Hi – I am Julie Onofrio and I am here to help you build your massage practice with my unique 5 step formula – websites, referral networks, boundaries, self care and if you want – billing insurance for your massage sessions!
Peer supervision and peer supervision groups are the glue that holds your practice all together.
I have been a massage therapist since 1987 starting out with 250 hours of basic massage training. I started working for myself right from the beginning. There weren’t any jobs back then at all except for a few contractor jobs. I went to massage school because I had been working in photography for over 12 year and was burned out. ( I didn’t know anything about burnout back then but I should have known it wouldn’t be the first time!) I mostly worked in customer service after working for part of my career there in the dark rooms developing prints for advertising, weddings – you name it. Everyone needed everything yesterday. I had just started taking an interest in health and had started running regularly and eating healthy. One day I read about massage school on the back of a local newspaper. The ad said something like “go to massage school and learn about massage and health.” I had only had one professional massage before in my life and had mixed feelings about it. I was bruised so badly I could hardly move my shoulders. I am not sure why actually but I just did about 2 weeks of research about becoming a massage therapist asking a few massage therapists if they were making a living and how they were doing it. I was in massage school within those two weeks and never looked back. My personal site for my massage office is www.massageseattle.net
But I sometimes think that if I had known how hard it was really going to be and back then there weren’t any books or websites or anything on marketing for massage businesses. Being a massage therapist was more of a lifestyle choice – to have the freedom to live simply and come and go as I pleased. I didn’t think about making tons of money- the freedom is what I was looking for.
My First Massage Office
I started my business renting a room from a health club with a friend for $100 – I think we split that! With all of my customer service background I think building a practice came easily except for the fact that I was also an introvert and shy to top it off! My friend left to go off to other things a year or two or three…I can’t really remember but then I was the only massage therapist at the club. The owner started catching on to how popular massage was and started charging more. I started paying a percentage and when I got really busy I found that it was too much to be paying so I went off and rented space from a doctor at first and then an acupuncturist and then later another massage therapist. I never had my own space and always rented from someone else who held the lease making it cheaper to run a business. I still rent to day but now I only work 2-3 days a week seeing 12-16 clients a week. I write on the other days for my many websites.
Back then, getting clients was easier – no groupons, franchises or other competition. Even without the internet, being at the health club I had clients at my finger tips. Now adays, you need much more – starting with a website. The reason I am so passionate about websites is that I am shy and an introvert and actually dislike marketing! I had to figure out how to get my website to be getting me most of my clients because I didn’t want to do much else!
My First Website!
My first site was www.thebodyworker.com – (You can see what it looked like in the early days and see it’s progress at the Internet Archives). I started it in 1999 when websites were not the thing to be doing. Heck – my friends kids taught me how to use the computer. I use the click and go method and that always seemed to work out. If something went askew I learned a bunch about computers! I started that site basically because I was burned out from doing massage and was having some minor but annoying health issues. In the middle of a long series of training with the Zentherapy Institute (an offshoot of Rolfing) in about 1998 I was hit with a bad case of vertigo that left me incapacitated for weeks on end unable to work. It ended up coming and going for about 10 years but somehow I was able to get the website together. Actually it came about because a friend of mine had asked me to create an apprenticeship program for her o go through to get her massage license. She had extensive medical background and didn’t want to go through the whole training. I started collecting info about what I would have to teach her and looked into applying for the apprenticeship program option but decided it was too much jumping through hoops to get accepted so I just one day decided I would put it all into a website. I can remember getting my first server and I was scared to death to upload pages because I thought I would break the internet. Well the internet of course survived and so did I! I just kept adding info as I could. I did it just to keep myself going. I didn’t make any money doing it. I just did it for fun as a hobby.
Then in about 2002 or so I had been reading about Site Build it! for a year or so and finally decided to try it. Site Build it! is a webhosting system that teaches you how to create websites on topics of interest and teaches you how to make money doing them. I started with my first ebook – The Massage Career Guide – The Truth About Becoming a Massage Therapist. I started selling 10 copies of it a month or so after starting my first SBI! site – www.massagetherapycareers.com (See the history and progress of this site in the Internet Archives. ) It wasn’t making me rich but it was paying for the site and a few dinners! So I kept going and learned all about writing and getting traffic.
In about 2004 I think it was – a few years after Google started it’s Adsense program I decided to try it. I had been avoiding it because I thought no one clicks on ads and back then I thought you could get a virus from clicking on ads. But much to my surprise I started making a little money. I put the ads on my top 25 pages and I think I made about $100 my first month. If I could make that with just having ads on 25 pages – what could I make if I had more pages. Well my site grew to over 800 pages and I was making about$1500 a month just from Adsense ads. It makes money whether or not I am working on it or not. It makes money when I am on vacation and when I am sleeping. It isn’t getting me rich but it keeps me going and providing more and more free websites and creating more websites. My site www.thebodyworker.com was switched over to www.massageschoolnotes.com in early 2013. I also sold www.massagetherapycareers.com in late 2008 the same week the stock market crashed and WaMU bank came crashing down too. I sold it for enough to live on for a year or so but I continued writing and doing massage. I created a new site -www.massage-career-guides.com and unfortunately got hit by Penguin/Panda and dropped that site so I went back to what worked before but now use WordPress for www.massageschoolnotes.com.
As a massage therapist, your income is limited by the number of massages you can do in one day/week/month. We become massage therapists to help people so what if you could help even more? You are an expert at what you do. You are the expert on back/neck and physical pain and stress. We need more websites that really teach people what massage is about and how it can help them. You can easily make extra money each month writing about what you know and love using SBI!.
You will also need a website for your massage business and again start with SBI! so you get it right. Your website should be getting you most of your income so that you can focus on doing massage.
This site – www.massagepracticebuilder.com has been my career/life work are my gift to the massage profession because my career in massage has been such a wonderful journey and my goal is to help others in the struggles in becoming a very successful massage therapist. I just want to share what I know about building websites, creating a referral network and learning about ethics and self care through the process of supervision.
Julie Onofrio, LMP