How Much Should I Charge For Life Coaching?

There’s what I consider to be a bit of a scary movement in Life Coaching at the moment.

It strikes me as a pyramid scheme and it’s growing in popularity.

This is how it works.

A handful of coaches who (supposedly) charge fees of $50k and up to work with clients are teaching other coaches how to charge fees of $50k and up.

I have no doubt that some of the teachers have, and do, charge very high fees, some even as high as $200k per year, but not every coach can.

For the most part they are selling a dream and no matter how they frame it or dress it up, at a deep level they are appealing to people’s greed rather than their desire to help others.

There simply aren’t enough people out there who can afford to drop that kind of coin to service the amount of coaches going through these programs.

One of these coaches told me, and I swear this is true, that anybody can afford it if they want it badly enough. They will borrow, beg or find some way to get the money.

That’s the lie told by the trainers.

I find that insulting to the tens of millions of people in this country who struggle to pay their monthly bills.

Imagine you have an investment opportunity that you know cannot fail. Go with me on this and let’s agree it cannot fail.

You can double your money in 6 months if you can only invest $1,000,000.

Can you pull it off?

Can you raise that kind of money even though you know there is no chance you can lose?

I doubt it unless you have a very wealthy family member or close friend. I know I certainly couldn’t.

The coach I mentioned above told me he’d persuaded a teacher to borrow $30,000 for his services.

It equated to almost a years salary for the guy.

A Secret About Life Coaching

Let me tell you a secret about Life Coaching.

It doesn’t always work.

For any number of reasons, many of which are outside of your control, you don’t always help your clients get the results they want.

I couldn’t sleep at nights knowing that I could put somebody into long-term serious debt because I persuaded them to borrow a huge amount of money to work with me.

I’m now going to do a flip flop.

You have to charge what you think you are worth and what will make your practice sustainable. If you think that is $100k per client, then go for it.

I suspect unless you have a background in Corporate America and have a contact list of senior executives to call upon you’re probably going to fail, but the choice is yours.

A Life Coaching client I was once working wth me announced at the beginning of a session that he had spent half a day researching what other coaches were charging.

‘What for?’ I asked.

‘So I can work out what the average going rate is and charge accordingly’ he replied.

‘What if the going rate doesn’t allow you to pay your bills without working 80 hours per week?’ I went on.

He just shrugged his shoulders and looked a bit sheepish.

How Much Should I Charge For Life Coaching?

On the Coach The Life Coach course one of the least sexy parts of it is explaining how to work out what you should be charging at a minimum to stay in business.

It’s not particularly complicated, but it does involve knowing how many inquiries you need to generate (and that may include a face-to-face chats at a networking events) how many prospects you are likely to convert into clients and how much money you want and need to earn in a year.

It also involves knowing the difference between a cold prospect, a warm prospect and a referral because your conversion rate will vary accordingly.

It really doesn’t matter what other Life Coaches are charging because they are not you.

They may live extravagantly or very frugally. They may have 5 kids and a spouse, or may be single. They may want to coach from every corner of the globe or be happy to work from their one bed apartment.

Forget what other coaches charge because it’s none of your business. You’re not selling a commodity where price is the biggest deciding factor, you’re offering a bespoke service. 

Charge what feels right for you and what can allow you to live a nice life doing a job you love and then get to work on making it happen.

I’d be interested to know if fees have ever been an issue for you. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Comments

  1. Great article and a very valid point. We are all motivated by different things eg money, wanting to help others, control etc When I first started out I was given guideline fee rates but I have chosen to go above the UK minimum wage per hour. This has lead to an increase in clients and opportunities to deliver workshops.

    • Tim Brownson

      Yeh it’s funny Karen how an increase in price often has no effect on client sign ups or actually increases it. Perceived value I guess.

  2. Good read Tim. It does seem wrong, even unethical, to sell the notion that you can make that much from coaching, and it feels predatory. At the same time, I suppose some of the responsibility falls to the person falling for what amounts to a get rich quick scheme.

    Like you wrote, I think it’s about defining what a comfortable life looks like for yourself, and then maybe breaking down how much you would need to make for that to become a reality on a yearly, monthly, weekly basis.

    I once had a successful business person ask me how many potential clients had not come on board due to fees being too high. When I told her none, that I knew of. she instantly responded that I wasn’t charging enough. That has always stuck with me. I raised my rate, and didn’t see any dip in clients. I find that when my rates are in the right spot, most clients don’t flinch, and for the ones that do, it gives me some wiggle room to offer a reduced rate because I don’t like money to be the only reason someone doesn’t come on board.

    • Tim Brownson

      I’ve lost quite a few clients due to being too expensive, but they are often the clients I don’t want that much.

      My fees are on two separate pages of my site. If you haven’t done your research on the coach you’re looking to hire, then you may be a tad less committed than I would like.

  3. Nancy Luckey

    I appreciate your thoughts on this subject, Tim. I was the director of a non-profit for twelve years, where all of our services were free. Our expenses were covered by the generosity of people who donated to the outreach. Most of our clients would not have been able to pay for the counseling and other services we provided. However, I do believe that paying for services, when one is able, demonstrates a level of commitment to follow through with the process and do what is required to achieve the wanted outcomes. I for one, do not want to charge exorbitant fees. I can see it will take some good thought regarding what is fair for both client and myself as coach. I like your approach of taking many things into consideration as well as being flexible to help those in need of help, but lacking the funds to pay for it. I’m curious about that formula you speak about.

    • Tim Brownson

      It takes me about half an hour to take coaches through it on the course so it’s a tad too much for a comment and I didn’t want to make the post insanely long.

      I may make it an Insiders Guide post to newsletter readers at some time.

      Pro Bono clients are strange. In my experience and I have worked with dozens they are either brilliant clienst or terrible. New coaches can struggle because the terrible ones tend to be the ones you ask if you can coach when you are learning.

      Some of my worst clients of all time were right at the beginning of my career until I insisted that even Pro Bono clients make a 50 GBP donation to charity just to test intention.

  4. Tim only recently I was approached by a “money coach” who told me flat out my fees are too low and I am under valuing my service.
    Though I agree there’s some truth to that I also like you don’t want to be greedy…it wasn’t why I’m in this line of work.
    I do re is it my fees at least twice per year…not to compare myself with what others are charging, but to evaluate the added value I bring.
    Fees should be a personal decision based on the value you bring and what you’re conformable with.

    • Tim Brownson

      I’ve been told that two, but I’m happy with what I am charging and that’s the main thing presuming you can live up to that value. Which I’m sure you can btw 🙂

  5. “One of these coaches told me, and I swear this is true, that anybody can afford it if they want it badly enough. They will borrow, beg or find some way to get the money.”

    I’ve heard this one so many times. The problem is that the coaching relationship is not that simple. It involves the coach and a client, and the coach has no control over the client’s actions. It’s not like a business consultant who can come into a business, and change systems and work practices, proving their worth by the money saved or gained.

    However the idea behind it – that if you invest in yourself you are more likely to commit to it, and work to achieve the desired results – is sound.

    Encouraging people to go into serious debt is extremely bad practice though. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I did that.

    • Tim Brownson

      That’s a nice distinction between coaches and consultants that I would have used in the post if I’d thought of it!

  6. “Charge what feels right for you and what can allow you to live a nice life” – I prefer this to the ‘charge what you’re worth’ crap I see floating around the internet. My worth and what I earn aren’t related – perhaps it should be ‘charge what your services are worth’?

    The ‘what should I charge?’ question is one I see writers asking A LOT too.

    When I started my business, I had a full-time job, so I didn’t have any pressure to earn more money. So for my first client, I just chose a fee that felt right and went with it. I ended up earning about $4/hr for the project, but I didn’t care.

    I incrementally increased the fee for every new client after that.

    That’s not to say that quoting a fee to a client hasn’t ever been an issue for me. There have been times where I’ve been afraid to lose the client so didn’t charge a project fee that reflected the work I’d be doing. Learning to manage the insecurities that underpin this has been a big lesson

    • Tim Brownson

      I never give discounts to people who ask me for them, but I quite often offer discounts if I have the genuine sense that a client may be struggling financially.

      I’m not sure that’s even relevant to your comment!

  7. Hey Tim! How are you going? Nice piece. This is a very common challenge for coaches and the way that I deal with it for myself, and my clients is to use pricing as a positioning tool. I’ve found that tying it up with value is tricky, although that does come into it.
    Let me explain…
    Let’s imagine a multi-storey building filled with potential clients in your niche. They all want to work with you, and there is something that distinguishes each floor. For this example let’s use price, but it could be something else. On the bottom floors are people who love your work and want to work with you, but can or are only willing to pay you a small amount. The middles floors are also filled with people who want to work with you, and are willing to pay a bit more for your help. And the top floor is filled with potential clients who will pay ANYTHING to get you to help them.
    None of the floors are wrong, you just need to find where you are most comfortable.
    I have found in my personal experience, that the more a client pays, the easier they are to work with. You would think that by that logic I would be in the 100k category that you describe. I’m not. I am also not in the $100 a session category either.
    I have found where the people I like to help are, and they are the ones that help me become a better coach too. I always advise my clients to think about their own ideal client as the one who gives them as much as they give the client (outside of the financial transaction).
    Price is a positioning tool – use it to attract the kind of person you want to work with, whilst simultaneously detracting from those you don’t want to work with.
    (I could talk about this for hours, so reach out if you want to continue outside of this article, Tim!)

    • Tim Brownson

      I agree that there can be a correlation between what somebody pays and how easy they are to work with….sometimes.

      Price is always going to a positioning tool to a certain extent, but I personally wouldn’t favor it as the main approach. There is always somebody ready to under cut you unless your Wal-Mart.

  8. Jess

    Oh my god thank you so much for saying all of this. The executive coach to executive coach culture I’ve recently been exposed to reminds me of a cult. They literally believe magic will make money come if you believe enough. They believe things like struggling is just a state of mind. They seem like they haven’t lived much in the “real world” or have just replaced that reality with their own. I’m starting my business very shortly and Life Coaching is only one of my services but it’s something I want to offer to help people in a fun way for me, not as a get rich quick scheme. I took a suggestion from a trainer on a good starting rate and it sounded like a good compromise between what I need to be making and what seems reasonable to ask of a client. I don’t want to be working with the super rich, I want to help average status people achieve their goals.

    • Tim Brownson

      “I don’t want to be working with the super rich, I want to help average status people achieve their goals.”

      Yep, me too.

  9. Thanks Tim, for bringing up a topic that we coaches, especially when we are first starting out, struggle with. I got a lot of advice from other coaches in the biz to set a certain price, but that price was based on their own prices–and on where they lived, which has a completely different standard of living. (I work with both local and global clients.) I do find myself (perhaps inaccurately) assessing where a client lives when I think about price. However, I have created a consistent pricing structure for all of my clients, and have been increasing my prices as clients continue to create greater success in their own lives based on our work together.