On Becoming a Successful Massage Therapist

For any massage therapist reading this article, please understand you have your way of doing things and I’m not trying to step on your toes, telling you my way is the right way. How I found success with massage may just be a piece you can add to your repertoire. What I want you to understand is that success leaves clues. If you take the time to read this article, you’ll find some clues or perhaps hidden gems that may be missing in your massage practice. When implementing these pieces, you may find that your practice can go from a good practice to a thriving one. Keep in mind, this is not an in-depth guide. It’s more of a powdered down version of the steps I took to increase my business. In fact, in this article are the 8 goals I took to take my business from the bottom floor all the way to the top.

Let’s begin…

Money is wonderful.

I bet you weren’t expecting that. Nonetheless, get that securely fashioned in your mind. If you don’t, and unless you have an incredible bartering system, you’ll always have a tug of war with money.

Money is energy. It’s not greed. It’s not a negative green monster. It’s a fabulous energy exchange that one person gifts to another, because they’ve received a wonderful gift from you — the wisdom of your touch, the generosity of your time, and the years of experience you have with your modality.

What consciousness you place on money can determine how well you manifest the type of massage practice you truly desire.

I learned this the hard way. When I came into massage, I was asked by a friend of mine how much money I wanted to make during my first year as a massage therapist.

I didn’t know, so I said the first thing that popped into my heart and mind, “$33,000.”

She was disgusted. “You’ll be in the rat race, Brandon. You’re changing on me and I don’t like it. Don’t let money be your God.”

My first frame of reference was that if I made money, I would change into a bad human being and worship money as God. And, that’s how I lived the first several years of my massage career. I made sure not to make enough money to turn myself into an evil person that took advantage of others. In order not to become that terrible type of human scum, I highly discounted my prices. I did hour massages for $20. I did hour and a half massages for $40.

In order to pay my house rent, office rent, utilities for both my office and house, my car insurance, my groceries, and whatever else I needed, I had to work my ass off. And, I did. I worked so hard that I burned out. After several years of this, I wanted to set my massage table on fire and run to a silent meditation in Onalaska, Washington. There, I could live my life in peace and happiness and wash away the pain of being an overworked, underpaid massage therapist.

I wasn’t charging people what I thought I was worth. I didn’t follow my first thought, my heart’s insight — $33,000. I followed another person’s idea of money, as if her idea was more important than my heart’s desire.

Always go with your heart.

After a while, I couldn’t sustain the long hours, the hefty work load, and the lack of money to pay simple bills. I was tired of over-drawing my bank account on a monthly basis.

When I changed the way I thought about money, the way money manifested in my life changed.

I purchased an old cork board at a second-hand store, push pins, and several fancy magazines. With the magazines, I cut out pictures that portrayed success, such as, a happy car, a beautiful office, and many other images that brought a smile to my face. I then pinned them to my cork board, along with a hand written letter itemizing my goals for the coming year.

I told no one of my vision board. I wasn’t going to allow any human being, no matter how wonderful their intent was, to squash my hopes or change the energy that was shimmering throughout that board.

Goal 1: I make $4,000 a month.

Every morning, I’d stand in front of my vision board, reading my goals out loud, making sure to create an emotion for every goal that I read. After I’d finish, I’d close my eyes, taking deep breaths, and imagine that I already attained these goals. It was no longer a future event. It was a “now” event.

Within a year, I had accomplished every goal on that vision board. Even the $4,000 a month. By years end, I had a ritual every week where I’d plan out my schedule, and atop each day in the upcoming week, I’d write in how many massages I was going to perform on that particular day.

Re-read that last sentence.

It wasn’t a hope or a guess, it was what I knew would become a reality. I knew that the number that I wrote on top of each day of each week would bring in that exact amount of clients.

It did.

For example, the number I’d write on top of Monday was six, meaning I’d have six massage clients on Monday. Tuesday, four. Wednesday, six. Thursday, six. Friday, four.

Goal 2: I charge what I’m worth — $65 an hour, $90 an hour and a half.

Price matters, so I raised my prices, always leaving room for those who really could not afford to pay my full price. At the time, $65 was the going rate for an hour massage, so that’s what I charged. $90 for an hour and a half.

Goal 3: Give me your physically chronic conditioned clients. I help alleviate their pain.

I wanted to help people on a large scale. I wanted to help alleviate pain from the worst of the worst cases, the most chronic of clients, and the ones that even chiropractors and doctors couldn’t figure out. For others to be in pain for so long with little to no hope didn’t sit well with me. I wanted these people to find what they needed. I wanted them to find me.

Goal 4: I learn from the best of the best massage therapists. They teach me how to alleviate physically chronic conditions.

The challenge? I didn’t know that much about massage other than basic Swedish. With my practice, that type of modality didn’t deliver what I wanted my clients to receive and if I wanted to bring in clients that needed a different type of massage that brought incredible results, I’d have to change my style. I’d have to become a niche of some type. I’d have to learn from massage therapists that help the worst of the worst, and on a constant basis.

I searched for the best of the best. And, I found them. I worked one on one with them. It’s been over twelve years, and I’m still working one on one with a mentor on a weekly basis, keeping my skills fresh and as perfected as possible.

This goal changed many of my client’s lives. I have plenty of stories, but none of the stories are needed here. It also helped to manifest the clientele I desired, making me a much more popular massage therapist in the eyes of my clients and their families, bringing in referral after referral. It helped change a paradigm in my client’s minds regarding massage. Massage wasn’t just a feel good thing anymore, reducing stress and increasing relaxation. It added the alleviation aspect, as well, placing massage in the same atmosphere as chiropractors, physical therapists, acupuncturists, and osteopaths.

Don’t tell the above therapists that massage is in the same atmosphere, because they’ll mostly disagree. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. This is your practice, your life, your service to others. You can bring a massive change to a client’s body.

Goal 5: I am in service of others.

This is a hard one to learn and can take years to understand what that statement truly means. Service to others must also serve you. If it doesn’t, it will cause undue stress, create a mind and emotional imbalance, and manifest negative physical symptoms in your body. If your body is telling you that something is not good for you and you’ve tipped the scale from healthy to unhealthy, then understand your body isn’t lying. It knows. Your mind will try and trick you. Your body never lies.

Sacrifice is not the way to heaven (I’m not talking religiously here). It’s a way to heartache. Yes, sacrifice yourself for your child, pushing them out of oncoming harm. Sacrifice your time for a client that really has no option and is in much pain, but do not sacrifice yourself on a continual basis for the benefit of humanity. When you do, you’re not teaching humanity how to live a successful, thriving life. Unless you have unlimited energy, which I think enlightened people attain, then you’re doing yourself and humanity a disservice. You’re teaching them that it is okay to live out of balance.

Always be kind. Always be giving. The moment that being in service to others brings you out of gratification and joy — sucking the life force from you — is the moment you must slow down and see what in you needs to change.

Goal 6: I receive weekly massage from a talented massage therapist.

If you’re not giving to yourself as much as you give to others, then you will become overwhelmed. I’m not a guru, so I’m not eloquent with my words and I’m probably not getting my point across, so bare with me.

Life requires a balance and massage therapy is no exception. If you’re giving massage, please receive massage, and weekly. Include yoga into your daily regime. Find a way to eat living, vibrant foods. Do something that gives you abundant energy.

However, if after adding healthy means to your daily routine, yet you still feel too tired to give massage today because you spent the last two days massaging over your massage limit, then cut back. If you don’t, then you’ll begin to change your thought patterns regarding clientele, massage, and money flow. You’ll simply attract less clients because the energy you’ll be sending out will be pushing clients away, instead of inviting them in.

Receiving continual massage on a weekly basis can be a game changer.

Goal 7: I have an office that client’s love.

I wanted my clients to come to a clean, home-like office, with beautiful images of nature, wonderful music, and a comfortable table.

It’s important. And, I don’t think I need to explain why.

Goal 8: I take action on all that I desire.

And, to my last goal. About time, right?

From my life’s goal of helping others, living comfortably, and connecting to other like-minded therapists who can help alleviate the worst of the worst physical issues in a client, I can easily tell you that I attained each and every goal. And, when I did, I then created bigger and heftier goals. I attained those goals, as well.

I couldn’t have done this without taking the most important step — the action step. Like a famous peak performance coach once said, “Action is what unites every great success. Action is what produces results. Knowledge is only potential power until it comes into the hands of someone who knows how to get himself to take effective action. In fact, the literal definition of the word ‘power’ is ‘the ability to act’.” So, don’t stand in front of your weed-filled garden, chanting affirmations, “There’s no weeds, there’s no weeds.” The only way to get rid of those weeds is to take action and pull those suckers out yourself. And, that’s what I did. That’s what I continue to do.

Yes, my goals have changed, evolving into bigger and different things. Still, every day, I look at my goals and read them to myself, imagining that they are already manifested in my life.

It works.

It’s beautiful.

It’s angelic.

At one time in my life I had one of the busiest massage practices in Portland, Oregon. I don’t say this to brag. I say this to tell you that even though I met my goals, manifested what I desired, and was busy as hell, I became way too busy. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and change your goals to what best suits you. Everyone is different. Everyone is unique. My goals are not your goals. Set out to do what works for you.

If you’re a massage therapist and want to add anything, then please do so in the comments. I’m not an expert, I’m just another massage therapist with years of experience and much to draw upon.

I hope this somehow helps you.

Much Love,

Brandon Ellis