS options allow you to create an overlay checkout screen that appears over the top of your website, the credit card details and payment is occurring on the SaaS solution website.   This means that the responsibility for security of payment details falls on the SaaS solution website, not yours.

If you choose a self-hosted shopping cart option, it will be necessary for you to ensure that you are compliant with security requirements.  This often means spending additional money on website security solutions and possibly hiring a consultant or expert to ensure that you have necessary safeguards in place.

 

  1. Evaluate Pricing

There is a wide range of price points for shopping carts, depending on how much storage and bandwidth you need. SaaS solutions typically offer several options ranging from $10 to $200 per month, and open-source platforms are available for free (though you will have to purchase a handful of addons).

To compare pricing, you will benefit from using real-world numbers or hypothetical projections.  First, estimate the number of products you plan to sell, the size of files associated with those products, the price you plan to sell each for and estimated number of sales.  Next, determine the pricing level for each SaaS solution to meet your specifications as well as have access to any specific features you desire.  For self-hosted, calculate the costs to install and configure (if you are hiring a professional) any addons, security and other costs related to website design.

  1. Test Ease of Use

Once you have identified the top shopping cart solution contenders based on price and type of products you plan to sell, it is essential that you test each for ease of use.  Most offer a trial period is offered.  This is the time where you can try before buy and verify that the tool is a good fit for your needs.  During this period, you should create product listings, add products to your website and complete a purchase.  In addition, it is recommended that you review documentation, FAQs, test out the support tools such as live chat, email and submitting a support ticket.  While testing each option is time consuming, it can save you a great deal of time in the future, by preventing the need to switch from one shopping cart solution to another.

 

Final Thoughts on Selling Digital Products:

Selling digital products requires new skills and some additional technology considerations.  This step-by-step guide is an overview of the steps in the process and gives you a roadmap for taking the next step.

Consumers and colleagues are purchasing nutrition-related digital content every day.  Registered Dietitians with an understanding of the essential elements for selling online are poised to leverage digital products to generate additional income and credibility in their area of expertise.

To help you make the decision, download my decision support tool that will provide you with recommended shopping cart solutions.

FNCE® Networking Guide for Entrepreneurs

Attending a major conference as a business owner feels completely different than attending when you work for a company.  It’s not just the fact that you’re paying your way…well, that is certainly a big one!

As a newbie entrepreneur you know that conferences are a great way to network but might feel a little hesitant about how to prepare for your first big conference as a business owner.

After more than 15 years in the corporate world and many conferences under my belt, I found myself feeling unsure of how to approach my first FNCE® as an entrepreneur.  I knew that I needed to make connections with potential collaborators, market my business and interact with brands and influencers.  It was an incredible experience and most of my most important business milestones this past year have been the result of networking at FNCE®!

These are my top 5 tips for networking at FNCE® as a newbie business owner.

1. Meet new people – While this probably sounds obvious, I can’t tell you how many attendees spend the majority of their time in a bubble talking only to colleagues they already know or staring at their smartphone. FNCE® is the largest gathering of Food and Nutrition Professionals in the world!  It is a time to connect with others in the field that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to cross paths with.

You might be thinking, but I’m an introvert or that talking to strangers is awkward.  It can feel a bit intimidating, but conference attendees aren’t strangers!  Break the ice and ask which session has been their favorite, or what type of work they do.

Between each session, make it a point to introduce yourself to at least 1 new person. This could be while waiting to enter the conference room or standing in line for coffee.  You might be surprised how many other people are just as hesitant as you to strike up a conversation but jump in when you break the ice.

Introduce yourself to people around you after you sit down at a session.  Instead of scrolling social media, browsing some flyers or a new resource from the EatRight Store, use the pre-session time to share business cards and expand your network.

Since FNCE last year, many people have contacted me because they saved my card or remembered meeting me at a session.  It may not seem like these quick conversations have a huge impact, but you might be surprised.

2. Ask questions and listen – It’s easy to be eager to share our own thoughts or talk about our interests. Avoid making networking opportunities about you.  Use the power of psychology and our desire to talk about our own interests to your advantage when networking.

Instead of thinking about what you are going to talk about with people you meet, focus on planning the questions you will ask new acquaintances and how you can better listen, record your notes and create opportunities for your business.

Be sure to be specific when writing out questions and have a plan for when you meet someone that has expertise in practice area or business aspect that you are interested in learning more about.  For example, if you want to publish a book and meet someone with experience, you should know exactly the questions you want to ask.

While there is nothing wrong with a fun conversation, try to be strategic in your networking.  Ask questions that serve to create a return on investment for your business.

3. Don’t downplay your business – as a newbie entrepreneur, you might be tempted to start your introduction with a statement such as “I’m trying to start a private practice” or “someday I’ll be publishing a cookbook.”

Be confident and speak about your business in a way that clearly shows that you have charted a course for success.  Every successful business has a beginning.  This is yours and there is no need to by shy about it.  To cultivate the most beneficial relationships and build you network, you need to send signals that you are on a path to success.

Take time before the conference and plan your “elevator pitch.”  This is quick description of your business.  It should be short and clear, a statement that could be easily shared on an elevator ride.  You must practice this pitch until you are confident and comfortable sharing it with a stranger.  It will feel awkward, but having a strong pitch is essential.  If you are striking up a conversation with a brand or potential collaborator, your ability to clearly and confidently share details about your business puts you out in front.

For example, my 2 sentence pitch for RD2RD is below.

RD2RD is a marketplace for RDs a to buy, sell and share digital downloads.  From handouts to presentations and business tools all available for immediate download, it is a destination for quality nutrition resources and a way for RDs to share their wisdom and earn extra income.

4. Have a gameplan – You decided to make a major business investment by attending FNCE® and need a plan to get the most out of it. This means more than just looking through the sessions and planning which you will attend.  Be sure to download the FNCE® app and get familiar with all the functionality/information available at your fingertips.

This includes researching special events you can register for and scoping out planned networking opportunities offered by practice groups or brands.   It means looking at the exhibitors and identifying specific brands/companies you want to connect with.  Look at the conference schedule and identify opportunities to grab coffee, lunch or even a morning walk with people you meet.  If you have identified these times already, you can easily suggest one and capitalize on a business-building opportunity.

5. Follow-up! – It may sound basic, but post-conference follow-up is easy to let slip. You will be tired and catching up on the work you set aside to attend FNCE®.  Don’t let that stack of business cards and “let’s talk more about this” statements get dusty.  Make it a point to add notes to business cards or other collateral you pick up at the conference and jot down notes.  It will not be as easy as you think to remember people you meet or that great idea that came to mind while you were talking.  Jot down a few notes and any specific follow-up items.

Then, follow-up.  Send an email. Schedule a Skype.  Follow new contacts on LinkedIN or social media.  Make effort to cultivate the fruits of your networking labor!

Conclusion

Networking at FNCE® is an incredibly opportunity for your business but requires that you plan and execute.  You might think that as a newbie entrepreneur, you should use this first big conference as a chance to watch and learn.  Consider the return on investment if you crafted a networking plan and nailed your elevator pitch.

Have fun and I hope to see you at FNCE®!  RD2RD Marketplace will be at the Member Marketplace on Monday, October 22nd at booth 3007.  Stop by and say “Hi.”  I’d love to hear your pitch.

Do you want to grow your income with digital products?  Learn More
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