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I am a fairly new Massage Therapist.  I graduated with 500 hours in July and rented a room from the school I graduated from here in California for $100 a month (it is actually $200, but I split it with another graduate). 

I am trying everything to get clients and not getting any success.  I have tried:

Craigslist (which I get the MOST business from)
I have donated gift certificates to various events as raffle prizes and even the winners haven't called to redeem their certificates.  (So, I can't GIVE massages away? lol)
I advertise at the health club I belong to and even give 10% off and give out 5 minute freebie massages during the advertising events and have only booked 4 massages off of that (and those we at 1/2 price because I was desperate)!
I am on call with a local salon/spa here in town, but have only done 4 massages for them and that is at a 60/40 split.

I just got a new website set up, I have passed out hundreds of cards and volunteered at different events.  Almost everyone that gets a massage from me says it is awesome, but I just don't know why I am having such a hard time getting business.  I have done many swaps with other therapists to make sure that my technique, attitude and "bedside manner" are good and would keep business.

I am open to any suggestions you may have.  I really want to succeed in this business and hope I am just having a hard time getting it off the ground. 

Thanks in advance for any ideas you may have!

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Stephanie Hargon said:
Those are some great ideas! Thank you! I thought I was getting out there, but I guess I have been "playing it safe" and not really getting myself out there. I will try some of those ideas for sure! Thank you!
I tried groupon and boomstreet and we where over book great for getting new customers we do this once a month give them a try.
I have to agree with Donna...

IT TAKES TIME to build up a practice.

You are expecting too much to think you will be booked solid having only graduated in July. Just keep doing what your doing.

You also may want to focus more on your website. I had a hard time finding it through google searching. you should always be working and updating your website with new and interesting information. It keeps your site "active" and therefore higher in the rankings. and this takes time as well.

It is great that you are doing alot of things to promote yourself but is sounds like you are just randomly putting the word out there.  Who is your ideal client?  Who do you want as clients? If you specialize in something it is easier to focus your marketing efforts.  That doesn't mean you can't work on other people outside that specialty.

The thing is that you just have to keep doing something everyday.  Just because you do something once and it doesn't work that time doesn't mean it won't work.  I think you have to keep doing it until you get enough exposure and enough people will know who to go to when they do need massage.  If you don't have clients spend everyday marketing,working on your website, writing articles to get traffic to your website,writing letters to doctors or others to develop your network -


I don't think it does take that much time to get a full practice. I think it just takes a lot of work, a lot of creativity and perseverance.


I  have a long list of ideas


info for your website and getting traffic


and info about creating your referral network.


You just have to keep at it until you have the clients that you need.  do a groupon or other group buying discount thing and get people in the door and have a good follow up whatever you need to do.  Give massages away for free for a month.



So much good info has already been offered...(Great ideas Tracy!)


No offense intended, but your website definitely needs help.  The color scheme is bland and doesn't catch the eye.  The banner ads NEED to go!  And you desperately need content; so many of your pages have NOTHING on them.  Having a website isn't enough - your website has to engage your prospective client and give them a reason to want to get a massage from you.


You said earlier that you are hesitant to spend $ on advertising, but there are other ways of marketing your practice other than advertising.  (Print ads IMO are really hit-and-miss anyway.)  I like Tracy's idea of doing "volunteer" massage for emergency responders (ERs), but I would go one step further: in addition to getting your face in front of the ERs, I would also put out a press release announcing that you will be doing this.  This way you're getting the word out to the people you're volunteering to, but also putting it out to the community that you are community minded and people respond to that.  


Always carry your business cards AND your calendar with you wherever you go.  Everyone I meet will leave that encounter knowing what I do and will have at least 2 of my business cards (I tell them one is for them and the other is to give to a friend who needs me.)  I've been at social gatherings and have had people ask for an appointment right then and there - having your calendar available at all times is essential.  


Work on your "30-second commercial" - be able to readily and succinctly tell someone what it is you do.  Go beyond your title; don't just say "I'm a massage therapist" - tell them what you do FOR your clients.  "I help people find solace from the stress of daily living." for example.  The point is to create interest and engage them in conversation.  Help them realize how you can help them.


And, I'll echo - keep at it.  Marketing is an ongoing process - 24/7/365.  Find your niche, target your message and be persistent.

Hi Stephanie, I have also tried all of the networking sites with little sucess. I get most of my business from working my profession into casual conversation. I also have set up a chair massage tent at a couple of events and email my website address to everyone I know. I am also on call at a salon and a chiropractors office. I have been told the first year or two are the most difficult, but stick with it and things will begin to happen for you. I notice a small growth in my customer base every month. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Most of all tell everyone what you do! Good luck and have fun.

Hi Stephanie -


You have a nice list of modalities: Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Reflexology, Sports Massage, Reiki, Pre-natal Pregnancy Massage, Abdominal Massage, Myofascial Release, Chair Massage, Therapeutic Massage, Shiatsu, Trigger Point Therapy, Acupressure, Lymph Drainage, Aromatherapy, Energy Work, Chakra Balancing).


Here are some practice building tips:



  • Take time to create a clear vision of what you want and need based on your values.
  • Think about tangible and tasteful ways to cultivate referrals, increase your presence in your client's lives, and fill your practice, all the while staying true to your values and principles
  • Examine how attitudes about money, value, socioeconomic class, and the age-old clash between commerce and healing, can affect your ability to truly useful to those you serve.
  • Appreciate what you have.  Focus on what you’re grateful for in your life.
  • Networking – Attend networking events and let people know you offer massage
  • Effective use of e-mail and direct mail – let people know you offer massage sessions
  • Newsletters – add information about Massage in your newsletters
  • Gift certificates – offer gift certificates for an introductory discounted massage.
  • Web sites – feature massage on your web site
  • Follow up – call, write or e-mail customers who have come in for a massage
  • Letters of appreciation – send a letter to customers and friends who refer people for massage
  • Publishing articles – publish an article about massage and share copies of the articles with colleagues and clients
  • Print advertising – include massage in your print advertising
  • Referral incentives – offer a free massage for every 3 referrals or offer $10 off of the next session
  • Brochures – add information about massage in your brochures
  • Business cards – add information about massage on your business cards
  • Diversify and prosper – offer a variety of services, including massage combined with Aromatherapy
  • Keep a file box on your desk with all your ideas in it on separate cards.
  • Send out birthday cards with a gift certificate offering a discounted offer.
  • Call customers that you haven't seen in awhile and let them know what times you have available that week.
  • Do market research and find out what others in your area are doing and how they are marketing.  Ask them to send you their flyer, card or brochure.
  • Return all phone calls and e-mails within hours or at least the same day.  Many clients and potential clients have a list of massage therapists and they schedule with whoever is available first.
  • Focus on your goals and intentions.  Rich people see opportunities, poor people see obstacles.  Rich people see potential; poor people see potential loss.  Rich people focus on rewards; the poor focus on risks.
  • Ask for regular feedback from your customers.
  • Call your client the next day after a session to see how he or she feels.
  • Set up a regular treatment time for repeat clients.
  • Develop a give away product for your clients after each visit
  • Give free consultations.
  • Develop a one line slogan that can be associated with your practice
  • Give free lunch time seminars where people can find out about your services.
  • Ask for referrals.  Ask the referring people for information about themselves too so that you can refer to them.
  • Have a ready made list of contacts for referrals.
  • Become a great learner.  Attend conferences, workshops and CE classes.
  • Get set up to take credit cards through your business account.
  • Set up regular business hours so people know they can count on you.
  • Keep track of everyone who comes to see you and Keep your mailing list up to date.
  • Focus on you.  You are the root of your financial success or failure.  If you work on the roots, the “fruits” will take care of themselves.
  • Develop an Information kit for new prospective clients telling them everything they need to know about receiving a service from you such as location, cancellation policies.
  • Develop detailed educational material.
  • Research rates and price structures in your area to make sure you are charging fairly.
  • Enhance your energy.  Everything is energy.  Money is energy.  Big money takes big energy.  So get into shape, eat properly and get enough rest.
  • Increase your value.  Become an expert in your field and be the best at what you do.  To get paid the best, you must be the best.
  • Keep up on techniques and methods, always improving yourself and your treatments.
  • Make copies of interesting, informative articles to distribute to clients and colleagues
  • Believe you can be successful.  Put your attention on the traits, strengths, and virtues that allow you to believe you can – and deserve to be – successful.
  • Selectively consider offering a senior citizens’ discount, a students’ discount, a teachers’ discount, a military discount, and a professional discount to colleagues.
  • Volunteer your time to charities and non-profit organizations.  Give back.
  • Find other businesses to network with such as health clubs and gyms, beauty salons, florists, and retirement communities.
  • Find several successful mentors to work with one on one. Contact
  • Associate with successful people. Birds of a feather flock together.  Energy is contagious.
  • Review your business success plan often and share your review with supportive friends and mentors.
  • Choose your thoughts wisely.  You can choose to think in ways that will support you in your happiness and success…instead of ways that don’t.
  • Be mindful.

This is what your website page looks like when I pull it up. I would suggest getting your own website outside of the company you are currently utilizing. ABMP can help you with this. Contact ABMP to obtain details about website opportunities for ABMP members.




You are welcome to research and join groups on the Massage and Bodywork Professionals site. Two groups that come to mind right away are Practice Building and Career Opportunities. I believe there is a group that focus on every one of the specializations you list on your webpage: Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Reflexology, Sports Massage, Reiki, Pre-natal Pregnancy Massage, Abdominal Massage, Myofascial Release, Chair Massage, Therapeutic Massage, Shiatsu, Trigger Point Therapy, Acupressure, Lymph Drainage, Aromatherapy, Energy Work, Chakra Balancing. This website offers a great opportunity for networking.


There are several courses available specializing in Practice Building and Marketing. Ariana Institute offers an online CE course in Practice Building and Marketing for Massage Therapists. If you want a scholarship to take the course, please contact me.


Laura Allen has written a wonderful book about practice building and marketing. I would suggest that you get the book and follow the guidelines offered.


You mentioned that you are working full time and have a daughter, so that refines your hours of availability. Saturdays are usually the highest income producing days for massage therapists, so if you could make yourself available then, it may open doors for more clients to come your way.


Have you considered working for a clinic or spa that already has an established clientele? That works well for many therapists.


You can Google "massage Modesto" as part of your marketing strategy. This is what I found. You could follow up on these leads and see who might be interested in having you join them.


Search Results

  1. A Place to Relax Massage Skin Care - Day Spa in Modesto, CA

    Day spa services in Modesto, CA. We are classified as a beauty salon, day spa, wellness center, massagemassage center, facials.
    1127 13th St, Modesto, California 
    Place page

  2. Massage Modesto: Therapeutic Massage & Deep Tissue. Modesto, CA

    For the best therapeutic massage services including Saint John's neuromuscular therapy, deep tissue, sports injury massage, contact HealthQuest Therapeutic ...
    1801 Tully Rd # A2, Modesto (2)
    3 reviews
    Place page

  3. The Heavenly Spa Home Page

    The Heavenly Spa - located in Modesto, California, offering massage therapy, spa packages, skin care, facials, waxing, and body treatments.
    2717 Coffee Road, Modesto  - 
    "Family owned businesses that provide world class service should be recognized." (9) (6) (6)






    41 reviews
    Place page

  4. Helping Hands Massage & Aromatherapy - Downtown Modesto Full ...

    Our goal is to assist you in achieving the healthiest Mind, Body and Spirit. As a CertifiedMassage and Aromatherpist, at Helping Hands Massage ...
    516 Needham Street, Modesto (2)
    3 reviews
    Place page

  5. Taylored Therapeutics at All Knotted Up Massage Therapy

    Welcome to Taylored Therapeutics, Modesto's premier eco-conscious massage and bodywork service. Taylored Therapeutics is a private massage therapy practice ...
    (Inside All Knotted Up Massage Therapy), 1521 K Street, Modesto (1)
    1 review
    Place page

  6. Modesto California Massage Therapist Listings and User Reviews

    Business Listings for Massage Therapist with Phone Numbers and Contact Information inModesto California.
    225 E. Granger RD.#1 (McHenry Village), Modesto (1)
    1 review
    Place page

  7. A Thousand Cranes Spa
    420 Downey Avenue, Modesto (2) (2) (2)






    8 reviews
    Place page

    I sent you a friend request, please feel free to friend me.

    Judging my the responses you have received, you certainly reached out to the right massage community. I think you'll find this ABMP Massage and Bodywork site one of the most helpful resources you could possibly utilize. Congratulations on making a wise choice and reaching out. People are willing to be supportive and caring when given the opportunity.


    I will be thinking of you and wishing you the very best...


    Warmly, Ariana Vincent, Ariana Institute





Hi Stephanie--- Just starting out mabey you should try some different avenues. Offer your services in Chrio's offices, salons, Hospice, there are many places you can start out at and find where your supposed to be.

When I first started I knew I wanted more of a medical approach to my practice, but I did try different places.


Hi Stephanie- I too, am fairly new to this business and was having problems creating my earning capacity. Here's what I did and it worked for me: ( it too, takes a little time, but once word gets out, it spreads like wildfire )


For a limited time I offered a 50 minute massage for $25.00 if they would sign an agreement to stick with it for 12 months. That's one massage per month (they may choose more than one for that price also).  They prepaid $25.00 for an initial total of $50.00 at their first session.  24 hours notice required to cancel or re-schedule.


If they missed a month of massage, I kept the prepaid money and the contract was broken. ( I always allow for emergency or out of control situations). The thought behind doing this was to bring in business, allow some who felt that they could not afford to try a massage to give it 12 months to see the effects and the benefits, and allow those who already knew the benefits the opportunity to reap them and feel the financial break normally associated with massage, and to see that I had steady income for 12 months.


I give outstanding service, as I'm sure you do, treat my clientele as if they are the most important thing on earth (they are) and word has gotten out. I no longer take contracts because the people who took advantage of it do the greatest advertising for me.


Last year I was broke-this year I am working as much as I want to. I hope you can take something out of this and that your business flourishes. Keep your head up, the economy is bad right now and I know it's hard to keep a smile on your face, Let us know how you're doing.



There are many great tips here. Thanks Ariana for that list. I'm still reletively new to the business. I have found the more I have a positive atitude, the more clients I get. I know that isn't really advertising help but I feel people are attracted to positive energy. So seeing how well you are doing and not how far you are from your personal goal helps in my opinion.


I have tryed craigslist. I still post a few time on there. A lot of my clients come from craigslist but most that reply are looking for very cheap massages. So I try not to use that as my number one advertising. I use facebook and have started useing twitter. Facebook has been the best for me. Friends and family are my biggest help. With them getting massages from me and telling people they know have gotten me quit a few more clients.


Another thing I have started doing is sending out postcard saying "Thank you for being a client". I also put on there 20% off any massage service if they bring in the postcard. Also listing the prices on the back is a great idea so they can see what 20% off will be.

I have been a therapist for about 7 years now. So i guess u can say i am a semi-vet. I have only worked on my own for the past year and half. David stated that he thought it was because he is a man. I will say, in my experience being a man has something to do with sometime. But back to the subject. I live in an area that I am not from at all. So i have two strikes against me (kind of). What I have done to get clients is go to 3k, 5k, half marathons etc... and set my table up. If there is a running, bicycle shop you can talk to them. That is where I have gotten most of my clients. I have gotten a few on fb but those were really referrals from other ppl. Print advertising works a lil bit but it isnt worth the cost. As far as websites go. all the way. Oh yea, get some shirts made with your info on them
love the shirt idea. :)

Joshua Guffey (@TechGuyLikesZen) said:
Wear a shirt around that reads "I rub feet". You'll get comments and clients while running your errands. ;)
Here's one here:

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