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  • Writer's pictureLiz Huber

How to Become a Life Coach: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide

Updated: Feb 3, 2020

How to Become a Life Coach Blogpost Cover

So you want to become a life coach. Congratulations on taking the first step towards being your own boss and creating a fulfilling career and a thriving business!

Now, here is an overview of the steps you need to take to get started as a life coach:

  • Step 0: Learn What Coaching is Really About

  • Step 1: Get Some Training

  • Step 2: Practice, Practice, Practice

  • Step 3: Find Your Niche

  • Step 4: Define Your Business Model & Package Your Services

  • Step 5: Get Your First Paying Client

Step 0: Learn What Coaching is Really About

“The first step towards success is knowing what it is you aim to do” — Curly Martin

Before you embark on any journey, you need to know what you are getting yourself into. This is Step 0 because you do it before you even take any real action steps towards becoming a coach. 

Even though the coaching industry is growing rapidly and organizations, as well as individuals, are becoming more aware that coaching exists, most people still have misconceptions about what coaching actually is.

So let’s start with the basics:

According to the ICF (International Coach Federation), coaching is defined as:

“partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

Let’s dissect this definition:

  • Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process: This means that coaching is not about advising the client on what to do (this would be consulting) but about co-creating a relationship and coaching conversation. That’s why great coaching requires being fully present with the client, holding space for them and listening attentively — not just for the words but also for the messages in between the lines. Good coaches know when to ask the right questions to inspire the client to go deeper, shift their perspective and discover a new solution — and when to step in and offer advice or a tool to help them get to the next level.

  • Maximize personal and professional potential: Contrary to therapy, coaching is not about what happened in the past but about what can happen in the future. Coaching is for people who are ready to thrive and become the best version of themselves. Thus, the coaching process is always focused on future-based goals — and the coach helps the client achieve these goals by holding them accountable, empowering them, helping them explore what they really want and need to do, helping them identify and overcome what is holding them back and equipping them with the necessary tools to achieve their goal.

As you can see, coaching is focused on results and outcomes. In other words, great coaches help their clients go from where they are to where they want to be. Thus, the most successful coaches have developed methods and programs that are proven to get their clients the results they are seeking — whether it’s losing weight, getting a promotion or improving their marriage. 

Here are some further resources to help you learn more about coaching in general:

Step 1: Get Some Training

Once you know what coaching really is, it’s time to get some training. This doesn’t mean you need to attend a very expensive coaching certification program. In fact, at the Confident Coach Club, we believe that you shouldn’t get certified as a new coach (listen to our podcast episode about this topic here). 

There are a few reasons why we believe that:

  • The coaching profession is not regulated in most countries. In the US, the UK, Australia, and many other big countries, it is not necessary to get specific training, a university degree or certification to become a coach. In fact, anyone can call themselves a Life Coach, Business Coach, Career Coach, etc.

  • Time- and cost-intensive programs can be a great excuse to procrastinate and never take action on becoming a coach: If you tell yourself you don’t have the time or the money to get certified and need to save up first or wait until the kids are out of the house (or whatever your excuse it), you will never take action. It’s much better to get your feet wet by just doing it instead of waiting for a day that might never come.

  • It’s hard to choose the right certification program when you are just starting out. If you haven’t coached anyone yet, you won’t know in which direction you want to go as a coach, meaning the type of clients you want to work with, your area of expertise, etc. Thus, you are better off getting clear on these things first and then selecting a certification program that specifically fits your needs and will actually help you increase your credibility with your clients — after all, you don’t want to pitch yourself as a leadership coach to a big corporation with a health coaching certification!

Okay, so now that we’ve clarified that you don’t need to get certified, what do I mean by getting trained then?

I am talking about equipping yourself with the necessary tools to be an effective coach. 

In a nutshell, you need tools, skills, frameworks and coaching questions for:

  • creating a transformational and ethical coaching relationship

  • being 100% present with the client, listening correctly and asking questions

  • helping your clients get clear on their vision and goals and what they really want

  • creating a plan of action that will enable clients to achieve their goals with your support

  • helping them uncover and release their mental blocks and limiting beliefs

  • empowering, inspiring and motivating them when they are down

  • holding them accountable 

Here are a few of my favorite, very affordable resources to help you get trained as a coach and build up your toolkit:

Bonus Tip: Hire your own coach

The fastest track to becoming a great coach is to hire your own coach! Not only is 1-on-1 coaching the most effective way to learn but you’ll also experience how an experienced coach is leading their sessions, creating results for their clients, organizing their coaching business, selling you on their services, etc.

When I started out as a coach I made the mistake of believing that I can’t afford a coach and should only invest in coaching once I got paying clients myself. After a year of struggle and no clients, I finally realized that I was wrong. I invested $1,800 in a business coach and as a result made over $15,000 myself in my own coaching business. Hiring my own coach was a breakthrough point for me because I finally started to believe in the power of coaching (after all, how can you sell something if you’ve never tried it yourself?!) and I finally had someone to hold me accountable for doing the things I was too afraid to do.

Step 2: Practice, Practice, Practice

There is only so much you can learn about coaching by reading about it — coaching is one of those things that you only truly learn by doing. Thus, I can’t recommend highly enough to get out in the field and start coaching quickly. This will help you to test your coaching tools, improve your coaching skills, get feedback on your performance and help you refine your coaching method so that you can be sure to get your clients the results they want. 

The easiest way to do that is to offer your coaching services for free. As a newbie, you most likely don’t have the confidence to start charging for your services right of the bat — and it might not be a good idea either, after all, you don’t have any real experience. Offering to coach for free takes away the pressure for you and allows you to try things out without any real consequences if things go wrong. When you are 100% transparent about the fact that you are a new coach and looking to practice your skills in exchange for honest feedback, you are setting clear expectations and offering a great deal for someone who might not be able to afford a life coach otherwise. 

Here are a few things to look out for when practicing your coaching skills:

  • Don’t coach your best friends, instead reach out to people from your broader network. An ideal testing client is someone you don’t speak to regularly, otherwise it’s difficult to differentiate between a normal catch-up coffee and a real coaching session. Plus, you want to have enough emotional distance to be able to receive critical feedback from the person without taking it too personally. A great way to get testing clients is to ask your friends for referrals to other people, put up an offer on your social media page, post in forums or marketplaces like Facebook marketplace, Gumtree, Craig’s list, etc. — or if you’ve already built an audience, simply email your list offering free spots in your “beta-program”.

  • Set clear expectations. Be upfront about the fact that you are a new coach and what you can and can’t help with. Emphasize the fact that it is about trying things out and it’s important that you’ll receive feedback (and maybe even a testimonial) from them.

  • Create a clear structure and set rules. The problem with free coaching is that people tend to not take it too seriously because they don’t pay for it. If you pay $100+ for a coaching session, you WILL show up on time. However, if the session is free, people tend to show up late, cancel at the last minute or quit the program early. You don’t want this to happen because it won’t give you a real experience of a coaching program. Thus, it’s best to agree on a set of rules with your testing clients to make sure the deal is honored from both sides. Make sure to set a clear timeframe (e.g. 1 month) as well as frequency and date and time of the sessions (e.g. weekly on Mondays at 7:00 pm for 60 min). Also, make sure you define how the feedback will work. I recommend sending a questionnaire with open questions in the middle and at the end of the program as well as doing a separate feedback call. If you are a student of our online course, you will find a feedback template in the course.

It’s hard to say how long you should coach for free and how many test clients you should have because it depends on your previous experience, coaching niche and confidence. However, a great sign that you are ready to charge for your services is when you are able to create powerful results for your testing clients and get great feedback and testimonials from them. And trust me: you won’t ever feel 100% ready to take on paying clients. It’s totally normal to be nervous and doubt yourself, but if you want to be a successful coach, you need to push through your fear and do it anyway. The key is to know whether you truly need more training/practice or whether you are simply struggling with impostor syndrome

Step 3: Find Your Niche

Practicing your coaching skills in the real world will help you understand which type of clients you love working with the most, which areas you like to coach on and what your unique skills are. 

When I did a test run with 3 clients and gave them a list of 12 areas of life that they could choose from for the coaching, I quickly realized what I DON’T want: I am an entrepreneur at heart — I have only worked in startup companies and since a few years, I am self-employed. Thus, I found it very difficult to relate to career-related topics and found myself annoyed at listening to stories of corporate politics and mean bosses. I also couldn’t stand coaching people on relationship issues or finding a partner. 

Working with these 3 test clients helped me realize that I prefer working with entrepreneurial people (e.g. startups founders and employees as well as self-employed people) and want to solely focus on business and productivity-related aspects. That’s why I decided to become a Mindset & Productivity Coach and start a blog about achieving goals and increasing performance. 

Finding your niche is a very important step to becoming a successful coach because the market has become highly competitive over the last few years. Finding your specific target group, defining your area of expertise, crafting a compelling brand message and developing a unique coaching methodology can help you stand out in a sea of life coaches. 

The easiest way to define your niche is to fill in the blanks in this template:

“I help ___(the WHO)___(the WHAT: solve a problem or get a result) with/by ___(the HOW)”

Here are a few questions that will help with that:

  • What do friends and family come to me for help?

  • Who do I enjoy helping the most? What type of people do I want to work with?

  • What problems and challenges are these people struggling with? What are the outcomes and results they are looking for?

  • How can I use my skills, knowledge and experience to help them achieve their desired results?

The key to finding a great niche that allows you to build a thriving and fulfilling coaching practice is to match your skills, passions, knowledge, and experience with the problems, challenges, and desires of a specific target group that is able and willing to pay for your services. 

Here are a few more resources to help you get clear on your niche:

Step 4: Define Your Business Model & Package Your Services

There are many ways to make money as a coach: the classic way is to offer 1-on-1 coaching services but I know many successful coaches who focus on group programs, workshops, retreats, mastermind groups, books and online courses — or a combination of them all. 

However, I generally recommend to start out with the classic private coaching model as it allows you to develop a proven coaching methodology that you can then scale by doing group programs, writing books or offering courses. Furthermore, it’s also the quickest way to make money as a coach since it doesn’t require expensive tools, a big audience or extensive product development and preparation. You could start with your first paid client tomorrow and all you need to do is prepare the first session. 

Once you’ve decided on your main revenue stream (private coaching, group programs, online courses etc.), you need to do some math to figure out how to package and price your services. 

Here are a few questions that will help you do that:

  • How much money do I want to make per month? (Make sure you are accounting for your personal as well as business expenses)

  • How many days of the week do I want to coach and how many clients do I want to work with? 

  • What is the best format to get my clients the results they want? (Here are a few elements to consider: big kick-off goal setting session, weekly private coaching calls for accountability, worksheets and exercises, email support)

Here are a few examples of coaching packages:

  • 3-Month Coaching Package to help women after birth lose weight: Investment: $3,000 | Includes: 1x 90 min private kick-off coaching call and assessment, personalized nutrition and training plan, workout and food tracker, 11x 45 min private coaching calls 

  • VIP Day to set goals, create an action plan and eliminate mental blocks: Investment: $1,000 |Includes: 8 hrs with the coach, lunch and free coffee and refreshments throughout the day, email summary with action steps and resources

  • Strategy Session for coaches to find their niche: Investment: $333 | Includes: 90 min strategy session via Zoom, audio and video recording of the session, pdf-guide including list of 100 niches and profitability checklist

And here are a few examples of how to build a revenue plan around your coaching packages:

Target Revenue: $5,000 per Month

  • Example 1: 10 clients paying $500 per month each for a weekly 60 min session, coaching two days a week (Mondays and Wednesdays) with 5 clients each day 

  • Example 2: 5 VIP days per month ($1,000 per day), on Saturdays and Sundays next to a full-time job

  • Example 3: Running two group coaching programs with 10 members each, each of them paying $250 per month for weekly group coaching calls, a private Facebook group and access to pre-recorded video lessons

Here are some further resources to help you get clear on your business model:

Step 5: Get Your First Paying Client

When you know your niche, have a clear coaching package and have practiced enough to feel confident of putting yourself out there as a professional coach, here are a few powerful strategies for getting your first client:

  • Ask your network for referrals: Best to start with the people who have experienced your coaching first-hand (like your practice clients) and ask them if they know someone that would be a great fit for your program. You can also offer them a referral fee when their contact signs up for your program. 

  • Speak for free and pitch your services at the end: This strategy is a powerful way to connect with a big group of people by sharing your expertise and thus building trust and interest in your services. 

  • Offer a free coaching session on social media: Coaching is an experience and not a product. Thus, the most effective way to sell coaching is not to tell but to show people. However, make sure to work with an effective discovery call script so you’ll be able to convert your prospects into paying clients. Also, pre-select your prospects with an application form. If you are a student of our coaching course, you will find templates for your discovery call and application forms in the course.

  • List yourself as a coach on platforms or get into networks: There are many platforms and networks connecting coaches and people looking for coaches. Some examples are Upwork, Magnifi and Coach.Me.

  • Show your expertise online: This is the main strategy I have used to build my coaching business. At its core, this strategy is about sharing value with your audience consistently so you can build your status as an expert, earn their trust and build a loyal following of potential clients. You can do that by starting a blog, a podcast, a Youtube channel or even an Instagram account. However, because this strategy requires you to build up an audience first, it’s more a long-term strategy and is unlikely to bring you your very first paying client. 

Are You Ready to Start Your Own Coaching Business?

The Confident Coach Club helps new and aspiring coaches find their niche, start their business and find their first client. Sign-up to our email list to get our best content and our Free 5-Day E-Mail Course on how to start a coaching business.


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