My Professional Cuddling Practice Crossed Six-Figures [Update]

Published: April 20th, 2024
Sam Varnerin
Founder, Snuggle with Sam
Snuggle with Sam
from Boston, Massachusetts, USA
started September 2016
market size
avg revenue (monthly)
starting costs
gross margin
time to build
270 days
growth channels
business model
best tools
Canva, Teachery, Google Alerts
time investment
Side project
pros & cons
40 Pros & Cons
3 Tips
Discover what tools Samantha recommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Samantha recommends to grow your business!

Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

Hi there! Sam is from Boston, and I’ve been running my own private cuddle therapy practice Snuggle with Sam for the past eight years. I also run a growing site for helping cuddle therapists that want to grow their businesses called Cuddle Career, where I have my rebranded evergreen course called Cuddle Career: Foundations (formerly a live course I had called Snuggle School).

For my clients, I help them develop healthier connections in their lives by practicing closeness in my sessions with non-erotic touch. Whether they have what I call “Single Person Syndrome” or a traumatic history with touch, I’m the professional and an active participant in their sessions while we navigate touch and cuddling together.

I’m on the right. On the left is one of my teachers and friend Jean Franzblau, owner of Cuddle Sanctuary out in LA. She’s famous for being on Dr. Phil and The Bachelorette as a cuddle expert

Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?

My last update on Starter Story was early 2022, so I’ll talk about updates from that point.

I spent the second half of 2022 into the first half of 2023 purposely “coasting” with my private practice and paying little to no attention to Cuddle Career. I spent most of 2022 taking training that built upon my capacity and skill sets to help my clients more.

These four trainings in particular greatly improved how I work with clients:

Near the end of 2022, I realized that I needed to automate and smooth out my processes for my clients as well as stop sleeping on Cuddle Career’s potential. I hired a close contact helping coaches and therapists with improving the operations side of their businesses through December 2023.

We did a TON of revamping together in 2023. We redesigned both my websites together (I’m an ex engineer, I like doing the techy stuff myself if I have a plan), automated many of my operations and client service processes, and ran the last live launch of Snuggle School before rebranding it to an evergreen course called Cuddle Career: Foundations.


Old site versus new site for Snuggle with Sam. My old site wasn’t bad, but my new site takes the focus off of me and centers my clients instead:


I couldn’t even get an old snapshot of Cuddle Career but trust me when I say the previous design was awful. My current site is way better designed because I’m willing to put the effort into designing it and updating it. Lesson learned: it doesn’t matter if Wordpress is technically more SEO-friendly than Squarespace. If you dread opening the dashboard, you’re going to avoid using it:


I also started consistently writing two emails a week: one for my clients and one for my Cuddle Career subscribers. I’ve always intended to do this, but this is the longest stretch of time in my business where I've been consistent about writing to both lists– 18 months and counting with missing sending an email maybe twice so far! It’s now my main way of getting clients to come back and for getting sales.

Between my site redesigns that directed people to sign up for my email list quicker and writing content consistently that people wanted to get in their inbox, my client email list grew 65% and my Cuddle Career subscribers grew 25%!

When clients told me buying a package to work with me (which starts at over $500) was a bit too much for them to budget for, I thought about what I could offer that was more accessible.

Many cuddle therapists I know that tried monthly memberships stopped offering them, citing clients saying it was still a big financial commitment for them to pay a couple hundred dollars a month. My assistant Sarah and I thought about what would be more accessible and still give us cash flow and clients coming in regularly.

We came up with a weekly membership where clients have a “bank” of credits they can build up and use for sessions was what we came up with.


These changes certainly paid off– while Cuddle Career hasn’t brought in significant money yet, my private practice hit over six figures for the first time in 2023!

It’s April of 2024 as I’m writing this and I’m already seeing that I’ll likely be beating last year’s total revenue mark if I stay at the rate I’m at. Who knew a cuddle therapist could make over six figures while feeling fulfilled with her work instead of overwhelmed?

Clients need to know what the next step clearly is and why. One of my clients pointed out to me that the verbiage on the new orientation video was soft and felt optional.… I made one change and doubled my conversion rate in a month.

What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?

In the past, I required a free 20-minute phone call with anyone interested in having a session with me. In early 2023, I went from averaging 2-4 of these calls a week with a 10% no show rate and a 50% closing rate to averaging 6-8 calls a week with a 35% no-show rate and my closing rate going down to closing 5 people in seven months.

But worst of all: I started getting calls from paying clients saying they couldn’t find time on my calendar… because it was littered with new client calls that weren’t coming in for sessions!

I couldn’t give this much time littered throughout the week to people that weren’t ready anymore– especially not at the expense of my clients. The typical industry solution I see from cuddle therapists is to require a deposit for your intro call. I thought about it, but I didn’t like that solution because I felt that would greatly reduce the number of leads that still need more exposure to my marketing (see: the rule of 7).

So I created this whole other idea altogether: I made an email opt-in to an orientation video I made of me giving all the info I usually give people in my 20-minute calls anyways. From there, you have to follow the directions in the video in order to book your first session with me.


I injected my humor, empathy, and straightforwardness into this video too, so people not only get the info they need for sessions on demand, but they can decide if I’m the kind of person they’d want to work with too

Clients that watched the video and booked their first session have been model clients, but it’s a slower rate of new clients trickling in than it was pre-2023. I’ve been playing with various marketing tweaks and asking current clients their thoughts on it to see how I can make it better and easier for new clients to take action.

I’m still unsure if this is the best way to onboard people, but I think it’s because no one in my field has done it this way before. Many people have signed up to watch the video and not booked, so one way I can look at this is many people have saved me time by watching it and deciding I’m not for them.

That said, I’ve collected a total of 100 leads on my email list since I implemented this as the only way to get on my client subscriber list nine months ago. With this email list, I can now segment my list and periodically email them letting them know I have more openings available soon and prompt them to complete onboarding. Converting any percentage of my email subscribers will make a huge difference in my practice.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

3 big lessons came out of this past year:

1) Clients need to know what the next step clearly is and why. One of my clients pointed out to me that the verbiage on the new orientation video was soft and felt like an option to do, not a requirement. He suggested using firmer language to indicate that watching the video is required of ALL clients in order to have a session. That change alone doubled my conversion rate in a month.

2) You don’t always need to make more money, but you do need to know how to manage the money you already have. As of this past November, I implemented the Profit First system and some other money management techniques I learned from Lou Clarke. It’s been a game-changer for my business. I actually realized I could make half of what I’m making and still have a thriving business by managing my money this way.

Also, pay quarterly taxes as soon as you start making money. You’ll be surprised how you won’t miss 15% of what you make if you never let it hit your spending account, and the IRS won’t hit you with a big tax bill. Ask me how I know.

3) Paying good money to hire people that can help you is vital. My assistant Sarah helped me so much in 2023. My current assistant Khat who has been helping me organize my content calendar is great. They’re making big differences in my business right now.

This is relevant for me because I’m going to need to hire good people over the next year and some months to help with a big personal project… my wedding! Noah proposed to me in June 2023 and I said yes. We’re planning on an August/September 2025 wedding.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

Other than continuing with the awesome, thriving practice I’ve been building for the past few years (read: optimizing my video landing page and nurturing my current clients and subscribers), here’s what I’ve got planned:

First, I want to be more public with my content creation. I’ve been great about weekly emails, but I want to focus on repurposing my writing for my blog (both Snuggle with Sam and Cuddle Career), my social media, and possibly a podcast.

Making a master plan for content creation feels overwhelming, but my assistant Khat is helping me organize myself so it isn’t. This is an immediate plan I have right now.

As far as Cuddle Career, I’m looking to make this a business that supports me just as much as (if not more than) my private practice. My life and family is growing and changing in very real ways. There’s more I want to do.

I love my private practice, but it’s also clear that I need to help train the next generation of cuddle therapists so they can help as many people as they can and want to. I have products and program ideas to offer. This is more of a 1-3 year plan.

When I last updated Starter Story, I said I was interested in making a cuddle franchise. I’ve since switched to wanting to make a multi-practitioner office.

I don’t want to hire brand new cuddle therapists (I’ve seen this backfire with another practice), but I might have an in-person program to train people locally and help them build their independent practice at some point before inviting them into my practice.

This is a 2-5 year plan in the making because I’d love to have a few offices built up and working with people. I honestly don’t think we’ve scratched the surface yet on how many people would benefit from cuddle therapy.

What’s the best thing you read in the last year?

Why We Sleep by Dr. Matthew Walker. Also highly recommend his Masterclass and podcast. The stakes are high for not sleeping enough, and the various effects good and bad sleep have on us is fascinating. Listening to him while trying to sleep is hilarious too– he takes delight in you falling asleep to his melodic podcast voice if you do. And I have. Several times.

Murder Your Employer: The McMaster’s Guide to Homicide by Rupert Holmes. Weird flex, I know, but hear me out: this is a fiction book that is hilarious and entertaining, two words I didn’t think I’d ever say about a book about murder. His storytelling and writing for this book is inspiring for me and a reminder that topics we think we need to talk about a certain way (like murder being serious and heavy, and cuddling being soft and cute) can be flipped on its head.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

Connection first, then ask forsale. Whenever I go back to connecting with my people, I see more growth. Anyone can sell, but not everyone can connect in a meaningful way. Be earnest about caring for your clients or customers, and your clients will care about you.

Don’t be afraid to follow up. I might not get a lot of new clients now, but I get clients that I follow up with that I heard from years ago that decided to come in again because I followed up with them (see also: connection first). I don’t consider a client to be a “dead lead” until they say something to the effect of “Please stop contacting me, I'm not interested anymore.”

Fun fact: I frequently forget to schedule medical appointments, dog grooming sessions, and oil changes. I often remember I need to schedule something late at night. If they don’t have an online scheduler, I’m going to forget about them by the time they’re open in the morning.

I finally went back to see my dentist a few years ago because they texted me a 5th time and asked if I was okay because I was overdue. (Don’t judge me for not doing anything the first four times, I’m trying to make a point.) No dentist has ever done that. I’ve been with them for longer than I’ve ever been with a dentist in my adult life now.

Automate processes where you can. I honestly feel like I have way more head space now that so many parts of my onboarding, follow up, and recurring clients are automated. My clients get better service too, so they stay around longer. I’m making more and I have more headspace for making better experiences for clients, for tweaking parts of my business, for building a content plan (and creating it!), and being there for my loved ones. That last one is the most important part.

Where can we go to learn more?

And my less active socials, though likely ramping up mid-year:

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

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