10 Traits Of Successful Life Coaches

Building a Life Coaching practice is hard, make no mistake.

Other training companies are going to try and lead you into believing it’s an easy way to make a few bucks from home.

And I agree, in the same way as it’s easy for a one-legged man to ride a unicycle up Mount Everest whilst juggling 3 very pissed off rattlesnakes.

Ok, maybe not quite that hard, but tricky nevertheless and not something anybody should undertake lightly.

There are a number of things that I do to ensure that I keep things ticking along smoothly and I know from dozens of conversations other thriving coaches do the same.

As such they are all things I would encourage you to do if you don’t want to be one of the 95% who fail to make a decent living from Life Coaching.

10 Traits Of Successful Life Coaches

1. They Read & Watch More

At the moment I am reading 3 books. I have James Altucher’s latest book in hardback and then I have a Jamie Smart and Byron Katie book that I am listening to on my phone when I’m walking the dogs, at the gym, in the car, or even cleaning the house!

if you find physical books difficult to get to as I do for various reasons, then get an account at Audible and download the unabridged versions. Most books are available in audio format these days.

I’m not saying this is best for everybody as it can be a great source of relaxation for many people, but I almost never read fiction because I’m a tad obsessed with learning and becoming better at what I do.

I watch other Life Coaches videos when I stumble across links or when I am reviewing coaching websites.

I watch TED talks, I watch self development videos and I used to watch and study great interviewers.

Although I don’t go out of my way to to do that latter so much these days, it was initially an excellent way to watch the best of the best get people to open up.

As coaches we have to get our clients to open up to us and also to trust us and that’s what the really great interviewers do.

2. They Listen For Feedback

A few months ago I listened back to the recording of a client session I had recorded doe the Coach the Life Coach members area.

Even though the session went fairly well I was a little disappointed in my performance.

I felt I’d slipped into a couple of bad habits that I would have picked up in a heart beat if I was watching another Life Coach.

Since then I have made it a policy to listen back every now and then and see if I’m performing at the level I expect of myself.

And it’s not just about listening to calls after either.

We should be actively listening on the call for any cues that our client may not be grasping something we say or is disconnected in some way.

Note: It’s important to get your clients permission if you’re going to do this, but nobody has ever said ‘no’ to me.

3. They Keep Training

Next weekend I am attending a 3 day course on blogging.

Yes I have been blogging for almost 9 years and yes it has brought me in scores, if not hundreds of clients over that time, but that doesn’t mean I cannot get better.

I recently had a couple of guest posts to big blogs declined. I was shocked!

I shouldn’t have been really because again I’d just slipped into some bad habits and got complacent.

The hotel alone is costing me $650 for 3 nights, but if I can gain enough information (and I am confident I will) to get one post published on a major blog, then it will be money well spent.

Plus I can share information with people on the course to help them. Win/win!

You can learn a lot from reading and watching, but training expedites the process exponentially.

4. They Treat Life Coaching As A Business

Coaching shouldn’t be a hobby.

You shouldn’t be doing it because the start up costs are low (and by the way, they are much higher than most people assume).

It’s a business and as such you have to understand Social Media, marketing and sales the same way as you would with any other online business.

Well, presuming you want more than occasional client who stumbles upon you through sheer luck, you do.

5. They Work With Other Life Coaches

I have worked with 5 different Life Coaches over the last decade (meaning I hired them) and I’m currently working with Meredith Hooke.

I have also been hired by some successful coaches who want to get even better.

We all have blind spots (even Life Coaches), we can all benefit from the unbiased input from others and as coaches we can all benefit from seeing how other coaches work.

How can we possibly be an advocate of Life Coaching and never hire one ourselves?

6. They Write, Write and Write Some More

If you want to succeed on line as a Life Coach, then you have to write and probably write a lot.

Blogging once per month is no longer enough to help you in the SERPS with the latest Google changes, because it is looking for fresh new content to supply it’s customers.

I built my newsletter list (currently just under 10,000) on the foundation of guest blogging.

Even though due to the vagaries of Google the links from posting on other peoples blogs may not have quite the same value they once did, the exposure to a brand new audience does.

A guest blogging campaign is the most effective way to grow your audience.

I’m running a guest post here for the first time ever next week from a Life Coach who is doing an excellent job off doing just this.

7. They Build a Network & Help Others

I know a lot of people who I can turn to for help if I need it.

Similarly a lot of people know they can turn to me for help if they need it.

Help others whenever you reasonably can, because it feels great and expands your network.

I (almost) always respond to e-mails that address me by name.

I always accept LinkedIn requests unless they are obviously spammy or don’t contain a photo avatar. The same goes for G+.

I frequently retweet or post to Google+ links of people I know. I almost never turn down a request to chat and I ask people I know to introduce me to people they know who look interesting.

This has to be a win/win by the way. Do not turn into a rampant people pleaser with no time to do your own shit!

And don’t be too quick to ask for help.

If we connect on LinedIn and your first contact is to ask me to do something for you before we have even communicated – forget it.

If we connect on Twitter and you send me a lame autoresponder DM asking me to go to your website and sign up for your newsletter, you can forget that too and I’ll almost certainly unfollow you.

At least buy the other person a drink before you try to get them into bed!

8. They Ask For Help

There’s no point in having a network if you cannot ask for help as well as give it.

You cannot do everything yourself and if you help others, for the most part they will reciprocate.

There are at least 100 people who if I got an e-mail from asking me to tweet their latest post, I will be happy to do so – presuming it’s not a steaming pile of crap that is!

I also regularly answer e-mails on Life Coaching from people I don’t know (presuming they address me by name and don’t klick off ‘Hi!’) and if it’s a simple answer that won’t take me an hour to type out.

9. They Pay For Help

This year alone I have paid for design help SEO, YouTube advice, a Facebook advertising campaign that will launch soon,  a review of my LinkedIn profile (I knew it sucked and wanted expert help), a lot of money for Social Media advice so I can make that module on the course as good as it possibly can be.

I’m currently looking for a Social Media manager/Virtual Assistant.

I know you maybe on a budget, but some of this help cost me very little money and it’s all about ROI.

If you value your time at $100, or even only $50 per hour, then paying somebody $10 to do the same thing seems like a no-brainer, right?

10. They Over-Deliver

I’m not keen on under-promising just so you can over deliver because this seems a bit too manipulative to me.

However, I am keen on promising what we pretty much know we can deliver and then over-delivering on that.

From a coaching perspective, I don’t kill client sessions on the hour when I’m in the middle of doing something.

I have agreed to split sessions with clients when I know we don’t need a full hour even though the prep time is the same for me.

I’m happy to chat with them for 5 or 10 minutes in-between sessions if something comes up, and I regularly send out links, articles or even books via Amazon that I think will help them.

With Coach The Life Coach I go even further because I don’t want any coach who has trained with me to fail.

Nobody who has even done the course will get refused access to the members area no matter how much new material I upload or how much the course costs new attendees.

And a lot of the help I am paying for at the moment is to ensure I deliver THE best value for money training course for new or soon to be Life Coaches.

And I’m not kidding.

It’s not a sales technique, I am deadly serious.

I want to crush the competition and the only way I can do that is to constantly be making it better and over delivering to the people who sign up.

And I have set up the free Google+ community for Life Coaches where I answer every single question asked of me.

Whether that person has ever paid me a cent is immaterial because I want to over deliver.

10a. They Chill

It is hard building a practice to begin with and very gratifying when you do so, but that doesn’t mean you should be running yourself into the ground.

No matter how much there is to do you still need to take time out for yourself if you’re to maintain peak performance.

Do read fiction if that’s your thing, do meditate and do forget all about Life Coaching from time to time.

Don’t worry, it will still be here when you are recharged and ready to start kicking ass!


  1. This is gold Tim. I would only add what I’m currently discovering for myself, and it sums it up nicely for me: a successful life coach lives it as a lifestyle. Although I find the marketing/business part tedious, I also know I don’t get to do the fun stuff without it. Dessert without dinner just doesn’t work very well. 🙂


  2. Great post! I am constantly listening to books from Audible and in paper/Kindle, watching TED talks, learning, learning, learning. That’s what I love about this business – it’s my job to keep learning – how awesome is that! I like that you point out how important it is to help others as well – that’s what we are trying to do after all – sometimes we get paid for it and sometimes it just feels good!

    • Tim Brownson

      I sometimes think that. I cannot believe I’m getting paid doing something that I would do for free if I was wealthy.

  3. Hi, Tim, and thanks for a great article. Love your thoughtful list.
    I would add a sense of humor for yourself and an appreciation of your client’s humor. An awareness that we do serious work, but at times a playful attitude makes the learning more fun and accessible. Enjoy life and add that to gratitude and flourishing appreciation. As a Positive Psychology coach, I’d wish for coaches to employ an awareness of PP research on well-being, positivity, mindsets/motivation, mindfulness, Social and Emotional Intelligence and an understanding of Acceptance and Commitment Techniques. Use these for yourself and help your clients empower as you learn. Love Byron Katie, too. And Brene Brown’s vulnerability work, too.

    • Tim Brownson

      I’m just reading my first Byron Katie book – not sure how I’ve avoided her for this long because it’s awesome stuff.

      Agree 100% with all you say!