12 Ways To Get Coaching Clients (free and paid)

It’s hard to get coaching clients.

Really hard.

In fact, let me go a step further than that.

The massive influx of coaches since Covid started has completely changed the rules of the game.

Literally, tens of thousands of people are now calling themselves a coach who weren’t a couple of years ago.

And that figure is growing, so you’d better be ready for some hard work and to get help because otherwise, you’re wasting your time.

But it is doable if you’re utterly committed, prepared to work really hard and you’re very patient.

This post will show you 12 proven ways to get coaching clients.

public speaking microphone

1. Public Speaking To Get Coaching Clients (free)

The quickest way to get in front of potential coaching clients is to get out there and talk.

There are always organizations looking for speakers to fill spots.

Unless you’re very good you’ll probably have to work for free, or just expenses, at least to begin with.

But, if you view it as a marketing opportunity first and foremost, then it’s ok to do it for free.

Speaking isn’t an easy way to get clients. But it’s probably the easiest.

You’ll undoubtedly give talks that generate little interest and others where the organizers vastly overestimate how many people would be present (trust me, this happens a lot).

But, as long as you choose your venues carefully then you should start to pick up clients.

And what I mean by choosing your venues carefully, is this.

  • Are the people attending able to afford your services?
  • Do they fit your niche?
  • Do they even need your help?

If the answer to any of the above is ‘no’ then unless you are talking to gain experience, or as a way of giving back, you’re wasting your time.

I once had a client who had spent over a year giving monthly talks at two different libraries without gaining a single client.

It was hardly surprising when you consider that a good proportion of people who visit libraries do so because they don’t have the money to buy books or pay for internet access.

The other upside with public speaking is that if you get good at it you can earn a lot of money.

Way more than you ever could from one-on-one coaching alone.

I have a friend who doesn’t get out of bed for less than $10k for a keynote, which is nice.

toast in toaster

2. Join Toastmasters (fee)

I was a member of Toastmasters for about 3 years and guess how many members became clients in all that time?

A big fat zero that’s how many.

So why am I recommending it then?

Well, leaving aside the massive bonus that it’s going to help you improve your speaking skills and thus get paid speaking opportunities, it’s also supplied me a steady stream of clients in a roundabout way.

Not from Toastmasters itself, but from two contacts I met there who regularly sent me clients that weren’t suitable for them.

Toastmasters is an excellent organization and an absolute must for you to join if you want to take advantage of option #1 of attracting clients.

In the UK it costs about £10 per month.

If you can’t afford that then you probably can’t afford to run a coaching practice.

2 lions

3. Clubs & Chambers (paid)

Chamber of Commerce, BNI, and Rotary and Lions clubs all offer opportunities to attract new clients presuming your ideal client hangs around in such places.

It can be hit and miss, to begin with.

Actually, it will probably be more miss than hit as you figure out which events/organizations work and which don’t.

I know one person who gave a talk to her Chamber of Commerce and generated $100k of business.

Yes, $100k!

Her talk was nothing more than 30 minutes explaining some aspects of accounts for small businesses.

She delivered massive value and as such I hired her and so did 6 other people.

As with online networking, if people see you as a resource rather than just somebody there looking for business then they are more likely to hire you.

And similarly, they are more likely to remember you when they are talking to somebody else who may benefit from your skills.

interview studio

4. Get Interviewed, Or Interview (free)

I probably average 20 or so interviews per year.

Whereas I don’t actively seek them out anymore, I never turn one down.

I don’t care how small your blog is, how few listeners your podcast has, or what the topic of the interview is (within reason) I’ll say ‘yes’.

In late 2018 I did an interview for a closed member area of another website.

The person interviewing me was effectively charging people to hear me speak and I was getting nothing for my time.

Er, except almost £10k of client work.

To begin with, there won’t be a line of people waiting to hear your pearls of wisdom, so you become the interviewer and start a podcast.

One of my best friends interviewed the crew of The West Wing on the final day of filming the series for his radio station.

Not especially unusual, until you realize he had next to no listeners and was just having fun with a friend.

To coin an English expression, he blagged it with a boatload of confidence.

You would be amazed at how many people, even famous people, will agree to let you interview them.

Especially if they have a book being published, or a product launching.

Then when you interview them you can ask them to mention it on social media. If they agree then suddenly you have acquired instant credibility.

Note: I say I never turn interviews down, that isn’t technically true I turned one down recently.

And the reason I turned it down is that after going through the process of filling in a detailed form and signing an online release she tried to bill me $65 for production costs.

I’m not going to pay somebody to promote their podcast if they can’t make it viable otherwise.

Meetup

5. Meetup Groups (paid)

In internet years Meetup is ancient having started way back in 2002.

But it still doesn’t seem to be well utilized by coaches.

Covid hit Meetup hard to begin with because although the original meetings were arranged and promoted online, they tended to be in person.

But, like most things, everything just shifted online

And now they are back in person as well as online.

They can be soul-destroying at first because people may not show up, but that’s life.

There are two keys to being successful with Meetup.

1.  Be consistent and persistent.

Nobody quits social media after a couple of weeks complaining it doesn’t work and Meetup is no different.

Commit to doing regular meetings for at least 6-months no matter who shows up, or don’t bother.

2. Zoom in on your niche.

Don’t expect to call yourself a life coach and run a group on self development and it to be successful.

Get narrow and talk to a problem or a small handful of problems that your niche want/need help with.

Then over-deliver at every meeting.

 

paparazzi

6. Use HARO (free with paid upgrade)

HARO stands for Help a reporter out.

It’s a site where journalists can post requests for people to interview on literally everything that reporters ever write about.

Not only does being featured in a newspaper or magazine help with credibility and social proof, but the backlink can also have massive SEO (search engine optimization) value.

However, like any method that works, it’s competitive and there are close to half a million users signed up for HARO.

Accordingly, you need to take the time to learn how to use it effectively.

There’s little point in signing up and then just leaving your details up there hoping you will get contacted.

You have to watch for the emails that are sent out three times per day and then you must send in a pitch explaining why you are the person the reporter needs to speak with.

It’s free to signup for HARO, however, there are paid options starting at $19 per month

If you want first access to requests then joining at the $19 may prove worthwhile.

It also allows you to track one keyword.

Play about with the free version and if you like it, upgrade.

There are two similar alternatives, although I haven’t used either.

SourceBottle is, unsurprisingly,  aimed at helping reporters find sources for stories.

And Muck Rake allows you to pitch ideas to journalists.

As with HARO, you will need to ensure your pitches are compelling, interesting, and succinct if you want to stand out.

outreach

7. Start an Outreach Program (free)

An outreach is when you actively contact other people who can help you with a single objective.

You could do an outreach for SEO (more later) where you ask people to link to a great blog post you have written.

Equally, you could do an outreach where you target thought leaders in your niche who aren’t direct competitors and ask them to share a post you have written.

Or, you could do an outreach to all your old clients with a referral opportunity you are running.

Most coaches do outreaches poorly.

In fact, most marketers do outreaches poorly.

You really cannot expect to fire off an email to Tony Robbins saying ‘Hey big fella, how do you fancy promoting my book for me? Love the teeth by the way!‘ and expect anything other than crickets.

You have to build relationships and/or offer something in return.

And you need to make your emails personal, I immediately delete every email I get that starts ‘Hi there’ or something else equally impersonal.

But if I get an email ‘Hi Tim, I was reading your excellent post on self development books for life coaches then you immediately ensnare my massive ego in your clutches and have my attention.

8. Hit Quora (free)

I love Quora a little bit too much and can get lost on there for way too long on occasions.

Quora is an ask engine rather than a search engine.

Google struggles to deal with abstract questions like, ‘What’s it like to get shot when wearing a bulletproof vest?’ and ‘What is the nastiest thing a celebrity did to one of their fans?’ – and yes they are questions I recently read on Quora.

In fact, it struggles so much, it doesn’t even really bother trying anymore. It simply searches Quora.

Quora gets over 75 million monthly visits and as you can imagine people are asking and answering questions on every conceivable topic.

There are three benefits to using Quora that makes it somewhat of a no-brainer.

Firstly, I have had two clients come directly from people reading in-depth answers that I gave worth about $3k.

Secondly, if you have written a killer newsletter article or blog post that answers a  specific question you can then reposition that content and drop it into Quora.

It used to be that duplicating content was a huge Google no-no, but that’s no longer the case.

Rather, it’s wasteful not to reposition content whether that is on obvious sites like Medium and LinkedIn, or the rather less obvious Quora and even Reddit.

And lastly, because Google is pulling answers into the SERPs (search engine ranking pages) there is a chance you can leapfrog your competition and grab a top position in Google.

And it’s the gift that keeps on giving because you can even drop a link in the answer to the original post.

That way, people who think you’re wonderful, – which I’m sure you are – don’t need to mess about using Quora to contact you (they may not even have an account).

emails

9. Guest Post (free)

I have written dozens and dozens of guest posts and have generated a lot of clients from them.

And when I say a lot, I mean a lot!

I would say guest posting has brought me well over $200k in business.

And like Quora, it’s also the gift that keeps on giving.

I have guest posts from 12 years ago or more that are still being found by people who wouldn’t have necessarily found me otherwise.

Only recently I signed on a new client after she followed a link from a guest post I had written in 2012.

Broadly speaking there are two approaches to writing guest posts.

  • Aim for high traffic, high profile blogs with as high domain authority as possible so you can get the SEO benefits (more in a moment) and may occasionally grab a new client and new subscribers
  • Choose smaller more niched blogs where the SEO benefits can sometimes be minimal, but you are delivering your message straight into the lap of your ideal client

If you’re looking to build a blog readership and you don’t have thousands of dollars to throw at marketing, then guest posting is the quickest route to success.

Having said that, you have to be a competent writer and have a strategy.

And guess what, I can help you with that!

social media icons

10. Make The Most Of Social Media (free unless using ads)

Yes – go and grab your name for every major social media platform and set up an account.

No – don’t try and manage them all at once.

In fact, stick to one (or maybe two at a push) where you know your ideal clients hang out to begin with and nail it!

Deliver value to your followers. Engage them and help them.

Be highly visible and treat social media as you would an offline networking event.

google seo graphic

11. Let Google Help You (free)

About half of my clients come directly from Internet searches and SEO is still a major focus of attention for me.

If you type in ‘life coach websites’, ‘life coaching books’ or ‘best life coaching blogs’ you will find Coach the Life Coach sat on the first page.

And the reason you will find it there is that I went after those search terms. As well as dozens of others I wanted to rank for.

In fact, you may very well have found this post by typing something like ‘how to get life coaching clients’ into Google because it ranks so highly for that search string.

Fortunately for you, and unfortunately for them, most life coaches are totally and utterly in the dark on how to utilize basic SEO.

This means you can step in and take advantage by understanding long-tailed keywords, knowing how to optimize every post, and being cunning with your blog post headlines so you attract interest.

There is a technical element with SEO that you need for highly competitive industries, but coaching isn’t like that

Getting the basics right isn’t that complicated.

You could read SEO for Life Coaches – The Ultimate Guide if you want to know more.

webinar graphic in blue

12. Run A Webinar (free when platform bought)

You will need webinar software to do this properly.

I have used WebinarJam (al) in the past and I’m just about to go back because I really like the functionality.

However, for smaller numbers, you can use a standard paid Zoom account without necessarily upgrading to Zoom Webinar which is pricey.

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear, webinars are not as effective as they once were.

Or rather, they are not as easy to make as effective as they once were.

The internet is suffering somewhat from webinar fatigue because so many people are running them.

It’s not necessarily the quantity that is making it harder to get people to sign up.

It’s the low, often spammy, quality.

A lot of webinars are nothing more than sales vehicles that use bait and switch tactics to get attendees, and then deliver no real value.

As such, people are leery of signing up and you need to work hard to ensure they understand that your webinar will be different.

Make your webinars focus on value to the attendee and avoid selling too hard unless you’re prepared to invest a shit load on Facebook ads generating new people because nobody comes back.

A Word On Books

You may have noticed that I haven’t listed writing a book as a way to generate clients.

That’s because it’s, without doubt, the hardest way of them all.

Does that mean you shouldn’t write a book?

Absolutely not, I’ve written 11, so that would be a tad hypocritical.

I’m saying write one because you’re aching to do it and not as a marketing vehicle.

If it then does bring your clients, you’re golden!

Hopefully, this post has given you plenty to think about and some new avenues to pursue.

If you have other methods or questions this post has thrown up – and I’m sure there are lots of both – please do leave a comment and let me know.

Comments

  1. Tammy Kirschner

    Thank you Tim. This was extremely valuable information. I will start prioritizing and take these tips to start my practice.

  2. Donalee Farrell

    Hello,

    Thank you for your inspiring article. I certainly have gained more insight and am excited about using the tools you have shared.

    I do have to share that there are some typos in your article. I wanted to make you aware since some do not take written work and research seriously if there are typos. In peace and wellness, Donalee

  3. Catherine

    Thanks a zillion, Tim! I find your comments very helpful and insightful. God bless you for the generous tips you shared. I am trying to find some form of self employment in Singapore now. Being over 60 years old, and with the current covid 19 situation, I guess I shall just have to shelve my ambitious idea of becoing a life coach.
    I wish you well and every success in your career/ business.

  4. Thanks Tim, I found these tips helpful. I have tried so many things and followed the advise of so many and recently have spent thousands in courses, even a business coach, realising I need help to make it work. I am about to launch a masterclass and was appreciative of your webinar advice. No success in a client yet, but here’s hoping the masterclass will work! I love the idea of Quora! as FB business page and group page are not doing anything.
    Like Catherine, I am in my 60’s and am determined to get my coaching business going. I am passionate about doing so for two reasons, the first is my niche, helping people to heal and recover from emotional and narcissistic abuse, something I experienced and came out on the other side of. The second reason is that I am starting life over again at 66 after leaving the abusive relationship and my intention is to generate an income from coaching.
    I am happy I came across you site, thanks for giving good content.

    • Tim Brownson

      I have a lot of success with my Facebook Group, BUT it is a lot of work, especially at the beginning.

      Good luck with it Cathy!

  5. Carol Soldevilla

    Thank you: this was informative. I am interested in your course. Hoping to be a part of it the next time it opens up!

    • Tim Brownson

      A very belated apology Carol. I just fished about 25 comments out of my spam folder and this was amongst them. Sorry you missed the course 🙁

  6. Hi Tim… I am walking the path of the newsletters and links you put in there… so doing my reading and building up my page right now. As I could not enter the Fcbk group (no answer came back, although when I re-enter my patetion it statted that it was ‘in progress’ or something similar) I also wrote to you reacting on other articles.. I now you just jump back to UK so at some point you will be back 🙂
    Camille

  7. Melissa

    Hello Tim,

    Very useful information here. The Quora tip I liked especially. However, I will be incorporating all in my efforts.

  8. Tim, that was a really good read.

    I am just about to start out on my ICF accrediation journey. Like others I am going to be on the look out for coaching opportunities. I enjoy coaching and do a lot of it (and mentoring) within my organisation.

    It is great doing something that helps other people and getting out there to tell people about what you have to offer is the only real way to get started.

    I’d like to keep in touch.

    Best regards

    Andrew

  9. Tim Brownson

    I’ve no clue why you weren’t let into the FB group Camille because that is checked daily and nobody is left in pending. They are either allowed in if they are genuine or not of they fail to answer the questions.

    And apologies for the terribly late reply to you, Melissa, and Andrew as I had to fish you all out of the spam folder. I have had a stern talking to my spam plugin!

  10. Tim Brownson

    I hope you LOVE coaching mate because it will probably take that to succeed. I enjoy cooking, but I suck at it 😉

  11. Thank you for sharing this information. I teach coaches how to use their intution more for better outcomes and have found some success with combining my connections from doing psychic readings and psychic art – generating leads from this- so promoting any kind of cross-over activity/business is a good avenue for me.

  12. Yes, this is very good information and for newer coaches, this can be overwhelming. I would add referrals and networking by finding how to hang out where your clients hang out or coaches who serve similar clients. one third of my clients come from referrals and my other coaching colleagues since I’m often the only dating and relationship coach in the room/zoom meeting! Keep up the great content. Your service is greatly appreciated.

    • Tim Brownson

      Totally agree about referrals Amy, they are the best of the best. but they have to start somewhere.

      I used to (almost) always be able to track a referral back to see where it originated.

  13. Lindsey Ladhams

    Thanks Tim, A really helpful article and will look into some of the suggestions :). Loved the ‘blagged it with a boatload of confidence’!

    • Tim Brownson

      I shall give you another tip use a Gravatar and ALWAYS link back to your website when you leave a comment. I’ve literally had clients from blog comments I’ve left.

  14. Hi Tim,
    Thank you so much for your insights! My niche is coaching Law Enforcement Spouses and Family members who are navigating Law Enforcement Life. I am looking to create a list of amazing people to join me in a FB Live to discuss coaching and how it can help the Law Enforcement community by saving marriages, saving families, and saving lives. I’d be honored to have you as part of this series. I’ll be emailing you soon!
    Thanks again!

  15. Thanks for writing this! A lot of great content. I liked your networking ideas like interviewing or being interviewed and zoom meetings in your niche.
    What I really liked was the Quora idea. You’re right, Google is a search engine and not perfect (yet) at asking specific questions. I am glad I read this, I am going over to try that now.
    Very creative ideas, lots of useful information here thanks for posting!

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