How To Become A Life Coach (A 12-Month Countdown)
Woo-hoo, you’ve managed to become a Life Coach!
You did you research on who to train with. 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.
It’s now time for people to be able to hire you and benefit from your undoubted coaching prowess.
Finally, just finally, you can get paid for doing what you love to do. It doesn’t get much better than this, does it?
But where is everybody?
You keep checking your email, but nothing.
Doesn’t the world you know you’re ready and waiting to kick some 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, you have done the catering equivalent of opening a restaurant and forgetting to install a kitchen.
Or probably more accurately, you’ve built a killer kitchen and forgotten all about the infrastructure that has to fit around it.
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 announce to the world that you’re in business
Then you’re probably going to fail, or at the very least you’re putting yourself under undue pressure.
You should not be starting your marketing and implementing business processes after you have finished your training because you’re just wasting a load of time.
Let’s take a trip back to ground zero, or rather the point at which you unequivocally decided to become a life coach.
You may well be there now, or at the very least as close to there as makes no difference. And by that I mean 6 to 12 months away from being in a position where you have to be earning a steady income.
If that is the case, then awesome you can save yourself some time further down the road.
Even if you are already coaching I’d advise you scan through this and make sure you haven’t missed anything.
In the meantime let’s look at the 12-months before you start and you can condense according to your circumstances.
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, or 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 and for people who don’t care about ranking in the SERP’s (search engine raking pages), but that’s about it.
They are super hard to get to rank and thus kill your organic reach, you technically don’t own your own content and they are either hard or impossible to customize.
I have met life coaches who have spent over $20k on training to be a world-class coach and then have zero budget left for much else, never mind a decent website.
Coach the Life Coach will be redesigned from top to bottom in the early summer and it will probably be around $8k.
Of course you can get a site designed for $250 if you care to go onto sites like Upwork, Elance etc., but my site is mission critical to me and literally every single client who comes to me has started there in some way, shape, or form.
In other words, the money I spend on it is a serious investment in my future success.
There are 3 types of designer imho (well 4 if you include those who just flat out suck).
- Designers who can build beautiful aesthetically pleasing sites.
- Designers that understand UX (user experience) and SEO (search engine optimization), calls to action etc.
- Designers who get both elements.
The latter are obviously the ones you want but they’re *usually* more expensive because they’re in demand.
Before you hire a designer just because you like her designs (I know that sounds counterintuitive, but it really isn’t), check that the sites she has already built are converting. If you don’t know how to do that, ask me in the Coach The Life Coach facebook group.
If you want a fantastic design from a guy who knows all about SEO and UX, then I highly recommend Chris Gaskill at Falaris. Just don’t distract him when he’s rebuilding this site!
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 love it.
I can turn it on like a boss.
I can whip through channels faster than my youngest dog can eat his 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.
None whatsoever. 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 Facebook posting glib memes with gay abandon, learn how to use it successfully because otherwise you’re just wasting your time.
Pick one, or maybe two platforms, where your clients will be hanging out and master them.
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 can be incredibly useful for SEO purposes.
A Daring Adventure batters LifeCoach.com on just about every metric other than the URL, but Google sees their URL and thinks, ‘wow that’s super relevant to anybody searching for the term life coach’.
As such I doubt I’ll ever get above it, in fact I’m wasting my time trying.
Sadly all the great domains are long gone which is why you see new companies deliberately operating for words that don’t technically exist or leaving vowels out.
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, so you’re rolling the dice somewhat.
Just make sure your domain isn’t too long and as relevant as you can make it without being too contrived.
Note: If you can buy your own name as a domain then do so even if you don’t use it.
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
The reason my site isn’t being redesigned until the spring/summer is not because I want to wait until the swallows arrive back from wherever it is they skulked off to for the winter, but because Chris is super busy.
But there’s another reason you should start the process now and that is because it’s not, or rather shouldn’t be, a 2 or 3-week deal.
Writing code takes time. Writing copy takes times. And you getting your shit together with photos and other stuff you want on your site will take more time than you think.
Note: You may or may not have noticed I haven’t talked about choosing a host for your website. I use Siteground and I’d recommend them, but for the most part if you have a great designer they will probably set this up for you.
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.
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 experience of 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 a bunch of whiny salespeople complaining about the quality of their leads like they’re in Glengarry Glen Ross.
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 round the room and pumping the air with delight whilst trying to sound professional, what would they be saying?
That’s your niche.
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 Aweber for A Daring Adventure and it’s pretty good. I pay $100 per month but then again I have close to 10k people subscribed, it will cost you a lot less.
Other options that are pretty much on a par are Constant Contact and MailChimp. The latter does offer a free option up to 2,000 users, but if you are really serious about scaling a list and making this a long-term career then I’d shun all 3 and go for ActiveCampaign.
I use ActiveCampaign for Coach the Life Coach and I love it more than I love Nutella covered bacon….almost.
It’s not as intuitive to use as Aweber and Constant Contact (I’ve never used MailChimp so I cannot offer an opinion on that one, but I hear it’s similar), but it’s waaaaay better for tracking and tagging.
You don’t need to know all the technical shit now, just know it’s great and if it wasn’t for the hassle in doing so, I’d move my Aweber list over too. In fact I think I will anyway.
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 2000’s.
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 first born.
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, audio course 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 sense of resulting 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?
At this stage you will be writing copy for your website because as well as your homepage you will need a killer ‘about’ page.
Then if you’re smart you will be writing blog posts and newsletter articles so that you can hit the ground running with content.
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 13 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 and refusing to even have it trimmed.
Yes I think you should hire me as I have done what you want to do, but if you think I’m a tool, then that’s fine, find somebody else – 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 changes the dynamic.
If you cannot afford to hire a coach or you’re not willing to make the investment, then why on earth should anybody ever hire you?
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 are expensive, then 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 fucking 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 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’m migrating to 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 (al), 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.
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 less than $20 per month you can look like a professional.
I rarely do telephone coaching these days because Zoom is so good and so easy for even the most techie challenged people to use.
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. 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 of 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.
Full disclosure: The links to ActiveCampaign and Zoom are affiliate links and I do stand to earn commission if you sign up with them. However, I recommend them because they’re brilliant and I use them, not because I may make a few bucks.