As you’re probably already aware, It’s hard to find ways to get coaching clients never mind becoming a fully booked coach.
But, it is very doable if you’re prepared to work hard, be smart and stay patient.
This post will show you 12 proven ways to get coaching clients and move you ever closer to that elusive, fully booked status.
Note: It may be a good idea to grab a couple of strategies from this post at a time rather than do everything at once. You can always bookmark the page and come back at a later date.
1. Public Speaking To Get Coaching Clients (free)
I know it may seem obvious, but seriously, the quickest way to get in front of potential coaching clients is to get out there and talk to groups.
There are always organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Clubs and Lions Clubs looking for speakers to fill spots.
Unless you’re very good you may have to work for free, or just expenses. At least to begin with.
But, if you view it as a marketing opportunity first and foremost, then that’s fine.
Speaking isn’t an easy way to get clients. But it’s probably the easiest.
You’ll undoubtedly give talks that generate little interest and others where the organizers vastly overestimate how many people will show up (trust me, this happens a lot).
But, as long as you choose your venues carefully then you will start to pick up clients.
And what I mean by choosing your venues carefully, is this.
- Are the people attending able to afford your coaching fees?
- Do they fit your niche?
- Do they even need your help?
If the answer to any of the above is ‘no’ then unless you are talking to gain experience, or as a way of giving back, you could be wasting your time.
I once had a client who had spent over a year giving monthly talks at two different libraries without gaining a single client.
It was hardly surprising when you consider that a good proportion of people who visit libraries do so because they don’t have the money to buy books or pay for internet access.
The other upside of public speaking is that if you get good at it you can earn a lot of money.
Way more than you ever could from one-on-one coaching alone.
I have a friend who doesn’t get out of bed for less than $10k for a keynote and he has to actively turn down coaching enquiries from prospective clients based purely on his speaking.
2. Join Toastmasters (fee)
I was a member of Toastmasters for about 3 years between 2008 and 2011 and guess how many members became clients in all that time?
So why am I recommending Toastmasters?
Well, leaving aside the massive bonus that it’s going to help you improve your speaking skills and thus get paid speaking opportunities, it’s also supplied me with clients indirectly, and it can you too.
Not from Toastmasters itself, but from two contacts I met there and that is paramount for you wanting to become a Fully Booked Coach.
One was a psychologist who sent me clients more aligned with my skillset than his and the other was a local businessman who sent me some of his employees.
Toastmasters is an excellent organization and an absolute must for you to join if you want to take advantage of option #1 of attracting clients.
In the UK it costs about £10 per month.
If you can’t afford that then you probably can’t afford to run a coaching practice.
3. Clubs & Chambers (paid)
Chamber of Commerce, BNI, and Rotary and Lions clubs all offer opportunities to attract new clients presuming your ideal client hangs around in such places.
It can be hit and miss, to begin with.
Actually, it will probably be more miss than hit as you figure out which events/organizations work.
And which don’t.
I know one person who gave a talk to her Chamber of Commerce and generated $100k of business.
Her talk was nothing more than 30 minutes explaining some aspects of accounts for small businesses.
She delivered massive value and as such I hired her, and so did 6 other people.
As with online networking, if people see you as a resource rather than just somebody there looking for business then they are more likely to hire you.
Similarly, they are more likely to remember you when they are talking to somebody else who may benefit from your skills.
4. Get Interviewed, Or Interview (free)
I used to average 20 or so interviews per year.
Whereas I don’t actively seek them out anymore, I only ever turn them down if they are looking for me to pay them.
I don’t care how small your blog is, how few listeners your podcast has, or what the topic of the interview is (within reason) I’ll say ‘yes’.
In late 2018 I did an interview for a closed member area of another website.
The person interviewing me was effectively charging people to hear me speak and I was getting nothing for my time.
Er, except almost £10k of client work.
To begin with, there won’t be a line of people waiting to hear you dispensing pearls of wisdom, so perhaps you can become the interviewer and start a podcast?
Or maybe you could go to a site like Matchmaker.fm and register to be interviewed by podcast owners/hosts.
You would be amazed at how many people, even famous people, will agree to let you interview them.
Especially if they have a book being published, or a product launching.
Then when you interview them you can ask them to mention it on social media. If they agree then suddenly you have acquired instant credibility.
5. Meetup Groups (paid)
In internet years Meetup is ancient having started way back in 2002.
But it still doesn’t seem to be well utilized by coaches.
Covid hit Meetup hard to begin with because although the original meetings were arranged and promoted online, they tended to be in person.
But, like most things, everything just shifted online
And now they are back in person as well as online.
They can be soul-destroying at first because people may not show up to your meet-ups.
But, that’s life.
Suck it up!
There are two keys to being successful with Meetup.
1. Be consistent and persistent.
Nobody sensible, quits social media after a couple of weeks complaining it doesn’t work and Meetup is no different.
Commit to doing regular meetings for at least 6-months no matter who shows up, or doesn’t.
2. Zoom in on your niche.
Don’t expect to call yourself a life coach and run a group on self development and it to be successful.
Get narrow and talk to a problem or a small handful of problems that your niche wants/needs help with.
Then over-deliver at every meeting.
The over deliver some more in any way you can think possible that is legal, ethical and moral!
6. Use HARO (free with paid upgrade)
HARO stands for Help a reporter out.
It’s a site where journalists can post requests for people to interview on literally everything that reporters ever write about.
Not only does being featured in a newspaper or magazine help with credibility and social proof, but the backlink can also have massive SEO (search engine optimization) value.
However, like any method that works, it’s competitive and there are close to half a million users signed up for HARO.
Accordingly, you need to take the time to learn how to use it effectively.
There’s little point in signing up and then just leaving your details up there hoping you will get contacted.
You have to watch for the emails that are sent out three times per day and then you must send in a pitch explaining why you are the person the reporter needs to speak with.
It’s free to signup for HARO, however, there are paid options starting at $19 per month
If you want first access to requests then joining at the $19 may prove worthwhile.
It also allows you to track one keyword.
Play about with the free version and if you like it, upgrade.
There are two similar alternatives, although I haven’t used either.
SourceBottle is, unsurprisingly, aimed at helping reporters find sources for stories.
And Muck Rake allows you to pitch ideas to journalists.
As with HARO, you will need to ensure your pitches are compelling, interesting, and succinct if you want to stand out.
7. Start an Outreach Program (free)
Outreach is when you actively contact other people who can help you with a single objective.
You could do outreach for SEO (more later) where you ask people to link to a great blog post you have written.
Equally, you could do an outreach where you target thought leaders in your niche and ask them to share a post you have written.
Or, you could do an outreach to all your old clients with a referral opportunity you are running.
Most coaches do outreaches poorly.
In fact, most marketers do outreaches poorly.
You really cannot expect to fire off an email to Tony Robbins saying ‘Hey big fella, how do you fancy promoting my book for me? Love the teeth by the way!‘ and expect anything other than crickets.
You have to build relationships and/or offer something in return.
And you need to make your emails personal, I immediately delete every email I get that starts ‘Hi there’ or something else equally impersonal.
But if I get an email ‘Hi Tim, I was reading your excellent post on self development books for life coaches then you immediately intrigue my massive ego in your clutches and have my attention.
8. Hit Quora and Reddit (free)
I love Quora and Rediitt, a little bit too much (in the former case) and can get lost on there for way too long on occasions.
Quora is an ask engine rather than a search engine.
And Reddit is a directory full of what are known as subreddits where people set up their own groups on literally every topic you can imagine allowing them to talk to likeminded souls.
Both are brilliant.
Google struggles to deal with abstract questions like, ‘What’s it like to get shot when wearing a bulletproof vest?’ and ‘What is the nastiest thing a celebrity did to one of their fans?’ – and yes they are questions I recently read on Quora.
In fact, it struggles so much, that it doesn’t even really bother trying anymore. It simply searches Quora or Reddit.
Quora gets over 75 million monthly visits and Reddit close to half a billion, because, as you can imagine, people are asking and answering questions on every conceivable topic.
There are three benefits to using both sites that make it somewhat of a no-brainer.
Firstly, I have had two clients come directly from people reading in-depth answers that I gave worth about $3k.
Secondly, if you have written a killer newsletter article or blog post that answers a specific question you can then reposition that content and drop it in there.
Another value add for both sites, is that they can give you great ideas for writing content!
The questions that generate a lot of comments/replies are the ones that fucking engage people!
So write content aligned with that!
9. Guest Post (free)
I have written dozens and dozens of guest posts and have generated a lot of clients from them.
And when I say a lot, I mean a lot!
I would say guest posting has brought me well over $200k in business.
And like Quora, it’s also the gift that keeps on giving.
I have guest posts from 12 years ago or more that are still being found by people who wouldn’t have necessarily found me otherwise.
Only recently I signed on a new client after she followed a link from a guest post I had written in 2012.
Broadly speaking there are two approaches to writing guest posts.
- Aim for high traffic, high profile blogs with as high domain authority as possible so you can get the SEO benefits (more in a moment) and may occasionally grab a new client and new subscribers
- Choose smaller more niched blogs where the SEO benefits can sometimes be minimal, but you are delivering your message straight into the lap of your ideal client
If you’re looking to build a blog readership and you don’t have thousands of dollars to throw at marketing, then guest posting is the quickest route to success.
Having said that, you have to be a competent writer and have a strategy.
And guess what, I can help you with that!
10. Make The Most Of Social Media (especially groups)
After my newsletter list, my Facebook group is my single biggest source of direct clients.
Yes, EVEN bigger than this blog ffs!
Other than failing to hire a business coach sooner, making the group unavailable to people who had never worked with me was the single biggest business mistake I’ve made since becoming a coach in 2005.
Initially, it was only for clients and people who’d taken The Fully Booked Coach Course (formerly Coach the Life Coach).
And it was about as active as a very old sloth with an ingrowing toenail and arthritic knees.
Which is the same position most groups find themselves in.
But are there 11 things you can do to rectify that and here they are:
- Post….a lot. As a rule of thumb, the more you post the quicker you will grow
- Post consistently. Don’t post 27 times on one day and then fuck off to the beach for a month to ponder the meaning of life – this is absolutely crucial
- Welcome people. But don’t use the generic welcome. Make it personal so you look like you are genuinely pleased they joined because you should be
- Ask questions of people. People love to give you their opinion and this creates conversations and people bickering with one another which should be kept convivivial
- Answer questions when people ask them no matter how benign they may seem
- Be fine with being challenged. I fucking love it when people challenge me because it gives me the opportunity to either learn or look somewhat knowledgable
- Share anything that you think will help your members
- Keeps things on track. Personal stuff is fine if it relates in some way to what you do (or is on brand), but don’t start ranting about Boris Johnson being an utter dick…..even though he is
- Don’t link out too much. Facebook prefers people to stay on Facebook. If you’re always trying to send people to other sites they will not share your group
- Be patient. It’s a fucking slog to begin with, but stick with it
11. Let Google Help You (free)
Clients coming from Google are often hard to track.
Sure, there will be a few who are searching for a coach to help them get more coaching clients and then email me directly from the first point of contact.
However, most will browse around, and maybe sign up for my newsletter or join the Fully Booked Coach Facebook group.
As such, when they finally decide they want to hire me they have often forgotten how they originally came to find out about me, making them tough to track.
Fortunately for you, and unfortunately for them, most life coaches are totally and utterly in the dark on how to utilize basic SEO, often because they are focussed on ‘quick wins’.
This means you can step in and take advantage by understanding long-tailed keywords, knowing how to optimize every post, and being cunning with your blog post headlines so you attract interest.
There is a technical element with SEO that you need for highly competitive industries, but coaching isn’t a highly competitive industry for SEO, in fact, it’s wide open.
Getting the basics right isn’t that complicated.
You could read SEO for Life Coaches – The Ultimate Guide if you want to know more.
12. Run A Webinar (free when the platform is bought)
You will need webinar software to do this properly.
I have used WebinarJam (al) in the past and I’m just about to go back because I really like the functionality.
However, for smaller numbers, you can use a standard paid Zoom account without necessarily upgrading to Zoom Webinar which is pricey at around $75 per month at the time of writing..
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear, webinars are not as effective as they once were, especially without building complex and pricey funnels.
The internet is suffering somewhat from webinar fatigue because so many people are running them.
It’s not necessarily the quantity that is making it harder to get people to sign up.
It’s the low, often spammy/salesy, quality.
A lot of webinars are nothing more than sales vehicles that use bait and switch tactics to get attendees, and then deliver no real value.
As such, people are leery of signing up and you need to work hard to ensure they understand that your webinar will be different.
Make your webinars focus on value to the attendee and avoid selling too hard unless you’re prepared to invest a shit load on Facebook ads generating new people because nobody comes back.
A Word On Books
You may have noticed that I haven’t listed writing a book as a way to generate clients.
That’s because it’s, without doubt, the hardest way of them all.
Does that mean you shouldn’t write a book?
Absolutely not, I’ve written 11, so that would be a tad hypocritical.
I’m saying write one because you’re aching to do it and not as a marketing vehicle unless you’re going to enlist a pro like Michael Heppell who can show you the ropes.
Hopefully, this post has given you plenty to think about and some new avenues to pursue.
If you have other methods or questions this post has thrown up – and I’m sure there are lots of both – please do leave a comment and let me know.