The Business End: Getting Started as a Coach
You now know the theory of it all. You know what it means to be a great coach. Now, it’s time to put it all into practice. You’re going to start building your coaching business right away. Don’t hesitate— now is the perfect time to make this happen.
Building a Website as Your Home Base
The first step is to build a website as your home base. Whether you’re going to primarily work online or offline, you absolutely need a website to call home. This is where people will come to get a feel for who you are. It’s where you’ll build your list of potential clients, where you’ll showcase your expertise, and where you’ll have leads coming in on autopilot.
Depending on your line of business, you may or may not be intimately familiar with building websites already. It’s fairly simple these days. I recommend using self-hosted WordPress because it has a ton of themes (styles/designs) and plugins available for it.
What Your Website Should Look Like
Your website should be an extension of what you offer— professional coaching that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Your website should fall right in line with your brand. As soon as people land on your site, they should get a feel for your personality. Your website sets the tone for your business.
With that said, it doesn’t have to be perfect at first. It’s better to get something nice and clean up for now so you can get your business going. You can always tweak and change your website over time. Do whatever is going to move you to action the fastest.
Take a look at the websites of other business coaches. Note what you like and what you don’t like.
Choosing Your Domain Name
You need to choose a name for your coaching service. It can be your own name or a name that symbolizes what you offer as a coach. This is an important decision, but it’s also one you can go with your gut on. Again, don’t stew over this decision— get it done so you can get up and running with your business.
Once you’ve chosen the name of your business, go ahead and secure your domain name— Namecheap is a great domain registrar. Then, grab the name of your business at Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You don’t have to move beyond that for now, but you’ll want to secure your brand across the web.
Getting Your Site Up
You’ll need a hosting account— many people use Hostgator to start with, but since they were bought out by a larger company in 2013, their support has declined, so seek out a host that you’re comfortable with if you don’t have one already. I do still use Hostgator myself.
Point the nameservers of your domain name to your hosting account. Then, install WordPress on your chosen domain name.
If you’re confused on any of these steps, you can search YouTube for easy tutorials. YouTube is great for helping you with anything technical.
You can also hire a professional relatively inexpensively if you don’t want to deal with any tech headaches yourself.
Choose a Theme
The theme of your WordPress site is its design— there’s no need to hire an expensive designer. There are many free themes and many paid themes. Headway or Thesis are popular options for those who want something they can easily tweak to make their own.
Include These Pages
The purpose of your coaching site is to help people get to know you, to build your authority, to help people, to build your list of prospective clients, and to generate leads.
With that in mind, you’ll want to include the following pages:
Sales page (on the homepage)
Services and packages you offer
Opt-in forms on the sidebar
Links to your social media accounts
All About Your Homepage
Your homepage should do a good job of selling your services. As a businessperson, you’ve likely studied a bit about copywriting before. Use elements of persuasion and copywriting to hit on their emotions and draw them into the idea of hiring you as a coach.
You aren’t necessarily putting a buy button on this page. You’re warming them up to the idea of hiring a coach for business.
The Importance of Building a List of Prospects
As most coaching offers are fairly high-end, you’ll want to focus most of your energy on getting people to sign up for your list. Offer them a free report or free consultation for doing so.
If you get people on your list, you can build a relationship with them. They’ll come to know and appreciate your expertise. They’ll take advantage of coaching offers you send out much more readily than they would if they saw a cold coaching offer from you.
Add a squeeze page to your blog and send traffic to it. Give something really great away for free if they sign up to this list.
Include an opt-in form on the sidebar of your blog. It should be visible on every page.
Write an autoresponder series as a follow up for when they sign up. This will work for you on autopilot.
Building Your Website over Time
This will give you a great start. Build your website over time as you get a feel for how you want to present yourself. Your main goal is to demonstrate your authority and expertise and start to build relationships with those who hire you. You really want to stand out as the best for the job.
Choosing Who to Coach
You’re not going to be the right fit for everyone. You’re not going to want to work with everyone. There’s a certain type of client that’s right for you. It’s up to you to figure out who that is and how you’re going to find them.
What Are You Known For?
The answer of who you should mentor might be obvious to you. Maybe you’re particularly well known in a certain area of business. You’ll naturally want to mentor others who are interested in this particular topic.
Or maybe it’s a little less clear. For instance, do you want to cater to the more advanced set or to those who are completely new? Some coaches love guiding those at the beginning level. They take pride in taking someone from the very basics and helping them find success. Others don’t enjoy that part of it at all— they’d rather help reinvigorate people who are much further along. Consider what’s right for you.
You’re Different from Every Other Coach Out There
There’s a lot that sets you apart from other coaches. But who is your audience? You’re the ideal coach for a certain group of people. Figure out who that is and take steps to attract them. Become known as an authority in that circle.
Just like you have a USP in your main area of business, you have a USP in your coaching business. Present that as part of your branding. This is what should come to mind when people think of you as a coach.
Focus your website, offers, and branding around your USP. Always set yourself apart from the rest. There are other coaches, sure, but you want to be the only choice for a certain subset of business people.
Consider Your Initial Offer
Start out coaching just a few people as you gain experience. It can be daunting to try to get these initial clients on board. It’s fine to launch with a special offer that’s lower in price than what you’ll usually charge. Just make sure the clients you accept are a good fit.
Don’t appear desperate to accept just anyone. Your clients are going to “shop” for the perfect coach for them. It’s fine for you to be selective about who you accept, even in the beginning. You have to get your foot in the door, but you don’t have to compromise as you do it.
Networking and Branding
Focus your efforts on networking with the business subset you’re focusing on. Brand yourself as the go-to coach in this area.
How to Find Clients
You have your website up and you know what kind of client you’re going to target. Everything should be set up and ready to go. It’s time to drive traffic to your website and list and start to put offers out there so you can accept clients.
This is a very exciting time. It can also be a little bit scary. You have the expertise it takes to coach others but it’s still a new experience. It’s human nature to be a little unsure at first.
You have to push ahead anyway. You’ve taken risks before and this is no different. Remember— you have some really valuable things to offer to the people who are going to hire you. The longer you wait, the longer they have to wait to receive your help.
Before you start to drive traffic, please make sure you’ve set opt-in forms up on your website. Always focus on building a list with everything you do in business.
Your list is more important than your offers initially. You’re going to drive traffic to build a list. You’re going to build a relationship with the people on your list. Then, you’re going to book coaching clients with ease.
Driving Traffic and Becoming Known in the Coaching Space
Every day, you’re going to put solid effort into networking, building your authority, and driving traffic to your coaching site. This daily activity is something that will grow over time until you’re well known as one of the best of the best.
You should already have created a Facebook page featuring your coaching brand. Tell your current audience about that page. Comment on related pages as your page. Link to your page from your website. Make sure you offer and share really interesting and relevant content so people will want to “like” your page even if they aren’t really familiar with you at first.
You should also have created a Twitter account related to your brand. Tweet and re-tweet relevant content. Find and follow experts, coaches, and those who might be potentially interested in your services. You’re not going to directly advertise; you’re going to build your presence and link to your free content and opt-in.
One thing that’s worked exceptionally well for me is my Facebook group, The IM Inside Track. It’s a free group people join to learn more about Internet marketing. We have daily discussions, support one another, and offer great, actionable information.
There’s a lot of value in that group, but it’s also done wonders as I promote my own products and services. The group helps brand me as an expert. They get to know and trust me. It’s the perfect advertising vehicle, though I don’t advertise at all.
LinkedIn is another fantastic resource for business owners. You can create a great, detailed profile featuring your business and expertise. You can also join or create groups. You can answer people’s questions and become known as an expert people should pay attention to.
Your goal with social media is to have people see you in multiple places. You want to be helpful and build relationships so they know, like, and trust you. Then, it will be very easy to encourage people to hire you as a coach. So easy that you’ll likely have to create a waiting list.
Social media is certainly not instant— the only “instant” form of traffic generation is paid, to my knowledge. But it’s something that will pay off for you relatively quickly.
It’s also a good idea to blog or add new articles to your website on a consistent basis. This will help you rank in Google. It will also keep your readers coming back over and over again.
Blog about business topics, blog about the importance of coaching, and blog about things that help people relate to you. You’ll develop your own style.
It’s important to encourage comments on your blog. You want to be able to interact with people as much as possible.
Spread Your Credibility Around
It’s a great idea to leverage the success of others. Maybe you know a coach who is already really successful. They might be open to letting you write a guest post for their blog, complete with an author’s resource box. Or maybe not another coach— maybe just someone in your industry. You never know what the answer will be until you go ahead and ask.
You can also write for E-Zines, article sites like EzineArticles.com, and more. The point is to publish and re-publish high quality content that will improve your visibility and branding. Remember to link back to your squeeze page with the goal of getting more sign ups to your list. You can then build a relationship with your list members and have a never-ending series of coaching candidates.
Write a Book
There’s something about publishing a book that instantly boosts your credibility. Whether it’s a book on Amazon or an eBook, people continue to be impressed.
Write a book on a topic you’re knowledgeable about. Take a spin that’s unlike anything else out there. This will help you get name recognition and will become another way people can find you on the web.
Webinars and Seminars
There are few things that can zoom your popularity and credibility up the charts like being a speaker at a seminar. There are many in-person seminars for people in business. Let organizers know you’re interested in speaking (look at their rules for speakers before asking) and you might be surprised at how easily you’re accepted.
As you become more known, you’ll be asked to speak anyway. It can be very helpful to you as a coach to accept speaking roles at seminars. You’ll no doubt have a line of people waiting to hire you as a coach then.
Let’s say that you can’t or don’t want to get away for seminars. Webinars can be the next best thing. These are basically online seminars— and they’ve become incredibly popular over the years. Host or join webinars where you can showcase your expertise. It can do a lot for your credibility and the number of people who will be ready to hire you.
Podcasting is almost a must for anyone who wants to be a successful online coach these days. It’s a great way to stay at the top of people’s minds, quickly generate content (that can be used in a variety of ways), and build authority and showcase your expertise in an exciting way.
You can get a spot on BlogTalkRadio to host a radio show. Or you can release podcasts on iTunes. There are many options— just make sure you use that content to the fullest. This is a branding option that definitely sets you apart from other coaches out there.
Let’s say you’re more comfortable with video. Some people might worry about hiring a coach they’ve never seen in person. Video can take those worries away.
You can host webinars on camera, host Google hangouts, start a talk show on uStream, or video blog. There are so many great uses for video. Again, this form of driving traffic and wooing an audience works incredibly well.
Find your favorite style and method. Don’t be afraid to take some risks.
Let Others Spread the News for You
It’s very important that people leave good feedback for you. You can’t force them to do this, of course, but you can certainly encourage it.
If you work with client, ask if they have a few words they’d like to share with prospective clients to help them make their decision.
Ask people to write reviews of your services on LinkedIn. They can endorse your for skills or write actual reviews. These are very effective.
Also, you can actively encourage people to spread news of your coaching services via word of mouth. That is the absolute best way to gain people’s confidence.
You’re Hired! Drafting Your Agreement
Congratulations! Your first client has hired you. Now what?
Have Them Apply First
Actually, hold that thought for a moment. You can’t just accept anyone and everyone as a client. You’re going after a certain level of business and a certain type of client.
You want to avoid problem clients from the start. You want to make sure everyone you work with is a good match. That’s why you should require them to apply.
This will help you. You might feel like beggars can’t be choosers in the beginning— but trust me, you only want people who are a good fit. You don’t want to end up firing clients and you don’t want to have someone suck the air out of you.
The agreement will include things such as:
What the coaching includes
What they can expect from you on a professional level (forms and frequency of contact)
Your values and ethics related to coaching
Fees and charges
Terms of payment
Agreement to follow through (for the client)
Get Out There, Coach!
I hope this has helped you get excited about the world of coaching. It’s a fantastic opportunity to start a brand new income stream.
You can be a fantastic coach. This is something that can lead to a more-than-full-time-income for you. The only thing standing in your way is you… so get out there and succeed as a coach.