10 Reasons Most Life Coaches Websites Fail (and how to avoid them)

Most online life coaches are struggling to make a decent living and one of the reasons is most life coach websites are, to put it kindly, inadequate.

And yet a life coach’s website is almost certainly her most important asset when it comes to online marketing.

It’s effectively a coach’s shop window and will often be the first point of contact with potential clients.

So it has to be right because there are thousands of other sites potential clients can and will choose from.

I’m not sure why I see the same mistakes being made over and over again by coaches, but I do.

Perhaps they look at bad websites and then replicate them not realizing they are replicating a failing model?

Or it could be that they’re trying to rush things, save money on a decent designer, or just don’t realize how important it is to get the basics right.

I don’t suppose it matters because the good news is that even though the competition is stifling for new coaches, most of the competition doesn’t bother to learn marketing.

As such, it’s not that hard to separate yourself from the competition.

There are way more ways to screw up your website than ten, but these are some of the most common and egregious errors.

Note: This post was originally published in 2015, but it has been extensively rewritten with examples introduced rather than generic images to make it easier to understand.

10 Reasons Most Life Coach Websites Fail

Do it yourself tools for a website

1. 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 my website 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, GoDaddy or Squarespace you have little control over design, SEO can be more difficult, and you don’t even own your own content in the majority of cases.

On top of that, there is nothing like the array of plugins available for such sites so you may not be able to scale should you want to.

If you have no desire to focus your marketing online and you just want a website as a calling card, then that’s fine.

Even companies that ‘specialize’ in offering sites for life coaches, should probably 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 built this site and I cannot recommend highly enough.

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.

Zen Msarts Meredith Hooke

2. Having No Real CTA (Call To Action)

What do you want people who land on your site to do?

You probably answered, ‘hire me to be their life coach!

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 150 and 300 unique users a day to the site and that is way more than most life coaches.

The site I used to promote my traditional life coaching services at A Daring Adventure was getting over 1,500 unique visitors PER DAY at its peak.

And that still wasn’t sufficient to get enough people to hire me on their first visit that I didn’t need to do start the relationship building process.

With Coach the Life Coach I couldn’t survive if I was just aiming to get people to sign up for the course immediately without getting to know me.

We’re not selling Snickers bars or cheap novelty gifts here and people rarely hire a life coach on impulse.

At least metaphorically buy them a drink before you ask them to get in bed with you.

Meredith’s site at Zen Smarts nails the call to action (and also the benefit statement) with her simple ‘Get Rid Of Stress Now’ message that encourages people to sign up for her newsletter.

Coach The life Coach website header

3. Having No ‘What’s In it For Me’? (WIFM aka The Benefit Statement)

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.

The screenshot above is taken from my home page makes it perfectly clear what I do and who I help.

I help life coaches get clients so they can get coaching – that’s it!

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 and contains a real benefit.

Jennifer Dawn coach website

4. Having No Picture Of You (or a bad one)

We are in the partnership business and not having your picture on your website is fatal.

Did you hear me?

It’s fatal!

You’re potential clients want to connect with you.

Not a nice flower, not a beach, a cute dolphin or any other crappy stock image you bought for 5 bucks or downloaded for free.

Similarly, a small selfie taken on your iPhone and buried on the about page will not cut the mustard.

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!

You’re not a model, you’re a life coach and you’re running a life coaching website, so let’s see a picture of you.

Having professional photography is one of the quickest ways you can look like you too are a professional.

And it doesn’t have to be expensive either. On 3 separate I’ve exchanged life coaching for photography and paid nothing.

Jennifer Dawn’s site is a great example of how good photos make the entire site look professional and I know the coach in question only paid $300 to have hers done.

google search life coaches

5. 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.

If you do, then they are exponentially more likely to send traffic and potential clients your way.

Presuming you didn’t click through from the free Coach the Life Coach Support 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 term.

I rank on the first page of Google for that search term (and over 100 others) even though I don’t design websites.

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? Many don’t.

Oh, and by the way, I can teach you all that, either in person or on the Coach the Life Coach course.

Perspectives life coaching website

6. Making ‘Contact This Life Coach’ Tricky

One of the most important axioms of sales is don’t ever assume the sale.

You probably think that if somebody navigates to your ‘Contact Page‘ then that’s probably because they want to contact you.

And that may very well be the case.

However, it may not be the case because they may have come into your site ‘sideways’.

Or they may be still just perusing.

Don’t presume there isn’t still some work to do and just leave a blank and boring contact page with a form to capture details.

Thank them for coming, tell them how awesome they are; make the page look like it’s been designed rather than just thrown up. And make sure your phone number is on there.

Half my inquiries come in via phone and if you think you can get by without those, then you’re probably better at marketing than I am.

Also, make your phone number clickable, so they can call you immediately. Over half of web browsing is now done on mobile devices and that number only going to rise.

Make it as easy as possible for your prospective clients to contact you.

And do not EVER have links to your Social Media accounts from your Contact Page!

The point of Social Media is to build relationships, offer value and help people out.

If you do that and people see you are a valuable resource, then they are exponentially more likely to head to your site to sign up for your newsletter.

If they don’t follow you on any of your Social Media accounts and they see them on your contact page they could easily be tempted to click away from entering their details and take a look.

They may see something that has them doubting if you’re the right coach for them.

Or, they may just get distracted and forget what they were doing and disappear down a Facebook wormhole.

Similarly, if they do follow you on one platform and see that you’re on another one they may click away to take a look there and never come back.

Your contact page should have a welcome note, contain a capture form, your phone number and maybe a physical address if you have an office, and maybe a nice warm and welcoming picture of you. That’s it.

Julie and John from Perspectives Coaching have done a great job of not assuming the sale and having a contact page that looks great In fact all their photos are great).

My only slight doubt about that page is having the newsletter sign up. There is a slight risk that people who were about to contact them may opt to sign up instead.

 

cute puppy

7. 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.

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, confuses them.

BTW, that is Tori in the picture who passed away in 2018 and it broke my heart.

But I doubt it will break yours for longer than a moment, so leave it out.

Marie Forleo

8. 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 5 or 6. 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 life coach’s website, 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.

Of course, we don’t all have the social proof that Marie Forleo can call on, but you probably have some that you can use to build your authority.

Mike Ferry real estate coach

 

9. Trying To Be All Things To All Men (and Women)

90% of people who land on your website probably aren’t your ideal client, so 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 life coaches or people who are looking to become a life coach at some stage.

I don’t even talk about relationship, executive or career coaches even though I have worked with all three and am happy to do so.

Similarly, I am also happy to help therapists and counselors who are looking to improve their online presence or move into coaching, but you won’t see it in my main copy.

  • 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 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.

You couldn’t really land on Mike Ferry’s site and be in any doubt of what he does or who he works with. If you ain’t in real estate, he ain’t interested.

About page

10. Screwing Up The About Page

Your about page really isn’t about you.

Well okay, it kinda is, but like all of your website (should be), it’s about your client.

For the most part, they don’t care where you went for your last vacation, that you love knitting sweaters for homeless rabbits or that you have a cat called Harry who only has one eye.

Also rather remarkably, most of your visitors probably don’t care that much about your coaching qualifications – which is why there is a long list of world-class coaches who never took any training.

And they certainly don’t care about any qualifications that are not related to coaching.

What you readers want is a story that tells them about the obstacles you’ve overcome and the dragons have you slain.

Furthermore, it wants to be relatable.

I can relate to you easily (presuming you’re a coach) because I’ve built a successful coaching practice after enduring 3 years of struggling to make it happen and almost quitting numerous times.

I would imagine that is a more interesting story to you than me telling you I like Dobermans, the L A Rams and I once spent half an hour talking to Boy George before realizing I was talking to Boy George – a lovely guy by the way.

The example above is an excellent use of story to relate to potential clients.

I love how she started with a problem, overcame it and then got hit with another and overcame that. That’s classic hero’s journey stuff.

I’d like to tell you where I got the screen capture from but I grabbed it a few months ago and now cannot find the site even after dumping most of the text in Google and searching the images.

That is a huge issue when your site cannot even be found when people type in the content, but maybe that’s for another post.

If you come across it please let me know and I’ll link to the site.

10+ Other Issues

Of course there are way more than 10 things to get right on your website, but these are major factors that don’t require you to be super techie.

A slow-loading website can course problems, as can a site that is still on HTTP rather than HTTPS.

However, both are more likely to hurt you with Google in the SERPs (search engine ranking pages) than with an average client. The same can be said my not having a mobile responsive site.

Other assorted mistakes I see a lot are:

  • Selling coaching and not selling solutions to problems
  • Having blocks of text with not enough paragraph breaks
  • Not having a CTA on every page, or having multiple different CTA’s
  • Having media or speaking pages with little to no content – or outdated content
  • Random famous quotes just used to fill space
  • Company or coaches name taking up way too much space
  • Broken links to social media or in the site navigation
  • Copyright information years out of date
  • Blogs with little to know entries, or entries months and months apart
  • Pages still containing Lorem Ipsum text

Conclusion

I have never designed a website in my life and I highly doubt I ever will.

I prefer to work with experts.

However, most of the mistakes I see life coaches making with their websites are relatively easy to correct.

None of the above requires you to have an intimate knowledge of coding. Most are just copy and image changes that can be done either free by yourself or fairly cheap by your designer.

Hopefully, this post has given you plenty to think about.

If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them in the comments below. Similarly, any social media shares would be gratefully appreciated.

Comments

  1. Raoul K.Ngindu

    Hi Tim,
    Great website.
    it so much helpful , I have been doing motivation & public speaking for the past 9 year.
    I always attract people through my personal experience.
    Will be in contact wih you in the near future for ideas & advices.

    Regards,

    Raoul ( South Africa)

  2. John

    Hi Tim, I’m a bit slow to read this one, seeing as the first comment was back in 2015, however I noticed the following that you may wish to edit, as noted in (parenthesis).

    Firstly, my blog comments are ‘no follow’ links meaning I’m telling Google (something missing here) so there is almost zero benefit to him which has me wondering if the company he hired even understood SEO basics.

    Trust me I have been badly burned with this one and it almost put me out of business seven or eight (times?).

    Best regards, and thanks for the free download offer on your ebooks. Much appreciated.

  3. Mary

    Good advice. Quick question – All very helpful for life coaching but Leadership & Executive Coaching has a whole different audience. Any suggestions, besides the excellent ones you stated that can be related? Thanks again!

    • Tim Brownson

      I don’t think any of the points are not equally relevant to leadership and exec coaching Mary.

      Having said that, I think for that type of work physical interactions are much more important.

      Remember I don’t do ANY offline marketing, but I think it would be almost impossible to make a success of leadership and exec coaching taking that approach.

      My *guess* would be that most hirings like this will come through word of mouth.

  4. This is brilliant -> “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.”

  5. Michael Wecke

    Really great and informative post, Tim. And it’s the reason my motivation for a start-up coaching business has stalled. No social proof, no testimonials etc and as a now reluctant pensioner I can’t really justify the expense of starting out as a Life Coach. You mentioned Chris as the goto person for website development etc. I absolutely and 100% agree. As I mentioned in another comment in one of your posts, Chris came back to me on my inquiry and his presentation in chat format via a video absolutely blew my socks off. Thorough and thought-provoking advice given, as you do so freely! Blessings on you from Down Under, mate!

  6. Excellent (and clear!) information! Thank you, Tim. I want to add that I just recently listened to an interview of a branding expert for coaches, and what he said also resonated with me, big time. He stated that one of the reasons Life Coaches struggle is because of how confused they become by the multitude of choices that are out there to help people, and before they know it they forget their #1 and # 2 strength/expertise and what makes THEM unique, just like you stress with #10. As an ex top sales executive for Apple, I was focused, driven and dynamic (and the results showed). Today, as a Life Coach (soon to be changed!), I struggle due to the lack of a clear path, and am grateful for articles like yours as they point me (us) in the right direction to replicate my previous success.

    Thanks again,
    Lauretta

    • Tim Brownson

      Thanks for the kind words and I’m glad to be of help Lauretta! If you haven’t done, you might want to sign up for the newsletter as there is some really cool information in the 2 books we give you similar to this. Best of luck!

  7. I “stumbled” upon your blog, quite frankly by accident. I absolutely love it. Your approach is refreshing, insightful, witty and intelligent. It is absolutely brilliant. I am looking forward to reading more of your work while I work on my “coaching” business. I am amidst hiring help to update and overhaul my website. What a learning experience it is! You certainly cannot do it all. Or you can try and pay the harsh price for it!!

  8. This is such an informative post Tim, even for someone who no longer coaches but still has an online presence. Still working on some of your tips – especially getting better at SEO and yes I’ve heard that it’s becoming less important (which would be brilliant for me!) too bad it’s not so!!!

  9. I have so much work to do with #9 especially. I also loved your explanation for why trying to be everything to everyone does not work. Thanks for giving me so much to think about!

  10. Thank you very much for this information, I am registered Social Worker with over 15 years in the field. I have recently starting a life coaching and motivational speaking business. So all of these tips are very helpful, I am in the research and developmental phase, where I am looking at some of the existing coaching programs that already exist; which I feel will allow me to develop a services that is very unique and effective.
    Please feel free to offer me any advice that you may have that will be helpful.
    Thank you again

  11. Hi Tim!

    That was a very interesting and informative post – even for a non-coach. For me, no.9 was an extremely important point. If I would look for a coach I would probably look for testimonials, experience and success stories to see if I can trust this person.

    Thanks for sharing Ilka

  12. Tim, – Great post. I’m curious about your social proof idea though. That being not posting testimonials without pictures. I get the reason, and it makes sense. However, I would think there are still so many people who don’t want their faces out there. Do you think it could impact the ability to acquire testimonials to place on one’s site?

    • Tim Brownson

      Kim, I have only once had a client request I didn’t use a photo since I started imposing this 2 or 3 years ago and she worked for the Government.

      In which case I just didn’t use her testimonial, it wasn’t a big deal.

      For this site we haven’t had a single person say no, so I think the likelihood is smaller than you may think. Presuming that is, you have done a good job!

  13. Thanks for your insight, Tim!
    I find the section related to Social Proof particularly interesting. Showing off picture-less testimonials is as good as faking them.
    I’d say that nowadays you should also include links to the referral’s social profile if you are serious about using testimonials.
    Greetings from Italy and all the best for your CTLC program!

    • Tim Brownson

      Hi Carlos and that’s a great idea about linking to a social media account, I’d never considered that, thank!

  14. Alexander Baranov

    Thanks Tim, it is helpful. Two questions. Reflecting on some of the words in the post like ‘donkey balls’, ‘imbecile’, ‘Jackass’, ‘arse’, etc. I wonder what’s in it for you? What kind of clients are you targeting with these words?

    • Tim Brownson

      Real ones who aren’t offended by such words, and being able to write congruently.

      If somebody is so offended by the word ‘arse’ then not only do I not want to work with them one-on-one, I don’t them on the training either. I’d feel like I was walking on egg shells all the time.

      On the A Daring Adventure blog I regularly drop the ‘F’ bomb because guess what? I do in real life and my writing reflects how I term things. 90% of the time it’s in a humorous way.

      To me it’e being authentic. I want people to know me and not have some false perception.

      My question to you is? What that a real question with a desire to know (how else did you expect me to answer it?) or a diplomatic way of reprimanding me, or pointing out I’m wrong?

      I’ve been blogging 9 years and many people have told me the latter, but I do ok.

      • Alexander Baranov

        Thank you Tim. Wrong? no, everybody has his/her own way. I believe you when you say you are being authentic about this. I guess I wouldn’t go this way with my readers but I’m curious to look at different coaching styles. I learned something today, thank you!

        • Tim Brownson

          My blog is a great way of attracting clients on the same wave length.

          I know we shouldn’t need to like our clients or be similar, but when we do and are it makes it so much more fun.

          IOW, I don’t censor myself intentionally because I’m ok with polarizing people, as long.

          As I’m not deliberately trying to offend others, then I’m ok with it.

  15. Rowena

    Thanks Tim, I really appreciate your blog on this topic – perfect timing for me as I am just getting into sorting and investing in my website! Some great points, some I was already aware of and considering (and some I wasn’t!)

  16. Great article as always Tim. I am almost through your values book great read and helpful information. I am almost completed with my website I am really geared towards working with people who care for individuals with chronic illness. What are your thoughts on this: I have blog posts that I am writing using personal experiences that families may encounter. Anxiety, stress management, and moving their arses along in goal setting if needed. So it is contextual if you will.

  17. Tim and Karl, thank you.
    This is an excellent article. I’m doing most things right (I think) but damn it’s a learning curve. I think it’s fantastic that you place so much value on this side of it on your course. As always I appreciate your resources and knowledge. Your like know and trust factor for me is high.

  18. Patricia

    Most websites fail in my mind because they aren’t humorous enough and they don’t have enough cursing. And mentioning of animals’ body parts.

    Hence, yours is a winner.

  19. Hi Tim
    Great post as usual, thank you. I’m moving forward as a Life Coach slowly but surely, absorbing information and taking action incrementally – which suits the ‘Rich and Happy’ life I’m building (you know the one where you can do what you want and when, as you suggest in your awesome book).

  20. Very helpful post Tim, thank you! You had my undivided attention at “suck donkey b*%#s” lol. Personally, I have no problem with my competition making these mistakes 🙂

    • Tim Brownson

      #11 was make sure you fill in your web address correctly when leaving comments on other blogs so that if anybody wants to click through they can do Jeff! 😉

      This doesn’t work https:thehealthyexec.com

      Done it myself, many times!

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