Let’s be honest with one another, most life coaches are struggling to make a decent living from coaching and most life coach websites suck.
It’s the reason why I devote most of my training to the client acquisition element.
It’s no good being a brilliant coach if you don’t have any clients!
As thousands of coaches set up their own practice each year the competition has gone from tough, to very tough, to absolutely brutal.
I have worked with well in excess of 300 coaches and I could count the ones who were thriving when they hire me on one hand.
Those figures may be skewed somewhat because by and large if you have a steady stream of new clients you certainly won’t have the same inclination to hire me as a new coach would have.
However, it’s not just the coaches I work with that leads me to believe more coaches are struggling than the leading training organizations would have you believe, it’s the barrage of e-mails I receieve requesting free help.
In one 24-hour period a couple of years or so ago I had five coaches e-mail me asking for advice.
Now I refer people to the free coaches support group I set up in Facebook, but I still get concerned.
Not for the people who e-mail for help, or those who ask me on Facebook because they obviously recognize they have deficiencies and are trying to do something about it.
But, it’s the thousands of life coaches who don’t realize they are about to walk in to ravenously hungry den of lions armed with only with a rolled up copy of the New York Times.
Or the ones who *think* they know what to do and really don’t.
There are no doubt dozens of ways to screw up your online presence, but in terms of your website, these are probably the 10 easiest ways.
10 Reasons Most Life Coach Websites Fail
1. Having An Ugly Website
Websites are like children, most parents think their kid is better looking and smarter than the average kid and get offended when somebody points out otherwise.
The only problem with this belief is that most life coach websites are uglier than Wally the Warthog who just won this years Ugliest Warthog of the Year competition for a sixth straight year.
I have looked at hundreds and could probably count the really good ones on both hands without needing to trouble my thumbs for any further help.
When I started coaching full time in 2005 the “If you build it they will come” philosophy generally held true.
Just having a website set you apart from the competition and made you look professional.
That is no longer the case and hasn’t been for quite some time.
An ugly, difficult to navigate and/or slow loading website is probably worse than no website.
There is a cognitive bias called the halo effect in which we tend to think that people we admire for one or more admirable traits, must be admirable in other areas of their life too.
This applies to your website.
If potential clients see a website that looks poorly designed or has spelling or formatting errors, then subconsciously they will presume you’re sloppy or careless
Think of your website as your shop window if you had a brick and mortar business – because that’s exactly what it is.
If it looks cheap and tacky it will only attract cheap and tacky at best, and nobody at worst.
2. Having A Do It Yourself Or Free Life Coaches Website
You’re a Life Coach and unless you have design and/or coding experience you should not be designing your own website.
If you do, it will almost certainly look like the website of a life coach designed by a life coach.
Would you attempt to do your own dentistry, hair styling or build your own house?
I have had many people proudly tell me they built their own website just as I was thinking, “Wow, you really need to fire your designer and rip down that site before anybody sees it”
You can get a clean looking easy to navigate website on WordPress for well under $2,000 these days and you can get an amazing site that truly kicks ass for around $5k.
I change the design of mine about every 4-years and as such investing between $5k and $10k is well worth it.
Similarly, you should NOT be using any website that you or your designer do not host.
With free sites like Wix, Weebly, Sitebuilder or Squarespace you have little control over design, SEO, and you don’t even own your own content in the majority of cases.
Some people have said they upgrade to a paid version of the above for extra features. It really doesn’t matter, avoid them like the plague if you want to market online.
Even companies that ‘specialize’ in offering sites for life coaches, should in the majority of cases be avoided because they’ll be using templates and just dragging and dropping everything.
The net result of this is that all their sites look the same and don’t meet your individual needs.
There are exceptions like Chris at Falaris who I use and highly recommend. The difference with Chris is, he hand codes everything and will take several hours talking to you to ensure exactly what it is you want.
Note: I’m NOT an affiliate for Chris, so if you hire him all I get is a nice warm fuzzy feeling and you get a great website.
3. Having No Real Call To Action
What do you want people who land on your site to do?
You probably answered, ‘hire me!’.
That would be the wrong answer.
Well, actually no strike that, it’s a reasonable answer to want that, but you shouldn’t be aiming for that because if you do you’re going to fail.
What you should be looking to do is to start the process of building a relationship with potential clients.
When people land on the home page of Coach The Life Coach I want them to subscribe to my newsletter.
Of course, there is an option for them to contact me directly and some people do, but my main goal is to get them to sign up for the newsletter.
If they do, I can then start to build a relationship by supplying them with high quality content that has value in and of itself.
By doing that, I know there is an exponentially increased likelihood they will hire me in the future or take one of my courses.
i get between 250 and 500 unique users a day to the site and that is way more than most life coaches.
However, I couldn’t survive if I was just aiming to get people to sign up for the course immediately without getting to know me, and neither can you.
We’re not selling Snickers bars or cheap novelty gifts here and people rarely hire a life coach on impulse, so don’t expect them to.
At least buy them a drink before you ask them to get in bed with you.
4. Having No ‘What’s In it For Me’? (WIFM)
Can you look at your home page and honestly say you have clearly articulated the benefits for anybody hiring you in a paragraph or a few bullet points?
If you have any doubt whatsoever get somebody who doesn’t know what you really do and ask them.
You have about 3 to 7 seconds to deliver that message before the back button has been hit and your potential client has gone for good.
My home page makes it perfectly clear what I do and who I help.
The people landing on your website don’t care about you, they care about what you can do for them.
It’s all about them!
In the nicest possible way, presume everybody is stupid and make your service offering blindingly obvious.
5. Having No Picture Of You
We are in the partnership business and not having your picture on your website is fatal, did you hear me?
You’re potential clients want to connect with you.
Not a nice flower, not a beach, a cute dolphin or any other crap stock image you bought for 5 bucks or downloaded for free like I just did with the one above.
If you are nervous about uploading your photo (and a decent one with you looking welcoming) because of what others may think, you’re probably in the wrong job.
It’s okay if you’re a tad overweight, have lost most of your hair and aren’t aging especially gracefully.
Er, wait a minute, that’s me!
6. Not Understanding SEO Basics
SEO means search engine optimization and is the process of making your website as appealing to Google and all the other search engines as possible so they will send you visitors.
Presuming you didn’t click through from the Coach theLife Coach Facebook Group or from my newsletter, then you probably found this page by typing something similar to ‘life coach websites’ into Google.
And that’s because I know what I’m doing with SEO and this page outranks hundreds of others who would like to appear on the first page for that search string.
I just did a search and I am the first result below the paid ads.
Why would I try and rank for such a term you may wonder?
Well, it’s because most people searching that are going to be new life coaches and they are my target market!
If you want Google & Bing and thus people to be able to find you, then you have to understand basic SEO good practice.
You need to know about long-tailed keywords and how to use them, anchor text, the benefits of internal and external links, how to maximize meta descriptions, read Google Analytics and a whole lot more.
Of course, you can outsource all that but be warned because if you know nothing about it, how do you know your SEO company does?
Note: There is a movement suggesting SEO is dead as we move more toward content marketing. It’s not.
Content marketing is just a different way to optimize your site with high-quality in-depth content that people then want to share and link to.
If you’re serious about understanding SEO, then I suggest you subscribe to Backlinko.
7. Outsourcing SEO Overseas
I recently I got the following comment left on one of my blog posts:
“What’s up to all, as I am truly eager of reading this website’s post to be updated daily. It contains good material.”
The link took me back to a life coaches website, a life coach who almost certainly didn’t write that gibberish.
Who did then?
Probably his overseas SEO company where nobody spoke fluent English or knew anything about his business.
The one that guaranteed to have him on the front page of Google by the end of the month.
The one that charges next to nothing for a service that requires a lot of time, knowledge and perseverance.
If that is, it’s to be done correctly and in a manner that won’t have Google slapping your wrists or worse.
Firstly, my blog comments are ‘no follow’ links meaning I’m telling Google not to follow the link, so there is almost zero benefit to him which has me wondering if the company he hired even understood SEO basics.
Secondly, he looks like a total imbecile to most people who won’t realize the comment was left on his behalf, and not by him.
I deleted the comment but if I’d have left it up there what would you have thought about a coach who leaves such meaningless drivel in other peoples blog post comments?
Would you have been rushing off to hire him? Or laugh at him?
It’s perfectly ok, to outsource SEO, but the really good companies usually charge a lot of money.
And if you don’t know anything about SEO you don’t know the right questions to ask to see if they are good at what they do.
Trust me I have been badly burned with this one and it almost put me out of business seven or eight times.
I hired an overseas company who took me from around page four for the term ‘life coach’ to page one.
I was ecstatic and my inquiry rate exploded
Then almost as quickly I went from page one down to page 44 overnight and almost got de-indexed by Google – which would have finished me off.
The reason was my SEO company was using all sorts of black hat tactics that were in direct contradiction with Googles terms and conditions.
Remember that the company you hire can destroy your reputation a lot quicker than you can build it, both with Google and with your potential clients.
8. Having Irrelevant Content Not Related To Life Coaching
If you have another sideline business it has no right being on your coaching website, it will just confuse people.
In fact, if you have another site that isn’t related to coaching don’t even link to it anywhere prominent.
Why do you think I have two websites, here and A Daring Adventure when it would be a lot less work and cheaper to have just one?
Because otherwise, it would confuse people.
For the most part, people don’t care what book you’re reading, how many cats you have, what your favorite color is, which mountain you once scaled or what your star sign is.*
Everything on your site should be there for a specific reason, otherwise strip it out because you risk overwhelming people with crap that means nothing to them, or worse, bores their arse off.
* There are reasons why this can help in rapport building, but unless you know how to do this properly, don’t.
9. Not Understanding Social Proof
Social proof can be very powerful, but if you don’t understand how it works it can also be harmful.
If you have 100,000 blog subscribers then you may want to share that with your visitors.
That amount of subscribers will give the impression that you must know what you’re talking about and thus they will be far more likely to sign up.
The flip side of that is a website I went on recently that proudly displayed it had 2 readers.
That is social proof in reverse, so strip it out.
Similarly, having 2 testimonials is worse than having none.
2, 3 or even 4 tells people one of two things.
- You haven’t been coaching very long and as such you have limited experience
- You have been coaching a long time, but you’re not a very good coach because nobody wants to give you a testimonial
Personally, I wouldn’t put up less than 7 or 8. I won’t even take a testimonial these days without a photo because I want people to know they’re genuine.
You will never see, “Tim is an awesome Life Coach – John, Australia” as I saw last week on another coaches site, except it obviously didn’t say Tim.
- Being a published author is good social proof, so use it – having a 12-page ebook for download not so much
- Being interviewed on TV is excellent social proof – unless that is, you were interviewed because you saw a crime take place
- Being quoted or published in a national magazine is great social proof-writing a guest post for me probably isn’t 🙁
- Having lots of comments on your blog is good social proof – having a long list of posts with 0 Comments highly visible next to them isn’t
- Getting lots of social media shares is awesome, but having a Share Bar with everything at zero doesn’t look great.
10. Trying To Be All Things To All Men (and Women)
90% of people who land on your website probably aren’t your ideal client, and don’t be afraid to tell them that.
Don’t claim to be a business, executive, life and relationship coach because guess what will happen.
- People who want a business coach will leave and go and hire a business coach
- People who want an executive coach will leave and go and hire an executive coach
- People who want a life coach will leave and go and hire a life coach
- People who want a relationship coach will leave and go and hire a relationship coach
If you want to be a Jackass of all Trades be my guest, but your potential clients want a specialist, not somebody claiming to be an expert in a number of different disciplines
On this site I ONLY target other coaches or people who are looking to become a coach at some stage.
I don’t even talk about relationship, executive or career coaching.
I don’t do productivity or time management coaching, I don’t coach couples, I don’t coach kids and I don’t do what I call ‘accountability coaching’.
- If you are brilliant at stress management, shout it out
- If you excel at helping people manage time, make sure everybody knows it
- If you can help the laziest people become more productive, yell it from the metaphorical rooftops
Don’t be shy, don’t hide your light under a bushel and don’t think it’s obvious just because you know what you do.
The alternative is that your competition will take your clients as you mutter how lucky they are, when the reality is you simply didn’t do your job properly.
Of course there is much more than these 10 things in having a successful website, but I hope this has given you something to think on.
Remember your website is dynamic and you should be testing and tinkering with it all the time.
2 Bonus Reasons That Can Cause Your Problems
Google has made it abundantly clear that if you want to rank highly then your site needs to be on HTTPS and not HTTP
The ‘S’ stands for secure and if you’re techie minded and want to know how it all works, then you can click here.
You don’t really need to know, you just need to get it changed over if you’re still stuck on HTTP.
If you don’t not only will you find it difficult to rank, but Google is now telling the world your site isn’t safe by literally saying so in the navigation bar.
Similarly, your site must use a responsive theme.
All that means is that it automatically adjusts to the device it is being viewed on i.e. phone, tablet, desktop etc.
Pretty much all themes these days are responsive, but if your site is a little older then you need to check this or forget about getting your site to rank.
Any questions or comments (positive or negative) please let me know.
Oh, and if you could share this on social media, that would be truly wonderful!