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The Complete Business Guide to Life Coaching

Written by on January 18, 2017

According to the 2016 Global Coaching Study, there are roughly 53,300 coaches worldwide and almost a third from the US.

The industry is booming, with an estimated $2.35 billion a year, and set to grow with a healthy pace over the next few years.

If you were to say ten years ago that you are a coach, people would assume that you were involved in something athletic. However, the term has taken on a different meaning nowadays.

Life coaches are good at helping people achieve the goals that they’ve set for themselves. Life coaches operate by finding out the right questions and determining the right steps to help their clients achieve these goals.

Check out the basic information about what life coaches do

If you’ve ever considered becoming a life coach, now is the perfect time to start.

However, before you jump in, you’ll need to know what it is you’re getting into. Beyond that, you need to determine the fundamental business aspects you need to have covered, such as your skills, certifications, price list and more.

Then comes the all important part: how to get clients. We’ll go over all these important aspects in our full guide.

In this guide you’ll find the following sections (click to skip ahead):

I. What is life coaching?

In a general way, as we mentioned, life coaching is about helping others reach their goals. It isn’t about setting those goals for them, but about finding strategic methods to help those people achieve what they’ve set for themselves.

There are, specifically, many different types of what’s known as life coaching.

In fact, because life coaching is helping someone to achieve a goal they’ve set for themselves, the types of life coaching can be quite large. This is because people set themselves so many different types of goals, and may need help in each.

There are six major life coaching areas to be aware of, however:

Personal coaching

This is the one most people think of when they hear ‘life coaching.’ Personal coaching takes a holistic approach to coaching by trying to help clients find balance. This means they look at the client’s career, relationships, spirituality, priorities, productivity, habits, and many more, and focuses on them all or on in particular.

Career coaching

Most career coaches work with teams or individuals and help them find careers that would provide them greater satisfaction and fulfillment.

These coaches are good at determining the client’s interests, passions and skills and use that to match them with a career the client will love.

Business Coaching

This more specific coaching aims to help entrepreneurs develop themselves in business in order to succeed.

Business coaches can help with their branding, mission, determining their audience, and creating a strategic vision for the client’s business.

These are the 6 types of life coaching you can choose to specialize in
These are the 6 types of life coaching you can choose to specialize in

Executive Coaching

These coaches focus on company executives in order to assist them in whatever aspect they may require help in.

This can be delegation, planning, productivity, leadership, public speaking and many others.

Health Coaching

This type of coach helps people or groups of people improve their lifestyles by increasing their physical well-being.

This most often includes changes to their diets, workout routines, and self-care, but can also include many others. They may even incorporate spirituality, confidence, self-esteem and more.

Relationship Coaching

This type of coaching helps individuals and couples improve their relationships. For couples, this usually means working on improving communication, intimacy and other aspects.

For singles, this could be help in finding a partner, preparing them for relationships, and other important features.

As we said before, these are not all the types of life coaches that there are, but they do present the major areas that are out there.

II. The Pros & Cons of Life Coaching

It’s important that, before you go deeply into life coaching, that we overview the advantages and disadvantages of life coaching.

1. The Advantages

There are many advantages to this industry

There are many advantages to being a life coach, much more than the usual advantages.

Work for yourself

The first and possibly biggest advantage of becoming a life coach is that you’ll get to work for yourself. That means that you get to escape the whine and grind of 9-to-5 work.

You’ll have the freedom to decide for yourself what to do with your day, what clients you want to work with, and when you want to take a break for vacation. You can even work via Skype when you’re in your dream location.

Help make a difference in people’s lives

The second advantage is also possibly the biggest: you get to help people by making a difference in their lives.

You get to be with them at the start, when they’re unsure of their goals and abilities, through the struggles, and finally to success. Also, each client is different, so you’ll have lots of variety in your work.

Have high income potential

Another advantage is that you stand to potentially make lots of money.

For example, according to one study, life coaches make $229 per hour on average! That’s huge, and that’s only on average, meaning there are some coaches making much less than this, but also some making much more.

No certification requirements

Lastly, you can start teaching while you are still learning.

Because of the industry, life coaching doesn’t require certification and there is no regulation. In actuality, you can start life coaching without any training at all, and build up experience and clients from there.

2. Disadvantages of Life Coaching

You should be aware of the disadvantages to this industry

There are some disadvantages to becoming a life coach, although they are more than offset by the fact that life coaches are really satisfied with their careers overall.

Major responsibilities

First of all, many life coaches are not the best at business. They have amazing interpersonal skills and have helped many people. However, they do not know how to market themselves, and their business suffers. When you work for yourself, all the responsibility is on you to get your clients, and this can be overwhelming sometimes.

Even more than that, you’ll also have the responsibility of helping people through difficult points of their lives. That can be quite a big task and even cause burnout.

No personal time

Beyond that, you cannot let your own personal life interfere with your work.

For example, if you are going through a difficult time, you do not have the space to deal with that while working, because you have to assist others through their challenges.

You always have to put others ahead of yourself, and you always have to be “on” and ready to help.

Requires a lot of patience

Life coaching requires, as one of the top skills, that you be patient.

There will be some times when it can be frustrating, for both you and your client, and you will have to pull both of you up and out. This can be emotionally taxing, and it will take time to get yourself into a good system.

Difficulty finding clients

Lastly, it can be difficult to find work, especially when you’re starting out. Because it is quite a referral-type business, you’ll need that good word-of-mouth in order to build up your client base.

This is difficult if you are the new kid on the block, and you’ll have to work and struggle until you get a good reputation.

III. The Business Basics

Now that you understand the industry and all of its ups and downs, you need to figure out how to create strategic steps forward.

1. Setting Your Goals

As a life coach, you should know all about the importance of setting and working on achieving your goals. This is great advice for your clients, but even better for yourself. What are the goals you’re trying to achieve with your life coaching career?

The best way to set goals for yourself is to follow the SMART system to create realistic, attainable goals within a specific time frame.

Set your financial goals with these SMART goal-setting questions

2. Knowledge and Skills

Primarily, you should have the appropriate skills required in order to be a great life coach.

Although skills are teachable and therefore learnable, if you don’t have this combination of skills and personality features, then life coaching might be a difficult match for you.

Specifically you need to:

  • have great listening skills – you need to be able to listen and build a trusting relationship with your client, to listen carefully to what is being said and not said, and move forward logically from that
  • be a people person – you’ll need to be someone who enjoys being around people and try to understand them
  • be sensitive – you should be able to pick up on the subtleties of human communication and ask thought-provoking questions that get to the heart of the situation
  • understand nuances – you need to explore deeply personal aspects of your clients’ lives while not appearing intrusive
  • be confidential – everything your client tells you should be treated with the utmost confidentiality, and you should never repeat it to anyone

3. Training & Certification

Even though the field is unregulated, meaning just about anyone can start life coaching, there are still certifications you can get and trainings that you can attend to improve your life coaching skills.

In fact, it’s quite recommended that you attend a training program and get certified. This has two benefits:

  1. Your client will have more assurances that you have the skills necessary to provide help
  2. You’ll learn better ways to help your clients

With certification, you’ll be able to stand heads above the other life coaches who are working uncertified. This competitive edge will in the end mean more clients for you.

There are many schools to choose from to get certified as a life coach. You may end up paying $5,000-$10,000 for one training course, but considering that you can make up to $200,000 per year from life coaching, it’s a very good investment.

Life coaching may seem expensive, but their earning potential is well worth the expense
Life coaching may seem expensive, but their earning potential is well worth the expense

However, not all life coaching training courses are equal, and there are some that are just plain bad.

For this reason, it’s usually recommended to go with schools accredited by the International Coach Federation, an international organization which promotes the advanced of life coaching around the world.

The ICF has become the gold standard in discussions of whether a life coaching school is valuable or not, and the ones that pass the test are known as ACTPs (Accredited Coach Training Programs).

There are hundreds of ACTPs around the world that you can choose from, and each has different training methods and specializations.

However, one of the best ways to learn how to be a life coach is to be coached, to be a client. This will give you first-hand experience with the profession and show you how your skills and experiences fit into the job.

4. Your Life Coaching Website

In order to be fully available to your potential clients, you’ll need to have a presence online.

This means that it’s a very good idea for you to create your own website where you can have all the pertinent information about your life coaching business.

Your website should showcase the best parts of your business, your philosophy, and your prices. More specifically, answer the following questions:

  • what type of services do you provide?
  • what sets you apart from the other life coaches?
  • where are you located, and where do you work?
  • what are your usual rates?
  • what’s the best way to contact you?

Your website should also include information about you in the ‘About Me’ section or anywhere easily findable on your website. Potential clients will first and foremost be interested in what type of person you are before they even consider hiring you as a life coach.

Make sure you include all these valuable pointers in your life coaching website

5. Pricing

Most life coach pricing is a big area with lots of variety.

According to the ICF study, life coaches make $229 per hour on average.

Although that sounds great, we’ll have to look at the range of prices based on two large groups:

  • Executive and Business Coaches
  • Personal Coaching

Executive Coaching Salaries

For Executive Coaching, coaches can make $325 per hour on average, whereas Business coaches make about $235 per hour on average.

Beyond that, Corporate coaches can charge much more, sometimes earning up to $500 per hour, costing the client anywhere from $1000 – $10,000 per month.

Personal Coaching Salaries

Personal coaches charge anywhere from $20 – $125 per hour, although many in their first few years charge about $30 per hour.

They can charge about $200 – $1000 per month to their clients for four sessions of 30- to 60-minute calls or meetings per month.

In that way, life coaches on average can make about $55,000 – $116,000 per year, although it will usually take a lot of work and time to make that six-figure salary.

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Salary for beginners

If you are just starting out, however, you’ll probably want to keep your prices on the lower end.

There are even some beginning life coaches who work for absolutely free so that they can build up their reputations. These are all fine, especially considering that you’re probably doing a job that you love—helping people to achieve their goals.

So if you have to sacrifice a bit of your salary the first year or two doing what you love, then it might not be a bad sacrifice at all.

6. The tools you’ll need

When you are working for yourself, and your clients depend on you to help them achieve their goals, you find that you need the best support you can have.

This may come in the form of teams and assistants. However, when you’re starting out, you’ll probably be going solo—but that doesn’t mean you can’t have any support.

There are many apps and software available right now that can make your life coaching much easier. Let’s check out the best ones.

InvoiceBerry

Use InvoiceBerry to make your invoices easier

In order to really advance in your business, you’ll need to take care of your financials. InvoiceBerry’s online invoicing software makes creating and sending invoices easy, and even has recurring invoice functions for your regular clients.

Wunderlist

Wunderlist is a great app for setting your schedule and managing your life coaching tasks

This is a great to-do list app for you (or your team).  You can create tasks, subtasks, and much more. You can also email the lists to yourself or others, and the app will notify you that you need to take an action immediately.

Evernote

Evernote is a useful note-taking app for any business

This is a great app for anyone really, but especially for those in the life coaching field. You can quickly and easily take notes , snap pictures, or record your thoughts. When you do, your notes are instantly available on all your devices.

Dropbox

Dropbox is a fantastic app for file sharing and storage

Dropbox is a fantastic service that helps you store and send files, especially large ones, to yourself, your clients, or your colleagues. You can send video, documents, programs, or audio files quickly.

Even better, because it’s on the cloud, you can never lose it. If your phone or computer is lost or stolen, the files are still available and you can retrieve them easily.

Hemingway Editor

The Hemingway Editor helps you to write clearly and more concisely

Lastly, there’s the app that helps you write shorter, more concise and much clearer sentences. This is especially useful if you write a lot to your clients or for your clients.

This is true for writing books, blog posts, emails, and more. You can even maximize the app to help you write distraction-free, straight-to-the-point messages.

IV. Your clients

Getting your business basics in order is a very important step. But for the well-being of your business, you’ll now need to know how to find your life coaching clients.

1. How to communicate with your clients

Generally, there are three ways that you can communicate with your clients.

Face-to-face

The first way is the usual face-to-face. This is the most sought-after, and provides the greatest amount of value for both parties. There are many reasons for this, but one of these is related to being able to read each other.

There’s also the fact that it’s more human to physically see and interact with someone, putting both sides at ease.

By telephone

The second way is traditional telephoning. This has some obvious reasons—for example, the client is in a different location from the coach, and therefore they can’t meet.

So, to continue on with the coaching without being in the same location, they rely on telephones. Although this is also quite common, it doesn’t provide the benefits of interaction and value that face-to-face does.

Skype and VoIP Services

Thirdly, and more popular than telephoning, is to use programs like Skype.  They offer many benefits compared to telephones, one being that the price is generally lower.

Secondly, which is the biggest, is that you are able to do video calls with Skype, meaning there is a virtual face-to-face.

Skype is one of the most popular services, but there are also many other VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services that offer the same and even better features. VoIP works by converting phone signals into digital ones and sends these signals through the internet.

There are many VoIP services available, and if you live in the UK, we’ve got a great list of the 11 best VoIP services here.

Top 11 VoIP Providers for UK Small Businesses VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a cost-effective and functional phone service using your internet connectionl. Check out the best VoIP for UK SMEs. READ MORE

2. Traditional marketing methods

Although many traditional aspects of life are fading in our always-online world, there are still some traditional features that are beneficial. This is especially true for life coaching, as you’ll need all the different ways to get your first clients and keep them coming.

One of the best marketing methods for getting new clients is to actually interact with them. That means that you can attend events, trainings, conferences, or workshops.

For extra points, you can even host your own workshop and help answer people’s questions or present them with the perfect information they need to have a change in mindset.

In the meantime, while you are busy working at these meet-ups, try to find out as much as you can about your potential clients. Their fears, their wishes, their hopes, their dreams, and the things that are holding them back.

This may be on internet forums or just talking with friends or colleagues. The more you know about your potential clients, the better you’ll be able to find and help them.

3. Guest Posting

Use guest posting to increase your audience

This one is often overlooked by many life coaches—but it’s always important to work at improving your reputation. You don’t only want to be seen as a good life coach, you want to be seen as an influencer, a leader in your field.

You get this by mostly discussing important issues not only with your clients, but also with other life coaches. That means that you’ll have to regularly write articles about the generals or specifics of life coaching. This can be on your own blog, but if you’re just starting out, maintaining a blog can be quite a chore.


A well-researched, well-thought out post on life coaching on a popular blog will showcase your talents, skills and intelligence and help you find valuable clients.

However, it may be best to find guest posting opportunities.

The idea here is that you reach out to life coaching bloggers (or others) and you offer them a well-researched, well-thought out post custom-made for the life coaching field. The blog or website will of course be happy, because they get to use valuable content at no price to them.

You will benefit, because you’ll be able to showcase your intelligence, experience and skills to a brand new audience that you would not have had access to before. This is a great and dependable way to build up your reputation. And the effect builds on, such that your reputation will strengthen the more guest posts you do.

4. Social media

Social media is one of the most important marketing avenues businesses must head down. This is even more true for those in the life coaching industry, seeing as your income will be strongly tied to your reputation.

In order to increase or create a reputation, you’ll need to use the power of social media. Social media is great for its wide reach and, for businesses, that it’s an essentially cost-free marketing method.

Most adults use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a few others, and you can already start using your own profile on these platforms. The platform you decide to use for your life coaching business will determine what type of life coaching you’ll be doing.

For Executive and Business coaching, you’ll want to make LinkedIn your primary destination. For Personal coaching, you’ll want to mostly utilize Facebook.

Use different social media platforms for different purposes
Use different social media platforms for different purposes

Your main strategy, and your content, should be about uplifting and inspiring your fans to improve their lives. These messages should be clear and consistent.

Beyond that, you can try other methods, such as having your customers provide testimonials on your social media pages.

This can even go as far as using the positive and inspiring quotes from your real customers in the marketing. This might be as the cover picture for your LinkedIn or Facebook page, or as a shareable image with the customer’s (short and inspiring) testimonial.

Your mission, on social media, is to seem both as positive and inspiring, as well as someone who can get other people to where they want to be. Once you’ve convinced others that you can provide that service, you’ll begin to see a steady stream of customers.

For more information on how you can use social media, get our free ebook here.

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5. Social Media Tools

When you are trying to maintain or expand your business, you don’t really have that much time to dedicate to other aspects. Social media is notorious for taking up a lot of people’s time, and this is especially true for businesses.

In fact, if you have at least two social media platforms that you are active on, it can take anywhere from 6 – 21 hours per week! That’s a lot of time that most people just don’t have. Luckily, however, there are some great software and apps to help you handle your social media.

Let’s look at the top 3:

Buffer

Buffer is a great tool for scheduling your social media posts

Buffer lets you cover all your social media platforms through its management tool. It helps you to set a consistent social media schedule with ease.

This means you don’t have to constantly and manually update your social media. Buffer will do it for you.

Quuu

Quuu is a fantastic, hand-curated app for your social media

This is one of the most popular apps for hand-curated content. Quuu helps you to find the content that you’ll be sharing on your social media.

You simply decide what categories of content you would like the program to post, and it will do so for you automatically. It offers two free posts per day.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is one of the most popular social media management tools

If you’d like much more in-depth information about what works and what doesn’t work on social media, you should check out the most famous.

Hootsuite is a social media management tool, the most popular, and helps you track your social performance through its convenient dashboard.

With these amazing social media management tools, and your correct marketing strategy, you’ll be able to find and get some clients for your life coaching business.

V. To sum up…

Life coaching is an excellent industry to get into, and based on current trends one that is also very lucrative.

There are generally six types of life coaches:

  • personal coaching
  • career coaching
  • business coaching
  • executive coaching
  • health coaching
  • relationship coaching

The advantages to life coaching are:

  • you get to work for yourself and determine your own fate
  • you can help make a huge difference in people’s lives
  • you’ll have high income potential
  • you don’t need any certification to start

The disadvantages are:

  • there are major responsibilities connected to your business and your clients
  • you will have to help others and place yourself on the back burner
  • you will need to have lots of patience
  • in the beginning there’ll be difficulty finding clients

It is important, to start your business that you:

  • set your realistic goals
  • have the personality skills
  • get the training and certification to set you apart from other life coaches
  • create a compelling website that showcases your personality, philosophy and methods
  • determine strategic pricing to remain competitive and be profitable
  • decide on the best tools and software you’ll need to help you manage your life coaching business

In order to find your clients, you’ll need to use:

  • traditional methods, such as attending and hosting workshops and talking to potential clients about their problem areas
  • use guest posting to help spread the word about you and your services
  • fully utilize social media, along with the appropriate social media management tools

With these great resources, you’ll be well on your way to creating the best life coaching business that you can.

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  • Bonnie Porter

    Thanks for the Buffer shout out, Bernard! 🙂

    • Bernard Meyer

      thanks for the awesome program Bonnie!

  • Marsha Ingrao

    Several people have told me they are life coaches recently. I learned coaching techniques as an educational consultant. It amazes me that anyone can call themselves a life coach and create a demand for their services with no credentials. Someone who already has counseling or coaching credentials should be able to go far in this field, but woe to the person who unwittingly hires a good marketer and poor life coach! You are right on when you say that there are so many skills involved. Marketing alone can be a full time job, and marketing doesn’t involve having any skill at providing coaching services. Thanks for this in depth article.

    • Bernard Meyer

      Hi Marsha, thanks for the comment. I agree, it is difficult to have a very successful coaching career with all the other skills you need to know as a business person. I’m happy you enjoyed the article

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