Guuurl, you’ve been running your coaching practice for a while now, and I know you’re ready to take it up a notch and reach more people. You probably have a boatload of ideas for courses and programs but everywhere you turn, there’s a coach who’s already done something similar and you don’t want to be all same-same.
So how do you create a unique and high-value experience for people that stands out? How do you pick a topic that people really need help with and that’s distinct enough for people to associate with your name? (Think Danielle LaPorte and her Desire Map)
Here’s my two-step approach:
1) Make a list of everything that your clients struggle with – every single little darn falootin’ thing. No matter what type of coaching practice you have, you’ll have noticed trends in the niggly issues that your clients come to you with.
Think of the negative thought spirals they find themselves in time and again.
What are they waking up sweaty thinking about? What’s preventing them from moving forward? List every thought or emotion (or lie!) you can think of. Get into their brain.
2) Now look at the list from Step 1 and circle every issue your clients struggle with that’s actually super no-brainer easy for you to manage/deal with/overcome.
THAT’s your sweet spot. That’s your area of genius.
An example of this was when I noticed a streak of “comparison-itis” flaring up with many of my clients. It was really holding them back and on the one hand, I could sympathize because everyone else’s life looks so glamorous on the interwebs. But on the other hand, it had been a long time since I’d felt the effects of “comparison-itis” myself and I knew that’s where I could add huge value. I created an e-course called Kick Comparisonitis to teach people the tools they need to thrive in a glossy online world. It was a huge hit!
Next is how to put it all together. This part can be a little daunting as well, but if you take a step-wise approach, you’ll have an outline and plan in no time.
Here are some key points you’ll want to consider when creating an e-course:
1) Will it be self-directed or guided by you? This is a key piece because not only does that latter require more of your time investment, but also because depending on the subject matter, some people need more of a hands-on approach. Your subject and how you structure the learning will largely inform whether people can purchase and go at their own pace, or if there’s a set timeline for taking the course and you guide them through it.
2) Will it take place during specific dates or will it always be available as an evergreen product to begin at any time? Very similar to Question 1, this is a question you need to ask yourself in terms of how you want this course to fit in to your overall business model. If it takes place during specific dates, you’ll need to launch, and re-launch every time you run the course. On the other hand, an evergreen course will just be available on your site and you’ll be responsible for regular promotion to be sure it’s getting in front of fresh eyeballs. What feels right for you?
3) What’s the launch plan? It’s always good to start launch leaking a good 3-4 months in advance (check out AnneSamoilov.com for loads of launch resources). Start looking at what time of year is a good time to launch (Pro Tip: the middle of summer and Christmas are not ideal) and then work backward to ensure your content is ready on time, but also that you’ve mentioned it enough in your newsletter and on social media so that it’s on lots of people’s radars when the cart opens.
4) How will the content be structured? Are there videos? (and where are they hosted?) Downloadable PDF’s? Pre-recorded guided visualizations? External resources for reference?
5) Based on the content you’re trying to deliver, how many modules do you need? Is it one module per week? How much content will people need to get at one time, to make progress?
6) What bonuses are you offering? Will you have some additional theme-based downloads or guides, some expert interviews, or some other cool freebies that you’ll offer to sweeten the pot? It’s also worth considering if these would be available only to those who sign up during Early Bird pricing, or to everyone. It’s important to have a strategy for getting people excited about all the value they’ll receive.
7) Price point – is there only one? Or will you have 2-3 tiers based on different levels of access (to more robust content or perhaps access to you via 1:1 or group sessions)
8) How many people do you want to cap the course at? This depends on whether it’s live – on certain dates – or evergreen. You’ll want different numbers depending on how you plan to format the course and how much personalized interaction people will get from you.
9) What kind of activities or action items do you plan to include? Adult learning principles show that people learn best when they’re given homework or tasks to take action on. Think about a simple but powerful activity you can include at the end of each section or module to drive home the learning.
10) Is it going to be a downloadable course that people can go through on their own or one that participants have to log in to access learning modules? If the course is going to be more than a PDF and you’ll have modules that participants can access online, there are loads of great platforms out there to host your e-course. You have options from self-hosted software like Wishlist Member which integrates directly into your WordPress website (and which you have complete control over) as well as externally hosted and run platforms (Examples: Journal Engine, Udemy or Ruzuku).
Yes, there are a lot of working pieces. But start with a great concept where you know you can add value, then work through the list above to fine tune what it will all look like. In no time, you’ll create an e-course that is unique and powerful that you can run over and over again, and this takes your business beyond the one-on-one client session.
Heather Thorkelson is an small business strategist for location independent entrepreneurs over at the Republic of Freedom. She’s a firm believer that it’s entirely possible to live as we dream, and spends her days proving it. Currently slow traveling through Europe, Heather can often be found in Sweden and sometimes in the Polar Regions. Get on her newsletter or say howdy over on Instagram or Pinterest.
You are great at your job. You show up and help your clients where they need it most, over-deliver, and they love you for it.
But the amount of continued marketing it takes to get your next client can sometimes feel overwhelming or unsustainable. That’s where referral business and repeat coaching clients come in to save the day.
Doing a great job delivering the service your clients have paid you for is key, but you’ve got that covered. Delighting your clients after you’re done working with them is the easiest way to ensure repeat clients and on-going referrals.
So before you wrap up with your next client, consider putting these strategies into action:
Give a “Goodbye” Package
At the end of your time with a client, the best way to ease them into taking the next steps on their own and wrap up the wonderful work you’ve done together is to put together an “end of our work together” package.
This can be a page on your website, and email, or better yet, a personalized pdf.
Here are some ideas of things to include:
- A personal note mentioning how much you enjoyed working with them.
- Links to past blog posts of yours that will help them take their next steps.
- Any bonus material that will help them further (meditations, an ebook, etc). These can be something you create specifically for clients or that you regularly sell on your website.
- Create a video with a personal thank you to them, especially if you haven’t met them in person. The fact that you take the time to record yourself, is much more meaningful than a simple “Thank You” in an email.
Send a Thoughtful Thank You Gift
Everyone is touched by snail mail! Especially with our lives happening more and more online.
Think back through past conversations and see if they mentioned anything in particular.
“Time for some tea!”
“I want to film videos but only have an iphone”
“I’m off to the theatre with my hubby”
Send them a special tea, a small tripod for their iphone or tickets to a play in their city.
Or you can follow them on social media to see what kinds of things they enjoy and talk about in their personal life.
Another option is to look through their Pinterest boards to find out what they love. A lot of Pinterest-lovers even have a “I want” board. This is gold!
If you can’t find anything 100% personal, use etsy to find one-of-a-kind gift ideas.
Follow Their Social Media Accounts
If your clients hang out online, be sure to follow them where they hang out most. Not only does this show your support for them, but it gives you to opportunity to continue to support and interact with them.
- Schedule 15 minutes a week to go through your clients profiles and interact with them.
- Share their stuff! Comment on their blog posts, retweet them, share their articles.
There is no better way to ensure repeat clients and on-going referrals than simply following up with past clients. Not only does this make them feel thought-about, appreciated, and loved, it keeps you on top of their mind for when they do need your services again or know of someone that might.
Often, clients might need your help now, but just haven’t taken the time to reach out. A little “Hey!” from you in their inbox might be all they need to hire you again.
When life and business gets busy, it can be hard to keep on top of this.
To help, use a Contact Management System (CRM) like Contactually or Streak (free) to keep track of your follow-up with clients. Or if you shy away from yet another software or browser add-on, simply set reminders in your calendar for 1-3-6 months after your work together is complete to send them a quick email.
Take Action Now
- Take out a pen and paper and brainstorm what to put in your “Good Bye” package to clients
- Follow all past clients on social media and create a Twitter list for them.
- Research a CRM option or set reminders in your calendar to follow-up with past clients.
Leah Kalamakis wants to live in a world where website shame doesn’t exist and anyone can find freedom in freelancing. As a web designer and freedom-seeker, she helps entrepreneurs have beautiful online homes and freelancers find freedom from soul-sucking corporate jobs.
When she’s not hanging out online, you can find her eating popcorn, riding her scooter along the French coast, or drinking wine in the sunshine.
Download her free Website Planning Toolkit or say hello on Twitter!
Permit me a moment to be blunt.
I’m always wary of getting caught up in semantics, but for this I’ll risk it.
You don’t have a coaching practice. You have a coaching business.
And understanding the distinction is the difference between creating a sustainable, profitable and enjoyable livelihood, and having a hobby that brings in a little extra cash once in a while.
We, as coaches, understand the power of perspective. Every day we coach our clients to shift out of unhelpful perspectives into more personally powerful ones that allow them to move their lives forward.
Well frankly, calling your coaching a practice is just another limiting perspective that keeps your business from growing and burnout not far away.
I remember when I was halfway through my coach training with the Coaches Training Institute. I bought a brand new orange journal to document all my coaching practice plans. I can still remember sitting on the couch, seven months pregnant, and mapping out scenario after scenario — inspired by the possibility of what could be.
“If I only have three days to work, I can probably fit in five clients a day, for $300 each per month, for a total of 15 clients and $4500 per month. Or maybe, I could sneak in seven clients a day, or charge $325 instead.”
All these scenarios were written out in detail believing that it was really just this easy to fill my coaching practice and create a sustainable income post-corporate exodus only a few months prior.
This all sounds fine in theory – especially to the new coach who’s still just hoping to get a few clients – period. And many coaches do run their practices like this – X many clients for X many dollars each month.
The problem is that nowhere in my scenario planning, did I account for ALL the other details involved in running my ‘practice’. I was so focused on the coaching, that I completely disregarded what it would take to actually attract, retain and grow my client base.
In short, I was thinking like a hobbyist not a CEO.
As you can imagine, and perhaps have experienced, it doesn’t take long before reality sinks in and you’re face-to-face with the truth that the clients aren’t rolling in and you’re just hoping that you can land one more this month to pay your bills and how on earth do you even find these clients anyway?
If this is you, or if you’re aspiring or brand-spanking new coach–stop calling it a practice and start calling it a business.
Your Coaching Business
You are a business owner who coaches.
Over the years, I’ve coached many coaches. From the fresh-out-of-school coaches, to the struggling coaches to the six figure plus coaches. And I can tell you unequivocally, that what separates the struggling from the successful has little to do with a particular strategy, a focused niche or the latest social media trend.
It has everything to do with this one perspective:
You’re not in practice, you’re in business.
Yes, it may feel like semantics, after all – don’t lawyers and doctors and massage therapists — service professionals just like you – refer to their practices? Yes. And in my view, it’s a mistake.
When you’re locked in a perspective of running a practice, you limit your thinking, your efforts and by extension, your growth. It’s all about finding the next client, and then the next one, and then the next one in hopes that you’ll keep your coaching roster filled and your bank account in the black.
In practice, your focus is simply, and often solely, in service. Strategic planning, joint ventures, systematization, effective marketing and leveraged business models are probably not happening, which means, you’ll probably not moving much beyond a handful of 1:1 clients. And it also means, you’re likely not building a strong brand for your business — you’re simply one of many hundreds of thousands of coaches (just like the lawyers, massage therapists etc) that a prospective client will have to choose from.
I get that I may ruffle some feathers here, but the word itself also draws sentiments of a casual, part-time service professional – one who’s probably great at their craft, but certainly not a contender in the business world. When I hear a coach refer to their ‘practice’, I assume she’s either fresh out of coach training or a hobby-coach. Hard truth? Words matter. And calling your business a BUSINESS (which it is, let’s be clear) is the first step in cultivating and evoking trust, authority and credibility.
Semantics and labels aside, this perspective may lead you to burnout, an income plateau and a lot of frustration (I’ve witnessed it hundreds of times with clients and colleagues). Unless you’re a coach who truly wants to just have a handful of clients and isn’t fussed about growth, holding onto a ‘practice perspective’ keeps your business small and completely reliant on the next client.
It’s only when we step into being the business owner that we can invite and incorporate more leveraged, high-impact, profitable elements that will help us transcend the “where’s my next client coming from?” fear that many coaches have and open us up to a more lucrative, systematized and focused way of bringing in business.
So if you have your heart and head set on a bigger, bolder vision, then this is the first point of entry. Because, circling back to how we coach our clients, when we inhabit a new perspective, we immediately start taking actions that align with this more powerful consciousness.
And that’s just good for business.
Business activator + leadership coach Stephanie Pollock is devoted to helping talented women in business GO PRO with their dreams, stepping into the spotlights — and revenue streams — they so richly deserve.
She’s the publisher of Going Pro Magazine, a Top 40 Under 40 changemaker and creator of Beyond PRO: Claim your place as CEO – a leadership program designed specifically for entrepreneurial women. You can find her online at Stephanie Pollock Media Inc and on Twitter at @steph_pollock.
Would you like a to-do list and weekly schedule that leads to focused action and not make you feel paralyzed?
Before 2014 I used to have one huge big-ass To Do list and it was a jumbled mess: both on paper and in my head. Whenever I thought of it a headache would start to form. Not fun! I needed to focus on a simple 5 step system to reduce To Do List overwhelm.
This system helps you to have clarity and focus at specific times of the day that work best for you. It includes splitting the to do list into categories and your calendar into blocks of time that work for you.
Even if you are someone that likes flexibility and freedom, a plan needs to be in place so you can experience that in your life. The key is to keep it simple.
Here are 5 steps to follow to get a simple system in place.
Step 1: To-Do List Brain Dump
Write down your entire to-do list. Open evernote, google docs or go old school with pen and paper. Set a timer on your smart phone for 10 minute and write down all you need to do in your business and life.
TIP: Set the timer to 10 minutes only. That is enough time to capture the most important items. Giving yourself a longer time leads to way too much being added.
Step 2: To-Do List Streamlining
Go back through your to-do list and look at what similarity they have. When I did this I noticed I had similar items that included Client work, Marketing, Promotion, Business administration, Personal finances, Content Creation and Training.
Step 3: Categorization
Put your list into categories that work for you. I choose to divide them up into 4 key categories:
1. Outreach. Time spent meeting new clients, working with my current clients, or communicating in Facebook Groups
2. Administration. What needs to be done for my business to keep running (e.g. weekly podcast show, social media posts, newsletter, invoicing etc.)?
3. Content. Time spent creating new content (e.g. programs, courses, sales pages etc.)
4. Personal. Items to keep my life outside of work functioning (hiring a cleaner, birthday gifts, closing a bank account etc.)
Step 4: Prioritize the Categories
Each week, put the categories into your calendar. Before you do that look at which category needs more focus for that week. It could be content or personal. At the end or start of each month administration might need more focus and time in your calendar
TIP: Put the category that needs the most focus in a time slot when you are less likely to be disrupted!
Step 5: Schedule the Categories
Now it is simple as slotting those categories into the blocks of time you have available in your calendar for your business and life.
TIP: Make a block of time no more than 2 hours. That is the maximum amount of time you should work without a break. I like to work 50 minutes on and take a 10 minute break. Figure out what works for you.
From here on it is as simple as rinse and repeat! When the week starts and the time slot tells you the category focus for the next two hours is outreach you open up that to-do list. Work on those priorities only and watch as you stay focused on specific tasks. Once the timeslot is over you close that to-do list and, after a break (!), move onto the next time slot.
Remember the simple key to reducing to-do list overwhelm is as easy as categorization and assigning blocks of time in your calendar!
Liz is an internationally-based accountability coach, productivity strategist, writer, and host of the Live Your Life Now™ and Get the Right “Bleep” Done podcast. She’s dedicated her work to help entrepreneurs find more freedom, flexibility and control in their busy lives and business. How? By giving them the inspiration and tools to take action, kick busy work to the curb and help them get the RIGHT stuff done – instead of waiting for a magical ‘someday’. Connect with Liz on Facebook, Twitter or on her blog.
Ever hop on Facebook because you are dying to know what you should buy today? Or scroll through your Instagram feed looking for specials? I doubt it. You log into Facebook to check out what your friends and family are up to. You open up Instagram to see little windows into other people’s days.
All social media is fundamentally about relationships and people connecting to PEOPLE–not brands or businesses. (And when it comes time to promote your own biz, don’t lose sight of that and do it the right way.)
The more connected your social media audience feels to you, the more “engaged” they will be and the more they will like and trust you. (Which is super important for your bottom line because, as Sales Expert Kendrick Shope says, “All things being equal, friends buy from friends. All things being unequal, friends buy from friends.” Tweet that!)
The good news is as a coach, you *are* your business and unlike the big brands, it’s very easy for you to put a human face on your business.
Here are 5 great ways to bring more YOU into your social media:
#1: GET ON VIDEO
I know this is easy for some and harder for others (personally I am way more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it) BUT there really is no substitute for giving your audience the chance to really SEE and HEAR you, with their own eyes. It creates a much stronger sense of knowing someone than words (and even pictures) can. So while I’m still working on this one myself, everytime I do get up the courage to get in front of the camera, my audience *really* responds.
This doesn’t have to be a huge video shoot! (In fact for social media, you want a spontaneous and unscripted feel because it’s more real that way.) 15 sec instagram videos shot on the fly with your smartphone or short video messages uploaded to your Facebook Page will do the trick.
#2: SHARE BEHIND-THE-SCENES OF YOUR BIZ
We all love to see behind-the-scenes, it gives us the feeling of being special and included. So give your audience a backstage pass to your business: share what you are working on, a win one of your clients just had (anonymously/with their permission, of course), what’s going well, what’s going not-so-well, the great idea you just had or ask for help choosing your next blog post topic.
These posts could be text, photos, videos or a combination–whatever feels most natural for what you want to share. Don’t over think it, just start taking note of things or situations in your work day you might want to share with your audience and DO it.
#3: TELL PERSONAL STORIES
Maybe it sounds silly but knowing a business owner plays ultimate frisbee (me too!) or binged on House of Cards (me too!) instantly creates a connection. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be discovering things that we have in common either: just getting a more complete picture of their life and personality helps me to like and trust them more.
So open up and let your audience get to know you–the person–a little better. Share your vacation plans (I’ve gotten lots of great travel recommendations this way!), a funny story about your kid, what you do in your spare time, your favourite places to hang out–anything! It may seem like trivial details but it all adds up to helping your audience really KNOW you (so they can like and trust you!).
#4: TAKE PICS OF YOUR OFFLINE LIFE
This is really a specific instance of #3: Tell Personal Stories, but in this case, pictures really are worth a thousand words (and often take much less time to share!). An image gives your audience a direct window into your life and that’s a powerful way to create real connection.
Instagram is AWESOME for this (and #5: Snap More Selfies) because it’s made to share photos (so it’s super quick), you can easily enhance your picture with filters and share selected images to your other social networks no problem.
#5: SNAP (MORE) SELFIES
This (and #4: Take Pics of Your Offline Life) often leads my social-media-phobic husband to ask, “Why are you taking a picture of this?!” or “What are you doing? Everyone is looking at you!” as I try to get the perfect angle but it’s worth it. Because it brings me closer to my audience.
I struggled in the past with shooting selfies because they felt so narcissistic. But the truth is I love looking at other people’s selfies! And I don’t think they are full of themselves for posting them. So I decided I would give it a shot–and honestly, they routinely get above-average interaction from my audience. So give them a chance 🙂 (And the filters in Instagram are incredible for making even the simplest selfies look great!) Let your audience really SEE you. You won’t regret it.
TAKE ACTION CHALLENGE
Share a little more of you (or in a new way!) on one of your social media channels today. Post that selfie, film a quick video message or share a personal story or picture from your offline life. (And watch your audience latch on!).
Let us know you’ve taken the challenge on The Coaching Blueprint Facebook Page so I can give you a high five! And I’m also there if you have any questions about how to make this work for you–don’t be shy.
NOTE: While I am encouraging you to share to build rapport with your audience, everyone has their own personal definition of what’s off limits for them in the public eye. Listen to your gut and when it doubt ask yourself if you’d be okay seeing this on the front page of the newspaper–if the answer is no, you probably shouldn’t be sharing it.
Jackie Johnstone is a social media consultant for passionate entrepreneurs with an important message to share. She’s on a mission to help you banish tech headaches, reach more people, make real connections and change more lives.
Get your social media brimming with brilliant posts your audience will love! Grab Jackie’s free training here and get everything you need to start using the 4 Pillars of Great Social Media Content in your business.
You can find Jackie all over the social web but she’d love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!