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7 ways to make more money as a life coach

Becoming a life coach is one thing, but growing a life coaching business is another. These 7 proven strategies will help you gain and retain customers.

May 10, 2019 by Cyn Meyer

Does your coaching business feel like a neverending marathon?

Sure, you’ve been up and running (pun intended) for long enough to make a significant income, but somehow you still haven’t reached your revenue goals.

It can be disheartening to grind and hustle for days, weeks, or even months on end only to wish you could clone yourself to keep things afloat.

The good news is you can make more money as a life coach.

You can do it without burning out or inventing new biotechnology, too.

Today, we’ll talk about four creative ways to expand your business as a life coach, plus three proven tips for marketing those expansions.

First, let’s cover how much you can earn as a life coach so you have a better understanding of where you stand and where you can be.

How much money can you really make as a life coach?

For the sake of brevity, we'll be distinguishing life coaches from wellness coaches today. If you're interested in earning more as a wellness coach, we've got you covered. Otherwise, this is what you need to know about life coach salaries:

The average income for life coaches ranges widely, with rates landing anywhere between $75 hour to $1,000 an hour. The annual income, naturally, varies even more because of that.

It wouldn’t be hyperbolic to say the life coaching industry is like the wild west.

Not only can you become a life coach without an official certification or license -- posing a challenge for standardizing the industry -- but life coaching businesses also come in a variety of sizes from casual side-hustles to full-time careers.

This is why you see annual salaries quoted as low as $11,000 to a peak of over $320,000.

As you can see, the national average salary in the US for life coaches is $72,996 per year. The majority of wages trend towards the lower end.

That’s not to say it isn’t a profitable career path. In fact, quite the opposite.

The life coaching industry has grown by 2.2% over the past five years, reaching $1 billion in total revenue. Complementing that five-year growth is a 1.8% increase in the number of life-coaching businesses opened.

Some of the top performers in the industry make serious money waves. Tony Robbins, for instance, has a net worth of $500 million.

(Notice his primary source of wealth isn’t coaching sessions -- more on how he achieves that, writing and speaking, later.)

On the smaller but no less impressive level, you can earn as much Selena Soo, who launched a coaching business in 2012 that grew to over $300,000 in annual revenue by 2014.

Not bad for two years' worth of business growth, right?

The point is this:

Life coach earnings can run the gauntlet from $10,000 to millions annually, and there's no standardization in the industry because of licensure requirements (or rather, the lack thereof).

Regardless, it's clear there's a lot of money to be earned as a life coach -- you just need to leverage the right strategies and business models.

What are the best ways to earn more income as a life coach?

#1. Book speaking gigs to expand your audience

You can book relevant speaking gigs to gain more exposure for your business and get in front of more prospective coaching clients.

There’s no better way to build credibility and trust than to educate your audience, which is precisely what you accomplish in a speaking engagement -- you share your expertise as a coach.

And the more expertise you share, the more likely you are to net customers. One study found that customers overwhelmingly chose businesses that provided educational content over those that did not.

If written educational content influences purchasing power this much, imagine how much your spoken content can influence your audience’s buying behavior.

Celebrity-status life coach, Lucinda Bassett, certainly understands the power of speaking gigs. As you can see here, she offers both her coaching and speaking services prominently on her homepage.

If you’re just starting out, however, you may want to offer to speak for free to build your credibility and experience.

It’s easier than it sounds to do: just search for relevant local venues, events, and conferences. Once you find an event you’d like, make contact with the organizers to offer your expertise for free.

Successful coach and founder of Coach Pony, Christie Mims, used to speak for free and signed on clients who opted for $5,000 coaching packages.

Some of Christie’s tips for leveraging your speaking audience:

  • Offer a free coaching session to the audience
  • Ask people to sign up for your email list
  • Invite people to purchase an introductory coaching session

All three of these methods allow you to grow your list of prospective clients and to nurture them through the buyer’s journey.

In other words, depending on which stage your prospective client is in -- awareness, consideration, or decision -- you can continue to communicate in subsequent emails and conversations that lead up to your offers.

The gist:

Speaking gigs, even free gigs, are an impactful way to get in front of a large audience and build up your credibility and coaching customer base.

Of course, center stage isn’t the only way to reach an audience.

#2. Build an online community through a membership site

A great way to leverage your time -- so you're not trading hours for dollars -- is to offer coaching services to multiple clients at once, which you can do by building an online community using a membership site.

Membership sites are an excellent way for you to service your coaching clients as a group.

This is different from selling a group coaching package, where your clients show up for a limited number of coordinated coaching calls.

Membership sites are more streamlined and allow you to service more clients over extended periods (most programs run over a year).

The set up is easier to maintain, too: you simply provide updated valuable content and coaching services regularly in exchange for an ongoing membership fee.

You can get creative with various packages, as well, depending on your members’ needs.

For instance, business and life coach, Aja Edmond, offers her members several programs where they have access to a variety of resources, courses, and coaching.

She charges a $2,999 annual membership fee for her All Access: Design Your Life & Abundant Business Blueprint plan, which includes 10 digital products, an affiliate program, and member coaching session.

Aja’s top-tier membership package makes for a pretty nice revenue stream, right?

It’s not her only stream, either. For clients who don’t want to commit to her comprehensive package, she offers several other programs, such as her Design Your Life series, which ranges from free to $249 per month.

You can do the same by offering a variety of membership packages to your coaching audience depending on their needs and budget.

(Want to build a membership site like Aja? Try out Podia for free and discover everything you can create.)

Another benefit of creating a membership site is you build an online community, which has its own set of advantages:

  • 77% of companies believe an online community significantly improves brand exposure, awareness, and credibility.
  • 66% of brand communities say online communities are about building relationships and friendships.

Who doesn’t love camaraderie?

The valuable relationships your members build with one another will increase their affinity toward you and your coaching business. What a feel-good win.

OK, so far we’ve shared two tips that grow your business, but they require a significant time investment.

If you’re not yet at a point where you can afford such a time commitment, our next methods allow you to scale your business without the timesink.

#3. Productize your business with ebooks

Digital products are a great way to scale your business and pull in additional revenue. Ebooks, in particular, are an easy entry point into productization for life coaches.

Why? It's simple: Ebooks can be produced with little to no investment, and as a life coach, you already have a ton of experience in solving people's problems through content. When you package your expertise as an ebook, you gain the ability to solve those problems immediately.

Successful life coach, Valorie Burton, demonstrates this well. As soon as you land on her homepage, a pop-up promoting her latest ebook, It’s About Time, shows up front and center.

Visitors who want their problems solved urgently can download the first five chapters of Valorie’s ebook instantly to see its value and relieve any uncertainties before committing to a purchase.

Of course, ebooks aren’t the only format you can use to do this, but they are one of the strongest contenders. Global ebook sales are expected to reach $29 billion next year, a 93% overall growth.

If they’re not your speed, however, there are plenty of other popular digital products to choose from: Check out these other solutions:

  • Assessments
  • Audio files
  • Cheat sheets
  • Checklists
  • Documents
  • Guides
  • Handbooks
  • Journals
  • Planners
  • Templates
  • Toolkits
  • Tutorials
  • Videos

This list continues as long as your creativity does.

To help you brainstorm, here are two excellent examples from fellow coaches.

ADHD coach and educator, Ryan McRae, sells The One Page Daily Planner to help his clients avoid chaos and plan the perfect day.

Jacob Morris follows a similar vein with his Personal Values Assessment, a downloadable assessment that helps clients explore their values and design a plan to transform their lives.

As you can see, you have numerous paths as a life coach.

While you’ve got your brainstorming cap on, let’s cover one more proven way to expand your coaching business -- online courses.

#4. Sell info products like an online course

Selling info products like online courses can make a great addition to your coaching business because they're educational in nature and, like ebooks, are low maintenance. With limitless inventory on hand, they also give you uncapped passive earning potential.  

They’re a popular choice for coaches, too. For example, music production coach, Seth Mosley, offers two online courses in addition to his Virtual Coffee Date live coaching sessions.  

Beyond their convenience and easy maintenance, why do coaches love online courses? Put plainly, because they’re profitable.

Returning to coach Selena Soo as an example, she brought in $1.6 million in revenue last year with close to $1 million of that coming from her Impacting Millions online course.

Pretty incredible for a single info product.

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So, now you’ve got four trusty ways to expand your coaching business. Let’s dive into how to market your new offerings.

How do I market my coaching business?

#1. Use content marketing to attract new audience members

Whether a podcast, blog, or video channel, regularly publishing content is a powerful way to market your coaching business.

In fact, 72% of marketers claim content as their biggest driver for search engine optimization (SEO).  (Looking for your own SEO strategy? Check out our simple, straightforward SEO guide.)

Three tips for creating impactful content are:

  1. To gain more blog article shares, write long-form posts with over 1,500 words.
  2. To boost your views by up to 70%, add visual elements like infographics and/or videos.
  3. To create unique content, include well-researched facts in your original material.

Another vital part of successful content marketing is to publish content regularly and often. In fact, the more frequently you post content, the more traffic you attract.

Take blog posts for example. The more articles you publish, the higher your inbound traffic will grow, regardless of company size.

That said, while you definitely should shoot for as many posts as you can -- more than 11 is ideal -- don’t skimp on quality for the sake of quantity. As long as you regularly publish valuable content, your traffic will grow, whether it’s as few three posts a month or as many as 15.  

For an example of this strategy in action, check out life coach Molly Mahar. Her Stratejoy blog dives into topics related to self-development and life happiness.

As you can see, her content library includes five categories of blog articles for her readers to explore, and she’s grown quite the audience over the last few years.

Molly’s Facebook page has accumulated over 10,000 followers.

Blog articles aren’t your only content marketing option, however.

You can also host a podcast (which can be easily monetized) to pull in new audience members and engage your current customers.

That’s what the founders of JRNI Life Coach Certification, John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, do on their podcast The Catalyst Life Coaching Podcast: The Positive, covering psychology, meaning, and life coaching every week.

What makes podcasts so powerful for connecting and attracting audiences? The listeners are attentive. In fact, 80% of them listen to all or most of each show episode and listen to an average of seven shows per week.

Did I mention how easy podcasts are to leverage? All you need is a bit of planning.

You can even find great script templates to follow if you’re a first-timer.

The essential thing to remember for running a podcast is to publish consistently. The more consistent you are, the more habitual your audience attendance becomes, and the more people rely on you as the expert coach.

But if neither a podcast nor blog sound up your alley, there’s another option: video content.

It, like the last two options, is a popular format among audiences and creators alike. If you need proof, simply look to the world’s second most-trafficked website: YouTube.

And if you’re looking for an example alongside that proof, check out life coach Emma Mumford’s channel. She publishes educational content every Tuesday and Friday Evening, and at the time of writing, is approaching 30,000 subscribers for her efforts.

That’s a pretty impressive audience reach for one life coach, yeah?

Similar to your content in a blog or podcast, we recommend focusing on providing valuable, informative material.

After all, searches of “how to” videos on YouTube is growing by 70% annually.

Additionally, whichever format you decide to pursue, create interactive content whenever possible.

Why? People will pay more attention to your brand and visit your site repeatedly. 79% of content marketers agree that interactive content, like webinars and quizzes, pull in repeat visitors and multiple exposures to their brand.

To summarize:

Use content marketing to expand your audience. Providing educational, valuable content consistently is a powerful way to attract people to your brand and position you as a leading coach on your topic.

#2. Gift your audience free valuable content

Giving away free content is an effective way to market your coaching business and grow your audience base.

Why? Because it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or who your niche is. People love free stuff. In the service industry, customers who receive a free sample are 25-30% more likely to convert into paying customers.

The same thing goes for your coaching business. When you give away free, ultra-valuable products, you demonstrate your expertise and trustworthiness to your prospective audience in a way that’s as friction-free as possible for them.

Though a little bit of friction wouldn’t be amiss. If you offer your freebie as a lead magnet, the fancy term in email marketing for a free product you gift individuals in exchange for converting into subscribers, you can bring leads into your sales funnel from the first contact.

For example, Joy Cho, founder of Oh Joy! Academy, offers a free downloadable workbook, called What Kind of Business (or Side Hustle) Should I Start? to her audience.

In exchange for an email, her prospective clients can access her free workbook while getting to know her brand.

She can then nurture her audience in subsequent emails and conversations that lead up to her other paid offers, like her online courses or one-on-one coaching sessions.

To follow in Joy’s footsteps, set up a sequence of emails around your freebie. Ideally, segment your email list carefully and personalize these emails as much as possible.

Segmenting has a few different definitions, but in this context, it means keeping track of your subscribers’ behaviors, such as which lead magnet they opted in for, so you can tailor your message to their specific needs and stages of the sales funnel.

Not sure why it matters? Outside of writing individualized messages, email segmentation is the most effective way to personalize your marketing. In fact, 51% of email marketers claim email list segmentation as the most effective personalization tactic overall.

OK, that explains the impact of personalization, but why should you use the funnel concept?

It’ll help with your sales. 95% of consumers will choose a business that provides content to move them through every stage of the funnel. It’s all part of creating a personalized customer journey experience.

All in all:

Giving away free content helps you draw in a larger audience, allowing you to nurture and lead them toward your paid offerings.

Once you’ve created your lead magnet, a great place to distribute them is on social media, which is our final marketing tip today.  

#3. Use social media to connect with your audience

With over 3.4 billion global users active on social media platforms, marketing channels such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter are effective places to engage and grow your audience of prospective clients.

Rather than stressing about being present on all the social channels, the trick is to find out which platforms your audience frequents and focus on publishing valuable content there.  

As far as the types of content to post, these days, video is the format of choice. 54% of consumers prefer to see videos from brands, which is more than any other content format.  

So, you may want to try posting videos on your social channels, either pre-recorded or even live, using tools like Facebook Live.

Famous life coach Brian Tracy uses Facebook to attract over 1.8 million followers on this channel alone, dedicating much of his content to video postings.  

You can see Brian publishes videos pretty regularly on his Facebook page.

His content varies and goes beyond video, too. This is smart because it never hurts to test different formats and messaging to see what resonates best with your audience.

Regardless of the types of content you post to your social platforms, two editorial strategies you can test are:

  • The 80-20 rule - 80% of your posts inform, educate, or entertain, while 20% are promotional.
  • The rule of thirds - one-third of your posts are promotional, one-third shares content from other industry thought leaders, and one-third personally interacts with your audience.

As you test multiple messages and formats, be sure to set and measure some goals for your social posts. These days, marketers focus more on engagement (58%), rather than conversion and revenue metrics (21%), to gauge social media success.

Another factor to consider is your response time. Make sure you reply promptly to your social media messages, especially if they’re from customers.

It’s a pretty big deal if you do. 71% of consumers who have a good customer experience on social channels are likely to recommend your brand, and the number drops to 19% if you don’t respond.

Bottom line:

Take advantage of the vast population on social media and connect with your audience on social channels, then strengthen your resonance by testing out different messages and formats.

Keep at it, and when your audience decides wants help solving their most significant challenges, you’ll be top of mind.

Scale your business by thinking beyond coaching sessions

The days where one-on-one coaching sessions and group calls are your only options as a life coach are over.

If you’re serious about growing your coaching business, it’s worth expanding your offerings to tack on more revenue streams.

In a nutshell:

  • Your earning potential as a life coach varies widely depending on your offerings and marketing. By implementing a few proven tactics, you can soar above the average coach and increase your income.
  • The best ways to earn more income as a coach include booking speaking gigs and serving multiple clients simultaneously through a membership site.
  • To further scale your business, productize your coaching service by offering digital products like online courses and ebooks.
  • Of course, don’t neglect your promotional efforts as you grow. Three key marketing strategies for promoting your coaching business are content marketing, offering free valuable content, and social media marketing.

As a fellow life coach, I get it. The road from side-hustle to a fruitful business can be arduous.

With the help of these seven tried-and-true strategies, though, you’ll be enjoying the fruits of your labor soon.

Here’s to growing your business and enjoying the process along the way.