Career Development

Becoming a Freelance Massage Therapist

There are a lot of different careers that lend themselves to freelancing. We talked about a few of them last year in our post “Freelance Career Paths.” There are, of course, other things that you can do as a freelance agent. Heck, if you’re determined and resourceful enough, you can turn just about anything into a freelance career. Massage therapy, for example, can easily be done on a freelance basis.

A lot of people assume that becoming a massage therapist means that you have to relegate yourself to working in spas or hospitals. Really, though, there are a lot of people out there who are happy to hire a masseuse independently. So how do you turn your desire to be your own boss into a thriving freelance massage business?

Education

There is more to massage therapy and being a masseuse than simply knowing how to rub a person’s back or shoulders. While each state has different requirements for issuing licenses and certifications for therapists, there are some common themes between them. For example, it is important that you complete an accredited program for massage and physical therapy (and that you can prove your completion). You’ll usually have to complete a certain number of hours worth of experience in things like business practices, body mechanics, hygiene, etc. When you can demonstrate that you’ve completed these things, you can apply for your certification and licensing.

Register Locally

Before you can go into business and accept money from clients, you need to make sure that you register your business with your state. You might also have to register your new company (as a freelancer you’ll be a sole proprietor) with your county and city as well. Make an appointment with your local branch of the small business association and work with one of the counselors there to make sure that all of your legal i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.

Get the Right Equipment

Some independent massage therapists lease a space and have their clients come to them. As a freelancer, though, it is more likely that you are going to be traveling to your clients’ homes and places of work.

Most of the time, all you truly need for your massage business is a high quality table. You can save money by shopping for these online. It is often possible to find a massage table for sale at Earthlite.com and related sites. You’ll also want to get some good towels, massage lotions, etc.

PRO TIP: A great way to bring in extra income is to make your own massage oils and other body care supplies and sell them to your clients and in local consignment shops.

Market Yourself

This is one of the hardest and, often, most fun parts of getting your business up and running. Obviously you’ll want to build a website for your company and make sure that you have a solid and positive social media presence. From here, it’s also a good idea to set up shop at local networking events, business fairs and other community events.

It will be tempting to advertise your service on every park bench, in every periodical, etc. It is important, though, that you focus the majority of your energy on your core audience. Perhaps, for example, some of your friends from school have found placements in spas or hospitals? Can you ask them for referrals? Natural health stores and other “new age” type shops are often happy to let you place signs or fliers in their windows or on their countertops (you can sweeten this deal by offering a finder’s fee). Offer incentives to clients who refer friends and colleagues to you.

Track Everything

Finally, make sure you know how to manage your money and taxes. If you aren’t good with those kinds of details, hire someone who can manage them for you. Even as a freelancer who accepts individual payments, you have to pay taxes.

Good luck!

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