Saying that the coaching business is on the rise is like not saying anything. Imagine 20 billion dollars. This is the market value of the coaching industry. Yes, $20B!
Now, picture that the US coaching market alone has grown by 30% during the last five years. Pretty lucrative perspective, right?
Yes, running a business based on coaching services strikes as a way to thrive in 2023. But, to do that, you need a solid marketing strategy.
After all, according to ICF Global Coaching, we can expect the global number of certified coaching practitioners to be a whopping 93,000! Not to mention the fact that the average salary for a coach in the US is $42,716, meaning only a small percentage of coaches can charge above $1,000 an hour.
To help you navigate this red ocean, we’ve curated a list of 11 expert tips to help you drum up your coaching business in 2023!
👉 Learn how Wenzes Wegener, a life mentor and coach, grew her business using GetResponse marketing tools, including newsletters, autoresponders, and landing pages.
How to get coaching clients:
- Zoom in on your niche
- Attend networking events
- Build a website
- Share thought-leadership content
- Provide value on social media
- Use email marketing
- Invest in paid ads
- Ask for referrals
- Run webinars
- Guest post on relevant sites
- Answer questions on Quora and Reddit
1. Zoom in on your niche
As in every business, if you want to become a successful coach, you must narrow down your expertise.
Being a jack of all trades might be tempting for new coaches. When you don’t have a lot of clients, you might feel like you need to accept any gig that comes your way. But the truth is your ideal clients will be much less eager to gravitate and pay a premium price to a generalist than an expert specializing in a specific field.
So, before landing your first coaching client, you must return to the drawing board and select your coaching niche. Are you a:
- life coach
- team coach
- leadership coach
- career coach
- health coach?
Each category of the coaching market is worth billions of dollars, so it’s fundamental to:
- know your trade
- understand the market nuances
- be fully aware of the pain points and preferences of your target audience
The last part is a milestone for building your marketing strategy. Understanding the profile of your ideal coaching clients will influence your value proposition, messaging, and your marketing tactics.
Whether your ideal clients are executives in large tech companies or professionals at the crossroads of their careers, it’s best to tap into their social media groups, run online surveys, or — even better — online interviews.
💡 Pro tip: Developing a detailed persona profile will help you better understand and target your audience.
2. Attend networking events
Networking is another important strategy that can help you propel your coaching business.
Whether it is online (via email, LinkedIn, podcasts, etc.) or offline (e.g., networking events), you’ll want to grow your network in the target audience you’ve selected. Naturally, the event types will depend on your niche and ideal client profile.
If your target is white collars and executives, clubs such as the Chamber of Commerce, Lions, or Rotary should be on your radar.
But the landscape will be different if your coaching practice is about health and personal development. If that’s the case, look for conferences, meetups, or festivals solely or partially dedicated to those topics.
And if your expertise is coaching teams to refine their collaboration and work quality, bookmark all tech and startup conferences.
Wherever you go, be active, start conversations, and provide value before pitching your offer.
Some networking events also take place virtually, reducing your travel and accommodation costs. Check out the Meetup, packed with soul-searching and professional events and groups, and start building your personal network.
Watch the following video to learn how Jamie Masters of Eventual Millionaire used networking to start her podcast, where she interviews millionaires and asks them about their professional journey.
To explore this topic further, be sure to check out this video, where Matthew Pollard describes his networking framework.
3. Build a website
After you’ve selected your niche, talked to your ideal customers, and perfected your pitch as networking events, it’s time to communicate your value proposition through your own website.
To get a good stream of coaching clients, you must own your digital land, which will be the center of your organic marketing universe.
It requires some work and investment upfront, but it will pay off:
- Buying a custom domain, preferably together with web hosting services
- Doubling down on copywriting for your home page, service page, contact page, etc. — the trick is to convert the input from your customer research (interviews, surveys) into compelling messaging for your coaching program.
- Taking care of the design part. Not an artist? No problem! With most website templates, you can do that easily with pre-made components.
- Optimizing your website for keywords related to your online coaching business to start generating organic traffic coming from search engines. This step is slightly more technical, but if you’d like to learn more check out these guides on writing SEO-friendly content and SEO keyword research.
If designing and building a website seems overwhelming or too time-consuming, try GetResponse’s AI-driven, code-free website builder!
You can choose one of the predesigned or blank templates:
Or let the AI work its magic:
💡 Pro tip: To learn more about this process, read our article on building a website from scratch.
4. Share thought-leadership content
Now, launching a website is table stakes for every online entrepreneurship, including a coaching business. But, even with the most stunning home page, your new coaching clients aren’t going to fall on your lap.
The ball is on your side. And one of the principles of a rock-solid marketing strategy is to create unique content that will drive you visitors that will turn into leads and — eventually convert into paying clients.
And how much content do you need? Not a ton, but you’ll need a few thought-leadership pieces. Here’s the approach Matthew Pollard suggests:
Start with your niche and identify its three main problems. Then create one post that speaks to all three of them. Then do one post for each individual problem. And then create a content tree of posts off them. This way you’ll stay focused on your niche and appear as a specialist, rather than a generalist coach.
Regarding the format, it can be a blog, social media post pinned to your profile, a podcast, a webinar, or an ebook.
Here’s an example of how Sahara Rose, a spiritual life coach, promotes her highly-popular podcast on her website:
What matters is delivering insights and valuable tips that will make your potential clients follow you:
- 1st party data — statistics, research findings, trends, expert quotes coming from your existing network,
- Your unique experience about a specific area — let’s say you’re a life coach, and you’re sharing your authentic story of a massive problem you solved and how you managed to handle that.
- Free step-by-step guides or calculators — let’s say you’re a business coach sharing an online marketing blueprint or a paid marketing budget calculator.
But before you dive into developing your content, be sure to remember about the niche you’re specializing in!
5. Provide value on social media
If the content is the king, then the distribution is the queen. As soon as you hit the “publish” button on your coaching website, you must spread the word about it.
As Garrett Moon, the CEO of CoSchedule, said in his “10x Marketing Formula” book:
“If you create good content, never shut up about it!”.
And what most successful coaches do, is be super active on social media. If you know that Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, or LinkedIn is your cup of tea, maximize your efforts in that channel. If not, experiment with different platforms and formats. To attract first-paying coaching clients, play around with the following:
- Twitter threads
- Insta stories
- Facebook reels
- TikTok videos
- or carousels on Linkedin.
Many seasoned business coaches and life coaches highlight the importance of being active and consistently present. It will require much commitment, but you will slowly build your brand and generate sales conversations from social media interactions.
Successful coaches recommend posting every day, sometimes three times a day. Especially when you tap into promising Facebook groups where prospective clients hang out. Or — when you roll out your own Facebook group. Then, there’s no excuse — you have to post, comment, and engage like a rock star!
To get inspired, have a look at how J.T. O’Donnell, a career and professional development coach, shares thought-leadership content and engages her audience on LinkedIn.
She does this in multiple formats, including:
6. Use email marketing
Building a stellar email marketing program is a cornerstone for your online coaching business. Of course, there are many organic marketing strategies out there, including social media and SEO.
But email marketing and content on your website are things you own. This is the playground where you set the rules. Unlike social media and Google, where everything depends on Big Tech companies doing what they want. And every change in their algorithms can influence your client acquisition results.
But not in the email world! Here’s how you can make it a vital part of your marketing strategy:
Start building your list
Once you select a robust email marketing platform and connect it to your website, it’s time to populate your email list with subscribers!
There are several marketing strategies to get potential clients to opt in:
- Create a lead magnet (an ebook, a free tool, a quiz, a calculator) and publish it on your website as gated content. Although some marketing experts hate the idea of paying for content with email addresses, this is still a common practice to drive subscribers.
Here’s one way John Maxwell, a leadership development and career coach, builds his email list by offering access to his podcast:
And here’s an example of a quiz offered by previously mentioned, Sahara Rose:
- Run free webinars — a must-have marketing activity for every online coaching business. Many coaches leverage online events to share their expertise, plug their coaching package or services at the end of the webinar, or capture leads they can nurture with email follow-ups.
- Leverage social media— one of the tricks that business and life coaches use is publishing helpful content on LinkedIn or Facebook. On the last slide of their carousel (or at the end of a post), they entice their followers to subscribe to their newsletters.
- Offer a free coaching session among social media followers or an existing business network. Of course, it’s not entirely FREE. Email addresses of your future coaching clients are your currency.
💡 Pro tip: Speaking of webinars, here’s Sean Smith from Elite Coaching University explaining how you can get coaching clients using webinar funnels.
Deliver high-end quality newsletters
The emails of your potential new clients keep coming in — awesome! Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and send relevant and quality content to folks who just invited you to their inboxes.
Start with crafting a compelling welcome message, that will:
- show how much you appreciate your new subscribers
- carry your unique tone of voice as an expert and a personality
- announce what kind of content you will cater to in the following emails
- plug the coaching offer that makes you stand out from other life coaches (or business coaches)
If you get stuck writing your emails, you can always use AI generative tools. Just provide them with your offer’s details and industry, and they’ll come up with creative subject lines and even build your email’s design.
And if you prefer to follow the traditional way, you can use good-looking welcome email templates available in email marketing tools, like GetResponse:
Next, you need to strategize and plan out sending your newsletter. The trick is to balance delivering helpful tips and how-to’s and pushing commercial emails with sales pitches and discounts. Being too salesy might scare people away, but offering only free content won’t translate into more clients. In this article, you’ll find plenty of newsletter ideas that’ll help you keep providing value to your audience.
Have a look at these two emails from John Maxwell promoting their free webinar. While many of his emails are focused on paid offers, these two are purely about providing value:
How to know if your email marketing program is working? By keeping your finger on the pulse when it comes to metrics, such as:
- email open rates
- click through rates
- bounce rates
- unsubscribers and complaints
But the list of KPIs important for your business doesn’t end here! Check out our detailed guide about email marketing metrics and learn how to manage your email channel like a pro.
Test your messaging
Speaking of results — to get people to engage with your emails, visit your landing pages, and subscribe to your webinars (more on those later), you must combine resonating messaging, exceptional copywriting, and design.
It’s somewhere between art and science, but fortunately, you can eliminate the guesswork with A/B testing.
Forget wondering which subject line or content will drive more opens and clicks! A/B testing will show you which element is more successful on a given audience sample. This way, a winning message will automatically go out to the rest of your subscribers.
Here’s a preview of how split testing looks like in GetResponse:
And here, you can find a complete guide about running email A/B tests.
Save time with marketing automation
Picture this — thanks to your activity on social media, your organic marketing efforts on your website, and your regular newsletters, you generate a growing stream of new coaching clients. Kudos!
And it looks great — proposals, closing deals, coaching sessions, regular communication with your new clients, and you keep growing. But there is one downside. You don’t have enough time to look after your email marketing.
And this is where marketing automation comes into play!
With a drag-and-drop tool, you can build numerous workflows that will automate your email communication based on the outcome you want to achieve, such as:
- welcoming new subscribers,
- converting contacts to new coaching clients,
- rewarding loyal contacts,
- post-webinar communication and much more!
This way, you save dozens of working hours and focus on the quality of your service and relationships with people who hired you as a coach.
Follow this guide to learn how to get started with marketing automation.
Strategic Email Marketing Course
Join this free 9-lesson course to learn how to use email marketing for your business.
7. Invest in paid ads
OK, so you have social media, organic marketing, and email marketing. But the list of marketing strategies doesn’t end here! If you are lucky enough to have an additional budget, you can allocate it to paid digital advertising.
Let’s break it down.
Let’s face it, the days of high organic reach on Facebook or Instagram are far behind us. TikTok still has massive organic potential, but at some point, all social media platforms start to change their algos to push businesses to pay for ads that users will see on their feeds.
So if you want to play offense to garner legions of life-coaching clients, consider those ad formats:
PPC specialists are fond of Facebook ads because of their precise targeting capabilities and detailed performance tracking. Here, you can capture your potential clients with formats like image ads, video ads, carousel ads, and more.
👉 Looking for inspiration? Here you’ll find examples of effective Facebook ads from coaches.
Next, you have Instagram — an ideal environment to promote a life coaching business. As a visual medium, by definition, you can go for image and video ads. Plus — story ads and explore ads.
Suppose you know that ideal prospects for your coaching niche hang out on Twitter. In that case, your next paid advertising campaign can include:
- Promoted tweets,
- A promoted account,
- Promoted trends,
- In-stream video ads,
- In-stream image ads,
- or Direct message ads.
Another space to get coaching clients fast is LinkedIn, especially if you’re after business clients and mentoring top management. Here, you can start with publishing organic posts first and then use sponsored content format to boost their reach. But the list of options goes on:
- Sponsored in-mail,
- Display ads,
- Dynamic ads,
- and text ads.
While LinkedIn is a natural environment for business-oriented ads, people watching YouTube can be an audience for more coaching types: personal, relationships up to finance, and health. This online video mammoth has a vast array of paid ads options in its inventory:
- TrueView Ads (skippable and unskippable),
- Bumper Ads (short, unskippable),
- Display Ads,
- Overlay Ads,
- Sponsored Cards,
- and Discovery Ads.
And, finally, the video game-changer — TikTok, which can be your goldmine for life coaching clients, primarily if you target Gen Z. There are many ad formats to juggle with:
- In-feed Ads,
- Brand Takeover Ads,
- TopView Ads,
- Branded Hashtag Challenges
- or Branded Effects.
So, that was paid social. Now, let’s look at another type of digital advertising — paid search. If you go to Google and type in whatever keyword with commercial intent, the first thing you will see in the search results (above the top organic positions) is text ads.
For instance, if you enter a “life coach” keyword, you will most likely bump into sponsored positions of other coaches that successfully bid on that keyword and managed to be displayed at the top.
A winning paid search tactic plan combines smart bidding and copywriting skills. After all — it’s a short text ad, so you need to be persuasive and concise when offering — for example — a free coaching session.
Follow these posts to learn if Google ads are still worth it and how to craft compelling Google ads copy.
Another commercial way to entice a prospective client with your coaching services comes down to advertising with Google Display Network.
It works like this — you create static banners, animated, video, and responsive ads with Google’s ad builder tool. Then, you set up and optimize your campaign based on specific keywords related to your coaching niche, demographics, interests, and website placements. You can also use display ads for retargeting people who have visited your website.
Once you sort it out, your ads will be displayed on websites that partner with Google. They usually generate many clicks because of the vast reach and are relatively cheap, but the low quality of those leads can be a significant downside.
8. Actively ask existing clients for referrals
People will always seek confirmation that the product or service is trustworthy before making the final purchase decision. The social proof dynamics apply whether they are about to buy a new pair of shoes, select a hotel, or hire a coach.
That’s why getting testimonials from satisfied clients is essential. Placing them on your website or using them in your social media and paid ads will deliver proof that you are a verified and solid player.
You can learn more about the importance of earning trust and building authenticity in the coaching industry from the following webinar recording with Sean Smith:
Another powerful tactic is referral programs. It’s about stimulating a word-of-mouth flow that will generate more clients. The idea is simple — your happy, paying client recommends your services across a network of friends, family, or business partners.
Please bear in mind that while referrals come naturally due to providing quality services for many clients, new coaches have to start from scratch. And incentivizing clients is the best way to go. You can offer a commission on every new coaching client from a referral or a discount for your future services.
9. Run webinars
We’ve mentioned webinars as a proven tactic to generate leads, build a personal brand, and close deals.
While webinars are still a goldmine, you must do a lot of homework before starting. Behind every successful webinar campaign, there is a magic sauce with the following ingredients:
A compelling topic
You should look for a sweet spot between what your target audience’s searching for and your specialization.
Here’s an example of a webinar registration page promoting an event with a compelling topic aimed to help women get more success in their personal and business endeavors:
A reliable webinar platform
To conduct a webinar, you need software that will enable you to schedule your event, send invitations, run the event itself (with options to share your screen, showcase a slide deck, draw on a whiteboard, interact with your attendees on chat), and send follow-up emails afterward. Here’s a sneak peek of how it looks like in GetResponse:
A laptop and a stable Internet connection are table stakes. And while you can get away with a built-in webcam and a microphone at the beginning, becoming a professional webinar host will require some equipment investments: an external webcam (we recommend Logitech), a microphone, and an additional light source (for example, a ring light). Make your online events as pleasant to watch as possible.
It’s not 2015 anymore. People expect quality. And if you talk for 45 minutes about nothing and then come out with a sales pitch, you will only upset your attendees. Make the webinar worth attending, and provide some free value before displaying your Call-to-Action.
A promo campaign
Your webinar needs an audience. Leverage all channels under your fingertips: email, organic social, word-of-mouth, video, and paid social to gather dozens of attendees.
Webinar promotion blueprint
Want to make sure your next webinar is a success? Promote it in 9 easy steps. In this guide, you’ll find our best webinar promotion strategies plus tips on how to sell more with your online presentations.
10. Guest post on relevant sites
Written content is not only about publishing an occasional blog post on your website. Guest posting has been a popular SEO tactic, loved by bloggers and brands across the board.
The trick is to convince the website’s editor to publish your piece on their blog. Most of the time, publishers have editorial calendars and need to see value upfront to squeeze your article into their tight schedules.
Here’s the game plan:
- Handpick websites whose readers are most likely to be your potential leads.
- Browse their blog and analyze what topics they might find helpful for their readers
- Send a persuasive outreach message to their editor
- Write a spotless article with powerful insights
- Plug contact information and a link to your website
- Wait for the ideal coaching client to knock at your door.
11. Answer questions on Quora and Reddit
The last activity to find coaching clients is to tap into two online communities that have been on each marketing drawing board for a long while — Quora and Reddit.
For the last couple of years, Quora was a go-to place for all the people who were seeking answers, but their questions were too advanced for Google to understand.
By providing in-depth answers on Quora, other coaches were able to find clients.
It’s hard to say what the future of Quora will be regarding the ChatGPT revolution, where users can instantly generate answers to their — even the most tricky — questions. But it doesn’t hurt to try.
The other space is Reddit, with a gazillion topics and groups (subreddits), where you can play full out and share your know-how related to your niche.
The challenge with those two platforms is that their admins can be ruthless if you try to promote yourself and be too salesy. They can delete your post or even block your account if you cross that line.
So, the rule of thumb is offering free value without pushing sales. Your potential client will notice that.
Streamline your coaching business
OK, great! By now, you know how to get coaching clients online! Connecting the dots between your experience and what drives your ideal client is essential. Once you find that sweet spot, you can craft your own business with a stellar coaching service.
As for the marketing channels, gradually build your digital presence and generate a growing stream of leads. As for the technical part, GetResponse can help you with the following:
- Creating your website and landing pages
- Driving traffic to your offer with Facebook, Instagram, and Google Search ads
- Running your email marketing campaigns and marketing automation workflows
- Conducting free and paid webinars
- Automating the above processes using Conversion Funnels
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