As an experienced life coach, people often contact me and say, “I want to become a life coach. Teach me what to do”. If you are thinking of becoming a professional life coach too, this post is for you.
Life coaching is an uplifting and fulfilling profession. I have been doing this work, in various formats, for 32 years now. I enjoy every minute of it and find it my life’s purpose. I can highly recommend becoming a life coach as a fantastic option for those who want to help others succeed, achieve and be happy.
Because in coaching, the clients’ success is our success.
Life coaching became a very trendy name in the last 20 years. Famous people, like Tony Robbins, made it very popular, but in fact, they just gave a beautiful name to something that had been around for many years.
Life coaching is the same personal development and success science that elders and famous motivational leaders, speakers and authors did many years ago. Just think of Mother Teresa, Napoleon hill, Mahatma Gandhi, Jim Rohn, Stephen Covey, Zig Ziglar, Confucius, Buddha and so on.
We like to think of life coaching as a new profession, but it is not. We did not invent this wheel, although we would like to think that we did. Coaching incorporates several ancient philosophies that were created and practiced thousands of years ago. I studied mine 32 years ago and my teachers were already experts at it, so popularity and innovation are not the same thing.
For years, I coached people who wanted a better life personally. Then, I started training and mentoring one of my clients who wanted to become a life coach and do things exactly the way I was doing them. At first, when she asked me, I said, “Well, it is hard for me to teach how I do it, because life coaching is not ‘one size fits all’.
But my client reminded me that I was already teaching parents and teachers how to be coaches for their kids/students and this was a way to “replicate” myself. All I needed to do was teach would-be life coaches what was “behind the scenes” of my coaching program.
Coaching skills and business skills
Since then, I have mentored many people in various professions of “helping others” be the best they could be. I get many requests for coach mentoring and all these clients want to work on their coaching skills and on their business at the same time.
I think it is wise to work on both.
Because you can be the best coach in the world, but without business sense, you will not last a year. Of course, if you can have great business sense and no coaching skills, you will not last a year either.
Statistics show that 9 of every 10 business close down within one year, so lasting a year is the point we all have to get through when establishing a business. If you do not have what it takes, your efforts will result in heartache and decrease your confidence, and you need to be confident both as a coach and as a business owner.
Life coaching is not a hobby
When making life coaching a business, it is essential to understand that a business needs to make money. If you are not making a profit from life coaching, it is a hobby, not a business. You can make choose to diversify and only coach once a week, or part time, but it cannot be a hobby.
Because clients will put in a lot more effort and get much better results out of a paid service. The saying “you get what you pay for” is very applicable here. In fact, I have put my prices up several times and every time, new clients got results faster and were happier with their results.
Many people ask me how quickly they can establish their business. In my program, they all start working the day after our first session. As part of the training, they line up some people who volunteer to be their “practice clients” and they practice with them whatever they learn. Our first session has enough material for about 3-5 coaching sessions with their clients.
Practice helps us improve our skills as coaches a lot. In that sense, they start working straight away. However, in order to build a business, they need more time and it is good to know this before you get yourself into the life coaching business.
Life coaching relies heavily on “word of mouth”. When you do a great job, your clients achieve their goals and grow. When they complete their coaching, they start referring people to you. Those referrals are the best to have and save you huge advertising and marketing expenses. And when I say “huge”, I mean “HUGE”.
[Side note: you can practice your coaching skills and gain confidence doing life coach jobs, but ultimately, building a coaching business is what gives you the awesome lifestyle.]
Marketing your life coaching business
Most people who get into life coaching as a business think that all they need is a website. These people are going to be greatly disappointed to discover that a website will not bring them coaching clients.
Because if people search for a life coach in their area and you have just created your own amazing, wonderful, beautiful website, it will probably appear on page 217 of Google Search. There are over a billion websites in the world today. Every minute, 571 new websites are created. If you get to Page 217, you are lucky.
So first, you need to find people who will take the risk of working with you when you are just starting out and have little or no experience.
Second, you need to do a great job, and I mean, A GREAT JOB! Being good in coaching is not good enough. You need to be so great that your coaching clients change their life in such a way that other people notice and ask them, “Wow, you’re so different. What have you done?” and your clients should feel confident enough to talk about you as the coach that helped them achieve it.
Realistically, this process will take you at least six months and you need enough successful clients to start getting referrals. I still get referrals from clients who finished their coaching with me 10 years ago. The great thing about a referral-based business is that it grows like a tree. One great client becomes a big trunk that refers people who refer people, who refer other people. I have several huge trunks that keep referring people to me, years after they have finished coaching, so this really works well.
Your life coaching website
A coaching website is a good “shop front” for people who do not come from referrals and for people who are considering you after someone refers them. All you need is a simple website with something about you, the coach, your unique philosophy, a list of coaching services, (real) client testimonials and an easy way to contact you.
Even the simplest website costs a lot of money, because it is not as simple as most people would like you to think. Yes, you can get something free but you need knowledge about so many things, it stresses me just to think of them. You need to know about the right name for your business, the right domain, the right hosting service, the right design (so people can use your site on mobile phones), the right theme, the right forms, the right font, the right SEO, the right security, the right size photographs, the right links, the right backup, the right plugins, the right way to make changes, the right social media for your service, the right advertisement, the right way to do updates that will not mess up your site. The list is so huge that I cannot even include it all in this post.
Yes, you can figure these things out through trial and error, but it will take you months to learn and you will not be able to do what a professional person can do in one hour, because he is experienced and up to date with the many changes.
Having a website is good, but do not invest in it too much before you have enough testimonials and do not be tempted to try doing it on your own. It will just waste your time, energy and focus.
Many of my mentoring clients ask me to tell them what I did to have so many visitors every month (over 60,000) and I tell them something that find very surprising.
Blogging as a marketing tool
I have a blog with 1,437 original articles that took me over 10 years to write. This blog brings me many of the clients who are not referrals. Unless you are committed to writing at least 400 blog posts, do not start! It is OK to write for fun and self-expression, but do not expect it to be a source of clients for your coaching business. Every day, several million blogs posts are published on the Internet and it keeps getting harder to stand out. Just so you get a feel for your competition, see a live update of posts being published here.
I was mentoring a client who wanted to blog about something related to weddings as an income stream. I asked her, “Can you write 400 blog posts about the things you are selling?” She freaked out and said to me, “I can write … 15”. So, do you understand why blogging was not the right strategy for her?
For me, writing is like breathing. I could write all day, every day and love every second of it. I have topics for writing that will last me a lifetime. I do not need to be “in the mood” for writing. I am a journalist, so I am good at research, and if I just wrote about my work, my clients, my life experiences, my workshops and my programs, I would have enough material for every day of the next 10 years, including weekends.
If you want blogging to bring you coaching clients, you have to have the passion for writing, the ability to write (this can be learned), the love for what you do, great ideas, enough material and the dedication to keep doing it until the clients start knocking on your door. Until then, you need to do something else to bring them in.
Online marketing is a profession
The second reason I have reached this point in my business is that I have Gal, my husband, who is an online marketer. He has been working on all our websites for 3 days every week over more than 10 years. I am lucky that Gal is my life partner in and we share everything.
If your partner is not an online marketer, you will need the services of an online marketing expert, which is likely to cost a lot of money. However, if you want to become a life coach, stick to being a life coach and leave the websites to those who know the ins and outs of the Internet world.
Ultimately, this will bring you clients faster and cheaper than you can do it yourself.
Rome wasn’t built in a day
Life coaching is a great profession. Just like any other profession, it requires time to build your knowledge base, client base, confidence and reputation.
Some coach mentoring clients want to have their sessions every week to speed things up. I tell them that doing it quickly will only build their knowledge base. Your client base will grow through referrals on a 3-6 month cycle, because clients start to refer only after they have achieved their own goals, which takes 3-6 months. Your confidence will increase with repetition and experience, and your reputation will build up after you stay in the business long enough.
So if you want to become a professional life coach, remember that Rome was not built in a day and your coaching practice will also take time to grow. 9 out of 10 businesses close within a year, so do not be a statistic! Optimism is great, but naivety is not. Go into your life coaching adventure with your eyes open and consider all your options before you start.
As a life coach, you sell your philosophy on life and if you want to empower people to achieve and be committed to their success, you have to be a role model first.
Best of luck!