How Much Do Life Coaches Charge?

When I first started working with other coaches back in 2012 it never even crossed by mind that figuring out how much Life Coaches charge was something that was causing angst for so many people new to the profession.

I presumed (incorrectly) that most coaches charged what they both needed and what they thought they were worth.

In reality what I kept coming across time and time again was the belief that there is a ‘going rate’ and that vast majority of coaches charge close to this arbitrary rate.

Sometime around the late 20th Century I was working for Yellow Pages selling advertising space back in the UK.

Although it was incredibly well paid it was also soul destroying. It involved regular 60-hour work works, the pressure was on 24/7 and missing targets (quotas) was not an option if you wanted to stay in gainful employment.

We frequently had to see tradespeople at their home and often it involved doing so in the evening as they were usually working in the day.

I was sat in the front room of a plumber in Birmingham and I was having very little success in helping him see the benefits of buying a bigger advertisement.

I was armed with a boat load of independently corroborated stats proving beyond doubt that the bigger the advert the more inquiries you would receive, but I was getting nowhere.

I asked him how much he charged per hour and he responded £16.

I stopped dead in my tracks because that didn’t make any sense.

The Going Rate

I knew that the ‘going rate’ for not just a plumber but also an electrician and joiner in that area of Birmingham was closer to £30 per hour?’.

I looked at him suspiciously and then looked around at the rather nice living room I was sat in and said, ‘Come on Phil, I know the going rate is closer to £30 do you really expect me to believe you’re only charging £16 per hour.

He laughed and slapped his leg.

Not £16, you misheard me, I charge sixty quid an hour’.

I looked at him quizzically. ‘But how on earth can you charge double the going rate?’

‘Look’ he said. ‘I know lots of people won’t pay that rate, but I only need half as many customers as all the other plumbers round here and that means I get to earn the same for half the amount of time spent working’.

At that point I lost all interest in selling him advertising because he obviously knew more about marketing his services than I ever could.

It turns out he’d bought a battered old boat a couple of years previously and loved to spend as much time on it as possible restoring it to it’s former glory.

To begin with he didn’t have the energy to start working on it after doing an 8-hour-day, so he hit on the quite brilliant idea of charging twice the amount and working half as much.

You may think he was being greedy or unethical, but he wasn’t. He was being smart.

It wasn’t like he had a captive market or a monopoly. Any one of his clients could have politely refused and gone elsewhere and some did.

The thing is, if a plumber can step outside the ‘going rate’ then pretty much anybody can.

Ignoring The Going Rate

If I sent you off to the supermarket  to pick me up a dozen eggs it’s probably going to cost you around $3. That is the going rate for eggs.

But only yesterday I spent $7 on a dozen eggs.

Why?

Because they are free-range pasture raised eggs.

To be legally allowed to call an egg free-range it only has to have access to the outside world for 5-minutes per day.

Most hens never make it into the open skies because they are so packed in and as such millions of people are paying for free-range eggs when it’s more of a theory than a reality.

However, if they are pasture raised hens then that means they are strutting their stuff outside as nature intended and probably wearing sunglasses and high-winging other hens.

Not only are these kind of eggs much better for you, but I feel better knowing they are ethically produced.

You can of course spend hours trawling other Life Coach websites and trying to figure out what the ‘going rate’ for coaches is and you will probably find one in the region of $100 to $125 per hour.

But, what if the going rate doesn’t allow you to pay your mortgage?

What if the going rate means you need twice as many clients as you can acquire?

And what if the going rate is way higher than your skill level when you first start?

There have been a number of Life Coach directories spring up in the last couple of years or so designed to help people seeking a coach find the right one for them.

I have either been hired by or spoken to a number of coaches who have signed up for such services. Without exception they have all endured the same depressing, albeit highly predictable experience.

They get into a bidding war and a race to the bottom when it comes to price.

Most members of the public don’t know what to look for in a coach and when we are unsure of how to value something we resort to the lowest common denominator, price.

What Do Life Coaches Charge?

If you can see Coach ‘A’ who charges $250 per hour sat alongside Coach ‘B’ who is prepared to work for $65 per hour there is a high probability you will roll the dice on the latter.

Even though I do publish my prices on both Coach The Life Coach and A Daring Adventure, there are good reasons not to.

When we start selling on price rather than the value we can deliver, then we have turned coaching into selling eggs and we have become a commodity.

We need to demonstrate the value we can offer, not talk about the price.

If you’re a new or struggling Life Coach I could tell you I’d be happy to work with you for 3-months for $1,799.

Or, I could tell you that I have over 12-years of experience in the coaching space. That I have built a thriving practice using proven online marketing techniques and that for the not much more than the worth of one client, can do the same for you.

There’s a big difference.

I have seen coaches who charge as little as $40 per hour and I know other coaches who charge six-figures just to get out of bed in the morning.

As such there is no answer to what do Life Coaches charge? And there is no answer to the question, how much should I charge as a coach?

Presuming you’re confident that you can bring value to the lives of your potential clients all you need to do is figure out how much you want to earn and then do some simple math.

How many days are you going to work? How many clients do you want to see? How many days off a year would you like?

It’s not rocket science, in fact it’s very simple if you can just forget about ‘going rates’ and comparing yourself not just to there coaches, but other professions.

What other coaches and other professionals charge is not just irrelevant, but quite frankly none of your damn business!

Comments

  1. Michael Wecke

    “Nothing worth having comes cheaply”!

    The level at which you grade your pricing may indicate to some prospects at which level you grade your expertise? Is your service a Steak Burger at $7.00 or a 500g rare and marinated steak at $35.00?

    On the Internet you can find the following advice: “Business schools teach a standard formula for determining an hourly rate: Add up your labour and overhead costs, add the profit you want to earn, then divide the total by your hours worked. This is the minimum you must charge to pay your expenses, pay yourself a salary, and earn a profit.

    Perhaps this might be the starting point for a newbie coach. Then compare yourself to competitors…It is really fairly flexible and one also needs to convince prospects of the great value that you are providing to them.

    I just know that it is important to get it right – and not to undersell yourself.

  2. Good article TIm! Michael has a good point but as a business consultant since 1998 and a executive coach since 2000… I feel qualified to add that coaches would benefit from including taxes in that list of labor, overhead, cost and profit. Coaches who don’t know to do that get a real shock when they learn what their 1st tax bill is.

    Speaking for the US, most employees have taxes taken out of their check they get for their salary. Coaches who don’t want to think about business because they just want to help people and have always been an employee… benefit from acknowledging that as a self-employed solo coach they are responsible for being both the employee and the employer. Taxes come under the employer heading.

    • Tim Brownson

      That is a GREAT point Barb. The first good year I had left me with a $10k tax bill and in a state of blind panic.

      Entirely my fault but coming from the UK I didn’t understand the tax system.

  3. I’m sorry you went through that Tim. Hopefully others will learn from your experience. From a MBA prospective there are 2 recommended ways to set fees. One is the “Cost Plus Method” that we discussed above. The other is the “Value Based Method”. My sense is that it’s a blend of the 2. Happy to explain them to anyone interested. The charge what your worth method never made any sense to me either. Worth to who?

  4. Thanks for the timely information Tim. I am launching my brand soon and have decided not to list prices on the new site. I have come up with a new pricing structure that I am testing right now and will employ that next year. I am going for value.

  5. Katharine Di Cerbo

    I once had a client tell me that my rate was too cheap; it clearly made her think less of me! She ended up bailing on our last session (I had sold her a 3 session package). I am sure that I got things off on the wrong foot with her purely because of the low rate I charged (I was just getting started).

  6. Fantastic advice Tim! As a newer coach, I got suckered into signing up on a life coach directory website, and it SUCKS! Most of the people just want free or cheap coaching. I was so desperate for a client once that I offered a month of coaching for just $75, and they thought it was too expensive!! You’re 100% correct about having to compete on pricing.

    Thanks for the fantastic advice!

    • Tim Brownson

      That’s not especially unusual Derrick in terms of coaching for next to nothing, but glad you saw the ‘error of your ways’!