October 2013 - Coaching Blueprint - marketing for life coaches
Getting Clear & Honing in on Your Message

Getting Clear & Honing in on Your Message


I asked the Blueprint Coaches: If you were re-building your coaching practice from the ground-up, today, what would you do differently? Here’s how Michelle Ward answered.

Part of me wants to say that I would have “niched” myself earlier, because even though I’ve been The When I Grow Up Coach and have been coaching creatives through their career transitions since I started coaching, I let it be broad.

I noticed early on that people were coming to me for 3 reasons: they didn’t know what they wanted to do “when they grew up” & needed help discovering it, they knew what they wanted to do & needed help putting it into action, & they were doing what they loved but they needed help in making it profitable.

I decided to cater to them all.

It absolutely allowed me to make enough money and get enough exposure to quit my job after almost 3 years, and to do work I love with people I enjoy working with…which is no small shakes, and I don’t regret.

But, right now I want to really hone in on the first group – those who need help discovering work they’ll love to do – and I don’t have as big of an audience in that one group as I need/want to do that work exclusively.

I do wonder “what if” I had did the brave, scary thing of cutting off those other two groups to begin with. It’s never too late, and I’m planning on using 2014 to hone in on that message.


Pro Tip: If you’re having trouble figuring out exactly what you help people with, ask yourself: When people come to me, what are they telling me they *hope* to receive from me? If you start to notice that a lot of people are all telling you they hope to receive the same outcomes, then chances are there’s something about your messaging or your values that indicates to them that you offer those specific things. It’s a bit of a backwards approach to figuring out what it is that you offer, but it can be surprisingly revealing!


Michelle Ward, aka The When I Grow Up Coach, helps creative people devise the career they think they can’t have – or discover it to begin with!

You’re (way) more ready than you think

You’re (way) more ready than you think


I asked the Blueprint Coaches this question: If you were re-building your coaching practice from the ground-up, today, what would you do differently? Here’s how Tanya Geisler responded.


Perhaps it’s my overt Pollyanna archetype, but when I encounter someone on the precipice of starting their new coaching business, I have am overcome with a flush of joy for them. And then some ripples of excitement, and then tingles of nervousness on their behalf.

Let me be clear…those tingles are NOT THAT THEY WILL FAIL.

No, no, no, no, no.

Those tingles are a recollection of my own path. Oh, I remember it so well…the heady swoon of possibility. That this can be EXACTLY AS YOU WANT IT.

It’s that feeling of the proverbial kid in a candy store (an AMERICAN candy store, no less, with more options available than any Canadian kid has ever seen). So many choices. Each one more delicious than the last.

“I can do that?”
“I can do that AND that?”
“I can do that AND that and THAT??”

Yes. You can.

I did.

It was equal parts thrilling and dizzying.

I think this is less about what I would do differently and more what I would do with greater awareness and intention.

#1: Asking for help
I asked for help. A lot. And I would like to think I would do the same again…this time, perhaps with less apology. I see now that I’ve been right all along.

Bottom line:: People WANT to help. People WANT to see you succeed. A well-crafted, heartfelt ask often feels like a gift.

#2: Establishing routine
As I developed my practice, I knew the days would feel untethered. Or, that was my fear. So I became Puritan in my commitment to my time-management routine for the first number of years. I never (ever) paused to watch TV, nap. I had dedicated days to do dedicated tasks. But oh the hours I have wiled away on Social Media. So in some ways, I felt a little strangled by my own structures AND a little untethered. Now I seek more elasticity in my structures.

Bottom line:: Look for what nourishes you (and do more of that) and look for what drains you (and do less of that).

#3: Wanting Mastery
To be in full integrity with the incredible clients who were “taking a chance” on me, I held back from swinging out with my intuition early on. In my coaching, in waiting to create products and programs. I didn’t know that I already had permission to be an excellent coach. That I WAS an excellent coach. I was waiting for someone to tap me with their sword and proclaim me an “expert”. That somehow that would change everything. And then people started to call me that, and STILL I wasn’t “ready”. Oh that Trickster Impostor Complex.

Bottom line:: You’re (way) more ready than you think.

#4: Speak more
Likely resisting the aforementioned “not expert enough” I really didn’t do the amount of public speaking that I would have liked to have done. It may have also been a hangover from my corporate days…holding events were very elaborate affairs better suited to someone else. SO I resisted that workload. It felt like one more thing I didn’t want to do, though the reality is that I love to speak. I love to connect with large groups. I love to help them see things differently.

Bottom line:: Do more of what you love. Nomaddawhat.

Tanya Geisler is a certified professional business and life coach who helps people who helps people find their THING, get clear about it and then rock it out.  She’s also pretty adept at helping people step into their most glorious, radiant, productive, purposeful selves: the starring role of their lives.

CBBM #10: The World Needs You

CBBM #10: The World Needs You

(To download your own, high-resolution copy of the Coaching Blueprint Biz Manifesto, click the link above.)

CBBM #10: The world needs you.

Creating a career as a life coach feels, for many, like a breath of fresh air. Most of the coaches I’ve met describe how before they learned about life coaching, they had some sense that they really wanted to work with people, but they weren’t sure in what capacity.

When they realized that there was this career option called “life coaching” and that it involved working with people in such a connected way, bringing all of their natural inclinations towards listening, collaborative strategizing, and solution-finding together, they felt like a whole new world had opened up.

I talk to a lot of you. You’re tired. Excited and hopeful and also scared. Wrung out. Launched out. Sick of getting online and comparing yourselves to others. Tired of feeling like when it comes to clients, you’re solid, but because you don’t know what you’re doing with marketing, no one can see what it is that you have to offer.

It would also be really nice if that little voice in your head would stop telling you that you must not be a very good coach if the financial/marketing piece isn’t going so well.

The marketing piece is the piece that anyone can learn. The marketing piece is the piece that, once you feel like you have some momentum and some idea of what it is that you want to say and how you want to say it, will be a hurdle that you can leave behind.

In the meantime: the world needs you. The world needs what you have to offer.

Many people bemoan the rise of coaching and the influx of coaches into the market. I celebrate it.

I celebrate it because I know that only good can come about in a world where more and more people are entering into a career where they can help people.

There are about a gazillion different ways that the world needs help, and I truly believe that life coaches who earnestly feel this to be their calling are doing something good by bringing the best of who they are to their careers.

The world needs you. Don’t give up. Your presence matters. Thank you for being here.



CBBM #9: Success comes from these three things

CBBM #9: Success comes from these three things

(To download your own, high-resolution copy of the Coaching Blueprint Biz Manifesto, click the link above.)
Coaching Blueprint Biz Manifesto #9: Success comes from solid work and good marketing, promoted consistently.

Solid work = work that lights you up and that offers value to the people for whom it is intended.

Good marketing = marketing that feels good, as well as marketing that is actually effective.

Consistency = more or less, most of the time, you’re talking to your tribe in some way, shape, or form.


Solid work, with no marketing or consistency? Doesn’t work. This is the arena that most heart-centered, values-based life coaches that I meet are playing in. They have something great to offer, but haven’t yet learned how to talk about what they do or they aren’t consistent.

(Note: consistent does not mean “consistent for six months and then stopping out of frustration or because life gets busy.” Consistent = consistent for the long haul, if that’s what it takes).

Marketing and consistency, without solid work? Doesn’t work. At least, it might work for selling slickster products (you’re going to see people marketing crap, quite well), but we’re aiming for something values-based and in integrity, the kind of marketing-meets-value where you can sleep at night.

In the Coaching Blueprint digital program, I ask people to assess what their commitment to entrepreneurship is. Are they truly in it for the long haul, with all the ups and downs that every new business goes through? Are they truly in for seeing their life’s work come to fruition, no matter what?

You don’t have to know, and you likely can’t know, where your business is headed. Nearly every coach that I interviewed for the Coaching Blueprint program started out with a life coaching practice that looks very different today, than they’d ever imagined when they began.

They have done three things, however: they have always endeavored to create solid work, they’ve done whatever they needed to do to learn about marketing, and they’ve been consistent.

Stick to those three things, and your business will grow. What’s more, you’ll know that you’re totally in integrity with yourself, as you grow–and it’s from that wellspring that you’ll find fulfillment.

Click to tweet: No secrets; no tricks. Success comes from value, marketed consistently. http://clicktotweet.com/9v22c


CBBM #8: You’ve got to live a better life

CBBM #8: You’ve got to live a better life

(To download your own, high-resolution copy of the Coaching Blueprint Biz Manifesto, click the link above.)

Coaching Blueprint Biz Manifesto #8: If you want your clients to live better lives, you’ve got to live a better life.

You don’t have to be perfect, to be a life coach. You don’t have to have all of your “stuff” perfectly figured out. The skill-set that makes you a capable coach is not your own hierarchical perfection over others. What makes you a great coach is your ability to hold a container for what other people are going through.

With that said, I firmly believe that life coaches–that anyone in a helping profession–need to hold themselves to a high standard of integrity.

You’d never send your kid to a daycare center that looked good on the outside but that had poor sanitation, behind closed doors. A community center shouldn’t hire a swimming coach who doesn’t actually know how to swim. We don’t want police officers on the force who arrest people for stealing, but then do a little back-door trading of weapons or drugs seized at a crime scene. If someone goes to Alcoholics Anonymous to stop drinking, and they find a sponsor but that sponsor is still drinking, the alcoholic will get little help.

Some might say that these are ridiculous or heavy-handed examples that take things too seriously, so let that point to just how seriously I take this career. If I’m going to be a point person for helping someone to change their life, I regard that with the utmost sincerity, integrity, commitment, and seriousness.

The point is this: anyone who says, “I’m capable of doing this job” has a certain level of walking their talk that they need to be doing. That’s what it means to be in integrity–your words and actions match, and they’re in alignment with your values, beliefs, commitments, and life vision.

That means that:

  • If you talk to your clients about practicing self-care, but you don’t practice any self-care…you’re out of integrity.
  • If your entire marketing platform is living a life of joy, but you’re hiding out from everyone in a state of utter joy-lessness and this is more than just a temporary rough patch…integrity is not in place.
  • If you are a “business coach” teaching others about marketing and social media, but you have no demonstrable record of success in this area, yourself…there’s an issue with integrity.
  • If you help clients to be more compassionate and gentle with themselves, but then you bitch about, complain about, or gossip about other life coaches when you go to conferences or get together with your friends…yeah. Integrity is not happening.



The next place people often go with this is to swing towards perfectionism. “I’ve got to get 100% in integrity!” says the life coach, and she promptly begins honing in on areas and beating herself up for wherever she falls short.

Integrity and perfectionism differ in that perfectionism is about some future attainable goal (that’s impossible) and integrity is about a life-giving and fulfilling commitment to presence.

It’s not about being perfect. It’s about noticing the places where you’re perfectly imperfect and an utterly lovable human being, and deciding how to respond with the same love, compassion, and integrity that you’d coach your clients to choose for themselves.

Let me be clear: I am NOT the “integrity police” trying to lay it down on you. Of course I’ve caught myself in the mist of gossiping, not practicing self-care, talking about courage in moments when I was hiding out from it, helping a client with an issue that I wasn’t feeling totally grounded in.

Here are a few examples of how I try to practice integrity in my life, because I know that this translates to my practice:

I’ve gossiped, and then realized later, “Hey, Kate–shouldn’t have done that.” I’ve said as much to the person I was gossiping to: “You know how I was bitching about so-and-so the other day? I felt bad about that. It was out of integrity. The truth is that she’s a human being, doing her best, just like I am, and I don’t like how I feel when I’m doing that.”

I’ve resisted self-care, and then stopped in the middle of a work day when I realized what I was doing, and done whatever I could do in only five minutes–even if it was just taking a moment to breathe and be.

I’ve hidden out from practicing courage, all while utilizing friends and supporters to be open about what I was doing, so that the pattern wouldn’t go underground: “Hey, will you help me? I’m totally in fear right now and I know that the courageous thing to do would be XYZ, but right now I just don’t want to choose that. Will you check back in with me, later?”

I’ve had clients ask me for support around things that I didn’t feel grounded in, and I’ve said, “The piece that I can help you with is _________. However, I really believe that _________ as a resource would be of even more help to you. It’s not that I don’t want to help you, so much as I know that you deserve the absolute best and I know that my skill-set here isn’t as strong as what you could get from someone else/this other resource.”

If you’re interested in doing some work around bringing your life into alignment around integrity, The Courageous Living Program might be something you’re interested in. Or, you might even bring it up with your coach (and as someone who believes in life coaching’s power to transform lives, you receive coaching, yourself…right?). Or, perhaps you’ll turn to any number of spiritual practices. Or, perhaps it’ll be as simple as this: when you give a practice to a client who’s struggling with similar territory as you are, you’ll decide to adopt the practice, yourself.

If you want your clients to live better lives, you’ve got to be playing to your own edge–continually learning, growing, and expanding your own skill-set of experience. This is not a completely radical concept–Carl Rogers, the founder of Person-Centered therapy (which is what life coaching stems from) was one of the first people to suggest that as the counselor grows, so does the client.

While I wholeheartedly advocate the kind of skill-sets that come from workshops and seminars, when I’m talking about living a better life, I’m really talking about the kind of skill-set you learn that first time that you don’t get in the snippy comeback with your husband when you’re in a troubled marriage or the moment you realize that you completely and totally can love your body, extra 30 pounds and all. That’s what will translate into the best kind of support for your clients.


Click to tweet: Integrity comes from within, and radiates out to change the world. http://clicktotweet.com/_85f9.