Description: Planning to start a successful online coaching business or need to create a more profitable coaching business? Check out our 5-step guide on how to start a coaching business with 7 best practices for getting coaching clients.
An online coaching business is an ideal opportunity for you if you love interacting with and helping people. The current advancements in technology have made it easier for people like you to start a successful coaching business from home or a small office hassle-free.
The number one reason why you should start an online coaching business is that it gives you freedom by generating passive income from your home. Do it remotely. It is your own business. It is fully scalable. The best part: Your audience is global as you can offer coaching to clients in parts of the world virtually.
But having a passion to become a coach and having skills in a particular area is one thing but starting a new business from scratch and being. a great coach is something different.
This in-depth guide covers everything on how to start a coaching business online and how to get new clients to kickstart your passive income.
Let’s get to business…
How to Start a Coaching Business Online in 5 Proven Steps
Here is a list of the steps to start a successful coaching business and land that first client:
- Step #1: Choose a niche
- Step #2: Get necessary skills (+ certifications)
- Step #3: Pick the right platform
- Step #4: Set Pricing strategy and business structure
- Step #5: Analyze and tweak.
Step #1: Choose a Niche
The niche lays the foundation of your online coaching business. It needs to be selected wisely. There are many areas of coaching that can be niched down.
A niche is defined as a small segment of a larger market with its own needs. Niche markets are small and often overlooked by big players (for varied reasons).
For example, life coaching is a broad market while life coaching services for co-parenting is a niche within a broad market. So life coaches need to look for a niche that fits them well.
Another example is if you are a fitness coach, there are millions of fitness coaches offering online coaching programs and coaching sessions. You need to think about how you to niche that down to the type of fitness, demographics, ease, the number of clients you can handle, etc. This will help target a group and in tandem spend less time trying to cover the different needs of a broad target audience.
The reason why you pick a niche is that it has several benefits in the long run and short run including:
- Minimum competition
- Better targeting
- You can become an authority easily and quickly
- More profitable
- Focused approach with a clear strategy
- Quick growth
How to choose the best niche for your online coaching business?
It requires market research and brainstorming.
The process should begin with your passion (what you love) and your skills and experience (what you are good at) and then find a problem that people are willing to pay for.
If your skill set matches your passion and interest, it is great. But most people don’t find it easy to match their experience with passion. In such a case, it is a good idea to go with what you are good at.
Why? Because you can easily develop a proven track record.
For example, if you are a life coach, your potential clients expect you have a successful career and relationship (aka life). If you haven’t achieved your personal life goals successfully, it would not just hurt your coaching business, but it makes your coaching more theoretical than practical.
Once you are clear on what you are good at, the next step is identifying a key practical problem in that area. Generally, you’ll find problems of all types across all areas and niches. But are people willing to pay for a solution?
You need to identify your target market and analyze it. Here are a few key questions you should ask yourself.
- How big is the market?
- Is the target audience willing to spend money on coaching?
- What are the demographics (age, income range, job background, etc)?
If you already have an audience (e.g., if you are an expert in your field and planning to move to the coaching business), you can run a short survey and ask your audience if they will be willing to pay for coaching.
Let’s take an example:
You have worked as a finance expert for over 15 years with different multinational companies. You are now planning to move to online coaching. You should offer financial coaching as this is what you are good at. Considering financial coaching is quite broad, you can narrow it down to personal finance coaching, business financial coaching, startup financial coaching, investment coaching, money coaching, or personal debt coaching, and for a target audience (solopreneurs, small businesses, startups, beauty shops, etc).
You need to pick a niche based on its profitability (which can be determined via survey or competitor analysis) and protective clients. If market research shows that startups mostly don’t spend money on financial coaching due to a lack of capital, you need to skip it.
You get the idea, right?
Outcomes of Step #1
By the end of Step #1, you should have finalized the following:
- Your primary coaching niche
- Your target audience.
Step #2: Get Necessary Skills
The niche lays the foundation, and your skills are the backbone of your online coaching business and becoming a professional coach.
Training and certification aren’t official requirements to become a coach, but having certifications significantly boosts your credibility and authority. Certifications help you stand out from the competition by endorsing your skills. There are multiple ways to acquire and polish the right skills for online coaching such as:
- Online courses (e.g., edX and Coursera)
- Coaching certification programs (e.g., CoachRICE and Coach U)
- Coach communities (e.g., Co-Active)
- Membership platforms (e.g., ICF)
- Experience and qualifications
Coaching certification tops the list as a coaching certification by a reputable accreditation body makes you credible. When choosing a coaching certification, you have two options:
- Get coaching in a specific type of coaching such as life coaching. This type of certification is ideal for those who are following their passion and have little to no experience in the field of coaching. Examples include Relationship Coaching Specialists and Certified Life Coaches.
- Professional coaching certifications are independent of niche and sector. These certifications develop general coaching skills. These are ideal for those who have relevant industry experience and qualifications but are new to coaching. Examples include Core Essentials and Coaching for Personal & Professional Mastery Program.
So, pick a relevant coaching certification (ideally ICF accredited) to develop coaching skills and/or niche-relevant skills. This will help you get new clients quickly and you will be able to interact with other coaches during your course. It helps you develop a network of like-minded people.
Outcomes of Step #2
Pick a relevant certification program and enroll. If you can’t enroll now, just finalize the course so you can enroll later.
If you have expertise in your niche, choose a general coaching program. If you are not an expert in your niche, choose a niche-related coaching program.
Step #3: Pick the Right Platform
Time to move towards setting up your online courses and coaching services.
You need to pick a platform for your online coaching business so you can set everything up and start acquiring coaching clients. The earlier you do it, the better.
A coaching platform is a tool that helps you manage your coaching business, create a coaching program, manage payments, communicate with potential clients, and more. This software is the key to your business because it lets you manage everything.
Choosing the right coaching platform is essential because it puts things straight right away. You can focus on coaching instead of spending your time managing potential clients, and payments, and handling the backend activities of your coaching business.
Subkit is an ideal choice for your online coaching business as it sets up in 10 minutes and is free of cost.
It is an all-in-one platform that lets you do all the following without any technical knowledge:
- Create your coaching business plan
- Add coaching programs
- Create a pricing strategy
- Survey your audience on pricing.
You don’t need any other tool once you are on Subkit because it handles payments, invoices, recurring billing, analytics, email campaigns, referral programs, waitlists, and much more.
You can create your coaching business with Subkit even in the ideation stage or when you are taking coaching classes. You can pre-launch your coaching business and add clients to a waitlist. You can also conduct a survey to find out how much your potential clients are willing to pay.
Since it is free, you can sign up today and create your account with Subkit.
Outcomes of Step #3
Create an account with Subkit and set up your coaching business free of cost.
Step #4: Set Pricing Strategy
The way you define the pricing for your online courses determines profitability and freedom. You have to do it correctly.
Let’s see how…
There are multiple ways to price your coaching services:
- Hourly rate: You charge a fixed hourly rate to your clients
- Package: You create coaching packages with a fixed price for certain services
- Subscription: You charge a monthly or quarterly price for your coaching services.
Subscriptions and subscription tiers are the best pricing strategy for your online coaching services and online courses.
Why? Because it generates a passive income stream. It generates predictable revenue that helps you make well-informed financial decisions about your business and life.
With subscription tiers, you can bundle your services in various ways so you are spending less time in 1/1 coaching . You can offer it as a bundle with your primary subscription.
So, your main pricing strategy should be subscription-based. This all comes down to how you plan to deliver your coaching services.
Here is a list of popular methods to deliver coaching services to your clients:
- Content (e.g., tutorials and PDFs)
- Online courses
- Group Coaching
- 1-on-1 calls
- Pre-recorded videos and audio
- Group online classes or Q&As.
For example, you can offer a Bronze, Silver, and Gold plan.
- The Silver plan is your base plan with videos lectures, articles, PDFs, and audio files
- The Bronze plan includes Silver plan plus monthly Q&A/ Group online sessions
- The Gold plan includes Bronze plan pulse 1-on-1 calls.
This is a very effective pricing model many coaches use to scale their business. It gives them time to spend better time with family and friends and not spend too much time in 1-on-1 sessions.
If you are not sure of your pricing or want more intel, you can determine the right price by asking your target audience or you can see what your competitors are doing. If multiple competitors follow a single pricing model, it means it works better for your audience. Stick with it for now.
Outcomes of Step #4
Create your pricing strategy and create coaching packages. Subkit supports all types of pricing strategies so you can set everything there.
Step #5: Analyze and Tweak
Analyzing your online courses and coaching services provide you with insights that help improve your business model.
When you start a coaching business, you need to constantly monitor analytics, find issues, and figure out what works and what doesn’t.
The coaching platform offers all the key insights and shows your key metrics such as retention rate, recurring revenue, most and least selling coaching service, and more. Use data to tweak your coaching business plan.
Create a feedback system to collect feedback from new clients on the following:
- Price and affordability
- Best content type
- What other coaching services do they need
- What part of the subscription do they like the most
- Would they recommend your coaching to a friend or family member?
Use feedback to tweak and improve pricing strategy and coaching services. This should be a continuous process where you need to use feedback and analytics to tweak your pricing strategy, coaching services, online courses, and business model.
Outcomes of Step #5
Use analytics and client feedback to tweak and improve your coaching business.
7 Tips to Find Coaching Clients
Knowing how to start a coaching business online is the first step, not the last. Once your online coaching business is up and running, you need to find potential clients.
If you have picked the right coaching niche (as discussed in Step #1) with your target market and audience in mind, it will get easier to find new clients. Understanding your target audience helps you pick the right marketing channels to reach and connect with them.
Here are the top techniques to find potential clients for your coaching business:
1. Social Media
With 4.70 billion global social media users, you can’t ignore social platforms. The first place to look for coaching clients should be social media.
Why? Because people are obsessed with social media.
The average daily time spent on top social networking platforms is well over 2.5 hours and the average number of social media apps used per month by a single person is around 7.4.
Social media is a powerful marketing channel that helps you find potential clients easily. But it isn’t a silver bullet. You need to have a social media marketing plan. You can’t just post randomly on Facebook and LinkedIn and expect people to buy your coaching services. You need a solid game plan.
Here is how to create one for your own business:
- Find the right social media platform: Figure out the social networking site your ideal customers use. You can get this information through surveys and interviews. Look at a few other coaches in your niche and see what social networks they are most active on. Being on the right social media platform is more important than being on a hundred irrelevant social networks where your target audience never hangs out.
- Publish consistently: Don’t publish links to your coaching services on social media. You need to publish informative content in your niche. Think of quotes, helpful tips, or an expert opinion. Create a social media editorial calendar and publish 2-3 posts per day.
- Engage: Posting content isn’t enough. You need to engage with your audience by sharing, liking, and commenting on content from other experts in your niche. Become an active member of the community.
- Offer coaching services discount: Offer exclusive discounts to social media users. Don’t overdo it. Publishing a single post about a coaching service discount is enough. All other posts should be geared toward helping people solve their key challenges.
2. Free Coaching
This might sound absurd but offering free coaching to the first batch helps you in several ways. When you are new to online coaching, you have no reviews and case studies to share with potential clients. This makes it extremely hard to acquire coaching clients.
So, you can offer free coaching to the first batch, and this should include people from your circles such as friends, family, and colleagues.
No, you don’t have to offer everything for free. You can offer a basic version of your coaching services (e.g., online courses and a single 1-on-1 session) and then you can ask clients to subscribe or book additional sessions and services.
This will help you in multiple ways:
- Get feedback
- Get reviews and testimonials
- Case studies to acquire future coaching clients
- Revenue by pitching free clients upsells.
Give it a try. Maybe you can offer free coaching to the first 5 or 10 clients and promote it via social media. At the end of the free coaching, ask these clients to share their views about the coaching program via a testimonial.
This helps a lot to build rapport.
Statistics reveal that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and 72% of consumers report that positive testimonials make a business trustworthy:
Positive reviews and testimonials from free coaching clients are the sources of making your business trustworthy.
3. Build Online Authority
Online authority means your target audience views you as the best source of authentic information in your niche than anyone else.
If you get a financial tip from Warren Buffett, you’ll trust it and follow it as opposed to getting the same financial tip from some unknown person.
Because Warren Buffett is an authority. People trust him. He has developed his thought leadership.
That’s exactly what you have to do to get new coaching clients. Build your authority online in your coaching niche. Help people. Solve their problems. Give solid recommendations and tips.
Here are a few platforms (besides social media) that are ideal for developing authority by helping others:
- Niche forums.
You don’t have to spam these platforms with links to your coaching services, rather you need to help answer people’s queries in your niche with authority. Doing it consistently will help you get new coaching clients, but you will establish yourself as an online authority in your niche.
4. Content Marketing
Content marketing is the best thing you will do for your coaching business. It is a long-term marketing plan that will continue to bring new potential clients in the years to come.
You need to create content to market and promote your own business. It includes all types of content including blogs, videos, images, and more. The top 5 content formats that businesses prefer creating (based on their ROI) are videos, blogs, images, infographics, and case studies.
Importantly, content marketing helps you drive organic traffic from search engines. This is free traffic that multiplies over the years as you create and publish more content on your blog.
Start creating content to get new coaching clients. Follow these steps to get started:
- Create a blog
- Publish high-quality content regularly on your blog
- Address key issues in your niche and solve problems through content
- You can convert your blog posts into videos and infographics by repurposing content.
You should publish 3-4 blog posts per week initially to drive organic traffic from search engines:
Having a blog with informative content also helps you build online authority in your niche. You can link to relevant posts on your blog when answering questions on Quora, Reddit, and niche forums. As you continue doing it, you will end up creating heaps of authority assets.
Outreach refers to reaching out to your target audience directly via email. More specifically, it is a process to find potential clients for your business by contacting them directly.
It is a time-consuming process because you will need the accurate details of individuals so you can send them emails and offer your coaching services. Finding people who might be interested in your coaching services and then collecting their contact details (such as name, email address, social profiles, etc.,) is a challenging task.
But it is worth the effort – especially if you have social proof (through free coaching clients) to show them.
Here is an example email template that will give you an idea of how outreach works:
Sending outreach emails to potential coaching clients might not work right away as they don’t know you yet. The sales process, in this case, can be very lengthy with several emails and even calls.
There is, however, another way you can use outreach for your online coaching business that doesn’t involve selling (and skips the lengthy sales process).
Send outreach emails to authority websites in your coaching niche for guest posts. Publishing a guest post on an authority website helps you in three ways:
- You get referral traffic to your blog
- You build your authority as a thought leader
- You might get a backlink to your site that improves SEO.
Here is an example of a guest post template that you can use.
The host blog receives a great article (for free) from a coach, and you get a chance to reach out to your target audience via their blog. It’s a win-win.
This guest posting approach works better as it doesn’t involve any selling and it is sustainable. You will keep getting traffic, leads, and authority from the host blog for years to come.
6. Pay-Per-Click Ads
Most of the techniques to get new coaching clients we have covered so far are organic and need time. If you need coaching clients fast, you should try pay-per-click (PPC) ads. It is an instant source of highly targeted traffic. As soon as your ad goes live, you will start receiving traffic to your landing page or website. There is no wait, but it costs you money. You will pay the advertising network for each click on your ad.
So, you can use PPC ads to get coaching clients if you have money to spend. You also need to have a solid plan where you need to determine client acquisition cost and client lifetime value. The cost you spend to acquire a new client must be lower than the average revenue per client.
When your business is new, you might not have metrics and enough data to calculate these figures. As a rule of thumb, don’t spend too much money on PPC ads. Set a reasonable daily budget and keep tweaking your ads to improve performance.
You can run a PPC campaign on Google, Bing, and even social media networks like Facebook. Ideally, you should start with Google Search Ads as that’s the best way to drive targeted traffic.
You can outrank organic search results in Google for your target keywords with PPC ads. Interesting, right?
What makes Google search ads a perfect starting point for getting coaching clients is that it gives you direct access to people who are interested in coaching and actively looking for a coach in search.
7. Partnerships and Networking
For partnerships, bundle your services into a complimentary coach's subscription plan and share revenue. For example, if you are a fitness coach, you can bundle your services with a nutrition coach. This is another reason to use Subkit. It's the only platform for 'collabs' and bundling.
For events, social gatherings are perfect places to get the word out. You need to meet people, tell them about your online coaching business, and keep in contact with them.
You need to grow your network. Not all people you meet might become your clients but they may refer clients whenever they get a chance. You need to be the first person in your network’s mind when someone talks about your niche. This is another way of building authority.
You can go to social gatherings, networking events, workshops, and events in your niche. Connect with other coaches online, follow them on social media, use LinkedIn, follow relevant influencers in your niche, and try to communicate with them.
Start an Online Coaching Business Today
You can kickstart your coaching business by following our 5-step guide. Use Subkit to set up everything free of cost in a few minutes. You can use the waitlist feature to add coaching clients to the waitlist until your coaching services are ready.
With Subkit, you don’t have to worry about managing your own business, payments, and services. You do what you are good at – coaching. And let Subkit manage your coaching business.