Hey Coach Ponyling!
So here you are, a bright and shiny new(er) coach, and you can’t wait to get your business off the ground.
But did you know there are a TON of ways you can make money as a coach? You don’t have to focus just on private coaching!
In fact, being a coach is one of the most flexible careers out there, because you can adapt your business to what works for YOU. In my business I’ve made money at least 7 different ways – each of which is pretty lucrative in its own right.
Curious as to my favorites? To start, let’s dive into five different ways you can make money as a new coach, and the pros and cons of each.
Ready? (I’m excited!) Let’s head to the list!
1. How to make money as a new coach: Private Coaching.
You already know this version of coaching – where you build a business serving one-on-one clients. Similar to a therapist, there’s an unexpected added benefit in that you don’t have to have an office if you don’t want to, in fact, you can coach from anywhere that you have skype or a phone line!
Private coaches tend to make anywhere from $100-$400 an hour (more if you specialize in helping businesses).
The pros of private coaching:
–>It’s instantly profitable, especially if you keep your overhead costs low (i.e., not renting expensive office space!). If you are signing several clients a month at $2,000-$4,000 each, then you are making right around six figures annually in your business. Go you!
–>It requires less in terms of infrastructure. The truth is that setting up big program offerings like I run in my business takes tools, time and people. Launches don’t happen overnight :). But to be a private coach you only need a few things, like a simple website or LinkedIn page for your business, a way to take payment like check or Paypal, and a simple scheduling tool like Candidly or ScheduleOnce. These can be fairly easy and inexpensive to set up, and should cost you very little out of pocket.
–>It’s a great way to get started. Look, when you are a new coach you are often figuring things out as you go. You have to do in order to learn! And working with folks one-on-one allows for a lot of flexibility along the way – you can tweak your system or your services as you go, without having to commit to a long haul with a lot of people. Private coaching also allows you to really get your hands on people and enact big change, which also builds great case studies and testimonials!
The cons of private coaching
–>The biggest con of private coaching is that it isn’t scaleable. What that means is that you are always trading time for money, and you only have so much time to give as a coach. Sure, you can keep raising your rates to make your time more profitable, but eventually you will hit an upper limit on what you can charge, which means you will be limited on how much you can grow your business. For some people, this is 100% okay! You can make plenty of money coaching people one-on-one. For others, you may want more flexibility and room for growth. The great news? It’s 100% up to you.
–>You have to stick to a reasonable schedule. For me, in my business, I LOVE ME SOME FLEXIBILITY. I like being able to be anywhere at any time, which I couldn’t do when I had 6 client calls in a day. I had to make sure I was in the right timezone, at the right time. This is a tiniest violin complaint, but if you have a full case load of clients (12-24), you will be on a regular routine. For you, that may be fabulous, for some, maybe not.
One note: I always recommend people start with private coaching – even if just for a few months – because the pros are so strong. It’ll help you really sort out who you want to help and how while you make money – which is awesome!
If you want to know more on how to get started, including who to coach and exactly what to charge, make sure you grab this fancy-pants free guide immediately if not sooner. It’ll tell you everything you need to know! Click here.
2. Group coaching
Group coaching is similar to private coaching, in that you are using a system and working with people directly. I love it, and have built my business on a hybrid group coaching model, where I coach hundreds of people at a time using an online portal and live webinars.
The pros of group coaching:
–>Group coaching, unlike private coaching, is 100% scaleable. Meaning, once you have developed your system and your method of delivery (phone, webinar, portal, live workshop etc), you can add people to your program with little to no extra effort. My programs are designed to have hundreds of people participate all at once, which means that I have dramatically leveraged my time and my reach.
–>Community adds to the experience. While there is a lot to be said for one-on-one support, people learn so much from each other. Better questions are asked, people can get support from others, and there’s a sense of belonging that contributes to folks making great progress.
–>There’s a lot of flexibility in group coaching. I only offer programs at certain times of the year. What’s nice about that is that I can take downtime in between and not be beholden to clients, and I can also deliver the programs from anywhere, as long as I keep timezones in mind when I plan my travels :). Tools like Facebook have made group coaching communities instantly accessible at any time, so I can have folks all over the world participate in my group programs and get feedback when they need it.
The cons of group coaching
–>It takes massively more effort to market and sell. Private coaching practices can be built on referral and word of mouth. Landing one high-end private coaching client can pay for your all of your monthly expenses, which can be a giant relief, especially in the beginning! But most group coaching can’t come at the same premium price, so you need more people to enroll in your programs to make up the difference in price. That means a LOT more marketing and selling has to happen to fill your programs. That takes time and effort, and a whole separate skill set that you have to learn (or hire).
–>Large programs require more infrastructure. The truth is that my first group coaching program relied on freeconferencecall.com and email to send out the homework. But, as the program grew from 5 people to 500, and the price increased from $197 to $1200, I had to put so much more in place for the program. Now my group programs have private portals, big email campaigns, ad budgets, IT support people, community managers, etc etc. This infrastructure took me years to develop and build – in addition to revamping the program and delivering it as well. That takes time, and it’s both frustrating and tiring.
–>In the beginning, group programs can fail. What if you create a snazzy new program that you are all excited about, you pour time and resources into it, and only a handful of people sign up? Then you are stuck delivering a program to too few people for too little cash. It can feel soul destroying, especially when you are first starting out and you don’t have a cash safety net. So many new coaches immediately want to build and deliver a great group program, but they forget to take into account how much goes into building, selling, and marketing these programs to make them worthwhile to run. So while I LOVE them, don’t think that they are easy or fast – to do right, they take both time and effort.
Who doesn’t want to get paid to take an awesome vacation and help people? On the surface, retreats seem like a no-brainer, and they do have some fabulous pros…
Pros of doing retreats
–>You get paid to take a vacation! But seriously, it’s super fun to have your business support your travel and creativity, and retreats hit both.
–>You can really get your hands on people. I never wanted to full-time private coach long-term, but when I transitioned to group coaching, writing, and DIY programs, I missed the hands-on rush of working with people closely, which is why I offered career retreats once a year. Retreats are a great way to scratch that itch without exhausting you, or requiring a long-term commitment to your clients.
–>They are fun and exciting – getting away can give you all sorts of new insights for your business (separate from your actual retreat content) and a new location can be a balm to your soul as you take in new experiences and work with people in a different format.
–>You can have repeat clients come back year after year. Once you finish with private clients, you can offer them a chance to come to your retreat each year for a check in or top up, or just a great experience. Done right, this can make them easier to sell over time.
Cons of doing retreats
–>I cannot state this enough: Retreats are often the LEAST PROFITABLE part of your business. The reason? They require the most up-front costs. From renting a conference room (or house), providing food or other extras, to your own travel and expenses, things add up quickly. It’s very easy to lose money on retreats, or not make any money at all once you tally up everything you’ve spent. Given that they take a lot of time and plan and deliver – this is less than ideal :).
–>They take a massive effort to sell in the beginning. But seriously – they are more difficult to sell because people have two levels of pain to go through: 1) The pain of buying the retreat ticket and 2) The pain of buying airfare and/or hotel rooms. This “double pain” often stops people from signing up.
–>They require a LONG lead time. If you want to sell a retreat and have a hope of filling it, you’ll need to start selling it months in advance and allow for at least two big sales pushes, one at the beginning of your sales cycle, and one near the end. You’ve seen October conferences that start selling tickets in March, right? This is why. And those months of selling can be exhausting. Some people can commit early, but some can’t till the last minute, you’ll have to account for both. While you are doing that, it takes energy from the rest of your business.
–>They can make you look bad. What if you plan a retreat, sign a contract, and only sell 2 of 20 spaces? What do you do? Cancel? Hold a retreat for 2 people after you promised a community of 20? There’s a lot of risk in running a retreat because you don’t know if you will fill it or not, especially if your business is new and you are just building your community. Remember to always have a plan in mind for the worst-case scenario if you are thinking about running a retreat BEFORE you sign any contracts or crack open that bottle of champagne :).
4. Writing a book or creating DIY program
It’s fantastic when you can codify your expertise as a coach and create passive income that fuels your business and life, all at once. Who doesn’t love waking up to sales, or helping people while you sleep? (True story: It is indeed awesome). Writing a book or creating a low-cost do-it-yourself program can scratch that itch, which is why I’ve created 3 DIY programs in my coaching arsenal. So let’s take a closer look…
Pros of a book or DIY program
–>Having a low cost item is great for your sales funnel. Having a low cost item is an easy way for people to get to know your approach and try you out before investing in something more expensive like private coaching or a retreat. If they like you, they are much more willing to invest!
–>Writing a book gives you credibility, you can literally say “I wrote the book on that!”
–>It can help you codify what you teach, and make you a better coach. Nothing sharpens your process like writing it down, or creating a video training series about what you do. Thinking through how to teach your coaching system and creating this kind of content makes you go even deeper on your own learning (and teaching style). This only helps you as a coach!
–>It allows you to help more people. Not everyone can afford to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on private or group coaching, but most people can afford to spend $10-$100 on a low-cost book or program. This allows you to help more people make big changes in their lives, and that’s awesome!
They keep making you money. Once you’ve done the work, all you have to do is sell it, and you can sell the same product again and again and make the entire process 100% automated. And that’s awesome :).
Cons of a book or DIY program
–>They take a lot of time and effort to create. Even if you are a fast writer, it takes time to map out your book, write it, edit it, format it, and research the best way to launch it (Amazon? Through your website? Traditional routes?). The same is true of a DIY course. You need to create polished content, potentially including video, slides, transcripts, audio and a way to access all of the above. You’ll probably need to hire help – like a designer or developer – just to get you going, and it’ll take plenty of your time to create all of this wonderful content.
–>It takes awhile to produce tons of income off of these products. Unless you are an amazing marketer (in which case, BRAVO!), it’ll take a while for you to build up an interest list or buyers group to purchase these products. And if they are at a low cost, say $30-$50, you’ll need to sell plenty of them to pay your mortgage. So, it’ll be a bit before you recoup your investment of time, and this will probably not be your prime source of income in the beginning.
5. Become an affiliate or referral partner
Have you ever been so much in love with a business that you recommend them to friends? That’s the essence of being a good affiliate partner.
An affiliate is someone who markets a 3rd party program or service in exchange for a referral fee. Coaches are happy to pay partners, because it means you get a client with almost no effort or marketing fees on your end.
When you are first starting out I highly recommend that you make friends with other coaches who have similar demographic audiences and become referral partners with each other.
Want to know how to find your perfect audience and get some of these amazing clients? Grab this fancy-pants free guide right here…click.
Pros of being an affiliate partner
–>You don’t have to have your own services taped out yet. When you partner with someone you can start by marketing their services or products to people, while you work on your website or launching your own thing.
–>Sometimes it can be easier to sell someone else’s stuff instead of your own. Sales is a skill, so a way to sharpen your skill set in the beginning can be to try and market and sell for someone else. It feels less personal and scary because you don’t have to sell you, and affiliate or partners will often have tips and tricks to help you learn how to sell their stuff.
–>You don’t have to have payment systems. Affiliates often pay you by check or paypal, so you don’t have to have your own payment systems or infrastructure in place to start making money.
–>It’s something you might do anyway! If you love the coach or product, there’s a good chance you would recommend it or share it – so why not also get paid? It’s a win-win. And to be clear, I think you should only partner with someone who you really like, who has a product or service you 100% believe in (i.e., you’d recommend it even if you weren’t getting paid).
–->It’s a place for you to send clients you might not want to work with. If you are private coaching you may run across people who aren’t a good fit for your coaching services or personality, so having a referral partner on hand to send them to is a wonderful win. They get a great coach, you don’t work with someone who isn’t a fit, the other coach gets a new client and you get paid for your trouble. Everyone wins!
Cons of being an affiliate partner
–>You have to be willing to sell. You do have to have conversations, write up some emails, be willing to follow up, and put yourself out there if you want to make sales for your affiliate. So, there is some work involved if you want to get reasonable referral fees. Just posting on Facebook or sending out a blanket email isn’t enough.
–>Not every affiliate makes a great partner. Some people aren’t great to work with, they pay you late, or they don’t do a great job of selling themselves so even when you send over great candidates they don’t close the sale.
–>It can be hard to make a lot of money. Unless you already have a large community (and I’m guessing you don’t since you are reading this), it may be hard for you to make tons of money as an affiliate. You may make several hundred dollars here, or a thousand there, but probably not enough to live on.
That was a lot of information – I hope it sparked some ideas on how you can make money and get your amazing new coaching business off of the ground (you can totally to do this!)…
…but just in case….
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