Getting your certification as a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner is no easy task. The program is strenuous and really prepares you for the work you will do with clients once you graduate.
And while the FDN program excels in teaching you the science, physiology, and methodology to be an amazing health coach, it leaves you without much assistance when it comes to running a modern, virtual private practice.
And that’s where this blog post comes in! I will walk you through the three key steps that I took to make my business as an FDN-P successful right after graduation.
I graduated with my certification in functional diagnostic nutrition in August of 2021. Since then, I’ve built a highly successful virtual private practice where I get to help my ideal clients reach their health goals.
It’s been such a rewarding experience, and I’m so thankful to be able to help others in a career that also brings me much fulfillment.
So, if you’re ready to learn how to run a successful virtual practice in functional diagnostic nutrition, let’s go!
About My Certification in Functional Diagnostic Nutrition
You can practice functional diagnostic nutrition with a variety of certifications and degrees.
I chose to get certified through Functional Diagnostic Nutrition and become a certified FDN-P.
You can read a full review of my experience with the FDN certification program in this blog post.
And if you’re interested in learning more about FDN as a potential certification, you can get access to the first module in the course for free. This is a perfect way to test out the program to see if it sounds like a good fit for you!
Overall, I found the FDN training to be extremely valuable and gave me the right knowledge and tools so that I could successfully coach clients to better health.
The founder of FDN, Reed Davis, is a great teacher, but his business practices are a little old-school.
And this is one of the areas in which I had to rely on my own skills so that I could build a successful online practice.
But, overall, I chose to get my functional diagnostic nutrition certification through FDN for the ability to run functional labs, not for how they would train me to run my own online business.
The business part took a little trial and error, but I figured out a system that works well for me. And now I’m going to share it with you!
How I Run My Virtual Practice
There are so many ways to run a successful virtual practice as a functional nutritionist.
This is just the way that I found to be most effective and simple for both me and my clients.
Here are the exact methods, software, and tools I use to run my virtual practice as a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner.
How I Attract Clients
Attracting clients, more formally known as marketing, is probably the most important piece to having a successful online business.
The internet is a large place, and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle if you don’t make it a priority to stand out from the crowd.
And with so many online platforms to showcase your expertise and build an audience, it can be difficult and overwhelming to know where to start.
For my business, I chose to focus on two platforms as my primary means of content marketing to attract clients – my blog, and Instagram.
My recommendation to you would be to choose 2-3 platforms that you enjoy using and focus on creating engaging, helpful content that your ideal client would find valuable.
You don’t need to be on every platform out there. But you do need to get your message out somehow. For me, that was blogging and creating a community on Instagram.
What Technology I Use
There is so much amazing technology out there to help make your virtual practice run smoothly.
When I first started building out the backend of my business, I tried many different options for client management software, email marketing platforms, and supplement dispensaries.
Here are the ones that I’ve stuck with, that are serving me well, and are enabling me to run a successful, headache-free online business.
Client Management System: Practice Better
- Practice Better is your one-stop shop for managing client appointments, creating invoices, holding client video sessions, sending protocols, and creating forms, waivers, and contracts. There is not much that Practice Better doesn’t do, and it’s been extremely useful for managing all my client appointments and notes.
Supplement Dispensary: Fullscript
- Fullscript is the most comprehensive, easy-to-use supplement dispensary I’ve found. It’s like Amazon, but for trusted, practitioner-grade supplements. I love that you can give your clients a discount on all their supplement orders, which is a great incentive for them to work with you and continue to order through your dispensary. You also make a significant commission on all supplement orders placed through your dispensary. And with more and more clients ordering supplements, that commission can really add up. Fullscript also integrates with Practice Better, making writing protocols and recommending supplements so easy.
Email Marketing System: Flodesk (save 50% on your subscription with this link)
- Flodesk is an extremely intuitive email marketing platform that enables you to create landing pages and sign-up forms for your prospective clients to join your email list. Building your email list is an extremely effective way to capture an audience, share valuable tips, and eventually sell your services. Flodesk emails are visually appealing and the backend allows you to sort your audience into segments based on their interests.
These are the three main platforms that I use most often in my business. And for someone just starting out, that’s about all you need to be successful.
The Functional Diagnostic Labs I Run
In the FDN program, we learn how to run five different functional labs on our clients. The FDN also recommends that you actually run all five labs on every single client you see.
However, I’ve found that, at least with my clients, all five of the recommended labs are not necessary. Not to mention I believe that the high cost of all these labs would likely put my services out of reach for most people.
Currently, there are three functional labs that I run with all of my clients. I’ve found this method of selectively testing to be cost-effective for the client and it gets me all of the information I need about their health to create an effective healing protocol.
The three labs I currently run on all my clients are:
- Diagnostic Solutions GI-MAP – stool testing for identifying root causes of gut issues, including parasites, H pylori, dysbiosis, and intestinal health
- Analytical Research Labs Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis – hair testing to look at cellular mineral status, and is used to evaluate individual mineral levels as well as infer information about the health of other body systems (adrenals, thyroid, nervous system, etc.)
- Fluids iQ Stress & Hormone Panel – saliva testing that provides information about sex hormones and a daily cortisol pattern
The cost of these three labs comes out to around $600. And while this is still a significant amount of money, it has not been a deal breaker for my clients.
It’s important, as a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner, to use your best judgment in weighing the costs and benefits of running certain labs with your clients.
Every practice will be unique in the labs that are most useful. And your perception of which labs are important will also likely change over time as you get more skilled and grow as a practitioner.
My Keys To Success Right After Getting My Certification
Now that we’ve laid the foundation of what my virtual practice looks like, we can dive into the three keys that enabled me to have a successful practice right from the start.
If you’re looking to become a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner, I would highly recommend working on these three things before you graduate.
Getting at least an idea of how to move forward on these three points will set you up for success once you have your certification and are ready and excited to see clients.
I Created an Online Presence Before Graduating
Getting myself, my brand, and my expertise out into the online world before I had my certification was a huge driver of my immediate success following graduation.
It’s difficult to build trust over the internet. And when you’re expecting people to pay you upwards of $2,000 to help them with their health concerns, trust is a big factor.
Establishing my name in the online health space before I expected anyone to pay me a dime, helped me establish an authentic relationship with my audience.
Creating my blog and Instagram account well before I made a large investment in the FDN program helped me to make sure there was an audience and a need for my services in the niche that I wanted to work in.
I already had people on my waiting list ready to work with me once I got my certification. And that put my mind at ease knowing that there were definitely people out there wanting to work with me.
I put a lot of time and effort into growing my platforms, with not much return on that investment in the beginning. But, all of that work made it possible for me to be successful as a practitioner immediately, which I’m very grateful for.
If you do nothing else, I highly recommend you start growing your platforms, sharing your expertise, and gaining that like-know-and-trust factor with your audience as soon as you can. You won’t regret it.
I Was Clear on My Niche Right from the Start
The next key step to establishing a successful functional diagnostic nutrition practice is to get clear on your niche (aka the people you want to help) right away.
So many of the people I graduated from the FDN program with had no idea what they wanted to specialize in once they opened their practice.
And it’s definitely possible to have a successful business helping everyone with everything. But, trying to speak to and market your services to every health condition all at once can be difficult.
Getting clear on who I wanted to serve (people with upper GI symptoms and/or H pylori) right from the beginning, enabled me to establish clear messaging in my marketing attempts AND it enabled me to portray myself as an expert in my field.
Think about it, if you’re struggling with acne, are you going to want to work with a practitioner who also helps people lose weight and get pregnant? Or are you going to want to find the best practitioner out there who specializes in acne and helps other people just like you?
Probably the latter. And that’s how you want to position yourself to your potential clients. And the only way to do that is to get very specific and very clear about who you serve in your business.
The sooner you can get your niche nailed down, the sooner you can start attracting the exact people you want to work with.
I Kept My Prices Affordable to Gain Experience
And last, but certainly not least, the third key to having a successful practice right away was to keep my prices affordable.
Many business coaches out there will tell you to “charge what you’re worth.” And even Reed Davis teaches that you should be charging a lot of money for your health coaching services.
But, I respectfully disagree. At least in the beginning.
If you’re a recent graduate, you likely have no experience, no testimonials, and have not proven that your methods give clients results.
And while, if you graduated from the FDN program, you can be certain that you understand the fundamentals of coaching someone back into better health (because what you learn in the FDN program definitely works!), you have yet to prove it in practice.
It’s for this reason alone that I recommend lowering your prices, just for a short time, so that you can get some experience under your belt as a new practitioner.
In my own practice, when I first opened my schedule to see one-on-one clients, I offered anyone who booked with me one month of free coaching. That was essentially 33% off my coaching packages.
I only kept this discount active for the first two weeks when I was enrolling new clients. And because I had already put in the work in the first two areas that we talked about, above, I was able to book three clients in my first week after graduation.
After that initial enrollment, I never again discounted my services, and I have only increased my prices.
So, you don’t need to lower your prices forever. And you certainly don’t need to be taking a loss on your services.
But, when you’re first starting out, it can be beneficial to offer prospective clients an incentive to sign up with you.
The Bottom Line
While it might take some forethought and effort, running a successful, virtual, functional diagnostic nutrition practice is possible. And it isn’t far out of reach, either!
As soon as you’re able, get to work on these three key factors that I mentioned above (creating an online presence, clarifying who you serve, and making your prices affordable).
And then once you’ve graduated and are eager to see clients and make back your investment, you’ll have people to speak to.
I hope this blog post was helpful and encouraging as you begin to navigate the murky waters of running your own online business.
Honestly, a lot of it is figuring it out as you go. But hopefully, this post gives you a solid starting point and makes this transition seem a little less daunting.
I love chatting with current or future functional practitioners. So if you have any follow-up questions, or just want to chat online business, feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected].
I’m rooting for you. Go out and make the world a healthier place!
And if you do want to join the FDN program, you can check out through this like to save $500 on enrollment! Here is my complete review of the program if that can help your decision. It was an amazing program and really helped propel my business to the next level.
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