Woo-hoo, you’ve managed to become a life coach!
You did your research on which life coach training company you trusted and offered the most value.
You then handed over your money and underwent all your training.
The net result is a shiny new certificate to hang on your office wall recently converted from a spare bedroom…probably.
It’s now time for people to hire you and benefit from your undoubted coaching prowess.
And finally, you can get paid for doing what you were born to do.
It doesn’t get much better than this, does it?
But where is everybody?
Where Are The Coaching Clients?
You keep checking your email, but nothing.
Doesn’t the world you know you’re ready and waiting to kick some coaching ass and maybe even take a few names?
Could it be that there are so many inquiries arriving at the same time that a bottleneck has formed at the top of your inbox?
Better do another quick refresh to make sure.
Perhaps check out your Facebook page and see whether your Dalai Lama quote has gone viral and kicked things off with a rush of new likesand shares.
You glance forlornly at your phone and shake it slightly, maybe there’s an inquiry stuck at the top?
Perhaps the Internet is broken?
Or maybe, just maybe, your training company either didn’t teach you about client acquisition and online marketing or did a bad job of it.
Trust me it happens.
And the reality is, it’s not your fault because you didn’t know what you didn’t know.
If your coaching journey looks (or looked) something like this:
Months 1 to 6: Read some books on coaching and do some research
Months 6 to 12: Do some training and read some more books on coaching
Month 12 onwards: Open the doors and announced to the world that you’re in business
Then you’re probably struggling for paying clients.
Time To Plant A Tree
To paraphrase the Chinese proverb, the best time to start your marketing was the moment you knew you were going to become a life coach and the second-best time is now.
With this post, I’m going to outline a 12-month process for launching a coaching practice.
If you’re just about to start, great you can follow fairly closely.
However, if you are somewhere else on your journey or this timeline – maybe you have launched your website and it’s just not working – I have two words for you.
There’s nothing that cannot be changed and nothing that cannot be improved upon if necessary.
And if you’re one of the tens of millions of people housebound due to Covid-19, then now is a great time to start wrapping your head around online marketing.
I think that coaches currently fit into two very broad groups.
Group 1: Life coaches who see the coronavirus endemic as an opportunity to double down on their marketing because things may get tighter for a while and they want to emerge in a stronger position.
Group 2: Life coaches who see the coronavirus endemic as a justification for their fears and doubts that it was always risky trying to become a life coach.
A lot of the second group won’t ride it out.
Most of the first group will.
So move groups if you’re in the wrong one.
This is an outlook/attitude thing presuming you have not just had your income wiped out.
But even if that is the case and there’s nothing you can do to rectify things now, focus on the launch stuff that doesn’t require cash until you get back on your feet.
Just to reiterate, there will be elements of this you will have done, just ignore those.
Also, it’s not necessarily a linear process.
For example, you could be working on your lead magnet at the same time as you’re working on copy for your website.
The reason I start with the website is that experience tells me that it almost always takes longer than you think.
As long as you give yourself enough time to hit your planned start date, you’re fine.
And if you have already started, assess where you are in the process and dive in
T Minus 12 Months On Your Journey To Become A Life Coach –
Start The Website Design Process
I am not in favor of coaches designing and building out their own websites unless that is, they have some serious design skills.
If you’re looking to market yourself online then your website will be your shop window and it needs to impress people and convert visitors on to your newsletter list, and then into clients.
Avoid hosted sites like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, and even the WordPress hosted platform like a man with the plague, who is on fire and has really bad breath too.
They’re fine as hobby sites or for coaching practices that merely want an online brochure as opposed to a website that generates clients.
They are harder to get to rank in the SERPs (search engine ranking pages), you technically don’t own your own content and most importantly of all, they don’t have the flexibility and scalability that a WordPress site does.
WordPress is open source and powers about 30% of the internet.
As such, there are thousands of developers designing plugins for just about every conceivable thing you may ever want a plugin to do.
This makes your site scalable in the future.
If you want to add a member’s area, there’s a plugin for that.
If you want to offer a course, there’s a plugin for that.
If you want help with your SEO, there’s a plugin for that.
So we are in agreement, right?
You’re going to get a WordPress site (I’m nodding feverishly as I type this, just to emphasize how crucial I believe this to be).
At this stage, you have two options.
- Design the site yourself
- Hire a designer
My website is the engine of my business and 80%+ of my clients come from it in some way, shape, or form.
In fact, I bet it’s higher than that because even referrals tend to check it out before contacting me.
Your website is your shop window if your coaching practice is primarily online.
If it sucks it will not only kill any chances of building a successful coaching practice, but it will do so without you even knowing why.
Nobody will call you to say that they decided against contacting you because they weren’t sure what your niche was after reading your homepage.
Nobody will email you to say they thought the selfie you used on your About page looked unprofessional.
And nobody will navigate to your contact form if your copy didn’t create a positive emotional reaction in them.
If you’re a good designer AND you understand UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) AND you understand the basics of SEO, then sure, do it yourself.
If you have literally none of those skills and no money, then do one of these three things.
- Put things on hold until you can save some money because whether you pay for a website or not, you do need cash to run a business
- Find a designer who would be willing to exchange services – I have done this loads of times for all sorts of things
- Go on a site like UpWork or Fiverr and see if you can find a young up and coming designer who looks like she does good work, but is still cheap because she hasn’t built enough work history yet
Freelancers on sites like those live or die based on their feedback.
When they have no feedback it’s probably because they are new and nobody has taken a chance on them yet.
Ask to see sites they have done prior to joining Upwork or Fiverr.
If they cannot supply you with anything, then yeh, that may be a tad suspicious and not worth risking.
But if they can point to sites they did and you like it may very well mean it’s worth rolling the dice.
Further reading: 10 Reasons Most Life Coaches Websites Fail
T Minus 12 Months –
Start To Build A Social Media Strategy
I have a marvelous TV.
It’s a 65” Hi-Def 4K Sony and I fucking love it!
I can turn it on like a boss.
I can whip through channels faster than my youngest dog can eat her dinner.
And I even know how to adjust the sound so it’s not too loud and not too quiet.
But here’s the thing.
I have no clue how it works.
It’s like magic to me.
My guess is you know how to use social media, but you probably don’t know how it works.
And I’m not talking about the source code and algorithms that drive it, but how to actually make it work for you.
I’m referring to building an engaged audience that will supply you with clients.
Before you dive in headlong on any social media platform posting glib memes with gay abandon, learn how to use it successfully. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.
To begin with (unless you hire a social media manager) pick one, or maybe two platforms where your clients will be hanging out.
Then learn them inside out.
It’s okay to open accounts on as many as you like, but just focus on one or two because otherwise you’ll overwhelm yourself and end up doing everything badly.
This is the time to start researching groups where your ideal client may be lurking or engaging in conversations with others.
T Minus 12 Months –
Register Your Domain Name
You’re going to need a domain name for your website and the sooner you start looking the better.
Descriptive domain names like coachthelifecoach.com used to be incredibly useful for SEO purposes.
But that was then and this is now and things have changed.
Unless you have some killer EMD (exact match domain) like hotels.com or insurance.com it’s unlikely to give you much of a leg up.
Sadly, all the great domains are long gone which is why you see new companies choosing business names for words that don’t technically exist or leaving out vowels.
Unless that is you opt for a different TLD (top-level domain) and go for something like a .coach.
It’s too early to say at this stage if those will be recognized by Google as having as much authority as dot comes, but I have seen some ranking very highly.
Just make sure your domain isn’t too long and as relevant as you can make it without being too contrived.
If you do or want to do, a lot of public speaking in the future, it’s probably wisest to use your name as your domain, presuming you have it.
It won’t help you with SEO, but it will be easy for people to remember and avoid any confusion.
Further reading: A Guide To The Importance Of Domain Names For Life Coaches
T Minus 9 Months –
Give The Go-Ahead To Start The Website Design
At this point and three months after choosing a designer they should be about ready to go, so let them get on with it.
Well, firstly a good designer won’t be able to start immediately.
If you approach somebody who can have your site up and running by a week on Friday, then put down the pen you’d picked up to sign the contract and back away very slowly and carefully because they either:
- They are using a template and the only thing being designed is them designing how to get your money into their bank account
But there’s another reason you should start the process now (or even sooner if you can) and that is because it’s not, or rather shouldn’t be, a 2 or 3-week deal.
Getting good photography takes time
Writing copy takes times
I can almost guarantee you that this stage will take longer than you think.
T Minus 9 Months –
Start Working On Your Niche
There’s not much that freaks most people who want to become a life coach than trying to figure out their niche.
It can turn the stoutest of characters into quivering wrecks unable to string a coherent sentence together, but it really needn’t.
Let me start by saying this.
I don’t have a niche at A Daring Adventure and I have done just fine thank you very much.
That doesn’t mean I don’t think having a niche is much better because it is.
It’s just that it shouldn’t be something keeping you awake night after night and stops you from starting.
Here are a few advantages of having a niche other than just standing out from the crowd:
- You can charge more
- It’s simpler to find and hone in on your target market on social media
- Writing blogs posts and other articles is more straightforward
- You can position yourself as an expert in your field more easily
- It keeps you focused
When figuring out your niche forget about what you’re good at unless you love what you’re good at.
With over 20-years of experience working in sales both B2C and B2B at the very highest level, I would have had a lot of credibility as a sales coach.
But that ignores one very important factor.
I didn’t want to work with salespeople – I’d had enough of the entire industry.
If your experience and skills align with your niche then fantastic, you’re on to a winner.
If not, then you need to look elsewhere.
Ask yourself this question:
If my phone were to ring now and it was a client with the kind of problems that has me silently dancing around the room and pumping the air with delight whilst trying to sound professional, what would they be saying?
That’s your niche.
Further reading: Life Coaching Niches
T Minus 6 to 8 Months –
Choose A Newsletter Provider
You’re going to need a platform for delivering your emails and possibly your blog posts too as RSS is, if not dead, then probably on life support.
If you don’t know what RSS is, don’t worry, I just told you, it’s almost dead.
Don’t consider using Outlook or Gmail as you build things up because you’ll get hit for spamming people. Get a professional account.
I use Active Campaign and I love it.
I have previously used Constant Contact and Aweber, but neither were as good
There are a lot of coaches using MailChimp because until recently they offered a free version.
Alas, that’s now gone.
There are other free platforms, but like everything in life, you tend to get what you pay for.
If you’re to succeed as an online coach, then your newsletter is going to be critical and it’s not something I’d cut corners on unless you absolutely have to.
If you want feedback from other coaches on what email platform they use and like, click here to join the free Facebook support group and ask away.
Note: The Active Campaign is an affiliate link, but I hope you know I only recommend stuff I use AND like.
T Minus 6 to 8 Months –
Develop Your Bribe
Your bribe or as it is also called, lead magnet, freebie or even irresistible offer, is the thing that you kindly give to every soul good enough to give you her email address.
It was easy getting people onto a newsletter list back in the early 2000s.
Here’s how you did it.
‘Hey, do you want to sign up for my newsletter list?’
Now people are more protective of their (main) email address than they are their firstborn.
If they are to give it to you there better be a damn good reason and ‘Join my mailing list for free blog updates’ won’t even cut the mayonnaise never mind the mustard.
A bribe can be an ebook, an e-course, an audiobook, an audio course, a free report, or even a video course.
It can be anything you like with the proviso that it can be delivered electronically, is relevant to what you do/who you serve, and has real value.
A 500-word blog post converted to a PDF may get people on your list if you big it up enough. But the resulting sense of underwhelm when they open their exciting gift and see something so worthless will create a swift adieu as they unsubscribe.
T Minus 6 Months –
Launch Your Website, Launch Your Bribe
‘But, but, but…..I’ve not finished my training yet, I’m not ready to coach Tim.’
Here’s a bad problem.
You launch your website when you need to generate income and you can’t even hear the crickets through the hurricane of tumbleweed that’s blowing through.
Here’s a good problem.
Somebody wants to hire you even though you think you may not be quite ready.
You can offer pro bono or reduced coaching.
You can refer them on to another coach.
Or you can say you’re booking 3 or even 6-months out and if they’d like to join your waiting list then you’d love to work with them when you’re ready.
It’s unlikely you will get inquiries to begin with, but what you will get if you have hired a decent designer who knows SEO and has registered your site, is Google nosing around your site like a curious puppy sniffing a warm sweater.
‘Hmm’ it thinks, ‘a new site, I’d better index it’
Then it will probably pop back a few weeks later and if you have new content it will index that too.
Then it will keep coming back.
It takes a while to get your site indexed so don’t wait until you need traffic.
Also, because you now have your newsletter set up you can have that integrated into your site so any people who stumble across your site, or you send that way, can sign up for your newsletter.
T Minus 6 Months (and all the way into to launch) –
Write, Write And Then Write Some More
If you’re going to be successful at online marketing then you’re going to have to write…a lot.
You can do podcasts and/or videos and both can be highly effective, but if you cannot write, then how are you going to tell people about them?
If you think your writing sucks, then it probably does.
I can still remember the day I first picked up a golf club and hit a drive 280 of the first tee and straight down the middle of the fairway.
Er, no I can’t because I was shit to begin with.
Just making contact with the ball no matter where it went was cause for celebration.
Writing is a skill and – presuming you take notice of what works and doesn’t – like any skill you will get better the more you do it.
If you’re already a good writer, awesome, you’re about to move from good to great.
And if you do intend to start a podcast, there is no reason you cannot start recording interviews now so that you can then drip feed them when you go live.
Something else you may want to consider that I do.
Have a book (I guess you can use your phone, I just like having a small hardbacked journal) and every time you have an idea for a blog post or even a social media post, write it down there and then. If you don’t you will forget some great ideas.
T Minus 3 Months –
Start To Implement You Social Media Strategy
There is actually not a fat lot wrong with doing this earlier, but make sure you’re happy with your website if your strategy is to drive traffic to it.
Start raising your profile in the groups you have astutely joined by offering help and advice and being seen as a resource for others.
T Minus 3 Months –
Hire Your Own Coach
Seriously, hire a freakin’ coach and get set up for success.
I have been coaching for close on 15-years and I have now hired seven coaches. Two of whom were to help me with my business and five to help me with keeping my shit together.
Do NOT be the coach who thinks she doesn’t need a coach because you undermine everything you do.
A coach not working with a coach is like a hairdresser with a combover or a dentist with half his teeth missing.
Yes, I think you should hire me as I have done what you want to do.
But, if you think I’m not a good fit, then that’s fine, find another coach.
Just make sure that they have more experience than you and you can learn from them.
Having catch up chats with another life coach – even one who you trained with – is not the same as hiring a coach.
The mere transaction of money changing hands entirely alters the dynamic.
T Minus 2 Months –
Set Up Your Accounting
If you’re anything like me, then you’re going to need an accountant.
However, this is one area where I’d say if you are good with numbers, then, to begin with, don’t waste your money, do it yourself.
You’re going to need a business bank account and then probably an online service like PayPal and/or Stripe.
PayPal is expensive and they can shut your account down in a heartbeat if you have any unusual activity (and to them that may be something as little as taking $10,000 on a product launch – yes that did happen to me and it’s annoying!) and their reporting isn’t the best.
However, they are universally known, most people have PayPal accounts and for those who don’t they can easily pay using a credit card, and your money is secure.
I use PayPal and it’s dead simple to issue invoices and collect payments….manually.
Automatic payments and taking payments through an API (application programming interface) are less reliable however and I have had numerous issues.
For that reason, I have migrated some automated payments Stripe.
With Stripe the payments are processed and then deposited into your bank account, whereas with PayPal you have to move money manually and hope they don’t put a hold on it.
There are other options and I’m sure some are good, but even if I were setting up again now from scratch I think I’d still use Paypal for my manual payments.
Note: Your accountant can also help you in setting up your business status. I’m an LLC and I just handed it all over her to set up
T Minus 1 Month –
Set Up a Zoom Account
I really cannot say enough good things about Zoom, it rocks.
If you have already used it then you will know what I mean, but if you haven’t, think of Skype, but a Skype that actually works every time and offers great tech support.
Yes, you can get Skype or even Google Hangouts for free, but both are unreliable and you have little to no support for when things go wrong.
For about $15 per month, you can look like a professional.
Plus, if you do training you can have as many as 100 people on a call.
I rarely do telephone coaching these days because Zoom is so good and so easy for even the most techie challenged people to use.
And yes, that’s an affiliate link too, but seriously it’s brilliant!
T Minus 14 Days –
Purchase Insurance (maybe)
If you are never going to coach face-to-face coaching or run any in-person events then you probably don’t need insurance even though some will tell you you must have it.
The chances of you getting sued for being a bad coach even in this litigious society are remote – and I’ve never heard of it happening (if you have, then please share in the comments).
Especially if you ensure that all your clients sign your terms of service and you never do any of the following:
- Offer financial advice
- Offer medical advice or give a medical diagnosis
- Offer nutritional advice
- Be lewd or suggestive
- Threaten to have your client murdered if she’s late for another meeting
In other words, be sensible and you should be good to go.
However, if you are meeting people in person, or they are coming to your house then you need some form of liability insurance in case they trip up and put their head through your expensive monitor.
T Minus 14 Days –
Draw Up Your Terms Of Service
You can pay an attorney to draw up your terms of service if you have more money than sense, or you can just ask another coach if you could use there’s.
I recently posted mine in the Coach The Life Coach Facebook group (click here to apply to join – it’s free!) and anybody in there is welcome to use them.
Mine are sent via email and I won’t work with any client who doesn’t sign them and return.
You can use an official document signing service online but they will cost you money, so you decide if you want to pay for that.
T Minus 7 Days –
Put The Champagne On Ice
Most of the hard work is, or at least should be, done by now.
Keep stoking the social media fire and telling people you’re about to launch and allow yourself to get all excited.
Start making a list of people who are your friends online because you’re going to need their help come launch day.
Launch Day –
Run Around Like A Headless Chicken
This is it, this is the day you have worked so hard to get to and now the fun starts.
Hopefully, your site has been launched for a while, but whether it has or whether it hasn’t, that doesn’t affect what you do now.
Have a fantastic blog post ready to go and you hit publish as soon as you bounce out of bed.
Then call in every online favor you can think of and some you can’t.
Hopefully, over the previous few months you have been helping other people on social media and being a resource and now you can ask for their help in return.
There is zero wrong with asking people to share your stuff on Facebook or retweet on Twitter etc. Presuming that is you didn’t ‘meet’ them 5-minutes ago and you’re just looking to tap into the followers.
If I have people who I know have helped me ask me for help I’m grateful to have the chance to reciprocate.
The online world is a busy one and I don’t want to miss an opportunity to give back to somebody because I had no clue they were launching.
You want to build momentum and traffic to your blog and get as many eyes on your genius as possible.
T Plus 7 Days –
Seriously Tim? Why would I feel deflated?
It’s unlikely all that action will lead directly to clients and you will probably think your efforts all a big fat waste of time.
Seth Godin calls this ‘The Dip’ and it almost always happens after any business launch.
But if you’re expecting it, you can manage it.
So, pick your chin up off the ground Tiger because now the real work starts and this is your chance to separate yourself from all those life coaches that think succeeding at this is a walk in the park.
It absolutely was worth your effort.
Even if it was only to help Google sit up and take notice that would possibly be enough, but it’s more than that because you just launched a business and gained the kind of experience that you cannot buy.
Plus, you’re in the online marketing space now and people know it.
Best of luck!